ProSpecieRara - Diversity for everyone!


 To tackle successfully the challenge of preserving and promoting the diversity of species and varieties of domestic livestock breeds and fruits and vegetables and the cultural heritage.”  


Established in 1982 as a Swiss non-profit organization, ProSpecieRara works to revert the silent loss of the diversity of cultivated plants and livestock, bringing back diversity in our agri-food systems while promoting sustainable ways with positive socio-economic and environmental impacts. 

“At the beginning of the development, research, outreach, collecting and preserving endangered varieties and breeds was in the forefront of the organization”, explains Béla Bartha, Director of ProSpecieRara, a biologist and anthropologist by formation and a passionate for biodiversity of food and the need for its preservation for future generations.  

From the very first day, the organization relied on the participation of many voluntary helpers. It rapidly became a robust network of over 2,000 gardeners and animal keepers. ProSpecieRara was built up also thanks to numerous contributions from donors who supported the project of propagation of cultivated plants or breeding of animals.  

Breeder associations were established, a network of variety propagators who could offer their seeds to the members of the organization via a central catalogue, and a large central database was developed to coordinate the network and conservation.  

More and more people get interested for the project in search for self-sufficiency. During COVID-19 pandemic, the project gained a strong public support. The membership of the network jumped from 11,000 to 14,000 – a great example of the growing awareness on the need for a change in our food systems with more sustainable solutions.   

“The recipe for success is based on the fact that many people are able to engage in the preservation of varieties and races with as little threshold as possible, while at the same time knowledge about seed production and animal husbandry is imparted and public relations and the procurement of financial resources are organized efficiently”. 

ProSpecieRara has also developed a constructive cooperation with the Swiss federal authorities, who were ready to include the work of the network in their formal action plans and strategies for the conservation of plant and animal genetic resources. 

The heroes of ProSpecieRara today are the almost 2,000 active people and over 14,000 patrons, the 21 breeding associations and the 30 employees who work at ProSpecieRara for the 32 endangered breeds of livestock, 2,400 garden, arable and ornamental plants and over 2,500 types of fruit, berry and wine in over 200 collections all over Switzerland. In addition, there are 30% of the Swiss population who know ProSpecieRara and who buy over 500 ProSpecieRara label products in local markets, in nurseries, direct marketers and in supermarkets.  

“The development of ProSpecieRara is based on three central pillars. First, conservation of genetic resources and (cultural) knowledge. Second, rise awareness and building social networks. Third, the reintroduction of genetic resources into more diverse agro-ecological cultivation systems”, says Bartha. 

Bartha highlights that the third pillar, is still at the beginning of a vision in which agriculture finds its way back to ecosystem and genetic diversity and lets this itself become the source of races and varieties again. This is the only way to increase the resilience of our food industry and its future viability, he concludes. 

ProSpecieRara is an important platform for the exchange of knowledge and experiences. It is very active in providing support for the building of national and international bodies that campaign for the conservation and sustainable use of plant and animal genetic resources, such as SKEK (Switzerland), ITPGRFA (FAO) and Let's liberate Diversity (European Network of NGOs for Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture).