Global Forum on Food Security and Nutrition (FSN Forum)

Livestock needs not to be forgotten in agrobiodiversity... and: local genetics is an issue of peasant Rights

As mentioned during the FAO Call on the 20th Anniversary of the RtF Guidelines, preserving local genetics is also a question of preserving peasants' right to means for producing food locally (or as stated in this call, place-based solutions). The projects RAISE (Rights-based and Agroecological initiatives for Sustainability and Equity in Peasant Communities) and the Family farms more resilient to climate change with improved cows and adapted local forage show how the agenda on local seeds and breeds needs to combine strategies to improve knowledge and awareness at all levels on the importance of locally adapted genetic resources with concrete efforts in breeding programmes that are context-adapted. 

By the way: The International Year of Camelids provides for another opportunity to communicate on the value of locally adapted livestock: VSF-Suisse pushing for livelihoods diversification through the use of neglected camelids (the one-humped camel being one), is on the forefront of making the Camelids agenda in times of multiple crisis (biodiversity, climate and desertification) more prominent (cf. also, recent impact evaluation of a Camelids project series in Kenya).

Based on our experiences, this is what might be further addressed in the three sections of the call:

  • section A “efforts to conserve, sustainably use and integrate biodiversity”: biodiversity-data should comprise novel approaches such as vegetation mapping as well as traditional, indigenous knowledge; data should be speaking to its users, e.g. phenotypic monitoring in community breeding ;
  • section B “Constraints, opportunities and challenges to be addressed”: existing (breeding) programmes often do not take into account practical issues / logistics which should be the case in future (e.g. ex situ breeding often not possible in rural remote areas which tend to be rich in terms of local breeds);
  • section C “Policies and instruments for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity”: Community-based programmes should be further pushed and supported, so FAO could be really helpful in this.