GROW 2023 opens online


The annual GROW course "Agrobiodiversity in a changing climate" opens online today with 29 participants from 20 countries. The two-week course equips practitioners with the necessary tools, knowledge and understanding to enhance productivity and improve marketing strategies in sustainable and resilient agricultural systems.

The 2023 GROW course is organized by the Mountain Partnership Secretariat (MPS) and will focus on the importance of biodiversity in agriculture, with a particular focus on biodiversity's role in enhancing cropping and farming systems' resilience and adaptability to climate change. Lectures will illustrate principles and practices for gathering agrobiodiversity data through either participatory diagnostic or empirical approaches, and for their utilization to develop management approaches that improve resilience and adaptability.

"I welcome the participants in this year's programme. Agrobiodiversity management skills are critical for enhancing climate resilience, and I hope the participants will feel inspired and equipped with new strategies," says Rosalaura Romeo, MPS Coordinator, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

The topic of agrobiodiversity is particularly relevant to mountain areas. Mountain farmers preserve many of the rarest cultivars in functioning biodiverse agroecosystems. Yet the harshness of the environment in mountains, as well as the effects of climate change, place increasing pressures on mountain communities to modify their traditional approaches to agriculture.

Considering agrobiodiversity in food systems means bringing together the sectors of science, agriculture and economy to propose new food production strategies that can be implemented in a changing environment, promoting diversified crops and practices as a resource and increased variety as a strength in agroecosystems. In addition to agricultural and genetic aspects, the agrobiodiversity discussion focuses on economic and social issues, such as identifying markets for biological products, developing adequate value chains and marketing strategies, and preserving local crops.

Arianna Bartolozzi, Course Manager of the GROW Summer School, states, "It is an honour to see the sixth edition of this course coming along. It is an amazing opportunity for the participants to learn and share ideas in a friendly environment of like-minded people. The goal is to focus global efforts on using agrobiodiversity for climate change mitigation, and this course is an important resource."

The aim of the course is to equip participants with the necessary tools, knowledge and understanding to enhance productivity and improve marketing strategies in sustainable and resilient agricultural systems. The training will include lectures by speakers from various national and international organizations. These include a welcome address from Paolo Toschi, the Ambassador of Italy to Qatar and EXPO 2023 Commissioner General, a session on leveraging agrobiodiversity to sustainably transform food systems by Frencesco Sottile from Slow Food, and more.

All GROW Summer School 2023 participants will have the opportunity to participate in an innovation contest on "Improving smallholders' livelihoods through agrobiodiversity and organic solutions". The winning proposal will be announced on the last day of the course.

GROW is organized by the Sapienza University of Rome, Department of Environmental Biology; Alliance of Bioversity International and the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT); the Platform for Agrobiodiversity Research; and the Mountain Partnership Secretariat. Technical support is provided by FAO. Scholarships were made available by Sapienza and Raffaella Foundation for a limited number of participants.

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