Fourth annual GROW Summer School opens online


The fourth annual GROW Summer School “Agrobiodiversity in a changing climate” opens online today with 30 participants attending from 21 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 2021 GROW course focuses on the importance of biodiversity in agriculture, with particular attention to its role in enhancing the resilience and adaptability of cropping and farming systems to climate change in fragile ecosystems.

The summer school is organized by the Mountain Partnership Secretariat (MPS), in collaboration with the Sapienza University of Rome and the Alliance of Bioversity International and the International Center for Tropical Agriculture and the Platform for Agrobiodiversity Research. Technical support is provided by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

Sponsors and partners of the summer school include the Italian Development Cooperation, NaturaSì, Slow Food and IFOAM-Organics International.

“Welcoming all participants, I hope that this year’s programme will be an enriching experience that provides the skills and inspiration to protect and manage agrobiodiversity for increasing the resilience of farming systems against the impacts of climate change,” says Rosalaura Romeo, Programme Officer, MPS.

The topic of agrobiodiversity is particularly relevant to such fragile ecosystems as mountains and islands. Islands and mountain communities preserve many of the rarest cultivars in functioning biodiverse agroecosystems. The effects of climate change, however, are putting increasing pressure on mountain and island communities to modify their traditional approaches to agriculture.

The course analyses the economic value of agricultural biodiversity in food systems, investigating critical management aspects along the agricultural value chain as an incentive for conservation. It also presents a set of tools and methodologies for improving market access of neglected and underutilized foods and the role of gastronomic heritage as a driver for rural development.

Valeria Barchiesi, Course Manager of the GROW Summer School, states, "I am delighted and proud to see the fourth edition of this valuable learning opportunity being offered. The course represents a wonderful integration of different topics, trainers and participants, brought together by their interest for agrobiodiversity and their hope for a more sustainable future."

The training includes joint lectures given by speakers from various national and international organizations, such as Slow Food, IFOAM-Organics International and NaturaSì. Lecturers 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.

This year, for the second time, the GROW Summer School includes an innovation contest on “Improving smallholders’ livelihoods through agrobiodiversity and organic solutions”. Participants will present their proposals for the contest on the final day of the course, and the best proposal will receive a winning certificate.

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Photo: ©FAO/Jeremy Cornejo

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