International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture

BSF Project - Fourth Cycle

Redesigning the exploitation of small grains genetic resources towards increased sustainability of grain-value chain and improved farmers’ livelihoods in Serbia and Bulgaria - GRAINEFIT
Where will we work?
Negative effects of climate change on agricultural production, food and nutrition security, and genetic diversity on farms, compounded by unemployment and mass migration of young people to cities create serious challenges in rural areas in Serbia and Bulgaria, especially for small agricultural households.
Despite increasing demand for local small grains products with good nutritional value and lower levels of food allergens, farmers' awareness of the benefits of local varieties is minimal. There is little coordination and few partnerships between farmer associations, researchers, national authorities and civil societies to develop climate resilient crops and create new business opportunities to improve farmers' livelihoods.

What will we do?
  • Collect landraces and locally adapted varieties of small grains from farms, gene banks and national institutes and multiply them;;
  • Reintroduce local landraces and varieties by disseminating seeds to vulnerable farmers for conservation and farm diversification;
  • Participatory breeding of climate resilient crops;
  • Provide training and scientific support to local farmers to improve decision making;
  • Organize field days at a community level in collaboration with national extension services and research institutes to promote use of small grains genetic resources, acknowledging traditional agricultural practices;
  • Evaluate local small grains for agronomical traits, resistance to diseases and drought, and establish their molecular, nutritional and technological profiles;
  • Organize workshops to strengthen research and institutional cooperation, and organize a roundtable and business-to-business meeting to develop market strategies;
  • Design and develop a distinctive label for novel small grain products;
  • Produce and distribute a comprehensive guide to small grains stakeholders.

What is expected to be achieved?
This project will build farmer capacity to reintroduce, conserve, sustainably use and manage small grains genetic resources through participatory breeding for climate resilient crop varieties. Farmers will be supported to improve their livelihoods through trainings on adding value to local varieties and marketing traditional cereal products with distinctive labels. Membership in cooperatives and farmer organizations will be facilitated and cooperation with research institutions, agriculture extension agents, civil services and other stakeholders across the seed value chain will be strengthened.
90 bread and durum wheat varieties will be evaluated on experimental fields for important agronomical traits and resistance to diseases and analyzed with molecular markers, 50 varieties will be tested for drought tolerance in laboratory and field conditions, 20 varieties will be analyzed for technological quality and nutritional value and 10 best performing genotypes will be selected for pre-breeding for further improvement. The project will develop two end-products based on local small grains varieties and alleviate poverty by empowering rural communities to meet increasing demand for quality food with good nutritional properties sourced from local farms. Additionally, the nutritional and agronomic data generated and shared by the project will contribute to a substantially improved nutrition of vulnerable communities and farmers. The project will facilitate Treaty implementation through training of young scientists and female researchers. The multidisciplinary consortium is expected to establish long-term regional partnerships between leading research institutions in Serbia and Bulgaria with a view to identifying and delivering climate resilient, nutrient-rich crops. Four national institutions will be supported to strengthen plant genetic resources information systems and contribute to the Global Information System. The project results will raise awareness of the importance of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture among researchers, national authorities, civil societies and farmers.

Who will benefit?
The project will directly benefit 40 vulnerable smallholder farmers, 50% of whom will be women. Other direct beneficiaries include: five local farmer associations; five civil society organisations supporting sustainable agriculture, ethnic and gender equality; two organisations preserving local customs, traditions and foods; three small-scale processing entrepreneurs; five agricultural extension services; 25 scientists; and two national gene banks. Moreover, the project will indirectly benefit a further 1,000 farmers, ten young women scientists, five policy makers, two chambers of commerce and the wider public through its many training programmes, workshops and field demonstrations.
Barley, Oat, Rye, Wheat
Window 2 - Immediate action projects
Region: Europe
Target Countries: Bulgaria, Serbia
Implementing institution: Institute of Field and Vegetable Crops

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