International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture

BSF Project - Third Cycle

Policies and Practices to Facilitate the Implementation of Developed Strategies Actions for Plant Genetic Resources Conservation and Use for the Improvement of Food and Nutrition under Changing Climatic Conditions
Where are we working?
In Zimbabwe, Malawi and Zambia, maize is now considered a staple crop. However, the vigorous promotion of maize by the private sector has caused the loss of more traditional crops such as sorghum, groundnuts, bambara nuts, pearl and finger millets. These small grain crops have proved to be more resistant to climate change, especially to droughts that are now frequently occurring across the three countries.
Given that maize production has been seriously affected by climate change, the re-introduction of small grain crops improves harvests, increases rural food security and improves the nutrition status for under-fives and expectant mothers in particular.

What are we doing?
  • Reintroduction of lost varieties of sorghum, groundnuts, bambara nuts, pearl and finger millet from national gene banks to farmers’ fields;
  • Introduction of new varieties from research centers such ICRISAT, and government crop breeding institutes;
  • Establishment of demonstration plots for Participatory Variety Selection, Participatory Variety Enhancement and seed multiplication;
  • Exchange visits and training of trainers in adaptation strategies for climate change;
  • Training of farmers in seed production, community seed bank management, climate change adaptation strategies and germplasm collection;
  • Raising awareness of farmers’ rights.

What has been achieved to date?
A total of 159 Farmer Field Schools have been established in Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe as a participatory and inclusive learning platform through which farmers have directly engaged in Participatory Variety Enhancement (PVE), Participatory Variety Selection (PVS) and seed multiplication. A total of 116 demonstration plots of the targeted crops and other farmer-saved seeds have been established in the Farmer Field Schools.
The project has also repatriated a total of 153 accessions of targeted crops from national gene banks, as well as introduced seed of new varieties and advanced breeding lines to farmers’ fields. These activities have contributed to increased access to new and “lost” plant genetic resources for food and agriculture and facilitated linkages between national gene banks and with national and international research institutes such as ICRISAT.
An assessment of traditional adaptation strategies and knowledge on climate change has been conducted by farmers and scientists from the Meteorological Services Departments, academics from universities and staff from the respective Ministries of Agriculture. A total of 191 lead farmers have been trained on climate resilient crop production and 93 lead farmers have been trained on climate change adaptation strategies in the three countries.
Two seed policy advocacy workshops were held in Malawi where participants contributed to the development of the draft National Seed Policy and Seed Bill which institutes an integrated seed system promoting Farmers’ Rights. .
A total of 16 field days have been held and farmers had time to share best agronomic practices as well as knowledge on climate change. The project has also facilitated 8 exchange visits at national and regional levels, and organised 17 seed and food fairs, creating opportunities for farmers to sell and exchange their own seeds.

Who has benefited?
Since its beginning, the project has directly benefit more than 4800 people (63% women) through its Farmer Field Schools. Over 23 thousand people are expected to benefit indirectly through seed and food fairs, field days and capacity building. In addition, staff from the Ministries of Agriculture in the three countries has been involved in training on various aspects of agricultural biodiversity management, climate change adaptation strategies and on-farm seed production.

Best practices and success stories
The project’s advocacy work has led to the commitment by the Government of Malawi to develop a Farmers’ Rights Policy framework. In Zambia and Zimbabwe the project has improved understanding of Farmers’ Rights and developed civil society capacity in the context of seed policy and legislation
Mrs Majory Jeke a farmer from Murehwa district, Zimbabwe participated in the opening sessions of the seventh Governing Body Meeting that was held in Rwanda in November 2017.
Cowpea et al., Finger Millet, Pearl Millet, Pigeon Pea, Sorghum
Window 2 - Immediate action projects
Region: Africa
Target Countries: Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe
Implementing institution: CEPA, CTDT Zambia, CTDT Zimbabwe

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