International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture



 Fifth Cycle of Benefit-sharing Fund

Rome, Italy, 20 May 2022 On the occasion of Biodiversity Day, the International Treaty has just issued a new call for project proposals to be supported by the Benefit-sharing Fund. The fifth round of the Benefit-sharing Fund (BSF) will disburse over USD 7 million to projects that benefit small-scale farmers in developing countries, especially those most vulnerable to climate change and food insecurity, and dependent on plant genetic resources to ensure their livelihoods.

“We join the International Biodiversity Day’s commitment to ‘Building a shared future for all life,’ said Kent Nnadozie, Secretary of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture. “The International Treaty takes care of an essential element of life now and for the future – seeds and all plant genetic resources upon which we all rely for our sustenance, nutrition and well-being. We are pleased to launch the Call for Proposals under the fifth cycle of the Benefit-sharing Fund on this day and reiterate our commitment to save, share and take care of the seeds and plants that feed us all,”Secretary Nnadozie said.

The Benefit-sharing Fund (BSF), which is under the direct control of the International Treaty’s Governing Body, is the operational mechanism to use and share benefits arising from the Multilateral System. It supports projects that leverage plant genetic resources to find solutions for complex challenges relating to food and nutrition insecurity, biodiversity loss and climate change.

Sharing the benefits of plant genetic diversity

“Plant genetic resources are the basic building blocks of our food, and contribute to food security and nutrition, to improving rural livelihoods and economies and to meeting the challenges of adapting to climate change,” said Secretary Nnadozie.

Since 2009, the BSF has supported 80 projects in 67 developing countries, benefitting over 1 million people, most of them small-scale farmers.

The BSF enables small-scale farmers, scientists and breeders to tap into the International Treaty’s global genepool of millions of different genetic materials to undertake research and develop new crop varieties important for food, nutrition and livelihoods. Local farming communities get better connected to global systems. For example, farming communities in Zimbabwe, Malawi and Zambia have been involved in testing varieties of sorghum and millet that were accessed from national and international genebanks. Together with extension agents and researchers, the farmers selected resilient crop varieties and further adapted these to their own local conditions.

Such projects enables farmers to access plant genetic materials and knowledge and further adapt these, while also contributing to the generation of more materials and knowledge into the International Treaty’s Multilateral System for Access and Benefit-sharing, available to all Contracting Parties.

The BSF also invests in research and innovation and provides opportunities for young scientists with an interest in plant genetic resources management. Training and building capacities of researchers in developing countries is essential for ensuring long-term implementation of the International Treaty. To date, more than 5 000 students have been trained through BSF projects. Recently, a young researcher involved in a BSF project received an award from the Turkish government for her research on wheat and climate change.

The Call for Proposals

The Call for Proposals under the fifth cycle of the BSF (BSF-5) is open from 20 May 2022 through 29 July 2022.

BSF project funds are available to consortia of farmers, researchers and others that will be working on innovations to enhance plant diversity management in farmers’ fields and local value chains, in the next four years.

The eligibility criteria have been established by the Governing Body of the International Treaty, and include governmental and non-governmental organizations, including farmers’ organizations, genebanks and research institutions, as well as regional and international organizations that are based in developing countries that are Contracting Parties to the International Treaty.

The funding

“We are grateful to the generous voluntary contributions by Contracting Parties, who have made it possible to support deserving projects through the BSF,” said Secretary Nnadozie. “Thanks to you, BSF-5 has over USD 7 million to provide to projects around the world,” he added.  

Contributors to the BSF include the European Commission, Italy, the Netherlands and Switzerland. Further contributions have been made by SEMAE (formerly, Groupement National Interprofessionel des Semences), ProSpecieRara Hauptsitz and a Norwegian initiative to contribute a percentage of the value of their annual national seed sales to the BSF. In addition to these voluntary contributions, BSF-5 has also received user-based income from the International Treaty’s Multilateral System for Access and Benefit-sharing (Multilateral System).  



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