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Conserving Agro-Biodiversity for Smallholder Farmers' Livelihood and Food Security

Track Coordinators: Francesco Caracciolo (University of Naples), Elisabetta Gotor (Bioversity International), and Mauricio Bellon (Bioversity International). 

Conserving agro-biodiversity on-farm is important in the pursuit of globally resilient agricultural and food systems and increasingly relevant in the face of climate change (Bellon and van Etten 2013). These socio-biological systems depend crucially on smallholders farmers’ preferences, incentives, knowledge, management practices, institutions and social organization (Zimmerer 2010).

        Agro-biodiversity conservation and its use can be a valuable option for smallholders farmers not only in terms of income opportunities, but also for diet diversification, community involvement and health (Bellon et al., 2006; Meinzen-Dick et al., 2009; Smale et al., 2008; Sthapit et al., 2008), and for the sustainable management of agricultural systems (Frison et al., 2011; Jackson et al., 2007; Mijatović et al., 2012). However, maintaining crop diversity on-farm can entail important costs to smallholder farmers, and increasingly there are incentives associated with new opportunities, brought about by economic development and cultural change, that encourage them to abandon this diversity (Bellon 2004; Gotor et al., 2010; Zimmerer 2010).

        For these reasons the preservation of agricultural biodiversity as a means to empower small scale farmers in developing countries and improve their livelihood has attracted many research and in the last 20 years many projects to support farmers in maintaining the diversity have been implemented worldwide (Gotor et al., 2013). However there has been very little systematic assessment, of the extent to which on-farm conservation interventions have actually made a difference beyond what de facto conservation is already delivering.

        In this track we would like to invite researchers, scientists and policy makers, to exchange idea, discuss strategies and priorities and to share their research on use and conservation of agricultural biodiversity for smallholder farmers.

        Primarily attention will be given to contributions that concern the following themes:

        1. Approaches for increased resilience and risk reduction on smallholder farms through greater use of agricultural biodiversity and local forest resources;
        2. Methodological and empirical evidence of how agricultural biodiversity can contribute to dietary diversity and nutrition, as well as to improved livelihoods for smallholders farmers;
        3. Case studies for developing markets for local biodiversity-derived products;
        4. Conceptual frameworks or quantitative methods to assess the effectiveness of projects supporting on-farm conservation.

        For more information on this session, please contact one of the chairs (francesco.caracciolo@unina.it; e.gotor@cgiar.org).



Bellon MR, van Etten J 2013 in Plant Genetic Resources and Climate Change, eds Jackson M, Ford-Lloyd B, Parry, ML (CABI Publishing, Wallingford, UK and New York, USA) pp 137-150, in press.

        Bellon MR, 2004, Conceptualizing interventions to support on-farm genetic resource conservation. World Development 32:159-172.

        Bellon, M. R., Adato, M., Becerril, J., Mindek, D., 2006, Poor farmers’ perceived benefits from different types of maize germplasm: The case of creolization in lowland tropical Mexico,World Development 34, 113-129.

        Frison E., Cherfas, J., Hodgkin, T., 2011, ‘Agricultural Biodiversity Is Essential for a Sustainable Improvement in Food and Nutrition Security’, Sustainability 3(1), 238-253.

        Gotor, E., Caracciolo, F., Cantoa G.M.B, Al Nassiri, M., 2013. “ìImproving rural livelihoods through the conservation and use of underutilized species: evidence from a community research project in Yemen , International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability. 1-16, DOI:10.1080/14735903.2013.796173.

        Gotor, E., Caracciolo, F., Watts, J., 2010. The Perceived Impact of the In-Trust Agreements on CGIAR Germplasm Availability: An Assessment of Bioversity International’s Institutional Activities, World Development, Volume 38, Issue 10, October 2010, Pages 1486-1493

        Jackson, L. E., Pascual, U., Hodgkin T., 2007, Utilizing and conserving agrobiodiversity in agricultural landscapes, Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment 121, 196-210.

        Meinzen-Dick, R. S., Devaux, A., Antezana, I., 2009, Underground assets: potato biodiversity to improve the livelihoods of the poor, International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability 7, 235-248.

        Mijatović, D., Van Oudenhoven, F., Eyzaguirre, P., Hodgkin, T., 2012, The role of agricultural biodiversity in strengthening resilience to climate change: towards an analytical framework, International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability, 1-13. DOI:10.1080/14735903.2012.691221.

        Smale, M., Katungi E., Edmeades S., 2008, Gender, social capital and information exchange in rural Uganda’, Journal of International Development 20, 35-52.

        Sthapit, B., Rana, R., Eyzaguirre, P., Jarvis, D, 2008, ‘The value of plant genetic diversity to resource-poor farmers in Nepal and Vietnam’, International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability 6, 148-166.

        Zimmerer KS (2010) Biological diversity in agriculture and global change. Annu Rev Env Resour 35:137-66.

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