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plant genetic resources for food and agriculture - FAO

plant genetic resources for food and agriculture - FAO

THE STATE OF IN SITU

THE STATE OF IN SITU MANAGEMENT components of the genetic makeup of the varieties concerned, but also allows genetic change to occur. Farmer seed selection practices vary widely. They may select seeds from plants growing in a certain part of a field, from particularly ‘healthy’ plants, from a special part of the plant, from plants at different stages of maturity, or they may simply take a sample of seeds from the overall harvest. In some local communities in Ouahigouya, Burkina Faso, for example, pearl millet farmers harvest seeds from the centre of the field to maintain ‘purity’, selecting a range of types and taking into account uniformity of grain colour and spikelet dehiscence. This practice appears to favour seed quality and seed vigour. 64 The Cyprus and Greece country reports indicated that many farmers in these countries prefer to save their own seeds and when replaced, the same variety is generally obtained from a relative, neighbour, or the local market (usually in that order of preference). In this way, over a period of years much mixing occurs. Community genebanks have also been established in a number of countries 65 and can be important sources of seeds for local farmers. A sharp decrease in the number of farmers growing a particular variety and a switch to a single, or restricted number of new varieties, can create a genetic bottleneck and may result in the loss of genetic diversity. This can occur, for example, as a result of natural disasters, war or civil strife when local seed availability may be severely reduced; seeds and other propagating materials may be lost or eaten, supply systems disrupted and seed production systems destroyed (see Chapter 1). At the same time, relief organizations may distribute seeds of new cultivars that can result in further changes in the number and type of varieties grown. The interface between wild and agricultural plants and ecosystems is highly complex and can result in both positive and negative effects regarding the maintenance of genetic diversity. The natural introgression of new genes into crops can expand the diversity available to farmers. Geneflows between crop cultivars and their wild relatives have been a significant feature of the evolution of most crop species 66 and continue to be important today. 67 In Benin and other West African countries, for example, it has been reported that introgression between wild and domesticated yams is important in the continuing improvement of yam cultivars by farmers. 68 At the same time, many wild relatives and crop cultivars avoid losing their identities even when they grow in close proximity, often using reproductive mechanisms such as pollen competition. This can happen for example when a wild relative is surrounded by cultivated fields, as in the teosinte-maize relationship in Mexico, 69 and in the opposite case when wild relatives surround crop fields, such as pearl millet in the Sahel. 70 Several country reports provide examples of the management of the crop-wild interface. In southern Cameroon, for example, wild yams (Dioscorea spp.) are important as a food and in the culture of the Baka Pygmies. Through a variety of technical, social and cultural practices, referred to as ‘paracultivation’, they are able to make use of the wild resources while keeping them in their natural environment. In Tajikistan, superior genotypes of walnut (Juglans regia) and pistachio (Pistacia vera) have been selected from the wild and are now in cultivation, and wild apples have been planted in orchards in some parts of the Pamir mountain range. In Jordan and in the Syrian Arab Republic, natural gene flows between cultivated and wild Triticum species were confirmed using morphological and molecular techniques. 71 2.3.3 Farmers as custodians of diversity During the last decade extensive work has been carried out to improve understanding on why and how farmers continue to maintain diversity in their fields. This has resulted in a greater appreciation of the range of custodians, the role of traditional knowledge and the needs and choices farmers have within their livelihood systems. The diversity of stakeholders who maintain and use PGRFA has been looked at in many countries. Work in China and Nepal, for example, has found that only one or two expert farmers in a given community account for the maintenance of most of the diversity. 72 Age, gender, ethnic group and wealth status all have a bearing on who maintains diversity, what diversity is maintained and where (see Chapter 8). Especially in developed countries, individuals may be involved for 41

CHAPTER 2 hobby or other non-commercial reasons. Japan has implemented a system to recognize and register people as leaders in the cultivation of local crops, based on their experience and technical capabilities. Many country reports recognize the importance of traditional knowledge in the conservation and use of PGRFA on farm. Bangladesh, Ethiopia, India, Kazakhstan, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic and the United Republic of Tanzania, for example, all describe efforts to document and protect indigenous knowledge, while many others state the need to do so or point to a need for appropriate policies to this end. Many factors influence the choice of how many and which varieties to grow and in which areas, including the need to minimize risk, maximize yields, ensure nutritional balance, spread workloads and capture market opportunities. A series of empirical studies in Burkina Faso, Hungary, Mexico, Nepal, Uganda and Viet Nam have suggested that major factors affecting varietal choice also include market access, seed supply, farmer age and gender and whether the variety is common or rare. 73 2.3.4 Options to support the conservation of diversity in agricultural production systems While there are many ways in which farmers can benefit from a greater use of local crops and varieties, in many cases action is needed to make them more competitive with modern varieties and major crops. Potential interventions to increase competitiveness include: better characterization of local materials, improvement through breeding and processing, greater access to materials and information, promoting increased consumer demand and more supportive policies and incentives. Often, efforts to implement such interventions are led by Non-governmental Organizations (NGOs) that may or may not be linked to national research and education institutes. 2.3.4.1 Adding value through characterizing local materials While work has been carried out in a number of countries on characterization of local materials, land- 42 THE SECOND REPORT ON THE STATE OF THE WORLD’S PGRFA races are often inadequately characterized, especially under on-farm conditions. There is some indication from the country reports that greater efforts have been made to characterize traditional and local varieties over the past decade and the Czech Republic reported that state financial support is available for the evaluation of neglected crops. 2.3.4.2 Improving local materials through breeding and seed processing Improvement of local materials can be achieved through plant breeding and/or through the production of better quality seed or planting material. Since the first SoW report was published, particular attention has been given to participatory approaches to crop evaluation, improvement and breeding, especially involving local farmer varieties (see Chapter 4). Several case studies have been conducted by the ECPGR Working Group on onfarm conservation and management. These relate to cowpea and beans in Italy, Shetland cabbage in Scotland, fodder beets in Germany, Timothy grass in Norway and tomatoes in Spain. 74 2.3.4.3 Increasing consumer demand through market incentives and public awareness Raising public awareness of local crops and varieties can help build a broader base of support. This can be achieved in many ways, for example, through personal contacts, group exchanges, diversity fairs, poetry, music and drama festivals and the use of local and international media. 75 Albania, Azerbaijan, Jordan, Malaysia, Namibia, Nepal, Pakistan, Portugal, the Philippines and Thailand, for example, all reported on the establishment of markets and fairs for the promotion of local products. Other ways of income generation include promoting ecotourism and branding products with internationally accepted certificates of origin or the like for niche markets. 76 In Jamaica, on-farm management is supported by the development of local and export markets for a wide range of traditional and new products originating from local underutilized crops. Malaysia, likewise, reported

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    98 CHAPTER 4 including rice, maize

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    CHAPTER 6 Varieties. Central Americ

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    THE CONTRIBUTION OF PGRFA TO FOOD S

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    THE CONTRIBUTION OF PGRFA TO FOOD S

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    LIST OF COUNTRIES THAT PROVIDED INF

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    LIST OF COUNTRIES THAT PROVIDED INF

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    Annex 2 Regional distribution of co

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    EUROPE 214 ANNEX 2 ASIA AND THE PAC

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    STATUS BY COUNTRY OF NATIONAL LEGIS

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    MAJOR GERMPLASM COLLECTIONS BY CROP

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    THE STATE-OF-THE-ART: METHODOLOGIES

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    THE STATE-OF-THE-ART: METHODOLOGIES

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    Appendix 4 State of diversity of ma

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    APPENDIX 4 some country reports. 6

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    APPENDIX 4 option for perennial tax

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    APPENDIX 4 FIGURE A4.2 Global yield

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    APPENDIX 4 Role of crop in sustaina

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    APPENDIX 4 and Myanmar (3 percent).

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    APPENDIX 4 progenitor is the wild s

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    appendiX 4 Ex situ conservation sta

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    APPENDIX 4 Documentation, character

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    APPENDIX 4 The two global chickpea

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    APPENDIX 4 in collections, absence

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    APPENDIX 4 FIGURE A4.5 Global yield

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    338 APPENDIX 4 are also conserved.

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    340 APPENDIX 4 WebPDF/Crop percent2

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    342 APPENDIX 4 90 Op cit. Endnote 2

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    344 APPENDIX 4 159 GCDT. 2007. Glob

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    350 APPENDIX 4 366 Ibid. Endnote 35

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    BAAFS Beijing Academy of Agricultur

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    CN Centre Néerlandais (Côte d’I

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    DTRUFC División of Tropical Resear

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    HRIGRU Horticultural Research Inter

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    INIA CARI Centro Regional de Invest

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    IVM Institute of Grape and Wine «M

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    NISM National Information Sharing M

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    REHOVOT Department of Field and Veg

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    SRI Sugar Crop Research Institute,

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    WCMC World Conservation Monitoring

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