Strengthening genebanks in Sub-Saharan Africa
Farmers in sub-Saharan Africa face the combined threats of climate change, degraded agricultural lands and a growing population. They will need more resilient, productive and nutritious crops to meet these challenges. Unfortunately, crop diversity—which offers the raw materials for crop innovation—is being lost at unprecedented rates.
Equally concerning is that the collections of seeds currently held in the participating national genebanks are also at grave risk. For years, the genebanks have suffered from insufficient staffing and low levels of funding.
The Seeds for Resilience project is providing the financial and technical support to ensure these five national genebanks will reach the necessary international standards to ensure their collections will be safe and widely available, long term.
Asking farmers what they need
Evaluation of the diversity in the genebanks. Seeds for Resilience supports the partner genebanks in working with diverse groups of farmers to evaluate their collections and identify the samples that have the characteristics the farm- ers are looking for. Often, women prioritize nutrition and taste, whereas men seek the varieties that give the highest groups are heard.
This participatory approach engages a wide range of stakeholders, from farmers and plant breeders all the way to the consumers who generate the demand for farmers’ produce, and has proven to be successful in generating new crop varieties that are rapidly taken up by farmers and truly have an impact.