EU commits €5 million to crop diversity
Tuesday 26 June 2012
The European Union last week contributed €5 million towards the Benefit-sharing Fund of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture. The commitment was made during a ministerial meeting on the plant treaty at the Rio+20 Summit. The Benefit-sharing Fund aims to help farmers in developing countries manage crop diversity for food security and climate change adaptation.
The UN Food and Agriculture Association, which administers the fund, said the EU commitment is the single largest contribution made to the Benefit-sharing Fund since it was established in 2008. It will go towards increasing the capacity of smallholder farmers to manage traditional crops like potato, rice, cassava, wheat and sorghum.
The Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture was founded in 2001 and was joined by the EU in 2004. Its focus is on biodiversity, climate change mitigation, and sustainability. The treaty recognizes ‘farmers’ rights’ and includes among them the right to participate equitably in benefit-sharing and in national decision-making about plant genetic resources.
José Graziano da Silva, the FAO’s Director General welcomed the contribution. He said, "The participation of small-scale farmers and other stakeholders in this process is not only welcome but necessary. Plant genetic biodiversity is a key factor for sustainable agriculture; we share the commitment to ensuring that the world's ecosystems, and in FAO's specific case the world's agro-ecosystems, are healthy and sustainable."
European agriculture commissioner Dacian ciolos added, "We need full political and financial commitment in support of sustainable agriculture if we want to guarantee food security worldwide while ensuring the conservation of our natural resources, such as biodiversity. In this context, strengthening the implementation of the International Treaty will be essential to face major challenges for food security such as climate change."
According to the FAO, The EU contribution to the benefit fund will make possible:
- On-farm evaluation, selection and management of local and introduced seed varieties;
- Conservation of local and threatened varieties in national or international genebanks or the development of local and community genebanks;
- Documentation and sharing of local and indigenous knowledge that brings value to local crops and varieties;
- The transfer of technologies for conservation and sustainable use of plant genetic resources to farmers and selected institutions in developing countries;
- Establishment of links between farmers and communities elsewhere to promote the sharing of genetic material and information about that material, which will help farmers to respond to climate change.