Periodic Reporting for period 1 - Farmers Pride (Networking, partnerships and tools to enhance in situ conservation of European plant genetic resources)
Reporting period: 2017-11-01 to 2019-04-30
A review of existing networks for agricultural plant diversity conservation revealed that they are very diverse in many aspects, including the stakeholders involved, governance, the materials conserved, conservation practices, and funding. Key outcomes of a series of workshops with a focus on enhancing national seed networks include the need to find ways of making them more self-sustainable and financially independent, and the requirement to establish a secretariat to coordinate activities.
First steps to enhance access to and use of agricultural plant diversity conserved in situ were taken, involving bilateral meetings with nature protection organizations and the development of a prototype website giving an overview of the diversity available in situ. Steps have also been taken to improve the integration of in situ and ex situ conservation through a series of workshops, meetings and interviews, and the establishment of a network of growers to multiply seeds conserved ex situ.
Other activities initiated include the development of population management guidelines for in situ agricultural plant diversity, as well as criteria for the inclusion of sites and populations in the European Network. The management of information associated with the conservation and sustainable use of agricultural plant diversity in situ is also a critical component of the project.
Dissemination and advocacy has involved the establishment of a project website, Twitter account (@PGRInSitu), hashtag (#EUfarmerspride), and factsheet, and partners have promoted the project at a number of external conferences, workshops, meetings and open days. Issue 4 of the newsletter Landraces was published and widely disseminated. Other publications include a range of journal and newsletter articles.
In October 2018, Farmer’s Pride convened the first of three large stakeholder workshops involving 56 participants who discussed and developed the concept of the European Network. Planning has also begun for the final dissemination conference, to be held in Portugal in October 2020.
In the first phase of the project, the Farmer’s Pride consortium has also gained a greater understanding of the stakeholders involved or with an interest in the in situ conservation and sustainable use of agricultural plant diversity, and of existing local, national and regional networks from which lessons can be learnt for the establishment of the European Network, and that can be enhanced by joining forces as one integrated network for agricultural plant diversity conservation and sustainable use across the region. The goal of establishing the Network within a three year project is ambitious, but the consortium is confident that the foundations can be laid with the designation of a number of sites and populations, as well as an initial list of network stakeholders who will become members of the Network. This achievement will be a step change in agricultural plant diversity conservation and will be recognized as a model for other world regions.
Fundamental to the success of the Network beyond the end of the project will be a clear roadmap for Network governance and funding. Critically, to ensure the sustainability of the Network, the Farmer’s Pride consortium is advocating for the development of a new EU directive for conservation and sustainable use of agricultural plant diversity. This is needed because current EU legislation does not provide a framework for the implementation of measures focused on sustaining and making available agricultural plant diversity—diversity that is essential for resilient agriculture, and the food, nutrition and economic security of European society.