As climate change continues to drastically affect food security around the world, many farmers are in need of new crops and crop varieties that can be grown in the changed environment of their farms. Adaptation options to climate change already exist in genebanks and other farmers’ fields in the form of germplasm and seeds, but the challenge is to identify them and then disseminate them in the right environments and under the right conditions, and in ways that satisfy the needs of farmers.
Seeds for Needs, a Bioversity International pilot project sponsored by the World Bank Development Marketplace, uses modern Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology to identify those local genebank resources that hold the most promise to help some 200 Ethiopian women farmers adapt to climate change. The project’s first year focused on working with women farmer groups, extension workers and local genebank managers, growing locally available samples at different test sites and getting feedback from the local farmers.
“The first year has been a good learning experience for us in understanding what women farmers at the three sites of the project value the most among the local varieties we tested,” said project leader Ehsan Dulloo. “The challenge will be to find the variety that meets the needs of these women that at the same time is able to cope with the changing climates.”
The next phase of the project will focus on understanding the local seed systems that are in place and how farmers get access to germplasm held in genebanks. Bioversity is also implementing the Seeds for Needs project in Papua New Guinea.