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Strengthening sector policies for better food security and nutrition results: Crops and varieties

Policy Guidance Note No. 15










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    Voluntary Guidelines for the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Farmers' Varieties/Landraces 2019
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    The cultivation of diverse farmers’ varieties/landraces, which tend to be well-adapted and suited to local production systems, confers increased resilience for crop production. Farmers’ varieties/landraces are also potential sources of traits for crop improvement, especially for developing varieties tolerant to biotic and abiotic stresses and for incorporating farmer-preferred traits. Unfortunately, many of these genetic resources have been replaced by modern cultivars in recent decades, resulting in a reduction in the total number of different varieties grown and/or loss of heterogeneity. Such losses make farming systems less resilient, especially to shocks from abiotic and biotic stresses. These guidelines, intended as reference materials for preparing a National Plan for the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Farmers’ Varieties/Landraces, will contribute to addressing this continuing loss of diversity. The guidelines are therefore a useful tool for development practitioners, researchers, students and policymakers who work on the conservation and sustainable use of these valuable resources.
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    Book (stand-alone)
    Proceedings of the Global Conference on Green Development of Seed Industries
    4–5 November 2021
    2022
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    This book represents the proceedings of the Global Conference on Green Development of Seed Industries which FAO organized in a virtual format on 4 and 5 November 2021. Coming 12 years after the previous World Seed Conference, FAO convened the conference to provide a neutral forum for its Members, partners, industry leaders, opinion leaders and other stakeholders to engage in focused dialogues on how best to make quality seeds and planting materials of preferred productive, nutritious and resilient crop varieties available to farmers, especially in food insecure parts of the world. The proceedings provide a record of the main highlights of the conference, including the opening and keynote address plenary session, a high-level ministerial segment and eight parallel sessions dedicated to the four conference themes of advanced technologies, conservation of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture, crop varietal development and adoption, and seed systems. The fifth conference theme, policy and governance, was crosscutting. The conference was timely, informative, inclusive and inspiring and its successful convening creates an important momentum to facilitate the development and delivery of the solutions that enable farmers to have access to quality seeds and planting materials of improved crop varieties.
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    Book (stand-alone)
    Manual of Seed Handling in Genebanks
    Handbooks for Genebanks No. 8
    2006
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    Genebanks are the storehouses of plant genetic resources, providing the raw material for the improvement of crops. They play a key role in contributing to the sustainable development of agriculture, helping to increase food production and thus to overcome hunger and poverty. Inherent resistance to pests and diseases can be bred into crop plants, reducing the need to use chemicals that can have deleterious effects on farmers and the environment. The seeds contained in genebanks are a vital and irreplaceable resource, a heritage which must be conserved to provide future agricultural options in a world facing climate change and other unforeseen challenges. The sustainable conservation of genetic resources depends on effective actions by genebank staff, who play a critical role in ensuring that germplasm is effectively and efficiently conserved. They need to apply proper procedures for handling seeds to ensure their survival and availability to present and futur e generations. The practical manual on Procedures for Handling Seed in Genebanks (Hanson, 1985), published by the International Board for Plant Genetic Resources (IBPGR), a predecessor of Bioversity International, has helped genebank curators and technicians in seed conservation in the past. Research over recent decades has yielded advances in knowledge regarding seed physiology and seed-storage behaviour. The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in 1992, the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (PGRFA) in 2004 and related agreements have changed the global framework of germplasm ownership and benefit-sharing. The development of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and associated controversies have important implications for the ways genebanks manage their germplasm, notably to prevent the unintentional introgression of exotic genes, including transgenes. All of these new opportunities and challenges called for an update of the 1985 handbook for genebanks. This manual addresses these recent changes, and is intended to ensure that seed handling in genebanks meets today’s requirements. The new manual is complemented by an interactive self-learning module, found on the CD ROM included in this package. The manual and self-learning module are intended to help address the challenges associated with the shortage and frequent turnover of qualified genebank staff, particularly in developing countr ies.

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