Innovation needs no boundaries: biodiversity through partnership


If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together” (African proverb)

If you want to go far, go together – Four countries unite for the conservation of nutritionally-relevant agrobiodiversity

Brazil, Kenya, Sri Lanka and Turkey have thus joined forces under the umbrella of the Biodiversity for Food and Nutrition project – funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and coordinated by Bioversity International – to explore how best to promote nutritionally-rich species and, by so-doing, develop and conserve them.
Local plants and animals, which are often  more nutritious than their introduced  counterparts, are increasingly being recognized as playing an important role in providing the diversity of nutrients needed in human diets for healthy growth and living at a local scale. These plants and animals are equally central to food security and livelihoods. They are often cheap and readily accessible to low-income communities and by integrating them in their farming and aquatic systems, producers reduce the risk of losing the bulk of their production to unpredictable weather and market conditions. Furthermore, because they are well adapted to the environment in which they grow, these species and varieties often require fewer external inputs for optimal growth, making their development less harmful for the environment.
Yet, like most of the Planet’s biodiversity, local species and varieties and the traditional knowledge associated with their collection, preparation and storage is disappearing.

The four countries, which are home to a large variety of plants and animals whose nutritional potential remains largely unknown and therefore untapped, will be the trial sites for this innovate partnership which seeks to address the issue of diminishing local agrobiodiversity by:

  1. PROVIDING EVIDENCE – Demonstrating the nutritional value of agricultural biodiversity and the role it plays in promoting healthy diets and strengthening livelihoods.
  2. INFLUENCING POLICIES – Using the evidence generated from the project to influence policies, programmes and markets that support the conservation and sustainable use of agricultural biodiversity with nutrition potential for improved human nutrition and wellbeing.
  3. RAISING AWARENESS – Developing tools, knowledge and best practices for scaling up the use of biodiversity for food and nutrition in development programmes, value chains and local community initiatives.

The Project has an active learning agenda by collecting information on best practices and case studies that use agricultural biodiversity in complementary and sustainable strategies that aim to improve dietary diversity and quality, health and nutrition as well as enhance livelihoods and food security through marketing of agricultural biodiversity products.
Help us document your work on conserving and using local agrobiodiversity for nutrition by providing information on your project.

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Traditional foods such as mushrooms are being targeted by the BFN Project in Kenya/Photo: Danny Hunter (Bioversity International)

Click here for more information and to obtain guidelines on how to structure the case studies for review.

Implementation support for the project is being provided from the United Nations Environment Programme and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, with additional funding from the four countries, the CGIAR Research Program on Agriculture for Nutrition and Health. Support from the World Food Programme, the Earth Institute, Columbia University, Crops for the Future, the World Agroforestry Centre and The World Vegetable Center – AVRDC is being received to facilitate both implementation and scaling up of activities. National partners come from relevant ministries, the scientific community, non-government organizations, civil society and local communities.

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