PAR Newsletter n. 17, August 2015


Platform for Agrobiodiversity Research

Platform for Agrobiodiversity Research

August 2015

Greetings to all our subscribers!

When we are asked to describe or define agrobiodiversity we like to include the phrase “Created and managed by farmers, pastoralists, fishers and forest dwellers, agrobiodiversity continues to provide many rural communities throughout the world with stability, adaptability and resilience in their farming systems and constitutes a key element of their livelihood strategies”. We do this, firstly, to emphasize that agrobiodiversity depends on the people who maintain and use it, and is not just a biological term covering a subset of total biodiversity.

Secondly, we want to make a statement about the continuing value of agrobiodiversity to people around the world.Given its importance, it is not surprising that several of the items in this issue of the Newsletter provide information on the importance of the human dimension in agrobiodiversity maintenance and use. These include information on landscape and spirituality in Bolivia, the recognition of the contribution that indigenous communities make to conservation and the value of community genebanks. Small-scale producers, rural communities and indigenous peoples from around the world manage agrobiodiversity in thoughtful and sophisticated ways, with established procedures and practices that support its continued conservation. The knowledge involved is an important feature of management practices that PAR hopes we can make part of future efforts to support the use of agrobiodiversity, whether at the local level or (as in the case of the item of Biodiversity and Human Health) at the global level.

Remember, we welcome comments on any of the items in this Newsletter and contributions or suggestions for future Newsletters or for the website. 

In focus

  • Biodiversity and Human Health
    The report, Connecting Global Priorities: Biodiversity and Human Health, launched on 4th June 2015 focuses on the complex and multi-faceted connections between biodiversity and human health, and how the loss of biodiversity and corresponding ecosystem services may negatively influence health.
  • Landscape and spirituality in the Bolivian highlands
    In the Aymaran community of Cachilaya, in Bolivia, Campos protects the community against bad weather situations and magic by reading natural indicators. Stars and clouds will help them forecast bad weather that they will fight by blowing horns or using other methods. If the fight is lost, they prevent the community to take measures to protect their crops. Read about the Andean view of the world and spirituality linked with the landscape use and management of this Aymaran community.


  • Wild Foods and their contribution to diets
    An ethnobiological inventory of available food biodiversity was carried out by means of focus group discussions and five wild foods were selected for further modelling.  A market survey assessed available food prices by season. Diets were modelled to minimize cost and maximize nutrient adequacy using the Cost of Diet linear programming tool. Modelling was done without and with wild foods.
  • New Book: Bread, Wine, Chocolate: The Slow Loss of Foods We Love
    Bread, Wine, Chocolate – Part memoir of a journey to six continents in pursuit of delicious and endangered tastes, part investigation of the loss of agricultural biodiversity from soil to plate – tells the story of what we are losing, how we are losing it, and the inspiring and tireless people and places that are bringing back the foods we love.
  • New book: With our own hands – Food and life in the Pamir mountains
    In the autumn of 2009, a grandmother in the village of Mun, in the Ghund valley of the Tajik Pamir Mountains, approached two young researchers and asked them to write down her old recipes. “I want to share them with my children and grandchildren while I still remember what I know,” she said.
  • New book: Community Seed Banks – Origins, Evolution and Prospects
    A new book published by Earthscan/Routledge in association with Bioversity International. Community Seed Banks – Origins, Evolution and Prospects provides for the first time a global review of their development, including a wide range of case studies.
  • Indigenous communities can do more for large-scale conservation than protected areas
    A study from Papua, Indonesia, by scientists at the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) is among the first to show how local communities are protecting extensive areas of land – in contrast to assumptions that such communities overuse or damage natural resources.
  • Keeping you up to date on orphan crops research
    Learn about the Neglected and Underutilized Species (NUS) Community, its news information service and how to get involved. A quarterly newsletter and/or follow @NUS_Community on twitter to be informed about and engaged in this exciting field of agricultural development.‎

Call for contributions

  • ABS of plant genetic resources for farmers and agroecology?
    Deadline for contributions is 15 August 2015
    In a forthcoming special issue of the magazine “Farming Matters,” ILEIA in collaboration with Bioversity International will explore if and how access and benefit sharing related to plant genetic resources can work for family farmers and agroecology.
  • Women and agroecology
    Deadline for contributions is 1 September 2015
    The December 2015 issue of Farming Matters will focus on women’s role in promoting agroecology and how it has helped them achieve their goals. The magazine will take a closer look at what motivates women to inspire progress in farming and food.

Upcoming events



Two campos blowing horns to prevent hail / Photo credit: Helga Gruberg
Two campos blowing horns to prevent hail / Photo credit: Helga Gruberg

PAR’s goal: Is to enhance the sustainable management and use of agrobiodiversity by improving knowledge of all its different aspects. It seeks to promote research and integrate, mobilize and share research findings on the sustainable management of agrobiodiversity.The PAR Newsletter is published by the Platform for Agrobiodiversity Research and distributed to members and other subscribers. The Secretariat welcomes news, letters and other items of interest from individuals and organizations.Address correspondences and information to:Dr. Toby Hodgkin (Project Coordinator)
c/o Bioversity International
Via dei Tre Denari 472/a 00057
Maccarese, Rome, Italy


The Platform is hosted and supported byBioversity International


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