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International Journal of Biodiversity Science & Management Vol. 5, No. 1, March 2009, 10–20 The agricultural biodiversity policy development process: Exploring means of policy development to support the on-farm management of crop genetic diversity a b c d e f g h i S. Bragdon *, D.I. Jarvis , D. Gauchan , I. Mar , N.N. Hue , D. Balma , L. Collado , L. Latournerie , B.R. Sthapit , j b k M. Sadiki , C. Fadda and J. Ndungu-Skilton a b c Oregon University System, Portland, Oregon, USA; Bioversity International, Maccarese, Rome, Italy; Socio-Economics and Agricultural Research Policy Division, Nepal Agricultural Research Council, Khumaltaur, Lalitpur, Nepal; Institute for Agrobotany, Tapioszele, e f Hungary; Plant Genetic Resources Center, VASI, Van Dien, Thanh Tri, Hanoi, Vietnam; Institut de l’Environnement et Recherches Agricoles (INERA), Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso; Consorcio para el Desarrollo Sostenible de Ucayali (CODESU), Pucallpa, Peru; h i Institute of Tecnologico Agropecuario No.2, Conkal, Yucatan, Mexico; Bioversity International, Bioversity-APO 3/10 Dharmashila Marg, j k Nadipur Patan, Kaski, Pokhara, Nepal; Institut Agronomique et Veterinaire Hassan II, Rabat, Morocco; Bioversity International, Regional Office for Sub-Saharan Africa, ICRAF, Nairobi, Kenya Developments in international and national law and policy over the last two decades have changed the working environ- ment for those in charge of managing and making decisions about genetic resources, including those held on-farm by farming communities. A collaborative programme with national partners in Vietnam, Mexico, Peru, Burkina Faso, Morocco and Hungary, and Bioversity International (formerly the International Plant Genetic Resources Institute (IPGRI) has designed tools to assist scientists and decision-makers to understand how scientific and institutional information about in situ conservation of agricultural biodiversity on-farm can be integrated and inform policy choices. This paper shares information about the critical components of the policy development process and how the process might enable a participatory, bottom-up approach for supporting the conservation and use of agricultural biodiversity on-farm. Keywords: biodiversity; conservation; farming; genetic resources Introduction managing and making decisions about genetic resources, including on-farm diversity. The task of understanding all of Over the past decade, many national and international the issues of relevance to the conservation and sustainable programmes worldwide have been set up to support the use of agricultural biodiversity on-farm is complex. It is the maintenance of crop genetic diversity in agricultural responsibility of national governments to fulfill their inter- ecosystems (Jarvis et al. 2004; Jarvis and Hodgkin 2008). national legal obligations and to promulgate appropriate The implementation of these programmes has led to national laws and policies. Bioversity attempts to provide increased awareness within the global community that tools to assist national governments in this process. highly sophisticated and complex systems are in place for Specifically, this paper is designed to help scientists and the management of plant genetic resources for food and decision-makers to understand the policy development agriculture (PGRFA) on-farm. Further understanding is process and how scientific and other information about in needed, however, on how these systems relate to, and are situ conservation of agricultural biodiversity on-farm can be affected by, national policies and laws, and how policies and integrated and inform policy choices. laws can be developed to support these systems. Using the Bioversity project to illustrate, this paper Working with Nepal, Vietnam, Mexico, Peru, Burkina discusses the policy development process needed to support Faso, Morocco and Hungary, Bioversity International the conservation and use of agricultural biodiversity on- (formerly the International Plant Genetic Resources farm. The following section briefly discusses how PGRFA Institute (IPGRI)), a global on-farm conservation project are different from other genetic resources, how legal ‘Strengthening the Scientific Basis of in Situ Conservation systems can play an important role in supporting on-farm On-farm’ was launched in 1995 to strengthen the scientific conservation and use of PGRFA, and how the link to basis for the in situ conservation of agricultural biodiversity economic development can help establish the desirability on-farm (see Jarvis and Hodgkin 2000; Jarvis et al. 2008). of a supportive legal and policy environment. This is followed The project is now facing the challenge of supporting by a brief general overview of policy development process. project countries in developing and/or reforming policies The next sections describe the Bioversity on-farm project’s and laws to support in situ conservation of crop genetic five-step situation analysis process for evaluating the diversity on-farm. Developments in international and impact of law and policy on agricultural biodiversity in national law and policy over the last two decades have individual countries, some of the results collected to date, changed the working environment for those in charge of *Corresponding author. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org ISSN 1745-1590 print/ISSN 1745-1604 online # 2009 Taylor & Francis DOI: 10.1080/17451590902789971 http://www.informaworld.com International Journal of Biodiversity Science & Management 11 and how to use the situation analysis results as a starting not necessarily prohibited if they provide substantial point for locally-tailored policy recommendations, and economic value without an unacceptable impact (Smale notes some of the key issues emerging in the project and King 2005), or if there are other effective ways to countries. The final section briefly summarizes the critical preserve desired varieties. issues in the policy development process. The need for laws and other incentives to promote the conservation, development and use of PGRFA on-farm is easy to articulate. The advantage of rendering crop yields Unique characteristics of PGRFA = need for specific resilient to changing natural conditions is indisputable, policies whether the crops are grown for local consumption or for The challenges of formulating law and policy governing export markets. However, Smale (2006) notes that, according to recent studies, financial resources allocated for these on-farm conservation are different from those involved in purposes have been declining at both national and inter- formulating similar provisions for biodiversity conservation national levels, even though agriculture is directly and in ‘wild’ lands because a key characteristic is the resources immediately linked with the national economies of most are human-made and not merely found in nature. Correa developing countries. Support and improvement of agricul- (2003: 37) listed the various features that differentiate plant tural productivity is critical to economic development for genetic resources for food and agriculture from other genetic resources: any poor country with a large fraction of its population dependent on farming (Smale and King 2005). Therefore, Plant genetic resources for food and agriculture are policy-makers at all levels in agriculturally-focused countries human-made and not merely found in nature; need to appreciate the importance of PGRFA on-farm for There is a global interdependence with respect to agricultural productivity, food security and ultimately to these resources: no country is self-sufficient but economic development, and support these resources with rather depends on the supply of resources from effective legal and economic policies. other countries; The effectiveness of laws and regulations depends on It is generally difficult or impossible to trace the how effectively they are tailored to the physical, socio- origin of a given germplasm, which results from the economic and cultural conditions of the affected localities. combination of genes coming from different countries/ Local knowledge, in touch with overall local environments, regions; is critical to planning and evaluating laws and regulations There are already practices with respect to the that will act on those environments (Brush and Stabinsky exchange of germplasm, which are generally observed 1996). Individuals and communities are more likely to by the public and private sectors. commit to implementing laws and policies that they perceive as legitimate because of their relevance to the The value of these resources lies in the species or varieties local situation. A policy approach, based on field data that as such, which includes genes from different sources – consider the community’s socio-economic, cultural, generally difficult to identify. The genes or sequences of scientific, technical and institutional situations and on the involvement of all stakeholders at the grassroots level, has genes are not useful in isolation, but only when expressed been termed a ‘ground-up’ approach (Bisiaux and Sherman with other genes and incorporated in varieties that are 2004). A truly ground-up approach is based on an under- adapted to particular agronomic conditions. On farms, full-time human habitation is already part of standing of local management and decision-making the picture; in fact, as Mulvany (2002) and others describe, processes and the factors affecting those processes. traditional farmers’ activities are often the driving force Unfortunately, this information is often lacking or, if it behind agricultural biodiversity. The threat to agricultural exists, there is no existing process for integrating it into biodiversity is not human use of the resources per se, but national policy-making. well-meaning ‘process modernization’ efforts that lead to The difficulty of integrating this information into policy the kind of changes in plant population, soil chemistry, etc. formulation is exacerbated by the complex range of factors that decrease diversity among crops, wild relatives and that affect the conservation or erosion of genetic diversity in symbiotic flora. Conservation of wild relatives of economic farmers’ fields over time. Some of these factors are unpre- crops, sometimes called ‘econogeners’, may require new dictable, such as weather variations, spill-over effects from protected areas around cradle areas of crop domestication, road-building or seemingly distant urbanization (Jarvis evolution and diversity (Vavilov Centres) (Brush 2005). et al. 2000). Others, such as short-term yield and market These protected areas may include road verges and field demand for a given crop, which can immediately affect a boundaries – very different from the old-growth forests, community’s economic well-being, may sometimes need to wetlands, etc. that are typically protected for wild-land be balanced against the benefits of conservation and biodiversity. The kind of protection, too, is different; those sustainable use of agricultural biodiversity. For instance, a human activities that encourage the desired biodiversity case study in Bangladesh revealed that newly introduced need to be identified and continued, not stopped. rice varieties improved food security, but compromised ‘Improvements’ in agricultural methods should be dietary diversity and balance, compared to local varieties evaluated for their impact on crop genetic diversity, but (Oakley and Momsen 2005). Food security and nutritional 12 S. Bragdon et al. value are both legitimate policy goals, but they need to be development that integrates the knowledge-base generated understood in both the short and the long term to derive a in the first phase of the on-farm project with the information policy that does not unacceptably compromise one for the generated by the addition of economic and legal compo- sake of the other. Policy analysis and formulation in support nents. In some countries, the project has created national of on-farm maintenance of diversity is thus a challenging fora in which farmers, scientists, community leaders and and ongoing endeavour. policy-makers at all levels meet to inform each other and Bioversity’s on-farm project has generated local discuss alternative agricultural biodiversity strategies. For ‘snapshots’ of the status quo from a scientific perspective example, the Nepalese project group set up a ‘travelling (Bajracharya et al. 2006; Latournerie-Moreno et al. 2006; seminar’ that brought judges, members of parliament, and Gauchan and Smale 2007; Hodgkin et al. 2007; Sadiki et al. other policy-makers to the group’s research eco-sites 2007; Jarvis et al. 2008). However, these may change (Sthapit et al. 2004, 2008; Upadhyay et al. 2006). rapidly due to external forces brought to bear by environ- Common methodologies, criteria, indicators and assessment mental changes and globalization of trade. Some countries techniques will allow comparison of successes and failures have also begun to obtain a clearer picture of the policy and in the formulation of policy recommendations across legal environment and its present or potential impact on the countries. management of agricultural biodiversity on-farm. For example, the studies in Abbott (2005), which included household surveys, show that the land privatization, The policy development process agricultural extension and credit policies of both At the national level, policy-makers balance objectives that government and NGOs in Ecuador have reduced agricultural may at times be contradictory. The goal is to make recom- biodiversity by encouraging cultivation of ‘more market- mendations for policy reform and/or promulgation based on able’ introduced bean varieties, displacing local varieties sound field data and consideration of stakeholders’ needs that have demonstrated superior nutritional, culinary and and capabilities, and developed (and eventually tested) in a agro-ecological qualities. participatory way. This process will ameliorate the problem While the importance of a ‘ground-up’ approach to of potentially conflicting objectives, or at least make the biodiversity policy-making is commonly noted in the litera- trade-offs more explicit for national policy-makers. ture, there has been very little experience with the actual Policy development is a multi-step process with inter- integration of relevant field data, understanding of local relationships among the steps and needs for feedback on conditions, and meaningful participation in national pol- impact and effectiveness (see Figure 1). The first step is to icy-making processes. Because of the information and identify the goal to be achieved or the problem to be solved. data already collected, Bioversity’s on-farm project presents The second step is to identify indicators to measure how an opportunity to create and assess experience in the process well a law or policy serves its intended aim. The third step is of participatory policy development that accounts for local to compile accurate information on the situational (scientific, realities. It is also an opportunity to test and create a technical, socio-economic, policy, legal and institutional) methodology from truly ‘ground-up’ policy development factors at work, to provide a meaningful foundation for that integrate scientific and other field data that can serve as policy recommendations. The fourth step is to assess the a model for others. current and potential impact of the identified situational Using the knowledge gained at the pilot sites and the factors on the intended goal or solution. data already collected on the distribution and use of agri- Any or all of the identified situational factors may raise cultural biodiversity, methodologies for policy development opportunities for, and constraints on, policy recommenda- can be developed and evaluated in very specific locations. tions. A thorough understanding of these opportunities and Because many independent organizations are undertaking constraints is a key ingredient in formulating recommenda- farmer-participatory projects that include these issues, tions and persuading decision-makers to adopt them. information-sharing between these organizations may Possible future needs for legal, political or economic greatly speed progress for all of them. Some of the organ- support of the policy’s goal also need to be anticipated at izations undertaking independent agricultural biodiversity this stage. Gaps in information should be identified early, projects with farmer participation are the People, Land and means to obtain the missing pieces (or to compensate as Management and Environmental Change (PLEC) Project far as possible for their absence) need to be put in place. (Brookfield and Padoch 2007; Rerkasem and Pinedo- Research on experience in other countries – what has and Vasquez 2007), the Community Biodiversity Development has not worked – can provide useful examples. Criteria for and Conservation (CBDC) Programme, the CIAT-TSBF-GEF comparing alternative policy options should be established; Below-Ground Biodiversity (BGBD) Project (Brown et al. these will probably be related to the measurement indicators 2007), the Global Pollinator Project implemented by FAO identified in the second step. (2008). This paper is one step in the information-sharing Once a policy is formulated, developing the legal and process. institutional mechanisms to implement the policy will The global nature of Bioversity’s on-farm project also provides the opportunity for different countries to benefit follow the same steps. Where policies already exist to from each other’s experience in pursuing a process of policy address the identified goals, the development and reform International Journal of Biodiversity Science & Management 13 Identification of goals/objectives Monitor and evaluate Establish indicators Develop institutional and legal mechanisms Situational analysis Scientific/Technical Select policy options Socioeconomic Policy/Legal Institutional Assess/test options Impact Assessment Develop policy recommendations scientific/technical Factors Analysis (identify opportunities and Socioeconomic influencing of constraints) Policy/Legal Institutional Figure 1. Policy development process. of policy, laws and institutions can happen in quick succes- Scientific/technical and socio-economic analysis sion as part of a single process. Table 1 illustrates the minimum set of information required on the scientific/technical and socioeconomic components that need to be understood in order to design effective Situation analysis policy. They focus around four basic areas of research: The objective of policy reform and development in (1) What diversity is maintained on farm: quantifying Bioversity’s on-farm project is to support the conservation the amount and distribution of genetic diversity and use of crop genetic diversity on-farm (Jarvis et al. maintained by farmers over space and over time. 2000). The steps for assessing and developing policy (2) How is diversity maintained: what are the processes recommendations are similar to those required for legal used to maintain genetic diversity on-farm? and institutional reform and may be considered as part of (3) Who maintains genetic diversity within farming one process. communities (men, women, young, old, rich, poor, A policy-maker who has decided to support the specific ethnic groups)? objectives such as those of Bioversity’s on-farm project (4) Why do farmers maintain diversity; what are the will first want to understand the current situation. factors (market, non-market, social, environmental) Amounts and distributions of agricultural biodiversity, that influence farmers’ decisions on maintaining farmers’ decisions related to conservation and use, and traditional cultivars? their reasons for making these decisions are the type of information needed for this initial understanding. Researchers and scientists working at the local level, and Policy and legal analysis analysts and others in a position to influence policy formulation, need an understanding of the policy and As noted above, the main gap in the Bioversity project’s legal environment in which policy-makers operate. situation analysis is with regard to the policy, legal and Information and understanding need to be gathered in institutional situation. Information on these aspects needs four main components of a situation analysis: scientific/ to be combined with scientific, technical and socio-economic technical, socioeconomic, policy/legal and institutional. information to provide the foundation for sound policy The on-farm project has thus far collected data on the recommendations. Policies and laws need to be examined first two components. Some countries are beginning to gain at the international (including regional), national and local understanding and information on the latter two. To influ- levels. Given the potential complexity of policies and laws ence policy development, one immediate task of this project having a direct or indirect impact, common terms of must therefore be to obtain a more complete picture of the reference on the scope of the policy and legislative enquiry policy, legal and institutional factors that are, or might, are essential. The terms of reference should provide infor- influence those who make decisions that affect conservation mation on what policies and laws affect or potentially affect of agricultural biodiversity on-farm. the conservation and use of crop genetic diversity on-farm. 14 S. Bragdon et al. Table 1. Situation analysis – minimum set of question to answer for a situation analysis of crop genetic diversity maintained on-farm. What diversity is maintained Amount and distribution How much diversity (measured at the variety level, and the gene or trait levels) is there within and between farmers’ fields? How is diversity related to size and arrangement of plots or fields?Variety distinctiveness How consistent are farmers in naming their varieties at village and community levels? How genetically distinct and genetically variable are farmers’ varieties? How does variety naming affect the evolution of crop varieties on-farm? How is this diversity maintained Plot management How is diversity related to plot-specific characteristics? How does farmer selection affect genetic diversity with varieties and diversity within varieties on-farm? What are the management practices for specific crops or varieties that affect diversity within and between plots? Seed systems How does seed source affect the amount and nature of genetic diversity? How does the renewal of seed lots affect the amount and nature of genetic diversity? How do seed selection practices affect amount and nature of genetic diversity? How do storage conditions affect the amount of genetic diversity? How connected are the components of the seed system? What methods and processes that move seed from source to destination affect the amount and nature of genetic diversity? Who maintains genetic diversity How does diversity of decision-makers affect diversity on-farm? How does farmers’ knowledge about varieties affect diversity on-farm? How does farmer knowledge of environment and plant adaptation affect genetic diversity? Why do farmers maintain diversity on-farm What are the market and non-market (social, cultural, environmental) factors that influence diversity management decisions? How do changes in social processes affect diversity on-farm? Table 2 outlines some of the main categories of law at each has signed, and how it is implementing their provisions, is an level. important part of the national situational analysis. Treaties that As part of the development of common terms of reference include international standards for such areas as biosafety for the policy and legal situation analysis, Table 2 may be deserve particular attention because, even if a country has adapted into a customized matrix and used as a framework for not yet acceded to the treaty, it may be ‘phasing in’ similar analysis in any country. The researcher gathering and analys- standards with an eye to acceding later. ing the information should acquire a working understanding In terms of national policy, the logical first question is of the relevant international treaties. Which treaties a country whether there is a national biological diversity policy or Table 2. Situational analysis: policy/legal. International (includes regional) National Local Treaties: Trade Biodiversity Agriculture – Biodiversity strategy/policy? – Local protocols rules, regulations Intellectual property Biosafety/Biosecurity Agrobiodiversity component? Access and exchange – Sectoral law and policy: Management, etc. Agriculture Environment Trade Health Land tenure, energy, water management Interior (local communities & indigenous peoples) Intellectual property Finance (agricultural and research subsidies, loans, taxes) – Laws implementing treaties – Integration of customary rules and practices – Incentive measures (e.g. prices, subsidies) – Delivery systems (e.g. marketing regulations) – Land legislation including tenure – GMO legislation – Political recognition and legal status of local communities, traditional institutions, farmers’ organizations – Access and benefit-sharing International Journal of Biodiversity Science & Management 15 strategy. If so, does it deal specifically with agricultural across countries and a minimum common foundation. They biodiversity? Next, any written policies on related subjects should not be construed as an exclusive list that may inad- (agriculture, environment, trade, health and intellectual vertently miss a policy, law or institution of relevance. In property) with potential impact on agricultural biodiversity addition, there should be a feedback mechanism between the policy/legal and institutional analyses so, for example, will need to be examined, whether or not there is a national policies or laws uncovered in the institutional analysis, but agricultural biodiversity policy per se. perhaps missed in the legal/policy analysis, can be included. In terms of national law, perhaps the best place to start researching is with those written sources that exist – legislative enactments, executive directives, judicial decisions, published regulations and the like. Some countries, Institutional analysis such as India and Sri Lanka, are beginning to put these Like the policy and legal analysis, the institutional analysis materials online. If the researcher is careful to choose only will need to evaluate institutional actors at the international, material from official government sites and reputable news national and local levels. This analysis seeks to provide services, this can save considerable time. However, the online information on who implements or administers the laws, picture is likely to be incomplete – limited to recent develop- including their policy-making functions and implementa- ments or high-profile topics – so a follow-up of published tion methods. Table 3 outlines some of the categories of documents will still be necessary to fill in missing pieces. institutions at each level. Like Table 2, this table can be a While some boundaries will need to be set on the scope of the starting point for developing common terms of reference. inquiry, there are some areas of policy and law that may As noted in Table 3, part of the analysis will need to include initially seem tangential but can have important impacts, how institutions charged with implementation interact with such as those on education and research. Administrative one another. Does the statute or regulation enable them to agencies, ministries and institutions are a fertile source of work harmoniously or set them up to work at cross-purposes? specific information on law and policy. Legislatures will Does one institution take precedence over another, either often give broad guidance, whereas administrative agencies in its funding or its organizational position? Are there coordination mechanisms? and institutions implement the policies outlined, sometimes in quite a different form or with quite different effects from those intended. Wherever possible, understanding of a country’s administrative practice should inform the analysis. Surveys This law-and-policy situation analysis is related to, but Identifying the policies and laws, and institutions charged distinct from, the institutional situation analysis that identifies with implementing them, is necessary but not sufficient to a the institutions and agencies that implement the relevant full understanding of the actual situation on the ground. A laws and policies. Clearly, it can be helpful to have identified policy or law ‘on the books’ is not necessarily applied, and its these actors before looking to them for the scope of their intent may not correlate with its real effect. Many institutions responsibilities, but in many cases their roles will become exercise broad discretion under a grant of power from an apparent only after exploring legislative enactments to deter- executive authority. Others carry out quite specific functions mine the range and subject matter of the power granted to in carefully prescribed ways. Even where an agency has no them. Consequently, any matrix developed for the policy, formal law-making functions of its own, such as issuing legal or institutional analysis will need to provide flexibility regulations or adjudicating disputes, its implementation of a for different national situations. Tables or matrices should be given law or policy could deviate from what a cursory used to build a framework for analysis that allows comparison reading of its guiding statute might lead one to suppose. Table 3. Situational analysis: institutional. International National Local – Intergovernmental fora – Administrative, ministerial or – Local community institutions: departmental mandates and mandates & authorities (roles over CBD authority access, use) IT – Interdepartmental coordination – Local gene banks WTO Agreement on Agriculture mechanisms TRIPS, etc. – Farmers’ unions WIPO Patent Treaty – Law enforcement institutions – Cooperatives – Intergovernmental bodies – Courts – Tribal systems UNEP – State-operated universities and – NGOs FAO other research institutions WIPO (e.g. Intergovernmental Committee on – Provision for extension NGOs Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore) Networks (regional and/or NGO crop-specific) 16 S. Bragdon et al. Consequently, simply compiling the laws and policies that answering; (2) respondents should be encouraged to give describe what an agency or institution should be doing must accurate answers, not necessarily the ones they think the be complemented with experiential information, from a survey-takers want to hear; and (3) unanticipated informa- variety of viewpoints, of what it is actually doing. To obtain tion from open-ended questions may suggest re-contacting a more complete picture of how policies, laws and institu- some of the same people, who are most likely to be recep- tions influence decisions that affect the conservation and tive to follow-on requests if they can expect their responses use of diversity on-farm, surveys can be undertaken to to be respectfully considered. Sample Bioversity surveys determine (among the groups surveyed): are available at [http://www.agrobiodiversityplatform.org/]. The following is an overview of the composition process and the basic content. Awareness of specific policies and laws; Analysts composing surveys need to determine: Experience of what institutions and agencies actually do; Opinions on the effectiveness of policy, law, institu- (1) What key information is needed (this may be tions and institutional arrangements; refined as results of the policy/legal and institu- Any suggestions for reform or new policy, legal or tional analyses are received and evaluated); institutional approaches. (2) What major stakeholder groups (and sub-groups within them) should be surveyed; and Surveys must also solicit information on relevant scientific, (3) How this information can be solicited. social and economic indicators. Surveys are the tool for measuring the impact and effectiveness of policy develop- Item 3, the ‘how’ question, merits very careful considera- ments, and serve three functions: they (1) complete the tion, informed by an understanding of the respondents’ situation analysis; (2) help evaluate impact; and (3) monitor individual situations. Simply asking a farmer or institutional indicators as part of evaluating the effects of policy and law. actor ‘are you aware of policy X and law Y?’ is not enough. One means to gather this information is to conduct in- A negative answer does not necessarily mean the law is person surveys or interviews based on agreed questions. having no effect; it may only indicate a lack of awareness. Generally speaking, this stage should occur after researchers Similarly, asking an institutional actor ‘are you implement- gathering and analysing the information believe they have a ing law X as you are required to do?’ puts the respondent on workable compilation of policies and laws and a good grasp the defensive, potentially impeding the flow of information. of what the governing authority intends to accomplish with Possible risk or embarrassment may result in an ambiguous those policies. Without such a compilation, the surveys and answer, or even a refusal to answer. Another consideration interviews will have no particular object and will result in is that closed-ended questions (true/false or multiple choice) less useful data. The surveys should examine not just what are generally easiest for the respondent to answer and for the agencies prohibit or require by way of regulation or policy- analyst to compile and compare; however, open-ended making, but also what taxes they impose, what subsidies questions can yield more information, including answers they provide, what educative or extension functions they to questions that the analyst did not initially recognize the undertake, what goods or services they provide by way of need to ask. Hence, the methodology of obtaining survey infrastructure, capital or other resources, and which agricul- answers is at least as critical to the success of the surveys as tural products they purchase directly for their own use or for determining the key information required. distribution elsewhere. Surveys should combine closed- Length and specificity are two other factors that the ended ‘multiple choice’ questions, which are easy to answer survey composer needs to consider. For almost every and tabulate, with open-ended questions, which can reveal respondent, completing the survey is likely to be extra indicators or other information that might otherwise be work; if it is too long, the recipient may decline to respond. missed. Furthermore, a ‘one-size-fits-all’ survey containing ques- The surveys should poll a sufficiently broad cross-section tions outside a respondent’s knowledge may discourage a of major stakeholders to provide as realistic understanding respondent from returning a response she/he perceives as of the situation as is possible. The three major groups are incomplete, or, worse, encourage guessing. Composing public institutions (government officials, including separate surveys aimed at stakeholders in different situa- administrators of state-sponsored educational institutions), tions can both keep the length under control and help ensure the private sector (e.g. agricultural product companies) and knowledgeable answers. Bioversity uses four surveys that farmers. First, the particular institutions or organizations cover the interests of (1) breeders and seed suppliers: both within each category also need to be identified. Next, the private and public sector; (2) local organizations (included content of the surveys needs to be established. The informa- local extension, research and education and NGOs), (3) tion solicited should shed light on how policies and laws national and local managers of genetic resource collections are, in fact, influencing decisions that have an effect on the (e.g. seed banks, gene banks, botanical gardens); and (4) conservation and use of agricultural biodiversity on-farm. national focal points associated with the national competent The questions should be phrased neutrally, for three impor- authority for plant genetic resources. Within these surveys, tant reasons: (1) respondents who think their opinions are the questions are grouped by topic so that, if appropriate, likely to be opposed should not be discouraged from each respondent may be sent only those question groups International Journal of Biodiversity Science & Management 17 relevant to his company’s, institution’s or organization’s Bioversity’s national policy focal points survey inquires activities. Bioversity’s online sample surveys come with about: guidelines on which question groups are best suited to different types of respondent. National competent authorities designated under In general, Bioversity’s breeders and seed companies international treaties like the Convention on surveys inquire about: Biological Diversity and the institutional landscape related to PGRFA; What databases are maintained on collections and Authority for access to PGRFA; National databases (including information contained how they are managed; and how it is managed); How breeding goals and varieties to promote are The relationship with local communities; determined (including commercial varieties, hybrids, Participation in international treaties; traditional varieties, determination of relevant traits); Major sources of seeds; Farmers’ rights (how recognized and implemented, Cooperation with other institutions (farmers, breeding, including participation in decision-making); marketing, distribution, etc.); Intellectual property rights (including how landraces Mechanisms for protection of intellectual property are handled if at all, farmers’ privileges, etc.); rights (including mechanisms to prevent misappro- Land ownership and use policies (including tenure, priation of farmers’ varieties, farmers’ privilege, etc.); inheritance, etc.). Seed certification procedures, if any; Biosafety regulations, including for genetically A cover letter should accompany the survey, explaining its modified seed; objectives, how the data will be used, when the responses Policies in place for benefit-sharing. need to be returned, where the results will be published, and whether responses may be submitted anonymously. Bioversity’s local organization survey inquires about: Examples of survey use The authority of local communities over access and use of genetic resources; Following are examples of use of the surveys to effect The recognition of farmers’ rights and privileges policy change in Biodiversity’s on-farm project countries. (including through intellectual property protection); A team of biological and social scientists used this type of Seed policy and the recognition of farmers’ varieties; survey to evaluate agricultural biodiversity law and policy The influence of laws and policies on farmers’ in Nepal from 2002 to 2005 (Gauchan et al. 2006). The decision-making; results showed that Nepal’s conservation policy was limited Relationships with national ministries (including to ‘wild-land’ biodiversity. Seed regulations, subsidies and number of meetings, participation in decision- loans, marketing efforts and research and education making); activities including agricultural extensions all promoted Documentation and registration systems for farmers’ major crops, modern cultivars, and exotic breeds. Only varieties and/or traditional knowledge (including any limited research was devoted to native under-utilized mechanisms for misappropriation); crops, landraces and conservation of rare or threatened Relationships with research institutions, including crop genetic resources. Based on these results, the group participation; was able to recommend specific initiatives such as farmers’ Benefit-sharing mechanisms with local communities rights legislation, amendments of seed regulations and and farmers; subsidy policies to encourage cultivation of local heteroge- Extension and information dissemination. neous varieties, and increased research and education on agricultural biodiversity conservation. Bioversity’s germplasm collection managers’ survey Another study found that Burkina Faso’s seed regula- inquires about: tions, guided by the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV: see International Union The institutional landscape for the management of for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants 2002), largely gene bank collections and PGRFA; tend to encourage modern cultivars. However, as a result of The major collections within the country; the survey work, efforts are made to include varieties devel- Any databases maintained and how they are managed oped through participatory plant breeding (PPB) and parti- and linked (including how traditional knowledge is cipatory varietal selection (PVS) into a special category of handled); seeds that can be traded. PPB and PVS are a collection of Requests for access to PGRFA (including for what research methods that emphasize local farmer involvement purpose, from who, etc. and how access decisions are and focus on crop traits of interest to them, and are largely made) unaddressed in conventional agro-industrial breeding pro- The availability of information on characterization grams (Witcombe et al. 2005). Farmers can access small and evaluation. loans for deployment of modern cultivars developed and 18 S. Bragdon et al. certified by public research institutes. In June, 2006, the subsidies, on condition that they provide a prescribed quan- National Variety Approval, Release and Registration tity of seed to others interested in the growing the same Committee (VARRC) of Nepal released the first bulk variety crops (Mar, personal communication, 2006). of traditional high quality aromatic rice variety –‘Pokhareli Jethobudho’, a rice variety developed through landrace Policy recommendations enhancement from 338 accessions collected with farmer communities (Gyawali et al. 2008). Effective law and policy is based on sound field data and Land-use planning is the focus of a more comprehensive consideration of the needs and capabilities of relevant conservation strategy. In areas of high biodiversity, conser- stakeholders. Its effectiveness is further ensured when vation is the highest priority. Furthermore, pursuant to the relevant stakeholders participate in the development International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources, a series of process. Furthermore, sound policy and legal development local gene banks will be established in high-priority conser- requires: (1) an understanding of the current policy and vation areas. These gene banks, as part of the National Plant legal environment and (2) the role of relevant institutions. Genetic Resources System, will emphasize conservation of The challenge of step five of Figure 1 is to establish a local cultivars. They will also become sources of local seeds process by which these components are assessed and that can be deployed in the event of a natural disaster such as integrated into policy and legal recommendations. an unusually extreme drought (Balma, personal communi- The Bioversity on-farm project has already identified cation 2005; Balma et al. 2004; Zangre et al. 2004). some policy and legal factors that have an impact on on- Meanwhile, in Vietnam, a scheme of seed regulation farm maintenance of diversity. For example, seed supply providing no support for informal seed systems was identi- systems in many countries are significantly affected by policy fied as a major policy obstacle to conservation of landraces. and law. This example illustrates why many facets of the Although most of the country’s seeds are exchanged situational analysis must be integrated into policy develop- through informal systems, those seeds may not be traded ment to produce effective results, and also why monitoring and are confined to strictly local use. Loan programmes and and evaluation must be built into the process. Each year, agricultural extensions strongly encourage the adoption farmers decide how much seed to plant and where that seed of modern improved varieties. The on-farm project recom- comes from. They may use seed selected and stored from mended policy modifications to encourage agricultural their own crop, obtain new seed from markets or other farm- biodiversity, for example (Hue et al. 2004): ers, or both (vom Brocke et al. 2003; Brush 2005). Many factors influence the choice of seed supply: the relative (1) Include protection of agricultural genetic resources importance of the informal and formal seed supply systems; in the management of conservation areas; access to each; legal restraints on each; wealth, environmen- (2) Develop market tools to increase the value of land- tal factors, etc. Simply advocating ‘improvement’ of the seed races with particularly high intrinsic economic value: supply system, without understanding these factors and providing means to monitor and evaluate the impact of the (a) Encourage local creation of consumer-recognition individual policies over time, is an oversimplification intellectual property such as geographical indi- that creates risks of unexpected and undesirable results. cations and trademarks; and Improvement of the seed supply system, for example, could (b) Support the creation of niche markets were increase farmers’ access to genetically diverse crop varieties, these products can be sold; but at the same time decrease genetic diversity by decreasing differentiation among populations. Similarly, the structure, (3) Strengthen the informal seed exchange system and organization and performance of formal seed systems is encourage activities like PPB that will enrich the controlled by various rules and regulations (e.g. seed certifi- available selection; cation, seed distribution regulations) that influence the type (4) Provide a legal status for landraces that will enable and quantity of seed that is supplied through formal channels. their protection; and The impact of these rules and regulations, in relation to (5) Introduce legislation for access and benefit sharing the informal seed system in place, on in situ conservation that will protect farmers’ rights. on-farm needs to be understood, and the effects of possible reforms predicted and enacted reforms monitored for impact. By contrast, Hungary strengthened its support for conserva- Policy options must be assessed using agreed criteria. tion of traditional crops in 2005, working within the frame- For example, because poverty alleviation is a primary con- work of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and cern in most developing countries, there are often calls for what is called Hungaricum (i.e. unique Hungarian special- legal and policy mechanisms to add economic value to on- ties). The latter aims at opening niche markets for traditional farm conservation as a means to improve the livelihoods of foods and beverages, including agricultural products. A list resource-poor farmers. The impact of such measures may be of locally-grown traditional varieties that have been targeted positive in some aspects and negative in others. For for protection is published as an annex to the law, and a instance, the measures might have a negative effect on mechanism has been developed for adding new varieties to diversity over time by valuing some local varieties over the list. Farmers who grow crops from the list can receive others. If the maintenance of diversity over time is a national International Journal of Biodiversity Science & Management 19 Table 4. Illustrative criteria for analysing policy options. Criteria Policy option 1 Policy option 2 Policy option 3 Policy option 4 1. Funding required 2. Direct effect on diversity over time 3. Indirect effect on diversity over time 4. Acceptability: nationally, institutionally, locally 5. Agency capability 6. Capability of other necessary actors 7. Capable of satisfactory performance (or international) objective, means to bear the cost of such a and to make any trade-offs explicit. The next step is to choice will need also to be considered. If an option to add develop indicators by which a law and/or policy will be value to an on-farm crop population is proposed, it will be judged. The development of indicators is important to the important to design a mechanism for monitoring its monitoring stage, an example of how the steps in the policy progress and impact. Illustrative criteria for analysing development process are inter-related. The third step is an policy options are contained in Table 4. analysis of the scientific, technical, socio-economic, policy, Table 4 may be a useful starting point for a framework legal and institutional factors at work. This provides the of criteria to assess policy options. Monitoring for impact is foundation for policy recommendations. The fourth step is also important because actual impacts may be different from to assess the current and potential impact of the situation as what a desk-top analysis might predict. For example, at first analysed on the identified objective. The fifth step is to glance, a national policy subsidizing the use of modern vari- develop criteria by which policy options are to be judged: eties and related fertilisers might reduce the planting of land- this relates to the identified objectives among other factors races. In some cases, however, the increased income from such as, for example, the funding needs for any particular marketing the improved varieties might actually enable farm- option. These criteria should also make any trade-offs expli- ers to continue to maintain preferred varieties on a smaller cit and also be used to evaluate the impacts of existing land area. The impacts of policies and laws on the genetic, policies and laws. Finally, a monitoring component should ecological and economic characteristics of farming systems be built into any new policies and laws because the actual must be monitored over time to see if they actually fulfill the impacts may be different from those anticipated. goal of maintaining high levels of diversity on-farm, as well As noted earlier, while the ‘ground up’ approach is as supporting agro-ecosystem health and improving farmers’ touted in the literature, there is very little practical experience livelihoods in different contexts. Surveys designed to gather with the actual integration of relevant field data, under- information on relevant indicators will therefore need to be standing of local conditions and meaningful participation conducted at intervals through the project in national policy making processes. This paper shares Once adopted, the criteria should be used to evaluate the information about the critical components of the policy impacts of existing policies and laws on on-farm biodiversity. development process and how the process might enable a Information and data already available – such as those ground-up approach to support the conservation and use of available from the on-farm project – are extremely useful. agricultural biodiversity on-farm. The continued sharing of As the information from the various components of the experience amongst countries and projects is another form situation analysis comes together, the criteria will provide of monitoring and feedback that can help strengthen under- a useful tool to integrate the information and assess possible standing and skills in incorporating scientific and other new policy options. information into the policy development process. 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International Journal of Biodiversity Science & Management – Taylor & Francis
Published: Apr 24, 2009
Keywords: biodiversity; conservation; farming; genetic resources
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