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EU Gives €5 Million to Maintain Crop Biodiversity

EU Gives €5 Million to Maintain Crop Biodiversity

25 June 2012

EU - The European Union is contributing €5 million ($6.5 million) towards the Benefit-sharing Fund which helps farmers in developing countries manage crop diversity for food security and climate change adaptation, the FAO announced at a ministerial meeting at the Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development.

As the single largest contribution, it will help to increase the capacity of smallholder farmers to manage traditional crops like potato, rice, cassava, wheat and sorghum.

"Plant genetic biodiversity is a key factor for sustainable agriculture. We share the commitment to ensuring that the world's ecosystems, and in FAO's specific case the world's agro-ecosystems, are healthy and sustainable," said José Graziano da Silva, FAO Director-General, at the 2nd High-Level Round Table on the International Treaty for Food and Agriculture at Rio+20.

The meeting focused on delivery of the Treaty's potential benefits for biodiversity, climate change mitigation, and sustainability. FAO hosts the Secretariat of the International Treaty which entered into force in 2001.

The European Union joined the Treaty in 2004 and this is the first time that a member of the Treaty which is not an individual country has contributed to the Fund.

The Benefit-sharing Fund is governed by 127 countries and addresses food security at a time when climate change and other threats are contributing to massive losses of crop genetic diversity. The Fund already supports projects in 21 countries by promoting innovative planning and practical solutions for the use of crop biodiversity in areas affected by climate change, rural poverty or food insecurity.

"We need full political and financial commitment in support of sustainable agriculture if we want to guarantee food security worldwide while ensuring the conservation of our natural resources, such as biodiversity," Dacia Ciolos, European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, said.

"In this context, strengthening the implementation of the International Treaty will be essential to face major challenges for food security such as climate change," he added.

"Farmers, as managers of genetic diversity, have much to offer both to their own communities and to the world at large thanks to their efforts to conserve and improve their crops through breeding and selection, and by making them available for use by others," said Lars Peder Brekk, Minister of Agriculture and Food of Norway and Chair of the High-Level Task Force of the Treaty.

The treaty recognizes “farmers’ rights” and includes among them the right to participate equitably in benefit-sharing and in national decision-making about plant genetic resources.

“The participation of small-scale farmers and other stakeholders in this process, from civil society organizations to the private sector, is not only welcome but also necessary,” said Graziano da Silva.

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