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Overcoming smallholder challenges with biotechnology(Taken from FAO website for further dissemination)

The article is taken from FAO website for further dissemination.This article may be accessed at the following link:

http://www.fao.org/news/story/en/item/202820/icode/

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Overcoming smallholder challenges with biotechnology

From breeding to bugs, a new FAO publication looks at biotechnologies at work in small-scale crop, livestock and fish production

 

Harvesting Jian carp from a pond.

29 October 2013, Rome – A new FAO publication calls for greater national and international efforts to bring agricultural biotechnologies to smallholder producers in developing countries.

The publication, Biotechnologies at Work for Smallholders: Case Studies from Developing Countries in Crops, Livestock and Fish, asserts biotechnologies can help smallholders to improve their livelihoods and food security.

Biotechnologies at Work for Smallholders covers 19 case studies in crops, livestock and fisheries, written by scientists and researchers worldwide. It describes the practical realities and experiences of taking biotechnology research and applying it in smallholder production of bananas, cassava, rice, livestock, shrimp and more, in different parts of the developing world.

The case studies encompassed a wide range of biotechnologies. They included older or “traditional” ones like artificial insemination and fermentation, and cutting-edge techniques involving DNA-based methodologies – but not genetic modification.

The publication was prepared by a multi-disciplinary team at FAO as part of an agricultural biotechnologies project partially funded by the Government of Canada.

“With the right institutional and financial arrangements, governments, research institutions and organizations can help to bring biotechnologies to smallholders, improving their capacity to cope with challenges like climate change, plant and animal diseases, and the overuse of natural resources,” said Andrea Sonnino, Chief of FAO’s Research and Extension Unit.

Case studies

Four case studies were from India, two from China and one each from Argentina, Bangladesh, Brazil, Cameroon, Colombia, Cuba, Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Tanzania and Thailand.

Researchers used their knowledge of DNA markers to develop a flood-tolerant rice variety in India with a potential yield of 1-3 tons per hectare more than previously used varieties, under flood conditions. After being released in 2009, the new variety, Swarna-Sub1, spread rapidly and was used by three million farmers in 2012.

“In summary, submergence-tolerant varieties provided opportunities for improving and stabilizing yields in flash flood-affected areas, significantly contributing to national food security,” stated Uma Singh and colleagues from the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) who prepared the case study.

In China, the Jian carp was developed using within-family genetic selection and gynogenesis (a reproductive technology resulting in all-female offspring that have only received genes from their mother). The Jian carp is now grown on about 160,000 fish farms and makes up over 50 percent of common carp production in China.|

In northern Cameroon, the use of DNA-based diagnostic tools in the field allowed veterinary authorities to quickly diagnose outbreaks of Peste des Petits Ruminants, a highly contagious viral disease affecting goats and sheep. Rapid and accurate disease diagnosis meant that the authorities could stamp out these outbreaks and stop the spread of the fatal disease to other flocks.

“Without this rapid response, thousands of sheep and goats would likely have succumbed to the disease during these outbreaks, leading to millions of CFA francs in losses,” affirmed Abel Wade and Abdoulkadiri Souley from the National Veterinary Laboratory (LANAVET) in Cameroon.

The editors say biotechnologies can improve crop-, livestock- and fish-related livelihoods by boosting yields and enhancing market access. Introducing new and traditional biotechnologies on family farms can also keep production costs down and improve sustainable management of natural resources.

Lessons learned

The publication offers lessons from the case studies which can be used to inform and assist policymakers in making decisions on programs involving biotechnologies. High up on the list was the need for national political commitment to improving smallholder productivity and livelihoods; financial support from non-governmental sources to supplement national efforts; and, long-term national investment in both people and infrastructure linked to science and technology.

The publication also found international and national partnerships were vital for achieving results, as was the sharing of genetic resources, techniques and know-how across national and continental borders.

Biotechnologies at work for smallholders
 also underlines the importance of involving smallholders in the process at all stages, taking into consideration their knowledge, skills and own initiatives.

Raising gender on the global development agenda:News taken from UN WOMEN Posted on March 28 2012

Sustainable development will not be achieved without the full participation of women. As government officials met in March to prepare for Rio +20, the upcoming United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, a special dialogue was hosted by UN Women, with the Women’s Major Group – a formal group representing women’s priorities in sustainable development – supported by the Governments of Brazil and Switzerland.

Talks focused on better integrating gender equality into the international development agenda beyond 2015 (the scheduled term-end for the Milenium Development Goals or MDGs) – and into the Sustainable Development Goals, which were recently proposed by the Government of Colombia as a framework to be adopted at Rio +20.

Four key principles were agreed on as critical to the upcoming global development agenda:

Equality: the goals need to be framed from an equality perspective and address biases and discrimination based on gender, class, race, ethnicity, among other factors in order to reach those that need it the most.

Holistic and integrated: the goals need to build on the synergies across different sectors and thematic areas, and be able to respond to the global and regional challenges of today. This requires strong multi-sectoral approaches and forms of collaboration among actors in the social, economic and environment fields.

Participatory and inclusive: the goals need to emerge from strong participation and ownership at all levels: local, national, regional and global levels. Only when the process is in the hands of the people—both women and men—and their decision-makers, will there be true ownership and accountability for the required progress and results. Extensive consultations need to be held with key stakeholder groups, including the major groups of Rio+20.

Implementation: the goals need to be aligned with existing declarations and normative frameworks. Focus needs to be placed on strong and effective mechanisms for financing, implementation, monitoring and evaluation to enable sustainable results.

“Both the SDGs and the post 2015 development agenda have a common vision: to set objectives that will make a difference to people’s lives and the world we live in,” said UN Women’s Director for Policy, Saraswathi Menon,in her speech at the event “Both the process of identification of the goals and the process of their attainment need to be inclusive. If not, they will not be transformational or make a difference to people’s lives.”

Panelists represented a wide range of UN agencies, government representatives and NGOs from around the world, from the UNDP to the Development Alternatives with Women for New Era (DAWN). They stressed that women’s daily decisions are significantly impacting sustainable development.

Many are often well-aware of the issues but don’t know what to do about them, and need support, noted Ms. Menon. She recalled a meeting with rural women in Ghana who struggled to make a living by informally trading smoked fish. “In response to a question on priorities that they would set for global policy makers, they mentioned clean oceans and a fishery sector that will sustain future generations for a very long time,” she said. “Women recognize the importance of sustainability through their daily lives.”

Another of the event’s key conclusions was the need for the developments goals and agendas to be combined in one process, rather than parallel streams. Many speakers also pointed to the need to build on experience with the Millenium Development Goals, such as the way in which successes of MDG3 on gender equality and women’s empowerment have had a “multiplier effect” on results related to the other seven goals.

An informal working group was launched at the end of the meeting to continue to ensure that a gender perspective continues to be placed high on the global development agenda, particularly at Rio +20, in June 2012.