Agricultural Biodiversity

Programme Element # 3: Capacity-building

Operational objective

To strengthen the capacities of farmers, indigenous and local communities, and their organizations and other stakeholders, to manage sustainably agricultural biodiversity so as to increase their benefits, and to promote awareness and responsible action.


The management of agricultural biodiversity involves many stakeholders and often implies transfers of costs and benefits between stakeholder groups. It is therefore essential that mechanisms be developed not only to consult stakeholder groups, but also to facilitate their genuine participation in decision-making and in the sharing of benefits.

The sustainable management of agricultural biodiversity by farmers and their communities, in particular, is a prerequisite to achieving sustainable increases in food and livelihood security and to protecting natural resources. Decision III/11, paragraph 17 (c), of the Conference of the Parties encourages Parties to promote the “mobilization of farming communities, including indigenous and local communities for the development, maintenance and use of their knowledge and practices in the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity in the agricultural sector”. By paragraph 15 of the same decision, countries are encouraged “to set up and maintain local-level forums for farmers, researchers, extension workers and other stakeholders to evolve genuine partnerships”. There is a largely unrealized potential to improve the management of various aspects of agricultural biodiversity at the level of the agro-ecosystem, through, for example, participatory breeding and selection strategies. Farmer groups, and other producer organizations, can be instrumental in furthering the interests of farmers in optimizing sustainable, diversified, production systems and consequently in promoting responsible actions concerning the conservation and sustainable use of agricultural biodiversity. Consumer organizations are also increasingly influential in this regard.


3.1. Promote enhanced capabilities to manage agricultural biodiversity by promoting partnerships among researchers, extension workers and farmers in research and development programmes for biological diversity conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity in agriculture. To achieve this, countries should be encouraged to set up and maintain, inter alia, local-level forums for farmers, including indigenous farmers using traditional knowledge, researchers, extension workers and other stakeholders to evolve genuine partnerships, including training and education programmes.

3.2. Enhance the capacity of indigenous and local communities for the development of strategies and methodologies for in situ conservation, sustainable use and management of agricultural biological diversity, building on indigenous knowledge systems.

3.3. Provide opportunities for farmers and local communities, and other stakeholder groups, to participate in the development and implementation of national strategies, plans and programmes for agricultural biodiversity, through decentralized policies and plans, and local government structures.

3.4. Identify and promote possible improvements in the policy environment, including benefit-sharing arrangements and incentive measures, to support local-level management of agricultural biodiversity.

3.5. Promote awareness about the value of agricultural biodiversity and the multiple goods and services provided by its different levels and functions, for sustainable productivity amongst producer organizations, agricultural cooperatives and enterprises, and consumers, with a view to promoting responsible practices

3.6. Promote networks of farmers and farmers' organizations at regional level for exchange of information and experiences.

Ways and means

This programme element is to be implemented primarily through initiatives within countries, including through extension services, local government, educational and civil-society organizations, including farmer/producer and consumer organizations and mechanisms emphasizing farmer-farmer exchange. This programme element would engage the widest possible range of civil-society organizations, including those not normally linked to biodiversity initiatives.

Funding is likely to be on a project or programme basis. Catalytic support may need to be provided through national, regional and global programmes, organizations, facilities and funding mechanisms, in particular to support capacity-building, exchange and feedback of policy and market information, and of lessons learned from this and programme element 2, between local organizations and policy makers, nationally, regionally and globally.

Timing of expected outputs

Progressive establishment of local-level forums and regional networks, with a coverage target of at least 1,000 communities by 2010.

Examples at country level of operational mechanisms for participation by a wide range of stakeholder groups including civil-society organizations, by 2002.

Involvement of farmers and local communities in the majority of national programmes by 2010.