tag cloud Agricultural biodiversity Livelihoods Americas Conservation of crop diversity Metrics & Indicators Partnerships

Biodiversity conservation brings livelihood benefits to farmers in the Andes


On-farm conservation initiatives intend to maintain native crop species and their varieties by providing incentives for farmers to cultivate them. In this way, valuable traits contained in their genetic diversity, such as resistance to crop pests and diseases, can be conserved for future use.


Many interventions have been implemented worldwide, but a lack of a systematic approach hampered the evaluation of their success. In 2009, Bioversity International started a research project to identify best practices and tools to assess the success of on-farm conservation projects in delivering conservation and livelihood outcomes.


Carlos Perez, Liaison Scientist of McKnight Foundation who funded the initiative, describes this work as making an “enormous contribution” to the effort to improve assessment methods for on-farm conservation.


“A key component was to develop a framework, methodology and guidelines to measure interventions, such as seed fairs that promote cultivation of native crops, to see if they delivered on conservation, livelihoods and wider public benefits,” explains Mauricio Bellon, Project Leader, Bioversity International.


Data was gathered from an initial review of 26 projects focused on maintaining the diversity of various native crop species in the High Andes. This was followed by an in-depth assessment of six case studies in Bolivia, Peru and Ecuador representing a range of crops and conditions. “We found evidence from the study completed this year that increased agricultural biodiversity does lead to more perceived livelihood benefits for farmers,” continues Bellon.



Photo: Farmers preparing soil for planting quinoa in Bolivia - Credit: Bioversity International/A. Camacho