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Crop diversity for climate change adaption


The 'Seeds for Needs' project works on strengthening seed systems in the face of climate change by exposing farmers to more varieties of the same crop through participatory trials.


The project uses exciting new methodologies, such as crowdsourcing – a means of finding patterns or results by collecting a small amount of feedback from large groups of people. In the case of 'Seeds for Needs' in India, hundreds of farmers were each given three out of ten varieties of wheat to plant and test for yield, taste and other traits. The project has begun experimenting with mobile technology to communicate with and get feedback from farmers on the varieties.


The 'Seeds for Needs' team has also begun installing digital sensors called ‘iButtons’ in individual fields to measure local temperature and humidity levels. This will allow scientists to correlate exact local weather data with feedback from the farmers, for a more precise analysis on how particular varieties deal with weather fluctuations.


“'Seeds for Needs' is about getting a lot of diversity out to farmers in their fields and having farmers choose different types of materials. We are looking at both local and improved varieties in different situations, and we are using new approaches to get more diversity and more farmers involved in participatory work around agricultural biodiversity,” comments Jacob van Etten, Senior Scientist, Bioversity International.


The project, which is part of the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security, is carried out in Ethiopia, India, Kenya, Papua New Guinea and Tanzania. In 2013 'Seeds for Needs' will be also rolled out in Cambodia, Laos, Honduras, Rwanda and Uganda.


To know more about 'Seeds for Needs', watch a video about the project in India.



Photo: Farmers in their field in Bihar, India - Credit: Bioversity International/C. Zanzanaini