International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture

The objectives of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture are the conservation and sustainable use of all plant genetic resources for food and agriculture and the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of their use, in harmony with the Convention on Biological Diversity, for sustainable agriculture and food security.

The Benefit-sharing Fund

The Benefit-sharing Fund was created to dramatically increase resources to invest in crop diversity leading to increased food security for all. The Treaty takes this work very seriously and is committed to the highest standards of practice regarding resource mobilisation. Its project investment values are simple:


The Treaty has established rigorous systems to ensure the highest level of transparency in governance, mobilising resources for the Fund, and awarding grants.


The Treaty is seeking the advice and input of acknowledged experts in selecting and monitoring grants. It is making extensive project information available on its website and investing in communications to raise awareness of the importance of PGRFA.


The Treaty, through its Benefit-sharing Fund, seeks to support adaptation to climate change, food security and on-farm conservation of crop diversity. It directly contributes to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals 1 and 7 of ending poverty and hunger and ensuring environmental sustainability.


The Treaty values projects that will deliver practical measurable results for people and communities, especially in the developing world.

The Benefit-sharing Fund invests directly in high impact projects supporting farmers in developing countries conserve crop diversity in their fields and assisting farmers and breeders globally adapt crops to our changing needs and demands. 

This Fund seeks to accelerate the conservation and use of plant genetic resources on a global scale through technology transfer, capacity building, high-impact projects and innovative partnerships involving farmers, plant breeders, civil society and other stakeholders. The Benefit-sharing Fund prioritises on-farm management and conservation, it increases food security and facilitates innovative partnerships.

Regional wheat landraces project was funded by ITPGRFA within the Benefit Sharing Fund

Improving food security by enhancing wheat production and its resilience to climate change through maintaining the diversity of currently grown landraces. 

Implementing Agency: CIMMYT-Turkey 
Turkey: Bahri Dagdas International Agricultural Research Institute, ICARDA-Turkey 
Afghanistan: Agricultural Research Institute of Afghanistan, CIMMYT-Afghanistan 
Iran: Dryland Agricultural Research Institute, CIMMYT-Afghanistan 

Context of the project: 
Turkey, Afghanistan, and Iran have among the highest per capita wheat consumption in the world. Remote mountainous and dryland subsistence farming communities are most disadvantaged in terms of exposure to extreme weather events and subjected to food insecurity. These communities still rely on local wheat landraces, despite having access to modern varieties. Farmers grow landraces because their unique adaptations and heterogeneous nature provide stable yields with excellent quality for home products. Farmers’ inability to maintain and improve the landraces as well as to maintain the seed supply results in their erosion and loss at an alarming rate. Currently grown wheat landraces in highlands of Afghanistan, Iran and Turkey represent evolutionary balance of the mixtures of different genotypes comprising the landrace. Modern research and breeding tools will be used to improve currently grown landraces through participatory evaluation, selection and delivery to wider communities through enhanced seed production and promotion. 

Description of the most relevant activities and outputs: 
In the first two year the best lines comprising the landraces will be identified under drought and heat in on-station and on-farm trials using modern genomic and phenotyping tools. In the 3rd and 4th year the improved landraces composed on selected lines (while preserving their original structure) will be progressively multiplied, distributed and promoted to the growing number of farmers. Training will take place with the farming communities on how to maintain the landrace, produce improved seed and apply better agronomy. The key outputs are: 

- Drought and heat tolerant wheat landraces selected using participatory approach. 
- Wheat germplasm combining drought and heat tolerance with disease resistance developed 
- Improved drought and heat tolerant landraces adopted by resource poor farmers 
- Farmers, extension services and local administration, policy-makers, NGOs and researchers trained on sustainable cultivation of wheat landraces and biodiversity maintenance 

As a result, resource poor farmers will improve their wheat yields, food security and income. New improved landraces will assist in mitigation of the climate change adverse effects. The project will involve all the stakeholders: farmers, researchers, extension agencies, NGOs and policy-makers in promotion of the project results with the ultimate objective of establishing the sustainable gender sensitive community conservation systems. 

Description of the target beneficiaries: 
Resource poor farmers (estimated 3000) in three countries are the key project beneficiaries and will improve their wheat yields, food security and income. Women play key role in the small subsistence farming communities though the frequency of women as head of farms is low in the region. Researchers involved in the project will benefit from application of advanced technologies in their programs, training and access to germplasm. Important participants and beneficiaries of the project are members of extension agencies, local administration, NGOs and policy makers. The total number of direct and indirect beneficiaries in three countries will exceed 10,000. 

Impact/expected benefits/positive changes in the communities’ livelihoods: 
The project will establish a model for maintaining on-farm diversity of landraces handled by farmers in cooperation with researchers and extension services enhancing food security through better adaptation to climate change. This model can be adopted and applied to other regions, countries, and crops for the benefit of farming communities and poverty reduction. Since this project addresses remote, disadvantaged communities, it will contribute to poverty reduction and will demonstrate how, cooperatively, crop diversity can improve livelihoods. The project will deliver higher yielding wheat landraces and better seed to the farmers. The on-farm yield increase may be from 30 to 50%. It will allow reducing the wheat area and growing other crops which have better nutritional value. It will allow taking part of the harvest to the market and increasing the income to buy better nutritious food, clothing for children. Women will benefit from access to house appliances and field mechanization equipment purchased using additional income. The research components of the project will contribute to the food security and poverty alleviation through incorporation of disease resistance into the landraces. This will give a longer-term impact within 10-15 years when these improved landraces will reach and be adopted by the farming communities.

Project goal and Objectives

Project activities and outputs 
Output 1: Drought and heat tolerant wheat landraces selected using on-station and on-farm trials and participatory approach.

Output 1.1. At least 35 currently grown wheat landraces documented, evaluated and characterized through on-station participatory trials for agronomic traits including drought and heat, diseases as well as genomic diversity (Turkey – 20; Iran – 10; Afghanistan – 5).Progress for this output has been achieved exceeding the originally anticipated outputs. On-station trials were conducted in Turkey (Konya) with more than 100 selections from 30 landraces, in Iran – 30 landrace selections and in Afghanistan – 10 landraces. The on-station experiments were planted on-time and conducted well under rainfed conditions to allow drought and heat evaluation. General agronomic and physiological traits were evaluated and disease resistance in Turkey was evaluated at diseases hot-spots in different sites while in Iran and Afghanistan at the same on-station trials due to heavy presence of diseases. The project partners – research institutions were involved in these activities: Bahri Dagdas International Agricultural research Inst. (Turkey), Dryland Agricultural research Institute (Iran) and Afghan Research Inst. of Agriculture. The total share of women in the respective research groups was 30% (3 out of 10). 

Output 1.2. At least 30 wheat landraces superior for drought and heat tolerance and possibly diseases selected for seed production and promotion with the farmers, characterized and deposited to the national gene banks.At the time of research preparation (June, 2016) the selection process was under way expecting the harvest and data integration. Preliminary results indicate that the project output targets will be exceeded. This is part of activities in Output 1.1 with the same partners and share of women. 

Output 1.3. At least 20 useful alleles for drought and heat tolerance, disease resistance and grain quality identified in selected bread wheat landraces. This output will be delivered in the 2nd and 3rd year of the project. 

Output 1.4. “Passport” and associated genomic and phenotypic inform 
ation on wheat landraces used in the project systematized and disseminated to research communities. The data collected from the on-station trials was entered by the project partners into uniform Excel file. This data will be provided to the project leadership for integration and distribution to all co-operators in September. 

Outputs 2: Wheat germplasm combining drought and heat tolerance with disease resistance developed through crosses and selection. 

Output 2.1. At least 30 useful segregating populations with resistance to drought, heat and diseases developed and distributed to the breeding programs in the region.The target crossing numbers were met during the on-station season: Turkey – 30 crosses. In Iran and Afghanistan selections of parents was conducted for the crosses to be made next year. The crosses were made by the project staff and labour in Eskisehir (Turkey). Since Turkey capacity is high in production of the crosses – some additional crosses were made in Turkey for Iran and Afghanistan. By September the list of crosses and the number of seed per cross will be available and presented in the next report. The project staff coordinated the crosses but the labour involved in actually making crosses was primarily women with their total share at least 70%. 

Output 2.2. At least 3 modern technologies for characterization and improvement of PGRFA introduced and disseminated in the region.In 2016 on-station trials new physiological approach was used to evaluate the biomass of the landraces based on NDVI Green Seeker technology. The devises were already available in Turkey and were provided through the project to Iran and Afghanistan. NDVI allows evaluation of biomass based on canopy reflectance and is closely associated with the grain yield. The results of this evaluation will be analysed and presented in the 2nd technical report. Regional training on application of genomic tools took place in Konya in June conducted by Prof. Tomohiro Ban from Kihara Institute of Biological Research (Japan). Wider group of researchers participated in the training with 20% women. 

Output 3: Improved drought and heat tolerant landraces adopted by resource poor farmers in the targeted project regions.

Output 3.1. At least 30 wheat landraces are subjected to seed production and promotion activities in the target regions and delivered to farming communities.The landraces for seed production and promotion will be selected based on the agronomic and other data in August, 2016. The data collection and preliminary results demonstrate that the target will be met. The regional project meeting in June in Konya discussed this activity in details and developed a methodology and the plan for on-farm activities in the target areas (Annex 1). Visit to the farmers growing the landraces in Konya province was made by all the project participants and was very useful in understanding the famer’s attitude and perspectives. The share of women participating in the regional meeting and farmers visit was 10%. 

Output 3.2. At least 3,000 subsistence farmers (10% women) will adopt improved wheat landraces and technologies of their maintenance as well as agronomy practices and will benefit through better adaptation to drought and heat.During the regional meeting in Turkey in June the criteria for selection of target farmers and villages was discussed in details. Prof. Calvin Qualset from University of California – Davis (USA) conducted a regional training course of participatory wheat landraces selection and improvement. Based on the training and discussions some clarification of the targeted provinces was made in Iran. Instead of Kermansah the Iranian colleagues suggested province of Khorasan Razavi where the diversity of the landraces was higher as well as the number of farmers growing them was higher. We propose this change to the International Treaty for approval. The project participants already contacted and visited targeted provinces and established collaboration. The proposal was to invite the selected farmers and extension agents to the on-station trails for joint selection and discussion of the project. 

Output 4. Farmers, extension services and local administration, policy-makers, NGOs and researchers trained on sustainable cultivation of wheat landraces and biodiversity maintenance. 

Output 4.1. Community conservation systems recognizing gender roles developed in all target countries and provinces, ensuring long-term cultivation of wheat landraces and enhanced food security.The first steps taken in this direction as the regional meeting of project participants and communication to the target provinces agricultural administration and the farmers. However, the main activities in this output will start towards the end of the first year of the project. 

Output 4.2. Sustainable linkages developed between the farmers, researchers, extension services, NGO and policy makers; the national and international institutions.The first steps taken in this direction as the regional meeting of project participants and communication to the target provinces agricultural administration and the farmers. However, the main activities in this output will start towards the end of the first year of the project.

Project Reports