Agrobiodiversity conservation and use in Asia, Pacific and Oceania uri icon


  • The Asia, Pacific and Oceania (APO) region is the centre of diversity of many important species of crops, animals and livestock. Most of its resource-poor farmers depend on this agrobiodiversity for food security and livelihood. Agrobiodiversity in APO has served as the source of genetic materials that propelled the Green Revolution in the region. It has enabled continuous growth in productivity, allowing agriculture to cope with declining yield, emergence of pests and diseases and occurrence of abiotic stresses like drought and floods. Agrobiodiversity is also being explored in developing climate change ready crops for the future. In recent years, this agrobiodiversity has been threatened due to simplification of ecosystem and species, and planting of a few preferred varieties. Several countries have thus initiated programmes focusing on collecting, characterizing, evaluating, documenting and conserving the region?s extant crop diversity. Approximately 900,000 accessions of the most important crops including wild relatives have been collected and maintained. However, these were not exhaustive. APO countries vary in their capacity to implement national genetic resource programmes, with 18 out of 45 countries having at least some kind of national coordination system. This has led to a situation where the collections are there but may not be viable anymore and hence can be lost forever. Nonetheless, APO?s genetic resources are underutilized, with only a small portion of agrobiodiversity being used in genetic improvement programs or in agriculture. There are still many constraints to the greater use of genetic resources including the continuing under-investment in this area. To promote collaboration on the conservation and sustainable use of genetic diversity in APO, Bioversity International (formerly the International Plant Genetic Resources Institute, IPGRI) organized regional and crop/plant networks. Recently, the different networks have been tapped by the Global Crop Diversity Trust (Crop Trust) in developing and implementing the regional strategy for conservation and utilization of crop diversity. Bioversity in APO is primarily responsible in coordinating the mplementation of Bioversity?s global programs aimed at improving livelihood, food security and better nutrition through conservation and utilization of genetic resources. The national programmes of member-countries are Bioversity?s main partners in programme implementation. To respond to the aforementioned challenges these activities need immediate attention in the region: 1) review of priorities, 2) strengthen network collaboration, 3) enhance capacity development, 4) strengthen germplasm exchange and quarantine procedures, 5) promote use of new methodologies, 6) improve information and documentation system, 7) increase focus on underutilized crops, and 8) promote Global Plan of Action (GPA) implementation

publication date

  • 2012