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Building BOLDly on Success

Launched in September 2021, Biodiversity for Opportunities, Livelihoods and Development (BOLD) is a 10-year project, funded by the Government of Norway, that will build on the successes and achievements of the Crop Wild Relatives Project to strengthen food and nutrition security worldwide. 

Key components include strengthening the capacities of 15 national genebanks; facilitating the use of new diversity of key crops by plant breeders and farmers to enhance climate change adaptation and food security; research into ways to enhance farmers’ access to crop diversity; and supporting the backup of genebank collections in the Svalbard Global Seed Vault.

At A Glance

The BOLD Project will help safeguard crop diversity in national genebanks, and facilitate its use by breeders, smallholder farmers and researchers to develop new crop varieties with the aim of boosting farmers’ resilience to climate change and increasing food and nutrition security.

  • PROJECT TITLE: Biodiversity for Opportunities, Livelihoods and Development
  • HIGHLIGHTS FROM 2021: Project launched in September 2021; competitive grants scheme for backing up genebank collections in the Svalbard Global Seed Vault launched in October; Emergency Reserve fund for genebanks under imminent threat launched in November.
  • FUNDING PARTNER: Government of Norway
  • PARTNERS: National genebanks and breeding programs, CGIAR centers and other advanced research institutions, universities, farmer associations, NGOs and the Plant Treaty

 

Being a farmer’s daughter, I know that seeds may not look like much, but they have changed the course of history before. Within them lie the foundations of the future of food and of feeding the hungry. But seeds are under threat and a nutrition-secure future is slipping out of reach.

Anna Beathe Tvinnereim Minister of International Development, Norway

Crop diversity is the backbone of agriculture, and seeds have never been more important—there is no more urgent time to save what’s left of our crop diversity, and use it.

Stefan Schmitz Executive Director, Crop Trust

We are pleased to support BOLD as it effectively translates conservation of crop diversity in genebanks into development outcomes related to food security.

Dag-Inge Ulstein former Minister for International Development, Norway

Conservation of crop diversity alone is not enough – it is just as important to ensure that conserved crop diversity is available for researchers, breeders and farmers to actually use, for breeders to develop new varieties of crops that meet the needs of farmers and consumers.

Benjamin Kilian BOLD Project coordinator, Crop Trust

The incredible outcomes of the Crop Wild Relatives Project demonstrate the value of the Crop Trust’s work for sustainability, biodiversity and food security. This new project provides a unique opportunity to expand this important work, beyond the genebanks themselves and into farmers’ fields and communities.

Daniel van Gilst Senior Advisor on Agriculture and Environment at the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad)

BOLD by Name and by Nature

The BOLD Project is picking up where the Crop Wild Relatives (CWR) Project left off—using the diversity collected and generated and making sure that it reaches the plant breeders, farmers and others who can benefit from its use.

The project is organized into five complementary elements that will be facilitated by the Crop Trust and lead partners.

Strengthening National Genebanks

BOLD will strengthen the capacity of 15 partner national genebanks to manage, document, conserve and duplicate crop diversity and to make it available to farmers and breeders. Actions will include upgrading facilities and equipment, training staff on genebank operations and policies and engaging user groups such as plant breeders, farmers and extension services.

Using Crop Diversity to Combat the Effects of Climate Change

The project is expanding on the pre-breeding and evaluation partnerships on alfalfa, barley, durum wheat, finger millet, grasspea, potato and rice that were developed through the CWR Project. The aim is to facilitate the use of the new diversity of these crops—such as cold tolerance in alfalfa and disease resistance in potato—by breeders and farmers for climate change adaptation and food security in partner countries. The work will include on-farm trials and other participatory approaches to ensure a more effective flow of novel crop diversity to breeders and farmers.

Strengthening Seed Systems

All this new diversity will achieve little if it is not placed in the hands of the farmers on whom food and nutrition security depends. This research component, led by the Norwegian University of Life Sciences, will explore different ways that crop diversity can be readily accessed by farmers, by developing models for strengthening the connection between genebanks and the intermediaries that get the seeds into farmers’ hands—from plant breeders and seed companies to other farmers and local markets. The project will support innovative pilot efforts by national genebanks in four partner countries in Asia, Latin America and sub-Saharan Africa to actively contribute diversity to national and regional seed systems. This experience will be used to develop models that other national programs can adopt and adapt.

Safeguarding Crop Diversity Long Term

Backing up crop diversity from low- and middle-income countries in the Svalbard Global Seed Vault is vital to ensure its continued availability to farmers, breeders and researchers. To assist in this, BOLD will work with at least 20 crop diversity collections holders in low- and middle-income countries eligible to receive official development assistance. They will receive technical and financial support for seed regeneration and safety duplication in the Vault.

Creating Connections, Celebrating Outcomes Together

Long-term, consistent financial, legal, technical and institutional support at national and international levels is essential for the effective functioning of the global crop diversity conservation effort. The project will contribute to achieving this by creating a sustainable Community of Practice among partners to improve communications and outreach capacity. 

National and global campaigns will target a range of stakeholders, especially farmers, seed system actors, and policymakers, proactively communicating the results of BOLD and highlighting the vital role of project partners in the conservation and use of crop diversity in support of climate change adaptation and food security.

Emergency Relief for Crop Collections in Crisis

Natural disasters, political crises, pest and disease outbreaks, equipment failure and, most recently, the challenges caused by the global pandemic can all precipitate catastrophic losses of the invaluable resources genebanks conserve.

Until now, there has been no established source of funds to help genebanks deal with such calamities. But in 2021, the Crop Trust and the Secretariat of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (the Plant Treaty) launched an Emergency Reserve to provide a financial lifeline to genebanks facing urgent threats, supported by the Government of Norway, through BOLD, and the Government of Italy, through the Plant Treaty.

 

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