Missouri Botanical Garden Open Conference Systems, TDWG 2016 ANNUAL CONFERENCE

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Participatory Plant Breeding: Challenges for the Democratic Republic of Congo

Last modified: 2016-08-04


In the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), scientists and farmers from three provinces are trying increase knowledge about the diversity of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture.

The loss of gene banks, halting of development programs and research, and bad weather have all contributed to declines in state structures for research, seed multiplication, and extension. Indeed, scientific researchers of INERA and others partners (IITA, SENASEM, FAO) have demonstrated the great role that genetic biodiversity plays in the sustainability and success of agricultural systems. Among the different solutions to fight against this genetic erosion, the Participatory Plant Breeding (PPB) program creates new varieties by breeding and selection to provide good quality seed. However, the absence of a viable national policy supporting the best use of biodiversity data by small farmers, is one of the biggest problems in DRC.

The PPB program is an approach based on experiments by the farmers themselves under the guidance of scientists on how to use seed varieties created in the lab. It involves farmers in the process of selecting and evaluating varieties developed in vitro and testing the finished products in their fields. After testing, if successful, the preferred varieties can be used as examples for a breeding program where additional farmers are actively involved. To be successful, existing local networks, (e.g., groups of farmers, local communication networks, research centers (breeders)) must be engaged in the process.

The goal is to share the best knowledge from the farmers and scientists to achieve the overall objective of crop improvement and biodiversity enhancement. However, it is important to understand that no integrated system exists for creating or disseminating information from the PPB program in DRC.

However, seed fairs and agricultural shows work well for reaching small farmers and for raising awareness of the importance of agriculture in terms of cultural heritage and diversity of income sources to contribute to the fight against food insecurity and poverty, increasing equity and gender balance and preserving biodiversity.


INERA : Institut National pour les Etudes et la Recherche Agronomique (English : National Institute for Agronomic Research and Studies)

IITA: International Institute of Tropical Agriculture

SENASEM: Service National de Semences ( English: National Seeds Service)

FAO: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations