Conclusions

The redirected system envisioned for conserving and using plant genetic resources is one that is open to farmers. It makes germplasm directly available to them in a form that is enhanced and documented through the work of plant genetic resource programs, but not necessarily as products of a national breeding program. Plant genetic resources programs, which have heretofore regarded breeders as the primary direct users of the genetic resources they maintain, will increasingly look to farming communities which maintain landraces as direct users as well as contributors of plant genetic resources held in genebanks.14

The integrated system of plant genetic resources management would no longer be based on a unidirectional flow of genetic material from marginal areas, where finely adapted landraces and wild relatives of crop plants are concentrated, to formal crop improvement programs designed to develop high yielding standardized varieties of crops for high input, large scale agriculture in favorable agricultural areas. Instead, the proposed system would recognize the value of conserving the genetic diversity located in marginal areas and ensuring that it is used in such a way that benefits are returned to the smallholder farmers in these areas. This will ensure a fundamental role of favorable agricultural areas for food security.

The proposal envisages that the flow of genes and the resulting economic, social and technological feedback are bidirectional between the formal research and breeding programs and the caretakers and users of genetic diversity in marginal areas. The technical and scientific bases of the proposed system, as well as the policy framework supporting it, give importance to the traditional knowledge systems in marginal areas and to participatory approaches which link across favorable and marginal agricultural areas. In the long run, the integrated system would strengthen bonds between conservation and use and thus offer a foundation for maintaining agrobio-diversity.

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