Program to Strengthen Capabilities in National Plant Genetic Resources Programs in Latin America
Under the auspices of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA) and the Spanish Agency for International Cooperation for Development (AECID), two workshops were held on implementing the ITPGRFA for countries from the Group of Latin American and Caribbean Countries (GRULAC) in Cartagena de lndias (Colombia, July-August 2008) and Antigua (Guatemala, August 2010). The success of the events was a testament to the effectiveness of this kind of workshops in contributing to the implementation of the ITPGRFA objectives within the GRULAC community. The coordination of the workshops between the organizations involved was a decisive factor in achieving the objectives set, particularly given Spain’s commitment to the ITPGRFA. The organizations involved were the Secretariat of the ITPGRFA, the Spanish International Cooperation and Development agency (Agencia Española para la Cooperación Internacional y el Desarrollo – AECID), the Spanish Ministry of Environment, Rural and Marine areas (Ministerio de Medio Ambiente y Medio Rural y Marino) and the Spanish Plant Genetic Resources Center (Centro Nacional de Recursos Fitogenéticos) of the Spanish Institute for Research and Agrarian Technology (Instituto Nacional de Investigación y Tecnología Agraria y Alimentaria – CRF-INIA). The success of the events was also due to the close relationship between the National Plant Genetic Resources Conservation programs and the National Agricultural Research Institutes (Institutos Nacionales de Investigación Agrícola – INIAs) in Spain and the GRULAC countries.
The positive experiences from earlier workshops and the importance of achieving some key ITPGRFA objectives in Latin America and the Caribbean, particularly those explained in articles 5, 6, 7, 8 and 13.2 c, were strong incentives to continue with these activities. At the same time, it became clear that there was a need for the workshops to be developed in greater depth with more technical content by setting up a technology transfer program where the workshops would be a key element of a broader-based action strategy.
Taking this precedent and the region’s necessities as a point of departure, the Program to Strengthen Capabilities in National Plant Genetic Resources Programs in Latin America – CAPFITOGEN – was launched. This program is focused on the development of appropriate technologies for countries which are extremely agrobiodiverse but have limited economic resources. Its function is to develop and transfer technology and provide the appropriate training for technical personnel from those Latin American countries signatories to the Treaty.
The warm reception given to the tools and methodologies developed under the auspices of the CAPFITOGEN program in 2013, has meant that some countries targeted by the program have organized national workshops on their own initiative, financed by the most interested parties. At the same time, there has been interest from other countries and regions not initially targeted by the program, which have been asking for tools and transfer and training activities.
Thus the program CAPFITOGEN is primed to function not only as a generator and facilitator of appropriate technology, but also as a model of transfer in itself. One of its most innovative aspects is the way in which it seeks to involve people who have developed scientific methodologies. They are invited to develop the tools provided by the program based on their methodologies and to carry out the technical training and transfer activities themselves. This model means that the program beneficiaries are guaranteed direct access to the scientists and developers in order to answer queries or discuss cases. At the same time, the scientists themselves benefit directly from the experiences and issues tackled by the technical experts from the national programs, an outcome with a positive impact on future investigations with a more focused application and better suited to meet real needs.