DIVERSIFARM is designed to identify agrobiodiversity-based pathways to food security, poverty alleviation and livelihoods among small-scale farmers in developing countries.

The diversity of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture is a crucial factor for the ability of farmers to adapt their food production to the effects of climate change, like rising temperatures, droughts, floods, pests and diseases. From this diversity they can identify plants which are more resilient to climate change and develop them further through selection breeding. Crop diversity enables spreading the risks of crop failure. Community seed banks and participatory plant breeding have emerged as pathways to improving locally adapted crops and maximising the benefits for food security and innovative means of income in developing countries. More knowledge is needed to understand their conditions for success and for scaling out best practices.

However, farmers' rights to save, use, exchange and sell farm-saved seed are under increasing pressure worldwide through legislation related to seed and intellectual property rights. The International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture provides for the realization of farmers' rights. This is of great importance for food security and livelihoods among small-scale farmers. As the issue is beset with interest conflicts, more knowledge is needed to guide the implementation of farmers' rights.

DIVERSIFARM will meet these knowledge needs. Options and barriers to the implementation of farmers' rights at the international level, and at the national level in Nepal, Ethiopia and Malawi, will be analyzed, guided by a theoretical framework of structural, instrumental and normative power. On this basis, conditions under which local level community seed banks and participatory plant breeding schemes succeed in achieving climate resilient farming systems, food security, poverty alleviation and livelihoods will be analyzed. This will be informed by issue specific studies on climate resilient farming systems, gender equality, and models of community seed banks and participatory plant breeding. Finally, the general relevance for developing countries and implications for international negotiations and development cooperation will be derived.

The project is carried out in collaboration with partners from University of Cape Town in South Africa, Mekelle University in Ethiopia, The Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT in Nepal, German Institute for Tropical and Subtropical Agriculture and Norwegian University of Life Sciences.

Project period: 2020-2024



  • Research Director, Biodiversity and Natural Resources
    +47 95118037


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  • Senior Researcher
    +47 47476508


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  • Researcher
    +47 97303118


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  • Research Council of Norway, NORGLOBAL2 Programme