PACS / Biodiversity - Does payment encourage conservation?

The Foundation partnered with Bioversity International from 2009-2011. Their joint aim was to develop innovative economic methods to support agricultural biodiversity conservation and indigenous farmer livelihoods.

Conservation of natural resources is vital for the long-term security of food supplies and rural incomes. Preventing erosion and saving water are two key examples of conservation. Another is the preservation of biodiversity.

Why aim for greater crop diversity?

Greater crop diversity provides more options to cope with climate change, pests, and diseases. However, the world continues to lose crop diversity, and at an accelerating pace. Farmer incentives may provide a solution.

One way to conserve biodiversity is ‘ex-situ’ in gene banks. In parallel, suitable programs can support ‘in-situ’ conservation by small farmers and indigenous rural communities The PACS (Payment for Agrobiodiversity Conservation Services) program sought to incentivize smallholders to achieve this by maintaining a wide range of crop varieties.. Encouraging them to continue growing their familiar varieties respects tradition, applies inherited know-how, and is relatively inexpensive. It is also a potential avenue for income generation.

The PACS program targeted small farm biodiversity

The role of Bioversity International
Bioversity International, part of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), undertakes research into agricultural biodiversity to create more productive, resilient, and sustainable harvests. The Syngenta Foundation supported Bioversity in developing innovative economic methods to maintain agricultural biodiversity and improve indigenous farmers’ livelihoods. The organizations’ main joint objective was to assess the potential for paying farmers to conserve crop biodiversity.

Results of the project
The two-year project identified study sites in Peru and India, and developed valuation, analytical, and survey tools. In India, a survey of 450 farm households focused on four species of minor millet. The survey included assessment of willingness to accept payment for planting a given area of land with a specific variety. In Peru, the crop focus was quinoa. The project identified a possible PACS approach there. In both countries, the Foundation’s partnership with Bioversity International also strengthened national capacity to undertake economic analysis of genetic resource conservation.

Learn more

Here is what New Agriculturist said about PACS in 2012.

Our own website also has a page about PACS in general.

Key results and policy implications