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04.06.2009 US & Canada

Farmers in 11 developing countries win UN-backed grants for conserving crops

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2 June - Nicaraguan farmers preserving ancient varieties of potatoes, and Kenyan women revitalizing differing types of millet are among projects in 11 developing countries to win supporting grants for their work, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) announced today.

A total of more than $500,000 will go to farming projects in Egypt, Kenya, Costa Rica, India, Peru, Senegal, Uruguay, Nicaragua, Cuba, Tanzania and Morocco, according to a news release issued by the agency.

The winners were announced today in Tunis at a meeting of the governing body of the International Treaty for Plant Genetic Resources in Food and Agriculture.

It is the first time funds have become available under the benefit-sharing scheme of the Treaty, designed to compensate farmers in developing countries for their role in conserving crop varieties, FAO said.

Norway, Italy, Spain and Switzerland fund the awards programme in support of agriculture and food security.

Other winners include on-farm protection of citrus diversity in Egypt, conservation of native potato varieties in Peru, the preservation of mountain varieties of maize and beans in Cuba, and a study of the adaptability of potatoes in Costa Rica to climate change.

Experts from some 120 countries are attending the UN-supported five-day meeting, the third session of the governing body of the 2004 Treaty aimed at stemming the loss of food bio-diversity worldwide.

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