Improved plant genetic biodiversity through the organization and promotion of agricultural shows and seed fairs

Plant genetic resources for food and agriculture are the biological basis of food security. The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is among the world’s richest countries in terms of biodiversity, and the sustainable management of resources is a priority for ensuring food security. However, the state of diversity of PGRFA (Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture) is very low due to the weakness of the agricultural sector in the DRC, with a significant loss of old varieties that have disappeared in areas of conflict. In addition, the lack of international technical cooperation in agriculture in the DRC, the loss of gene banks, the halting of development programs and research, and bad weather have all contributed to declines in State structures for research, seed multiplication, and extension (INERA, 2009).
Current extreme weather events, including temperature increases, the scarcity of rain, the drought of certain vulnerable agricultural areas, the proliferation of pests and other insects have precipitated major challenges, both for food self-sufficiency of the population and the promotion of local agriculture generating investment income.
In many developing countries, agricultural fairs including seed fairs have been traditionally a center of the informal system of local markets, which offer enormous opportunities to many agricultural trades. In recent years, seed fairs and agricultural shows are increasingly structured and thus become the overall expression of the rural world. They have become both an opportunity and a place to meet and exchange ideas, knowledge and know-how for the rural populations of the region, particularly in the fields of agriculture, environmental management, biodiversity and climate change.
Through these experiences and seed fairs, in situ support of small farmers is emphasized. They learn that resources in general and plant *genetic resources in particular, have a life cycle: they come into existence, provide a variety of helpful services, and then die and disappear, either physically or from the perspective of their users. The small rainforest vine, Gnetum africanum, illustrates this life cycle of a resource that is born, lives and dies. Thus, the seed fairs and agricultural shows are quite suitable for raising awareness of the importance of agriculture in terms of cultural heritage and diversity of income sources to contribute to the fight against food insecurity, the fight against poverty and the preservation of biodiversity.
About the Author 
Author: Aimé Kazika
Country: Republic Democratic of the Congo (DRC)
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