Enhancing the capacity of local communities to access crop genetic diversity for climate change adaptation

Benin is located on the Guinean coast of West Africa and has a mixed tropical and sub-equatorial climate with two rainy seasons. Beninoise farmers practice mixed rain-fed crop and livestock farming. Climate change puts the country at risk of food insecurity. Since the 1960s the mean average temperature has increased by 1.1ºC and that the average number of ‘hot’ days per year increased by 39 days between 1960 and 2003, from 38 days in the 1960s to 77 days in 2010, and the number of ‘hot’ nights by 73 nights from 53 nights in the 1960s (McSweeney et al, 2010). In contrast, the frequency of ‘cold’ days and nights annually has decreased significantly since 1960. The report highlights the importance of improving crop tolerance to new conditions and improving access to genebanks to develop varieties with appropriate adaptive characteristics. It also notes the importance of using indigenous knowledge to identify adaptive strategies contributing to food security (ibid).