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Biocultural innovation: the key to global food security?

Sustainable Development Goal 2 — zero hunger — seeks to double productivity and incomes and ensure sustainable and resilient production by 2030, and maintain genetic diversity by 2020. Achieving these aims simultaneously in particular sites requires integrating traditional knowledge and community innovation with formal knowledge. Research by IIED and partners with 64 communities in four countries identified over 500 traditional knowledge-based or ‘biocultural’ innovations that enhance food security, resilience, livelihoods and biodiversity — some very effectively. Yet community innovation is rarely supported and cultural values and biodiversity that sustain it are eroding. Strengthening community innovation systems requires investment in co-innovation processes such as participatory plant breeding and biocultural heritage territories.

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IIED is working with partners in China, India, Kenya and Peru to revitalise traditional knowledge-based – or 'biocultural' – innovation systems of smallholder farmers in order to strengthen food security in the face of climate change. Traditional farmers continually improve and adapt their crops and farming practices in response to new challenges, using local knowledge and biodiversity, generating new technologies and practices.

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Smallholder innovation for resilience (SIFOR)

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