Identification of stakeholders and partnership development

Interdisciplinary projects such as BFN depend on the inclusive involvement of stakeholders from a broad range of sectors, from grassroots to senior policy and decision-makers, from institutional to individual as well as NGOs, farmer and community groups, public institutions such as schools and others. Partnerships are crucial to the effective implementation and sustainability of any project and the strength of the partnerships significantly increases the likelihood of the project’s impact outliving its implementation (Box 5.B3). To determine the best possible match for the project, a stakeholder mapping exercise was carried out during the planning phase.


When I first got in touch with the BFN Project, I was already working in the Ministry of the Environment for more than five years and many of the themes I was involved with were filled with conflicts with other agendas, sectors and ministries. I was absorbed by the BFN and it was a breath of fresh air, which created a big wave of optimism and a great working atmosphere. In Brazil, during the first meetings of the BFN, we were supposed to discuss and choose pilot sites for the implementation of the Project, but since the very beginning, some of the partners highlighted that a national scope would be of greater advantage, benefiting all the regions of the country and assisting a greater number of people. Also, many benefits could arise from the integration of efforts for mainstreaming biodiversity into the already existing federal initiatives linked to food and nutritional security in Brazil. The BFN Project was a perfect example of a win-win situation and it was always very easy to advocate for the theme and engage other institutions and biodiversity champions. We were promoting biodiversity conservation, better nutrition and health, and also helping to generate more income to poor communities. Who would complain? It is hard to explain the special atmosphere present during the partner meetings, especially with the universities and how they describe the BFN changed their lives. And all of this becomes even more special when we have the chance to taste the different and unique flavours of recipes developed by the BFN chefs based on our delicious native species. Being part of the BFN was a life changing, multi-level learning experience!

Stakeholder mapping

Guidelines were developed describing the types of stakeholders and actors the project should ideally engage. Once selected, the national executing agencies, together with Bioversity International, undertook extensive stakeholder consultations with promising partners and actors (at both the national and international levels) to explore roles, inputs and ways of creating added value and synergies. Some of the key stakeholders and partners identified came from those listed in Table 5.B1, where roles and responsibilities, level and type of involvement in project activities were defined.

The stakeholder mapping exercise resulted in the selection of relevant government ministries, research centres, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and community-based organizations with a wide range of resources and skills to offer one another. A list of key project partners in Brazil, Kenya, Sri Lanka and Turkey can be found in Table 5.B2. For an in-depth review on developing and

Key partners



Sri Lanka


Political partners

  • — Ministry of Environment (MMA)
  • — The National Food and Nutrition Security Council (CONSEA)
  • — Ministry for Agrarian Development (MDA)
  • - Ministry of Social Development and Fight Against Hunger (MDS)
  • - Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Food Supply (MAPA)
  • — National Supply Company (CONAB)
  • - Ministry of Education (MEC)
  • - Ministry of Health (MS)
  • - Ministry of Health (MoH) - Division of Human Nutrition and Dietetics and National AIDS and STI Control Programme (NASCOP)
  • - Ministry of Agriculture — Policy Department
  • - National Environment Management Authority (NEMA)
  • - Ministry of Environment and Mahawcli Development (МОЕ)
  • - Ministry' of Agriculture (MOA)
  • - Ministry of Health and Nutrition (MOHN) - Dept, of Health (Nutrition Coordination Division) and Medical Research Institute (MRI)
  • - The Forest Department (FD)
  • - Department of Animal Production and Health (L)APH)
  • - Ministry of Rural Industries and Self Employment
  • - Ministry of agricultural Development and Agrarian Services - Dept, of Agriculture (DOA) and Dept, of Export Agriculture (DEA)
  • — Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs (MARA) - General Directorate of Agricultural Research (TAGEM) and of Protection and Control (KKGM)
  • — Ministry of Environment and Forestry (MEF) - General Directorate of Nature Protection and National Parks
  • — Ministry of Health General Directorate of Primary Health Care Services
  • — Ministry of National Education (MEB)
  • — Undersecretary of State Planning Organization



  • — Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (EMBRAPA)
  • — National Federation of Nutritionists (FNN)
  • — Sao Paulo University (USP)
  • — Campinas State University (UNICAMP)
  • — Federal University of Para (UFPA)
  • — Federal University of Ceara (UFC)
  • — Ceara State University (UECE)
  • — Federal University of Goias (UFG)
  • — Federal University of Sao Paulo (UNIFESP)
  • — Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS)
  • — Mackenzie Presbyterian University
  • — KALRO Socio- Economics Division
  • — KALRO-Headquarters Marketing Unit
  • — National Genebank of Kenya (NGBK)
  • — KALRO-Kakamega
  • — Kenyatta University (KU)
  • — Bandaranayake Memorial Ayurvedic Research Institute (BMARI)
  • — Dept, of National Botanic Gardens (DNBG)
  • — University of Perade- niya, Faculty of Agriculture (FOAUP)
  • — University of Ruhuna (Faculty of Agriculture)
  • — Wayanrba University — Dept, of Nutrition and Community Resources Management (NCRM)
  • — Institute of Fundamental Studies (IFS)
  • - Aegean Agricultural Research Institute (ETAE)
  • - West Mediterranean Agricultural Research Institute (BATEM)
  • - Centra] Research Institute for Field Crops (TARM)
  • - Bursa Food Control and Central Research Institute
  • - Black Sea Agricultural Research Institute (KATAE)
  • - The Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TUBITAK)
  • - Erciyes University
  • - Self uk University
  • - Gazi University
  • - Ege University
  • - Akdeniz University
  • - Ankara University
  • - Hacettepe University

Key partners



Sri Lanka


NGOs, other partners

— Brazilian Biodiversity Fund (FUNBIO

  • — National Museums of Kenya (NMK)
  • - Rural Outreach Programme
  • — Biodiversity Secretariat (BDS)
  • — Green Movement Sri Lanka (GMSL)
  • — Community Development Centre (CDC)
  • — Saaraketha Lanka Pvt. Ltd.
  • — Sewalanka Foundation Agriculture project
  • — Turkish Association for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (TTKD)
  • — Union of Turkish Chambers of Agriculture
  • — Association of Turkish Dieticians
  • — Istanbul Commodity Exchange (ISTIB)

nurturing partnerships, we refer readers to Chapter 4 of a previous publication in this series, Crop Wild Relatives: A Manual of In Situ Conservation (Hunter and Heywood, 2011).

Building and sustaining long-term partnerships

The breadth and scope of these partnerships required constant attention, not only to build and maintain relationships, but to ensure that involvement was mutually beneficial. National champions (Boxes 5.B4, 5.B5) who can contribute local knowledge and expertise through their strategic positioning in each country are key for nurturing and sustaining existing partnerships and for reaching out to potential new partners.


Similarly to the BFN Project, Plants for the Future (PFF) seeks to increase knowledge and promote the use of native Brazilian flora, with the end goal of enabling commercial production. Coordinated by the Ministry of the Environment, PFF has involved over 500 research partners nationally since 2004. Focusing on species with actual or potential economic value, partners have gathered information on species' uses, management, production chains, regional importance, ecology and geographic distribution. Prioritization was based on assessments of traditional use, markets, extractive use/cropping, existing studies, endemism and multi-functionality (see following table).

Over PFF's lifetime, several of its selected species have grown in terms of use; for example, the aga berry has become a popular 'superfood' beyond the Brazilian market (Coradin et al., 2011). The case of agaf in particular demonstrates the role of health claims in increasing products' value; therefore, it is important to develop reliable nutrition data while promoting these species. It is also vital to ensure that the pricing of the targeted species does not compromise accessibility. The 77 food species that were selected for BFN food composition research had been previously surveyed by PFF and shown to have high nutrition and economic potential.

П8 Eliot Cee et al.

Plants for the Future: stages of the Prioritization Process

Goals: Identify native plants of current or potential economic value, increase knowledge, promote more widespread use ofBrazilian flora, diversify options available to different sectors in creating new opportunities for use and development of new products

Implementation Stage

Lenel of involvement


1. Administration

Ministry of Environment

Write baselines & Terms of Reference, obtain funding, call for and approve proposals

2. Mobilization

Regional Working Groups and Partners

Mobilize technical teams, establish partnerships with regional institutions, organize multi-disciplinary regional working groups, structure logistics for and systemize data and bibliographic collection, collect data in the field (fairs, farmer markets and distribution centres), organize technical meetings, prepare final discussion workshops

3. Compilation

Regional Working Groups

Systematize information on the species prioritized during the workshops, prepare preliminary portfolios and technical reports to send to Ministry of the Environment

4. Evaluation, review, sharing




Conduct in-depth analysis of technical reports, following guidelines agreed on by national coordinator and regional coordinators, reassess prioritized species, approve final list of over 800 species (over 100 native food species) and organize authors to publish regional books

Plants for the Future's work represents a leap forwards for sharing information on regional biodiversity and its related traditional knowledge. One of the benefits for BFN Brazil, was the opportunity to have the support of PFF coordinator Lidio Coradin who as BFN Project Director in Brazil, played a key role in facilitating BFN Brazil's inclusive approach that focused attention to species' value chains, awareness, conservation, and the need for greater integration into diets (see Figure 5.B3).

B3 Lidio Coradin presenting a banner on healthy biodiversity, with Camila Oliveira in 2014 Source

FIGURE 5.B3 Lidio Coradin presenting a banner on healthy biodiversity, with Camila Oliveira in 2014 Source: BFN Brazil

In the words of: Lidio Coradin, Project Director of BFN BrazW/Plants for the Future:

I grew up in the interior of the South Region of Brazil, in the middle of the subtropical forest, which was dominated by Araucaria angustifolia, today known as the famous 'pinhao'. The forest was, in fact, our garden, and I loved to eat 'pinhao'. All this made me learn, at a very early age, to value the forest, biodiversity, its products, flavors and aromas. I learned to love the forest and the importance of its sustainable use. This was what put me on the path to a career studying plants and biodiversity.

Later, as a researcher from Embrapa, I had the opportunity to develop my first research project on the conservation and use of genetic resources, which allowed me to explore the country and its regions, and to cross the various Brazilian biomes and ecosystems. I was engaged in the gathering of plant germplasm of different groups of use, from tiny plants to large trees.

The participation and coordination of dozens of national and international expeditions, in Brazil and abroad, coupled with my childhood experience, provided enormous knowledge that were the stimulus and key ingredients for the creation of the Plants for the Future Initiative. I always thought that the Brazilian population should get to know the Brazilian species, the possibilities and opportunities of their use, and that they should also have the right to rescue the regional traditions and the plants from the past. This experience and the engagement with Plants for the Future were fundamental for my involvement as the National Project Director of the BFN Project in Brazil.


Dr. Victor Wasike, Kenya's national project coordinator from the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) (Figure 5.B4), was instrumental in advocating the use of biodiversity in food-based interventions to tackle malnutrition within the country's Nutrition Inter-Agency Coordinating Committee (NICC), operating under the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) umbrella, to bring together stakeholders from government ministries, donors, UN agencies, civil society and business organizations, to link nutrition to agriculture. According to Dr. Wasike:

B4 Dr. Victor Wasike speaking at the BFN Symposium in Brasilia, 2017

FIGURE 5.B4 Dr. Victor Wasike speaking at the BFN Symposium in Brasilia, 2017

Participating in committees such as the NICC provided an excellent opportunity to showcase the work that the BFN Project was undertaking at the county and grassroots level to promote nutrient-rich biodiversity. It can also help significantly in efforts to mainstream biodiversity into national plans and action and the scaling up of local activities.

Dr. Wasike's coordinating abilities and familiarity with local government and the community were a significant asset in developing Busia County's Biodiversity Conservation Policy (covered in Section 5.Cl 0), a major outcome of the project's second component.

As the project progressed and gained visibility, thanks to greater evidence of the benefits of biodiversity for food and nutrition, opportunities arose to broaden the partnership to novel, previously unthought-of stakeholder groups, such as like- minded initiatives and programmes, as well as public and private sector partners.

Other non-conventional partners in an initiative like the BFN Project might include schools (Box 5.C19) or vocational training colleges (referred to as ‘green’ education in Turkey, see Box 5.C22). In Kenya, the work undertaken to provide fanner groups with reliable and stable markets for African leafy vegetables opened up collaborative opportunities with local schools, which then became champions in their own right for the biodiversity for food and nutrition cause.

The ripple effect can include progressively greater engagement with the food industry (Chapter 8), chefs and the gastronomy sector in all countries (Boxes 5. C14; 5.C18; 5.C22) following rising interest in ethnic foods and new sources of nutrients, as well as the role of biodiversity in the global food systems’ transformation, as discussed in Section A. In Brazil, project collaboration with chefs, federal and state universities and private sector actors has resulted in the publication of a new recipe book entitled Biodiversidade Brasileira. Sabores e Aromas (Brazilian Biodiversity. Tastes and flavours) containing 335 recipes using 64 nutrient-rich underutilized plant species from the six Brazilian regions. This encyclopaedic feat represents a huge contribution to the greater promotion of local species and the sustainable use of native biodiversity in general. Kenya, Sri Lanka and Turkey have been equally productive and have put together a massive body of knowledge in the area of sustainable gastronomy, developing new recipes and revitalizing old preparations rich in biodiversity and local food cultures, and making these underutilized species desirable again.

Finding space to nurture partnerships

Once partnerships have been established, clear mechanisms for participation, partnership building and effective communication are essential to ensure full inclusion of all relevant stakeholders. Spaces and time must be set up for partners to work together effectively, making sure all stakeholders are kept fully informed of project planning, implementation and progress, as well as ensuring they understand the importance of the project outputs. In the experience of the BFN Project, working closely with national partners during the implementation of activities ensured they took ownership of the project and were able to run activities when political unrest and other economic and environmental vulnerability and shocks arose. As any project implementer will no doubt be aware, during a multi-year project such as BFN, a multitude of problems are likely to arise both at the political (e.g. country elections, political unrest) and at the institutional level (e.g. staff turnover), but also at the environmental level (e.g. extreme climatic events); issues which of course are beyond the project’s control, but which may slow down project progress.

Organizing the project

To facilitate global coordination, Bioversity International established a Global Project Management Unit (GPMU), which undertook coordinating activities, technical back-stopping, reporting and facilitating the timely exchange of information internally and externally, and managing the project’s overall financial aspects. The GPMU also established reporting guidelines for all partners to ensure submission of quality reports to the donors. The GPMU was instrumental in using the BFN Project’s successes and achievements to inform relevant global processes and initiatives including the GBD, FAO CGRFA, CFS and United Nations System Standing Committee on Nutrition (UNSCN).

The BFN Project also established an International Steering Committee (ISC), which met once a year, hosted in turn by each project country, composed of representatives from UNEP and FAO as implementing agencies, Bioversity International as the global executing agency, and representatives from the national executing agencies. These formal convenings were important to keep track of project implementation and served as an excellent adaptive management tool to review the feasibility of activities and outputs. The logical framework and work plan were used as monitoring and evaluation took, and were discussed during each ISC meeting. Occasionally the wording of the global work plan and logframe were revised to ensure milestones and targets were measurable and realistically achievable within the given timeframe.

ISC meetings were also a convenient way for partners to share innovative approaches to reach project targets that could be adopted in another country if deemed appropriate. Another chance offered by these meetings, and one which is often underestimated, was the opportunity to establish long-term, meaningful and friendly relationships with project partners. Since the BFN Project’s inception, the ISC meeting offered the host country a chance to showcase its work in detail and for country and global teams to bond with one another, particularly during the informal meetings, meals and field trips that were organized outside the more formal ISC setting. As mentioned, the ISC meetings were hosted in a different country each year, providing the opportunity for national partners to familiarize themselves with different food, culture and traditions. The very nature of the project was appealing in itself and opened up considerable opportunities for cross-cultural learning and exchange; furthermore, leisure time outside of the formal environment fostered enjoyment and positive collaboration, to the extent that the BFN Project soon became known as the ‘BFN Family’. Opportunities were taken to celebrate wins and special occasions, such as a team’s success in implementing a specific activity or global achievements, but also anniversaries and more personal events. Despite inevitable changes in national project staff' throughout the project’s lifetime, a feeling of camaraderie was established so that all newcomers immediately felt at ease and ready to give their utmost to achieve the project’s outcomes and objectives.

Between one ISC meeting and the next, the Global Coordinator would often travel to meet with national steering committees to ensure individual country progress was on track, but also to foster trust and maintain the high commitment levels. When face-to-face interactions where not possible, clear and effective communication was maintained via online calls, so that all project partners understood what was expected of one another. In essence, a virtual open door policy was established, fostering trust and facilitating the flow of important feedback and information.

The GPMU was also very active in identifying national and regional opportunities where the national teams could present the project and its results to a broader audience, promoting the agriculture-nutrition narrative and innovative cross-sectoral perspectives. With a very small global team, this was doubly important in terms of multiplying the project’s public engagement capacity in national, regional and international fora.

At the country level, project implementation was led and coordinated by a National Project Management Unit (NPMU). Of the four countries, only Brazil’s NPMU was hosted by the Ministry of Environment. The remaining three were hosted by the Agricultural sector. The lead implementing ministries and organizations for the four countries were:

  • • Biodiversity Conservation Department, Biodiversity and Forestry Secretariat, Ministry of Environment, Brazil
  • • Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO), Nairobi, Kenya
  • • Ministry of Environment through the Department of Agriculture, Sri Lanka
  • • General Directorate of Agricultural Research, Ministry of Agricultural and Rural Affairs, Ankara, Turkey.

The NPMUs consisted of the National Project Coordinator (NPC), a Project Assistant (PA) and thematic consultants (on a needs basis). The NPMU served as the critical link between the project pilot sites and district and national committees and the GPMU to ensure that lessons learned were shared among sites and within national committees and between countries, and to provide visibility of the project at the national and international level.

Each country, guided by the NPMU, established a National Steering Committee (NSC) and, where relevant, thematic and other committees. Each NSC consisted of representatives of major partners actively involved in project activities such as representatives from the National Executing Agency, Government agencies (Agriculture, Environment, Health and Natural Resources), private institutions, local institutions, NGOs, civil society organizations, and academia depending on the country’s focus and needs. These formal implementation arrangements ensured a constant flow of information among the national partners and countries, as well as with the executing and implementing agencies at international level (see Figure 5.B5).

B5 Elaborated structure of the BFN Project

FIGURE 5.B5 Elaborated structure of the BFN Project

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