Participant List Global Alliance Strategic Convening on Resilient Seed Systems | Oaxaca

Coordinadora de Análisis de Riesgo y Bioseguridad, Comisión Nacional para el Conocimiento y Uso de la Biodiversidad (CONABIO), Mexico

Francisca is a biologist, with a Master’s degree in plant genetics and a PhD in Molecular Biology. She has worked both in the lab for a number of years and in government, related to biosafety and agrobiodiversity.

Director, Policy and Campaigns, USC Canada, Canada

I’m Policy Director at USC Canada, whose mission is to build food and seed sovereignty by supporting farmer organizations to do research, programming and advocacy, to grow and protect biodiversity, build stronger farmers’ seed systems, and resilient food systems. I’m active in international food and biodiversity policy (CFS, FAO, CBD, ITPGRFA) with a focus on agroecology, agricultural biodiversity, farmers’ climate resilience, inclusive governance, food sovereignty and rights-based approaches. I’m also active in Canadian food policy through Food Secure Canada, where I helped develop a national “Peoples’ Food Policy for Canada”; and as co-chair of the Food Security Policy Group.
 Before joining USC 14 years ago, I also worked at the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and Oxfam Canada. I studied and grew up in the formal “international development” world, including in university and working with NGOs, but now I think of myself as someone who accompanies change-makers, connects ideas North and South, and strives to support farmer organizations and social movements to bring their vital voices and struggles to the policy table.
 I also worked as a documentary photographer in a past life. When not working, I like to play with music and images.

Coordinadora, En La Conabio, Mexico

Soy Socióloga con posgrado en gestión ambiental.

Million Belay Ali
Coordinator, Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa, Ethiopia

Million Belay coordinates the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA), a network of major networks in Africa. He is a member of the International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems (IPES-Food). Million is a founder of MELCA – Ethiopia, an indigenous NGO working on issues of agroecology, intergenerational learning, advocacy and livelihood improvement of local and indigenous peoples. Million has been working for over two decades on the issues of intergenerational learning of bio-cultural diversity, sustainable agriculture, the right of local communities for seed and food sovereignty and forest issues. His main interest is now advocacy on food sovereignty, learning among generations, knowledge dialogues; and the use of participatory mapping for social learning, identity building and mobilization of memory for resilience. He has a PhD in environmental learning, MSc in tourism and conservation, and a BSc in Biology.

Program Officer, Swift Foundation, United States

At Swift, Galina is responsible for managing a grants’ portfolio and relations with partner-grantees in the Andes-Amazon region, British Columbia in Canada, native networks in the United States, and seed networks in Africa.

Investigador, Instituto Nacional de Investigaciones Forestales, Agrícolas y Pecuarias (INIFAP), Mexico

Es egresado de la Universidad Autónoma Chapingo en 1984, con especialidad en Fitotecnia; tiene una Maestría en Ciencias con especialidad en Genética por parte del Colegio de Postgraduados. Actualmente se desempeña como Investigador Titular en el área de Recursos Genéticos en el Instituto Nacional de Investigaciones Forestales, Agrícolas y Pecuarias.  Tiene 30 años de experiencia en recolección, caracterización, mejoramiento genético, documentación y conservación ex situ e in situ de los recursos genéticos vegetales en el estado de Oaxaca. Ha generado cinco variedades de maíz para condiciones de temporal   y ha participado en la formación de híbridos tropicales y subtropicales de maíz utilizados en México; actualmente es el responsable del banco de germoplasma de especies nativas de Oaxaca, el cual conserva las principales especies nativas del estado, como son: Maíz, frijol, calabaza, chile y algodón; también ha sido promotor en la formación de 12 bancos comunitarios de semillas para conservar in situ la diversidad de la milpa Oaxaqueña. Ha publicado 30 artículos científicos en revistas nacionales e internacionales, cinco libros técnicos, y varios folletos para técnicos y productores.

Ha sido distinguido como miembro del sistema nacional de investigadores, y ha obtenido reconocimientos al mérito por la sustentabilidad cultural por parte de la Fundación Jaguar, reconocimiento al mérito agronómico por parte de la SAGARPA y la SEDAFPA en Oaxaca, reconocimiento por parte de la SEDAPA al desempeño agronómico y distinción con la Diosa Ceres por parte de la Universidad Tecnológica de los Valles Centrales de Oaxaca. Las investigaciones que realiza actualmente se relacionan a la conservación in situ de los recursos genéticos de la milpa, al mejoramiento participativo del maíz, frijol y calabaza y al aprovechamiento y revaloración de los maíces nativos. Tiene una amplia colección y estudio de los maíces pigmentados de zonas tropicales, subtropicales y de valles altos de Oaxaca. Actualmente es responsable del proyecto de generación de modelos de conservación in situ de la milpa y sus parientes silvestres, y del mejoramiento participativo del maíz nativo en áreas marginadas del estado de Oaxaca.

Program Director, Asociación ANDES, Peru

Alejandro Argumedo is the Program Director of Asociación ANDES, a Cusco, Peru-based indigenous peoples’ organization that focuses its work on independent action-research and analysis and fostering new forms of networking and alliance building. Alejandro is the founder of various international indigenous knowledge platforms cooperating within shared goals of protecting and nurturing biodiversity and promoting indigenous agroecology solutions. Alejandro is an agronomist by training and is the current International Coordinator of the International Network of Mountain Indigenous Peoples (, Champion of the Food for Ever Initiative (, and has served in various expert panels of the UN and other relevant bodies, and has been a consultant for various national and international organizations.

Director, Asociación Qachuu Aloom, Guatemala

Rosalia is a Mayan Poqomchi’ Woman, born in a rural community called Pasmolon, of municipalities Tactic, Alta Verapaz, Guatemala. Her first maternal language is Poqomchi’, but she speaks Spanish and English. Rosalia is a small farmer (agriculture) and weaver to the back loom. She has a bachelor’s degree in social work, studied Small Business and Management in Hesston College, Kansas USA; and has been trained in permaculture and agroecology. She has been working for 18 years in non-governmental and non-profit organizations to strengthen the capacities and skills of the organizations or families according to their culture. Rosalia Asig is the Director of the Qachuu Aloom “Mother Earth” Organization in Rabinal, department Baja Verapaz. She coordinates different processes to achieve results according to the vision and mission of the association. Rosalia is responsible for developing and managing different proposals to achieve the goal of the association. The focus of the organization is to rescue, to preserve, the management of native seeds through ancestor’s knowledge and working through to agroecology. The association works with the rural community and Achi’ ethnics, with their small diversity gardens and seed. It is motiving to the families to work together in pursuit of a just, peaceful and healthy society. The Qachuu Aloom organization’s name in the Maya Achi’ language means “Mother Earth”. The vision of the Association Qachuu Aloom is to be an organization that respects mother earth with gender equity, promoting agroecology; and the rescue of native seeds to build food sovereignty, and the good living of the families of the Achi’ region. The mission is to achieve the sustainability of the organization by rescuing the ancestral knowledge of the production and use of native seeds for the material and spiritual well-being of families in the communities — so that their own food can be produced in harmony with Mother Earth, as well as generating income.

Executive Director, Swift Foundation, United States

I am responsible for furthering our mission of supporting caregivers of biocultural diversity and community-based resilience systems essential to a healthy planet through grants, investments, integrated capital and leadership. Funding and supporting farmer-managed seed systems is essential. Swift supports Indigenous and local communities. With a PhD in cultural anthropology focused on gender roles in agriculture in Guinea, West Africa, I have focused my career on philanthropic levers to support community activists through small grants, solidarity grant-making, connections with movements, academics, policymakers, and like-minded allies. Swift is a member of the AgroEcology Fund and the Global Alliance for the Future of Food. I live in Aptos, California, with my husband and 13-year old son.

Chief of Agro-environmental Production Department, Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock, Costa Rica

Roberto Azofeifa — extensionist with 30 years of experience in sustainable agricultural production at the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock, Costa Rica. I have been involved in the agricultural sector since I was born in 1958. For 10 years I was directly involved as a farmer producing fresh vegetables. I continue practicing agriculture production in a small garden for family consumption, combining my professional practice as chief of the Agro-environmental Production Department at the Extension Head Office. I am the author of considerable publications for farmers and technicians. Currently, I represent Costa Rica at the Multi-stakeholder Advisory Committee of the 10-Year Framework of Programmes on Sustainable Consumption and Production. I also represent my country in the Joint Working Party on Agriculture and the Environment.

Director of Programs, Global Alliance for the Future of Food, Canada

Lauren Baker, PhD – Director of Programs, brings over 20 years of experience working on food systems issues to her role with the Global Alliance for the Future of Food. Her expertise ranges from research on maize agrobiodiversity in Mexico to negotiating and developing municipal food policy and programs. Lauren was a Food Policy Specialist with the Toronto Food Policy Council, leading a citizen advisory group embedded within the City of Toronto’s Public Health Division. She has consulted on farm to fork initiatives and food policy development across Canada, and in Mexico, Cuba, France and the Netherlands. Lauren’s past work includes founding director of Sustain Ontario, Board of Director roles with Everdale Environmental Learning Centre and Food Canada’s first certified organic rooftop farm. Lauren teaches at the University of Toronto and is a research associate with Ryerson University’s Centre for Studies in Food Security. She is the author of Corn meets Maize: Food Movements and Markets in Mexico (2013).

Agricultural Resources Director, Pueblo of Tesuque Indian Reservation, United States

Emigdio Ballon, of Quechua decent, was born in Cochabamba, Bolivia. He earned his Bachelor’s degree in agriculture at Major Bolivian University of Saint Simon in Cochabamba, Bolivia, and his Master’s degree in plant genetics in Colombia. He studied for his Doctorate at Colorado State University. As a plant geneticist he has specialized in research on quinoa and amaranth grains and has published many articles about them in both South and North America. He was part of the seed collection team of quinoa and amaranth and high altitude crops. Emigdio has served as an organic certification inspector in the United States and has made many presentations at major conferences on agriculture. He has studied principles of bio-dynamic farming at the Josephine Porter Institute of Applied Bio-Dynamics and continues to study and make presentations at various seminars. In his little free time, Emigdio pursues research into germination techniques for a wide variety of crops, including traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic herbs and herbs indigenous to Northern New Mexico. His other interests include seed saving, preservation, and sharing, bio-dynamic, organic farming and sustainable agricultural practices. He is also responsible for building the seed bank in the Pueblo de Tesuque. He is also involved with Native American organizations which stress the importance of seed saving and promote the revival and continuation of traditional crops, both nutritional and medicinal. He employs traditional Quechua techniques and rituals which he learned at his grandfather’s side as a boy in Bolivia.

Senior Partner and Practice Director, Meridian Institute, United States

Todd Barker is a Senior Partner at Meridian Institute; he joined Meridian in 1999. Mr. Barker has more than 20 years of experience facilitating policy dialogues, negotiations, and strategy development processes. He has expertise in the areas of food and agriculture; climate change and energy; environmental cleanup and waste management; biodiversity and natural resources; mining; science and technology; security; and water. Mr. Barker manages and leads policy dialogues, negotiations, and strategy development projects. He conducts convening assessments, designs processes, plans and facilitates meetings, helps participants develop consensus documents, and supports implementation activities.

In recent years, Mr. Barker has focused extensively on issues relating to food and agriculture in both the global north and global south. For example, he worked closely with nine major foundations to help them envision and launch AGree: Transforming Food and Ag Policy. This eight-year project – which is based out of Meridian Institute’s Washington, D.C., office, and leverages Meridian’s strategic consultation, convening and facilitation expertise – brings together individuals and institutions with diverse experience and perspectives in an effort to build agreement on the transformation of U.S. food and agriculture policy. In addition, Mr. Barker is supporting the Global Alliance for the Future of Food, an international network of foundations committed to advancing sustainable global agriculture and food systems, with strategic consultation and facilitation services. Mr. Barker also served as project director for Innovations for Agricultural Value Chains in Africa. In this project, leading scientists and innovators collaborated with key players in the maize, cassava, and dairy value chains in Africa, to identify innovative post-harvest management and processing technologies that reduce crop loss. Mr. Barker holds an M.S. in Resource Policy and Administration from the University of Michigan’s School of Natural Resources and a B.A. in History, also from the University of Michigan.

Genetic Resource Manager, East-West Seed Company, Philippines

Marilyn Belarmino is the Genetic Resource Manager of East-West Seed Company – a leading group of private tropical vegetable companies operating in Asia, Africa and Latin America. Prior to joining East-West Seed, she was the Genetic Resource Scientist at the AVRDC – The World Vegetable Center’s – Regional Center for Africa. Belarmino spent more than 10 years of her career in plant genetic resource conservation and management. Originally from the Philippines, she obtained her Bachelor’s degree in the Visayas State University and Master’s degree at the University of the Philippines at Los Banos. She obtained her PhD at Yamagata University, Japan, under the Japanese Government Scholarship (Monbusho). She was a three-time recipient of The Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) Invitation Postdoctoral Fellowship program.

Mauricio Rafael Bellon Corrales
Coordinador Estudios sobre Agrobiodiversidad, CONABIO, Mexico

Científico social enfocado en el estudio de sistemas agrícolas y alimentarios de pequeños agricultores del mundo en desarrollo, con énfasis en el uso y la conservación de la biodiversidad agrícola. Con más de 90 publicaciones científicas y una amplia experiencia internacional. Actualmente se desempeña como Coordinador de Estudios sobre la Agrobiodiversidad en la Comisión Nacional para el Conocimiento y Uso de la Biodiversidad (CONABIO) en México. Es ingeniero agrónomo por la Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana, Xochimilco, y Ph. D. en ecología por la Universidad de California, Davis. Es miembro de la Academia Mexicana de Ciencias y del Sistema Nacional de Investigadores (Nivel II).


I am a rice breeder, and Deputy Director of the National Agricultural and Forestry Research Institute (NAFRI), responsible for improving agriculture productivity programs, and focusing on a rice seed production program.

Program Officer, Agrobiodiversity & Food Sovereignty and Resilient Biocultural Landscapes, The Christensen Fund, United States

Kyra has served as the Global Program Officer at the Christensen Fund for Agrobiodiversity & Food Sovereignty and Resilient Biocultural Landscapes since 2012. She works with partners in priority bioregions to support Indigenous innovation in food, land and livelihood processes.
 Prior to joining the Christensen Fund, Kyra fostered local food sovereignty for over a decade working with governments, NGOs and Indigenous communities in a range of capacities. Kyra helped establish certification and trade partnerships for Thai Fair Trade Jasmine Rice, and created a Native American (Anishinaabe) Farm to School Program and cultural food delivery program for diabetic elders. She worked with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on tribal water quality standards and represented the Republic of the Maldives in international climate change negotiations. Kyra is a co-founder of the AgroEcology Fund and serves on the Steering Committee for the Global Alliance for the Future of Food.

María Carrascosa García
Project Manager, Red Andaluza de Semillas + Red de Semillas, Spain

María is an Agronomic Engineer with a Master’s degree in Organic Agriculture. For more than 15 years, she has focused her professional activity on the development of initiatives and actions in the framework of food sovereignty, agroecology, agricultural biodiversity, small-scale farming and short supply channels in Spain, but also in France and Brazil. In this sense, her work as a manager in a cooperative of organic farmers in the south of Spain for six years and, since 2005, as coordinator of the Red de Semillas “Resembrando e Intercambiando” (Spanish seed network) must be highlighted. Since 2010, she has been the director of the Seed Network of Andalucía, where she coordinates different projects working on the promotion and research of the collective management of cultivated biodiversity.

Coordinador Social, Red de Guardianes de Semillas, Ecuador

Javier is an expert on Regenerative Food Systems, founder of the Seed Guardians Network of Ecuador, co-founder of the Seeds of Freedom Network of the Americas, and a researcher on the History of Food Systems, Food Heritage, Permaculture Systems.

Program Officer Northwest Mexico, Christensen Fund, Mexico

Francisco Chapela has worked throughout Mexico and Latin America at the intersection of biological and cultural diversity with a particular focus on leveraging traditional knowledge in collaboration with communities for forest conservation. He has collaborated with a variety of local and multilateral institutions, including regional indigenous organizations, the Rainforest Alliance and the World Bank, and played a lead role in implementing the Communities and Indigenous Biodiversity Conservation Project for the states of Guerrero, Michoacan and Oaxaca. He is currently the Program Officer for Northwest Mexico at The Christensen Fund, supporting innovative Indigenous and local communities of farmers and pastoralists, ranchers and fishers from the Sonoran desert to the Sierra Tarahumara (Rarámuri).

Agatha Chimsewa Nkhonjera
Biodiversity Programme Officer, Centre for Environmental Policy and Advocacy, Malawi 

Agatha Chimsewa Nkhonjera is an expert in advocating for Recognition of Farmer Seed Systems as a Biodiversity Programme Officer for the Centre for Environmental Policy and Advocacy. She influences policy and decision-makers to promote farmer seed systems in policies and programmes. She has managed to get policymakers to commit to include issues of access and benefit sharing in National Seed legislation. Currently, she is advocating for the development of a farmers’ rights policy framework. She is also working on linking farmer communities to public seed institutions, such as the Malawi Plant Genetic Resources Centre for farmers, to access seed, especially of the crops which were lost in their communities.

Head of Legal Department, GNIS, France

Ms Clément-Nissou is currently the Head of the Legal department at Groupement National Interprofessionnel des Semences et Plants (GNIS), the French inter-branch organization for Seeds, where she previously served as the Head of the International Relations department. She was also seconded to the European Commission’s Directorate General for Health and Food Safety (DG Sante), where she was in charge of plant genetic resources and plant variety protection issues. In addition, during her tenure at the French Ministry of Agriculture, she was responsible for research projects and other seed-related issues. Prior to joining the Ministry of Agriculture, she worked as a vegetable plant breeder for a plant breeding company. Ms Clément-Nissou serves as a member in the French committee on plant genetic resources of CTPS, as well as a member of the Administrative Council of the French Research Foundation on Biodiversity where she represents the stakeholders’ group on genetic resources.
 Ms Clément-Nissou earned her agronomist degree in plant breeding.

Communications Officer/Independent Filmmaker, Deccan Development Society, India

Tejaswi is a development communications expert and documentary filmmaker from Hyderabad in the South Indian state of Telangana. She has been studying women and tribal issues in cultural, social and economic spheres and shows interest in communicating them to the larger population through her writings, documentary films and development communications discourse she is proficient in. She has been working as the communications officer and coordinator for Deccan Development society (DDS), a three-decades old civil society organization working with about 5,000 peasant women in ecological agriculture. DDS women farmers epitomize community sovereignty over seed, food and farming through millet-based biodiverse farming systems. They have also been instrumental in bringing out the country’s National Food Security Act, which has made provision for local production, local consumption and local distribution of indigenous crops. Currently, Tejaswi is coordinating a program ‘Seeds, Soil and Culture, Fund’ managed by RSF Social Finance and New Field Foundation. She has been writing about and documenting women-led agroecology and its importance. She has represented DDS at various national and international forums, including Indigenous Terra Madre, Food Secure Canada’s 9th Assembly, 1st International Biodiversity Congress. She has also participated in the International Association for Communication and Media Research conference, and her films have been screened at various platforms.

Advisor, Global Crop Diversity Trust, Netherlands

Walter is a freelance global development consultant with more than 30 years of experience in smallholders’ agricultural development with an emphasis on seed sector development and plant genetic resource management. He has worked in this field in more than 40 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Walter participates in the convening in two capacities, first as advisor to the Global Crop Diversity Trust, that he supports in the development of the Diversity for Resilience initiative. In this initiative, the Crop Trust, in collaboration with Bioversity International and Wageningen Centre for Development Innovation, aims to strengthen by increasing at scale and in a sustainable manner, farmers in climate change-affected and food insecure areas to a wide diversity of genetic resources from genebanks, research centers and local sources, using citizen science combined with promoting local seed systems. The initiative aims to enhance the agrobiodiversity and seed systems component through linking genebanks and research centers with major humanitarian programs and players. He also participates in the convening as founding member of Ag-Connectors, a social enterprise based in the Netherlands with members across the globe, that aims to contribute to the empowerment of rural women, girls and youth through enhancing their participation in agricultural value chains. Ag-Connectors strives to realize the potential of entrepreneurial opportunities in agriculture for improving the quality life of rural people in Africa, Latin America and Asia. In its network, it connects for action on the ground local development organizations and private sector players, and various financial philanthropic and social investors.

Currently, Walter is honorary advisor with Rajiv Gandhi Mahila Vikas Pariyojana (RGMVP) strengthening its work in women empowerment through self-help groups in Uttar Pradesh, India. Until December 2016, he was leading the seed system work at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and facilitated the kick-off in collaboration with the Islamic Development Bank of the agricultural component of the Lives and Livelihoods Fund. Before, he was visiting professor with the Federal University of Santa Catarina in Brazil, associate consultant at the Centre for Development Innovation and coordinator of international projects at the Centre for Genetic Resources, at Wageningen University Research in the Netherlands. As a scientist, he co-developed approaches referred to as Integrated Seed Sector Development and Community Biodiversity Management. He has published nine books and various scientific papers on genetic resources and seed systems.

Program Manager, Hivos, Netherlands

Mrs. Willy Douma works at the green department of Hivos, an international civil society organization that seeks new and creative solutions to persistent global problems; solutions created by people taking their lives into their own hands. We offer a positive counterbalancing force against discrimination, inequality, abuse of power and the unsustainable use of our planet’s resources. 
My current work centres around open source seed systems advocating to keep seeds in the public domain. Earlier programs focused on agriculture, biodiversity and climate change, including the agricultural biodiversity community program; greening SMEs (insights in carbon finance and biodiversity business); sustainability in smallholder agricultural systems (research, climate change and producers organizations, transformational processes). I am inspired by and committed to work on sustainability issues in agriculture and food systems and bring a wide range of experiences, which I continue to develop together with change agents from around the world from the public and private sector. I help facilitate change, implement programs on green issues in society, and keep an eye on the joy factor.

Municipal Agriculturist, Local Government Unit of Arakan, Philippines

James is an Organic Agriculture Advocate and Agricultural Extension Worker. A licensed agriculturist, he is currently the Municipal Agriculturist of the Local Government of Arakan, Province of Cotabato, Philippines. He is an advocate of sustainable agriculture, a practitioner of organic farming, promoting farmer empowerment, defender of farmers’ rights, a community development worker, working in community seed banking and plant genetic resources seed conservation, development and utilization for the last 15 years. James is a member of the Philippine Association of Agriculturist. He has been involved in research, development and extension in government service. He is a policy lobbyist to local legislators for the advancement of farmers’ interest, and acts as a resource person in trainings/seminars related to sustainable agriculture, environmental protection and diversified/integrated farming.

Trustee, Tudor Trust and Ragmans Farm, United Kingdom

Matt has run Ragmans Lane Farm, a 60-acre farm, using permaculture principles for 22 years. Over this time, they have hosted hundreds of courses in permaculture and sustainable land use, teaching over 2,000 people. Matt has worked as Trustee of the Tudor Trust, a grant-giving trust based in London, and giving mostly within the UK, for nearly 30 years. He is currently Chairman of the Board of Trustees. Matt is also a founding member of the Global Alliance for the Future of Food.

Programme Coordinator, SwedBio at Stockholm Resilience Centre, Sweden

Sara Elfstrand is a Programme Coordinator at SwedBio. Sara is an agronomist, and before joining SwedBio in 2008, she worked in an interdisciplinary research programme on agroecology, focusing on the impact of the use of green manure on soil fertility in organic vegetable production. Her main area of work at SwedBio is related to coordination of the Collaborative Programme and to overall programme planning and reporting. In recent years, she has also worked on resilience assessments, for example, through multi-actor dialogues, to promote knowledge exchange related to resilience assessments and integration of social-ecological resilience principles and resilience thinking into development and biodiversity planning frameworks.

Miguel Ángel Escalona Aguilar
Professor, Universidad Veracruzana, Mexico

Nací en la Ciudad de México y ahí estudié Biología en la UNAM, luego hice una maestría en microbiología, tuve la dicha de salir a estudiar e hice un master en Agroecología en la Universidad Internacional de Andalucía y un doctorado en Agroecología, sociología y desarrollo rural sostenible en la Universidad de Córdoba, España. Actualmente trabajo en la Universidad Veracruzana, en donde soy profesor en la facultad de ciencias agrícolas, en donde imparto un curso que se llama “Calidad de frutos y semillas” y actualmente responsable de la Coordinación Universitaria para la Sustentabilidad. Desde hace muchos años he trabajado en el tema de la producción y consumo de alimentos agroecológicos, promoviendo Mercados locales de productos agroecológicos, procesos de certificación participativa, agricultura urbana y periurbana. Desde el año 2003, promovimos uno de los 4 primeros mercados locales de productor orgánicos y participamos en los primeros procesos de certificación participativa, desde 2013, articulamos en Xalapa, la ciudad donde vivo, la Red Ciudadana de Agricultura Urbana y Periurbana. También colaboro como profesor invitado en el Máster Universitario en Agroecología: un Enfoque para la Sustentabilidad Rural, en la Universidad Internacional de Andalucía, España. En Xalapa estamos impulsando una Red de Guardianes de semillas que busca la producción de semillas locales de calidad, con la finalidad de fortalecer los procesos de producción y consumo de alimentos agroecológicos, y con el horizonte de ir hacia la autonomía de las semillas, vistas como un bien común.

Coordinador de Proyecto, Groundswell International, Honduras

Director ejecutivo de Vecinos Honduras; Miembro de la red ANAFAE en Honduras (Alianza Nacional para el Fomento de la Agricultura Ecológica); Coordinador del proyecto Fortaleciendo Sistemas de Semillas Locales y Resilientes en México, para Groundswell.

Farmer, SEARICE, Philippines

Jennifer N. Farillon is a resident of Masiag, Bagumbayan, Sultan Kudarat, Philippines. She has her own farm which she has managed for almost two decades. She has planted corn, rice (upland and lowland), coffee, rubber, and fruit trees; and also raised poultry (chicken and ducks), horses, and fish.  She is the president of the Masiag Farmers and Coffee Growers Association, Inc., and also the incumbent chairperson of the Masiag Coffee Growers Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Cooperative –both are local people’s organizations in Masiag.

Executive Director, Cuba-US Agroecology Network/Vermont Caribbean Institute, Mexico/USA

Margarita Fernandez is the Director of the Cuba-US Agroecology Network, an initiative that coordinates collaborative research, cooperation projects, and learning exchanges to support agroecology in Cuba and improve relations between Cuba and the US. In addition, Margarita works as a consultant bringing 20 years of experience working on transdisciplinary, participatory research and the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of international cooperation projects in the Global South, including Cuba, Laos, Mexico, Nicaragua, Guatemala and Venezuela. She specializes in agroecology and food systems, sustainable livelihoods, certification systems, food security/sovereignty, climate change and biodiversity conservation. She holds a PhD in Agroecology from the University of Vermont, a Master’s in Social Ecology from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, and a Bachelor’s in Biology from Tufts University.

Verónica Fernández de Castro
Program Officer for Latin America and the Caribbean, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Mexico

As part of the Latin America and the Caribbean team, Veronica provides leadership in the implementation of strategies for the Mexico program. She coordinates the activities related to granting and donations, and carries out programming efforts that are aligned to the vision of the foundation to achieve social and economic success for children and their families and the community. Since early in her career, she has been involved in intercultural initiatives and sustainable development programs.

Campaign Coordinator, Regeneration International, Chile/Mexico

Claudia Flisfisch Cortés is a network developer and small-scale organic farming educator. Originally from Chile, she currently lives in Mexico. She is the co-founder of the Seeds of Freedom Network of the Americas, board member of the seed committee of the international network of educational orchards; and Campaign Coordinator at Regeneration International — working on the migrant summit and regeneration project 2019. Claudia is a Spanish editor and distributor of “¡SIEMBRA!”, a series of short educational films on seed production produced by Longo Mai and the European Civic Forum.

Postdoc Research Fellow, University of Antwerpen - FWO, Belgium

Dr. Christine Frison is an F.W.O. post-doctoral researcher at the Law Faculty of the University of Antwerp, Belgium. Christine is also part of LPTransition, a scientific research platform, both pluri-disciplinary and trans-sectorial, as well as holding an associate researcher position at the Centre for Philosophy of Law of the Université Catholique de Louvain, Belgium. She has worked as a Legal Research Fellow with the Centre for International Sustainable Development Law (CISDL), based at McGill University in Montréal, Canada, where she specialized in the field of international environmental law, biodiversity, biosafety and agrobiodiversity international law. Her latest book is The Commons, Plant Breeding and Agricultural Research (Routledge, 2018).

Panel Member, International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems (IPES-Food), Italy

Dr. Frison is a Belgian national with a career in international agricultural research for development. He obtained an MSc from the Catholic University of Louvain and a PhD in agricultural sciences from the University of Gembloux in Belgium. He worked in Africa for six years on agricultural research and development – in Nigeria and Mauritania. In 2003, he became Director General of Bioversity International and developed a strategy entitled “Diversity for Well-being” focusing on the contribution that agricultural biodiversity makes to the nutritional quality of diets and to the sustainability, resilience and productivity of smallholder agriculture.

He is the Chair of the Board of Directors of Ecoagriculture Partners and was Extraordinary Professor at the Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium (2007-2009). Since 2013, Dr. Frison takes a particular interest in sustainable food systems. He is Chair, International Scientific Committee on Sustainable Food Systems of the Daniel and Nina Carasso Foundation. In 2015, he joined the International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems (IPES-Food) and is the lead author of the IPES-Food report: “From Uniformity to Diversity”. He was also the co-author of the central part of “The Future of Food: Seeds of Resilience” Compendium published by the Global Alliance for the Future of Food. Dr. Frison is author or co-author of over 175 scientific, technical and policy papers.

ALEJANDRA Garduño Martinez
Program Officer for Latin America, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Mexico

Alejandra Garduño is a program officer at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. As part of Latin America and the Caribbean, she provides leadership and strategy implementation for the program in Mexico focused on income generation, economic security and impact investment. She coordinates grant-making activities, executes programming efforts and strategy design, and identifies and fosters opportunities that affect positive systemic change.

Barbara Gemmill-Herren
Senior Associate, World Agroforestry Centre, United States

Until she retired in 2015, Dr. Gemmill-Herren was Delivery Manager for the Major Area of Work on Ecosystem Services and Biodiversity at the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). She was previously director of Environment Liaison Centre International, an international environmental non-governmental organization based in Nairobi, Kenya. Within the FAO, she built and coordinated a global project on Pollination Services, implemented in Brazil, Ghana, Kenya, South Africa, India, Pakistan and Nepal. In her last five years at FAO, she was responsible for FAO’s work on Ecosystem Services in Agricultural Production, and was central to FAO’s new focus on Agroecology. Since leaving FAO, she has been a contributor to the UN initiative on “The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity for Agriculture and Food” – exploring True Cost Accounting in Agriculture – and has led the “Beacons of Hope” initiative of the Global Alliance for the Future of Food. This initiative seeks to develop a framework bringing together evidence and stories of transitions towards more sustainable food and agriculture systems. She is currently a senior associate of the World Agroforestry Center. She and her husband Hans live on their small farm in Capay Valley, California, where they aim to intercrop an indigenous breed of sheep with wine grapes. Notable among her many projects and publications in agroecology is the “Agroecology Knowledge Hub,” an ongoing collaborative project that has broad international support and participation (see A comprehensive overview of her work may be found here:

Coordinadora, Muuch Kambal, A.C., Mexico

Irma Gómez colabora con el Colectivo de Comunidades Mayas de los Chenes y con el Colectivo Ma OGM en la Península de Yucatán, México. En los últimos años su trabajo se ha enfocado en la lucha contra la siembra de soya transgénica y el crecimiento de la agricultura industrial, la defensa del territorio maya de los Chenes y la promoción de la agroecología entre organizaciones y comunidades mayas.

Programme Officer, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Italy

Aya Idemitsu is the Programme Officer for the Secretariat of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, FAO. She has been working in the Secretariat since June 2013, coordinating the implementation of work programmes and the budget of the International Treaty.

Executive Director, SEARICE, Philippines

Nori Ignacio has been the Executive Director of Southeast Asia Regional Initiatives for Community Empowerment (SEARICE) since 2011. She served as the Program Coordinator of SEARICE from 2003 to 2011. Prior to SEARICE, she worked at the International Institute of Rural Reconstruction in various capacities, such as Training Specialist and as Regenerative Agriculture Coordinator. Earlier, she worked as a Researcher at the University of the Philippines Los Baños. Nori, a national of the Philippines, holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Agriculture and a Master’s Degree in Development Management.

Principal Scientist, Bioversity International, Italy

Devra Jarvis is Principal Scientist at Bioversity International, and leads the Bioversity International Team on Genetic Diversity Productivity and Resilience. Jarvis is also Adjunct Faculty at Washington State University, Adjunct Professor at the Institut Agronomique et Veterinaire Hassan II, Morocco, and Research Coordinator for the Platform for Agrobiodiversity Research hosted at Bioversity International. Before joining Bioversity International, Jarvis worked for the UN World Food Program, 1992-1996 in China as M&E officer, and in Uganda as Head, Emergency and Relief. Since 1996, Jarvis has worked at Bioversity, collaborating with national partners in Mexico, Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia, Morocco, Vietnam, China, Nepal, Hungary, Syria, Sri Lanka, Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, Ethiopia, Uganda, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, the U.S., and the European Union, to develop scientific evidence to support the use of local crop genetic diversity to improve the production and resilience of small-holder farmers.

She is currently also developing university course materials with national universities to train extension workers around the world in improving local productivity with crop genetic diversity in the production system. Jarvis also brings together national partners in the fields of crop, livestock, fisheries and associated biodiversity to examine how diverse components of the agricultural ecosystem could support ecosystem resilience and services as part of the preparation of the CDB programme of work on Agricultural Biodiversity. The impact of her collaboration with national partners ranges from reduce damage from pests and disease without pesticides for common bean and banana in Uganda and Ecuador, fruit tree nurseries in Central Asia providing over 1.5 million traditional varieties annually to farmers, and participatory bred varieties of rice, sorghum and millet being released through national systems in Nepal and Mali.

Mangani Chilala Katundu
Associate Professor of Food Security and Nutrition, Chancellor College, University of Malawi, Malawi

Mangani Chilala Katundu is the Dean of Research and Associate Professor of Food and Nutrition at Chancellor College, University of Malawi. He has a PhD in Food Security from the University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa; and has worked with Chancellor College for the past 17 years. He is an ardent advocate for farmer’s rights, biodiversity resource conservation, agroecology and value addition of indigenous and landrace crops. His research focuses on promoting livelihood security, food and nutrition security among small-scale farmers through the promotion of seed and food sovereignty. Mangani is also passionate about strengthening the research capacity of higher education institutions and small-scale farmers through the establishment of effective and efficient systems for increased productivity and management of research results. Notably, Mangani has been a principal investigator in a five-year (2012-2017) Malawi Farmer-to-Farmer Agro-ecology project funded by CIDA, for the promotion of landrace orange maize as a food-based initiative to combat vitamin A deficiency and agroecological diversified agriculture among 6,000 farming households in Central and Northern Malawi. In addition, the project promoted farmer-to-farmer peer learning, manure making and utilisation for the reduced cost of production and ecological farming, nutrition education and improved child care and feeding practices to reduce malnutrition.

Mangani also led a project entitled Farmer-led Agroecological Farming, aimed at improving dietary diversity and sustainable livelihoods of 1,000 rural households in Dedza and Thyolo, through diversified agricultural production, small-scale processing of indigenous vegetables and landrace orange maize funded by OSISA. In collaboration with the University of Manitoba, the project assessed the impact of processing on the nutritive value of the vegetables. The project also assessed the nutritive value of pigmented landrace maize varieties and advocated for policies that promote seed sovereignty and the right to food for small-scale farmers. The projects encouraged farming practices that ensure resilience to climate change among farmers. Farmers were also capacitated to advocate for farmer’s rights in light of revised seed legislation in Malawi. Currently Mangani is leading a Pro-farmer Project aimed at conservation, increased propagation, utilisation and commercialisation of indigenous food crops. Together with farmers, civil society organisations, such as the Centre for Environmental Policy Advocacy (CEPA), he is developing a book to document indigenous and landrace food crops in Malawi and establishing seed banks.

Projects Manager, Sustainable Agriculture Tanzania (SAT), Tanzania

Under Sustainable Agriculture Tanzania (SAT), I work as a Projects Manager, also at the same time, as Farmer’s facilitator. Currently, I am the main facilitator on the project Enhancing Agroecological Production and Productivity in Mtwara region, Tanzania. The main role in the project is to train small-scale farmers in good agroecological practices to enable them to increase the quality and quantity of yield from subsistence to commercial. In addition to training, I conduct technical backstopping to the trained farmers to fill up technical gaps in their fields through frequent field visits.

Executive Director, Metta Development Foundation, Myanmar

Sai Sam Kham is the Executive Director of Metta Development Foundation, a national NGO from Myanmar. Metta is a dual mandate organization, implementing both development and humanitarian interventions for about 1,000 villages across the country. Through its farmers’ field schools and farmer-led development approaches, Metta promotes agroecological farming, farmers’ right to land, farmers’ seed system and local seeds. Metta works with seed producer farmers especially on rice seeds for both wet and dry rice cultivations. Metta advocates for national seed law and policy to acknowledge/honour the role of smallholders farmers in seed security/seed sovereignty of the nation.

Research Officer, National Agricultural Research Organisation / Centre for Crop Systems Analysis, Wageningen University, Netherlands

Catherine is a conservation biologist and botanist by training, working passionately to unveil potential within plant genetic diversity to meet livelihood needs in ways that secure the natural genetic base.

Retired Professor Organic Plant Breeding, IFOAM - Organics International, Netherlands

Edith Lammerts van Bueren (1952) has worked for more than 40 years in research and education on organic farming and organic plant breeding in particular, and has recently retired (Dec. 2017), but remains active in the field of seed systems. She is regarded as the pioneer in plant breeding for organic and low-input agriculture and has put this subject on the European agenda. She pleaded in her farewell speech for an integrated, systems-based approach in breeding. She has been senior researcher and program leader at the Louis Bolk Institute, an independent research institute for Natural Inclusive Agriculture and Positive Health. Since 2005, she is also a special professor of Organic Plant Breeding at Wageningen University. Edith was co-founder and chairman of the European Consortium for Organic Plant Breeding (ECO-PB) and Section leader of the European breeders’ association Eucarpia (Section Organic and Low-input Agriculture). She is currently chair of the interdisciplinary, scientific Council for Integral Sustainable Agriculture and Nutrition (RIDLV) and member of the Dutch Variety Board. During this meeting, she represents IFOAM – Organics International.

Advisor, Seeds, Soil & Culture Fund, New Field Foundation, United States

Jonathon Landeck is the Advisor to the Seeds, Soil & Culture Fund and Managing Director at New Field Foundation. Jonathon is an agronomist and non-formal educator by education and experience. Jonathon has held key management positions at the Organic Farming Research Foundation and the Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems, University of California – Santa Cruz.

Dan Leskien
Senior Liaison Officer, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Italy

Dan Leskien is a lawyer by education; and is currently the Senior Liaison Officer, Secretariat of the Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture Climate, Biodiversity, Land and Water Department, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

Senior Researcher, Third World Network (TWN), Malaysia

Lim Li Ching has a BSc. in Ecology and an M.Phil. in Development Studies. She is a Senior Researcher at Third World Network (TWN), an international NGO based in Malaysia. She coordinates its Biosafety Programme and Sustainable Agriculture Programme. She is also a member of the International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems (IPES-Food).

Country Coordinator, FASTENOPFER (Swiss Catholic Lenten Fund), Philippines

I am a Filipina working in the Philippines as Coordinator of Fastenopfer’s Country Program. Fastenopfer’s thematic focus is on Right to Food. We work for the realisation of the right to food, namely the right of each individual, alone or in community with others, to have physical and economic access at all times to adequate food or means for its procurement.

Director of International Programs, McKnight Foundation, United States

Jane Maland Cady is Director of International Programs for The McKnight Foundation, a private, family foundation in Minnesota. The Foundation’s International Programs focuses its grant-making on sustainable livelihoods in 15 countries in Africa, Southeast Asia and Latin America, particularly on agro-ecological research for smallholder farmers and natural resource rights for local communities. Prior to joining McKnight in 2008, Jane spent 15 years managing her own consulting firm, Criando Research and Evaluation Services. She has extensive domestic and international experience working with community development initiatives and sustainable agriculture systems, through her teaching, evaluation practice, and on-the-ground implementation. She has also worked in the private sector to expand markets in the USA for fair trade and organic products from South America and the USA. Jane has a PhD and an MA in agricultural education from the University of Minnesota, has lived and worked extensively in Brazil and Mexico, and speaks Portuguese and Spanish. Having grown up on a southern Minnesota farm, she is committed to promoting sustainability and equity in agriculture and food systems around the globe, involving farmers in the process.

Programme Leader, Oxfam Novib, Netherlands

Gigi Manicad is Programme Leader for Oxfam Novib’s “Sowing Diversity=Harvesting Security” (SD=HS), a global programme on strengthening farmers’ seed systems. She has a Master’s degree and over 20 years experience in development work and policy research on Agriculture and Rural Development, with a focus on capacity development on biodiversity in Asia and Africa. She has worked for both civil society organizations and international research organizations. In the Philippines, she was one of the founders of SIBAT, the first national network of CSOs and famers’ organizations on sustainable agriculture and agrarian justice. She was a Researcher/Editor for the Biotechnology and Development Monitor at the University of Amsterdam; Research Fellow at the International Service for National Agricultural Research (ISNAR) of the Consultative Group of International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) on knowledge systems, engendered participatory research and capacity development; Senior Policy Adviser of the Netherlands Directorate General for International Cooperation (DGIS) for the CGIAR portfolio; and Senior Consultant, for the Netherlands Organization for Applied Scientific Research (TNO) on EU biotechnology research policy. At Oxfam Novib, she led the programme development and fundraising of the SD=HS. She also managed Oxfam Novib’s thematic global programmes on climate change, land and food, and the Biodiversity Fund. In a personal capacity, she was a member of the Advisory Group on the European Union’s Framework Programme on Food, Agriculture, Fisheries and Biotechnology; Co-Chair of the Expert Panel of the Benefit Sharing Fund of the International Treaty for Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture; expert consultant for the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) on agricultural research for development, and currently a member of the Expert Panel of the Access to Seeds Index. She has Filipino and Dutch citizenship.

Executive Director, African Centre for Biodiversity, South Africa

Mariam is the founder and Executive Director of the ACB. She holds BA LLB and LLM degrees from the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa. Under Mariam’s leadership, the African Centre for Biodiversity has produced a respected record of evidence-based work and plays a vital role in food sovereignty struggles on the African continent.

Licenciado, Ka Kuxtal Much Meyaj A.C., Mexico

Indígena Maya nacido en el estado de Campeche, con formación en temas de Derecho y Agroecología, socio fundador de la organización Ka Kuxtal A.C. y acompañante del proceso organizativo de las Fiestas de Semillas Nativas de los Chenes.

Director, Planning and Management, Sultan Kudarat State University, Philippines

Dennis M. Meriales, PhD, is the Director for Planning and Management at Sultan Kudarat State University (SKSU), Tacurong City. He has also worked as an Agriculture Consultant, Italian Development and Cooperation; a Dean for Agriculture Technology, Tacurong City; and SEARICE Technical Officer. He has worked as a Production Coordinator of the SKSU, Agriculture and Enterprise Development Consultant of the Italian Development and Cooperation, through Italian Assistance to the Agrarian Reform for Community Development Support Program (IARCDSP) being implemented by the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR). He was a College Dean, Agriculture Technology/Director for Research Development and Extension/Director for Accreditation of VMC Asian College Foundation, Inc. (formerly, VMC City College, Inc.; Technical Officer of Southeast Asia Regional Initiatives for Community Empowerment (SEARICE), and other organizations in community development. He is also one of the members of the Regional Quality Assurance Team (RQuAT) of the Commission of Higher Education (CHED) – Region 12. As the son of a farmer, farmers are very close to him in the name of community development through conservation, development towards sustainable use of plant genetic resources in the development after the capacity building that was transferred to him by SEARICE for many years. He supports advocacy in supporting farmers through inclusions in all the programs, projects and activities that he is handling related to farmers.

Executive Director, The AgroEcology Fund, United States

Daniel serves as Executive Director at AgroEcology Fund and is a consultant in human rights and international development. Trained as a community organizer, he lived in El Salvador and Mexico for five years, working in support of social movements seeking rights to land and water. In addition to channeling resources to collaborative initiatives of farmers, researchers and advocates with the AgroEcology Fund, he works with Latin American water utilities on water conservation strategies and as an on-farm trainer for the Equitable Food Initiative. He writes on food and water issues for the National Geographic blog and other online media.

Independent Consultant, Canada

Pat Mooney has worked with civil society organisations on international trade and development issues related to agriculture, biodiversity and new technologies for more than 30 years. The author or co-author of several books on the politics of biotechnology and biodiversity, Pat Mooney received the Right Livelihood Award with Cary Fowler in the Swedish Parliament in 1985. In 1998 Mooney received the Pearson Medal of Peace from Canada’s Governor General. He also received the American “Giraffe Award” given to people “who stick their necks out”. Together with Cary Fowler and Hope Shand, Pat Mooney began working on the “seeds” issue in 1977. In 1984, the three co-founded RAFI (Rural Advancement Foundation International), whose name was changed to ETC Group in 2001. ETC Group is a small international CSO addressing the impact of new technologies on vulnerable communities. Mooney’s more recent work has focused on geoengineering, nanotechnology, synthetic biology and global governance of these technologies as well as corporate involvement in their development.

Programme Manager - Seed Sovereignty Program, The Gaia Foundation, United Kingdom

Neil Munro was Head of The Heritage Seed Library (Garden Organic), managing the department from 2001 to 2004, before leaving in 2004 to do an MSc in the ‘Conservation & Utilisation of Plant Genetic Resources’ at University of Birmingham. His thesis focused on assessing the Genetic Erosion of Crop Wild Relative, Vicia species in Syria; he interviewed farmers on changing land-use and agriculture and carried out molecular analysis of former and current seeds collected from various sites across Syria. He returned to manage the Heritage Seed Library in 2008, before leaving in 2017 to take the post of Programme Manager of the Seed Sovereignty of UK & Ireland Programme.

Consultant, Special Projects, Global Alliance for the Future of Food, Canada

Meena joined the Secretariat of the Global Alliance for the Future of Food in 2014. As a journalist, she has covered the effects of climate change on women’s health, Sri Lankan politics, media coverage of Darfur, and the cost of Canadian immigration. Based in Toronto, she also worked for the International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX) – a network of 115 press freedom and human rights organizations. She visits Sri Lanka as often as she can to see family and friends, and eat lots of love cake.

PhD Candidate, International Potato Center, ECUADOR

I was born in Ecuador in a little city called Santo Domingo. I studied agriculture during my Bachelor and after that I started working for the International Potato Center. I studied an MSc in Crop Science at Wageningen University, and am currently doing a PhD at Wageningen University. I am affiliated with the Centre for Crop Systems Analysis and the Knowledge, Technology and Innovation Group in Wageningen University and the International Potato Center (CIP) in Quito.

Professor, Cornell University, United States

Rebecca Nelson is a professor in the School of Integrative Plant Science at Cornell University, in the sections of Plant Breeding and Plant Pathology.  Her interests include crop disease management and participatory research in low-resource settings. She serves as Scientific Director for The McKnight Foundation’s Collaborative Crop Research Program. She also co-chairs a working group of food security at Cornell, and the Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems group of the Sustainable Development Solutions Networks. Her laboratory works on the genetic dissection of quantitative disease resistance in maize and on mycotoxin management in Africa and India. She has worked at the International Potato Center in Lima, Peru, and at the International Rice Research Institute in the Philippines. Rebecca received her BA from Swarthmore College and her PhD from the University of Washington.

Regional Representative, Andes, Collaborative Crop Research Program, Ecuador

Claire Nicklin is the Regional Representative for the Andes of the Collaborative Crop Research Program (CCRP) of the McKnight Foundation. She is based in Quito, Ecuador. The CCRP’s community of practice works in topics related to seed systems, short circuit markets, climate change, and agrobiodiversity conservation, among others.

Coordinadora de Red Indígena Terra Madre México, Slow Food, Puebla

Dalí Nolasco Cruz, indígena nahua de Tlaola, Puebla. Coordinadora de la Red Indígena Terra Madre para America Latina y el Caribe de Slow Food Internacional, directora de la Organizacion TimoPatla Intercultural A.C.

Program Associate, The 11th Hour Project/The Schmidt Family Foundation, United States

I have been with the Human Rights Program at The Schmidt Family Foundation’s 11th Hour Project since July 2016. Prior to joining, I worked on rule of law and human rights programs in sub-Saharan Africa at the American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI), focusing mainly on programs combatting sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Previously, I worked at a refugee support center in Baltimore, MD, that provided social and therapy services to refugees and asylum seekers from Africa. I received my Bachelor’s degree in Modern Middle East Studies from the University of Pennsylvania, with a concentration on Economics and Arabic. I speak Spanish and French.

Programme Development Director, Local Initiatives for Biodiversity, Research and Development (LI-BIRD), Nepal

Bikash Paudel, a Nepali citizen, is currently the Programme Development Director at LI-BIRD, a Nepali NGO. With an advanced degree in agriculture and natural resource management, he is actively involved in developing innovative methods and approaches for agrobiodiversity management and strengthening local seed systems in Nepal and South Asia. His expertise is on social and economic issues related to agrobiodiversity conservation, seed policy in the context of ABS, Farmers’ Rights and Plant Variety Protection, climate change, climate resilient agriculture, conservation agriculture and ecosystem service evaluation.

Senior Scientist, IRD (French Research Institute for Sustainable Development), France

I joined the French National Research Institute for Sustainable Development (IRD, formerly ORSTOM) as a crop geneticist in 1982. Since then, I have developed research on the diversity and conservation of tropical and Mediterranean plant genetic resources. I first studied the diversity of rice germplasm in Africa. I then got a particular interest in the factors that affect crop genetic diversity and its dynamics (e.g. socioeconomical and agroecological changes). I conducted research on the diversity and farmers’ management of crops in agroecosystems, and the complementarity between in situ and ex situ conservation. I worked both on sexually and vegetatively reproduced crops (rice, maize, pearl millet, yam, etc). Over the last years, I led the development of the Agropolis Resource Center for Crop Conservation, Adaptation and Diversity (ARCAD) in Montpellier, during my secondment to Agroplis fondation. I am now very much involved in the implementation of Access and Benefit-Sharing procedures at IRD. 
I am a member of several national coordinating bodies on biodiversity and genetic resources.

Gertrude Pswarayi-Jabson
Country Coordinator, Participatory Ecological Land Use Management Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe

Gertrude Pswarayi-Jabson is a seasoned development professional proficient in communication, new business development and programme coordination. She has worked in Southern Africa on diverse social issues, including seed sovereignty and food systems. She is the Country Coordinator for PELUM Zimbabwe and Coordinator of the Zimbabwe Seed Sovereignty Programme, a multi-year programme aimed at strengthening Farmer-Managed Seed Systems in Zimbabwe. Currently, Gertrude is studying Earth Jurisprudence, an emerging field of law that encompasses both environmental and legal practice. She lives in Bulawayo, southern Zimbabwe.

Jane Rabinowicz
Executive Director, USC Canada, Canada

As Executive Director of USC Canada, Jane Rabinowicz is a champion for biodiversity, ecological agriculture, and farmers’ rights at local, national, and international levels. Jane first joined USC Canada in 2011 to bring their innovative Seeds of Survival program home to Canada, working with farmers and partners to develop Canada’s most comprehensive seed security program, The Bauta Family Initiative on Canadian Seed Security. In 2018, Châtelaine Magazine highlighted Jane as one of 25 women changing the way we eat in Canada, and in 2016 Jane was named one of the 53 most influential people in Canada’s food system by The Globe and Mail. In addition to her work at USC Canada, Jane is Co-Founder of the Silver Dollar Foundation and sits on the Board of Directors of Tides Canada. Jane shares the role of Executive Director of USC Canada with Martin Settle as a leadership team, and splits her time between Montreal and Ottawa.

Secretary General, African Seed Trade Association (AFSTA), Kenya

Justin is a seed systems specialist currently working as the Secretary General for the African Seed Trade Association (AFSTA) headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya. One of his core functions is representing the organization in various international forums to represent the interests of the African private seed sector. Prior to joining AFSTA, he worked as a Seed Production Manager in the Ministry of Agriculture in Madagascar, where he helped seed producers and facilitated seed multiplication centers. He also worked as the head of the Seed Certification Service in the same ministry. He has led various seed activities, including the harmonization process of seed regulations of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), which is at its implementation stage. Justin has worked in both private and public seed sectors for more than 25 years and has solid experience in the seed sector. 
Justin is an Engineer of Agronomic Sciences and also holds an MSc in Agribusiness Management from the University of London, Imperial College.

Ingeniero, Identidad y biodiversidad, Mexico

Amado Ramírez Leyva is an agronomical engineer, agricultural economics, and CEO of identidad y biodiversidad AC; and a pioneer in the use of native and creole corn and other native plants. In urban gastronomy, Amado is a designer and founder of Itanoní Flor del Maíz since 2001 — the first restaurant to use corn as a core of the gastronomic proposals in cities, to promote knowledge and recognition of the organoleptic characteristics, agroecological and cultural. Amado is the coordinator of production, consumption and exchange of corn from grandparents’ villages in Oaxaca. With 20 communities from different agroecological regions (dry tropics, damp, intermediate and high valleys, mountains) and ethnicities. Currently working in the linking network, between producers in the country and the restaurants from Mexico’s cities and the world.

Latin America Director, ETC Group, Uruguay

Silvia Ribeiro is the Latin America Director of ETC Group, an international civil society organization that works to address the socioeconomic and ecological issues surrounding new technologies and its impacts on the world’s vulnerable peoples, as well as for the protection of cultural and biological diversity and human rights. Silvia is based in Mexico City and her areas of work include research on the impacts of new technologies on the environment, biodiversity, rural livelihoods and indigenous peoples. She is a well-known lecturer, writer and educator on these issues. She has written over 350 articles for newspapers, books and magazines across Latin America, Europe and North America.

Executive Director, Global Alliance for the Future of Food, Canada

Ruth Richardson is the Executive Director of the Global Alliance for the Future of Food, a unique coalition of foundations committed to leveraging their resources to help shift food and agriculture systems towards greater sustainability, security, and equity. In this capacity, Ruth serves on the Steering Committee of TEEB for Food and Agriculture led by UN Environment, as well as the International Advisory Group on Up-scaling Ecosystem-based Adaptation funded by the German Federal Environmental Ministry under its International Climate Initiative. She also served on the International Advisory Committee of the Global Urban Food Policy Pact. Ruth brings over 20 years of experience in the philanthropic sector to her role at the Global Alliance, and of particular relevance to this undertaking, has extensive experience starting new and complex things. These include being the first Director of the Unilever Canada Foundation, Founding Chair of the Canadian Environmental Grantmakers’ Network, and the first Environment Director at the Metcalf Foundation. Her tenure at the Metcalf Foundation also included acting on the Advisory Committee of the City of Toronto, Board of Health, Toronto Food Strategy to develop an action plan to improve the food system of the Toronto city region.

Associate, ICRA, SPAIN

Humberto Ríos egresó en 1984 como pedagogo especializado en la enseñanza de la agricultura, posteriormente en 1999 obtuvo el doctorado en Ciencias Agrícolas en el Instituto Nacional de Ciencias Agrícolas, Cuba. Como profesor universitario impartió las asignaturas Genética y Mejoramiento de Plantas y Diseño Experimental en el Instituto Superior Pedagógico para la Educación Técnica y Profesional en La Habana durante 12 años. De su carrera profesional se destacan su labor de coordinación del Programa de Innovación Local en Cuba entre el 2000 y 2010 y su trabajo paralelo en Chiapas, Oaxaca y Veracruz, México en el mejoramiento participativo de semillas. Por su contribución en el desarrollo de metodologías participativas en el manejo de la agro-biodiversidad ha recibido varios premios en el que se destaca el Premio Goldman considerado el Nobel Ambiental. Humberto es una de las personalidades mundialmente reconocidas de la Innovación agroecológica y el mejoramiento participativo de semillas. Ríos Labrada goza de prestigio por sus vibrantes conferencias las cuales ha impartido en importante eventos en Estados Unidos, Reino Unido, España, Canadá, México, Bolivia, Costa Rica, Tayikistán, Kirguistán, Etiopia, Malasia entre otros países. Entre su lista de publicaciones aparecen títulos como Innovación Agroecológica y Cambio Climático, Difusión Participativa de Semillas entre otros ampliamente consultados por la comunidad científica internacional. En los últimos años Humberto apoyó el Programa de Innovación Continua y al INIAF en el fortalecimiento de sistemas locales de innovación en Bolivia. Actualmente Humberto se encuentra involucrado en la organización de una iniciativa internacional para el desarrollo de empresas manejadoras de semillas en México, Cuba, Bolivia y Myanmar. Dr. Humberto ama cultivar la tierra, componer y cantar canciones. En el 2014 publicó Burumbún un álbum con sus canciones originales y su novela Chencho Transgénico la cual narra la historia de un joven que siendo educado en los cánones de la agricultura industrial cambió su enfoque de trabajo y de vida a favor de la agroecología.


Berenice Sánchez, indígena Nahua-Otomi de San Francisco Magú, Mexico. Soy activista por los Derechos de los Pueblos Indígenas, presidenta de la Asamblea De los Pueblos Indígenas por la Soberanía Alimentaria APISA A.C. y Coordinadora para Mexico y Centroamérica de Alianza Milpa. Y de 2013 a 2016 fui autoridad tradicional en mi pueblo, periodo en el que se asumió una lucha por la defensa de nuestro territorio frente a un megaproyecto inmobiliario que actualmente está cancelado.

Marlen Haydeé Sánchez Calero
Asociación de Trabajadores del Campo, La Via Campesina, Nicaragua

Miembro de la Asociación de Trabajadores del Campo-ATC Nicaragua. Egresada de Ingeniera Agroecóloga del Instituto Agroecológico Latinoamericano IALA-Paulo Freire en Venezuela. Directora del IALA Mesoamérica CLOC/Vía Campesina, el cual es la Escuela de Agroecología para Centroamérica y El Caribe y tiene sede en Nicaragua.

Founder and Director, The Palestine Heirloom Seed Library, Palestine

Vivien Sansour is the founder of the Palestine Heirloom Seed Library. Trained in anthropology, Vivien has worked with farmers worldwide on agricultural independence, and written about and photographed rural life. Her solo show, Terrain: Palestinian Agri-Resistance, rural portraits of agri-Cultural Palestine, was exhibited in The Jerusalem Fund Gallery in Washington, DC (2012). Vivien was a resident artist for Confrontation Through Art (Nicosia, Cyprus) and contributed to the collective exhibit, “Where The Sky And The Earth Touch.” In her work on seed autonomy, the Traveling Kitchen Project engages people across Palestine on heirloom varieties, biodiversity and seed conservation. She works with farmers to bring threatened heritage varieties back to the field, and to the dinner table. Vivien founded El Beir, Arts & Seeds studio in Bethlehem, a studio center where the Palestine Heirloom Seed Library lives alongside artwork from local artists and producers. Vivien has presented as an artist, scholar, and conservationist in venues local and global, including SALT Art Center in Istanbul, Berlinale, Georgetown University, Qalandiya Biennale, and Columbia University. In 2013, she was field coordinator and guide for the CNN Emmy Award winning show, Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown – Palestine episode. She co-directed, with Riad Bahour, the feature film, El Bizreh Um El Fay, winner of best project at RamallahDoc 2015 (to be released in 2019).

Directora, Fundacion Semillas de Vida, Mexico

Ingeniera Agrónoma, egresada de la Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana, plantel Xochimilco, en 1982, especializada en Economía del Sistema Agroalimentario en el Centro de Asistencia al Desarrollo en Viterbo, Italia con beca otorgada por el Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores Italiano. Maestría en Desarrollo Rural por la Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana plantel Xochimilco con medalla al mérito universitario por calificaciones obtenidas. Candidata a Doctora en Agroecología por la Universidad de Antioquia, Colombia. Actualmente impulsa la Fundación Semillas de Vida para la defensa de una alimentación sana sin transgénicos y la protección de las semillas mexicanas, en especial del maíz. En 2007 fue parte de las convocantes de la Campaña Nacional Sin maiz no hay país y en 2013 del Carnaval del Maíz. Es la Representante común de la colectividad que interpuso una demanda ha logrado que por mandato judicial se suspenda provisionalmente la siembra de maíz transgénico en todo el país desde septiembre de 2013 hasta la fecha. Ha colaborado para el impulso de diversas confluencias como la Iniciativa Valor al campesino y la Alianza por la salud alimentaria. Es miembro de la Unión de Científicos Comprometidos con la Sociedad (UCSS). Consejera del Fondo Global de Mujeres (GFW), red universal de personas, comprometida en el logro de la igualdad y justicia social en el mundo.

President, New Field Foundation, United States

Tom spent the last 30 years working on innovative community-oriented projects that bring to life underutilized urban areas. As a founding principal of Equity Community Builders LLC ( in 1993, he led the development and ongoing management of such award winning projects as the Thoreau Center for Sustainability in the Presidio of San Francisco, the Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market in San Francisco and the Cavallo Point Lodge in Sausalito. Tom also participates actively as an advisor to the non-profit sector and as an investor in social enterprises through his own investment company, Highland Associates ( He believes that public/private partnerships and creatively structured, patient capital investment strategies provide a significant opportunity for serving both human and natural communities.

He is Treasurer of the Kalliopeia Foundation (; and Trustee of the New Field Foundation’s new seeds initiative (; and Tamalpais Trust (, which supports the strengthening of Indigenous People’s-led initiatives and institutions that promote and serve traditional cultures. He is an active board member of the Global Whole Being Fund ( which supports innovative grassroots refugee organizations that utilize a holistic approach to improving the lives of those who are on the move. He currently sits on the investment committee of Dirt Capital ( which purchases farms in the Northeast for the purpose of assisting young farmers with land ownership, and on the board of Environmental Defenders Legal Center (

Facilitadora de Procesos de Desarrollo Comunitario, Asamblea de los Pueblos Indígenas por la Soberanía Alimentaria A.C., Mexico

Ser una persona profesional en constante superación, que fortalezca y contribuya al desarrollo social, cultural, económico, ambiental y con equidad de genero real, de las comunidades campesinas e indígenas.

National Coordinator, CONABIO, Mexico

Es biólogo por la Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (1964), maestro en ciencias agrícolas por el Colegio de Postgraduados (1968) y doctor en ecología por la Universidad de Gales (1972). Sus principales áreas de interés académico han sido: ecología de poblaciones y sistemas, ecología global, biodiversidad y darwinismo, así como aspectos de educación superior, ciencia y tecnología ligadas al desarrollo. Ha publicado más de 190 trabajos científicos y varios libros. Ha recibido doctorados honoris causa de 11 Universidades nacionales y extranjeras. También ha recibido varios premios, entre los que destacan Campeones de la Tierra que otorga el Programa de las Naciones Unidas para el Medio Ambiente (2016) y el premio Tyler para el Logro Ambiental, máximo galardón que se entrega en materia ambiental (2017). En 1991, el Dr. José Sarukhán propuso al Gobierno Federal la creación de la Comisión Nacional para el Conocimiento y Uso de la Biodiversidad (CONABIO). En ese entonces, el presidente de México, lo designó honorariamente Coordinador Nacional. Desde 2010 dirige a la CONABIO en sus labores diarias.


Gilberto is a member of Brazil’s Movement of Small Farmers (MPA) and La Via Campesina’s International Working Collective on Agroecology, Seeds and Biodiversity.

Especialista Innovación Rural, Fundación EkoRural, Ecuador/USA

Originally from the Greater Philadelphia area and with studies in International Development/Economics (Penn State), Plant Pathology/Adult Education (Cornell University), and a PhD in the Sociology of Change (Wageningen University), Stephen Sherwood is a part-time farmer and Lecturer and Researcher in Knowledge, Technology and Innovation at Wageningen University, the Netherlands, and at Fundación EkoRural in Ecuador. He has lived and worked in Latin America (Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala, Bolivia, Peru, and Ecuador) for nearly 30 years. Previously, Steve was the Andes Regional Director at World Neighbors. He has also held positions at the International Potato Center (CIP) and the Cornell International Institute for Food, Agriculture and Development (CIIFAD). He is co-founder of a number of agroecology and grassroots development initiatives, including Ecuador’s Colectivo Agroecológico ( and Groundswell International ( Steve’s present academic work addresses the rising uncertainties associated with modernization in agriculture and food. Steve’s work examines people’s self-organized, self-harmful organization, as in mass pesticide poisoning, the erosion of seed systems and genetic diversity, overweight/obesity, as well as the proliferation of Non-Communicable Disease. Steve and his wife, Myriam Paredes, own Granja Urkuwayku, a family-run organic farm and CSA in Ecuador, where they are activists in a number of national and regional food movements.

Director, Navdanya International, India/Italy

Ruchi is the Director of Navdanya International, based in Rome, Italy — which is the international arm of Navdanya, an organisation headquartered in India that has been working for over 30 years towards the conservation and rejuvenation of agro-biodiversity, traditional knowledge, and a transition towards a food system that ensures ecological sustainability, climate resilience, health and nutrition, equity and social justice. She co-ordinates the international programs and campaigns related to Seed Freedom, food sovereignty, as well as resistance to GMOs, free trade agreements, seed monopolies and biopiracy. One of her interests lies in investigating the true costs of the industrial food system paradigm and its impacts on agro-biodiversity, socio-economic and ecological sustainability. Trained in physics, economics and management, she has worked for over a decade with social movements in the defence and protection of the environment as well as democratic rights of minorities and indigenous communities.

Consultant, Operations, Global Alliance for the Future of Food, USA/Zimbabwe

Zanele brings 20 years of experience in program development, grant-making, capacity building, learning, and advocacy to catalyze systems change to her role at the Global Alliance. She has worked at the intersection of community development and child development, both in urban communities in the United States, and in rural communities in southern and eastern Africa for over 20 years. It is through this work that she supported grassroots organizations working through the challenges and impacts local, national, and global food systems have on the lives of the poor and vulnerable people. Most recently Zanele has been working as a philanthropic advisor and non-profit consultant with expertise on operations, project management, monitoring and evaluation, administration, and organizational development. Previously she served as Director of Programs for Firelight Foundation, funding and supporting grassroots movements addressing the impact of poverty and HIV in Africa. Zanele has also worked with women’s groups in Zimbabwe, managed community development programs in Chicago, and worked as part of a research team evaluating community development in urban centers in four cities in the United States. A native of Zimbabwe, Zanele spent most of her school holidays working with her parents on their communal farm in the southwest of Zimbabwe.

Program Leader, Senior Researcher, Centre for Chinese Agricultural Policy, Chinese Academy of Science, China

Dr. Yiching Song obtained her PhD in rural sociology and rural development at Wageningen University, in the Netherlands in 1998. Since 2000, she has been a senior researcher and program leader in the Centre for Chinese Agricultural Policy (CCAP), Chinese Academy of Science (CAS). She is also a lecture professor at China Agricultural University, Guangxi University and SW China University. She has been collaborating with Wageningen University since 2007, and has co-supervised four PhD students. She has been a board member and a visiting senior researcher at the China Centre for Intellectual Property in Agriculture (CCIPA), Chinese Academy of Agricultural Science since 2008. Since 2010, she has been a member of CIMMYT scientific committee. Her research focus on sustainable agriculture, food security and rural development policies in China cover a range of several related areas, like biodiversity, traditional knowledge and related genetic resources, seed and food security and poverty, agricultural research and extension, community seeds bank, and related natural resource management, farmer cooperatives and related gender and social issues. Her main research methodology is participatory action research and policy analysis. Since 2013, she initiated and has been leading a national program, Farmer Seeds Network in China, aiming to enhance farmer seed systems via community-based seeds work and policy linkage, piloting and advocacy.

Executive Director, CORAF, Senegal

Dr. Abdou Tenkouano is Executive Director of CORAF, the West and Central Africa Council for Agricultural Research and Development, based in Dakar, Senegal, since May 2016. His academic background is in plant breeding and genetics, with a PhD (1993) obtained at Texas A&M University. He worked across sub-Saharan Africa with the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT, 1994-1996, Mali); the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA, 1996-2008, Nigeria, Cameroon and Ghana); and AVRDC – The World Vegetable Center (AVRDC, 2008-2016, Tanzania and Mali). Dr. Tenkouano served as a member of the Research for Development Council at IITA and Deputy Chair of the Institutional Research and Development Committee and member of the Institutional Management Committee at AVRDC. He currently works at CORAF, an organization serving as the technical arm for agricultural research and development for four regional economic commissions and covering 23 countries in West and Central Africa.

Head of Resilient Livelihoods and Climate Justice, ActionAid International, South Africa

Ruchi heads up ActionAid International’s work on Resilient Livelihoods and Climate Justice. Ruchi has 23 years of experience in the human rights/development sectors having worked in India, UK and South Africa – with a focus on corporate accountability and trade justice, women’s rights, food sovereignty and agroecology, climate justice, and natural resource rights. Ruchi has studied in India, UK, US and Japan and currently lives in the UK with her husband, two young kids and a dog.

Saul Vicente Vázquez
Food Sovereignty Programme Coordinator, International Indian Treaty Council, Mexico

Originario del Pueblo Zapoteca del Estado de Oaxaca, México. Miembro de la Mesa Directiva del Consejo Internacional de Tratados Indios (CITI). Secretario de la Asamblea de Pueblos Indígenas por la Soberanía Alimentaria (APISA A.C.). Secretario General de La Unidad de la Fuerza Indígena y Campesina (UFiC), organización de carácter nacional en México. Miembro del Comité de Coordinación del Mecanismo de la Sociedad Civil (MSC) para el Comité de Seguridad Alimentaria Mundial (CSA), periodo 2017-2019, Roma, Italia. Presidente Municipal de la Heroica Ciudad de Juchitán de Zaragoza, Oaxaca, México, en el periodo 2014-2016. Miembro del Foro Permanente de Naciones Unidas para las Cuestiones Indígenas (UNPFI) en el periodo 2011-2013. Director General del Colegio Superior de Educación Integral Intercultural del Estado de Oaxaca (CSEIIO), México, periodo 2010- 2013. Secretario Técnico de la Comisión de Asuntos Indígenas de la Cámara Federal de Diputados, México, en el periodo 2007-2009.

Director de AC, RAKEMA AC, Mexico

Una breve biografía de momentos significativos: Nací en un rancho en la Magdalena, Chihuahua el 21 de julio del 1955. Entré al seminario de la Sierra Tarahumara que estaba a cargo de los jesuitas donde estudié hasta Filosofía y Teología; desde entonces por más de cuarenta años he acompañado algunas comunidades Rarámuri en proyectos de educación, salud, huertos familiares, cuidado de la tierra, del agua y de las semillas nativas. Este acompañar ha sido un proceso de aprendizaje y sobretodo de ir construyendo relaciones de amistad y de cercanía con la gente. En diferentes periodos he vivido en las comunidades por lapsos de tres a cinco años, esto me permite comprender más profundamente su manera de estar, caminar y relacionarse por este mundo; por lo que cada uno de los proyectos que hemos apoyado están estrechamente vinculados con su cosmovisión.


I have been working in the field of agriculture for the last 15 years: four years as a teacher in agricultural college, and 11 years working with small-scale farmers on projects that aim to improve food and nutrition security. My interest in agriculture started long before I went to college because we used to work with our parents in the garden after school. Presently, I am the CEO of Seed Savers Network, a grassroots organization that works with small-scale farmers in Kenya to improve seed access and agrobiodiversity for the last seven years.

Consultant, Germany

Eva Weltzien’s research has focused on the effective use of sorghum, pearl millet and barley genetic resources for variety development and seed systems that best meet women and men farmers’ needs in dryland production areas, in Syria, India, and West Africa. She coordinated research on sorghum improvement in West-Africa for ICRISAT for 17 years, focusing on methodologies for participatory plant breeding and enhancing local seed systems. In 2015, she was awarded the Justus von Liebig Prize for World Nutrition, jointly with her husband Fred Rattunde. She received her Doctorate degree from the Technical University of Munich, Germany, based on research conducted with ICARDA in Aleppo, Syria; following studies at the University of Hohenheim in Germany, and Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa, USA. She retired from ICRISAT in 2016, is an Honorary Associate at the Agronomy Department of University of Wisconsin – Madison, USA and works as a freelance consultant.

Associate Professor, Noragric at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Norway

Ola Westengen is an Associate Professor at the Department of International Environment and Development Studies (Noragric) and leader of the research cluster ‘Climate Change and Agricultural Development’ at the department. Previous to joining Noragric in 2015, Westengen was the Coordinator of Operations and Management of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. He does research on agrobiodiversity; conservation and use of genetic resources; seed supply systems; food security and adaptation to climate change; and crop evolution and crop diversity as biocultural heritage.

National Program Coordinator, Indigenous Seed Keepers Network, United States

Rowen White is a seed keeper and farmer from the Mohawk community of Akwesasne and a passionate activist for indigenous seed and food sovereignty. She is the director and founder of the Sierra Seeds, an innovative organic seed stewardship organization focusing on local seed and education, based in Nevada City CA. Rowen is the current National Project Coordinator for the Indigenous Seed Keepers Network, which is an initiative of the Native American Food Sovereignty Alliance, a non-profit organization aimed at leveraging resources to support tribal food sovereignty projects. The mission of the Indigenous Seed Keepers Network is to nourish and assist the growing Seed Sovereignty Movement across Turtle Island. Rowen’s passion is in teaching and mentoring, and has developed many curricula which focus on a holistic, Indigenous permaculture-based approach to seed stewardship which honours the many layers of seed culture — from practical hands on skills, cultural context and memory with guiding principles that are rooted in an Indigenous ecology of relations. She teaches and facilitates creative seed stewardship immersions around the country within tribal and small farming communities, as well as offering an online distance learning seasonal mentorship called Seed Seva. She weaves stories of seeds, food, culture and sacred Earth stewardship on her blog, Seed Songs. Follow her seed journeys at

Martha Cameron Willcox Gallagher
Maize Landrace Improvement Coordinator, International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center, Mexico

Martha Cameron Willcox Gallagher, Coordinadora de Mejoramiento de Maíces Nativos en el Centro Internacional de Mejoramiento de Maíz y Trigo es originaria del estado de Carolina del Norte en los Estados Unidos. Obtuvo su grado de Licenciatura en Agronomía de la Universidad Estatal de Carolina del Norte, así como el de Maestría en Fitotecnia trabajando en Fitomejoramiento de Cacahuate. Recibió su Doctorado de la Universidad de Wisconsin en Fitomejoramiento y Fitogenética, especializado en el mejoramiento de maíz para nutrición de vacas lecheras. Trabajó durante 2 años en el CIMMYT como postdoctorado en la Unidad de Mejoramiento contra Estrés, en la selección para resistencia a gusano Barrenador. Posteriormente fue contratada por el CIMMYT como científica permanente y trabajó en cuestiones de bioseguridad relacionadas con cultivos experimentales de maíz transgénico, en colaboración con varios científicos mexicanos expertos en recursos genéticas de 1995 a 1997. De regreso a los Estados Unidos trabajó para el Departamento de Agricultura de los Estados Unidos (USDA) en el mapeo molecular de genes para resistencia a aflatoxina. Regresó a México en 2011 para trabajar como Coordinadora de Evaluaciones Fenotípicas para el Proyecto de Semillas de Descubrimiento. Actualmente es Coordinadora de Mejoramiento de Maíces Nativos en el CIMMYT, trabajando en el estado de Oaxaca en colaboración con los maestros Flavio Aragón, y Humberto Castro en un proyecto de mejoramiento participativo y mejoramiento agronómico en áreas marginadas de Oaxaca. Martha Willcox ha estado arduamente trabajando para conectar a los agricultores tradicionales con los mercados culinarios, a través de este proyecto.

Consultant, Tudor Trust, Zimbabwe

I am a Zimbabwean working as a free range facilitator and activist with a range of local civil society organisations in east and southern Africa, from community-based organisations to regional and continental networks. One initiative I’ve been closely associated with, for the last few years, is the Southern African Seed and Knowledge Initiative (SKI). SKI is working to help strengthen farmer-managed seed systems. I work as a consultant in support of Tudor Trust grantees in the region, and I also sit on the board of the African Centre for Biodiversity.

Outreach Coordinator/Coordinator/Board Member, International Indian Treaty Council/Native American Food Sovereignty Alliance, Mexico/USA

Nicole Maria Yanes (Opata) is a grassroots advocate, farmer, harvester and community organizer from the border community of Nogales Sonora-Arizona along the Mexico-U.S. border. She has been employed as a Food Sovereignty Program Organizer and Outreach Coordinator with the International Indian Treaty Council since March of 2014 — working in the areas of food sovereignty, environmental health, climate change, youth outreach and intergenerational transmission of knowledge. Nicole has been the Coordinator for the Native American Food Sovereignty Alliance since fall 2016, working to restore, support and develop Indigenous food systems through best practices and advocacy. She is also a Board Member for the Asamblea de Pueblos Indigenas por la Soberania Alimentaria en Mexico and on the Steering Committee for Slow Food Turtle Island Association. Nicole graduated from Arizona State University in December of 2013, with degrees in both areas of Non-Profit Organization Management & Leadership and American Indian Studies. As a student, she founded Light is Life: Food Sovereignty Project, a student-led initiative in 2012, and was active in other student-led food movements, including Buffalo Council and Real Food Challenge. Nicole has organized community and international conferences, workshops, and gatherings in Mexico, United States, Guatemala, and Canada, among other places. She has also participated and impacted international policy discussions and meetings as an advocate for food sovereignty, agroecology and the rights of Indigenous Peoples.

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