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Detlef Virchow

InWEnt, Capacity Building International, Wielinger Str. 52, D-82340 Feldafing, Germany

Abstract: Conservation policies will be pursued with quite different sets of instruments and conservation methods depending on the objectives and the costs implied. In this chapter, the objectives of genetic resources conservation are discussed and in situ conservation methods are described, and the costs related to these conservation methods are analyzed. This chapter demonstrates that despite the intensive multilateral discussions regarding the potential and the political will of various countries to foster in situ conservation activities, the direct costs have not yet been assessed, much less the related indirect costs which will be even more difficult to assess. It is discussed that agrobiodiversity is largely produced by farmers as a positive externality without any conservation program costs. In the future, assuming a risk of an unplanned loss of traditional varieties, the question will be with what economic instruments and incentives can agrobiodiversity be kept at the social optimum, securing nonmarketable genetic resources? It is argued that efficient interventions as well as flexible and self-targeting incentive mechanisms are needed to enable the farmers to benefit from the product agrobiodiversity and at the same time to decrease the social opportunity costs of in situ conservation without losing varieties.

Key words: conservation costs; conservation methods; conservation policies; incentive mechanism; in situ conservation; plant genetic resources for food and agriculture.

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