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Why We Need Crop Diversity

Securing the world’s crop diversity is a global concern and a prerequisite for future food and nutrition security. 

Only by safeguarding crop diversity in perpetuity, and making it available for use by researchers, plant breeders and farmers, can we adapt agriculture to the climate crisis, reduce environmental degradation, improve livelihoods, and feed everyone adequately.

Plant breeders and scientists use crop diversity to develop new, more resilient and productive varieties that consumers want to eat, that are nutritious and tasty, and that are adapted to local preferences, environments and challenges.

The importance of the conservation and use of crop diversity is recognized in both international law and policy, as well as in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

Threats to crop diversity

Yet we are losing the diversity of crops and their wild relatives at an alarming rate. This erosion of crop diversity is undermining the resilience of food systems. Increasingly rapid environmental, technological and social changes, including extreme weather events, changes in agricultural practices, the emergence and spread of new pests and diseases, and conflict, are causing crop diversity to disappear in many places around the world. This applies also to the diversity conserved in genebanks if they are not properly maintained. 

And once an heirloom variety or wild crop relative is lost, it is gone forever.

Securing our food supply

Out of 20,000 edible plants, and 6,000 that have historically been used as food, fewer than 200 now make a major contribution to food production, and just nine account for two thirds of food production, according to  FAO’s State of the World’s Biodiversity for Food and Agriculture.

It is only through conserving and using crop diversity to adapt agriculture to the effects of climate change that we will meet one of humanity’s greatest challenges: sustainably producing sufficient and sufficiently nutritious food for an increasing global population in the face of multiple crises.

Source: Crop Trust

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