Crops for Every Corn - or Sauerkraut!

By Dave Armstrong - 22 Jan 2016 12:11:0 GMT
Crops for Every Corn - or Sauerkraut!

Whether it’s this Uzbek cotton not going rotten, diseased Californian strawberries or flooded Indian rice paddies, we need new varieties to resist climate change or rise in sea-level and old and wild varieties to refresh genomes to survive these future risks Cotton image; Credit: © Shutterstock

Global gene-banks rarely get publicity, but the action of the German government in backing The Crop Trust this week must be brought to notice. The Crop Trust, with their Svalbad gene bank essential for the conservation of many species and varieties, needs such support so that we can be future-proof ! Their CGIAR (Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research) resources are a comprehensive collection of the genomes we will use as climate change or other crop failures can create famine in almost any part of the world. Nevertheless, it has taken until 2016 for these resources that are our food future to be fully funded.

830,000 samples of almost every known crop are held on behalf of 60 major institutions and every major country in Svalbad. Recently, Kew Gardens in London have been gathering wild relatives of at least 29 crops to enhance the variability available. Norway originally contributed $50million for that initiative, named Adapting Agriculture to Climate Change.

So the question is, why did The Crop Trust need German help. On 19th January, the major grant to an endowment fund was headline news at international green Week in Berlin. The fund should now be reaching $500 million for a conference in April 2016. Previously full support from Germany consisted of a €7.5million (more or less the same in dollars) set of donations pre-2010. The German minister responsible for a further €25 million was quoted as sayingI am glad about the engagement of the Ministry of Development Cooperation on this important topic. We cooperate closely on this issue, since raising agricultural productivity and fighting hunger and poverty in rural areas depend on the diversity of food crops. Protecting crop diversity is therefore the duty of the entire world community.

There’s the hopeful situation- if all else goes well, we may at least have enough vegetables to eat in the future, for every nation. As far as one crop is concerned, the US, Brazil and China join Uzbekistan as major cotton producers according to business news here.