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A ‘Revolutionary’ Way to Feed the World That’s Very Old

A ‘Revolutionary’ Way to Feed the World That’s Very Old

Salahu Mutiat, Ipapo Oyo user group in Oyo State, Nigeria. October 2023. (Photo: Crop Trust/ Georgina Smith)

By Somini Sengupta, The New York Times

23 January 2024

As the State Department’s global envoy for food security, Cary Fowler is working to shift U.S. foreign policy towards promoting traditional crops like cowpeas, cassava, and millets in developing countries. He labels them "opportunity crops" for their resilience and nutritional value. The initiative aims to enhance the agricultural productivity of these crops, focusing initially on six crops in six African countries.

Fowler, a true crop diversity champion, was the first official Executive Director of the Crop Trust, and played a key role in establishing the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, which today safeguards over 1.2 million seed samples from various corners of the globe.

Cary Fowler launched the Vision for Adapted Crops and Soils (VACS) in February 2023 in partnership with the African Union (AU) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO). VACS supports the African Union Common Position on Food Systems including focus on indigenous agriculture, the AU Green Recovery Action Plan, and the Soil Initiative for Africa. 

The Crop Trust contributes to the VACS initiative through the Crop Conservation Strategies, the Biodiversity for Opportunities, Livelihoods and Development (BOLD) project, the Seeds for Resilience project and Genesys.

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