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Crop Trust dares to be BOLDER with expansive initiative in Africa

Crop Trust dares to be BOLDER with expansive initiative in Africa

10 December 2023

Dubai, United Arab Emirates, 10 December 2023 — As the world comes together to urgently chart a better course forward for climate action at COP 28 in Dubai, the Crop Trust is proud to announce the launch of the BOLDER (Building Opportunities for Lesser-known Diversity in Edible Resources) initiative,  generously funded by the Norwegian Government with initially 3.4 million Euros over two years. 

BOLDER will focus on supporting food and nutrition security across Africa and is an addition to the 10-year BOLD (Biodiversity for Opportunities, Livelihoods, and Development) project that supports the conservation and use of crop diversity globally.

BOLDER will work with multiple partners across four African countries to enhance the conservation, production, and consumption of crops that are nutritious, robust, environment-friendly, and important for local communities but have been mostly ignored by research and development. Often called neglected and underutilized species (NUS), such crops include millets, grasspea, Bambara groundnut and an array of traditional African leafy vegetables.

In response to the growing and interrelated threats of climate change and malnutrition across Africa, the project will be rolled out in two countries in East Africa and two more in West Africa. Throughout 2024, the Crop Trust and its partners will work closely with the communities on the ground in each country to select and prioritize species that best-fit farmers’ needs in different regions.

This work will increase communities’ access to foods with high nutritional value and bolster efforts to develop and climate-proof agriculture. NUS can help reduce pests and diseases in farming systems, yield more reliable harvests even in unpredictable climatic conditions, increase soil fertility, prevent soil erosion, and suppress weed growth.

BOLDER will be a collaborative effort, partnering with the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU), the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, CGIAR, the World Vegetable Centre, National Agricultural Research Systems (NARS), universities, NGOs, farmer households and the private sector.

By providing farmers with more options through the increased use of neglected and underutilized crops, BOLDER contributes to the Adapted Crops and Soils (VACS) initiative, launched in 2023 with the African Union and others.

Anne Beathe Tvinnereim, Minister of International Development, Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said:

"The Crop Trust and its national and international partners in Africa will help increase the use and value of nutritious but currently underused, climate-resilient, and environment-friendly crops. And in doing so, help transform smallholder farmers' lives. I am pleased that this addition to the BOLD project will be part of the Vision for Adapted Crops and Soils (VACS), which was launched earlier this year by the US State Department in partnership with the African Union (AU) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO). Initiatives like this are fundamental for humanity to tackle climate-related challenges."  

Stefan Schmitz, Executive Director for the Crop Trust, said:

“There remains so much untapped potential and crop biodiversity worldwide, particularly in Africa. BOLDER will seek to unlock this potential while providing communities access to nutritious, resilient, and climate-friendly crops that will help strengthen food security for all.

“The Crop Trust exists to bolster the capacity of genebanks around the globe; this includes supporting their efforts to strengthen their role in seed systems, making crop diversity available to farmers and their communities. We are incredibly excited to begin this vital work.”

Enoch G. Achigan-Dako, Professor, Genetics and Plant Breeding, University of Abomey-Calavi, Benin, said:

''We believe that Africa has a rich diversity of crops and their wild relatives that have contributed through the ages to sustain food systems and people's nutrition across the continent. Those crops are generally not well known to the world but have proven adaptation to vulnerable soils and marginal lands, are produced with little inputs and can cope very well with climate change. If well studied and promoted, underused crops in Africa such as fonio, Kersting's groundnut, egusi, spider plant and amaranths, among many others, are excellent sources of food and nutrients to address hunger, malnutrition and poverty. The Crop Trust's BOLD project is top-notch, timely and user-oriented to serve the purpose of local African communities.''

Sarada Krishnan, Director of Programs for the Crop Trust, said:

“A collaborative spirit is at the heart of this addition to the BOLD project. Farmers and other stakeholders will be involved in all stages — from crop selection and evaluation to value chain development. The project will also serve as a proof of concept using a systems approach that can – and hopefully will — be replicated for other crops and regions, contributing to food and nutrition security and adaptation to climate change.”

Notes to editor

About the Crop Trust

The Crop Trust is an international organization working to conserve and make available crop diversity and thus protect global food and nutrition security. At the core of Crop Trust is an endowment fund dedicated to providing guaranteed long-term financial support to key genebanks worldwide. The Crop Trust supports the Svalbard Global Seed Vault and coordinates large-scale projects worldwide to secure crop diversity and make it available for use, globally forever and for the benefit of everyone. The Crop Trust is recognized as an essential element of the funding strategy of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture. Learn more at

About the Biodiversity for Opportunities, Livelihoods and Development (BOLD) Project

BOLD (Biodiversity for Opportunities, Livelihoods, and Development) is a 10-year project to strengthen food and nutrition security worldwide by supporting the conservation and use of crop diversity. The project works with national genebanks, pre-breeding and seed system partners globally. Funded by the Government of Norway, BOLD is led by the Crop Trust in partnership with the Norwegian University of Life Sciences and the International Plant Treaty.
Learn more at 

About the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU)

NMBU's mission is to contribute to the well-being of the planet. Their interdisciplinary research and study programmes generate innovations in food, health, environmental protection, climate and sustainable use of natural resources.
Learn more at 

About the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation NORAD / the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs

The Government of Norway has adopted a development approach aimed at achieving SDG 2 (Zero Hunger) and responding to the threats posed by climate change, particularly in least-developed countries and sub-Saharan Africa. Its action plan centers on promoting sustainable food systems as a holistic and integrative approach that encompasses food, people and the environment, and recognizes the pivotal role of biodiversity for developing sustainable food systems.
Learn more at 


Categories: Press Releases, BOLD

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