Crop Wild Relatives
Crop wild relatives (CWR) are the un-domesticated cousins of our crops. These wild plants, living under the pressures of their natural environments, but threatened in many places, hold great potential to help crops adapt to pests, diseases and adverse climatic conditions. They can also make crops more productive, and more nutritious.
The Crop Trust and its partner, the Millennium Seed Bank of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, UK, have embarked on a global effort to collect, conserve and use the wild relatives of 29 crops of global importance to food security. The 10-year project Adapting Agriculture to Climate Change: Collecting, Protecting and Preparing Crop Wild Relatives, a USD 50 million initiative funded by the government of Norway, is the most systematic and comprehensive ever bid to conserve the world’s crop wild relatives on a global scale.
The project will ensure that collected seed can be crossed with existing varieties, a process known as “prebreeding,” to see if the traits of interest can then be introduced effectively into domesticated plants. Once this is done, the diversity is available to all plant breeders, everywhere.
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