23 March 2015, Brasilia: Landmark meeting with Global Crop Diversity Trust hosted by Embrapa takes place in Brasilia to discuss the key role that Brazil must play in food security.
Key figures from four government ministries will meet with Crop Trust representatives in Brasilia today and tomorrow, to discuss how Brazil can further assist efforts to ensure food security around the world. The meetings will seek to strengthen relationships between Brazil and the Global Crop Diversity Trust, as they work to preserve the crop diversity that is vital to feeding growing populations in a changing climate.
By 2042, Brazil will need to feed an extra 28 million people and the global population will have increased by an extra two billion. To meet this demand, food production must increase by at least 15 percent, and overcome the pressures of competition for agricultural land, climate change and the overarching need to produce more food with fewer resources.
The high level meetings will be facilitated by Dr Mauricio Lopes, President of the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (Embrapa) and Board Member at the Crop Trust, the only international organisation dedicated to preserving crop diversity forever. The Brasilia dates comprise the final and most significant stage of a Crop Trust regional tour that has included work with scientists and government bodies in Argentina, Chile, Costa Rica and Peru.
Brazil is widely regarded as a world leader in the field of crop research. In April 2014, Embrapa opened a new R$13m state-of-the-art national genebank, which complements the international collections and genebanks supported by the CGIAR system and the Crop Trust. The national genebank is already making an important contribution to the international initiative, by housing a back-up collection of potato seeds. This global collaboration is absolutely essential, given the interdependency between nations in relation to crop diversity. For example, Brazil is reliant on non-native crop types for approximately 90 percent of the food energy its population consumes.
The Crop Trust and Embrapa have successfully collaborated on a number of previous projects. These included a project to collect and conserve samples of wild barley, beans and cowpeas, to protect their diversity and ultimately enhance their use. Projects to rescue and evaluate maize collections have also been supported.
Brazil has already contributed USD30,000 to the Crop Trust, but is being called upon to join nations around the world to collectively assure the conservation of the world’s crop diversity, forever. To achieve this, the Crop Trust is seeking to raise a total of USD500 million by the time of its Pledging Conference in 2016, which will guarantee the maintenance of key international plant collections of critical importance to our food supply. Consecutively, a further USD350 million is to be raised by 2018, for a total of USD 850 million, which will support unique regional and national collections.
The Crop Trust also co-funds and operates the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, a back-up store in the permafrost of the Arctic Circle that holds more than 860,000 seed accessions from all over the world. The vault is owned by the Norwegian government and day- to- day management is the responsibility of Nordic Genetic Resource Center. Brazil, through Embrapa, has so far deposited around 1,300 accessions to the Seed Vault, including 500 accessions of rice and bean, ensuring the long-term preservation of an important part of the nation’s plant genetic heritage. However, this is only a small fraction of the country’s total holdings, and it is being encouraged to make additional deposits to further safeguard its priceless crop genetic heritage.
Speaking ahead of the meetings with government ministries today, Dr Mauricio Lopes said:
I’m immensely proud of the hugely productive relationship between Embrapa and the Crop Trust. Food security relies on interdependency between countries, so it is vital that we continue to work with international partners like the Crop Trust to ensure all our children have the means to feed themselves in the future. These meetings with key ministerial representatives will help establish Brazil as a significant contributor to this important international effort.
Walter Fust, Chair of the Crop Trust’s Executive Board, said:
The global agriculture system, and our collective efforts to preserve crop diversity, rely on international collaboration with bodies like Embrapa. In Brazil, for example, around 90% of the food energy consumed comes from crops that are not native to the region, so we must work together. It is therefore vital that Brazil becomes a leading nation in this global effort by further supporting the Crop Trust’s endowment fund.
Brazil has made, and continues to make, great strides in preserving its crop heritage and preparing for the future, but it is critical that it continues to foster and support these international partnerships. By working collaboratively, we are able to share our expertise, so we can find joint solutions to the global challenges we face.
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