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Celebrating the Building Blocks of Life

8 December 2015

Seeds still life in a box. (Photo by DeAgostini/Getty Images)Seeds still life in a box. (Photo by DeAgostini/Getty Images)

Crop diversity in focus: a global photography campaign was launched today celebrating the beauty and value of crop diversity around the world.


The campaign, #CropsInColor, will highlight the diversity of food crops and the role it plays in the lives of people around the world. The collaboration between the Crop Trust and Getty Images Reportage will see world-class photojournalists travel to diverse locations across Latin America, Africa and Southeast Asia to capture the importance of crop diversity, which underpins world food supplies and our ability to feed ourselves. Three crops are under the spotlight: rice, cassava and maize. Although they originated in very different places, they are now found all over the tropical world and have been adapted by farmers and breeders to fit countless landscapes, climates, agricultural realities and tastes.

In photos and videos, #CropsInColor’s photographers will document the hidden stories of crop diversity, from the scientists who steward remarkable crop collections to the farmers who daily overcome new challenges in their fields.

This campaign, made possible by the support of DuPont, will be presented on a dedicated section of the Crop Trust’s website.

Global public research institutes like the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) in Colombia and the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) in Mexico are introducing the photographers to their seed collections, and to the farmers who are living on the front lines of climate change, and use, manage and cherish the priceless resource that is crop diversity as part of their daily life.

The Crop Trust is the only organisation dedicated entirely to protecting crop diversity throughout the world. Its work garnered international media attention recently when the Svalbard Global Seed Vault in the Arctic sent vital seed samples to the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas’ (ICARDA) facilities in Morocco and Lebanon, after their global collection held in Syria lost the ability to operate to its full extent due to the civil war. This was the first-ever withdrawal from the Vault, which preserves more than 865,000 varieties of plants from around the world, deep within a mountain north of the Arctic Circle.

The Crop Trust’s work goes far beyond the Svalbard Global Seed Vault though, extending across the world to preserve the diversity necessary to secure food supplies that will survive the multiple, changing conditions encountered on our planet Earth. The Crop Trust is aiming to raise a USD 500 million endowment by the time of its International Pledging Conference in April 2016. Investment income from the endowment will guarantee the long-term conservation of key food security crops by providing funding for the crop collections stored in international genebanks, such as those visited by the photographers. This work makes a direct contribution toward the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted in September at a meeting of world leaders at the United Nations in New York. The Crop Trust contributes to several of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that the 2030 Agenda comprises, including Goal 1: No poverty, Goal 2: Zero hunger and Goal 15: Life on land (halting biodiversity loss).

The #CropsInColor campaign seeks to open people’s eyes to the hard work and extraordinary human endeavour behind a bag of rice, ear of maize and field of cassava – or indeed any cultivated foodstuff.

The #CropsInColor campaign shines a light on the artists at work behind the scenes - the genebank staff keeping safe collections of diversity from around the world, the plant breeders coaxing hidden potential out of a handful of seeds, and the innovative farmers who practice the ancient art of turning sunlight into food.

#CropsInColor aims to raise awareness about the vital role of crop diversity and re-instil the simple sense of wonder about mankind’s ability to work with our natural resources for the benefit of all.

The Crop Trust’s Executive Director Marie Haga said:

“Behind every meal you eat is a world of crop diversity that is the result of thousands of years of care. Crop diversity is the foundation of food security. It gives farmers the tools to beat droughts, floods, diseases, pest attacks and more. It brings nutrition and variety to every meal, and it makes farming a viable way of life. The hidden stories of crop diversity are everywhere, and we are delighted to be working in collaboration with Getty Images Reportage to bring some of these stories to life.”

Denise Costich, CIMMYT Maize Genebank Manager said:

“We are delighted to be associated with this excellent project and to be welcoming photographers to our collections. Genebanks play an often overlooked but critical role in safeguarding genetic diversity and contributing to food security. In celebrating the utility of major crops we sometimes forget their simple beauty. I hope that this project brings an awareness of both to people around the world, as it is they that genebanks ultimately serve.” 

DuPont Pioneer Vice President, Research & Development Neal Gutterson said:

“DuPont is committed to working in collaboration with others to ensure global food security in a sustainable manner. We’re proud to sponsor the #CropsInColor campaign which provides a powerful visual insight into the fundamental contributions of crop diversity conservation toward achieving this goal.”

Categories: For The Press, Press Releases, Cassava, Maize, Rice, Food Security, Sustainable Agriculture

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