Knowledge for better food systems

World crop diversity survives in small farms from peri-urban to remote rural locations

As much as 75 percent of global seed diversity in staple food crops is held and actively used by a wide range of small farmholders - workers of less than three to seven acres - with the rest in gene banks.

The researchers looked at new census data from 11 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America and combined that data with field observations to develop an understanding of who is farming what and exactly where. What the census shows is that small farmers, in many cases women, are the ones preserving landraces of food crops. In between peri­urban and marginal areas are a range of environments where small farmers grow crops and preserve diversity. Knowledge of potential problems in these areas and plans for responses to potential disruptions of agriculture are important to preserve diversity and improve food security.

Read the full article in ScienceDaily here.

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While some of the food system challenges facing humanity are local, in an interconnected world, adopting a global perspective is essential. Many environmental issues, such as climate change, need supranational commitments and action to be addressed effectively. Due to ever increasing global trade flows, prices of commodities are connected through space; a drought in Romania may thus increase the price of wheat in Zimbabwe.

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