The future of global food security and crop conservation at the International Center for Tropical Agriculture
CIAT holds in trust for humanity the globally largest collections of beans, cassava, and tropical forages, crops that underpin the supply of carbohydrates and plant/animal proteins in tropical food systems.
The Future Seeds initiative seeks to build a state-of-the-art genebank that not only ensures their long-term conservation but also encourages their use to enrich diets and to help climate-proof food supply in the tropics.
The President of Colombia, Juan Manual Santos, visits CIAT’s genebank and reiterates the financial support of the government to Future Seeds.
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Future Seeds in the media
In Palmira, Colombia, for the world
Energy-efficient Building Design
Sustainable Development Goal 2.5
The world is losing crop diversity at an alarming pace.
Preserving the diversity that remains is an excellent investment. A single gene lurking in one of the tens of thousands of conserved seed samples could make a widely planted variety resistant to a new pest and prevent serious calamity.
are needed, on average, to conserve a crop variety forever.
Money spent improving a relatively small number of seed types used by poor farmers for crops such as cassava and sorghum would have an enduring global benefit. Then you’re affecting literally hundreds of millions of farmers. Once you do the R&D, that seed is there every year.Bill Gates
CIAT’s new genebank will support three domains of work: Conserve, Discover and Engage.
We will continue to conserve CIAT’s bean, cassava and tropical forage collections, held in trust for humanity, according to the latest quality standards.
We will take advantage of innovations in genomics and big-data technologies to assemble a ‘digital genebank’ to enable a more data-driven and targeted use of crop diversity.
Located in the midst of a global biodiversity hotspot, the new genebank will serve as a meeting platform for scientists promoting biodiversity as a driving force for innovation in agriculture.
Why an initiative like Future Seeds?
To better safeguard important crop collections
CIAT holds in trust 67,700 total varieties of key crops which feed millions of people around the world:
Beans (37,987 varieties) – A crucial source of vitamins and protein as well as income for millions of people, particularly in Africa and Latin America.
Cassava (6,643 varieties) – Half a billion people in Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean depend on this root crop for food.
Forages (23,140 varieties) – A valuable source of livestock feed, helping farmers improve meat and milk production while reducing the environmental footprint of agriculture.
To share more crop varieties with the world
CIAT provides cassava, bean, and forage materials free of charge to any individual or organization anywhere in the world for the purposes of research, breeding, or training for food and agriculture. We share the germplasm stored in our genebank according to the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA).
Since its inception, CIAT’s genebank has distributed more than half a million samples from 141 countries to requesters in more than 160 countries.
For more impact around the globe
Nutritional goldmine Eating specially bred, high-iron beans twice a day for just four and a half months reduced iron deficiency and anemia in young women in Rwanda, according to a new study. When you combine the protein they already have with higher levels of iron, zinc and other essential nutrients, it’s easy to see why many people regard beans as being as good as meat.
The miracle of the cerrado The Brazilian livestock sector has grown at both the national and international levels, thanks to a new variety of forage grass, which has contributed to reducing the time it takes to raise cattle from 4 years to about 20 months.
From roots to riches Scientists from CIAT in Colombia worked with Kasetsart University in Thailand to crossbreed the nation’s most popular variety of cassava with samples collected back in 1967 in Venezuela. The new cassava can better adapt to a wider variety of growing conditions, has less of an impact on soil quality, and provides a higher starch content that increases the productivity of each plant. The results have boosted crop yields, and Thai farmers are now earning more income from cassava than farmers in any other country.
Your voice is powerful, help us spread the word
It has never been more critical to conserve crop diversity. We need the greatest possible diversity of crops to secure our food supply at a time when we are making unprecedented demands, and putting unprecedented pressure, on our environment.
70% of people most likely to take action for a cause are motivated by friends and family on social media. Share these tweets to get more people talking about crop diversity.