Over the last two decades, 75% of the genetic diversity of agricultural crops has been lost; 100 to 1000-fold decrease overtime. This phenomenon results in the decrease of ecosystem abilities to provide food for people and decrease the function of other ecosystem services. Crop varieties, as an integral part of genetic diversity, are the result of human selection and management as well as natural mechanisms of evolution. Evolution, based on mutation, natural hybridization, introgression and selection, adapts plant populations to the (agro-) environment. Plant breeding by farmers and specialists builds on these phenomena, makes them more efficient, and focuses them on farmers’ needs. Genetic diversity is the basis of all crop improvement.
Meanwhile the crop diversity has been decreasing, the World Bank estimates that about one billion of world’s population will still live in extreme poverty in 2015. 70% of world’s poor people are living in rural areas and they are relying on the agriculture sector, particularly on traditional agricultural systems. FAO suggests that efforts to eradicate hunger require an integrated approach especially to increase agricultural productivity and strengthen farmers’ resilience to environmental changes. In regard to FAO suggestion, it is important to restore crop diversity.
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