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African seed collection first to arrive in Norway on route to Arctic seed vault
Date:1/30/2008

plant varieties in crop genebanks, which are widely viewed as the foundation of global efforts to conserve agricultural biodiversity.

Crop biodiversity is the raw material needed to equip crops with critical resistance to pests and diseases, and enable them to grow in harsher conditions of drought, salinity, and flooding, which will likely increase with global climate change, particularly in poor nations.

Cowpea and dozens of other crops, like cassava, yams, and millets, are known as orphan crops, because they receive less attention than they deserve relative to their value and importance.

According to researchers at the World Vegetable Center in Taiwan, collectively, 27 orphan crops with a value of $100 billion are grown on 250 million hectares (618 million acres) in developing countries.

So called orphan crops like cowpea and groundnut are not minor or insignificant crops, said Cary Fowler, executive director of the Global Crop Diversity Trust. They are of great importance to regional food security. In addition, they are often adapted to harsh environments and are diverse in terms of their genetic, agroclimatic, and economic niches.

These crops may also vary in less obvious characteristics, such as their response to cold, heat or drought, or their ability to tolerate specific pests and diseases. Farmers and scientists continually draw on the genetic diversity held in crop collections like IITAs to ensure productive harvests.

Our ability to endow this facility with such an impressive array of diversity is a powerful testament to the incredible work of scientists at our centers, who have been so dedicated to ensuring the survival of the worlds most important crop species, said Emile Frison, Director General of Rome-based Bioversity International, which coordinates CGIAR crop diversity initiatives.

Storage of these and all the other seeds at Svalbard is intended to ensure that they will be available fo
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Contact: Jeff Haskins
jhaskins@burnesscommunications.com
301-652-1558
CGIAR
Source:Eurekalert

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