Biodiversity
 

Biodiversity @ FAO

Plants

About 7,000 species of plants have been cultivated for consumption in human history. The great diversity of varieties resulting from human and ecosystem interaction guaranteed food for the survival and development of human populations throughout the world in spite of pests, diseases, climate fluctuations, droughts and other unexpected environmental events.

Presently, only about 30 crops provide 95% of human food energy needs, four of which (rice, wheat, maize and potato) are responsible for more than 60% of our energy intake. Due to the dependency on this relatively small number of crops for global food security, it will be crucial to maintain a high genetic diversity within these crops to deal with increasing environmental stress and to provide farmers and researchers with opportunities to breed for crops that can be cultivated under unfavorable conditions, such as drought, salinity, flooding, poor soils and extreme temperatures.

The conservation and sustainable use of PGRFA is necessary to ensure crop production and meet growing environmental challenges and climate change.

Plant genetic resources are the basis of food security and consist of diversity of seeds and planting material of traditional varieties and modern cultivars, crop wild relatives and other wild plant species. These resources are used as food, feed for domesticated animals, fibre, clothing, shelter and energy. The conservation and sustainable use of PGRFA is necessary to ensure crop production and meet growing environmental challenges and climate change. The loss of these resources or a lack of adequate linkages between conservation and their use poses a severe threat to the world’s food security in the long term.The potential of plant genetic resources for food security, sustainable livelihoods, adequate nutrition and adaptation to climate change is enormous, if managed in a sustainable manner.

FAO is dedicated to improve knowledge and conservation of plant genetic resources to ensure the sustainable provision of food in the long term, and contributing to make full use of the genetic resources available, including wild relatives of main crops currently used.

©FAO/ G. Diana