International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture

BSF Project - First Cycle

Identification of useful potato germplasm adapted to biotic and abiotic stresses caused by global climate change
Although the Andes are known as the home of a large part of the genetic variation of potatoes, Costa Rica also has unique species and varieties, including wild relatives, that have not yet been characterized or exploited for breeding but are known to be adapted to adverse cold, heat and drought conditions This gives them the opportunity to play a big part in efforts to achieve food security and to face the looming problems associated with changing climates. The Treaty Benefit-sharing Fund Project recognized that over the past three decades, Costa Rica and other Latin American countries have been subject to climate-related impacts and increased El Niño activities. This not only affects today’s food harvests, it affects harvests of the future. The weather conditions have brought high rainfall and humidity and led to increased fungal diseases in potato. This has combined to heighten the vulnerability of Costa Rican farmers to natural disasters. Projected climate change scenarios show global potato yield decreasing by 18–32 percent without adaptation but by 9–18 percent with adaptation of varieties. Agronomic Research Center (CIA) of the University of Costa Rica is taking advantage of the high variability of Costa Rica’s potato wild relatives – which are the most important source of genetic diversity – through crossbreeding them with cultured varieties, creating new varieties with potential to adapt to extreme conditions. However, survival of wild relatives themselves is under threat from climate change, making the project’s efforts to identify and conserve them even more critical.
Window 2 - Immediate action projects
Region: Latin America and the Caribbean
Implementing institution: Universidad de Costa Rica, Centro de Investigaciones Agronómicas (CIA)

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