Conserving crop wild relatives key to enhanced productivity

A basket of fruits. Better crop yields to an extent depends on among other factors the use of crop wild relatives to improve the quality of crops we grow. FILE PHOTO | NMG

What you need to know:

  • These plants are a source of genes for addressing different stresses in the plants as well as address other breeding goals including increased crop yield and quality improvement.
  • Transferring these traits including disease resistance from the CWRs to our modern-day domesticated breeds, is normally done using traditional breeding methodologies as well as molecular approaches, which entail cloning genes from wild species and transferring them into the targeted crop’s cultivated background.
  • While CWRs can improve drought resilience in crops, due to climate change, these genetic resources may themselves be under threat of extinction in the wild, especially due to human activities and climate change.
  • These PGRs have for ages provided the foundation for crop improvement ever since the advent of agriculture.

From climate change, land degradation, soil destitution, pest and disease outbreaks, to genetic erosion –where the limited gene pool of an endangered species diminishes due to its procreative individuals dying away before reproducing, agricultural productivity and food production continue to face a sustained onslaught of challenges.

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