Preventing Food Insecurity
The most dangerous impact of climate change is the disruption of global agriculture and food systems through disasters such as drought, heat and flooding. These disruptions, including decreased agricultural production and reduced harvests, are hardest on the approximately half a billion smallholder farmers living on less than two dollars a day.
Individual farms, including smallholder farms, make up a majority of the world’s farmers and producers. Losses on these farms due to climate change have a ripple effect on the global food supply, increasing food costs and worsening food insecurity and malnutrition.
Equipping farmers with crops that can withstand environmental extremes is essential. CGIAR, the world’s largest public-sector agriculture research partnership, holds around 10 percent of the worldwide germplasm (seeds and other genetic material) in banks across the globe. This rich supply of germplasm is key to developing new crop varieties adapted to the stresses of climate change, and scientists have already developed critical traits using them. However, climate-adaptive breeding has been inefficient, costly and underleveraged.
This initiative, led by CGIAR, advances transformative approaches to expand the use of genetic diversity from germplasm banks, ultimately developing new climate-smart crop varieties for millions of smallholder farmers worldwide.
Why this research is important
The development and cultivation of new crop varieties that stabilize and improve productivity during increasingly volatile cropping seasons are critical to helping farmers adapt to climate change. The benefits of this initiative include:
- Climate-resilient crops decrease loss and increase profit for farmers, in particular smallholder farmers lacking the funds and technology to respond to climate disruptions.
- A steady and reliable supply of improved crop varieties secures the harvest and reduces food insecurity for consumers.
- Newly developed varieties may also be more nutritious, lowering rates of malnutrition.
- Researchers and breeders have access to new tools and knowledge that adapt crops to humanity’s needs.