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Why is it so important to preserve diversity?

Recently, a questionnaire survey has been conducted within the project called Farmer’s Pride – focusing on the conservation of landraces – on how Hungarian people appreciate the preservation of agricultural diversity. During the survey wheat and cereal landraces were used as examples, and more age groups have been involved in the research including both people living in the countryside and city dwellers.

We experienced that most of the respondents were interested in and open towards this issue. Many were shocked by learning how the genetic diversity of our cultivated plants has been decreased and how little attention is paid to the conservation of biodiversity in agriculture today. The majority of the people did not know what our staple foods are made of, how they are produced and how complex product paths can be found beyond our everyday meal. At the same time, most respondents answered that this is an important issue, and they would like to learn more about it either through the educational system or the media. More people expressed that they wish to support the conservation of genetic diversity through their decisions this way increasing the diversification and the resilience of agricultural production, preserving the landscape and saving traditions and cultural habits.

The same survey also has been conducted in more European countries such as the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Austria and Greece in order to see how people approach the issue of agricultural diversity and that if they are willing to support it how and to what extent would they do so. The questionnaires are being processed now, and results are expected to be published in autumn this year.

Why is it so important to preserve diversity?

Although 369 000 flowering plant species are known worldwide, according to some data from 2014 only 200 of them are used widely for food production. It is even more shocking that according to some data from 2017 only 9 of the 200 species cover more than 66% of global plant production. The uniform varieties of cultivated plants produced in huge quantities are vulnerable to the more and more extreme and unpredictable impacts of climate change. In such a challenging environment landraces and crop wild relatives become valuable resources both for professional breeding and participatory gene conservation activities. The international project called Farmer’s Pride investigates this issue by searching for ways for the in situ – that is on farm – conservation of genetic diversity. The Hungarian Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (ÖMKi) also takes part in this project as a professional partner.

Read the full project description:


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