​Safeguarding Crop Diversity for Food Security: Pre-breeding Complemented with Innovative Finance​
TWCF Number
Project Duration
August 1 / 2019
- July 31 / 2022
Core Funding Area
Genetics and Genius
Amount Awarded

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Hannes Dempewolf
Institution The Global Crop Diversity Trust

Grass pea and finger millet can survive temperature extremes, drought, and poor soil. Prized for their nutritional value, they are now receiving the attention they deserve. This new project led by the Crop Trust will help improve the productivity of these remarkable food crops by making greater genetic diversity available to both researchers and farmers.

Plant breeders need genetic diversity to improve the yield and nutritional quality of crops and adapt them to climate change. But such diversity is limited in cultivated grass pea and finger millet, important crops for food security in developing countries. In recent years, though, pre-breeders working on the Crop Wild Relatives Project have expanded that diversity by tapping into the two crops’ wild and ancient domesticated forms.

This project will allow pre-breeders to continue their important work. Over time, it will improve food security, human health, and income for the rural poor, all while protecting the environment. The Templeton–Crop Trust project includes two mutually reinforcing elements:

  1. pre-breeding using diverse genetic resources, including crop wild relatives and landraces; and
  2. innovative and sustainable finance mechanisms to safeguard crop diversity in perpetuity.

Although distinct, both elements contribute to the project's overarching goal: the long-term availability of crop diversity. They address two common but severe bottlenecks that can impede a more effective use of crop diversity to increase the resilience of our food systems:

  1. the gap between genetic resource collections (i.e., genebanks) and users, which often prevents widespread use of genetic resources
  2. the lack of sustainable sources of funding. Well-managed conservation facilities would enable us to conserve genetic resources and ensure their continued availability

The project follows a diversified approach towards enhancing the crops. The work with grass pea provides the opportunity to use the latest genomic tools to fast-track genetic improvement. With finger millet, the project will focus on exploiting the rich genetic diversity of crop wild relatives and landraces.

This project will allow the Crop Trust to draw clear roadmaps for the most promising mechanisms to ensure long-term funding to sustain a global system of safeguarding crop diversity.

Project Resources
Background: The basic helix-loop-helix (bHLH) transcription factor is a vital component in plant biology, with a significant impact on various...
Grass pea (Lathyrus sativus L.) is a rich source of protein cultivated as an insurance crop in Ethiopia, Eritrea, India, Bangladesh, and Nepal...
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