The Colombian Noah’s Ark of seeds, ensuring food security as poverty soars

Cali, Colombia, Nov 30 (EFE).- The Colombian city of Cali is building a seed bank to help respond to soaring poverty levels across Latin America, which has been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Over 67,000 different plants are kept at the Seed for the Future building to preserve their “genetic wealth” and help tackle global food insecurity.

“We have materials from hundreds of countries, but the people in charge of their care and research are Colombians. Researchers, biologists, engineers, among others, make their contributions to the world from here,” director of the International Center for Tropical Agriculture CIAT, Joseph Tohme, told Efe.

In 2020, poverty in Latin America reached levels not seen in 12 to 20 years, according to the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC). Worldwide, between 700 and 800 million people suffer from hunger, according to a Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) report.

CIAT, promoters of the initiative dubbed the Noah’s Ark of seeds, has already been storing seeds from beans, cassava and tropical forages to tackle food shortages in Eastern Europe, Oceania, and the Americas.

But when their storage reached its full capacity, they decided to build the Seed for the Future building to respond to the technological, environmental and sustainability demands of the planet.

The initiative’s goal, established in 2018, is to conserve and distribute crops that no longer grow naturally and provide a space for training and research on agriculture.

As well as ensuring food security, Seed for the Future has the potential to improve the quality and tolerance of seeds to adverse climatic conditions such as droughts, low temperatures and floods, according to Tohme. EFE


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