Food security and genetic resources

Jala maize from the Nayarit state of Mexico. Photo: CIMMYT.

Climate change, land degradation, and a declining agricultural resource base (water, soils, nutrients, energy), are threatening our ability to sustainably grow sufficient nutritious food for rising and increasingly urban populations.

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates that cereal crop outputs will need to increase by 70% by 2050, requiring a considerable acceleration of the rates at which global crop yields have risen in the past. This is a formidable challenge given that environmental change is increasingly affecting agriculture through eroding soils, greater heat stress, new diseases and pests, and more frequent droughts and other extreme weather events.

A woman and her daughter make tortillas in Oaxaca, Mexico. Photo: CIMMYT.

A woman and her daughter make tortillas in Oaxaca, Mexico. Photo: CIMMYT.

SeeD is a strategy to seek solutions contributing to the sustainable enhancement of yields in the area of genetic resources. Amidst a static or declining agricultural resource base, genetic resources offer perhaps the greatest untapped opportunity to continue increasing yields, probably second only to improved agronomic practices.

Mexico, alongside countries like India, may be one of the geographies most severely impacted by climate change. Future food security in these geographies is at risk—a risk that is exacerbated by the fact that maize and wheat prices at the global scale could rise substantially in periods of climate induced global lowering of production.  The challenge is global and requires global solutions.

Bangladeshi women making roti from stoneground wholemeal flour. Photo: CIMMYT.

Mexico, as the center of origin of maize and the home of the Green Revolution has already contributed greatly to global food security. SeeD, whose work was initially implemented through collaboration between CIMMYT and Mexico’s Secretary of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries and Food (SAGARPA), applies cutting-edge genetic-analysis platforms, in combination with an evaluation of agricultural traits under field conditions and targeted germplasm development, to systematically characterize and utilize these genetic resources for the benefit of mankind.


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