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The challenge

With climatic uncertainty and extremes projected to increase in the future, agriculture and food production are more vulnerable than ever. This instability puts livelihoods, farmers' incomes and ecosystems at risk. It is estimated that by 2050:

  • climate change will reduce agricultural production by 2% every decade
  • demand will increase by 14% every decade
  • by 2050 yields of major crops will face an average decline of 8% for Africa and South Asia 
  • smallholder farming communities in the developing world will be hardest hit.

The International Organization for Migration expects the scale of global migration flows to increase as a result of accelerating climate change with unprecedented impacts on lives and livelihoods. There are some 500 million smallholder farms worldwide; more than 2 billion people depend on them for their livelihoods.  These small farms produce about 80% of the food consumed in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa

The solution

Diversification is one way to give farmers more options in times of need. With access to a diversity of crops and varieties, farmers are more likely to cope with the effects of climate change. But farmers do not always have the information or planting material to choose what diversity best suits their conditions.

  • How can we rapidly select portfolios of varieties from the vast genetic diversity that exists in different countries and across a wide range of environments in order to address the multiplicity of farmers' needs?
  • How can we tap into the vast genetic diversity that exists in different countries to address farmer needs in a timely manner?

Seeds for Needs has the answer.

*IPCC, 2014

Bioversity International and CGIAR

This research is conducted as part of the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security, and is supported by contributors to the CGIAR Trust Fund.

This video shows a time series of five-year global temperature averages, mapped from 1880 to 2014, as estimated by scientists at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York.