The Southern African region hosts a rich diversity of crop wild relatives, with over 1,900 species that are cultivated for food, beverage, forage, fodder, forestry, ornamental, medicinal, environmental and other uses. These species related to crops are vital for the food security and lives of 130 million poor people in the region. Yet, crop wild relatives are threatened, poorly conserved and barely accessible to breeders and farmers who should benefit from their use.
A new project funded by the UK Government through the Darwin Initiative is bringing together Southern African countries and international research organizations to establish a regional network that enhances crop wild relative conservation and use in Southern Africa.
The project will establish strategic partnerships and networks of protected areas for crop wild relative conservation and use; design mechanisms to enhance the benefits farmers derive from conserving these species; increase access to germplasm, and build gender equality, underpinning Southern African food security and poverty reduction.