Tropical fruit tree species – such as mango, rambutan and mangosteen – are excellent sources of crucial vitamins, minerals or anti-oxidants and thus essential as supplemental food for a nutritionally-balanced diet. They are important resources for the well-being of many people around the world and can play a major role to enhance both household income and national revenue. The genetic diversity – the variability among and within tree species that makes them adaptable to local conditions – of tropical fruit trees is increasingly threatened by factors ranging from changes in land use, habitat loss, globalization and climate change.
In order to improve the livelihoods and food and nutrition security of communities in Asia – a region that boasts over 400 different fruit tree species – through the conservation and use of tropical fruit tree genetic resources, Bioversity International embarked on the ‘Tropical Fruit Tree’ project in 2009. The project was active in India, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand, home to four globally important tropical fruit species with rich diversity in the region: citrus (Citrus spp.), mango (Mangifera indica), rambutan (Nephelium lappaceum) and mangosteen (Garcinia mangostana) and their wild relatives.
Most of Bioversity International and research partners’ findings were obtained through active engagement of farming communities and practitioners along the research process, through the application of different participatory and empowering tools.