Ever wondered what seeds and genebanks have to do with climate change? Looking for a good story of agricultural research impact on food security in layman’s terms?
Our social media agitator Peter Casier posted two great stories with interviews on the blog of the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) about genebanks, seed varieties and their role in climate change adaptation.
Both stories were collected during Peter’s recent visit at ICRISAT as part of the ICT-KM Program’s mission (see ICRISAT: Changing the way we communicate) and in particular for the Adaptation and Mitigation Knowledge Network (AMKN), a burgeoning initiative of CCAFS.
“Germplasm collection”, “allele diversity”, “Crop registers”, might sound like mystic academic terms to you. Likewise for me, I could hardly link them into the discussion about climate change and food security…. Until I visited the genebank on the ICRISAT campus near Hyderabad in India.
The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) is a non-profit organization conducting agricultural research for development in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. […]
…and they have a bank. Not to store money or gold, but to safeguard something much more precious: the genetic material – or “germplasm”- of 119,000 “accessions” -or varieties- of sorghum, pearl millet and six other types of small millets, chickpea, pigeonpea and groundnut, collected from 144 countries.
During my past visits to Kenya, Ghana, Mali and Burkina Faso, one common streak always came up when talking to farmers about climate adaptation techniques: they were all actively using new seed varieties for their different crops.
I had not really questioned where those seed varieties came from. I saw them in the shops of commercial seed traders, so I asked no more. A bit like a child does not ask where Santa comes from. A long and complex process of seed selection and breeding remained hidden for me.
A visit to ICRISAT, the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics near Hyderabad in India, changed all of that. I discovered the world’s headquarter for the agriculture research on five crops: sorghum, pearl millet, chickpea, pigeonpea and groundnut. And I discovered the link between chickpeas, chickpea heroes and the war against hunger.
Photo credit: Peter Casier.