Skip to main content
ARS Home » Northeast Area » Beltsville, Maryland (BARC) » Beltsville Agricultural Research Center » National Germplasm Resources Laboratory » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #316456

Title: Origins of food crops connect countries worldwide.

item KHOURY, COLIN - International Center For Tropical Agriculture (CIAT)
item ACHICANOY, HAROLD - International Center For Tropical Agriculture (CIAT)
item BJORMAN, ANNE - The Crop Trust
item NAVARRO-RACINES, CARLOS - International Center For Tropical Agriculture (CIAT)
item GUARINO, LUIGI - The Crop Trust
item FLORES-PALACIOS, XIMENA - Auckland University Of Technology
item ENGELS, JOHANNES - Bioversity International
item Wiersema, John
item DEMPEWOLF, HANNES - The Crop Trust
item RAMIREZ-, VILLEGAS - International Center For Tropical Agriculture (CIAT)
item CASTANEDA-ALVAREZ, NORA - International Center For Tropical Agriculture (CIAT)
item FOWLER, CARY - The Crop Trust
item JARVIS, ANDY - International Center For Tropical Agriculture (CIAT)
item RESEBERG, LOREN - University Of British Columbia
item STRUIK, PAUL - University Of Wageningen

Submitted to: Proceedings of the Royal Society B
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/22/2016
Publication Date: 6/8/2016
Citation: Khoury, C.K., Achicanoy, H.A., Bjorman, A.D., Navarro-Racines, C., Guarino, L., Flores-Palacios, X., Engels, J.M.M., Wiersema, J.H., Dempewolf, H., Sotelo, S., Ramirez-Villegas, J., Castaneda-Alvarez, N., Fowler, C., Jarvis, A., Rieseberg, L.H., Struik, P.C. 2016. Origins of food crops connect countries worldwide. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 283:20160792. DOI:10.1098/rspb.2016.0792.

Interpretive Summary: The origins of the world's principal crops can be traced to specific regions where wild relatives of these crops can be found that are potentially useful in plant breeding to improve agricultural productivity. This paper analyses national crop consumption patterns in relation to crop origins to determine the extent of each country's dependence on crops that originate from outside their boundaries. Changes in dependency for a country are evaluated by comparing current agricultural production and consumption statistics to those from 50 years ago. The evidence indicates a high degree of increasing dependency by countries on crops of foreign origin, stressing the need for international cooperation to promote access and exchange of plant materials among countries to preserve global agricultural production. This manuscript will be useful to a wide range of scientists interested in plant genetic resource conservation and food security, and will serve as an important point of reference for national policymakers in crafting international agreements on the access and sharing of these resources.

Technical Abstract: Crop genetic diversity is concentrated within specific geographic regions worldwide. While access to this diversity is critical to continued increases in agricultural productivity, the geopolitical significance of the geography of crop diversity has not been quantified. We assess the degree to which the food systems of countries worldwide are comprised of crops from each of these regions of diversity. We then examine dependence of countries upon crops from regions of diversity other than their own (“foreign crops”), and determine change in dependence over the past 50 years. Crop diversity hotspots occur across the world’s tropics and subtropics, extending into temperate regions in both hemispheres. Countries are highly dependent on foreign crops in their food supplies (68.7% as a global mean) and national production systems (69.3%). This broad reliance is evident even in countries located in regions of high indigenous crop diversity and has increased significantly over the past half century, stressing the need for (inter)national policies to promote genetic resource conservation, access and exchange.