Peasant and indigenous farming communities have been creating, safeguarding and using the world’s seed supply for millennia. In situ conservation means that genetic diversity isn’t kept in cold storage inside gene banks, but on the farm, where it can evolve and adapt to changing environmental conditions, and new pests and diseases.
In situ conservation is essential if agricultural biodiversity is to meet the challenges of chaotic climate change. As much as half of the world’s crop diversity may still be in farmers’ fields where it is safeguarded by smallholder farming communities. Local seed conservation and breeding networks are growing worldwide, but support is needed to strengthen the resilience of smallholder producers, including support for community-based plant breeding and gene banks, and the expansion of farmer-to-farmer seed exchanges.
This section highlights ways that smallholder farming communities and their partner organizations are safeguarding agricultural biodiversity. The examples illustrated on our map are far from exhaustive.