“Loss of crop diversity is loss of future solutions” – Marie Haga


PIc Courtesy : The HIndu

Marie Haga, the current head of Global Crop Diversity Trust (GCDT), an organisatiom dedicated to the preservation of global crop diversity, spoke on the impacts of climate change on food secuirity at the M S Swaminathan research institute on Friday.”Agriculutre is facing its greatest challenge in its 10000 years of existence…Food production needs to increase by 15 percent in the next 10 years.”She said.

Food production is going to decline at a rate of two percent per decade. “Even an increase of one degree celsius in global temperature will reduce rice output by 10 percent. Even World Bank, not a radical in such matters, estimates an increase of three to four degrees in global temperature.” She said.

In such a bleak scenario, crop diversity, a matter of global interdependence,  is one of the safe ways to improve food productivity. Ms Haga emphasised on the need of global systems such as  international genebanks or seed banks- the backbone of global crop diversity preservation and propagation attempts. Samples of indigenous seed varities are sourced from countries across the globe under the provisions of International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture and kept in these safe houses
or seed banks for future propagation.

“We do not need seed mueseums.. Samples are to be made available to farmers,” said Ms Haga who was earlier In Delhi to gain India’s supoort towards the proposed 850 million dollars endowment fund for her trust. An annual proceed of 34 million dollars from this fund is estimated to be sufficient for a global chain of genebanks, a vital step in ensuring crop diversity.
“The size of the fund may seem large but we recently built an opera house in Norway costing 550 million dollars..In fact the proposed soccer stadium in Brasilia is going to cost one billion dollars.” She said in an attempt to put the cost of the proposed fund in proper perspective.

Hailing India’s Food Security act which mandates making subsidized food grains available to  about 67 percent of India’ population, Ms Haga said, “It’s an example other countries should look into and discuss at major international platforms.”
Fighting climate change will require global cooperation.One glowing example of such cooperation is Svalboard Global Seed Vault, located 1300 Km north of Arctic Circle in 130 meters of permafrost with 781148  samples in three vaults, which is managed by GCDT as “black box” or “fail Safe” facility for unforeseen contingencies.

The idea for such a vault had come from renowned Indian scientist M S Swaminathan who earlier while introducing Ms Haga had commented upon the ongoing climate change negotiations at Warsaw. “The real commitment, the commitment of hearts is missing,” he said referring to the walk out of NGOs in response to the inflexible stance adopted by the advanced nations.

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