|As the name suggests, a crop wild relative (CWR) is a wild plant species related to a domesticated crop. For centuries crop wild relatives have provided farmers with the genetic material to improve the nutritional quality of crops, enhance productivity, and provide cultivated varieties with resistance to pests and diseases. Their value in increasing crop yields worldwide has been estimated at as much as US$ 115 billion per year.
In addition, the conservation of crop wild relatives has become even more critical during a period of climate change. Also, he genetic diversity of these wild species gives breeders and farmers the resources they need to ensure that agricultural ecosystems can adapt to changing conditions and remain productive.
A global project, “In-situ Conservation of Wild Crop Relatives through Enhanced Information Management and Field Application”, developed by UNEP and executed by Biodiversity International and other partners, has united national agencies in Armenia, Bolivia, Madagascar, Sri Lanka and Uzbekistan - all centers of CWR diversity - to improve conservation of this neglected component of biodiversity.