Feasibility of conservation of horticultural genetic resources in in situ/on farm

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Horticultural crops are a key driver for economic development, poverty reduction, enhanced food security and improved nutrition for people around the world and more particularly so in developing countries. Wild and cultivated vegetable and fruit crop species and medicinal plants have made significant contributions to sustainable diets and health worldwide.

Nowadays, especially urban consumers show increasing interest in tropical and subtropical fruits as they are nutritious, healthy, delicious, nutrient dense, colourful and special. The global challenges of unsustainable food systems and environmental degradation and the double burden of malnutrition are linked and require transformative changes in how we interact with our environment to reduce poverty and improve food security and nutrition in a sustainable manner with little damage to environment. Conservation of these important genetic resources for present and future use and for use in the improvement of the agroecological environment is an essential requirement for human survival.

Conserving a gene pool should employ a combination of both ex situ and in situ methods, from nature reserves to gene banks as no single method can conserve all the diversity. The appropriate balance between different methods employed depends on factors such as the biological characteristics of the gene pool, infrastructure and human resources, the number of accessions in each collection and its geographic site and the intended use of the conserved germplasm.

For any given gene pool, the extent of a specific method used may differ from that used in another gene pool. It is a challenge to get in situ conservation as part of a sustainable, intensified and resilient food system on the agendas of general public and policymakers. This chapter evaluates the feasibility, issues and solutions of in situ horticultural genetic resource conservation as a component of such complementary strategies.

Sthapit, B.; Ramanatha Rao, V.; Lamers, H.A.H.

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