the distant cousins of our well-known food crops, are one of the most important resource available in the fight against climate change, higher temperatures or pest and disease outbreaks, because they can adapt and thrive under these impacts.
CIAT, which stands for Centro Internacional de Agricultura Tropical, is a research center dedicated to preserve the world’s biodiversity and food safety. It is based in Palmira (Colombia) and preserves the world’s largest and most diverse collection of beans, most of them originating from Latin America. This huge variety of seeds is catalogued, conserved and made available for distribution by CIAT’s large Genebank. This biodiversity repository assists breeders and researchers and also directly provides seeds to farmers. As guardians of agrobiodiversity they work on safekeeping the primary sources.
During my research trip throughout the country I met with Peter Wenzl, who is leading CIAT’s Genetic Resources Program and Genebank Scientist Monica Carvajal showed me around the wonderful campus and patiently explained all the processes. I also learned about the importance of wild relatives as a valuable source for genetic diversity.