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Publication | 17 May 2021

Safeguarding and using Fruit and Vegetable Biodiversity

Global Food and Nutrition Security

Fruit and vegetable species and varieties, their wild relatives, and pollinators and other associated organisms underpin diverse food production systems and contribute to worldwide health and nutrition. This biodiversity, however, is threatened, remains poorly conserved, and is largely undocumented: A quarter of the 1,100 recognized vegetable species worldwide is not conserved in any gene bank. Most fruit tree species and their wild relatives, particularly those of tropical origins, are not in gene banks.

Its loss leads to a narrowing of new crop options, reduced variation for breeding, a yield gap due to pollinator decline, and it constrains long-term progress towards the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals and any future goals set thereafter. It will require a global awareness campaign to safeguard and sustainably use fruit and vegetable biodiversity and a 10-year global rescue plan to reduce and reverse the decline in this biodiversity. A diverse team of experts should formulate this global rescue plan and define clear goals. Success will depend on a global partnership of custodians and users of fruit and vegetable biodiversity, and requires an investment of at least 250 million USD over 10 years.