The ancestors and wild relatives of the plants we rely on for food often look very different, and sometimes unrecognisable, from those that produce the grains, fruits and vegetables we eat today. Humans, through selection and plant breeding over many centuries, have transformed the wild plants into cultivated crops through small incremental changes along the way.
Plant breeding efforts have increased the nutritive qualities of crops, armed them in resisting attacks by pests and diseases, and endowed them with abilities to thrive in specific situations and to suit particular environments. The improvement of crops is an on-going process since our food requirements are ever-changing, new pests and diseases are arising or becoming more prominent and the environment changes.
New agricultural technologies and innovative farming methods are not only required to increase food production. They are also an essential component of the integrated approach for the better use of natural (and limited) resources and to mitigate the effects of climate change.
These pages provide a snapshot of some of the main plant improvement initiatives taking place in important crops in Africa, and a link to the groups doing this work.