Botanic Gardens Conservation International
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BGCI survey: Botanic gardens and food security

1 May 2013

The global food security crisis
Achieving global food security whilst reconciling demands on the environment is considered by many to be one of the greatest challenges facing humankind today. By 2050 it is likely that we will need to feed 9 billion people, with the increasing population also demanding a more varied, protein-rich diet.

All this means we need to grow more food on less land, with limited access to water and increasing costs for fertiliser and fuel.  The impact of increasing food prices has already been felt in many countries, with associated riots and civil unrest.  A less well-known fact is that more people die each year from hunger and malnutrition than from AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria combined. (World Food Programme). The World Bank estimates that compared to production in 2000, cereal production needs to increase by 50% and meat production by 85% to meet demand in 2030.

The role of botanic gardens
Botanic gardens are already involved in a wide range of activities that have relevance to the growing food security crisis.  It is important that these activities are recognized, promoted and enhanced.  

For example, using improved crop varieties with enhanced resistance to pests, diseases and environmental stress is key to developing a food system that has a lower impact on biodiversity and uses less land and water.  Producing such varieties relies on the deployment of genes often found in the wild plants conserved in botanic garden collections.  At a local level, growing suitably adapted food plants in community and school gardens can have a significant impact on the quality of diets, especially for those in poor and deprived areas.  The horticultural and outreach skills found in botanic gardens are invaluable to support such initiatives.

In order to identify and understand how botanic gardens are addressing food security issues, BGCI has developed a short survey, which can be accessed by clicking on the link below. The results of the survey will be published in the next issue of BGjournal, due out in July 2013.  They will also be used to inform BGCI’s 5–year plan (2013-2018) with its links to the GSPC Targets.

Please do contribute to our survey and please encourage your networks and other colleagues to do so as well by forwarding the link below.

Click here to access the survey:

The survey will remain open until Friday 31 May

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