Helping farmers grow healthy, abundant crops in a sustainable manner is the goal of a collaborative effort between the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) and a group of technology companies. The initial $10 million commitment is expected to leverage significant additional investment from the partners.
Named the Crops of the Future Collaborative the initiative will accelerate crop breeding through an innovative public-private model that pools proprietary knowledge, financial resources, and technology to carry out crop-specific research initially focusing on maize, leafy greens and wheat and small grains. The consortium will hone in on how a crop’s genetic information can yield traits needed to meet global nutritional demands in a changing environment.
This collaboration aims to accelerate discoveries by building on recent advances that have enhanced scientists’ ability to study and improve specific crop traits. Recent progress includes advances in gene editing, crop genome sequencing and phenomics, or the study of the relationship between a plant’s genetic makeup, its environment, and its performance.
Former president of the National Corn Growers Association and FFAR board member, Pam Johnson said: “This collaborative research with public and private partners will build on investments already made in agriculture research so that farmers like me see the return on those investments through improved plants in our fields.” The FFAR’s partners in the effort are Bayer, Biogemma, KWS, FAPESP, Precision PlantSciences, Rijk Zwaan and CIMMYT.
The new consortium will increase capacity to breed crops with specific traits, leading to plants that are adapted to different environments. Target crop characteristics might include enhanced nutritional qualities or ability to withstand environmental challenges such as drought, heat, or flooding.
Ultimately, knowledge generated by the Collaborative will be publicly available through scientific publications and informational platforms, benefiting public and private breeding efforts for sustainable crops.