Finding new edible plants to feed the world
A new report, State of the World’s Plants and Fungi 2020, indicates that two in five of the world’s plant species are at risk of extinction as a result of the destruction of the natural world (The Guardian, 30 September). As well as the importance for potential medicinal plants, the report highlights the very small number of plant species that humanity depends on for food – just 15 plants provide 90% of all calories. But there are over 7,000 edible plant species that we could use in the future to secure our food system, such as akkoub, chaya and fonio. These species are all nutritious, robust, at low risk of extinction and have a history of being used as local foods, but just 6% are grown at significant scale. Chapter 4 of the report, “Finding new edible plants to feed the world”, focuses on why we urgently need new food crops, and which plant families have the most edible plants. More than 4,000 species of plants and fungi were discovered in 2019, including six Allium species in Europe and China, 10 relatives of spinach in California, and two wild relatives of cassava, which could help future-proof the staple crop eaten by 800 million people against the climate crisis. Crop diversity will be key to feeding the world’s growing population. But the Global Biodiversity Outlook 5, published before the UN Biodiversity Summit on 30 September, found that the world’s governments failed to meet a single target to stem biodiversity losses in the past decade (The Guardian, 15 September).
STDF & Phyto update
The Standards and Trade Development Facility (STDF)-backed ePhyto solution is more relevant than ever during the global pandemic. Covid-19 highlights the need to enable developing countries to use new digital tools and technologies to meet international standards, boost transparency, and reduce costs and speed up trade flows. Over 90 countries, including 50 developing/less developed countries, are connected to the ePhyto Hub and exchanging over 11,000 electronic phytosanitary certificates each month, with the system able to handle up to 100,000 certificates per day. Going digital with the ePhyto Solution is helping to cut the time and cost of processing paper documents, improve transparency and reduce potential for fraud. This supports safe trade, in turn leading to sustainable economic growth, poverty reduction and food security.
Over 260 participants tuned into STDF’s webinar on 23 September 2020 to learn about the benefits and requirements to join the ePhyto solution, which is led by the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) with other public and private sector partners. Panellists from Ghana, Morocco and the European Union shared their experiences, and international partners involved in the development, delivery and scaling-up of ePhyto pointed to the benefits for the public and private sectors, from lower trade costs to support for trade facilitation reforms.
For more updates on the ePhyto Solution:
And on electronic SPS certification: