Sources of food security: agricultural and societal contexts

Main researcher: Eva Hřibová, Ph.D.
Institute of Experimental Botany

The aim of the research topic will be an important current topic of food security resources, which will focus on agricultural and social contexts. The topic will be presented in an interdisciplinary collaboration between experimental botany and the social sciences.

One of the most important crops in tropical and subtropical regions of the world is the banana tree. It is the staple food of millions of people in equatorial Africa, Latin America and elsewhere. For instance, in the Great Lakes region of East Africa, its consumption is up to several hundred kilograms per person per year. Similar potential can be found in Latin America, South and Southeast Asia and the Middle East. However, the cultivation of banana trees is threatened by a number of diseases and pests, which under favorable conditions can cause huge losses in yield and quality of harvested fruit. Diseases and pests spread very quickly, because the varieties grown are seedless and multiply by shoots, so that all the plants on the land have or do not have the same resistance. As small farmers cannot afford to treat their crops with pesticides for economic reasons, which also puts a strain on the environment, the only solution is to grow resistant varieties.

The aim of the 2020 activity is to use the potential of the Czech Republic in the field of plant genetics and genomics, including long-term experience with studying the banana genome to support the breeding of new banana tree varieties, and bring it closer to experts from other disciplines and the general public. One workshop is planned for 2020 to introduce the given topic to the Czech audience.

The workshop, which is expected to be held at the end of April 2020, will focus on the issue of crop breeding in tropical areas, especially in East Africa, and its impact on food security in the region. It will address not only changing climatic conditions and interventions in natural resources, including the deforestation of tropical forests or the possible impact of new varieties on crop diversity and local diets, but will also focus on societal aspects of breeding and introducing new crops such as problems in implementation of newly bred varieties and their reception by local communities or the influence of traditional cultural, social and gender patterns on the preferences of local people in terms of yield, quality and taste.