An integrated approach to diversify the genetic base, improve stress resistance, agronomic management and nutritional/processing quality of minor cereal crops for human nutrition in Europe

Project Background and Drivers

The productivity of European and global agriculture has been vastly improved through focussing on a relatively small number of crop species (for cereals grown in Europe mainly on common wheat and barley) bred for high yields, and dependent on large inputs of mineral fertilizers. However, this strategy has left agriculture with a reduced genetic variation and diversity which makes crops more vulnerable to biotic and abiotic stresses, and high inputs of fertilizers and energy lead to environmental damage.

In comparison to conventional common wheat, minor cereals typically grow well in poor soils or under low input conditions, and have retained far greater concentration of micronutrients that have been bred out of common wheat. They are hence valued highly by both producers and consumers of organic foods, and increasingly also by conventional farmers.

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  Suported by the European Commmission’s Seventh Framework Programme under the specific programme on ‘Cooperation’