Should a doomsday agricultural crisis hit the world’s driest environments, scientists and farmers will turn to an up-and-coming research center and seed bank in Morocco to restock their harvests. Tucked away in the university hub of Irfane in Rabat, the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas, or ICARDA, hosts the largest collection of seeds in North Africa.
“If for any reason, a particular community lost all their resources, we are capable of providing them with the seeds for restoration and rehabilitation,” says Ahmed Amri, head of ICARDA’s Genetic Resources Unit.
The crucial role of seed banks in protecting biodiversity is receiving increasing attention because of climate change, which threatens to wipe out crops as dry areas of the world get even hotter and drier. The impact on African agriculture is among the topics being discussed at U.N. climate talks taking place through next week in Morocco.
The site in Rabat has become ICARDA’s primary center of storage and research after its previous hub in Aleppo, Syria, was seized by an Islamist rebel group in September 2015.
[Photo by greenzowie | Flickr]