Importance of seedbanking
Over the last hundred years, we have lost a huge amount of crop diversity in the form of cultivars and varieties of many crops. This 1983 study showed that nearly 93 percent of varieties in 66 crops studied had gone extinct since 1903. This bottleneck could have huge consequences on the ability for agriculture to adapt to a changing climate, but it is also a shame to have lost his diversity which undoubtedly harbored a range of flavors, shapes and colors of fruits and vegetables.
Saving and understanding as many varieties of crops as possible will serve to enhance our ability to improve them in the future. While conventional agriculture does rely heavily on monoculture, the benefit of saving the genetic diversity found in crop varieties can be leveraged in the future to introduce key traits such as drought tolerance, improved nutrition, and disease/pest resistance.
One non-profit, Native Seeds/SEARCH, works to preserve delicate cultivars of a variety of crops grown by Native American tribes in the American South-West. Their engagement with the community, local farmers, and the research community represents the gold standard of community seed-banking. This is a great way to prevent the loss of delicate crop germplasm while engaging in community building, education, and scientific advancement.