Crop Wild Relative Project
What are crop wild relative
Crop wild relatives (CWR) are plants related to socio-economically important species including food, fodder and forage crops, medicinal plants, condiments, ornamental, and forestry species, as well as plants used for industrial purposes, such as oils and fibres. A formal definition of a crop wild relative can be found at PGR Forum, the European Crop Wild Relative Diversity Assessment and Conservation Forum.
Why are crop wild relatives important
It was N.I. Vavilov, a Russian Botanist who first realized the importance of crop wild relatives in early years 20th century. Genetic material from Crop wild relatives has been utilized by humans for thousands of years to improve the quality and yield of crops. Natural crosses between crops and their wild relatives have occurred since the beginnings of agriculture. Farmers have used traditional breeding methods for millennia, and more recently, plant breeders have utilised crop wild relative genes to improve a wide range of crops like rice (Oryza sativa), and grain legumes
In addition Crop wild relatives are essential components of natural ecosystems and agricultural eco-systems and hence are indispensable for maintaining ecosystem health. Their conservation and sustainable use is very important for improving agricultural production, increasing food security, and maintaining a healthy environment.
* Based on the information from the European Crop Wild Relative Diversity Assessment and Conservation Forum.
Crop Wild Relatives in Sri Lanka
Although Sri Lanka is an important centre for crop wild relative diversity our populations of crop wild relatives are under threat due habitat destruction and other human activities. So far very little attention has been paid for conserving and utilizing this important biological resource.
According to the records of the National Herbarium there are over 400 species of CWR in Sri Lanka. The Crop Wild Relatives Conservation Project implemented by the DOA has selected five priority crops of which wild species will be conserved in-situ as a first step of conserving this valuable plant genetic resource. Priority crops selected and their wild relatives in Sri Lanka are given below;
Oriza sativa (cultivated species)
Oryza eichingeri A. Peter
Oryza nivara Sharma et Shastry
Oryza rhizomatis Vaughan
Oryza rufipogon Griff.
Piper nigrum L., (cultivated species)
Piper zeylanicum Miq.,
Piper walkeri Miq
Piper hymenophyllum Miq
Piper sylvestre Lam.,
Piper trineuron Miq.,
Piper siriboa L.,
Piper chuvya (Miq.) C. DC.
Piper betle L., (cultivated)
Piper longum L.,
Green Gram/Black Gram etc (Vigna)
Vigna radiate (cultivated species)
Vigna aridicola N. Tomooka & Maxted
Vigna radiata var. sublobata
Musa paradisiacal L (cultivated species)
Musa acuminate Colla.
Musa balbisiana Colla.
Cinnamomum verum J. Presl (cultivated species)
Cinnamomum dubium Nees
Cinnamomum ovalifolium Wight
Cinnamomum litseaefolium Thw.
Cinnamomum citriodorum Thw.
Cinnamomum capparu-coronde Blume
Cinnamomum sinharajaense Kostermans
Cinnamomum camphora (L) Presl
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