Seeding the future of edible forests


World Agroforestry, ICRAF Genetic Resources Unit collects, conserves and distributes a diverse collection of agroforestry trees. Their main focus is on indigenous species in the tropics and sub-tropics.

Agroforestry means integrating trees in agriculture, including the agricultural use of trees. This creates numerous benefits: it produces nutritious foods to meet local and market demands; it boosts biodiversity and generates multiple ecosystem services; and it increases resilience and reduces vulnerability to shocks. An estimated 1.2 billion people rely on agroforestry to help feed themselves and their families. Safeguarding genetic resources is critical to global food security. The World Agroforestry, ICRAF seed bank in Nairobi and field genebanks in other regions ensure the supply of living genetic resources such as seeds from superior tree species for research, and conserve material for the benefit of present and future generations. About 190 species have been conserved. These are wild, partially domesticated and domesticated tree species used in agroforestry systems to supply fruit, timber, medicines and other products. A genetic resources database provides information on agroforestry tree diversity, uses, suitability and sources of seed. The strategy ensures that collections are conserved based on international standards, encouraging quality research to fill information gaps and promote use, and sharing knowledge and genetic resources to improve livelihoods.