Biotech Updates

ARS Helps Preserve Indigenous Crops in Ecuador

August 7, 2009

As a result of thousands of years of farming, the Andes, in the area around the Cotacachi region holds a stunning diversity of crops not known outside the area. With more and more people working away from the farms, the diverse crops and the associated cultural traditions need to be preserved.

A group of botanists and biodiversity experts led by Karen A. Williams of the US Department of Agriculture National Germplasm Resources Laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, USA set up the Cotacachi project where scientists at Ecuador's National Department of Plant Genetic Resources saved samples of the crop diversity in the genebank. The farmers have also been their partner in seed exchange, evaluation of crop varieties, and in food processing and packaging of products made from their indigenous crops.  

See the press release at