12: Seeds and germplasm
Many people's first thought about ECHO is "seeds." Our seedbank specializes in little- known plants with great potential to provide food under difficult growing conditions. We also have several improved varieties of common plants. Each year we distribute hundreds of trial seed packets to development workers who grow them in their own gardens. If the plants produce well and are accepted, they may harvest the seed and distribute it in the community. In this way, a community in one part of the world may benefit from the plants of another region to which they might otherwise not have access.
Plant introduction through seeds and germplasm (living tissue that can be grown into a plant) holds tremendous promise for improving nutrition and food production. This book contains information on many such plants which can thrive in poor soils, drought, and other stresses. There are also dangers and risks in plant introduction about which we need to be aware. This chapter discusses working with underexploited plants, seeds and other germplasm, and seed production and sources.
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