"The Green Revolution helped feed a surging global population, but at the cost of impoverishing crop diversity. Now, with climate change increasingly threatening food supplies, the need for greater agricultural resilience means restoring endangered crop and food varieties."
"In August 2020, inside the cupping room of a London roastery, a team of botanists and baristas gathered to taste a coffee species that most believed had been lost forever. It was an important moment. Coffee experts had spent years searching in West Africa for the few remaining trees of this species, even issuing “wanted posters” to farmers asking if they had seen it.
The coffee, named stenophylla, had last been recorded in Sierra Leone in the 1950s, but civil war and widespread deforestation had pushed it to the brink of extinction. In 2018, with the help of the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew, a small cluster of stenophylla trees were found, which two years later produced just nine grams of beans. The first sips provided hope. “It’s fragrant, fruity, and sweet,” said Aaron Davis, Kew’s senior research leader for Crops and Global Change. “Stenophylla is a coffee with real potential.”
Since then, seeds have been collected from the surviving trees in Sierra Leone, and 5,000 seedlings are being grown in nurseries. This is significant for us all, not just coffee aficionados. That’s because saving diverse foods, whether plant species or animal breeds, will give us the options we’ll need in an increasingly uncertain future."
Dan Saladino reports for Yale Environment 360 March 1, 2022.