As the world population continues to grow, the demand for food is increasing tremendously. Climate change, drought, diseases, and reduced productivity challenge food security. There is, therefore, a need to embrace new technology to overcome these challenges. Many scientists are turning to improve the genome of animals and crops to ensure increased food productivity and global food security.
Agrigenomics is seen as one way to drive food security and food sustainability. Using technology, researchers, crop and livestock breeders, and farmers have embraced the use of genes with the desired characteristics to increase productivity. Some desirable traits include high milk yield in cows, high feed conversion for beef cattle, and resistance to diseases for both animals and crops. The following are some of the benefits of agrigenomics.
1) Agrigenomics helps to improve crops by making them more resistant to pests and diseases.
Crop diseases account for about 11 – 30% of crop yield losses globally. It is despite using other interventions like the application of chemicals to combat these diseases. The most affected are areas that already suffer food insecurity, like many parts of Africa. Genome and genetic interventions remain the most formidable solution against pests and diseases. However, there is still a lot of research ongoing. So far, the results are promising in crops like maize.
2) Creating hardy crops that can grow in adverse climatic conditions like cold, floods, and drought conditions.
Climate change has brought about unprecedented changes in climatic conditions globally. This change is negatively affecting food production in many parts of the world. Some places with adequate rainfall can no longer support good food production. Agrigenomics is helping to develop crops with genome variants that can withstand changes in climatic conditions. It is done by gene editing to improve performance covering an array of traits.
3) Developing crops that require less water.
Most traditional foods grow well in high-rainfall areas. With rains becoming inadequate and with less water available for irrigation, there is a need for crops with high water efficiency. Agrigenomics can help us to identify genes affecting the efficiency of water use in a plant. These genes can then be introduced into food crops through breeding or genetic modification.
4) Developing crops that can withstand high temperatures.
Climate change has brought about global warming. Increased temperatures have been witnessed in many parts of the world. These high temperatures are affecting the growth of crops globally. Scientists and researchers must develop crops that can tolerate higher temperatures. Through agrigenomics, we can isolate genes that can grant heat tolerance. These genes are then introduced into the target food crops through genetic engineering.
The world population now stands at about 8 billion people and is still growing. To feed this global population is a colossal task. Farming land is reducing and is being replaced by real estate. Animal and Crop diseases and pests are increasingly reducing food yield. The combination of these factors has led to food insecurity. Commercial farming is the way to feed this global population adequately. Agrigenomics will play a key role in contributing to increased productivity in the already limited land area.
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