The International Plant Genetic Resources Institute and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) have joined forces to better conserve wild relatives of key crops, which could perform better than existing commercial strains in nutrition, water content, appearance and disease resistance.

The In Situ Conservation of Crop Wild Relatives Through Enhanced Management and Field Application scheme will preserve biodiversity in species rich Armenia, Bolivia, Madagascar, Sri Lanka and Uzbekistan.

A joint note says its importance has been highlighted by the discovery of a wild tomato allowing plant breeders to increase by 2.4% solids in commercial varieties, earning an extra US$250m.