If animal breeds and plant varieties are being used, they will not disappear. Investing in valorization initiatives for varieties and breeds at risk of extinction is thus highly relevant for safeguarding this endangered agricultural genetic diversity.

During the Final Conference of the Preparatory Action on EU Plant and Animal Genetic Resources in Agriculture, 150 representatives of various stakeholder groups across Europe discussed this topic. It was held 6-7 September 2018 in Nantes/Plessé, France.

Value of rare breeds
The aim of the project was to provide inspiring examples of how to make the conservation of neglected breeds and varieties economically viable, and encourage farmers and other stakeholders to engage in similar projects across the EU.  A high diversity of plants and animals makes agriculture more resilient in a changing environment, e.g. climate change or changing socio-economic scenarios, and the socio-economic, cultural and environmental values of endangered breeds and neglected varieties are highly valued by society.

Successful projects
At the conference, representatives of four projects – Solina soft wheat (Italy), Turopolje pig meat products (Croatia), Gwell dairy products (France) and Filderkraut cabbage (Germany) – presented their initiative, and how they were supported by the Preparatory Action (further) developing and communicating their initiatives.

User guide
The Preparatory Action also compiled an e-compendium on a wide diversity of successful valorization initiatives across Europe. The e-compendium includes two examples from the Netherlands: the Zeldzaam Lekker (“rare and tasty”) initiative of the Dutch Rare Breeds Foundation for products of rare Dutch livestock breeds, and the business of the Smak family who are growing and selling a wide range of dry beans with a unique taste.

A User Guide will be finalized soon, in order to provide a checklist of topics to be considered when setting up a valorisation project.

The process of valorisation is the result of a strategy involving a diversity of actors, within a certain territory. Individual valorisation initiatives require their own tailored approach.

Source: Wageningen University & Research