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Figure 4. Origins and recipients of samples distributed by the Australian Grains Genebank (AGG) from 1988 to 2015.
Each region has a color representing germplasm originating in that region, and the colors are connected to other
regions based on AGG’s distributions of germplasm to researchers in those other regions. The direction of the
contribution is indicated by both the origin region’s color and a gap between the connecting line and the recipient
region’s segment. The magnitude of contribution is indicated by the width of the connecting line. Because the line
width is nonlinearly adapted to the curvature, it corresponds to the contribution size only at the start and end points.
As an example, West Asia is represented in light blue. The light blue lines represent the amount of germplasm
originating in the region that was distributed by the AGG to recipients in different regions of the world, which
predominantly included Australia and New Zealand (1214 samples distributed on average per year), but also includes
itself as well as twelve other regions.
We estimated the degree of Australia’s dependence on international collaboration to acquire crop genetic resources by
identifying for each crop cultivated and/or consumed in the country the “primary region of diversity” of the crop – the
geographic region of the world which typically includes the location of the initial domestication of the crop,
encompasses the major geographic zone of diversity of traditional crop varieties generated since that time, and for
most crops also contains high species richness in related wild taxa.
We analyzed the full set of food crop commodities included in Australia’s national food supply and pertinent national
production data as provided by FAO4 [for food supplies: calories (kcal/capita/day), protein (g/capita/day), fat
(g/capita/day), and food weight (g/capita/day); for production systems: production quantity (tonnes), harvested area
(ha), and gross production value (million US$)], over a recent three year timeframe (2009-2011).
Regions were delineated following national borders in order to form manageable units for the assignment of primary
regions of diversity of all crops, and at a scale enabling comparison with national food supplies and production data.
Regional classifications followed those listed in Annex 2 of the FAO State of the World’s Plant Genetic Resources for
Food and Agriculture5, modified to more accurately represent eco-geographic parameters driving plant species
distributions. Specifically, both western and eastern Europe were split into north and south regions to account for
temperate versus Mediterranean ecologies; Australia and New Zealand were segregated from remaining (tropical)
islands of the Pacific region; and South America was split into Andean, temperate, and tropical regions. A total of 23
regions were delineated worldwide.
Primary regions of diversity were assigned to crops based upon primary and secondary literature regarding centres of
crop diversity, origins of crop domestication, and high species richness of closely related wild plants. To be generally
inclusive in regard to primary regions of diversity of crops and to minimize overestimating countries’ utilization of
foreign crops, those crops whose primary diversity encompassed more than one designated region were listed in all
appropriate regions (e.g., wheat was listed in Central Asia, West Asia, and the South and East Mediterranean due to
the high diversity of traditional crop varieties and wild relatives in each of these regions). Forty-two of the 53 crop
commodities treated in food supplies data, and 116 of the 132 crops in production data, were attributable to primary
regions of diversity, with the remaining general commodities which were not clearly recognizable as specific crop
species listed as “not specified”.
We determined the importance of each primary region of diversity around the world to Australia’s current (2009-2011
average) national food supply and national agricultural production by summing the contribution of
consumed/produced crops for each variable by their primary regions of diversity. We estimated the degree to which
Australia’s food supply and national agricultural production is comprised of “foreign” crops by determining the extent
to which such supply/production is composed of crops whose primary regions of diversity do not coincide at all with
the region within which Australia is located.
Our renewed international commitments to sustainable development1 and biodiversity
conservation2,3 explicitly recognize the importance of crop genetic diversity for food security,
and set urgent targets for fully conserving these genetic resources for present and future
generations. The International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture
(Plant Treaty) also includes a mechanism facilitating access to and sharing in the benefits of
this diversity, based upon overlapping needs in many regions worldwide to utilize these
genetic resources in crop breeding.
While Australia and 134 other nations as well as the European Union are parties to the Plant
Treaty, full investment and compliance by all countries has not yet been achieved, and a
number of countries who are globally significant agricultural producers have not yet become
parties. These deficiencies are probably due in part to a lack of clear information quantifying
the degree of reliance between countries in terms of crop genetic resources.
Here we provide an estimation of the importance of international collaboration for Australia in
order to acquire crop genetic resources supporting its national agricultural production and its
food supply.
Australia’s food system is highly dependent on foreign crop diversity
Introduction
References
1. UN (United Nations). 2016. Sustainable Development Goals. Available online at: https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/?menu=1300
2. CBD (Convention on Biological Diversity). 2016. Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020, including Aichi Biodiversity Targets. Available online at:
https://www.cbd.int/sp/
3. FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations). 2002. International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (Rome: FAO).
4. FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations). 2015. FAOSTAT (Rome: FAO). Available at http://faostat3.fao.org/
5. FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations). 2010. The Second Report on the State of the World’s Plant Genetic Resources for Food and
Agriculture (Rome: FAO).
6. Global Crop Diversity Trust. 2013 Fundraising Strategy 2014-2018 (Bonn, Germany: Global Crop Diversity Trust). website: https://www.croptrust.org/
7. Castañeda-Álvarez et al. 2016. Global conservation priorities for crop wild relatives. Nature Plants. doi: 10.1038/NPLANTS.2016.22.
Colin K. Khoury1,2, Harold A. Achicanoy1, Chrystian C. Sosa1, Carlos Navarro-Racines1, Nora P. Castañeda-Álvarez1, and Sally L. Norton3
1 International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), Colombia 2 National Laboratory for Genetic Resources Preservation, USDA-Agricultural Research Service, USA
3 Australian Grains Genebank, Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources, Australia | Contact: c.khoury@cgiar.org
Materials and Methods
Results
Primary regions of diversity of agricultural crops were identified across the world’s tropics and subtropics,
extending into temperate regions in both hemispheres (Figure 1). The Australia and New Zealand region
was not associated as a primary region of diversity with any crops specifically measured in FAO statistics.
Discussion
While direct measurements of a nation’s need for international collaboration to acquire
important genetic resources for agricultural research are difficult to quantify, our results give
every indication that the long term productivity and resilience of Australia’s crop cultivation
and its food supply are very highly dependent on access to genetic diversity that was
generated elsewhere on the planet.
While the importance of Australia’s access to genetic resources for crop breeding in support of
national agricultural production is straightforward, importance of access in regard to
supporting its food supply is more complicated because food supply data also includes
imported food. This said, access to the genetic diversity of important crops by major
producers, wherever their location, is important for the reliable provisioning of food via
international trade. The major areas of production of many foods imported by Australia very
often occur outside of the primary regions of diversity of those crops, e.g., West Africa and
Southeast Asia for cocoa bean production, Central America and tropical South America for
coffee, and China, India, the Russian Federation, Ukraine, and the USA for potatoes.
Australia should therefore continue to play an active international role in supporting the
conservation of the genetic resources of crops important to its national agricultural production
and its food supply, and in facilitating access to these resources for the benefit of Australia and
other food producers worldwide. Such actions include supporting the Plant Treaty and the
Global Crop Diversity Trust6, and encouraging as well as partnering with international and
national genebanks and other conservation efforts to ensure that important crop genetic
diversity is well conserved and available for distribution.
Although Australia was not designated as a primary region of diversity of crops measured in
FAO production and food supplies statistics, it does contain unique genetic resources that were
generated by agricultural communities and plant breeders over the last few hundred years, as
well as important germplasm acquired and conserved in the Australian Grains Genebank and
in other seed repositories and botanical gardens. In addition, wild species closely related to
important food crops such as rice, soybean, banana, sorghum and pigeonpea occur natively in
the country7 (Figure 5), and these genetic resources may prove highly valuable to the
improvement of these crops. This crop diversity should be recognized by Australia as important
to its national agricultural heritage, and should be fully conserved and made available to the
global community to support food security worldwide.
Figure 5. Species
richness map
displaying the
Australian
distributions of wild
plant species that
are close relatives
of rice, soybean,
banana, sorghum,
pigeonpea, and
other food crops.
Australia’s national agricultural production was found to be comprised of crops whose primary
regions of diversity encompass 21 regions in the Americas, Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Pacific
(Figure 2 and Table 1). Due to the significant cultivation of wheat, sugarcane, barley,
cottonseed oil, alfalfa, sorghum, grapes, rapeseed, lupins, oats, peas, apples, rice, chickpeas,
triticale, carrots, potatoes, lettuce, millets, olives, faba beans, almonds, melons, pears, onions,
and beans, among many others, production was determined to be highly composed of crops
whose primary regions of diversity included West Asia, the South and East Mediterranean,
Central Asia, Southeast Asia, and to lesser degrees southern Europe, East and Southern Africa,
Central America and Mexico, tropical South America, the Caribbean, and East Asia. Australian
national agricultural production was assessed as at least 99.9% comprised of crops whose
primary regions of diversity do not include the Australia and New Zealand region, for all
production variables.
Australia’s food supply was similarly found to be comprised of crops whose primary regions of
diversity encompass 21 regions in the Americas, Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Pacific (Figure 3
and Table 1). As measured in terms of contributions to calories, protein, and food weight in the
diet, Australia’s food supply was dominated by crops whose primary regions of diversity
included the South and East Mediterranean, West and Central Asia, southern Europe, South
and Southeast Asia, northern Europe, East Asia, the Andes, and West and Central Africa. These
foods included sugar, wheat, rape and mustard oil, palm oil, rice, cottonseed oil, barley, grapes,
olives, apples, potatoes, tomatoes, peas, and other pulses. The primary regions of diversity of
food crops most important to fat in the Australian diet included the South and East
Mediterranean, southern Europe, tropical South America, Central America and Mexico, and
West, Central, and East Africa, due primarily to the importance of rape and mustard oil, palm
oil, cottonseed oil, olives, and wheat. The Australian food supply was assessed as comprised of
91.8% - 100% crops whose primary regions of diversity do not include the Australia and New
Zealand region in terms of calories in the diet, 87.2% - 100% in terms of protein, 89.8% - 100%
in terms of fat, and 81.1% to 100% in terms of food weight. The variation shown per variable
accounts for the aggregated crop commodities recorded in Australian food supply data that
could not be clearly specified in terms of primary regions of diversity.
Figure 2. Importance of primary regions of diversity
worldwide to Australia’s national agricultural production,
measured in terms of (A) production quantity (million
tonnes), (B) harvested area (million ha), and (C)
production value (hundred million US$). The scale shows
the maximum potential contribution of each region to
Australia in the context of being a primary region of
diversity of crops cultivated in the country. Darker colors
represent more significant primary regions of diversity of
crops produced in Australia.
Table 1. Importance of primary regions of diversity worldwide to Australia’s national agricultural production and
national food supply. The values display the maximum potential contribution of each region to Australia in the context
of being a primary region of diversity of crops cultivated/consumed in the country.
Figure 3. Importance of primary regions of diversity worldwide to Australia’s national food supply, measured in terms
of (A) calories (kcal/capita/day), (B) protein (g/capita/day), (C) fat (g/capita/day), and (D) food weight (g/capita/day).
The scale shows the maximum potential contribution of each region to Australia in the context of being a primary
region of diversity of food crops consumed in the country. Darker colors represent more significant primary regions of
diversity of crops eaten in Australia.
Direct measures of need for exotic genetic resources for Australian agriculture
The estimate of Australia’s dependence on other world regions in regard to crop genetic
resources, based on the identified primary regions of diversity of the crops important to its
national agricultural production and food supply is an indirect measure. To assess Australia’s
need for exotic genetic resources in a more direct manner, we documented the origins of
231,655 samples distributed by the Australian Grains Genebank from 1988 to 2015, organized
into the same regional classifications (Figure 4). The Australia and New Zealand region
received genetic resources originating from all 23 of the world’s regions, with the majority of
germplasm originating from West Asia, Australia and New Zealand, Central America and
Mexico, North America, East Asia, South Asia, northern Europe, East Africa, and southwest
Europe. The analysis also documented the Australian Grains Genebank’s contributions to crop
improvement in other regions, particularly West Asia, North America, northern Europe, and
East Asia.
Figure 1. Primary regions of diversity of 81 major agricultural crops worldwide, i.e., areas which typically include the
locations of the initial domestication of crops, encompass the major geographic zones of diversity of crop varieties
generated since that time, and for most crops also contain high species richness in related wild taxa.
Primary region of diversity
of crops
Production
quantity
(tonnes)
Production
quantity
(%)
Harvested
area (ha)
Harvested
area (%)
Production
value
(current
million US$)
Production
value (%)
Calories
(kcal/
capita/
day)
Calories
(%)
Protein
(g/
capita/
day)
Protein
(%)
Fat (g/
capita/
day) Fat (%)
Food
weight
(g/
capita/
day)
Food
weight
(%)
North America 1,919,723 0.9% 213,950 0.3% 1,309.7 2.1% 91.3 1.1% 0.2 0.2% 4.0 1.7% 90.7 2.2%
Central America and
Mexico 2,834,726 1.3% 482,965 0.6% 3,345.9 5.3% 261.0 3.3% 1.7 1.8% 23.9 10.4% 51.0 1.3%
Caribbean 2,107,763 1.0% 322,539 0.4% 2,829.6 4.5% 62.7 0.8% 0.0 0.0% 7.1 3.1% 6.7 0.2%
Andes 2,365,732 1.1% 717,305 1.0% 1,134.0 1.8% 96.7 1.2% 2.9 3.0% 0.3 0.1% 215.3 5.3%
Tropical South America 2,443,372 1.1% 353,714 0.5% 3,139.7 5.0% 241.7 3.0% 1.8 1.9% 24.9 10.9% 61.7 1.5%
Temperate South America 29,492 0.0% 1,596 0.0% 190.3 0.3% 1.0 0.0% 0.2 0.2% 0.0 0.0% 1.7 0.0%
West Africa 2,517,561 1.1% 715,049 1.0% 573.3 0.9% 254.3 3.2% 3.4 3.6% 15.3 6.7% 63.7 1.6%
Central Africa 2,403,161 1.1% 672,913 0.9% 480.3 0.8% 254.3 3.2% 3.4 3.6% 15.3 6.7% 63.7 1.6%
East Africa 4,706,287 2.1% 1,331,976 1.8% 3,413.4 5.4% 137.7 1.7% 2.2 2.3% 12.3 5.4% 37.7 0.9%
Southern Africa 4,481,502 2.0% 1,011,631 1.4% 3,348.8 5.3% 76.7 1.0% 0.9 0.9% 7.2 3.1% 11.0 0.3%
Northwest Europe 1,690,784 0.8% 887,473 1.2% 926.2 1.5% 402.7 5.1% 0.2 0.2% 0.2 0.1% 179.3 4.4%
Southwest Europe 4,081,897 1.9% 2,855,365 3.8% 2,317.3 3.7% 667.0 8.4% 0.9 1.0% 29.1 12.7% 216.7 5.4%
Northeast Europe 1,690,784 0.8% 887,473 1.2% 926.2 1.5% 402.7 5.1% 0.2 0.2% 0.2 0.1% 179.3 4.4%
Southeast Europe 4,230,784 1.9% 2,882,089 3.9% 2,585.1 4.1% 667.0 8.4% 0.9 1.0% 29.1 12.7% 216.7 5.4%
South and East
Mediterranean 38,202,056 17.4%
21,541,58
4 28.8% 10,277.9 16.3% 1377.3 17.3% 21.2 22.4% 31.7 13.8% 657.7 16.3%
West Asia 41,284,897 18.8%
19,631,77
4 26.3% 10,384.3 16.5% 803.7 10.1% 21.7 22.9% 7.9 3.5% 560.7 13.9%
Central Asia 38,135,583 17.4%
18,270,50
3 24.4% 8,978.6 14.3% 687.3 8.6% 19.8 20.9% 2.6 1.1% 528.7 13.1%
South Asia 30,500,858 13.9% 1,132,309 1.5% 2,118.0 3.4% 539.0 6.8% 3.3 3.5% 2.7 1.2% 180.3 4.5%
East Asia 3,425,034 1.6% 366,636 0.5% 2,606.4 4.1% 226.7 2.8% 2.7 2.9% 3.8 1.6% 252.3 6.3%
Southeast Asia 29,870,111 13.6% 478,056 0.6% 1,867.2 3.0% 517.0 6.5% 2.5 2.6% 2.1 0.9% 172.0 4.3%
Tropical Pacific Region 76,067 0.0% 3,636 0.0% 74.4 0.1% 17.0 0.2% 0.1 0.1% 1.8 0.8% 7.0 0.2%
Not Specified 122,262 0.1% 22,042 0.0% 73.7 0.1% 180.7 2.3% 4.5 4.7% 7.7 3.4% 278.7 6.9%
Region code Region
N America North America
C America
Central America
and Mexico
Car Caribbean
And Andes
Tr. S Am
Tropical South
America
Tp. S Am
Temperate South
America
W Afr West Africa
C Afr Central Africa
E Afr East Africa
S Afr Southern Africa
IOI
Indian Ocean
Islands
NW Eur Northwest Europe
SW Eur Southwest Europe
NE Eur Northeast Europe
SE Eur Southeast Europe
SE Med
South and East
Mediterranean
W Asia West Asia
C Asia Central Asia
S Asia South Asia
E Asia East Asia
SE Asia Southeast Asia
Pac
Tropical Pacific
Region
Australia and New
Zealand
Australia and New
Zealand
A
C D
B
A
C
B

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Australia's food system is highly dependent on foreign crop diversity

  • 1. Figure 4. Origins and recipients of samples distributed by the Australian Grains Genebank (AGG) from 1988 to 2015. Each region has a color representing germplasm originating in that region, and the colors are connected to other regions based on AGG’s distributions of germplasm to researchers in those other regions. The direction of the contribution is indicated by both the origin region’s color and a gap between the connecting line and the recipient region’s segment. The magnitude of contribution is indicated by the width of the connecting line. Because the line width is nonlinearly adapted to the curvature, it corresponds to the contribution size only at the start and end points. As an example, West Asia is represented in light blue. The light blue lines represent the amount of germplasm originating in the region that was distributed by the AGG to recipients in different regions of the world, which predominantly included Australia and New Zealand (1214 samples distributed on average per year), but also includes itself as well as twelve other regions. We estimated the degree of Australia’s dependence on international collaboration to acquire crop genetic resources by identifying for each crop cultivated and/or consumed in the country the “primary region of diversity” of the crop – the geographic region of the world which typically includes the location of the initial domestication of the crop, encompasses the major geographic zone of diversity of traditional crop varieties generated since that time, and for most crops also contains high species richness in related wild taxa. We analyzed the full set of food crop commodities included in Australia’s national food supply and pertinent national production data as provided by FAO4 [for food supplies: calories (kcal/capita/day), protein (g/capita/day), fat (g/capita/day), and food weight (g/capita/day); for production systems: production quantity (tonnes), harvested area (ha), and gross production value (million US$)], over a recent three year timeframe (2009-2011). Regions were delineated following national borders in order to form manageable units for the assignment of primary regions of diversity of all crops, and at a scale enabling comparison with national food supplies and production data. Regional classifications followed those listed in Annex 2 of the FAO State of the World’s Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture5, modified to more accurately represent eco-geographic parameters driving plant species distributions. Specifically, both western and eastern Europe were split into north and south regions to account for temperate versus Mediterranean ecologies; Australia and New Zealand were segregated from remaining (tropical) islands of the Pacific region; and South America was split into Andean, temperate, and tropical regions. A total of 23 regions were delineated worldwide. Primary regions of diversity were assigned to crops based upon primary and secondary literature regarding centres of crop diversity, origins of crop domestication, and high species richness of closely related wild plants. To be generally inclusive in regard to primary regions of diversity of crops and to minimize overestimating countries’ utilization of foreign crops, those crops whose primary diversity encompassed more than one designated region were listed in all appropriate regions (e.g., wheat was listed in Central Asia, West Asia, and the South and East Mediterranean due to the high diversity of traditional crop varieties and wild relatives in each of these regions). Forty-two of the 53 crop commodities treated in food supplies data, and 116 of the 132 crops in production data, were attributable to primary regions of diversity, with the remaining general commodities which were not clearly recognizable as specific crop species listed as “not specified”. We determined the importance of each primary region of diversity around the world to Australia’s current (2009-2011 average) national food supply and national agricultural production by summing the contribution of consumed/produced crops for each variable by their primary regions of diversity. We estimated the degree to which Australia’s food supply and national agricultural production is comprised of “foreign” crops by determining the extent to which such supply/production is composed of crops whose primary regions of diversity do not coincide at all with the region within which Australia is located. Our renewed international commitments to sustainable development1 and biodiversity conservation2,3 explicitly recognize the importance of crop genetic diversity for food security, and set urgent targets for fully conserving these genetic resources for present and future generations. The International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (Plant Treaty) also includes a mechanism facilitating access to and sharing in the benefits of this diversity, based upon overlapping needs in many regions worldwide to utilize these genetic resources in crop breeding. While Australia and 134 other nations as well as the European Union are parties to the Plant Treaty, full investment and compliance by all countries has not yet been achieved, and a number of countries who are globally significant agricultural producers have not yet become parties. These deficiencies are probably due in part to a lack of clear information quantifying the degree of reliance between countries in terms of crop genetic resources. Here we provide an estimation of the importance of international collaboration for Australia in order to acquire crop genetic resources supporting its national agricultural production and its food supply. Australia’s food system is highly dependent on foreign crop diversity Introduction References 1. UN (United Nations). 2016. Sustainable Development Goals. Available online at: https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/?menu=1300 2. CBD (Convention on Biological Diversity). 2016. Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020, including Aichi Biodiversity Targets. Available online at: https://www.cbd.int/sp/ 3. FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations). 2002. International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (Rome: FAO). 4. FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations). 2015. FAOSTAT (Rome: FAO). Available at http://faostat3.fao.org/ 5. FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations). 2010. The Second Report on the State of the World’s Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (Rome: FAO). 6. Global Crop Diversity Trust. 2013 Fundraising Strategy 2014-2018 (Bonn, Germany: Global Crop Diversity Trust). website: https://www.croptrust.org/ 7. Castañeda-Álvarez et al. 2016. Global conservation priorities for crop wild relatives. Nature Plants. doi: 10.1038/NPLANTS.2016.22. Colin K. Khoury1,2, Harold A. Achicanoy1, Chrystian C. Sosa1, Carlos Navarro-Racines1, Nora P. Castañeda-Álvarez1, and Sally L. Norton3 1 International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), Colombia 2 National Laboratory for Genetic Resources Preservation, USDA-Agricultural Research Service, USA 3 Australian Grains Genebank, Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources, Australia | Contact: c.khoury@cgiar.org Materials and Methods Results Primary regions of diversity of agricultural crops were identified across the world’s tropics and subtropics, extending into temperate regions in both hemispheres (Figure 1). The Australia and New Zealand region was not associated as a primary region of diversity with any crops specifically measured in FAO statistics. Discussion While direct measurements of a nation’s need for international collaboration to acquire important genetic resources for agricultural research are difficult to quantify, our results give every indication that the long term productivity and resilience of Australia’s crop cultivation and its food supply are very highly dependent on access to genetic diversity that was generated elsewhere on the planet. While the importance of Australia’s access to genetic resources for crop breeding in support of national agricultural production is straightforward, importance of access in regard to supporting its food supply is more complicated because food supply data also includes imported food. This said, access to the genetic diversity of important crops by major producers, wherever their location, is important for the reliable provisioning of food via international trade. The major areas of production of many foods imported by Australia very often occur outside of the primary regions of diversity of those crops, e.g., West Africa and Southeast Asia for cocoa bean production, Central America and tropical South America for coffee, and China, India, the Russian Federation, Ukraine, and the USA for potatoes. Australia should therefore continue to play an active international role in supporting the conservation of the genetic resources of crops important to its national agricultural production and its food supply, and in facilitating access to these resources for the benefit of Australia and other food producers worldwide. Such actions include supporting the Plant Treaty and the Global Crop Diversity Trust6, and encouraging as well as partnering with international and national genebanks and other conservation efforts to ensure that important crop genetic diversity is well conserved and available for distribution. Although Australia was not designated as a primary region of diversity of crops measured in FAO production and food supplies statistics, it does contain unique genetic resources that were generated by agricultural communities and plant breeders over the last few hundred years, as well as important germplasm acquired and conserved in the Australian Grains Genebank and in other seed repositories and botanical gardens. In addition, wild species closely related to important food crops such as rice, soybean, banana, sorghum and pigeonpea occur natively in the country7 (Figure 5), and these genetic resources may prove highly valuable to the improvement of these crops. This crop diversity should be recognized by Australia as important to its national agricultural heritage, and should be fully conserved and made available to the global community to support food security worldwide. Figure 5. Species richness map displaying the Australian distributions of wild plant species that are close relatives of rice, soybean, banana, sorghum, pigeonpea, and other food crops. Australia’s national agricultural production was found to be comprised of crops whose primary regions of diversity encompass 21 regions in the Americas, Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Pacific (Figure 2 and Table 1). Due to the significant cultivation of wheat, sugarcane, barley, cottonseed oil, alfalfa, sorghum, grapes, rapeseed, lupins, oats, peas, apples, rice, chickpeas, triticale, carrots, potatoes, lettuce, millets, olives, faba beans, almonds, melons, pears, onions, and beans, among many others, production was determined to be highly composed of crops whose primary regions of diversity included West Asia, the South and East Mediterranean, Central Asia, Southeast Asia, and to lesser degrees southern Europe, East and Southern Africa, Central America and Mexico, tropical South America, the Caribbean, and East Asia. Australian national agricultural production was assessed as at least 99.9% comprised of crops whose primary regions of diversity do not include the Australia and New Zealand region, for all production variables. Australia’s food supply was similarly found to be comprised of crops whose primary regions of diversity encompass 21 regions in the Americas, Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Pacific (Figure 3 and Table 1). As measured in terms of contributions to calories, protein, and food weight in the diet, Australia’s food supply was dominated by crops whose primary regions of diversity included the South and East Mediterranean, West and Central Asia, southern Europe, South and Southeast Asia, northern Europe, East Asia, the Andes, and West and Central Africa. These foods included sugar, wheat, rape and mustard oil, palm oil, rice, cottonseed oil, barley, grapes, olives, apples, potatoes, tomatoes, peas, and other pulses. The primary regions of diversity of food crops most important to fat in the Australian diet included the South and East Mediterranean, southern Europe, tropical South America, Central America and Mexico, and West, Central, and East Africa, due primarily to the importance of rape and mustard oil, palm oil, cottonseed oil, olives, and wheat. The Australian food supply was assessed as comprised of 91.8% - 100% crops whose primary regions of diversity do not include the Australia and New Zealand region in terms of calories in the diet, 87.2% - 100% in terms of protein, 89.8% - 100% in terms of fat, and 81.1% to 100% in terms of food weight. The variation shown per variable accounts for the aggregated crop commodities recorded in Australian food supply data that could not be clearly specified in terms of primary regions of diversity. Figure 2. Importance of primary regions of diversity worldwide to Australia’s national agricultural production, measured in terms of (A) production quantity (million tonnes), (B) harvested area (million ha), and (C) production value (hundred million US$). The scale shows the maximum potential contribution of each region to Australia in the context of being a primary region of diversity of crops cultivated in the country. Darker colors represent more significant primary regions of diversity of crops produced in Australia. Table 1. Importance of primary regions of diversity worldwide to Australia’s national agricultural production and national food supply. The values display the maximum potential contribution of each region to Australia in the context of being a primary region of diversity of crops cultivated/consumed in the country. Figure 3. Importance of primary regions of diversity worldwide to Australia’s national food supply, measured in terms of (A) calories (kcal/capita/day), (B) protein (g/capita/day), (C) fat (g/capita/day), and (D) food weight (g/capita/day). The scale shows the maximum potential contribution of each region to Australia in the context of being a primary region of diversity of food crops consumed in the country. Darker colors represent more significant primary regions of diversity of crops eaten in Australia. Direct measures of need for exotic genetic resources for Australian agriculture The estimate of Australia’s dependence on other world regions in regard to crop genetic resources, based on the identified primary regions of diversity of the crops important to its national agricultural production and food supply is an indirect measure. To assess Australia’s need for exotic genetic resources in a more direct manner, we documented the origins of 231,655 samples distributed by the Australian Grains Genebank from 1988 to 2015, organized into the same regional classifications (Figure 4). The Australia and New Zealand region received genetic resources originating from all 23 of the world’s regions, with the majority of germplasm originating from West Asia, Australia and New Zealand, Central America and Mexico, North America, East Asia, South Asia, northern Europe, East Africa, and southwest Europe. The analysis also documented the Australian Grains Genebank’s contributions to crop improvement in other regions, particularly West Asia, North America, northern Europe, and East Asia. Figure 1. Primary regions of diversity of 81 major agricultural crops worldwide, i.e., areas which typically include the locations of the initial domestication of crops, encompass the major geographic zones of diversity of crop varieties generated since that time, and for most crops also contain high species richness in related wild taxa. Primary region of diversity of crops Production quantity (tonnes) Production quantity (%) Harvested area (ha) Harvested area (%) Production value (current million US$) Production value (%) Calories (kcal/ capita/ day) Calories (%) Protein (g/ capita/ day) Protein (%) Fat (g/ capita/ day) Fat (%) Food weight (g/ capita/ day) Food weight (%) North America 1,919,723 0.9% 213,950 0.3% 1,309.7 2.1% 91.3 1.1% 0.2 0.2% 4.0 1.7% 90.7 2.2% Central America and Mexico 2,834,726 1.3% 482,965 0.6% 3,345.9 5.3% 261.0 3.3% 1.7 1.8% 23.9 10.4% 51.0 1.3% Caribbean 2,107,763 1.0% 322,539 0.4% 2,829.6 4.5% 62.7 0.8% 0.0 0.0% 7.1 3.1% 6.7 0.2% Andes 2,365,732 1.1% 717,305 1.0% 1,134.0 1.8% 96.7 1.2% 2.9 3.0% 0.3 0.1% 215.3 5.3% Tropical South America 2,443,372 1.1% 353,714 0.5% 3,139.7 5.0% 241.7 3.0% 1.8 1.9% 24.9 10.9% 61.7 1.5% Temperate South America 29,492 0.0% 1,596 0.0% 190.3 0.3% 1.0 0.0% 0.2 0.2% 0.0 0.0% 1.7 0.0% West Africa 2,517,561 1.1% 715,049 1.0% 573.3 0.9% 254.3 3.2% 3.4 3.6% 15.3 6.7% 63.7 1.6% Central Africa 2,403,161 1.1% 672,913 0.9% 480.3 0.8% 254.3 3.2% 3.4 3.6% 15.3 6.7% 63.7 1.6% East Africa 4,706,287 2.1% 1,331,976 1.8% 3,413.4 5.4% 137.7 1.7% 2.2 2.3% 12.3 5.4% 37.7 0.9% Southern Africa 4,481,502 2.0% 1,011,631 1.4% 3,348.8 5.3% 76.7 1.0% 0.9 0.9% 7.2 3.1% 11.0 0.3% Northwest Europe 1,690,784 0.8% 887,473 1.2% 926.2 1.5% 402.7 5.1% 0.2 0.2% 0.2 0.1% 179.3 4.4% Southwest Europe 4,081,897 1.9% 2,855,365 3.8% 2,317.3 3.7% 667.0 8.4% 0.9 1.0% 29.1 12.7% 216.7 5.4% Northeast Europe 1,690,784 0.8% 887,473 1.2% 926.2 1.5% 402.7 5.1% 0.2 0.2% 0.2 0.1% 179.3 4.4% Southeast Europe 4,230,784 1.9% 2,882,089 3.9% 2,585.1 4.1% 667.0 8.4% 0.9 1.0% 29.1 12.7% 216.7 5.4% South and East Mediterranean 38,202,056 17.4% 21,541,58 4 28.8% 10,277.9 16.3% 1377.3 17.3% 21.2 22.4% 31.7 13.8% 657.7 16.3% West Asia 41,284,897 18.8% 19,631,77 4 26.3% 10,384.3 16.5% 803.7 10.1% 21.7 22.9% 7.9 3.5% 560.7 13.9% Central Asia 38,135,583 17.4% 18,270,50 3 24.4% 8,978.6 14.3% 687.3 8.6% 19.8 20.9% 2.6 1.1% 528.7 13.1% South Asia 30,500,858 13.9% 1,132,309 1.5% 2,118.0 3.4% 539.0 6.8% 3.3 3.5% 2.7 1.2% 180.3 4.5% East Asia 3,425,034 1.6% 366,636 0.5% 2,606.4 4.1% 226.7 2.8% 2.7 2.9% 3.8 1.6% 252.3 6.3% Southeast Asia 29,870,111 13.6% 478,056 0.6% 1,867.2 3.0% 517.0 6.5% 2.5 2.6% 2.1 0.9% 172.0 4.3% Tropical Pacific Region 76,067 0.0% 3,636 0.0% 74.4 0.1% 17.0 0.2% 0.1 0.1% 1.8 0.8% 7.0 0.2% Not Specified 122,262 0.1% 22,042 0.0% 73.7 0.1% 180.7 2.3% 4.5 4.7% 7.7 3.4% 278.7 6.9% Region code Region N America North America C America Central America and Mexico Car Caribbean And Andes Tr. S Am Tropical South America Tp. S Am Temperate South America W Afr West Africa C Afr Central Africa E Afr East Africa S Afr Southern Africa IOI Indian Ocean Islands NW Eur Northwest Europe SW Eur Southwest Europe NE Eur Northeast Europe SE Eur Southeast Europe SE Med South and East Mediterranean W Asia West Asia C Asia Central Asia S Asia South Asia E Asia East Asia SE Asia Southeast Asia Pac Tropical Pacific Region Australia and New Zealand Australia and New Zealand A C D B A C B