A conversation with NYBG scientist Alex McAlvay, Ph.D., as part of Climate Week NYC
Agriculture is on the front lines of climate change, with shifts in temperature and precipitation, extreme weather events, and a changing landscape of crop pests threatening future food security. Feeding the planet will require adapting our farming practices to new conditions and extremes. A key tool in this process is crop diversity, a resource that farmers have used for millennia to reduce risk to crop productivity in times of change. Farmers have developed diverse strategies to leverage this diversity: growing multiple crops together, growing a number of different varieties, and drawing on diversity from wild relatives of crops. But in many areas, the traditional knowledge associated with these practices is rapidly being lost as farmers migrate to cities, mechanization increases, and pressure to plant homogeneous crops for commercialization grows. Dr. Alex McAlvay will share his work documenting and conserving traditional farming practices and crop diversity in Mexico, Ethiopia, and Central Asia—and how these strategies can make our food more resilient to climate change.