INCREASE – Intelligent Collections of Food Legumes Genetic Resources for European Agrofood Systems

Increasing Agricultural Biodiversity in Europe

Duration
5 Years
Funding
7 Million €
26 Partners
14 Countries

Our Vision: to develop efficient and effective conservation tools and methods to foster agricultural biodiversity in Europe. Focusing on the food legumes chickpea, common bean, lentil and lupin, the INCREASE project will implement a new approach to conserve, manage and characterise genetic resources through participatory research.

Human plant protein intake is on the rise in many EU regions and the market for meat and dairy alternatives is undergoing annual growth rates of 14% and 11% respectively. In order to face the increasing demand for innovative products and comply with the citizens’ demands for healthy and environmentally friendly foodstuffs, novel varieties are needed and existing genetic resources in crop breading must be properly exploited. The characterisation and maintenance of food legume genetic resources and their exploitation in pre-breeding form the core development of both more sustainable agriculture and healthier food products.

Focusing on chickpea, common bean, lentil and lupin, INCREASE will implement a new approach to conserve, manage and characterise genetic resources leading to benefits on different levels. These species represent a cross-section in terms of their potential value for sustainable food production, and they are all strongly linked to the European food tradition and needs, with significant options for EU agriculture.

INCREASE is guided by the European Commission principles “open science, open innovation and open to the world” and takes advantage of digital technologies to make science and innovation more collaborative and global. For this purpose, the project tests a decentralised approach to the conservation of genetic resources by setting up a Citizen Science Experiment. The aim is to spread knowledge about legumes biodiversity and to involve citizens in evaluation and conservation activities as well as in sharing and exchanging seeds via a specifically developed INCREASE mobile app.