Member Profile - November 2019


Rodrigo Barrios Rodrigo Barrios
Campaign Manager, Food Forever Initiative

Tells us in a few words about your organisation.

The Crop Trust is an international non-profit organisation working to preserve crop diversity in order to protect global food security. We provide financial support for the key international gene banks that make the diversity of our most important food crops available to all, provide tools and support, coordination and manage backup of seed crops in the Svalbard Global Seed Vault.  We endeavour to continuously upgrade the standards of conservation, to ensure they are sustainable, and the seeds and the crops are safeguarded forever.

As part of this, The Crop Trust launched the Food Forever Initiative in 2017 with FAO and the Government of the Netherlands. Food Forever is a global campaign to raise awareness about the importance of safeguarding the diversity within our foods. I work with our Champions and Partner Organisations to take action around agrobiodiversity conservation and sustainable use. These include leaders from governments, businesses, civil society and academia. We felt there was a need for a platform to catalyse from all the action around SDG 2.5 and build a common strategy.  

The Crop Trust provides the secretariat function and operational support to the Initiative.

For us, success is not measured by the things that we do, but by the activities of our partners to implement the target itself. We work with the Chefs' Manifesto, Unilever, and others in awareness-raising campaigns to shift consumer decisions to a sustainable and healthy diet. 

How is your work contributing to SDG 2?    

As mentioned, our work is all about SDG 2.5, which states that by 2020 we have to safeguard all cultivated seeds and edible plants plus livestock breeds and the wild relatives of the plants that are relevant for food and nutrition security. With all the extreme weather events, climate change, population growth and other new circumstances that the world is facing nowadays, we don’t know what actually awaits for agriculture. We have to ensure and protect for the future their natural breeding and ensure we have the genetic traits material we need to face these new conditions.

How does your work relate to the other SDGs?

Our work relates very closely to SDG 17 Partnership Goals - as Food Forever is a campaign, not an institution - so our work is all to the benefit of the partners in the campaign. Of course, we are also linked to SDG 15 – Life on Land, as well as SDG 12 - Sustainable Production and Consumption. Valuing diversity in a plate of food is nothing if you don't deal with food waste, sustainable production and understanding which plant grows where. And of course, SDG 1 -  Ending Poverty. 

I come from Peru, and there, we are calling this the Natural Revolution.  Consumers are valuing natural products over industrial products and suddenly, the 'Made in Peru' label is very valuable. It's unbelievable that there are farmers that are isolated from international markets up on the mountain slopes that have these seeds and crops that might become the new superfood and the new trend set to contribute to ending poverty.

What is your favourite food memory?

Do you know when your were a child and you have that transition from hating something to starting liking it? For me, it was fish. I hated raw fish – wouldn’t try it.  My dad is a farmer (he grows asparagus) and one day, we traveled to the north of Lima. We were on the beach and he forced me to eat my first cerviche -  and it was the most amazing thing I've eaten. I could see the fishermen right there on the beach 20 meters in front of me preparing this. It was fish, sweet potatoes and chillies, and it looked like a painting. I had to try, and it was the best fish ever.

What is your message to other SDG 2  Advocacy Hub members?

All the Goals are intertwined, and the biodiversity in our diverse countries is a solution to so many things. We must remember that there is nothing that hinders development more than malnutrition.

Some perceive the SDGs as more of a focus on government policy and large corporations, and that alone can make a shift in the way they are producing. But as consumers - and as lucky consumers that get to eat three times a day  - we must remember that we also get to vote three times a day. 

So, it's about making smart decisions: we decide what we want to try that’s new; we decide what new greens we want to introduce to a diet, a new leafy vegetable for example; we decide to go to a farmer’s market and try something that we've never tried before. As consumers, we have huge power when it comes to numbers, so let's use our power and influence. 

So, vote three times a day for diversity. Include more ingredients in your diet. Try foods you've never tried before. That way, we will start spinning the wheel of getting out of a limited four crop diet consisting of 60% of our calorie. Let’s truly value the biodiversity that we need for sustainable food systems.