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Diversifood project

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More diversity in crop production, more diversity on our plates

The objective of the European Diversifood project (2015-2019) is to increase diversity in crop production and food supply. Low crop diversity makes food production more vulnerable to stresses such as climate change and also leads to less varied diets. By increasing diversity, agricultural systems will become more robust and stable. This is particularly important for organic agriculture. Agricultural diversity can be improved by growing a wider range of crops and crop varieties, and by increasing genetic variation within crops (using composite cross populations instead of uniform cultivars). To ultimately increase food diversity on consumers' plates, we are working together with growers, traders, processing firms, retailers and consumers. One cannot be achieved without the other: food diversity for consumers depends on diversity in crop production, and vice versa.

Developing an interdisciplinary multi-actor approach

The Diversifood project combines sociological research methods with agricultural field experiments. Our interdisciplinary approach includes participatory field trials and crop variety evaluations, involving multiple actors in the food production chain. In addition to assessing the best performing varieties we aim to raise awareness among these actors that their involvement is important. Together with these actors we will develop new crop breeding concepts, which are essential to genuinely increase diversity – in farmers' fields and on consumers' plates – in the Netherlands and the European Union.

Crop production characteristics and nutritional quality

This project addresses a range of different crops. We are testing and comparing traditional wheat varieties, such as einkorn, emmer and rivet wheat, as well as different varieties of broccoli and tomato. Evaluations will not only be based on crop production characteristics but also on product qualities (e.g. gluten content, taste). Therefore, the field trials will not only involve growers, but also other actors in the food production chain.

Network of contacts across the entire food production chain

Researchers of the Louis Bolk Institute are involved in the Diversifood project because of their expertise in organic crop breeding and participatory research involving multiple actors across the food production chain, as well as their experience with interdisciplinary thinking and developing new concepts. The Diversifood project links well with projects such as Diverse and locally produced and Protein2Food.

About Diversifood

The project Diversifood: Embedding crop diversity and networking for local high quality food systems is being conducted in a range of European countries, including Cyprus, the United Kingdom, Finland, France, Italy, Hungary, Norway, Austria, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland and the Netherlands. It is funded by the EU Horizon 2020 Programme (project number 633571).

Emmer is one of the traditional wheat varieties investigated in the Diversifood project.


Project leader

Edwin Nuijten

Plant Breeding & Sustainable Production Chains