It will have become evident from the previous chapters in this book that the crop genetic resources of Ethiopia are very diverse and constitute an invaluable base for plant breeding both within and outside the country. Ethiopia is one of the world centres of diversity, identified by N. I. Vavilov some 60 years ago. Not only does it possess important diversity in crops domesticated elsewhere, such as wheat, barley, grain legumes and several oil plants; it also has developed its own indigenous cultigens, such as teff, sorghum, niger seed (noog), ensete, Ethiopian mustard and coffee, many of which are now of great international importance. Ethiopian breeders have taken full advantage of the crop genetic diversity in their own country, combining it with useful genetic characters brought in from other regions.
Clearly, the importance of Ethiopian crop diversity has not gone unnoticed amongst world breeders. Vavilov, who visited Ethiopia in 1927, pointed out the value, particularly to wheat and barley breeders, of the Ethiopian landraces and their extraordinary morphoagronomic variation (Vavilov, 1931).
In this final chapter we shall attempt to summarize the value of Ethiopian crop genetic diversity both nationally and internationally.
Ethiopia is unique in containing a very wide diversity of tetraploid wheat, but very little hexaploid wheat diversity; this latter was probably introduced in recent times.