Georgia is very rich of wild ancestors and relatives of the cultivated plants, farmer-selected land-races, cultural forms and breeder-developed varieties. It can be explained by the centuries-old farming history; the diverse soil and climate conditions in Georgia; its proximity to Front Asia, which of itself is the oldest center of the origin of agriculture and the most important place of the diversity and domestication of the grain and food legume crops. A special place in the Georgian agriculture is occupied by the crops that have been introduced from other continents: maize, common bean, soybean, etc. They were found to be well-adapted to the West Georgian humid and East Georgian dry environments and to include genes that code for unique traits such as high disease resistance and outstanding biochemical, technological and organoleptic properties. Introduced crops adapted well to local conditions and gave rise to many local land-races, varieties and forms and played an important role in development of the agricultural production.
Wild species, famer-selected land-races and old varieties still have a great value for development of modern varieties as they are sources of genes that confer environmental adaptation, stress tolerance and quality traits. Modern plant breeding is based on utilization of these genes, which provide for sustainability of agricultural production. At the same time, many of the old varieties continue to be strongly associated with the local traditions, culture and religious rituals.
The genetic erosion has proceeded in an accelerated rate since the beginning of the last century. Modern high-yielding varieties replaced the local land-races completely in the Georgian agriculture. The number of conserved entries in the local collections of plant genetic resources declined significantly and most of them were deposited in foreign genebanks.
Conservation of the agrobiodiversity is one of the priorities at the present stage of development of the humanity. It is necessary to collect, study and pass to the next generations the existing genetic resources: endemic species and local, farmer-selected land races.