Expand the use of perennial crops to enhance carbon sequestration, restore and maintain soil health, and feed local communities.
Used by Indigenous and traditional communities for centuries, perennial plants produce food crops and diverse environmental benefits for years without replanting. In contrast, an annual plant completes its life cycle in one season. Most food crops are annuals. Staple perennial crops, such as nuts, olives, avocados, and beans, provide large amounts of carbohydrates, proteins, and other nutrition. Perennial vegetables, including bamboo shoots, asparagus, and leaves of the moringa tree, are rich in micronutrients. Other crops include fruits, berries, coffee, rice, and edible flowers. Perennial crops can be integrated into agroforestry and regenerative farming systems, boosting local food security. Once established, they are low maintenance and resilient to extreme weather. They can improve soil structure, protect land from erosion, improve water infiltration, and enhance carbon sequestration. Perennial crops are underutilized compared to annuals. Expanding their use will help long-term community and ecosystem health.