The Agricultural University of Athens, with its extensive experience in research on local varieties, has undertaken the task to record information about the wealth of local varieties in Messinia, in annual and perennial crops, as well as the collection of seeds. The research, supported by the "Captain Vassilis and Carmen Constantakopoulos" Foundation, began in mid-2013 and was completed in early 2014. The traditional local varieties are the result of the farmers' efforts, who selected the plants for hundreds of years according to their personal criteria and experience. They were always in a proactive relationship with environmental conditions, which helped shape the plants’ features. In this way, hundreds of varieties were created in the agricultural sector, in various cultivable plants’ species. Typical local variety examples are figs, buckwheat, the Tsakonian eggplant, and also the select wines made of local vine varieties. The modern agricultural development model made necessary the diffusion of those cultivable varieties that procured the highest return and had the best product consistency. As a result of this procedure, traditional local varieties were replaced to a great extent, leading to a reduction in variation and, as a result, to genetic erosion. These phenomena were exacerbated by one-sided tourism development.
Genetic erosion of local varieties is quite extensive, and progresses extremely fast. It should be emphasized that, once a local variety disappears, it is irrevocably lost. Thus, all the conditions have been created for the definitive disappearance of local varieties, whose preservation is of great importance, based on today’s demand for quality products. It has been recognized that local varieties have their own unique flavor and aroma, in contrast with commercial varieties, which focus mainly on mass production. Their recording and preservation is a prerequisite in order to be able to utilize them in the future.