ANNUAL REPORT 2019
Celebrating 15 years of crop diversity conservation
Crop varieties added+34K
Food Forever Experiences9
Grants provided for conservation$34.2M
ContributionsUSD 6 M
Accessions Conserved714 K
Updated accessions in Genesys4M
Crop accessions distributed66K
Countries receiving samples97
Sir Peter Crane – Executive Board Chair, Crop Trust
As we transition into a new phase of our work, we can do so confident in our ability to deliver on the vision of our founders.
Stefan Schmitz – Executive Director, Crop Trust
The importance of the global family of genebanks as fail-safes for our planet’s future food supply has never been so apparent.
What we do
The CGIAR Genebank Platform
This Crop Trust-led program ensures that the 11 CGIAR genebanks are running efficiently, that the crop collections they manage are conserved to a high standard, and that as many samples as possible are immediately available when needed.
Collecting Crop Wild Relatives
After six years, 4,644 seed samples of 371 different species of crop wild relatives from all over the world were collected and safeguarded.
Wild Seed, I Think I Love You
The work with crop wild relatives is transitioning from creating new materials to actually growing them in farmers' fields.
What we do
Svalbard Global Seed Vault
The Svalbard Global Seed Vault is an iconic reminder of the remarkable effort taking place around the world to conserve the seeds of our food crops.
Supporting National Genebanks
Five genebanks in sub-Saharan Africa are the focus of a new Crop Trust project: Seeds4Resilience.
Strengthening information systems allows users to choose the exact crop diversity they need from thousands of samples.
Securing our Food, Forever
Our global crop conservation strategies describe the current status of conservation of major crop collections, and they attempt to identify the highest priority activities and resources required to safeguard the diversity of different genepools.
The Food Forever Initiative
Food Forever went around the world in 2019 – on a gastronomic and educational voyage – to celebrate the diversity of our foods.
An overview of the activities of the Crop Trust Executive Board and Donors’ Council.
Spreading the Message
Our audience is as diverse as the crop diversity we help safeguard.
Some of humanity’s most valuable global assets are being preserved in perpetuity so future generations can have diverse, healthy foods in increasingly unpredictable climatic conditions.
The Crop Trust deeply appreciates the support and commitment from its many donors, without whom none of our work would be possible.
Running the Numbers
A summary of the financial performance of the Crop Trust and its endowment fund.
CGIAR Genebank Platform
“The Genebank Platform is at the peak of its activities. We have already achieved so much and are hoping to do more, with an effort to help build the capacity of national partners to collect and conserve landrace diversity in some of the most under-represented countries in the world.”-Charlotte Lusty, CGIAR Genebank Platform Coordinator, Crop Trust
This year the CGIAR Genebank Platform completed the third year of its five-year lifespan. The Platform ensures that the CGIAR genebanks are running efficiently, that the crop collections they manage are conserved to a high standard, and that as many samples as possible are immediately available when needed.
Keeping seeds alive for longer
A series of research projects overseen by Aarhus University in Denmark is working under the Platform to improve seed quality and longevity in storage based on the best scientific evidence.
The initiative examines factors that impact seed quality and viability and thus affect the time that seeds can remain in long-term conservation. The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) for example, has been working with a tailor-made imaging machine to automate the process of sorting seeds for conservation. Both IRRI and the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) are trialing imaging-based germination scoring systems. IRRI hosted a workshop on seed quality management in June to discuss the latest findings on automation and image analysis, seed longevity, post-harvest handling, and seed dormancy.
Finding the needle in the haystack
CGIAR genebanks distribute around 100,000 germplasm samples per year. Some requestors use the online portal Genesys to search for the crop diversity they need. But the information available to users is often limited or difficult to interpret, which risks that requestors receive a lot of material that they don’t want. Genesys now allows users to select seed samples by reviewing pre-selected germplasm subsets, groups of samples that genebank scientists have carefully selected and tested for particular purposes. For example, there is a subset of wheat varieties that are particularly nutritious and suitable for milling, baking and producing tasty flours, and one for lentils with Ascochyta blight resistance.
In 2019, the Genebank Platform launched a project led by the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) and the International Center for Agriculture Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA) to develop an online tool that will allow genebank users to customize selections of material based on climate and environmental conditions or the likely presence of traits associated with specific environments, using the passport, characterization and trait data available in Genesys. This selection tool will be designed to work with any collection for which there is latitude and longitude data.
Into the fast lane with GreenPass
Demand for germplasm from CGIAR genebanks continues to rise. The occurrence of new pests and diseases puts constant pressure on CGIAR Centres to ensure that only healthy seeds and other materials are disseminated across borders. The international movement of germplasm is dependent on the controls of national phytosanitary agencies – shipments can be delayed or destroyed if anything is not in place. The community of CGIAR germplasm health units (GHUs) have high standards of operation and are working to facilitate the international movement of germplasm. To ensure that CGIAR GHUs can guarantee a high standard of operation and compliance with international standards, the GHUs are working with FAO and national phytosanitary agencies to develop the “GreenPass” system, an efficient, streamlined approach to the provision of comprehensive phytosanitary assurance.
The Impacts Fellowship program was launched by the Platform in 2018. In 2019, the seven recipients of fellowships completed a six-month mentorship program giving them hands-on experience in evaluating the impact of international genebanks, and support for publishing high-quality scientific briefs and papers, in four main areas:
Good as I’ve bean to you
Donald Villanueva focused on the contribution of the International Rice Genebank to yields of rice in India, using survey data from nearly 9,000 farmers in Eastern India. Vivian Bernal-Galeano combined analyses of biological, agricultural and market data to measure the contribution of the CIP genebank to the development of improved potato varieties in low-income countries. Stefania Selitti investigated the contribution of the CIAT genebank to the development of seven iron-biofortified varieties of climbing beans. Hafid Aberkane tapped large datasets and searched pedigrees to trace accessions of “goat grass,” a wild relative of wheat, to modern varieties grown on farms through the development of synthetic hexaploid wheat (SHW).
A tree with roots
Kavengi Kitonga surveyed key informants and genebank users who provided evidence of improved food security, higher incomes, increased milk production, reduced vulnerability to drought and enhanced soil fertility due to the adoption of tree species by livestock and maize farmers. The study validated the unique role of the World Agroforestry Centre’s (ICRAF) genebank as the main source of tree planting material for many Kenyan smallholders.
I can ear you
Vanessa Ocampo-Giraldo described the concept of rematriation as a dynamic model of conservation that involves combining ex situ (conservation in genebanks) and in situ (conservation on-farm) approaches. The system is being developed to maintain the genetic diversity of an unusual maize landrace in Mexico called Jala, which has the longest known ears in the world.
Together through life
Sefra Alexandra underscored the role of collaborative efforts to collect, conserve, and breed taro in response to the taro leaf blight (TLB) catastrophe that occurred in Samoa in the 1990s. She conducted ethnobotanical fieldwork in Fiji, Vanuatu and the Cook Islands, and interviewed more than 50 taro experts and farmers, to understand how essential the exchange of genetic diversity from different regions was to overcoming the disease.