ANNUAL REPORT 2020
Rising to meet the challenges of our ever-changing world
Diversity safety duplicated+82K
Diversity data generated13
Grants provided for conservationUSD 30.9M
Contributions to future diversityUSD 17.9M
Diversity conserved736 K
Countries receiving samples78
Sir Peter Crane – Executive Board Chair, Crop Trust
When we look back over the achievements and challenges of 2020, we cannot ignore the profound and ongoing effect of COVID-19. As this crisis demonstrates, humanity cannot afford to become complacent.
Stefan Schmitz – Executive Director, Crop Trust
No aspect of the Crop Trust’s work in 2020 was left untouched by the upheaval caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
What we did
A Decade of Wild Genetic Diversity
We’re already seeing the CWR Project’s benefits for smallholder and subsistence farmers. In China, Kazakhstan and Chile, for example, fields are flourishing with drought-tolerant varieties of alfalfa.
At the Cutting Edge of Pre-breeding
This project is using exciting new methods and tools, like speed breeding and genomics, to revolutionize the breeding of improved varieties of neglected crops, which will get climate-smart crops into the hands of smallholder farmers more quickly.
Delivering CWR-derived Varieties into Farmers’ Hands
Pre-breeding aims to isolate desired genetic traits from crop wild relatives and introduce them into breeding lines that are more readily crossable with modern seeds. Under the Crop Wild Relatives Project, new pre-bred lines are being evaluated under field conditions with breeders and farmers.
What we did
Safer Genebanks Today and Tomorrow
Genebanks faced major challenges in 2020, but, thanks to the extraordinary efforts of genebank staff, collections of crop diversity under the CGIAR Genebank Platform remain safe.
Strengthening Genebanks in Africa
Even amid the immense challenges of pandemic lockdowns, Seeds for Resilience partners enthusiastically embraced the goal of strengthening their operations to safeguard unique crop diversity.
A Growing Bank of Knowledge
Building information systems that truly serve genebank technicians, curators, breeders and researchers is a key aspect of improving the global system for ex situ conservation
Pivoting to Digital-First Communications
All Crop Trust events in 2020 swiftly switched to digital, the team focused on increased outreach through partnerships with high-reach platforms to expand their reach and deliver messages to key audiences and communities. Participation in high-reach digital events increased views and reach substantially and, at the same time, dramatically cut travel and conference expenditures.
To maintain critical activities in 2020 under COVID-19 restrictions, our project partners were forced to take extraordinary measures—with some leaving family to stay on-site at their workplaces, ensuring that vulnerable plant materials and ongoing experiments would be looked after. It is because of these individual and collective sacrifices that project activities were able to continue at all in 2020.
Rising to the Occasion from Home
Shifting to remote work and dealing with rapidly changing COVID-19 restrictions certainly shook us all up—but it has also been a tremendous opportunity to rethink our old processes and mindset so we can continue to evolve as an organization.
Securing Our Food Forever
Funding Crop Diversity in Perpetuity
The Endowment Fund is an exciting idea to provide a sustainable, long-term financing mechanism and make possible the Crop Trust’s important work of safeguarding crop diversity in perpetuity.
In 2020, the Innovative Finance Working Group focused primarily on developing a Food Security Bond (FSB) concept, and a feasibility study on the FSB was carried out.
Looking Ahead: Responsible Investing
The Crop Trust considers integrating environmental, social and governance (ESG) concerns into its investment process to be an important part of its investment strategy, and one that supports its broader mission and objectives.
A Decade of Wild Genetic Diversity
“We’re already seeing the CWR Project’s benefits for smallholder and subsistence farmers. In China, Kazakhstan and Chile, for example, fields are flourishing with drought-tolerant varieties of alfalfa.”-Benjamin Kilian, Crop Wild Relatives Project Lead and Senior Scientist Plant Genetic Resources
Into the final phase
Though COVID-19-related disruptions necessitated an extension, the project continued toward its goals. With the collecting phase already complete, work on pre-breeding and evaluation also started to wind up in 2020.
Tough times, tougher crops
As of 2020, 16 pre-breeding projects and five evaluation projects have been completed. All promising plant material is being made internationally available under the terms of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (the Plant Treaty).
Some of the initial research findings and achievements from the pre-breeding and evaluation phase of the CWR Project were gathered into a Special Issue of the journal Crop Science, “Adapting agriculture to climate change: A walk on the wild side,” published in early 2021.
Data for all
It is essential that the invaluable data generated by the pre-breeding and evaluation projects are widely accessible. The James Hutton Institute is developing Germinate databases containing pre-breeding data for the 13 crops under the CWR Project that did not already have appropriate existing databases. By making these data easily and publicly available, germplasm developed through pre-breeding projects will be able to reach research and breeding programs worldwide.