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.
“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”-Matija Obreza, Information Systems Manager
Genesys continues to grow
Genesys is a global online platform for sharing information on genebank samples. The database collates data from 400 genebanks worldwide and ensures the data are compatible and meet agreed standards. Thanks to Genesys, accessing and using these data has become much easier for researchers.
The volume of data in Genesys continues to grow, with agreements to publish data signed with several data providers in 2020, including the Agricultural Plant Genetic Resources Centre (Sudan), the International Center for Biosaline Agriculture (UAE) and the Myanmar Seed Bank.
The Genesys team conducted a survey in 2020 to learn how to make the interface more user-friendly. They have been responding to this feedback by kickstarting efforts to make information on collections even more rich and accessible through the portal.
Genesys by the numbers
● Genesys hosts information on more than 4 million accessions, 123 genebank subsets and more than 400 datasets of phenotypic data.
● Registered user accounts increased from 1,580 in March to over 1,800 by the end of 2020.
GRIN-Global Community Edition
GRIN-Global is a system for genebanks to store, manage and share information associated with their collections, originally developed in collaboration by the Crop Trust, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Bioversity International.
In 2020, the Genebank Platform Data Management Community of Practice (CoP) adapted GRIN-Global to create “GRIN-Global Community Edition” (GG-CE), an open-source extension to the original software that adds helpful functions. GG-CE aims to help genebanks better manage inventories of seed, field and tissue collections, support the use of mobile devices and barcoding for inventory management, and promote interoperability with other data systems such as Genesys.
Upgrading genebanks’ information management
Several Crop Trust projects include components aimed at strengthening genebank information management. Under the Crop Wild Relatives Project, information system upgrades were carried out in 2020 at the Myanmar Seed Bank, the National Genebank of Pakistan, the National Plant Genetic Resources Centre (Tanzania), and the Malawi Plant Genetic Resources Centre.
CGIAR international genebanks have been providing capacity-building support to the five African national genebanks participating in the Seeds for Resilience Project (those of Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria and Zambia) by taking part in technical reviews and giving live demonstrations of genebank operations.