The Trust does not support conservation for the sake of conservation – all its efforts are geared to improving and enhancing the ability of farmers, plant breeders and others to access and use well-conserved diversity. With this in mind, in 2010 the Trust launched a new set of activities in West Africa, with the aim of accelerating the use of conserved crop diversity. In this pilot work, the Trust is developing projects to strengthen the links between genebanks and users of germplasm in three countries (Ghana, Mali and Nigeria), working with four crops (cowpea, pearl millet, sorghum and yam).
Through national consultations, the Trust engaged with experts from both national conservation and breeding programs in the target countries to identify bottlenecks in the use of genebank collections, and develop activities to address these. The projects that have been designed as a result include the collection of threatened diversity, multiplication and distribution of conserved material to farmers, evaluation/use by breeders and farmers of conserved or newly collected material, and the documentation of collections. A somewhat different portfolio of activities has been developed for each country and crop.
These projects, by stimulating the flow of conserved genetic diversity down the “use pipeline”, will help demonstrate the importance of the link between conservation and use for adapting agriculture to climate change and increasing food security.
The identified projects are building not only on previous Trust-funded activities in regeneration, evaluation, and collecting, but also on the work of Centres of the CGIAR, AGRA and other Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation-funded crop improvement projects whenever possible. For more information on these prjects, and to search the technical results and outputs, please click on the database link below.