Annual Report 2015

“The Crop Trust is fortunate to have support from across the world.” Marie Haga
Executive Director of the Crop Trust

Key figures

The Crop Trust Seed Vault

Crop Varieties sent from the Svalbard Global Seed Vault to Morocco and Lebanon38,073

Varieties available

Varieties available 572,425

Crop Varieties Available in International Collections

Grant Expenditure Provided for Conservation USD 28.4M

Grant Expenditure Provided to Conserve Crop Diversity Globally
USD 28.4M
Training for collecting

Collecting Guides Developed14

Country Specific Collecting Guides for Crop Wild Relatives Developed
Countries receiving variety samples

Countries receiving samples 114

Number of countries receiving samples from Crop Trust supported collections
Variety records added

Grant Expenditure Provided for Gap Filling USD 1.375M

Grant Expenditure provided in support of collecting and conserving crop wild relatives (including capacity building)
USD 1.375M


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Walter Fust

"Crop diversity is one of the defining issues of our times."
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Marie Haga

"The global system we are building together is all at once inspiring, exciting, and absolutely essential."

What we do Pt. 1

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Global Genebank Partnership

"It is both individual and collective genebank efforts that are bringing crop conservation into the twenty-first century."
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Crop Wild Relatives

"An ambitious idea to adapt agriculture has become a reality."
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Svalbard Global Seed Vault

"The Seed Vault made history in 2015 with the first ever seed retrieval."

What we do Pt. 2

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Information Systems

"Managing data within the walls of a genebank, and sharing that data with the world, are two different, but not isolated, challenges."
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Quality Management Systems

"You set new goals as time goes by, so you are on a constant, steady course of improvement."
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Global Strategies

"Building a global system for conservation requires strategic thinking."

The Crop Trust

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"You set new goals as time goes by, so you are on a constant, steady course of improvement."
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Human resources

Being small in number, we depend on the exceptional competence and commitment of our staff.
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"All our governance activities were organized with a dedication to keeping the Crop Trust’s decision-making open."

Take action

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Take action

"A world that loses diversity, loses options for the future."
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Spreading The Message

"Why is it so important to safeguard crop diversity?"
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Thank you

"We often say that we are a small organization with a big job. We don’t mean it as a complaint; that is how we always planned it to be. It means that we don’t need a lot of support, but our mission does."


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Financial Statement

Grants to conserve crop diversity world wide increased in 2015
USD 25.1 Million
USD 28.4 Million


Crop Trust

Securing our food, forever

The Crop Trust is fortunate to have support from across the world all dedicated to the future of food security, agriculture and biodiversity.

The Crop Trust would like to thank the following people for their support for this year’s annual report: Ambassador Walter Fust, Sir Peter Crane, The Crop Trust Staff, the Genebank Managers of the CGIAR, Paul Cox, Epic Agency, Getty Images Reportage.

Platz der Vereinten Nationen 7
53113 Bonn, Germany

Highlights of the year


What we do Pt. 1

Close the topic
What we do Pt. 1:

Global Genebank Partnership

The 12 collections funded under our Global Genebank Partnership hold a large share of the world’s crop diversity in trust for humanity, amounting to more than 750,000 accessions.

The Crop Trust provided these crop collections with USD 2.537 million in funding this year through long-term grants, and managed a further USD 21.01 million in CGIAR funding through its leadership role in the CGIAR Research Program (CRP) on Genebanks.

The CRP has been under way since 2012, and during an audit this year we polled six groups of stakeholders – from genebank managers to finance, technical and administrative staff – to find out how we’re doing so far.

The CRP can point to significant achievements. It provided the first overarching framework that enabled genebanks to report under the same, shared metrics. We have been able to establish a simple, quantitative reporting framework and performance targets. Because of the Online Reporting Tool, developed by the Crop Trust, the quality and quantitative detail of reports has substantially improved. Work on quality management has had a significant impact on areas including: acquisition and distribution policies, safety duplication agreements, safety in the use of chemicals and liquid nitrogen, and staff succession. These activities, amongst many others, are leading to increased efficiency in the way genebanks operate, significant movement towards meeting performance targets, and greater collaboration among genebanks.

“The Crop Trust sets good criteria: international standards, value for the money, push towards quality germplasm products. Let us stick to them.” -CGIAR Genebank Manager, 2015 Evaluation of the Global Genebank Partnership

External Reviews

While we were being assessed by our genebank partners, two of the genebanks were evaluated – as a few are every year – in external reviews organized by the Crop Trust. These very comprehensive studies form the basis for decisions on upgrading the genebanks to keep them at the top of their game. This year, review teams focused on the International Potato Center (CIP) in Peru and World Agroforestry Center (ICRAF) in Kenya. Both resulted in solid plans to further enhance these crucial collections in the years ahead.

“I was most impressed with the caliber of staff in the ICRAF Genebank and also those we spoke to in the field genebanks. All were well-informed, enthusiastic and committed. This was a very big plus for the review, and bodes well for ICRAF’s future” -Paul Smith, external reviewer and Director General of Botanic Gardens Conservation International

As a follow-up to previous reviews, Recommendation Action Plans were set in motion in 2014 by IRRI and CIAT, and translated into significant progress this year. IRRI’s plan focused on modernizing the genebank, including building a new Genetic Resources Facility that will house a major piece of robotics. A custom-built seed phenotype sorter will take the grunge out of genebank work by automating the tremendous task of sorting good rice seed from bad. CIAT’s new ventures included greater use of mobile computing, which allows scientists out in the field to access live data and images to assess diseases and characteristics of accessions. These are the kinds of advances, along with others in quality management, information systems and the coordination of efforts through crop strategies, that are transforming individual genebank efforts into a global movement to bring genebanks into a new age.

The Annual Genebank Managers Meeting

The big event of the year for the Global Genebank Partnership is the Annual Genebank Meeting (AGM), where the managers of the CGIAR genebanks meet together and with others to share new results, experiences and ideas. This year’s meeting was hosted, amid orchards of pomegranate and quince, by the Aegean Agricultural Research Institute (AARI) in Izmir, Turkey. Conservation experts from Azerbaijan, Greece, Iran and Turkey enriched the gathering with a local perspective on this globally significant area of diversity. This year, the AGM also overlapped with the first meeting of partners in the Crop Wild Relatives project, which brought even more voices into a conversation on the art and science of crop conservation.

The Seed Longevity Initiative

One perpetual concern for genebank managers is how long seeds can last in storage. Technicians routinely collect data on seed viability, but what are the best conditions for extending it? Up until now, seed longevity has only been estimated from experiments involving the artificial ageing of seed. Now, within the CGIAR genebanks there are decades of data on seed longevity and how it is influenced by genetics, management and even weather during harvest.

The new Seed Longevity Initiative is an effort to extend seed longevity being led by specialists in seed behavior at IRRI. The project’s work plan and preliminary results were presented to a gathering of scientists from more than 40 countries in Wernigerode, Germany, at the first workshop on seed longevity of the International Society for Seed Science (ISSS). Participants in the initiative are analyzing historical data on more than 1,000 species from half a century of CGIAR genebank records, which will ultimately refine our understanding of the best methods and conditions for seed storage over long spans of time.


Some crops can’t effectively be stored as seed at all. Many important ones – like cassava, potato and banana – need to be conserved as tiny plantlets in test tubes. New techniques using cryopreservation at extremely low temperatures in liquid nitrogen can conserve the even tinier, almost microscopic, growing points, or meristems, of these plantlets for the long term. The Crop Trust has been supporting work to improve and scale up cryobanking for years, and 2015 saw some of the biggest progress to date. Both CIP in Peru and IITA in Nigeria have set up equipment to manufacture liquid nitrogen on site. These will ensure that both institutes can keep supplying their cryotanks with the essential coolant to keep the samples in sub -100ºC temperatures.

“If not yet in name, the Genebank is a Centre of Excellence for cryopreservation, conducting key research, such as the long-term (decades) stability assessment.” -CIP Genebank Review 2015

CIP now has a crack team of skilled technicians who are cryopreserving potatoes at the unprecedented rate of 450 accessions or more a year, which means its potato collection can be fully cryopreserved within the next 7 years. Bioversity International’s genebank for banana and plantain in Belgium, which has years of experience in cryopreservation research behind it, has developed a comprehensive set of Standard Operating Procedures for their cryopreservation methods. All of these are significant milestones in securing crop diversity for the use of future breeders in generations to come.

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