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

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What we do Pt. 1:

The Svalbard Global Seed Vault

2015 was a remarkable year for the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. It witnessed the deposit of more than 35,000 varieties from 14 institutions, but it also saw seeds being taken off the shelves to restart a global crop collection for the very first time.

The Crop Trust continued to support the Svalbard Global Seed Vault in partnership with the Norwegian government and the Nordic Genetic Resources Center (NordGen). The Crop Trust has funded a portion of the operational costs of the Seed Vault since its inception in 2008.

Number of varieties added to the seed vault in 2015

The Seed Vault in 2015

In 2015, the Seed Vault was opened in February, April, August, September and October for deposits from 14 institutions, including first time deposits from significant collections in Costa Rica, the Parque de la Papa in Peru, The Norwegian Forest Seed Center, and Finland. A total of 36,130 accessions were added. 2015 also saw 38,073 varieties of crops being taken out of the Seed Vault to restart in Morocco and Lebanon the collection held by the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas. At the end of 2015, a total of 837,758 crop varieties were stored safely in the Svalbard Global Seed Vault.

The First Retrieval From the Vault

After years of civil strife in Syria, precious seeds that had originally been sent by the International Centre for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA) for safeguarding in the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, were safely delivered to the new ICARDA genebanks in Morocco and Lebanon in September 2015, having undertaken a 10,000 kilometer round trip.

The first of several retrievals to happen in the years ahead, the shipment contained 128 boxes with a total of 38,073 seed samples, which will be planted during this and next year’s cropping seasons. A total of 57 boxes containing forages, faba beans, grass pea, and the wild relatives of cereals and pulses (8840 accessions) were sent to Lebanon and 71 boxes containing accessions of cultivated wheat, barley, lentil and chickpea (29,233 accessions) were sent to Morocco. A total of 350 boxes were originally sent to Svalbard.

Each sample will be planted and grown at ICARDA’s facilities to provide duplicate seeds, which will be used to re-establish the ICARDA active collection, and also be returned to the Seed Vault for safekeeping.

Timeline of The Retrieval

While the seeds have been sent to the Seed Vault over many years, take a look at how fast our partners were able to get the seeds back to safety ICARDA.

  • ICARDA's First Deposit

    The International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA) makes very first deposit to the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. Over the next three years, ICARDA deposits the majority of their collection.

    Number of varieties added to the seed vault by ICARDA between 2008 and 2011

  • Additional Deposits to the Seed Vault

    Amidst the Syrian conflict, the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas makes four deposits to the Svalbard Global Seed Vault,

    Number of varieties added to the seed vault by ICARDA during the civil war

  • The Crop Trust and NordGen meet in Bonn

    During the meeting, ICARDA called in to speak about the situation in Allepo, Syria. The decision was made with ICARDA to reconstruct the ICARDA collection in Morocco and Lebanon.

  • ICARDA Retrieves Seeds from the Seed Vault

    In coordination with ICARDA and NordGen, 38,073 samples of crops from ICARDA are taken out of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault.

  • Seeds Safely Arrive in Morocco and Lebanon

    Precious seeds that had originally been sent by the International Centre for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas for safeguarding in the Svalbard Global Seed Vault were safely delivered to Morocco and Lebanon today, having undertaken a 10,000-kilometer round-trip.

  • Worldwide Coverage

    The seed rescue story is covered in over 300 news outlets worldwide.

  • Seeds Grow in Lebanon

    Chickpea samples brought from the Svalbard Global Seed Vault bloom in Lebanon.

February 2015 Deposit

The deposit in February included varieties from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), AfricaRice (an international pan-African agricultural research organization), and the Nordic Genetic Resource Centre (NordGen). German Agriculture Parliamentary State Secretary Peter Bleser attended the deposit.

Many of the varieties coming from the United States are wild relatives of domestically cultivated crops, and are typically more hardy and resistant to adverse conditions; these include 27 species of sunflowers, wild carrots and two varieties of pumpkins developed by the Mandan and Omaha Native American tribes. The shipment also contains 14 species of wild tomatoes, including five populations of Solanum cheesmaniae, which hail from the Galapagos Islands.

Oryza glaberrima, a rice species first domesticated in the inland delta of the River Niger over 3,500 years ago was sent from AfricaRice, whilst the NordGen deposit includes everything from ancient medicinal plants found growing in old ruins to Camelina sativa, a member of the mustard family with high protein and oil content.

August 2015 Deposit

Representatives of indigenous Andean communities who have worked together to establish the Parque de la Papa, in Cusco, Peru, deposited 750 potato varieties. José Graziano da Silva, Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) joined scientific experts and delegations from Peru, Costa Rica and Norway to witness a ceremony in Svalbard to preserve these vital crops for future generations.

Many potato varieties have been lost in recent decades, both to the Andean communities from which they originated, and to the global community as a whole.

In response, a coalition of local, regional and international partners joined forces to reintroduce potato varieties in the field, and to preserve these vital plant genetic resources in genebanks. The Peru-based International Potato Centre (CIP), home to the world’s largest potato collection, is working to preserve and reintroduce the diversity of potatoes in partnership with local and regional initiatives across the globe. Working with Asociación ANDES-IIED and Parque de la Papa, CIP has, since 2002, returned over 400 potato varieties to indigenous communities.

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