Skip to content

20 Years of the Crop Trust

The Crop Trust supports the conservation of crop diversity in genebanks worldwide through the Crop Diversity Endowment Fund that provides long-term funding to secure key collections of crop diversity in genebanks worldwide and ensures their availability for use.

The Crop Trust was established in 2004 to safeguard the world's food security.

Since then, the Crop Trust has provided critical financial support to genebanks around the world, ensuring their continued operation and the maintenance of diverse collections of crop diversity. This has helped to prevent the loss of unique and endangered varieties, ensuring that plant breeders, researchers and farmers continue to have access to a broad array of options to adapt crops to changing environmental and social conditions. Because once a variety is lost, it is gone forever.

With generous support from funders, together with people who stubbornly continue to fight the loss of crop diversity, the Crop Trust has achieved significant milestones in its mission to conserve crop diversity forever, ensuring the resilience of agriculture in the face of evolving challenges. 

Twenty years later, we've come a long way but there's still lots more to accomplish to making our ‘Food Forever’ vision a reality through the support of genebanks and crop diversity.


  • The Crop Trust is established as the world’s only organization dedicated solely to conserving crop diversity in genebanks. Geoff Hawtin is appointed as the Interim Executive Director. The Crop Diversity Endowment Fund is established.



  • The Crop Trust signs its first long-term grant to support an international crop collection with the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI). Through this grant, which was followed by similar ones to other organizations, the Crop Trust guarantees funding for a proportion of the costs of the genebank’s basic operations, forever.


  • The Gates Foundation project starts to support the multiplication and safety duplication of at-risk collections of 21 important food crops, including many orphan crops.


  • The Svalbard Global Seed Vault is established by the Ministry of Food and Agriculture of Norway, NordGen and the Crop Trust. Located on the remote Svalbard archipelago in the Arctic Circle, it serves as a global backup for the world's genebanks.


  • The Crop Wild Relatives project is launched with generous funding from the Government of Norway. By 2022, its activities will have contributed to the collection and conservation of more than 4,500 seed samples of important species of wild crop relatives, ensured their long-term conservation, and facilitated their use in breeding new, improved crops.
  • Launch of Genesys, world’s largest portal to information about crop diversity conserved in genebanks, supported by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.




  • The International Centre for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA) requests a first retrieval from the Svalbard Global Seed Vault to rebuild its collections and resume distribution of seeds from new premises in Morocco and Lebanon.
  • Representatives of indigenous Andean communities travel more than 11,000 km from the Parque de la Papa outside Cusco, Peru, to the Svalbard Global Seed Vault to deposit 750 potato seed samples and preserve these indigenous varieties for future generations.
  • His Royal Highness, The Prince of Wales (now King Charles III), becomes a Patron of the Crop Trust.


  • The six-year CGIAR Genebank Platform continues the partnership between the Crop Trust and CGIAR. The Platform provided technical and financial support and oversight to the 11 international genebanks and complemented the long-term financial support provided by the Crop Trust.
  • The Crop Trust launches the Food Forever Initiative to raise awareness of efforts to achieve Target 2.5 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals: Zero Hunger.



  • Seeds for Resilience is launched, a five-year project to support national genebanks in Africa, funded by the Federal Government of Germany, through the German Development Bank. 
  • The Templeton Pre-breeding Project starts to enhance the genetic diversity of grasspea and finger millet, funded by the Templeton World Charity Foundation, Inc.
  • In collaboration with Chef’s Manifesto, the Food Forever Experience brings crop diversity to the plates and imaginations of hundreds of people in San Jose, Bonn, Cusco, Stockholm, Chicago, Rome, London, Washington DC and Abu Dhabi. 
  • Thanks to a grant from the German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture, the Crop Trust starts the second phase of work on the Global Crop Conservation Strategies, updating five existing ones and developing ten new ones.




Scroll to top