A Board Meeting in Addis Ababa

Marie Haga | Marie’s Corner

Dear Friends,

The Crop Trust Executive Board met in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on 22nd and 23rd of February. Important issues like the role of science and research in the Crop Trust work, the long term partnership agreement with the CGIAR system and fundraising was discussed.

The Board decided that we will take the initiative to establish an alliance for implementation of UN Sustaninable Development Goals target 2.5 – which speaks about the importance of crop diversity conservation and use as a basis for food security.

The Board was hosted by the International Centre for Livestock Research (ILRI), and was also invited to a celebration of crop diversity  with partners and governments representatives. A great idea – maybe also for others.

Our Board Member Knut Storberget organized a seminar on Crop Wild Relatives in the Norwegian Parliament in early February. We made use of the occasion to also have seminars with various ministries and NGOs (organized by NORAD) and the University for Life Sciences (organized by Prof. Westengen).

The Communications team has published a video on the Global System that captures the Crop Trust’s efforts to build and fund a global system for the conservation of crop diversity in an easy to follow narrative. We also published the first gallery of images under the #CropsInColor campaign, celebrating Cassava diversity in Latin America.


The Crop Trust covered a number of events including the Crop Wild Relatives training course in Malaysia on collecting and long-term conservation efforts, the Executive Board Meeting in Addis, Ethiopia and our recent visit to Norway. The visit to Norway was followed by a story on the Crop Wild Relatives website; all events were supported activiley on our social media channels.

The Crop Trust will begin to publish Science Briefs on the Crop Trust’s website. We are excited to introduce the first brief, Economic Benefits of Crop Diversity. Keep an eye out for the next two, Economic Value of Crop Wild Relatives and our International Dependency on Crop Diversity in the coming months.

We were also excited to see a TV special about the Svalbard Global Seed Vault in Brazil’s TV Globo. Work continues to improve the Crop Trust’s social media channels – Facebook, Twitter, Vimeo, Instagram and Flickr – and these platforms continue to generate followers and supporters.

The Crop Trust is gradually moving towards engaging private sector more. We are excited to announce a new collaboration with World Coffee Research  (WCR), a non-profit program of the global coffee industry to grow, protect and enhance supplies of quality coffee while improving the livelihoods of the families who produce it. The collaboration with WCR will aim to develop a global conservation strategy for coffee.

Early February we organized the 14th  meeting of the Crop Trust Donors’ Council in Rome, attended by 20 representatives of current and prospective donors. The meeting reviewed in detail the scientific work of the Crop Trust with international genebanks to safeguard the biological basis of agriculture.

The meeting called on all governments and private partners to join the Crop Trust Pledging Conference taking place on 15 April 2016 in Washington, DC, in conjunction with the IMF/World Bank Spring Meetings.

During February the Crop Trust issued individual follow-up letters to the responsible Ministries in each invited country, offering logistical and registration infomation for the Pledging Conference. For details on suggested minimum contribution amounts by country, the Crop Trust has issued a Donor Guide.

On the science side, we are in the middle of reviewing over 50 annual reports from partners involved in our Crop Wild Relatives Project, Genebanks CRP (CGIAR Research Program) and other projects. A lot of work – essential for making sure we all live up to expectations.

We are intensely working on the draft for the Genebanks Platform proposal. As always we involve our partners fully and the draft has been shared with key stakeholders e.g. Directors General and Deputy Directors General of CGIAR centers, CRPs leaders, etc.

We have co-organized meetings of expert groups on Wheat at ICARDA in Morocco and Maize at CIMMYT in Mexico. These groups included experts in conservation and use. One key objective for these groups was to review the Global Conservation Strategies that were developed for both crops in 2007. Both expert groups identified key priority activities for the maize and wheat crop communities for the next ten years.

AfricaRice is going to relocate its headquarters and we have had a consultant visiting their facilities both in Benin and Cote d’Ivoire to advise on what to do with the genebank.

On Crop Wild Relatives, we have had a training course on collecting and handling of CWRs in Malaysia. We have signed a collecting agreement with Uganda and have now a total of 15 collecting agreements signed. More are under ways.

We are also happy to have signed a pre-breeding agreement with ICARDA for grasspea and barley pre-breeding and we have now at total of 16 pre-breeding agreements.

Phase 3 of the CWR project will begin on 2017. We are in the phase of developing a complete phase 3 proposal for our donor – Norway. We will also start looking into how the project can be expanded in the future with support from other donors.

CWR website translation is ongoing, starting with Norwegian. The paper summarizing the crucial research phase of the project, the gap analysis, will be published in Nature Plants in mid-March, a major milestone.

We have held a GRIN-Global workshop at the Crop Research Institute, Prague, Czech Republic, with participants from about 10 countries participating. GRIN-Global is the genebank management system that we have developed with the US Department of Agriculture.

You can also read a news piece about the DivSeek meeting in San Diego.

Let me finally mention that the Crop Trust has contributed with an emergency grant to Nepal after the earthquake. A rescue collection mission is now initiated on native crop seeds from three earthquake affected districts in Nepal, namely Sindhuplanchowk, Dolakha and Ramechhap. This is done in partnership with the National Agriculture Genetic Resources Center (national genebank) of Nepal and Bioversity.

Best regards from all of us in Bonn,

Marie Haga


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