Marie Haga | Marie’s Corner
Dear Friends of the Crop Trust,
As the Fall turns to winter, September was a very busy month. With our scientific work running at full speed and events such as the United National General Assembly in New York, the Crop Trust had its hands full. Let us give you some snap shots from the last month:
In Asia we held high-level discussions in New Delhi with the new Minister of Agriculture, following up on our prior outreach to India, and also meeting with the National Seed Association. At an international science conference in China, hosted by BGI, we gave a presentation on our work, met with the leadership of BGI and met with representatives from China’s Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS) at their new facility in Shenzhen. We also attended an ASEAN senior government officials meeting in Agriculture, discussing our work in the Asia region.
In Europe we met with senior Members of European Parliament to garner political and financial support from different EC Directorate Generals. We met with the European Seed Association and with Belgium´s Federal Science Policy Office. In Germany we held initial discussions with KWS, a leading plant breeding company.
In Latin America, we visited Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru, including discussions with governments as well as with CG Centres housing the international genebanks. These hold the world’s collections of maize and wheat (CIMMYT, Mexico), potatoes, sweet potatoes, and roots and tubers (CIP, Peru), and beans, cassava and tropical forages and (CIAT, Colombia). Our Communications team captured images and interviews, which we will be publishing soon. For now, you can see CIAT’s coverage of our visit.
During the UN General Assembly New York, we participated in the 4th High-level Ministerial Roundtable of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (see our intervention on our website). Prior to this, we met with journalists from key international media outlets, organized by our new global communications advisor. This opportunity generated several stories on the importance of crop diversity conservation. In the US, we also met with several foundations and with Slow Food USA to discuss areas of potential cooperation.
In terms of our current sovereign partners we worked particularly on strengthening technical discussions and strategic engagement with Australia, Canada, Ireland and New Zealand, exploring options for future cooperation. We have placed emphasis on the long-term importance of our work at the local, regional and international level to mobilize further support for our fundraising efforts.
The Annual Genebank Meeting (AGM) in Arusha is happening right now and are delighted to have a number of national partners and participants from FAO, USDA, SPC and AVRDC to join the meeting of the CGIAR genebanks. The meeting is essential for decision-making in the implementation of the Genebanks CRP and in looking at the performance of genebanks and their efforts to reach performance targets. We will also have a focus on specific topics such as global genebanks connection or link with regional hubs, phytosanitary constraints to the movement of germplasm and DivSeek.
We have been actively feeding into the CGIAR Strategy and Results Framework where the genebanks feature much more strongly in the draft document now than in the zero draft. Action Plans are in the process of being developed to address the recommendations from genebank reviews at IITA, Africa Rice, ILRI and Bioversity. We have been working hard with each of the genebanks to develop plans to improve quality and risk management.
We have made progress on the establishment of the Crop Communities. The wheat community is under way and we have made headways on citrus. In order to speed up the processes on development of crop communities we are pleased to get the support of Dr. Paul Smith from the UK as a consultant at least until the end of the year.
There was further development of partnerships under the Crop Wild Relative project, including the conclusion of a grant agreement on the utilization of crop wild relatives for carrot improvement with partners in the US, Bangladesh and Pakistan. The DivSeek joint facilitation unit has dispatched ‘expression of interest’ letters to about 80 interested organizations. The letters were signed and endorsed by the Crop Trust, the Treaty secretariat, the CGIAR consortium office and the Global Plant Council. Deadline for returning the signed letter is 31st of October. Planning is under way for a first DivSeek partner’s assembly and technical meeting to take place in early January in San Diego.
We have signed an agreement with ICARDA to undertake ten assessments of genebank data management in NENA region. We have sent out the initial letter. To date genebanks from Egypt, Sudan, Azerbaijan, and Morocco have responded positively. In Asia, we have approached Indonesia, Malaysia, Nepal, and SPC CePaCT to do the same.
Work continues. Look forward to pictures and information coming out of the Annual Genebank Managers meeting in Arusha!
From all of us in Bonn,