Let me start out with a big thank you to the German Government. We signed a grant agreement for a EUR 25 million contribution to the Crop Trust Endowment on 15 January in Berlin. The biggest single grant agreement to the Endowment ever.
The grant agreement was signed as part of an event that the German Minister for Development Cooperation hosted during Green Week. Also in Berlin we hosted a Luncheon of Ministers of Agriculture, with support from the German Ministry of Food and Agriculture and KWS Saat AG. The Luncheon was attended by representatives – including Ministers and Ambassadors – from Argentina, Colombia, Egypt, Estonia, Germany, Greece, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Peru, the Philippines, Poland, Switzerland, Turkey, Venezuela and the European Commission.
The Crop Trust signed an agreement with Friends of Global Crop Diversity to create a Global Conservation Strategy for Coffee Germplasm. This nearly year-long effort paves the way for future crop-based fundraising efforts.
Our Science team has kept themselves busy at the start of the New Year:
We are spending a lot of time, energy and creativity on preparing for the Genebanks Platform proposal – the successor to the CGIAR Genebank CRP. This crucial activity involves a lot of discussion among the genebank managers and others to ensure that we end up with a proposal that our partners are fully behind.
We have also participated in preparations of the Genetic Gains Platform proposal because of the possible links to the Genebanks Platform that may develop.
We have finalized the forage germplasm conservation strategy. This is a roadmap towards defining the conservation and use priorities of forage germplasm and building a stronger community of genebanks and users.
On Crop Wild Relatives, we are working on finalizing further agreements with Spain on collecting and CIAT, Colombia and Honduras on bean pre-breeding. We have also started the process of getting plans for phase 3 of the project approved by the donor, the Norwegian government.
On Information Systems, a group of governance experts have advised the DivSeek Steering Committee to establish an operational unit with an executive role, in order to coordinate day-to-day work on DivSeek.
A DivSeek roundtable discussion was held on 8th January at the Plant and Animal Genome (PAG) conference in San Diego, to seek input from DivSeek Partners and shape the Initiative’s workplan for 2016. The proposed workplan includes the drafting of a large-scale grant proposal to develop a biodiversity informatics platform that supports genebanks in their efforts to incorporate genomic information for the conservation and use of crop diversity. We have just embarked on this process.
We are also preparing for the GRIN-Global workshop in Prague with CWR and CGIAR partners in February and we are setting up a GRIN-Global workshop in Colombia with support from CIAT in March.
The new Genesys Advisory Committee has been announced:
The Crop Trust followed the Green Week events in Berlin with a Crop Topics Newsletter issue on the German donation and the Ministerial Luncheon. We also published the first video produced under the #CropsInColor campaign, a Crop Trust/ Getty Images reportage collaboration, partially funded by DuPont. The video celebrates maize diversity and highlights the work carried out by the CIMMYT genebank in Mexico. Additionally, in support of the Crop Wild Relatives Project, we released a video that presents the work carried out on eggplant pre-breeding.
While in Berlin for the Green Week, we held bilateral discussions with government officials of Egypt, Japan and Oman. This last month we have also held bilateral discussions in Rome with Bioversity, FAO, the United States, Italy and China.
In New Delhi we met with the Ministry of Agriculture and we are very grateful to our Board Member PL Gautam for facilitating and participating in the meeting.
Our dialogue continues with many current prospective donor governments, foundations and companies in the seed industry. As always, our objective is to achieve strong participation of donor partners at the upcoming Crop Trust Pledging Conference on 15 April 2016 in Washington, DC, to be held from 9:30 am to Noon at the National Press Club.
Again in January our Board Members have taken active part in our work. We were happy to have Walter visiting in early January, Peter visiting in the middle of the month and PL Gautam helping out with a successful visit to India.
Best regards from the team in Bonn.