It has been yet another busy month in spring at the Crop Trust and that, as always, is a very good thing!
The Crop Trust continues to spend time, to the extent possible, on the Sustainable Development Goals. Our aim is to secure wording on the importance of conservation and availability of agricultural biodiversity. In the document presented by the Co-chairs of the Open Working Group, dated 18 March, we were pleased to see satisfactory wording. I participated on a panel on the role of partnerships in the implementations of the Post-2015 Development Agenda.
The Crop Trust’s technical team continued to be fully engaged during the past month on the two large collaborative projects that form the bulk our technical programme.
With regards to the CRP Genebanks, a particular highlight was the meeting with all of the CGIAR Centre Director-Generals in Tanzania. We presented our proposals on funding mechanisms and performance targets. During the ensuing, very engaged discussions, the DGs endorsed the proposed strategy. The annual technical report on the CRP is being finalized. The external review of the IITA genebank was carried out. Planning continues for further reviews later in the year, as well as the annual meeting of genebank managers.
An internally commissioned external review of the first three years of the Crop Wild Relatives project was carried out, coinciding with a meeting of all project partners to mark the end of the research and planning phase. The preliminary draft of the report commends project partners on excellent products, and makes valuable suggestions for improvements to the website to ensure maximum impact. Negotiations with a number of countries for collecting of CRWs continue. In particular, a visit was made to Brazil, which will hopefully result in a collecting agreement as well as data sharing.
The new version of Genesys, the online portal on the world’s genebank collections, is now available here. We are gathering user feedback in an effort to continuously improve the interface. Discussions are underway with Brazil, China and Korea that will hopefully lead to those important genebanks becoming data providers to Genesys.
During March, the Crop Trust reached out to a number of current and potential new donors. A weeklong visit to Tokyo in early March established new relationships with the Ministries of Agriculture, Finance, Environment and Foreign Affairs, with Japan’s aid agency JICA, with representatives in Parliament of the GLOBE Japan grouping, and with the agricultural research institute of Japan, the seed breeders association, the local World Bank office, and a leading Japanese news agency.
Also in March, the Crop Trust visited Stockholm to re-establish contacts with the Government and with Swedish aid agency SIDA, to be followed by a high-level visit during May. Another visit took us to Basel for discussions with Syngenta, including its corporate foundation, about a possible cooperation on the endowment fund and selected new projects. Contacts were renewed with the UK government through a conference call with DFID, the UK aid agency, and a visit to DEFRA, the agriculture ministry.
While in London, we met with a number of private foundations regarding the endowment fund, discussed possible innovative financing structures with a private advisory firm, and met with Cambridge Associates, our investment advisors for the endowment fund. We held discussions with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in Seattle and the Rockefeller Foundation in New York about the endowment. In Washington, discussions were held with Congress about the 2015 US appropriations for the Crop Trust.
Things are progressing at the Crop Trust and there is much more to come!