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International Committee Takes on Plan to Develop the Ukrainian Genebank and Secure Its Invaluable Plants and Seeds for the Future

International Committee Takes on Plan to Develop the Ukrainian Genebank and Secure Its Invaluable Plants and Seeds for the Future

30 April 2024

NordGen hosted a meeting with the Ukrainian genebank and several international experts to find a way forward for securing Ukraine's plant genetic resources for food and agriculture, which are at risk due to the war. Focus of the meeting was to develop a strategy for resource mobilization and development of the Ukrainian genebank system in a short and longterm perspective.

As Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, scientists from the entire world contacted the international plant genetic resources community, expressing their worries for the genebank in Kharkiv and its invaluable collection of seeds and plants. At that time, NordGen applied for funds from Novo Nordisk Foundation which were used to deal with the Ukrainian genebank's most urgent needs, such as salaries to the genebank employees and diesel generators. In the following stage, UN’s food and agriculture organization, FAO, teamed up with the International Plant Treaty and international organization Crop Trust to establish a storage of genebank seed duplicates in the west of Ukraine.

“The genebank is very important for Ukraine's agriculture as the basis for food security, the current situation is a big challenge for us”, said Viktor Riabchun, Head of the National Center for Plant Genetic Resources of Ukraine in Kharkiv.

Global Impact

At a meeting attended by international experts last week, Mykola Roik, Vice president of the National Agricultural Science Academy presented a long-term strategy aiming at securing the genebank collection for the future. The meeting, partially supported by the BOLD Project and arranged by NordGen at its head office in Alnarp, Sweden, included participants from the International Plant Treaty, FAO Ukraine, NordGen, Crop Trust, the Nordic Council of Ministers, and the German government.

“In a crisis like this, you easily think of it as a local or Ukrainian problem. But it is also an international problem as plant genetic resources are global matters. Similar crises can happen elsewhere, so we must see this as a learning opportunity. We’re all in this together”, said Sarada Krishnan, Director of Programs at the Crop Trust and one of the participants in the meeting.

The meeting led to a timeline and plan for the continued work with the genebank's development.

“A crucial element of the plan developed is a roadmap for Ukraine’s ratification of the International Treaty. This will allow Ukraine to participate in important processes and decisions concerning plant genetic resources at regional and international levels and we are fully committed to supporting Ukraine in this process” said Alvaro Toledo, Deputy Secretary of the International Plant Treaty.

“We are now leaving with a plan, with possibilities for concrete advancements for the Ukrainian genebank and its plant genetic resources that are of importance for the entire world’s food supply. I am truly happy that we in the Nordic countries have the means to support Ukraine in this devastating situation” said Lise Lykke Steffensen, NordGen's Executive Director.

Categories: For The Press, BOLD

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