It has never been more critical to conserve crop diversity. We need the greatest possible diversity of crops to secure our food supply at a time when we are making unprecedented demands, and putting unprecedented pressure, on our environment. That is our mission: to ensure the long-term conservation and use of crop diversity for food security worldwide.
We need it to ensure that food will be available at stable and affordable prices, without expanding agriculture’s footprint. We need crop diversity both in farmer’s fields and stored in genebanks. We need it available to all, forever, through an efficient global system. Safeguarding biodiversity in – and around – agriculture is a prerequisite for food security. The Crop Trust was established in 2004 to do just that.
A 10,000 Year Legacy We Can’t Leave to Chance
Throughout the history of agriculture farmers have generated a seemingly endless diversity within crops, discovering ingenious solutions to local challenges. Meanwhile, the wild relatives of these crops have also persisted in nature, adapting to tough environments. It is diversity that allows farmers to feed the world – come what may. But this diversity is in fact not endless. It is disappearing, and once lost, it’s lost forever.
No single institution can hold this diversity – amounting to millions of distinct crop varieties – and make it available to plant breeders and farmers around the world. The Crop Trust brings together and secures those genebanks that are tasked by the international community with conserving this legacy for all of humanity.
The Global Role of the Crop Trust
In 1996, after long negotiations, 150 countries adopted the first Global Plan of Action (GPA) for conserving and using crop diversity. The GPA called for a rational global conservation system, based on the principles of effectiveness, efficiency and transparency. In 2011, the Second Global Plan of Action reiterated that call.
In between, the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, which came into force in 2004, placed an effective, efficient global system at the core of its efforts to conserve and use crop diversity for food security.
The Crop Trust was established by Bioversity International on behalf of the CGIAR and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization to help support this global system in a sustainable way, through a Crop Diversity Endowment Fund. This provides long-term grants to safeguard collections of unique and valuable crop diversity held in genebanks around the world. Priority is given to 25 crops among those listed in Annex 1 of the International Treaty, of particular importance to the food security of least developed countries.
The Crop Trust provides:
- Financial support for the key international genebanks that make the diversity of our most important food crops available to all under the International Treaty;
- Tools and support for the efficient management of genebanks;
- Coordination between conserving institutions to ensure that all crop diversity is protected, accessible and used.
- Final backup of crop seeds in the Svalbard Global Seed Vault.