Global Genebank partnership - Seed samples on shelves

Global Genebank Partnership

The cost of conserving crop diversity is remarkably low relative to the massive benefits it brings. After all, we’re talking about the foundation of our food.

Nevertheless, meeting the long-term operational cost of the conservation of most crop diversity collections is rarely on a secure, sustainable footing. Many genebanks, even the most important ones, stagger on from one funding cycle to the next, with little scope for long-term planning.

The reliability of funding is absolutely crucial – a shortfall in financial resources can lead to the permanent loss of unique varieties. The Crop Trust’s objective is to ensure stable, predictable funding for a global system of crop collections, in perpetuity.

Long-Term Grants 

The Crop Diversity Endowment Fund provides real financial security to collections of crop diversity by guaranteeing funding at agreed levels, year in and year out.

Currently, the Crop Trust has signed agreements to provide such ‘in perpetuity’ funding to some of the world’s most important collections of 17 crops. As the endowment grows, the Crop Trust will be able to secure more and more crops through fully funded long-term grants.

  • Edible Aroids – Fiji  (SPC)
  • Banana and Plantain – Belgium (Bioversity International)
  • Barley – Syria (ICARDA)
  • Bean – Colombia (CIAT)
  • Cassava – Colombia (CIAT)
  • Cassava – Nigeria (IITA)
  • Chickpea – India (ICRISAT)
  • Faba bean – Syria (ICARDA)
  • Forages – Syria (ICARDA)
  • Forages – Ethiopia (ILRI)
  • Grass pea – Syria (ICARDA)
  • Lentil – Syria (ICARDA)
  • Maize – Mexico (CIMMYT)
  • Pearl millet – India (ICRISAT)
  • Rice – Philippines (IRRI)
  • Sorghum – India (ICRISAT)
  • Sweet Potato – Peru (CIP)
  • Wheat – Mexico (CIMMYT)
  • Yam – Fiji  (SPC)
  • Yam – Nigeria (IITA)

The Genebank Platform

But what’s to be done until the Crop Diversity Endowment Fund is complete? To address this challenge, the Crop Trust has entered into a six-year partnership with the CGIAR to manage and provide sustainable support for the crop collections held at CGIAR Centers until the end of 2022.

The objective of the partnership is to conserve the diversity in the 11 CGIAR-managed genebanks. The goal is to make this diversity available to breeders and researchers in a manner that meets international scientific standards, and which is cost efficient, secure, reliable, sustainable over the long-term and supportive of the Plant Treaty.

The Crop Trust currently has oversight and financial responsibility for these genebanks. Held in trust for the world, the CGIAR collections are among the most comprehensive and widely used collections of crop diversity in the world.

The Genebank Platform complements the existing long-term grants already provided by the Crop Trust to most of these genebanks, but has greatly enlarged the Crop Trust’s role and helped to ensure funding is adequate and predictable until the endowment is complete.

While the Genebank Platform is a six-year partnership (2017-2022) the Crop Trust takes a much longer-term view. It is working with the CGIAR and donors so that by the end of the Platform in 2022, the endowment will be able to fund 100% of the operating costs of the CGIAR genebanks. The Genebank Platform is a substantial step towards a global system for the conservation of crop diversity designed to last forever.

Managers of the 11 crop genebanks provide technical and financial reports to the Platform through an Online Reporting Tool. Nineteen agreed Performance Indicators are being monitored for each of the crop collections involved. Some of these can be seen on our interactive map.

The monitoring of genebank performance also includes external technical and financial reviews every five years to ensure that the collections are running efficiently and effectively. The recommendations from these reviews guide the development of plans to tackle the specific technical and financial challenges in the conservation and use of the collections.