Building a global system to conserve crop diversity depends on passionate leaders who devote their careers to protecting the foundation of our food security. These trailblazers embody the work of the Crop Trust.
The Crop Trust Legacy Awards were initiated to recognize and celebrate these individuals. They were first awarded in 2018 to six retiring genebank managers to recognize their long careers as “global gatekeepers” of crop diversity. Additionally, a Legacy Award was given to Cary Fowler, one of the visionaries behind the creation of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, and HRH The Prince of Wales, the Crop Trust’s global patron.
Each Legacy Award – a unique print encased in glass mounted on a wooden stand – is a special edition artwork created by Australian artist Sophie Munns. The colorful prints draw inspiration from the diversity of some of the world’s most important food crops such as beans, potatoes, rice and more.
The Crop Trust’s Charlotte Lusty, who coordinates the CGIAR Genebank Platform, said: “These awards could not go to more deserving, dedicated people. Over the last few years I’ve seen first-hand their passion and commitment to the conservation of crop diversity, and their profound understanding of why this diversity is important and how it can be used. It has been a huge pleasure to have worked with them. They will be tough acts to follow.”
Head of Genetic Resources Unit, CIAT, 1996 – 2016
Without a doubt the world’s leading expert on bean diversity, Daniel Debouck served as the head of the Genetic Resources Unit at CIAT for almost 20 years. Over his long career working with bean diversity, Daniel collected more than 4,000 accessions in 11 countries, and there is even a bean that bears his name – the Peruvian Phaselous debouckii.
Read more about Daniel Debouck and his career here.
Forage Diversity Project Manager, ILRI, 1986 – 2010 & 2014 – 2018
For 24 years, Jean Hanson managed the forages genebank at ILRI in Addis Ababa, building the world’s largest collection of forage crop diversity for livestock in the world. Devoted to training generations of genebank leaders, Jean came out of retirement in 2014 to lead the genebank at ILRI for 4 more years.
Read more about Jean Hanson’s inspiring career here.
Head of Genetic Resources, ICARDA, 2008 – 2019
After 20 years working for Morocco’ national genebank, Ahmed Amri took the helm of ICARDA’s genebank in 2008. At ICARDA, Ahmed managed one of the world’s important collections of crop diversity, more than 130,000 accessions of landraces and wild relatives collected from dryland areas all over the world. After ICARDA lost access to its genebank in Aleppo, Syria in 2015, Ahmed supervised the first withdrawal from the Svalbard Global Seed Vault to relocate genebank operations to Lebanon and Morocco.
Read more about Ahmed Amri’s career here.
Hari D Upadhyaya
Head of Genebank, ICRISAT, 2002 – 2018
Hari Upadhyaya first joined ICRISAT in 1980 as a post-doctoral fellow in chickpea breeding. He returned to ICRISAT in 1991 as a senior groundnut breeder, before taking over as head of the genebank in 2002. Hari Upadhyaya’s experience in plant breeding and genetics encouraged him to think beyond routine genebank operations. One of his most notable accomplishments, and perhaps the concept that would define his legacy, is the mini-core collection.
Read more about Hari Upadhyaya’s career here.
Genebank Manager, CIP, 2012 – 2018
After a career in biotech startups and academia, David Ellis entered the world of genebanks and eventually took the lead at CIP’s genebank in 2012. In Lima, David put his unique background to work in managing one of the world’s most important collections of potato diversity, and left an indelible entrepreneurial mark on the global genebank community.
Read more about David Ellis’ unique career here.
Ruaraidh Sackville Hamilton
Head of Genetic Resources Center, IRRI, 2003 – 2018
Ruaraidh Sackville Hamilton spent more than 30 years in genebanks and laboratories, developing significant steps forward in our understanding of plant genetic resources. In his 15 years at IRRI, Ruaraidh led massive organizational and technical improvements to one of the world’s most important collections of rice.
Read more about Ruaraidh Sackville Hamilton’s career here.
Executive Director, Global Crop Diversity Trust, 2007 – 2012
Cary was one of the visionaries of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, and worked tirelessly for its creation. He is currently a special advisor to the Crop Trust after serving as the organization’s Executive Director from 2007-2012, a period that saw the Vault being designed and constructed, as well as receiving its first shipments of seeds in 2008.
Sophie Munns is a visual artist from Australia who is passionate about crop diversity. Through her work, Sophie aims to highlight the age-old relationship between people and plants.
Sophie’s love of natural things has driven her artistic career for over five decades. In 2010, the artist launched the “Homage to the Seed” Project through a residency at Brisbane Botanic Gardens. Through these works, Sophie hopes to highlight the age-old relationship between people and plants and to comment on how textile traditions carry profound interactions between humans and nature.
Sophie’s art has been on display all over the world, including the Institute for Molecular Bioscience in Queensland, Australia, the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, the Victoria University Library in Wellington, New Zealand, as well as numerous private collections throughout the United States and the world.
Jean Hanson: Building the next generation of genebank managers
Daniel Debouck: The man who knows his beans
Ruaraidh Sackville Hamilton: Learning new ways to maintain and use valuable resources
David Ellis: Finding the balance between manager and scientist
Ahmed Amri: From Morocco to Syria … and back again
Hari Upadhyaya: The fearless breeder in the genebank
The Crop Trust Legacy Award
David Ellis: What it takes to be a genebank manager