Africa / Biodiversity / CGIAR / Fodder / Forages / Genebank / ILRI / Seeds

New funding agreement to help maintain world’s genebanks–and save plant genetic diversity

Frank Rijsberman, CEO of CGIAR Consortium visits ILRI genebank

Frank Rijsberman, CEO of the CGIAR Consortium, is given a tour of the ILRI Forage Genebank, located in Addis Ababa, by its manager, Alexandra Jorge, in January 2013 (photo credit: ILRI\Zerihun Sewunet).

The Global Crop Diversity Trust and the CGIAR Consortium have announced a new agreement which will bring financial stability to 11 international genebanks of CGIAR. The agreement provides USD109 million (with more than 87% contribution from the CGIAR Fund) to support the maintenance of 706,000 samples of crop, forage and agroforestry resources held in ‘genebanks’ at 11 CGIAR research centres around the world.

One of those genebanks is maintained by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) at its large campus in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. This facility safely stores 18,000 seed and plant samples of livestock fodder and forages. Copies of its vast collections are safely stored in Norway’s Global Svalbard Seed Vault, deep in the Arctic Circle. ILRI’s collection of African livestock feed plants is the largest and most diverse in the world. Seeds from the ILRI Genebank contain genetic diversity that could help the world respond to problems in the future , such as drought or flooding caused by climate changes.

Watch a 4-minute video introducing the ILRI Forage Genebank.

[The CGIAR genebank] program underpins global agricultural research; it builds a foundation for all of our other research programs to succeed. Ultimately, the seeds and vegetative material stored and maintained in the genebanks are the lifeblood of the crop improvement research being carried out across the CGIAR Consortium. If our genebanks suffer, our research suffers,” said Dr. Frank Rijsberman, the CEO of the CGIAR Consortium. “That’s why we continue to work with the Trust, an organization dedicated solely to protecting crop diversity, to put these genebanks on a more firm financial footing and ensure they will be maintained and improved for generations to come.”

Read the whole press release at the CGIAR website: Consortium partners with Global Crop Diversity Trust to revitalize genebanks, 31 Jan 2013.

Read about ILRI’s work in managing forage diversity on http://www.ilri.org/ForageDiversity and http://mahider.ilri.org/handle/10568/228

For more on crop genebanks and forages visit: http://cropgenebank.sgrp.cgiar.org/ and http://www.tropicalforages.info/

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