ms 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."
Maintaining the hundreds of thousands of crop varieties held throughout the CGIAR network presents a complex challenge. Seeds and vegetative material must be collected, cleaned, stored and rejuvenated when aged. They also must be tested periodically for health and viability, safely duplicated and exchanged. And each of these steps must be carefully recorded and catalogued. Genebanks must also dedicate funds and research to find better, cost-effective ways to conserve crops that do not produce seed or whose seeds are hard to storelike potatoes, cassava and bananas. The Trust, for example, has supported research to develop cryopreservation procedures, the process by which plant tissues are conserved under extremely cold conditions, for a number of these crops.
In addition to lacking funding for basic maintenance costs, crop diversity collections are threatened by political unrest and weather disasters. For example, the genebank at the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA), and its valuable collection of cultivated and wild relatives of wheat, barley, lentil, chickpea, faba bean, peas and forage crops, was recently threatened by conflicts around ICARDAs headquarters in Aleppo, Syria, and had to be rapidly replicated or relocated to other CGIAR genebanks, national partners and the Svalbard Global Seed Vault in Norway.
Beyond maintaining the vitality of the existin
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