The Genebank Platform

The Genebank Platform supports the core activities of the CGIAR genebanks: conserving and making available crop and tree diversity.

It helps them to meet international standards, improve efficiency and ensure more effective use of collections within a supportive policy environment.

CGIAR genebanks conserve collections of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture (PGRFA). Taken together, CGIAR genebanks represent the largest and most widely used collections of crop diversity in the world.

Plant genetic resources are the foundations of plant breeding and are absolutely essential to meeting future challenges to food production. The importance of the PGRFA held by CGIAR genebanks is enshrined in international law, through agreements between CGIAR Centers and the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA). These agreements oblige CGIAR genebanks to make collections and data available under the terms of the ITPGRFA and to manage their collections following the highest standards of operation.

Through the Platform, the genebanks will ensure the increased conservation and use of the collections they hold, in the framework of an improved and supportive policy environment. Information systems will make it easier for plant breeders and other researchers to find specific material, while germplasm health units associated with each CGIAR genebank ensure that the material they distribute is viable and free of quarantine pests and diseases.

The CGIAR genebanks have adopted targets to ensure that PGRFA and associated information are secure and readily available. Underpinning efforts to meet those targets is a comprehensive Quality Management System. Furthermore, the Platform offers a governance and management structure that will unite the CGIAR genebanks and bring all to the same high standards of operation, sharing knowhow with one another and with the wider world of genebanks, adopting new tools and technologies, and working with breeders and researchers to achieve greater efficiency and value to the conservation and use of PGR.

CGIAR genebanks have always been a key resource for plant breeding for greater food security. Working under the Platform, they will make an even greater contribution to the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

The Genebanks

The 11 CGIAR genebanks currently conserve 730,000 of cereals and grain legumes, forage crops, tree species, root and tuber crops, bananas and crop wild relatives.