Thirty per cent of ILRI genebank collections now safely duplicated at the global seed vault in Norway

Packing forage seed samples at ILRI Genebank
Alieu Sartie, ILRI genebank manager (right) and technician Solomon Fikre checking forage seed samples before delivery to the Svalbard Global Seed Vault (photo credit:ILRI/Lei Sun).

The International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) is home to the world’s only genebank dedicated wholly to forages.

Located in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the ILRI Forage Genebank is one of 11 genebanks within CGIAR, a global partnership of 15 international research centres working with national and other partners for a food-secure future. The CGIAR genebanks are located in countries that are ‘centres of origin’ of key crops to make optimal use of the natural diversity of indigenous plants.

Last month, the genebank delivered a second set of 389 accessions of 69 species representing 25 forage genera to the Svalbard Global Seed Vault in Norway for safety duplication. The accessions are part of the Annex 1 germplasm of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture that are held by International Agricultural Research Centres and made available to farmers, breeders and researchers in accordance with the provisions set out in the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture. The accessions were successfully placed in the vault on 31 October 2018.

This latest delivery raises to 30% the amount of ILRI Forage Genebank collections now safely duplicated and stored at the seed vault.

‘One of the performance targets of CGIAR genebanks is to ensure that 90% of each centre’s genebank accessions are available and safely duplicated in long-term storage at the Svalbard Global Seed Vault in Norway by 2021,’ said Alieu Sartie, ILRI genebank manager, who led the process in Ethiopia.

‘The reason for the safety duplication is to provide and guarantee security for the accessions from loss due to natural, political or human made disasters,’ he said. In striving to attain this target, the ILRI genebank made two earlier deposits of its in-trust collection of 18,638 accessions in 2008 and 2011.

Svalbard global seed vault

Entrance to the Svalbard Global Seed Vault in the Arctic Circle (photo credit: ILRI/Jean Hanson).

The Svalbard Global Seed Vault is the largest collection of crop diversity in the world. Located in Longyearbyen, Svalbard, it is owned by the Norwegian Government and operated under a three-party agreement between the Norwegian Government, the Nordic Genetic Resources Center (NordGen) and the Crop Trust. Depositors to the seed vault own the samples that they deposit and only they can retrieve the material.

Read more about the ILRI genebank:

‘Legacy Award’ bestowed on Jean Hanson, ILRI’s forage genebank gatekeeper for the last three decades, 25 Feb 2018

ILRI opens state-of-the-art genebank and bioscience facilities in Ethiopia 24 Apr 2017.