Germany funds critical to maintaining CIAT’s crop collections
The International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) hosts the world’s largest genetic resource collection of beans, cassava, and tropical forages, as well as important tropical rice accessions. The diversity contained in these seeds and plants provide invaluable traits to future crop varieties – resistant to pest and disease, tolerant to drought or flooding, or containing high levels of micronutrients – and are essential to a food secure future.
The Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ) have earmarked a special contribution to the maintenance and leverage of our genetic resources collection – a global public good. Past support and a recent targeted contribution of 403,000 euro is helping to safeguard global food and nutrition security for smallholder farmers.
The German government has been an indispensable partner over the years, through research and institutional cooperation, as well as interaction with the private sector, biotechnology groups, and German Universities. The flagship partnership with BMZ and GIZ is a prime example of successful mixed funding implementation – of both strategic grants and unrestricted funding.
Unrestricted funds are instrumental for CIAT to achieve its mandate, complementing the support given through grants. They allow the Center to operate smoothly, enable innovation, and provide flexibility to be responsive emerging opportunities.
Unrestricted funding, such as this recent contribution from Germany which complements the Global Crop Diversity Trust funding, has strengthened CIAT’s genebank and allowed the Center to become a world renowned collector and guardian of biodiversity. This funding is vital as the Genetic Resources Program proceeds. CIAT has large ambitions going forward which depend on strategic support from new and existing partners.
CIAT seeks to establish a new state-of-the-art genebank facility. The operations of this new genebank will not be restricted to collection and research activities but will also have the capacity to educate and inspire the next generation of agrobiodiversity resource experts.
In addition to the construction of a new sustainable genebank facility which will engage and educate visitors, CIAT is seeking a $4 million endowment for a “Chair of Biodiversity Conservation” to enable CIAT to recruit and attract the next champion of the Genetic Resources Program and leverage the current strengths and talents in the program. A supplementary $1 million endowment will be created to support research fellowships in support of this Chair and training the next generation of researchers, collectors, and stewards of plant biodiversity for global food security. These investments will ensure that CIAT’s genetic resource collection remains an important contributor to global food security for years to come.
We are just beginning to understand what the future will be able to unlock from these invaluable resources and significant capital is required to sustain and better understand these precious resources. “There is much more to be discovered, and advances in genomics are helping us to find things that were completely unexpected” said Dr. Daniel Debouck, Program Leader for the Genetic Resources Program at CIAT.