- Both organizations seek to boost Mesoamerican agriculture to address global challenges such as food shortages.
May 8, 2023. Food security and the development of a strategy to conserve germplasm of great importance for Mesoamerican agriculture is the main interest that leads CATIE (Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center) and the Crop Trust to work together. In April, Stefan Schmitz, Executive Director of the Crop Trust, visited CATIE's headquarters in Costa Rica to learn first-hand about the Orthodox Seed Germplasm Bank and the Center's international coffee and cacao collections, as well as the joint efforts being made to conserve them, since the future of agriculture could lie in the germplasm they house.
During the visit, a tour of CATIE took in the bank and collections, the regenerative germplasm sites Biodiversity for Opportunities, Livelihoods and Development (BOLD) project, funded by the Crop Trust, and the new site where the new International Coffee Collection will be re-established
"Currently, CATIE, Crop Trust and FAO are working on the Coffee Genetic Resources Conservation Strategy to ensure the conservation and use of our collection. This involves two aspects: the upgrade of the collection and the search for funding to create a trust to ensure long-term conservation," explained William Solano, CATIE's plant genetic resources specialist.
The upgrade of the coffee collection includes: the rescue of accessions at risk of loss; the transfer of the collection to a new site at CATIE; the duplication of the collection at another site at altitude and also in cryopreservation; and the sharing of the collection information on open platforms
As part of the cooperation between the two organizations, Rolando Cerda, leader of CATIE's Agroforestry, Coffee and Cocoa Unit, explained that they will also work together to improve the strategy for the conservation and use of orthodox seeds in the germplasm bank.
In addition, as part of the Biodiversity for Opportunities, Livelihoods and Development (BOLD) project, the areas where chile, ayote and tomato regeneration is being carried out were visited and it was found that progress has been very satisfactory and that the number of accessions to be regenerated can even be increased.
During the visit, Schmitz was accompanied by Muhammad Ibrahim, Director General of CATIE; Carlos Araya, director of Green Business Development, Resource Mobilization and Strategic Alliances of CATIE; Solano and Cerda. Also present on behalf of the Crop Trust were Sarada Krishnan, Director of Programs; Janny Van Beem, Coordinator of the World Alliance of Germplasm Banks; and Luis Salazar, Director of Communications.
As a result of the visit, the organizations agreed to jointly explore different scenarios for the maintenance of the collections and the bank. "The technical aspects of how and where to conserve the genetic resources are clearly defined. Work will now focus on continuing the search for funding to ensure effective and sustainable conservation of the germplasm," said Solano.
Plant Genetic Resources Specialist
Karla Salazar Leiva
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