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Heads of CGIAR genebanks in Arusha, Tanzania for annual get-together

When genebank managers meet, the talk is seeded with hope for the future of agriculture.

Each year, all the genebank managers of the CGIAR centers get together for an annual meeting, held this year in Arusha, Tanzania from 6-10 October. AVRDC Eastern and Southern Africa was instrumental in coordinating the logistics of this important meeting, and Regional Director Thomas Dubois, Genebank Manager Andreas Ebert and Scientist Tsvetelina Stoilova attended on behalf of the Center. The Global Crop Diversity Trust organized the meeting; this independent international institution works to guarantee the conservation of crop diversity into the future, and maintains the Svalbard Global Seed Vault.


Fekadu Dinssa details AVRDC’s initial steps in breeding new amaranth varieties. Left: Paula Bramel, Deputy Executive Director of the Global Crop Diversity Trust.

The collections kept by the CGIAR and affiliated centers represent about 10% of global holdings of crop diversity, by total numbers of accessions. These collections underpin the crop improvement work of the international agricultural research centers and of public sector breeding programs in developing countries. During this year’s meeting, links were made with the national genebanks of Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.


Genebank meeting participants arrive at AVRDC Eastern and Southern Africa. Meet and greet with AVRDC staff!

On 8 October, more than 40 meeting participants took a field trip to the AVRDC campus in Arusha, where they received an in-depth tour of the Center’s activities. The seed repository featuring traditional crops was a major highlight, but participants also visited the postharvest training center, the demonstration garden, and the many crops growing in the field. Alpha Seed Company, Kibo Seed Company, and East African Seed Company arranged displays of their seeds, and neighbors HORTI-Tengeru and the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture offered tours of their field work.


Roseline Marealle explaining harvesting methods to participants.

After the visit to AVRDC, Margaret Mollel, Head of the Tanzanian Genebank, led the group on a tour of her facilities. At the official gala dinner that same night, in a picturesque restaurant on the slopes of Mount Meru, the participants burst into a spontaneous sing-along of songs from all nationalities present, which was probably heard all over Arusha. The meeting was a great success, in large part due to the excellent organizational skills of the AVRDC Eastern and Southern Africa team.


Mariam Mongi, founder of Alpha Seed Company, answering questions from Lava Kumar, virologist at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture.

Genebank managers in a lively international sing-a-long.

Genebank managers in a lively international sing-a-long.