International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI)

Forages Genebank

ILRI’s genebank collection of nearly 20,000 forage accessions is the most diverse in terms of species.

ILRI researcher, Elise Schieck, in laboratory
ILRI researcher, Elise Schieck, in laboratory. Credit: ILRI/Paul Karaimu
Two ILRI genebank staff plant and label cuttings of Napier grass, received from EMBRAPA, Brazil into pots.
Two ILRI genebank staff plant and label cuttings of Napier grass, received from EMBRAPA, Brazil into pots. Credit: ILRI

The 20 most numerous species account for just 29% of almost 20,000 accessions. The collection holds more than 1000 species, the vast majority of which (97%) are wild species rather than cultivars or landraces.

The genebank has recently undergone major renovation to replace the aged, prefabricated structure with a fully modern genebank.

Characterization of forages at ILRI looks in detail at phenotypic variation, particularly in nutritional traits, and resistance to pests and diseases. The goal is to identify accessions that offer better performance for use as part of sustainable farming systems and as best bets for further evaluation and possible improvement.

To promote the use of forages throughout sub-Saharan Africa, ILRI’s genebank operates a Herbage Seed Unit that offers training to national scientists and technicians and provides selected starter quantities of seed for multiplication and distribution.
Forage grasses
Forage legumes

A recap of genebank’s work at field stations in Debre Zeyit and Zwai and at the genebank at ILRI headquarters in Addis Ababa.

A tour of the genebank at ILRI’s headquarters in Addis Ababa

ILRI’s field genebank at Zwai

ILRI’s regeneration plots at Debre Zeyit

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