Conservation of forage grass genetic resources

Contributors to this page: ILRI, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (Jean Hanson); Bioversity International/ILRI, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (Alexandra Jorge).

Importance of forage grass conservation

Secure conservation is at the heart of the Centres’ stewardship of their collections and depends on the application of technical practices of high standard, based on an accurate assessment and appropriate management of risks.

The adequacy of the conservation technologies in use is key to meeting the objectives of long-term conservation of genetic diversity:

Recognizing that the outcome of secure and long-term conservation of biodiversity may be achieved through use of different practices, a set of best practices is needed that can be applied under different conditions and with different equipment in genebanks in both advanced institutes and the developing world.

Major forage grass collections

Currently the major forage grass collections in the CGIAR are maintained by the Centro Internacional de Agricultura Tropical (CIAT) and the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI).

CIAT focuses on tropical grasses and legumes with emphasis on species adapted to acid infertile soils.

ILRI has a very broad collection covering both tropical lowland and highland grasses.

Other important forage grass collections can be found in Brazil (EMBRAPA), Australia (CSIRO) and USA (USDA).

brachiaria ruziziensis spikelets; accession 12972.jpg hyparrhenia rufa spikelet; accession 13771.jpg

Brachiaria ruziziensis spikelets; accession 12972 (photo: ILRI)

Hyparrhenia rufa spikelet; accession 13771 (photo: ILRI)

The Genebanks

The 11 CGIAR genebanks currently conserve 730,000 of cereals and grain legumes, forage crops, tree species, root and tuber crops, bananas and crop wild relatives.