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:
- As more land is coming under intensive cultivation, much of the natural diversity of species will be lost.
- Demand for use of forage genetic resources for increasing livestock production, as well as to maintain a more sustainable agricultural system, is expected to increase.
- The further study of the conserved germplasm will allow the easier identification of genotypes with potential for livestock feed for specific environments, as well as adequate germplasm to be re-established in degraded areas and also adapted to future climate changes.
- The adequate long-term conservation of germplasm will allow the preservation of essential forage biodiversity for current and future generations as global public goods.
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.