Tropical forage diversity
The collection’s main emphasis is on legumes (more than 21,000 accessions), although almost 1,700 grasses are being conserved as well. By contrast, the majority of the tropical forages safeguarded at the genebank at ILRI, our sister CGIAR Center in Ethiopia, are grasses. Both genebank collections have been important sources of forage traits such as pest and disease resistance, biomass production, high nutritive value, and tolerance to infertile, acid soils, drought and water-logging.
In addition to feeding livestock for milk and meat production, forages can help reduce the environmental footprint of livestock production through carbon sequestration, reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, and restoration of degraded land.
Improved forages might in fact be one of agriculture’s most promising options for mitigating climate change. Well-managed pastures show great potential for carbon sequestration, second only to forests. Some Brachiaria grasses in particular have a remarkable ability to suppress nitrification, the microbial process responsible for emissions of nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas 300 times more potent than CO2.
Countries of origin
Forage diversity in photos
Forage germplasm distributed since 1980
13,692 accessions (90,624 samples) distributed to 110 countries
Genebanks are vulnerable many risks, ranging from natural disasters or war to funding shortfalls. Something as mundane as an undetected breakdown of a seed vault can affect an entire collection. The loss of a crop collection would be as irreversible as the extinction of the dinosaurs. That’s why CIAT is producing and shipping duplicates (backups) of the entire tropical forages collection to two off-site storage facilities, one at the Global Seed Vault in Svalbard on a remote island halfway between mainland Norway and the North Pole, and another one at CIMMYT, our partner CGIAR Center in Mexico.
of CIAT's forages collection is backed-up in Svalbard
of CIAT's forages collection is backed-up at CIMMYT