Strengthening marginalized groups in ex situ conservation of plant genetic resources – The strategic development of the Global Crop Diversity Trust

The Global Crop Diversity Trust (Crop Trust) is an international organization headquartered in Bonn, Germany whose mission is to ensure the conservation and availability of crop diversity for food security worldwide. Some of the most important, best documented, and widely used collections of crop diversity in the world are managed by the international agricultural research centers of CGIAR (Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research), and these genebanks are critical to global food security, as well as are a key priority for the long-term financial support the Crop Trust provides such genebanks.


The project ‘Strategic Development of the Crop Trust’ is jointly implemented by the Crop Trust and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ). The project goal is to further develop a funding strategy for the Crop Trust, strengthen its work with key global genebanks, and grow the awareness and networking capabilities of the Crop Trust in Germany specifically.


Protecting crop diversity is one of the most important requirements for securing a diverse and healthy food supply, as well as for the development of sustainable agriculture that is resilient to shocks and is well adapted to climate change. Conservation of crop diversity in situ, i.e., on farmers’ fields, and ex situ, i.e., in genebanks, is essential. Both conservation approaches can be combined to create synergies and benefits for those who safeguard crop diversity.

Within the project of ‘Strategic Development of Crop Trust’, HFFA Research has been commissioned by the GIZ to provide a study that will assess and recommend how the role of marginalized groups (with a focus on women, youth, and indigenous groups) in the smallholder farming sector can be strengthened in the ex situ conservation of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture (PGRFA).


The study seeks to identify how genebanks can address the needs of groups that are not always automatically taken into consideration when setting the priorities for ex situ conservation, while also prioritizing a stronger focus on adaptation to climate change. To preserve agrobiodiversity, the benefits of conservation should accrue to those who sustain it, and a significant focus of conservation efforts should be on the maintenance of the cultural and agroecological systems of small, ‘resource poor’ and biologically rich farmers and other custodians of PGRFA. In this perspective, the direct participation of those user groups in the development and management of conservation efforts is crucial to achieve long-term biodiversity conservation.


Throughout the course of the study, HFFA Research will identify how and to what degree the varying needs of marginalized groups (women, youth, and indigenous peoples) are currently being addressed by ex situ conservation of PGRFA. This will be done through extensive research and interviewing stakeholders in the smallholder farming sector and the relevant genebanks. HFFA Research will then determine recommendations to better consider the needs of marginalized groups. Additionally, HFFA Research will recommend best practices to enhance gender-responsive plant breeding and ultimately facilitate more demand-driven crop development and conservation.


The project was established in 2021 and is ongoing until 2023. It is financed by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). HFFA Research will finish the report by the end of 2022.


For more information, please contact