IBPGR: International Board for Plant Genetic Resources
The International Board for Plant Genetic Resources (IBPGR) is
an international scientific-organization under the aegis of the Consultative
Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) and established by them in
1974. The basic function of IBPGR is to advance the conservation and use of
plant genetic resources for the benefit of present and future generations.
In many countries, IBPGR has encouraged the establishment of
genetic resources programmes where none previously existed. It has raised
general awareness of the issues related to genetic resources, which in turn has
stimulated the demand for training and research, for technical publications, and
for scientific assistance to national plant genetic resources programmes.
Since 1974, IBPGR has funded the training of 1700 scientists and
technicians throughout the world in all aspects of genetic resources work, from
collecting and seed physiology to database management. The institute has been
involved in the collecting of 200,000 samples of crops in 120 countries. In the
area of research, priority is given to solving those problems which are
identified by national programmes as posing significant constraints to their
activities. Retention of diversity in collections, conservation technology and
plant health are major topics, as is work on wild relatives of crops and on
forest genetic resources which involves research on in situ conservation.
In the field of information technology, computerized databases
covering a wide range of topics have been developed by IBPGR and are used
extensively in programme planning. These databases include information on
national genetic resources programmes, ex situ germplasm collections worldwide,
and germplasm collecting carried out with IBPGR support.
Good documentation as a means of fostering germplasm management,
exchange and utilization has been a priority of the institute. The documentation
programme has developed descriptor lists to promote the standard description of
accessions and the storage of germplasm data in an exchangeable format. To
assist genebanks in establishing their own documentation procedures, IBPGR has
provided its expertise as well as computer hardware and software to developing
countries where appropriate. A current project, in collaboration with Canada's
International Development Research Centre (IDRC), is producing a training manual
to help national programmes improve their documentation.
In October 1991 representatives of the governments of Kenya,
China, Switzerland, Denmark and Italy signed an agreement to establish an
international institute for the conservation and utilization of plant genetic
resources. It is anticipated that the new institute, to be called the
International Plant Genetic Resources Institute (IPGRI), will take over the
duties of IBPGR (which is attached to FAO) late in 1992. A new 10 year strategic
plan spells out four major objectives which will form the basis of IPGRI's
programme of activities.
First, the institute will assess and meet their needs for the
conservation of plant genetic resources and to strengthen links to users.
Secondly, it will build international collaboration in the conservation and use
of plant genetic resources, mainly through the encouragement of networks on both
a crop and geographical basis. Thirdly, it will work to develop and promote
improved strategies and technologies for the conservation of plant genetic
resources; and finally, the institute will provide an information service to
inform the world's genetic resources community of both practical and scientific
developments in the field.
International Board for Plant Genetic Resources, Via delle Sette
Chiese 142 00145 Rome,