The ability of the International Potato Center (CIP) to develop and deploy science-based solutions for the main challenges faced by farmers and others involved in food systems in developing countries is the result of the collective knowledge, creativity and dedication of its researchers. In recognition of the achievements of three of those researchers – Dr. David Ellis, Dr. André Devaux and Alberto Salas – CIP Director General Barbara H Wells recently named each of them a Scientist Emeritus in a ceremony attended by the CIP Board of Trustees, management and staff.
Dr. Wells dedicated a new annex of the CIP genebank that contains the herbarium and cryopreservation unit – in which plant material is frozen and conserved at -196º C – to David Ellis. She also unveiled benches with plaques commemorating the careers of André Devaux and Alberto Salas.
David Ellis was once asked how to prepare for a career as a genebank scientist. “There’s no fricking way,” he responded. “You not only have to be well grounded in science but you also need to know how to manage budgets and people and how to essentially run a business.”
When Fanny Vargas looks at an herbarium specimen, she sees more than a plant captured in time, she sees its entire story clinging to it like fine pollen. She can imagine the gasp inducing altitudes where they were collected, the rocky crevices the stubborn plants grew in, the arduous often death-defying trips collectors would take to preserve for prosperity the knowledge embedded in the plant’s morphology and DNA.
Global agriculture faces unprecedented challenges.
There is no single solution to tackling them, but the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals recognise that it is critical to conserve the diversity of the plants and animals we farm.
Much of the agricultural diversity once found in farmers’ fields has disappeared. Concerned it would be lost forever, scientists have spent the last 100 years travelling the world, collecting samples of roots and tubers and seeds in order to safeguard them for posterity.
Seven scientists will receive inaugural Legacy Award for dedicating their careers to crop conservation.
More than 30 representatives of Peruvian government institutions and nongovernmental organizations recently gathered at the International Potato Center (CIP) in Lima, Peru to learn about a new global system created by the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA) to make information about crop biodiversity more accessible and help governments keep track of their nation’s plant genetic resources.
For more than 50 years Alberto Salas has scoured the world in search of potato crop wild realtives.