Crop Trust to recognise the “Global Gatekeepers” of Crop Diversity

Seven scientists will receive inaugural Legacy Award for dedicating their careers to crop conservation

(SVALBARD, NORWAY – 20th February 2018) – As part of the 10th anniversary of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, the Crop Trust will recognise seven of the world’s “gatekeepers” of crop diversity by giving them individual Legacy Awards.

The award ceremony, which will take place in Svalbard, Norway, this Sunday (Feb 25th) coincides with the latest shipments of more than 70,000 seeds to iconic Seed Vault. These will take the total number of seed samples deposited there over the last decade to more than one million. Deposits are made by genebanks from all over the world, to back up their own collections safely and securely.

Several of the Crop Trust Legacy Award recipients are retiring managers at the vitally important genebanks of CGIAR, which conserve and share hundreds of thousands of seeds of food and forage crops. Duplicates of seeds from CGIAR genebanks make up the majority of varieties currently backed up in the Svalbard Global Seed Vault.

The Crop Trust Legacy Award recipients are:

  • Daniel Debouck – International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), Colombia
  • Jean Hanson – International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), Ethiopia
  • Ahmed Amri – International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA), Morocco
  • Hari D Upadhyaya – International Center for Research in the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), India
  • Dave Ellis – International Potato Center (CIP), Peru
  • Ruaraidh Sackville Hamilton – International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), the Philippines

In addition, a Legacy Award will also be given to Cary Fowler. Cary was one of the visionaries of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, and worked tirelessly for its creation. He is currently a special advisor to the Crop Trust after serving as the organisation’s Executive Director from 2007-2012, a period that saw the Vault being designed and constructed, as well as receiving its first shipments of seeds in 2008.

All recipients will receive a personalised award featuring specially commissioned artwork by Sophie Munns.

“The Crop Trust Legacy Award recipients are the global gatekeepers of crop diversity, having spent decades committed to their belief in the absolute importance of seed conservation,” said Marie Haga, Executive Director of the Crop Trust. “They understand – and have helped thousands of others learn about – the deep connection between seeds, our agricultural history, and our future. Without the passion and dedication of these scientists the world would be a far less rich, far less diverse place.”

“On behalf of everyone at The Crop Trust, I thank you for your tireless efforts to conserve one of humanity’s most important natural resources – its seeds. Thank you for the gifts you have given to the world, and the magic that you have helped make happen.”

The Crop Trust’s Charlotte Lusty, who coordinates the CGIAR Genebank Platform, said: “These awards could not go to more deserving, dedicated people. Over the last few years I’ve seen first-hand their passion and commitment to the conservation of crop diversity, and their profound understanding of why this diversity is important and how it can be used. It has been a huge pleasure to have worked with them. They will be tough acts to follow.”

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