For the first time in its existence, the Crop Trust commissioned an audit of the Centre for Pacific Crops and Trees (CePaCT) as part of SPC’s obligations under the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture 2004. The review team, led by Paula Bramel of the Crop Trust, consisted of Eshan Dulloo of Bioversity International and Steve Adkins of the University of Queensland.

The Crop Trust, formerly known as the Global Crop Diversity Trust, is an international nonprofit organization which works to preserve crop diversity in order to protect global food security. It was established through a partnership between the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization and the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research acting through Bioversity International. The International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture provides for the Contracting Parties to cooperate to promote the development of an efficient and sustainable system of ex situ conservation.

Operating within the framework of the Treaty, the Crop Trust entered into an agreement with SPC in 2009 to support the development of long-term strategies for the conservation of germplasm of the most important food crops and furthering development of a global system of conservation with the intention of fostering partnerships with other genebanks.

The audit assesses not only the performance of the centre in line with its obligations under the existing agreement, but also ensures the identification and delivery of actionable recommendations and pathways to strengthen its operations and build clear linkages with both SPC member countries and the global conservation community.

The SPC Director Land Resources Division, Mr Jan Helsen emphasised that, “this review is both timely and opportune. It is being conducted in line with the division’s own initiatives to support the development of resilient seed systems across the Pacific, which are strongly supported by CePaCT’s mandate on conservation of genetic resources, while also facilitating significant linkages with international partners and scientific research centres”.

Acknowledging the commitment by SPC to upgrade its facilities and operations, the review team highlighted the need for streamlining of operations and alignment to international norms. Most importantly, there was the need to re-establish the balance between conservation and the wider distribution of genetic resources.

According to the Crop Trust’s Paula Bramel, “the focus of the review is on efficiency but also on sustainability of the genebank. The review team have looked at ways to utilise the facility more, but not at the expense of its core activities. The primary objective being conservation, and once CePaCT meets standards and operations are routine, this would not be an issue at all. The recommendation to have a field collection of its genetic resources for example, will contribute to security for the integrity of genetic resources housed under CePaCT”.

While previous independent assessments had been conducted on CePaCT’s documentation system; duplication of genetic resources to ensure a safe backup system, has emerged as a priority to support CePaCT’s conservation work.

A final report on the review findings as well as recommendations put forward by the review team will be available towards the end of the year.

Background:

The Centre for Pacific Crops and Trees (CePaCT) is the only internationally recognised genebank in the Pacific. CePaCT aims to assist Pacific Island Countries and Territories to sustainably conserve and utilize their genetic resources while facilitating access to germplasm through crop improvement activities and germplasm exchange. Through effective conservation and utilization, dynamic sustainable agricultural systems are achieved to address food and nutrition security, and contribute to the protection of the environment.

The Centre is hosted by the Pacific Community within its Land Resources Division in Narere, Fiji.

Media contacts:

Salome Tukuafu, SPC Information and Communications Management Officer, SalomeT@spc.int

Logotonu Waqainabete,  SPC CePaCT Coordinator, LogoW@spc.int, Phone: +679 3379 274