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Knowledge sharing on best practices to manage crop genebanks


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Presentation by Geert Claessens (Bioversity International) at the IAALD 2010 World Congress - 26-29 April 2010, Montpellier, France

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Knowledge sharing on best practices to manage crop genebanks

  1. 1. Knowledge sharing on best practices for managing crop genebanks Authors: MA JORGE, G CLAESSENS, J HANSON, ME DULLOO, E GOLDBERG, I THORMANN, S ALEMAYEHU, E GACHERU, A AMRI, E BENSON, D DUMET, N ROUX, P RUDEBJER, R SACKVILLE HAMILTON, I SANCHEZ, S SHARMA, S TABA, HD UPADHYAYA and I VAN DEN HOUWE IAALD XIIIth World Congress, Scientific and Technical Information and Rural Development 29 April 2010 Presented by Geert Claessens The Crop Genebank Knowledge Base (CGKB)
  2. 2. Outline <ul><li>Background </li></ul><ul><li>Why develop CGKB ? </li></ul><ul><li>Approach to development </li></ul><ul><li>Results </li></ul><ul><li>Challenges </li></ul><ul><li>Conclusions </li></ul>
  3. 3. 1800’s: Farmers in USA growing 7100 varieties Today: 6800 of those are extinct Potentially lost varieties with resistance or tolerance to disease or stresses Photo: Background (Info from TED talk Cary Fowler)
  4. 4. Background <ul><li>Safeguarding the world’s crop genetic diversity = extremely important resource to meet food production challenges </li></ul><ul><li>Plant breeders & farmers use diversity directly or to develop new varieties that are resistant to stresses (pests & diseases, drought, salinity...) </li></ul><ul><li>Storage rooms of this diversity = Genebanks </li></ul><ul><li>First genebanks established over 50 years ago to conserve threatened crop diversity </li></ul><ul><li>Lately, however, new technologies and better practices are developed for more effective and efficient conservation </li></ul>Photos: CGIAR
  5. 5. Background <ul><li>People looking for this information turn more and more to the internet to find information instead of using traditional sources i.e. publications, encyclopedias </li></ul><ul><li>But genebank management guidelines for different crops are scarce and hard to find </li></ul><ul><li>Or inaccessible in the public domain </li></ul><ul><li> A real need to make information on genebank practices accessible online to genebank holders </li></ul>
  6. 6. Background <ul><li>Several online crop-related knowledge bases were developed in recent years </li></ul>Global Knowledge Center on Crop Biotechnology (ISAAA) Food Security & Agricultural Production Knowledge Forum (FAO) Cereal Knowledge Bank on rice, maize and wheat (CIMMYT/IRRI)  None of these KB’s focuses specifically on conservation crop genetic resources
  7. 7. Why develop CGKB ? <ul><li>A website to give access to user-friendly and up-to-date information on germplasm management and genebank procedures </li></ul><ul><li>A website that facilitates sharing of practices between genebanks </li></ul><ul><li>A website that can be used as a training tool for technical staff in genebanks </li></ul>Photos: CGIAR
  8. 8. <ul><li>Development of the website was an initiative of the System-wide Genetic Resources Program (SGRP) of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) </li></ul><ul><li>Part of a large 3-year project on collective action for crop genetic resources </li></ul><ul><li>Project first focused on 9 crops conserved and managed by minimum 2 International Agricultural Research Centers (IARCs) </li></ul>Approach: Framework
  9. 9. <ul><li>Contacted crop experts from genebanks worldwide to collate and develop content </li></ul><ul><li>Engaged training & communication specialists as well as selected users for technical and editorial reviews </li></ul>Approach: Setting up partnerships
  10. 10. <ul><li>Website structure and layout were developed with the involvement of genebank experts </li></ul><ul><li>4 themes were selected to cover the content of the website </li></ul><ul><li>Every theme contains a number of menus and submenus </li></ul><ul><li>Names, content and layout for all menus were regularly fine-tuned and adjusted to ensure a simple and logical flow </li></ul>Approach: Website structure
  11. 11. <ul><li>Design and navigation features were fine-tuned based on feedback from user questionnaires </li></ul>Approach: Website design 2008 2009 2010
  12. 12. <ul><li>Contact person to keep the information updated and to respond to queries </li></ul><ul><li>Key contributors </li></ul><ul><li>Best practices with images, flip books, videos </li></ul><ul><li>Image attributions </li></ul><ul><li>References with links to full text or other websites for further reading </li></ul><ul><li>Common layout structure for the different pages makes it easy </li></ul><ul><ul><li>for the user to locate information </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>for the editor to add new information </li></ul></ul>Approach: General page layout
  13. 13. <ul><li>CMS  software that helps to organize web pages, menus as well as content such as, photos, video, documents... </li></ul><ul><li>Can have multiple editors around the world (Montpellier, Rome, Addis Abeba, Mexico city) </li></ul><ul><li>Joomla content management system ( ) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Requires minimal specialized skill or knowledge to set up and manage </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Yet great extensibility (forum, video player, forms, etc.) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Freely available (open source) </li></ul></ul>Approach: CMS Joomla editor and admin window
  14. 14. <ul><li>Wiki (Wikispaces) to post, edit and discuss possible content </li></ul>Approach: Collaboration tools Comments boxes Blog (WordPress) for informal communication about work progress/activities Form to upload contributions
  15. 15. <ul><li>Enriched with multimedia such as </li></ul><ul><li>images </li></ul><ul><li>flipbooks (sequence of images to illustrate steps of a process) </li></ul><ul><li>video clips </li></ul>Approach: Multimedia tools Images Flipbooks Videos
  16. 16. <ul><li>Made use of Flickr and YouTube to facilitate downloading of all CGKB images and videos </li></ul>Approach: Multimedia tools CGKB Flickr photostream CGKB YouTube channel
  17. 17. <ul><li>Website traffic is monitored and recorded using Google analytics ( http:// /analytics/ ) </li></ul>Approach: Webstats
  18. 18. Results: Home page <ul><li>Information about </li></ul><ul><ul><li>website and its features </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>contributors </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>copyright policies </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>contacts for maintenance and queries </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>form to upload new best practices </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Entry point to </li></ul><ul><ul><li>forum </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>blog </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>RSS feed on genebank news (from </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>editor login </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>wiki work space </li></ul></ul>
  19. 19. Results: Crops <ul><li>Provides crop-specific information on recommended procedures for 9 crops (initially) </li></ul><ul><li>For each crop detailed information about conservation, characterization, regeneration and safety duplication </li></ul>
  20. 20. Results: Procedures <ul><li>Describes all the genebank procedures in general (not crop specific) </li></ul><ul><li>Explains why, when and how they should best be followed </li></ul><ul><li>Can be printed and used as handouts for training purposes </li></ul>
  21. 21. Results: Management strategies <ul><li>Provides information/advice on management of a genebank </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Risk assessment </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Quality management </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Policies </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Safe transfer of germplasm </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Performance indicators </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>... </li></ul></ul>
  22. 22. Results: Learning resources <ul><li>Aims to strengthen capacity of genebank curators and technicians </li></ul><ul><li>Gives teachers and learners access to a one-stop library: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Publications (training modules, handbooks, manuals etc.) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Multimedia (videos, slide shows, a photo database) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Glossary and acronym list </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Relevant links to websites </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Website also available on DVD </li></ul> The training component of the website was validated in a genebank training course in Korea Photo: CGIAR
  23. 23. Challenges: Collaboration <ul><li>Multiple partners in many locations; Discussing the site structure, content and design by email with people across the globe was often difficult and complicated </li></ul><ul><li>Higher transaction costs and delays than expected because of writing and reviewing the content by subject experts </li></ul><ul><li> Partly solved by face-to-face meetings, skype calls, workshops and genebank visits to create awareness, prompt contributions and collect visual materials and make complex or difficult decisions </li></ul>
  24. 24. Challenges: Tools and Training <ul><li>Learning curve for editors to use the CMS </li></ul><ul><li>Most collaborators were unfamiliar with web tools like wikis, blogs or Google shared documents so these were not used as extensively or effectively as hoped for </li></ul><ul><li> Training tutorials were developed to facilitate learning for editors </li></ul>
  25. 25. Challenges: Content <ul><li>Much of the content was submitted at the very end of the project </li></ul><ul><li>Templates were prepared to collect structured information but needed adjustment because of different interpretations by the experts (level of depth or details, visual aids) </li></ul><ul><li>Converting text-based information into meaningful web content </li></ul><ul><li>Reviewing the layout of each web page for consistency was time consuming </li></ul><ul><li> Negotiated an extension of the project with the donor to finalize content </li></ul>
  26. 26. Conclusions <ul><li>This paper/presentation describes the process of developing a one-stop platform about best practices on crop genebank management </li></ul><ul><li>Synergies were created by many experts worldwide who gathered and transformed scattered information into knowledge about conserving crop diversity </li></ul><ul><li>An interactive platform that can be expanded, updated and used by the genebank community </li></ul><ul><li>Communication and collaboration mechanisms have been established to promote networking </li></ul>
  27. 27. Conclusions <ul><li>This is not the end but the beginning. </li></ul><ul><li>We hope the CGKB will contribute to narrowing knowledge gaps, help to create communities of genebank practitioners and strengthen their capacity to be effective custodians of the world’s crop diversity for food and agriculture in the future. </li></ul>
  28. 28. Acknowledgements <ul><li>World Bank for funding the development of the CGKB </li></ul><ul><li>Wide range of experts who spent their valuable time and contributed significantly to improving the content, layout and navigation of this website. </li></ul>Contact email: [email_address] Thank you