Quality Matters

Upcoming GOAL Workshop in Latin America will support genebanks’ efforts to achieve and maintain excellence.

Genebanks around the world conserve and share the genetic material that allows plant breeders and farmers to adapt food crops to new challenges. It’s a never-ending endeavour, comprised of countless activities, big and small, exacting, laborious, complex, where everything must be carried out with utmost diligence and excellence. No easy feat. But one that can be – and must be – sustained for the long term. To achieve this, genebanks need to embrace and adapt quality management systems that address their particular reality and needs. Enter the Genebank Operations and Advanced Learning (GOAL) Workshop.

A week-long GOAL Workshop will bring together Latin American representatives from 13 national genebank programs from Mexico to Chile and from Cuba to Ecuador. Organized by the Crop Trust, this will be the 2nd GOAL Workshop in Latin America.

GOAL Workshops emphasize the relationships between genebank operations and procedures and quality management. The Workshops allow for enhanced planning of improvements for more effective and efficient management and use of collections. They also help foster the professional community and partnerships that are essential for a global system of crop conservation

The upcoming GOAL Workshop will take place on 14-18 May 2018, in San José, Costa Rica. Funded by the Crop Trust-led Crop Wild Relatives (CWR) project, with funding from the Norwegian government, it will be hosted by the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), a continent-wide specialized agency that supports its Member States in their efforts to achieve agricultural development and rural well-being through international technical cooperation.

Highlights of the Workshop include:

  • Key aspects of quality management as they apply to genebanks
  • Development of improvement plan for genebanks
  • Use of information technology (barcodes and tablets)
  • Standards and policies in conservation
  • Germplasm acquisition and distribution with phytosanitary and reporting requirements
  • Development of genebank operational procedures and manuals
  • Assessment, evaluation, and mitigation of risks

During this Latin American gathering, participants will enhance their knowledge on specific genebank activities, such as acquisition, conservation, distribution, regeneration and characterization of plant material.

Quality is not an end-point, it’s a process, and at the Crop Trust we believe genebanks need a strong quality management system (QMS) to guide and maintain the process to sustained excellence.” Marie Haga, Executive Director of the Crop Trust

The workshop will be led by Crop Trust staffers Janny van Beem, Genebank Quality Management, and Matija Obreza, Information Systems Manager. Participants will also hear from genebank experts from the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), as well as representatives from the FAO’s Plant Treaty, GRIN-Global, Mexico’s National Genetic Resources Center, The Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center (CATIE), and others.

GOAL workshop in Kenya in 2016

GOAL workshop in Kenya in 2016

A Small but Fundamental Piece of the Puzzle

This GOAL Workshop in Latin America is part of a global, comprehensive endeavour that the Crop Trust is undertaking to strengthen the technical capacity and know-how of international, regional and national genebanks.

“In the region, and also under the CWR Project, the Crop Trust has been able to carry out nine information system assessments in Latin America, which have allowed our national partners to better understand the status and gaps in their information systems,” says Matija. “And in many cases, we’ve followed up with strategic funding to upgrade their information systems, which play a crucial role in crop collection management.”

Since 2015, the Crop Trust has provided IT equipment to national and regional genebanks in Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, and Peru. This is an ongoing effort, and other countries from the Americas will soon join the above mentioned.

After making strides in the information systems universe, genebanks will now have the opportunity to adopt elements of a quality management system for the purpose of planning improvements and monitoring their progress. This will allow them to assure donors, partners, and users that germplasm and facilities are being managed at maximum efficiency, while minimizing risk.

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