Crop Genebank Knowledge Base

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Risk management

Contact person for Risk management: Gabriel Romero, PhilRice, the Philippines.

Contributors to this section: PhilRice, the Philippines (Gabriel Romero); CGIAR IAU (John Fitzsimon); Bioversity-ILRI, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (Alexandra Jorge); IRRI, Los Baños, Philippines (Ruaraidh Sackville Hamilton, Renato Reaño); ILRI, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (Jean Hanson); CIMMYT, Mexico (Thomas Payne); IITA, Nigeria (Dominique Dumet); ICRISAT, Patancheru, India (Hari D Upadhyaya); NCGR USDA-ARS, Oregon, USA (Barbara Reed); NCGRP USDA-ARS, Fort Collins, Colorado (Dave Ellis).

The importance of secure conservation

Secure conservation is at the heart of Centres’ stewardship of their collections and depends on an accurate assessment and appropriate management of risks. The risks of ex situ storage in genebanks should be, on balance, less than those to which the accessions would be exposed if maintained only in the wild or in production systems. The risks are less principally because of the hands-on nature of ex situ conservation and the extent of our understanding of the behaviour of accessions under controlled conditions. Still, due to the enormous size and importance of the in-trust collections, there is compelling need to implement and promote systematic risk management that addresses the physical and biological risks in the every-day environment to which the collections and related information are exposed. Accordingly, the management of risk in the storage environment involves responsible adherence to good practices, the application of the necessary skills, and the provision of appropriate storage conditions, through targeting funds to where they will have the most impact. The adequacy of conservation technologies is key, requiring particular attention for clonal crops.

Risk management guidelines

These guidelines set out the broad principles for risk management, which are primarily based on a review of the frameworks already adopted by the CGIAR Centres. They, in turn, follow the approaches set out in the Australia/New Zealand Risk Management Standard AS/NZS 4360:1995.

This work was supplemented by:

  • Further exchanges of information and feedback with Centre genebank staff;
  • A tour of USDA-ARS sites for clonal crops, legumes, data management, and long-term back-up collections;
  • Vulnerability reports of USDA-ARS Crop Germplasm committees.


Structuring risk management systems

The common objectives, which all the CGIAR genebanks are encouraged to use in structuring their risk management systems, are to:

  • Acquire and introduce new germplasm in compliance with international standards, agreements and regulations.
  • Conserve germplasm samples in a secure facility that maintains their viability.
  • Distribute healthy germplasm in compliance with international standards, agreements and regulations.
  • Manage and provide complete and accurate germplasm information as a global public good.
  • Conduct genebank operations in an efficient and sustainable way.


Steps in the Risk Assessment and Management guidelines

The steps involved in the Risk Assessment and Management guidelines include:

 Communication and consultation
 Establishing the context
 Risk identification
 Risk analysis
 Risk evaluation
 Risk treatment
 Monitoring and review

You can click directly on each of the above steps or on the risk sub menus on the left to have a detailed explanation of what to do in each step. 

These guidelines are also designed to assist non-CGIAR genebanks, which are also encouraged, as part of the global system envisaged under the International Treaty, to implement a risk management system for their collections.

You can also see the full document of the guidelines below or access the risk analyis and management tools directy from this page.  

Genebank Risk Management Framework guidelines (Romero GO, Fitzsimon J., 2010).

Risk assessment tools

References and further reading

Alconero R, Weeden NF, Gonsalves D, Fox DT. 1985. Loss of genetic diversity in pea germplasm by the elimination of individuals infected by pea seedborne mosaic virus. Annals of Applied Biology 106:357-364.

Benson EE. 2008. Cryopreservation of phytodiversity: A critical appraisal of theory & practice. Critical Reviews in Plant Sciences, 27(3): 141-219.

Calles T, Dulloo ME, Engels JMM, Van den Houwe I. 2009. Best Practices for Germplasm Management: A New Approach for Achieving Genebank Standards. Bioversity International, Rome, Italy. 52 pp. Available here.

CIAT Risk Management Team. 2004. Risk Management at the CIAT genebank operations. Draft report available here.

CIP Risk Management Team. 2004.  Genetic Resources Risk Management in CIP. Draft report available here.

Clark RL, Shands HL, Bretting PK, Eberhardt SA. 1997. Managing large diverse germplasm collections. Crop Science, 37:1-6.

Clement SL, Griswold TL, Rust RW, Hellier BC, Stout DM. 2006. Bee associates of flowering Astragalus and Onobrychis genebank accessions at a Snake River site in Eastern Washington. Journal of the Kansas Entomological Society, 79 (3):254-260.

Ellis D, Gardner C. 2006. Maintaining Genetic Integrity in Germplasm Collections.. Paper presented at the APEC Workshop on Effective Genebank Management, 28June 2006, Suwon, Korea. (Can be obtained from Dave Ellis [This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.]).

Fitzsimon J. 2006. Enterprise Risk Management. Good Practice Note No. 10. CGIAR Internal Auditing Unit. (Can be obtained from Gerardo Carstens [This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.]).

Fitzsimon J. 2007. Conservation and Use of Genetic Resources: Risk Management. Paper presented at the GPG2/GCP Quality Management and Performance Management System Design Workshop, October 2007, Lunteren, the Netherlands. [online] Available from URL:

GRC Risk Management Team. 2007. Risk Matrix at the IRRI Genetic Resources Center. Available here.

ICARDA Risk Management Team. 2005. Risk Analysis of Genetic Resources in ICARDA. Draft report available here

ICRISAT Risk Management Team. 2007. Risk Management at ICRISAT.

IITA Risk Management Committee. 2008. Risk Assessment Report at IITA. Available here

INIBAP Risk Management Team. 2008. Risk Assessment Report at INIBAP Musa Genebank. Available here.

Panis B, Thinh NT. 2001. Cryopreservation of Musa germplasm. In: Escalant, Sharrock S, editors. JVINIBAP Technical Guideline 5. International Network for the Improvement of Banana and Plantain. Montpellier, France.

Rao NK, Hanson J, Dulloo ME, Ghosh K, Nowel D, Larinde M. 2006. Manual of seed handling in genebanks. Handbooks for Genebanks No. 8. Bioversity International, Rome, Italy. Available in English (1.5 MB),  Spanish (1.4 MB) and French (1.9 MB).

Reed BM, Engelmann F, Dulloo ME, Engels JMM. 2004. Technical guidelines for the management of field and in vitro germplasm collections. IPGRI Handbooks for Genebanks No. 7. International Plant Genetic Resources Institute, Rome, Italy.

USDA Forage and Turf Grass Crop Germplasm Committee. 1997. Crop vulnerability statement for forage and turf. (Can be obtained from Blair L. Waldron [This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.]).

USDA Maize Crop Germplasm Committee. 2000. Maize report and vulnerability statement.

USDA Potato Germplasm Committee. 2004. Genetic vulnerability in potato. (Can be obtained from John Bamberg [This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.]).

USDA Rice Germplasm Committee. 2004. Crop vulnerability statement for rice.

USDA Sorghum and Millet Crop Germplasm Committee. 2004. Sorghum and millet vulnerability statement. (Can be obtained from Gary C. Peterson [This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.]).

USDA Sweetpotato Crop Germplasm Committee. 2001. Sweetpotato germplasm acquisition, maintenance and evaluation priorities 2001-2006. (Can be obtained from G. Craig Yencho [This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.]).

USDA Vigna Crop Germplasm Committee. 2004. Vigna germplasm: Current status and future needs.

USDA Wheat Crop Germplasm Committee. 1996. Wheat vulnerability report.

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