Crop Genebank Knowledge Base

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Risk assessment

Contributors to this section: PhilRice, Philippines (Gabriel Romero); CGIAR IAU (John Fitzsimon); Bioversity-ILRI, Addis Ababa (Alexandra Jorge); IRRI, Los Baños, Philippines (Ruaraidh Sackville Hamilton, Renato Reaño); ILRI, Addis Ababa (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).

Communication and consultation

Everyone involved in implementing a risk management system should be oriented in the concepts, methodology, terminology, documentation requirements and decision-making processes of the system. This should happen for all those involved at the inception of the system, and thereafter for those who come after and are new to the system. That communication process should also allow for suggestions for improvement.

Establishing the context

The risk assessment process itself begins with the consideration of the objectives of the genebank, the environment in which the activities operate and the stakeholders.


A complete analysis of all activities' relevant risks is most likely if their identification is explicitly linked, in the same way that performance indicators of the activity should be, to the agreed objectives of the activity. 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.


Genebank activities are affected by various factors in the environment. Those elements that might support or impair the genebank’s ability to achieve its objectives and functions should be identified as part of the risk management process. These could be related to such factors as:

  • The strategic focus and existing or planned portfolio of the Centre.
  • People (staff, consultant, partners).
  • The available physical infrastructure.
  • Financial resources.
  • Legal compliance requirements.
  • Technology.
  • Existing internal processes.
  • Developments in the external environment such as political changes.

These factors may be controlled to different degrees. An understanding of the environment can help determine the proper response to the risks identified in the risk assessment.


There is a wide range of stakeholders that have an interest in the sustainable operations, products and services of CGIAR genebanks, such as:

  • Researchers (breeders, geneticists, agronomists, physiologists, pathologists, entomologists).
  • Farmers.
  • Private sector.
  • Host country.
  • Other CGIAR Centres.
  • International crop networks.
  • Donor community. 

The perceived effects and impact of failure of genebank services to stakeholders can help to evaluate the importance of risks and guide the development of necessary mitigation with due consideration of the stakeholders.

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