Future PGRFA collections will focus on filling gaps in existing collections, collection of certain regional, minor and subsistence crops and collection from particular countries where collection has not taken place or been very limited.
That’s from the Global Plan of Action for the Conservation and Sustainable Utilization of Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (GPA). In fact, “gap-filling” is often mentioned as a way to be more strategic and cost-efficient in germplasm collecting. This approach relies on knowing where a crop (or, more correctly, landraces of a crop) is grown, and comparing that with the distribution of germplasm accessions in genebanks (which could in fact be done in various different ways, depending on how you define “gap”, but forget that for a minute).
We all know about the problems associated with data on germplasm accessions (lack or inaccuracy of georeferences in passport data, for example). But in fact there are issues with the crop distribution data too, as we’ve recently discussed here and here. This shows the range of answers you get when you ask the seemingly simple question: where do bananas grow in Africa? Click on the image to see it better, or go to the previous posts.
So, is “gap-filling” a forlorn hope, at least at the continental and global levels? Looking forward to your thoughts…