Indicator Name, Target and Goal
Indicator 2.5.1: Number of plant and animal genetic resources for food and agriculture secured in either medium or long-term conservation facilities
Target 2.5: By 2020, maintain the genetic diversity of seeds, cultivated plants and farmed and domesticated animals and their related wild species, including through soundly managed and diversified seed and plant banks at the national, regional and international levels, and promote access to and fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the utilization of genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge, as internationally agreed
Goal 2: End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture
Definition and Rationale
This indicator is defined as the number of plant and animal genetic resource for food and agriculture (GRFA) that have been stored in medium or long-term facilities as a means of genetic resource conservation worldwide. Plant and animal genetic resources are counted separately.
<Plant Genetic Resources>
The number of plant genetic resource refers to the number of accessions of plant genes that are in the medium or long-term conservation facilities for storage, where accession refers to a distinct sample of seed or planting material. FAO’s Gene Bank Standards for Plant Genetic Resources sets the benchmark for current scientific and technical best practices.
Medium or long-term conservation facilities refer to storage facilities, or gene banks of a base or core collection in the form of seeds in cold rooms, plants in the field and tissues in vitro and/or cryopreserved, where a base collection is defined as a set of unique accessions. The preservation period is designed to be sufficiently enough to fulfil the conservation purposes (not commercial utilization), and it may vary according to the type of storage, species and kind of material stored.
<Animal Genetic Resources>
The number of animal genetic resource refers to the number of local breeds stored within gene banks with amounts necessary for a breed’s reconstitution as per FAO’s Guidelines on Cryo-conservation of Animal Genetic Resources, where a breed is either a sub-specific group of domestic livestock with definable and identifiable external characteristics that enable it to be separated by visual appraisal from other similarly defined groups within the same species, or a group for which geographical and/or cultural separation from phenotypically similar groups has led to acceptance of its separate identity.
Medium or long-term conservation facilities refer to storage facilities, or gene banks. They include both the maintenance of live animals (in vivo) and the collection and deep-freezing of semen, ova, embryos or tissues for potential future use in breeding or regenerating animals. The preservation period is designed to be sufficiently enough to fulfil the conservation purposes (not commercial utilization), and it may vary according to the type of storage, species and kind of material stored.
Rationale and Interpretation:
Genetic resources for food and agriculture provide the building blocks of food security and, directly or indirectly, support the livelihoods of every person on earth. As the conservation and accessibility to these resources is of vital importance, this indicator facilitate the monitoring of diversity secured and accessible through genebanks and support the development and updating of strategies for the conservation and sustainable use of genetic resources.
This indicator provides an indirect measurement of the total genetic diversity which that is secured for future use.
Caution needs to be paid in interpreting the indicator. In the case of plant genetic resources, an uncontrolled addition of accessions could be duplicates of samples already conserved and accounted for.
Data Sources and Collection Method
Countries can collect this information from the gene bank (or holding institute) that they use (domestic or international) for the storage of their plant and animal genetic resources.
Officially appointed national focal points and national coordinators, under the monitoring framework endorsed by the FAO Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, are responsible for reporting national data to:
(1) The World Information and Early Warning System (WIEWS) for plant genetic resources; and
(2) The Domestic Animal Diversity Information System (DAD-IS) for animal genetic resources.
For the plant component of the indicator, accession level information is reported for a set of thirteen descriptors, four of these descriptors are mandatory. Mandatory descriptors are: (i) the name or WIEWS code of the genebank holding the material, (ii) the unique identifier of the material within the genebank, (iii) its taxonomic classification (genus, species and subtaxon), and (iv) the type of storage.
Method of Computation and Other Methodological Considerations
The two components of this indicator, i.e. (1) plant genetic resources and (2) animal genetic resources, are to be calculated separately. Each component is calculated by summing the number of unique plant genetic materials, or breeds of animal genetic materials that are stored in medium or long-term conservation facilities.
Comments and limitations:
<Plant Genetic Resources>
There are two major factors that could lead to an overestimation of this indicator, and precautions need to be taken to minimize such errors. First factor is the counting of duplicate accessions, and the second is the counting of materials whose loss of viability has not been detected in time to be regenerated.
The indicator would be highly overestimated if countries report accessions in both their base and active collections, as genetic diversity in active collections is expected to be adequately represented in the base collections. Therefore, accessions in base collections should be primarily reported. Accessions in active collections could be exceptionally reported, only if they are (i) not yet, but expected to become part of the national base collections, (ii) unique, and (iii) conserved under medium/long-term conservation facilities. Furthermore the proper documentation of the collections through the use of internationally applied standard and an effective database management system (e.g. GRIN Global) is an important prerequisite for an efficient handling of the genebank collections and to avoid or detect duplicate reporting.
Similarly, viability testing and rejuvenation of stored seed samples are part of the norms and procedures that every genebank conserving collections for the medium or long term is expected to perform routinely.
A base collection is defined as a set of unique accessions to be preserved for a medium to long-term period. An active collection is defined as a set of distinct accessions that is used for regeneration, multiplication, distribution, characterization and evaluation. Active collections are maintained in short to medium-term storage and usually duplicated in a base collection.
Another potential issue that needs to be monitored, both while reporting and interpreting the results, is the grouping or splitting of accessions. In both cases, the variation in the accounted number does not reflect a variation in the genetic diversity conserved and secured. Therefore, it is crucial that reporting countries and stakeholders together with the accession level information requested explain also the reason for the decrease or increase in the number of accessions when this does not reflect a real loss or gain in the genetic diversity conserved and secured.
<Animal Genetic Resources>
To collect animal genetic resources data on a regular basis, the Domestic Animal Diversity Information System (DAD-IS) has been amended. The new DAD-IS version was launched in November 2017 and allows now to report on a yearly base on the type and amount of genetic material stored (e.g. semen, embryos, oocytes, number of donors…) for each breed.
Proxy, alternative and additional indicators: N/A
The country reporting on an annual basis allows for both geographic and temporal data disaggregation.
For the plant component of the indicator, data can be disaggregated according to the mandatory descriptors described above. Additional levels of data disaggregation can be provided by optional accession-level descriptors, including the date of acquisition, the type of material conserved, the latitude and longitude of the collecting site.
As countries report on their national cryoconservation programmes for animal genetic resources, the indicator can be disaggregated by cryo-programme and year, further it can be distinguished between mammalian and avian species or by single species.
Data for the levels of disaggregation mentioned above can be found in WIEWS and DAD-IS for plants and animals respectively.
Official SDG Metadata URL
Internationally agreed methodology and guideline URL
Plant genetic resources: http://www.fao.org/fileadmin/user_upload/wiews/docs/SDG_251_data_requirement_sheet_table_EN.docx
Animal genetic resources: http://www.fao.org/docrep/016/i3017e/i3017e00.htm
FAO SDG Portal and E-Learning:
FAO. Sustainable Development Goals Indicators. Available at http://www.fao.org/sustainable-development-goals/indicators/en/
FAO. E-learning Centre. Available at http://www.fao.org/elearning/
Plant genetic resources
FAO. National Focal Points for the monitoring of the Second Global Plan of Action for Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture and the preparation of country reports for The Third Report on the State of the World's Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture. Available at: http://www.fao.org/agriculture/crops/thematic-sitemap/theme/seeds-pgr/gpa/national-focal-points/en/
FAO (2011). Second Global Plan of Action for Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture. Rome. Available at: http://www.fao.org/docrep/015/i2624e/i2624e00.htm
FAO (2010). Second Report on the State of the World’s Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture. Available at: http://www.fao.org/docrep/013/i1500e/i1500e00.htm
FAO (2013). Genebank Standards for Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture. Rome. Available at: http://www.fao.org/documents/card/en/c/7b79ee93-0f3c-5f58-9adc-5d4ef063f9c7/
FAO (2013). Targets and Indicators for Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, In: Report of the Fourteenth Regular Session of the Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, CGRFA-14/13/Report, Appendix C. Rome. Available at: http://www.fao.org/docrep/meeting/028/mg538e.pdf
FAO (2015). Reporting Format for Monitoring the Implementation of the Second Global Plan of Action for Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture. CGRFA-15/15/Inf.9. Rome. Available at: http://www.fao.org/3/a-mm294e.pdf
FAO (2012). FAO/Bioversity Multi-Crop Passport Descriptor (MCPD) v.2. Rome. Available at: http://www.bioversityinternational.org/fileadmin/user_upload/online_library/publications/pdfs/FAOBioversity_multi_crop_passport_descriptors_V_2_Final_rev_1526.pdf
GRIN Global. Available at: https://www.grin-global.org/
Animal genetic resources
FAO. Preparation of the First Report on the State of the World's Animal Genetic Resources Guidelines for the Development of Country Reports. Annex 2. Working definitions for use in developing country reports and providing supporting data. Internet site: http://www.fao.org/docrep/004/y1100m/y1100m03.htm
FAO (2012). Guidelines on Cryo-conservation of Animal Genetic Resources. Rome. Available at: http://www.fao.org/docrep/016/i3017e/i3017e00.htm
FAO. National Coordinator for Management of Animal Genetic Resource. Internet site: http://dad.fao.org/cgi-bin/EfabisWeb.cgi?sid=-1,contacts
FAO (2016). Status of Animal Genetic Resources. CGRFA/WG-AnGR-9/16/Inf.3. Available at: http://www.fao.org/3/a-mq950e.pdf
FAO (2013). Guidelines on In vivo Conservation of Animal Genetic Resources. Rome. Available at: http://www.fao.org/docrep/018/i3327e/i3327e.pdf
FAO (2015). The Second Report on the State of the World’s Animal Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture. Rome. Available at: http://www.fao.org/3/a-i4787e.pdf
International Organization(s) for Global Monitoring
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