2018 was a tough year. Seemingly every day another headline appeared in the international news media on the increasing urgency of the climate change or biodiversity loss emergencies. When the newspapers were not talking about the planet’s increasingly fragile health, human health came under the spotlight, in particular the rise of diet-related illnesses and premature deaths. It’s easy to get despondent at what appears to be a lack of policies and action to tackle these problems.
So I am going to buck the trend and serve up some good news – a hero of the hour has arrived to save the day! Biodiversity can provide the tools and pathways to get us out of trouble, to a safe operating space for humanity. By eating it and planting it, we not only improve dietary diversity for people, but also the health of the farming systems that provide food and income security for millions of people around the world. The even better news? By using more of it in diets, markets and production systems, we will safeguard it for the future.
Today’s global challenges of poverty, malnutrition, climate change, land degradation, and biodiversity loss call for new solutions, innovations, and stronger partnerships that can deliver higher impact.
To respond to these challenges, and building on their complementary mandates and long collaboration, in 2018, Bioversity International and the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) committed to joining forces to create an Alliance.
Healthy diets from sustainable food systems
Productive and resilient farms, forests and landscapes
Effective genetic resources conservation and use
In the research highlights section of the Annual Report, you will find stories based on scientific papers and tools produced by Bioversity International scientists working with partners.
These highlights represent just a small selection of the 145 papers produced in 2018.
Bioversity International works with partners around the world including a wide range of funders and research partners who share our vision and mission to deliver scientific evidence, management practices and policy options to use and safeguard agricultural and tree biodiversity to attain sustainable global food and nutrition security.
Bioversity International is proud to be a CGIAR Research Centre. Supported by CGIAR Trust Fund members and in close collaboration with the other 14 CGIAR Centres and hundreds of partner organizations, including national and regional research institutes, civil society organizations, academia and the private sector, in 2018 Bioversity International participated in:
- Three Agri-Food System CGIAR Research Programs (Forests, Trees and Agroforestry; Grains, Legumes and Dryland Cereals; and Roots, Tubers and Bananas)
- Four Global Integrating Programs (Agriculture for Nutrition and Health; Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security; Policies, Institutions and Markets; and Water, Land and Ecosystems)
- Two Research Support Platforms (Genebank Platform; and Platform for Big Data in Agriculture)
We thank all of our partners for their critical and continued support.
In 2018, total revenue was US$30.5 million and expenditure $32.3 million, resulting in a deficit of $1.6 million. This deficit was purposefully incurred as part of the 3-year development plan for the period 2017–2019, which applied reserves to invest in the growth of Bioversity International by incurring operational deficits in those three years. 2020 will be planned and managed to result in a breakeven position. Despite the deficit recorded, operational reserves remain at a healthy level, equivalent of 127 days of average expenditure, well above the minimum target of 90 days set by the Board of Trustees. This application of reserves has allowed strategic maintenance or increase in staff capacity in key areas, and to shift the income portfolio to increase financial resilience.
For more information, download our 2018 Financial Statements
Braulio Ferreira de Souza Dias
M. Ann Tutwiler
Douglas van den Aardweg
Bioversity International created a UK registered charity (no. 1131854) in October 2008 to increase awareness and support for its research agenda and activities. Bioversity International UK is governed by an independent Board of Trustees:
Trish Malloch Brown
M. Ann Tutwiler
Doug van den Aardweg
Bioversity International USA, Inc aims to engage and inspire a wide range of partners and donors to ensure that agricultural biodiversity nourishes people and sustains the planet. It is led by a committed and highly regarded Board of Trustees:
M. Ann Tutwiler
Trish Malloch Brown
Writing: Carlo Angelico, Nora Capozio, Jeremy Cherfas, Samantha Collins, with contributions from many of our scientists
Contributors: Maria Garruccio, Annie Huie, Allison Poulos, Consuelo Tenente
Design: Pablo Gallo
Project Manager: Nora Capozio
More than 60 samples of wild and cultivated bananas were added to the Papua New Guinea national collection thanks to an expedition in Bougainville. Many of the collected samples were new to researchers, who analyzed them with molecular techniques.
Since its inception more than 40 years ago, Bioversity International1 supported a series of expeditions worldwide to collect crop genetic diversity. The objective was to safeguard traditional varieties, landraces and their wild relatives, which were being lost from fields and natural habitats.
In the late 1980s, a series of missions2 explored the great diversity of bananas found in Papua New Guinea. At that time, scientists were able to collect 264 wild and cultivated samples – 86% were original types not found anywhere else.
However, those missions could not reach the Autonomous Region of Bougainville, which was then a site of civil conflict. Could this region contain even more valuable banana diversity? A new mission funded by the Crop Trust in 2016 aimed to find out.
“Given the high diversity already collected in Papua New Guinea, I feared that we could not collect many more new banana varieties,” said Julie Sardos, Bioversity International Scientist and leader of the mission. “I was happy to be proved wrong. The expedition to Bougainville, co-organized with our partners from the Papua New Guinea National Agricultural Research Institute (NARI), resulted in the collection of 61 accessions most of which seemed new to expert eyes.”
Worldwide, the majority of cultivated bananas are what scientists call triploids (they have three sets of chromosomes), which tend to be more robust and productive than diploids (with two sets of chromosomes). However, in Papua New Guinea, many diploid varieties can still be found. Half of the samples collected in 2016 in Bougainville were diploids, which are particularly important for breeders since they are a fundamental element of the breeding process. The scientific results of the mission were published in 2018 in Genetic Resources and Crop Evolution.
One of the aims of the expedition was to enrich the Papua New Guinea national banana collection managed by the NARI.
“Collaborative projects like this have greatly contributed towards collecting, conserving and maintaining Papua New Guinea’s second most important food crop for current and future generations. We have broadened our scientific knowledge and skills on banana diversity in Papua New Guinea, which will be imparted to national banana scientists to effectively contribute towards research both nationally and internationally,” said Janet Paofa, NARI Plant Curator and one of the scientists who participated in the mission.
To ensure the conservation and use of a wider diversity of banana, the samples have been safely duplicated at the Bioversity International Musa Germplasm Transit Centre (ITC), the world’s largest banana genebank hosted in Belgium at KU Leuven.3
Scientists also collected leaf samples for DNA analysis, performed by the Musa Genotyping Centre hosted at the Institute of Experimental Botany in Olomouc, Czech Republic.
“The results confirmed that we collected 35 new genotypes, which is a lot for a clonal crop4 like banana. We also got a better understanding of the dynamics behind banana diversification on farm. For example, we found two varieties with the exact same genotype but differing highly in appearance: ‘Tambra’ is variegated while ‘Morou’ is not. Clearly, farmers had captured and conserved a natural mutant that occurred in their fields,” continues Sardos.
The wild species collected were also the focus of further molecular studies in collaboration with the Botanic Garden of Meise, Belgium. They analyzed the genetic diversity of wild banana species at the population level, increasing our knowledge of wild banana biology and conservation, and opening a new era for the use of banana wild relatives in breeding.
“The main lesson we learned from the collecting mission to Bougainville is that, even though the Pacific region has been extensively explored already, there is still a lot of undescribed diversity out there. In fact, we will be back to the Pacific on new banana collecting missions in 2019,” concludes Sardos.
 As the International Board for Plant Genetic Resource (IBPGR)
 These missions were organized by Bioversity International as IBPGR and QDPI (current Queensland DAF) in co-operation with the Papua New Guinea Department of Agriculture and Livestock (current NARI) and supported by the International Network for the Improvement of Banana and Plantain (INIBAP) (current Bioversity International).
 All germplasm conserved at the ITC, including the material collected in Papua New Guinea, is available to all on the understanding that it remains in the public domain.
 Bananas are vegetatively propagated crops, i.e. a new banana plant grows from a fragment (called sucker) of the parent plant, to which it’s genetically identical.
This paper was led and co-authored by Bioversity International scientist Julie Sardos, Max Ruas and Nicolas Roux, with partners from: Institute of Experimental Botany, Centre of the Region Haná for Biotechnological and Agricultural Research, Czech Republic; Southern Regional Centre, PNG National Agricultural Research Institute, Papua New Guinea; Momase Regional Centre, PNG National Agricultural Research Institute, Bubia, Lae, Papua New Guinea; Hawaii Banana Source, Waialua, HI, USA; Botanic Garden Meise, Belgium; Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, South Johnstone, QLD, Australia.
Citation: Sardos J., Christelová P., Čížková J., Paofa J., Sachter-Smith G.L., Janssens S.B., Rauka G., Ruas M., Daniells J.W., Dolezel J. and Roux N. 2018. Collection of new diversity of wild and cultivated bananas (Musa spp.) in the autonomous region of Bougainville, Papua New Guinea. Genetic Resources and Crop Evolution. (SJR: 0.52) https://hdl.handle.net/10568/97657