From its work sites in laboratories, greenhouses, and experimental fields in Palmira, Colombia, and at the University of Louvain, in Belgium, Mónica, Melissa, Madelyn, Ramiro, Javier, Jair, Wilmer, Vincent, and Bart tell us about their experience in which they take on with equal responsibility the preventive measures established by the health authorities of their countries and those of our own organization. Their mission during the confinement is to safeguard the patrimony of more than 150 nations of the world that have entrusted the Alliance with one of their most precious treasures, their seeds.
"It is something that is unique. It is a bean grown without soil, only in water; it is a hydroponic bean. We are starting, but we have already established it," says the researcher, Javier Gereda, with pride. His routine in the area of bean seed regeneration of the Genetic Resources Program, in the headquarters of the Alliance in Palmira, has not changed. But since the quarantine started, the responsibility to maintain these collections alive in the field falls on his shoulders and on the shoulders of eleven other coworkers, who are at the off-site experimental stations.
In addition to the care of this type of bean that has no sanitary problems caused by the soil, Javier must take care that the seeds they were given to multiply in the field carry on their normal trajectory of growth. There are a couple of species of bean that also merit special care and attention. They are the Phaseolus hygrophilus and Phaseolus albicarminus, of which there is now no trace in the country where they were collected, Costa Rica. "To lose a variety is to lose the patrimony of a country," says the researcher.
The researcher Ramiro Sabogal is Javier’s coworker and he has been very active since the quarantine began. There was even a weekend when he was responsible for all the fields of genetic resources. One of his jobs is visiting the growth chambers to water the accessions of beans that are in "intensive care."
Meanwhile, Javier must also make the rounds of the Alliance’s five seed regeneration stations, coordinating the basic work of maintaining the crops: watering, pruning, fertilization, and even harvesting. The work cannot stop because the commitment to multiply the 120 seeds that they were given for each accession or variety and produce 1,800 fresh seeds from them was not modified by the quarantine.
"It is not the work of one or two people, it is the consolidation of work done as a team that must be coordinated."
Javier Mauricio Gereda
Research Assistant, Bean Regeneration, Genetic Resources Program, Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT