In-situ Conservation of Crop Wild Relatives through
informationmanagement and field application

in

Sri Lanka

CWR project is implemented in Sri Lanka by the Department of Agriculture in
collaboration with the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resource, the GEF
focal point in Sri Lanka












The multi-country project, called In-Situ Conservation of Crop Wild Relatives Through Enhanced Information Management and Field Application, was launched in 2004, by Bioversity International in collaboration with the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (MENR) in Sri Lanka, the national partner and international partners. Apart from Sri Lanka, Armenia, Bolivia, Madagascar and Uzbekistan are involved in this project. The project is co-funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF). The other international agencies involved in the project are the Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI), the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), the World Conservation Union (IUCN), UNEPs World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP/WCMC) and the German Centre for Documentation and Information in Agriculture (ZADI).


The wild relatives of crop plants include the progenitors of crops as well as species more or less closely related to them. Crop wild relatives are important both for improving agricultural production and for maintaining sustainable agroecosystems. Although the germplasm of some wild relatives have been conserved by the department in the PGRC gene bank (ex-situ conservation) most of the wild species in nature are in danger of getting extinct along with most of the biodiversity due to anthropocentric activities. Therefore there is an urgent need to conserve the wild relatives of crops which are essential for developing better varieties for feeding the increasing population.
What are crop wild relative

Crop wild relatives (CWR) are plants related to socio-economically important species including food, fodder and forage crops, medicinal plants, condiments, ornamental, and forestry species, as well as plants used for industrial purposes, such as oils and fibres. A formal definition of a crop wild relative can be found at PGR Forum, the European Crop Wild Relative Diversity Assessment and Conservation Forum.

Why are crop wild relatives important

It was N.I. Vavilov, a Russian Botanist who first realized the importance of crop wild relatives in early years 20th century. Genetic material from Crop wild relatives has been utilized by humans for thousands of years to improve the quality and yield of crops. Natural crosses between crops and their wild relatives have occurred since the beginnings of agriculture. Farmers have used traditional breeding methods for millennia, and more recently, plant breeders have utilised crop wild relative genes to improve a wide range of crops like rice (Oryza sativa), and grain legumes

In addition Crop wild relatives are essential components of natural ecosystems and agricultural eco-systems and hence are indispensable for maintaining ecosystem health. Their conservation and sustainable use is very important for improving agricultural production, increasing food security, and maintaining a healthy environment.

* Based on the information from the European Crop Wild Relative Diversity Assessment and Conservation Forum.

Crop Wild Relatives in Sri Lanka

Although Sri Lanka is an important centre for crop wild relative diversity our populations of crop wild relatives are under threat due habitat destruction and other human activities. So far very little attention has been paid for conserving and utilizing this important biological resource.

According to the records of the National Herbarium there are over 400 species of CWR in Sri Lanka. The Crop Wild Relatives Conservation Project implemented by the DOA has selected five priority crops of which wild species will be conserved in-situ as a first step of conserving this valuable plant genetic resource. Priority crops selected and their wild relatives in Sri Lanka are given below;

Rice (Oryza)

Oriza sativa (cultivated species)
Oryza eichingeri A. Peter
Oryza nivara Sharma et Shastry
Oryza rhizomatis Vaughan
Oryza rufipogon Griff.
Oryza granulata

Piper

Piper nigrum L., (cultivated species)
Piper zeylanicum Miq.,
Piper walkeri Miq
Piper hymenophyllum Miq
Piper sylvestre Lam.,
Piper trineuron Miq.,
Piper siriboa L.,
Piper chuvya (Miq.) C. DC.
Piper betle L., (cultivated)
Piper longum L.,

Green Gram/Black Gram etc (Vigna)

Vigna radiate (cultivated species)
Vigna aridicola N. Tomooka & Maxted
Vigna dalzelliana
Vigna radiata var. sublobata
Vigna stipulacea
Vigna trilobata
Vigna trinervia

Banana (Musa)

Musa paradisiacal L (cultivated species)
Musa acuminate Colla.
Musa balbisiana Colla.

Cinnamomum

Cinnamomum verum J. Presl (cultivated species)
Cinnamomum dubium Nees
Cinnamomum ovalifolium Wight
Cinnamomum litseaefolium Thw.
Cinnamomum citriodorum Thw.
Cinnamomum capparu-coronde Blume
Cinnamomum sinharajaense Kostermans
Cinnamomumrivulorum Kostermans
Cinnamomum camphora (L) Presl
Crop Wild Relatives (CWR) have not yet been properly utilized for varietals improvement in Sri Lanka. A new project to conserve this valuable biological resource is being implemented by the Department of Agriculture in collaboration with the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources. . The project is funded by UNEP/GEF and globally implemented by the International Plant Genetic Resources Institute. In addition to Sri Lanka this project is being implemented in Armenia, Bolivia, Madagascar and Uzbekistan.

Main objective of the project is to enhance the capacity to use information to support conservation and sustainable utilization of CWR in selected five countries and to develop complementary information management system with national and international components. Many stakeholders are involved in the Sri Lankan component of this project.

Project activities will include training of nominated officers from stakeholder institutions on information management, CWR conservation, utilization, ecogeograpic surveys and increasing public awareness on Crop Wild Relatives.

Coordination among stakeholders of the project is done by the project management unit which has been established at the Horticulture Research and Development Institute, under the supervision of Director General of Agriculture. CWR project is for a period of five years.

Project Management Structure for Sri Lanka



BGCI
FAO
IUCN
UNEP/WCMC
ZADI

Local Partners

Plant Genetic Resources Center
National Herbarium
Department of Wild Life Conservation
Department of Forest
Biodiversity Secatariat
Central Environment Authority
Bandaranayake Ayurvadic Research Institute
IUCN Sri Lanka
Department of Export Agriculture
Sri Lanka Customs
Human Resource Development Center (NGO)
National Steering Committee
  1. Secretary, ME&NR
  2. Addl. Secretary, ME&NR
  3. Director General Department of Agriculture
  4. Deputy Director, PGRC
  5. Director Royal Botanic Gardens
  6. Director, Seed Certification and Plant Protection Division, Department of Agriculture
  7. Mr. Jagath Gunawardane, Attorney at Law, Environment Education Foundation
  8. Director (Projects), Ministry of Agriculture
  9. IUCN representative
  10. UNEP representative
  11. Conservator General of Forest
  12. Director General, Department of Wildlife
  13. Director, Biodiversity Secretariat
  14. Superintendent of Customs (Biodiversity section)
  15. Mr. P. Podinilame, Director, Human Resource Development Center
  16. Director, Department of Export Agriculture
  17. Dean, Faculty of Agriculture, University of Peradeniya
  18. Bandaranayake Ayurvedic Research Institute representative
  19. FAO representative.
  20. National Project Coordinator

National Database Management Committee
  1. Ms. Srimathi Dissanayake, (National DBMC Coordinator) Research Officer, PGRC
  2. Mr. W.D.L Gunarathne, Senior Deputy Director (Research), Department of Export Agriculture
  3. Mr. Ajith Silva, Deputy Director Biodiversity Secretariat
  4. Ms. Pathma Abeykoon, Assistant Conservator of Forests (Environmental Management)
  5. Mr. M.S.L.R.P. Marasinghe, Assistant Director (Planning), Department of Wildlife Conservation
  6. Mr. Sarath Ekanayake, Senior Program Officer IUCN
  7. Miss. S. Ranasinghe, National Herbarium
  8. Mrs. Sudeepa Sugathadasa, Bandaranaike memorial Ayurvedic Research Institute
  9. Mr. C.B. Rathnayake, Custom Officer, Sri Lanka Customs
  10. Dr. N.M. Najim, Lecturer, Faculty of Agriculture, University of Peradeniya
  11. Mr. J.A.R. Gunawardana, Senior Environmental Officer, Central Environment Authority


Technical and Legal Advisory Committee
  1. Mr. Gamini Gamage (Chairman) Director, Biodiversity Secretariat
  2. Mr. W.D.L. Gunarathne, Senior Deputy Director, Department of Export Agriculture
  3. Dr. Siril Wijesundara, Director, Royal Botanic Gardens
  4. Mr. Jagath Gunawardane, Attorney at Law
  5. Mr. H.D. Rathnayake, Deputy Director, Department of Wildlife Conservation
  6. Mr. Sarath Ekanayake, IUCN
  7. Mr. Anura Satharasinghe, Deputy Conservator of Forests, Department of Forest.
  8. Representative, National Intellectual Property Office of Sri Lanka,
  9. Dr. D.K.N.G. Pushpakumara, Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Agriculture, University of Peradeniya
  10. Dr. (Mrs) Ramani Thiranagama, Ayurvedic Research Institute
Publications
  1. W.L.G. Samarasinghe, A.S.U. Liyanage and S.L.D. Jayaweera 2009. Assessment of the Threatened Status of Crop Wild Relatives of Banana, Rice and Vigna in Sri Lanka. Annals of the Sri Lanka Department of Agriculture 11:121-130

Baseline Study on Public Awareness of Crop Wild Relatives Final Report

Wild relatives of crop plants, which include progenitors of crops as well as other species more or less closely related to them, constitute an increasingly important resource for improving agricultural production and for maintaining sustainable agro-ecosystems. The wise conservation and use of crop wild relatives (CWR) are therefore essential elements for increasing food security, eliminating consumption poverty, and maintaining the environment. The natural populations of many CWR are increasingly at risk. They are threatened by habitat loss through the destruction and degradation of natural environments, deforestation or their conversion to other uses. Examples are wild relatives of fruits, nuts, and industrial crops (e.g. mango, rubber, coffee), cereal crops etc

Status Report on Existing Crop Wild Relatives Data in Sri Lanka

This comprehensive report is on the project on Preparation of a Status Report on Existing Crop Wild Relatives Data in Sri Lanka as per the agreement signed between National Project Coordinator and Dr. Ranjith Premalal De Silva of Geo-Informatics Society of Sri Lanka dated August 31, 2005. The work commenced on September 01, 2005.

Crop Wild Relatives (CWR) are taxa related to specie of direct socio economic importance including food crops, medicinal plants, condiments, and plants used for industrial purposes such as oil crops. CWR also includes plants harvested directly from the wild crops and under-utilized species.

Identification of capacity and training needs of Stakeholder Institutions for Crop Wild Relatives (CWR) Information Management, in-situ conservation and use

The UNEP/GEF funded multi- country project In-situ Conservation of Crop Wild Relatives through enhanced Information Management and Field Application is a five year (2004-2009) project that aims to effectively conserve and use crop wild relatives. It brings together seven international organizations and five countries including Sri Lanka.
Like other partner countries Sri Lanka has a significant number of globally important and threatened crop wild relatives and is also among the worlds hotspot of biodiversity.

Legal Assistance on In-Situ Conservation of Crop Wild Relatives

The biological resources of the earth have come to be recognised as a resource of vital importance for the survival of humankind. With recognition of the enormous threat to species and ecosystem survival, the conservation and preservation of biological resources of nations have been the focus of international and national efforts.
Baseline Study on Public Awareness of Crop Wild Relatives Final Report

Status Report on Existing Crop Wild Relatives Data in Sri Lanka

Annex ----------

Legal Assistance on In-Situ Conservation of Crop Wild Relatives
  1. In situ Conservation of Crop Wild Relatives through Enhanced Information Management and Field Application.
    Sixth International Steering Committee Meeting
    13th - 14th October 2009
    Bioversity International Headquarters, Rome, Italy
  2. Workshop to develop a information sharing policy for the Department of wildlife conservation, 29thand 30th October 2009, Kandy
  3. Training workshop on Access and Benefit sharing 26th and 27th November, 2009, Kandy
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