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.