Plant genetic resources for food and agriculture (PGRFA) have been systematically collected and exchanged for some 500 years. Conservation focuses explicitly on maintaining the diversity of the full range of genetic variation within a particular species or taxa. Plant genetic resources can be conserved both in-situ and ex-situ.
The main reasons for conserving PGRFA are to ensure the future adaptability of cultivars and wild populations; to preserve data and traits that ensure sustainable agriculture; to promote the use of genetic resources in commerce and biotechnology; to conserve genetic diversity for cultural reasons.
Ex situ conservation entails conservation of biological diversity components outside their natural habitats. The main storage infrastructures for such conservation techniques are genebanks; millions of accessions are now stored in hundreds of genebanks around the world for conservation and utilisation purposes.