International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture

Over 4 Million Samples of Germplasm transferred through the International Treaty


The International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resource for Food and Agriculture announced that it has now facilitated the transfer of over 4.1 million samples of germplasm through its multilateral system, rendering it the largest exchange pool in the world.

The transfer of the plant genetic resources for food and agriculture (PGRFA) is done through the International Treaty’s unique multilateral system of access and benefit-sharing, using the Standard Material Transfer Agreement (SMTA). The system enables Contracting Parties access to this massive global genepool of material that includes 64 crops and forages important for nutrition and food security. This common pool of resources also allows farmers and researchers around the world to access and share germplasm for research, plant breeding and conservation of PGRFA.

Four percent of the transfers are of crops not listed in Annex 1 of the International Treaty, including many vegetables. An additional 1.2 million samples are PGRFA under development, meaning they were derived from other materials in the Multilateral System (MLS) with the intent to develop a commercial product but are not yet ready for commercial use. Half of the PGRFA transferred to date were sent from Latin America and the Caribbean Region, followed by 22% from Africa, and almost 20% from Asia. On the other side, the Asia Region is currently the largest beneficiary, having received 31%, followed by the Africa Region at 19% and Europe at 13.5%.

The Centres of the CGIAR that have signed special (Article 15) agreements with the Treaty’s Governing Body are among the major providers of materials in the MLS. The largest provider is the International Wheat and Maize Improvement Center (CIMMYT), accounting for 30%, followed by International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA) that provided 23%.

The largest number of crop samples in the multilateral system currently comprise wheat germplasm, followed by rice, maize, barley and chickpea.

Detailed statistics on the accessions in the International Treaty’s multilateral system are available online in four languages as part of the Global Information System on PGRFA. These figures illustrate germplasm global flows of SMTAs and PGRFA, including PGRFA under development. The statistics are available at the regional level, differentiating between PGRFA transfers made into Contracting Parties and Non-contracting Parties and the amount of PGRFA transferred by organizations that have signed Article 15 Agreements with the Treaty. This information is also available in the form of interactive statistical maps, helping contribute to a better understanding of the flows of germplasm, and aiding in the discussions on the enhancement process of the Treaty’s existing mechanisms. 

Share this page