About the genebank
Africa is one of the most vulnerable continents to climate change, which would have a severe consequence on lives and sustainable development prospects in the continent. The impacts of climate change are multifold, including a rapid decline in genetic diversity, an increase in abiotic and biotic stresses, and changing climatic and environmental conditions. Genetic variation is rapidly declining, necessitating its conservation before it is lost forever, which is especially true in various parts of Africa that are at most risk to climate change. The development of improved varieties that can cope with emerging abiotic and biotic stresses is a critical component to adapt to climate change and improve food and nutrition security. Hence, breeders need access to broad genetic base germplasm of diverse geographical origin collected beyond their borders. For such purpose, all countries and all regions have become highly interdependent on germplasm exchange, which is expected to increase to cope with the effect of climate change. No country is self-sufficient in germplasm for breeding, research, and training.
Rice is the second-largest crop in total global production and feeds more people than any other crop. In Africa, rice is a staple food for millions of people and constitutes a major part of the diet in the continent. The Rice Biodiversity Center for Africa (RBCA) is mandated in the collection/acquisition of a wide range of rice germplasm (wild accessions, landraces, traditional/farmer varieties, new and old improved varieties) in Africa as well as their ex situ conservation, safety duplication (safety backup), monitoring, regeneration, characterization, data management, and distribution to the global rice community for use in breeding, research, and education. Currently, RBCA holds the third-largest rice collection globally and the largest collection in Africa. The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in the Philippines and the Dale Bumpers National Rice Research Center in the USA conserve the largest and second-largest global collection of rice germplasm. Furthermore, RBC is actively working in developing subsets of accessions that capture most of the genetic variation of each species/sub-species to promote their use in breeding and research as well as evaluating them for diverse phenotypic traits under field conditions and grain characteristics under laboratories.
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