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Costing the ex situ conservation of genetic resources: maize and wheat at CIMMYT


Author Info

  • Pardey, Philip G.
  • Koo, Bonwoo
  • Wright, Brian D.
  • Van Dusen, M. Eric
  • Skovmand, Bent
  • Taba, Suketoshi


Worldwide, the number of genebanks and the amount of seed stored in them has increased substantially over the past few decades. Most attention is focused on the likely benefits from conservation, but conserving germplasm involves costs whose nature and magnitude are largely unknown. In this paper we compile and use a set of cost data for wheat and maize stored in the CIMMYT genebank to address a number of questions. What is the cost of storing an accession of either crop for one more year, or, equivalently what is the benefit in terms of cost savings from eliminating duplicate accessions from the genebank? Relatedly, what is the cost from introducing a new accession into the genebank, given the decision to store it is revisited after one year? Does it make economic sense for CIMMYT to discard accessions that may be available elsewhere? As an extension of this line of inquiry it is possible to value the benefits from either consolidating genebanks or at least networking existing banks to reduce or eliminate duplicate holdings not needed for backup safety purposes. We present estimates of the size and scale economies evident in the CIMMYT operation as a basis for assessing the economics of consolidation. Genebanks represent a commitment to conserve seeds for the very long-run. In this study we report on these long-run costs for the CIMMYT genebank costs that are sensitive to the interest rate used and the protocols for periodically replenishing accessions that are shared with others or regenerating accessions whose viability gradually diminishes with age.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) in its series EPTD discussion papers with number 52.

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Date of creation: 1999
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:fpr:eptddp:52

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Keywords: Germplasm conservation.; Gene banks; Plant.; Maize Breeding.; Wheat Breeding.; Rate of return.;


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Cited by:
  1. Gruère, Guillaume P., 2006. "An analysis of trade related international regulations of genetically modified food and their effects on developing countries:," EPTD discussion papers, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) 147, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
  2. Caracciolo, Francesco & Gotor, Elisabetta & Holloway, Garth J. & Watts, Jamie, 2008. "The Origin, Development And Structure Of Demand For Plant Genetic Resources. The Impact Of The In Trust Agreements To The CGIAR Collections Availability," 82nd Annual Conference, March 31 - April 2, 2008, Royal Agricultural College, Cirencester, UK, Agricultural Economics Society 36773, Agricultural Economics Society.
  3. Gotor, Elisabetta & Caracciolo, Francesco & Watts, Jamie, 2010. "The Perceived Impact of the In-Trust Agreements on CGIAR Germplasm Availability: An Assessment of Bioversity International's Institutional Activities," World Development, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 38(10), pages 1486-1493, October.
  4. Block, Paul J. & Strzepek, Kenneth & Rosegrant, Mark W. & Diao, Xinshen, 2006. "Impacts of considering climate variability on investment decisions in Ethiopia:," EPTD discussion papers, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) 150, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).


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