ICRISAT focuses on legumes and cereals, including millets, that are important for food security in the semi-arid areas of the world. The main genebank collection is at the centre’s headquarters in Hyderabad, India, and there are three regional genebanks in Kenya, Niger and Zimbabwe. Currently Zimbabwe and Niger genebanks are active.
More than 128,960 accessions are listed in Genesys. Almost 50,000 of these are three legumes: chickpea, pigeonpea and groundnut, and their wild relatives. Sorghum is the most common single genus, with 39,000 accessions. There are about 34,000 accessions of various millets, including more than 24,000 of pearl millet.
Traditional cultivars and landraces make up the bulk of the holdings (82%) and about 16% are breeding and research lines. About 2% are wild relatives.
ICRISAT scientists developed the idea of mini-core collections, a representative sample of about 1% of the accessions of a species, selected to help breeders to find the traits they are interested in. There are mini-core collections of all ICRISAT mandate crops. One example is the groundnut mini-core collection, which consists of only 184 accessions that include traits for resistance to biotic and abiotic stresses and for good agronomic and nutritional status.
The ICRISAT genebank has distributed more than 1.4 million samples of 106,000 accessions to 147 countries. ICRISAT accessions are part of the pedigree of more than 800 improved varieties released by national partners. ICRISAT has itself released several improved varieties that make use of genebank accessions, including pearl millets rich in micronutrients.
About 88% of the collection is safety duplicated at the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, with additional smaller safety duplicates in Niger and at ICARDA.