Theme 2: Forage--Oral Sessions

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It’s high time to stop talking about the (forage) plants and talk about the people. Three (Australia, India, USA) of the about a dozen curators of tropical and subtropical forage (TSTF) genetic resources collections involved in developing a Global Strategy on Conservation and Utilization of Tropical and Subtropical Forage Genetic Resources on behalf of the Global Crop Diversity Trust in 2015 have since retired. In all cases their replacements were not expert in this challenging commodity. Why? The commodity is highly diverse and requires understanding of a substantial body of knowledge generated over more than five decades. It requires a level of familiarity with two plant families, grasses and legumes, which comprise a plethora of genera and species. Some of these species, novel to agriculture, have been proven extremely useful for diverse livestock production systems, for environmental services and for people’s livelihoods. Others are rather ‘bycatch’ from early exploration and probably don’t deserve conservation at all, or at least at the highestgenebank standards. Why were there no mentored scientists waiting to take up the vacant positions? There is today a worldwide shortage of applied plant research capability as “–omic sciences” or modelling seem more appealing to emerging scientists. Few budding agricultural scientists want to dedicate their career to a commodity, which mostly ranks low in recognition of its science merits and funding support. At the same time forage science and forages are coming under greater scrutiny because of environmental factors, especially in relation to the impacts livestock production is having on global warming. However, there are emerging scientists wanting to build a career in tropical forage science. Unfortunately, they are often disconnected from similar work around the world, and their own work is insufficiently recognizedby aging, inward-looking institutions that still claim to lead global forage research and development despite the ever declining resources.

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Future Generations – Will Any Be Lacking Tropical Forage Genetic Resources?

It’s high time to stop talking about the (forage) plants and talk about the people. Three (Australia, India, USA) of the about a dozen curators of tropical and subtropical forage (TSTF) genetic resources collections involved in developing a Global Strategy on Conservation and Utilization of Tropical and Subtropical Forage Genetic Resources on behalf of the Global Crop Diversity Trust in 2015 have since retired. In all cases their replacements were not expert in this challenging commodity. Why? The commodity is highly diverse and requires understanding of a substantial body of knowledge generated over more than five decades. It requires a level of familiarity with two plant families, grasses and legumes, which comprise a plethora of genera and species. Some of these species, novel to agriculture, have been proven extremely useful for diverse livestock production systems, for environmental services and for people’s livelihoods. Others are rather ‘bycatch’ from early exploration and probably don’t deserve conservation at all, or at least at the highestgenebank standards. Why were there no mentored scientists waiting to take up the vacant positions? There is today a worldwide shortage of applied plant research capability as “–omic sciences” or modelling seem more appealing to emerging scientists. Few budding agricultural scientists want to dedicate their career to a commodity, which mostly ranks low in recognition of its science merits and funding support. At the same time forage science and forages are coming under greater scrutiny because of environmental factors, especially in relation to the impacts livestock production is having on global warming. However, there are emerging scientists wanting to build a career in tropical forage science. Unfortunately, they are often disconnected from similar work around the world, and their own work is insufficiently recognizedby aging, inward-looking institutions that still claim to lead global forage research and development despite the ever declining resources.