Bioversity International

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Bioversity International
Bioversity logo.svg
Motto Research for development in agricultural and forest biodiversity
Formation 1974
Type Non-profit research and training centre
Legal status
International organisation
Purpose Research for development
Headquarters Maccarese, Rome
Location Italy Italy
Region served
16 offices worldwide
Director General
M. Ann Tutwiler
Staff Approx. 300

Bioversity International is one of 15 agricultural research centres supported by CGIAR. Working with partners worldwide, it is dedicated to the conservation and use of forest and agricultural biodiversity for improved livelihoods, nutrition, sustainability and productive and resilient ecosystems. The organization is highly decentralized, with about 320 staff working from 16 offices worldwide. Headquarters is in Maccarese, outside Rome, Italy, with regional offices located in Americas, Asia, Pacific & Oceania, Europe and Sub-Saharan Africa.


The organization’s various name changes reflect a change in focus. At first it worked on the emergency collection of plant genetic resources. Then came a phase of promoting the conservation of plant genetic resources through use. Now, Bioversity says it is researching agricultural biodiversity for improved livelihoods, nutrition, sustainability and productive and resilient ecosystems. It has also expanded its focus from strictly plant genetic resources to include animals, microbes and other aspects of agricultural biodiversity. Its focus is on rain-fed farming systems, primarily managed by smallholder farmers, in areas where large-scale agriculture is not a viable option.

The organization takes the view that the diversity of plants and animals offers opportunities not only through breeding but also by delivering many other benefits. Some are direct, such as the better nutrition and greater sustainability that come with locally adapted crops. Others are indirect, like the ecosystem services delivered by healthy populations of pollinators, biological control agents, and soil microbes. Bioversity International works with partners to provide evidence of the wider benefits of agricultural biodiversity for human well-being and to explore what types of diversity can make the greatest contribution and in what ways this can be done.


Bioversity International is governed by a Board of Trustees, including one Trustee nominated by the host country (Italy) and one nominated by FAO. The Board also appoints the Director General who manages the operation of the various programs.


Bioversity International was originally established by the CGIAR as the International Board for Plant Genetic Resources (IBPGR) in 1974. In October 1991, IBPGR became the International Plant Genetic Resources Institute (IPGRI) and in 1994 IPGRI began independent operation as one of the centers of the CGIAR. At the request of the CGIAR, in 1994 IPGRI took over the governance and administration of the International Network for the Improvement of Banana and Plantain (INIBAP). In 2006, IPGRI and INIBAP became a single organization and subsequently changed their operating name to Bioversity International. The new name reflects an expanded vision of its role in the area of biodiversity research for development.

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