The European Evaluation network EVA is modeled on a successful German national evaluation project EVA-II, which has been operational since 2001. EVA is being implemented with initial funding from the German Ministry of Agriculture for three years (2019-2022). The project’s principles, framework and structure were developed during several ECPGR workshops between 2017 and 2019, also organized with the support of the German government.
Between 2017 and 2019, ECPGR projects funded by Germany aimed at promoting private public partnerships for the increased use of Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (PGRFA) in European collections. They set the basis for the formulation, consensus building and establishment of an agreed framework at ECPGR level for the implementation of a European Evaluation Network (EVA).
Another output of these projects was the establishment of a Private Public Partnerships (PPP) Knowledge base that provides information about PPP examples in Europe with a focus on use of PGRFA.
In May 2018, the ECPGR Steering Committee endorsed the proposal for a European Evaluation Network and assigned to it the acronym EVA. Concomitantly, ECPGR and the European Seed Association (ESA, now Euroseeds) signed a Memorandum of Understanding for enhanced cooperation, in particular within the framework of EVA. The ECPGR Steering Committee also included the development of EVA among the ECPGR objectives for Phase X (2019-2023), specifically the generation of evaluation data throughout the European region and provision of such data to EURISCO.
Two ECPGR workshops were subsequently held to facilitate establishments of EVA networks for wheat and barley and for vegetables. During these meetings, participants from public institutions and private breeding companies came together to discuss options and draft a project proposal and plan for the coming years.
During the 2018 ECPGR Steering Committee meeting in Thessaloniki, Greece, the framework for the establishment of a European Evaluation Network was launched and a Memorandum of Understanding for enhanced collaboration between the European Seed Association (ESA - now EUROSEEDS ) and ECPGR was also agreed for signature. In this MoU, Euroseeds and ECPGR agree to use their networks in a beneficial collaboration to promote evaluation of PGR across Europe, supporting the European Evaluation Networks.
Inter alia, EVA aims to:
All activities within the EVA networks are intended at the pre-breeding stage, to increase our knowledge about valuable traits of publicly available crop germplasm, with a view to introducing these into public and private breeding programs. Evaluation data from different environments across the continent will also aid in identifying adapted accessions for breeding of climate resilient crops.
Following up from the establishment of the European PGRFA Evaluation Network EVA by the Steering Committee, the ECPGR Secretariat submitted a successful proposal to Germany for funding of a project to kick-start the EVA networks on wheat and barley and vegetables (carrot, lettuce and pepper) for three years (2019-2022), with a no-cost extension granted until 2023 in view of delays in the project caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Each year a different batch of European genebank accessions will be multiplied and then evaluated in multiple locations for disease resistance and other traits. All accessions will be genotyped. All data will be provided to EURISCO and made widely available after an embargo period, to incentivize the collaboration of private breeders.
Right from the project start in July 2019, several private breeding companies and public research institutions have agreed to participate in the crop-specific networks, but additional partners are welcome. Find all organizations participating in EVA in the various network pages.
In December 2019, during the first meeting of the newly established ECPGR Maize Working Group a proposal for an extension of the project to include a crop-specific network for Maize was prepared and subsequently granted by the donor. This extension will enable the newly formed Working Group on Maize to add value to European maize genetic resources within an appropriate framework of public/private partnerships, with adoption of common standards, use of EURISCO and strengthening of the AEGIS collection. In practice, during the project duration a total of 200-500 European genebank accessions of maize will be genotyped and evaluated for biotic and abiotic stresses in multilocation experiments.
The ECPGR EVA currently comprises five crop-specific networks for cereals and vegetables: