On 27 May 2020, 32 representatives from genebanks, research institutes and breeding companies met virtually in the first meeting of the newly established EVA Maize Network. This network results from an expansion and extension of the existing EVA project which was granted in December 2019 by the German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture and aims at better utilizing maize genetic resources conserved in European genebanks through a public-private partnership.
During the meeting participants received background information on the project and genebanks provided an overview about their activities with maize genetic resources, noting that in 2020 some have faced difficulties because of the ongoing coronavirus crisis. A round table discussion gave opportunity to breeding companies to voice their expectations of the network and raise questions. A proposal for a technical project plan was presented and opened for discussion.
Participants agreed that the meeting was effective in bringing public and private sector actors together to discuss joint strategies for a maize evaluation network. An important task for the next months is to secure the commitment of the network partners and attract others to ensure the widest possible geographic distribution. While a number of aspects will need to be developed and discussed further, initial work within the network is starting in 2020 with the multiplication and genotyping of a first set of maize accessions from several partner genebanks.