About EVA

History of EVA

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) and extended until the end of 2024. 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.

The EVA Network

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:

  1. Promote the establishment of European Private Public Partnerships to carry out targeted evaluation of PGRFA
  2. Promote and improve the digitization, harmonization, availability and exchange of existing and newly generated evaluation data of PGRFA
  3. Improve the evaluation of PGRFA through coordinated and collaborative efforts, using harmonized methods and standard protocols and the development of best practices, guidelines and tools

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.

The EVA projects

    Following up on 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), which has been extended until the end of 2024 with additional funding (see below).

    For field crops (wheat, barley) a different batch of European genebank accessions are multiplied each year and then evaluated in multiple locations for disease resistance and other traits. Vegetable networks work on defined sets of accessions, for which extensive data on agronomical, biotic and abiotic stress traits are collected. 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's 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 on 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 enabled the newly formed Working Group on Maize to add value to European maize genetic resources within an appropriate framework of public/private partnerships, with the adoption of common standards, use of EURISCO and strengthening of the AEGIS collection. In practice, during the project duration, a total of 600 European genebank accessions of maize will be genotyped and evaluated for biotic and abiotic stresses in multilocation experiments. 

    A no-cost extension to compensate for delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic as well as a recent amendment providing additional funds for in-depth data analysis, coordination and communication on the project allows the project to run until December 2024, producing tangible results that can be exploited by public and private partners in breeding and scientific publications. 

    The ECPGR EVA currently comprises five crop-specific networks for cereals and vegetables: 

    New EVA networks are being considered and can be developed through ECPGR Grant Scheme activities

    The forEVA project by the ECPGR Grain Legumes Working Group is working towards the implementation of an EVA network for Legumes. Find out more about this project [here]. 

    The EVA project is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Food
    and Agriculture for the period 2019-2024.