ICARDA scientist receives 'Gatekeeper' award for conserving crops

Published Date
February 26, 2018
Published by
ICARDA Communication Team
Ahmed Amri is head of ICARDA's gene bank. (Photo Credit: Neil Palmer/The Crop Trust)
Ahmed Amri is head of ICARDA's gene bank. (Photo Credit: Neil Palmer/The Crop Trust)

Svalbard, Norway, February 25 – Chief of ICARDA’s gene bank Ahmed Amri received an award for his life-long work on crops. The Legacy Award, dubbed “Gatekeeper” award, was given as part of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault ’s 10-year anniversary by Crop Trust, a Germany-based non-profit organization.

The award also recognized five other scientists and gene bank managers from CGIAR, a global research network of 15 centers. Together, the network conserves and shares hundreds of thousands of seeds of food and forage crops globally. Other recipients were Daniel Debouck (CIAT), Jean Hanson (ILRI), Hari D. Upadhyaya (ICRISAT), Dave Ellis (CIP), and Cary Fowler, one of the founders of the Svalbard.

The award ceremony followed the latest shipment of more than 70,000 seeds to the iconic Seed Vault, making the total number of seed samples to more than one million. Gene banks around the world back up their collection in the vault for safekeeping.

Amri joined ICARDA in 1999 as the regional coordinator of the Global Environment Facility’s conservation and sustainable use of dryland agrobiodiversity. He also led ICARDA’s West Asia program and its Iran country office before becoming the head of gene bank. As cereal breeder, he has released 18 barley varieties, 5 Triticales (hybrid of wheat and rye) and contributed to the development of Hessian-resistant varieties of bread wheat and durum wheat.

"We wanted to give a legacy award to some of the gene bank managers who are retiring," said Marie Haga, head of Crop Trust. "They have done a tremendous job for human kind by safeguarding what is the foundation of our food -- these seeds that exist around in the world's gene banks."