IITA Genetic Resources Center (GRC) plays a major role in the conservation of seed crop germplasm to prevent the genetic erosion of these crop species and maintain a genetic base for crop improvement.

IITA conserves a collection of seed crops that includes cowpea (Vigna unguiculata), soybean (Glycine max), maize (Zea mays), Bambara groundnut (Vigna subterranea), African yam bean (Sphenostylis stenocarpa), wild Vigna species and some miscellaneous legumes (Annex1). The seeds are maintained at both medium- and long-term storage at a temperature of 50C and -200C, respectively.


In line with IITA objectives to increase food security and poverty alleviation, the Institute maintains several international collections of African staple crops. The clonally propagated crops, i.e., yam (Dioscorea sp.), cassava (Manihot esculenta) and banana/plantain (Musa ssp.) are maintained in the field and in in vitro conditions (medium-term storage).

Accessions at IITA are conserved for research, breeding, training for food and agriculture in the framework of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA). The Genetic Resource Center’s aim is to conserve its plant genetic resources under conditions that meet and exceed recognized international standards based on current technologies and scientific knowledge.

IITA conserves the largest collection of Cowpea in the world and has successfully implemented cryopreservation for clonal crops, the best method existing so far.

IITA Genetic Resources Center collaborates with National Advanced Research Services, breeders and other scientists in ensuring sustainable agriculture to provide training and capacity building.


The genetic resources are conserved in IITA genebank as public goods and made available under the Multilateral System (MLS) of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPRGFA).


For the past ten years, IITA GRC has distributed more than 28000 samples of accessions to plant breeders, researchers, universities, farmers and to private sectors, using the Standard Material Transfer Agreement (SMTA).

The data generated at each genebank process are routinely managed and permanently persisted in a high standard database, made accessible to the public.

Accessions passport data, characterization data are made available and retrievable in global platforms like Genesys and GRIN-Global.


Mandate Crops

Seed Crops

The genebank also collaborate very closely with the IITA seed breeders to get improved seeds lines across to requestors.

Clonal Crops

With the increasing climatic and environmental threats, IITA Genetic Resources Center (GRC) employ tissue culture (micropropagation) techniques in conserving endangered and rare CLonal Crops

Other Crops

West Africa, the seeds of the African yam bean are primarily used, while in the East and Central regions of Africa, the tubers are primarily used.

IITA Genebank Accessions Origin

Cowpea collection Musa collection Yam collection African Yam Bean collection Bambara Groundnut collection Cassava collection Maize collection
Soybean collection Wild Vigna collection Miscellaneous Legumes

Number Of Ascensions  

IITA Genebank Accessions Origin

Accessions at IITA are conserved for the purpose of research, breeding and training for food and agriculture in the framework of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA).

  • Seed bank
  • Field bank
  • In-vitro bank
  • Cryopreservation bank
  • Data Management
  • Publications