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Agribusiness in Sustainable Natural African Plant Products (ASNPP)

Association of Agricultural Research Institutions in the Near East and North Africa (AARINENA)

Bioversity International

Botanic Gardens Conservation International

Center for New Crops & Plant Products (Purdue University)

Crops for the Future (CFF)

Diversification of Crops for Income Generation (FAO-AGPM)

Food Nutrition and Consumer Protection (FAO-AGN) 

Global Crop Diversity Trust (GCDT)

Global Forum on Agricultural Research (GFAR)

Global Non Timber Forest Products (NFTP)


International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agricullture (ITPGRFA)

Platform for Agrobiodiversity Research (PAR)

PROTA: Plant Resources of Tropical Africa

Recipes for Success (GlobalHort)

The World Vegetable Center (AVRDC)


Lost Crops of Africa. Washington, D.C.: National Academies Press

Species Databases

Agroforestry Database (Search)

BCGI Plant Search (Search) Botanic Gardens Conservation International index.

ePIC - Electronic Plant Information Centre (Search) A major project making Kew's digitised information about plants available online. It searches through Kew's collections, bibliographies, nomenclators and checklists, publications and taxonomic works, as well as external links and content on Kew's website.

E-PROSEA (Search) Plant Resources of South-East Asia

Famine Foods Database Plants that are not normally considered as crops are consumed in times of famine. This botanical-humanistic subject has had little academic exposure, and provides insight to potential new food sources that ordinarily would not be considered.

GFU Underutilized Species GFU Database (Search)

Hortivar (Search) FAO´s database on performances of horticulture cultivars in relation to agro-ecological conditions, cultivation practices, the occurrence of pests and diseases and timing of the production. It covers six categories of horticultural crops: fruits, vegetables, roots and tubers, ornamentals, mushrooms, herbs and condiments.

NewCrop (Search/Browse)

Plants of Southern Africa (Search)

Plants for a Future (Search) A resource centre for rare and unusual plants, particularly those which have edible, medicinal or other uses. 7,300 plants listed.

Plantzafrica (Search) Plants native to Southern Africa.

PROTABASE (Search/Browse) Plant Resources of Tropical Africa

Tree Bases (World Agroforestry Centre)



Includes the following topics :Diversity for Development Alliance (D4D)

Please go to the horticultural events section for upcoming events.

 In July 2011, GFAR commissioned through GlobalHort- an international Initiative with a broad array of partner organizations, having also its Secretariat at FAO, a study to document the importance of under-utilized plants and crops for achieving smallholders agro-ecosystem sustainability in addressing the MDGs. This scientific report was used to make the case for DOCs (Development Opportunity Crops) at the CGIAR Science Forum in Beijing (October 17-19, 2011). It has been transformed into a policy brief for sensitizing policy makers and investors.

Following the second international workshop for the promotion of agrobiodiversity through development opportunity crops, held at FAO, Rome, 10-11 January 2012, organized by GlobalHort and supported by GFAR, GlobalHort facilitated the resolutions coming out and agreed on by all participants collaborating in a Diversity for Development Alliance (D4D).  This Alliance has resulted in a review article that has been published in the journal Agronomy for Sustainable Development.

Article title: Agrobiodiversity for food security, health and income
DOI: 10.1007/s13593-013-0147-8
Editorial manuscript number: ASDE-D-12-00143.1
Authors: Remi Kahane, Toby Hodgkin, Hannah Jaenicke, Coosje Hoogendoorn, Michael Hermann, Dyno Keatinge, Jacqueline d'Arros Hughes, Stefano Padulosi and Norman Looney.


Five Global Seed Banks That Are Protecting Biodiversity

The world is home to hundreds of thousands of species of plants, and it requires a diverse variety of seeds to satisfy nutritional and environmental needs. Today, Nourishing the Planet takes a closer look at five seed banks that aim to protect biodiversity and help feed the world.


See also Diversity for Development Alliance (D4D)

GlobalHort to continue facilitation of the Diversity for Development Alliance (D4D)

Published on 10th Apr 2012

Following the second international workshop for the promotion of agrobiodiversity through development opportunity crops, held at FAO, Rome, 10-11 January 2012, organized by GlobalHort and supported by GFAR, GlobalHort is facilitating the resolutions coming out and agreed by all participants collaborating in a Diversity for Development Alliance (D4D).


Among these resolutions two are of importance for GlobalHort and for the horticulture community: i) Raise awareness of the development community and of donors during international events, ii) Finalize documents for the scientific and for the donors’ communities. Both items come together for the preparation of the Global Conference on Agricultural Research for Development (GCARD) and set up a deadline on 29 October 2012 (Punta del Este, Uruguay: The participation of GlobalHort in the GCARD will also depend on the level of support that it will receive from the GCARD organizers.

Realising the benefits of enhanced agrobiodiversity

Published on 12th Jan 2012

In January 2011, a collective movement was formed at a stakeholder meeting to promote collaborative action to strengthen the role and value of agrobiodiversity in the context of development. Provisionally termed the Development Opportunity Crops Network (DOCNet), members and prospective members include UN organisations and international research networks and institutions, together with NGOs and representatives of civil society. The initiative is supported by the secretariats of the Global Forum on Agricultural Research (GFAR) and the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA)*... >>>Complete Article published in "New Agriculturist" January, 2012

Written by: Norman Looney (The Global Horticulture Initiative), J. Coosje Hoogendoorn (INBAR), Jackie Hughes (AVRDC), Remi Kahane (The Global Horticulture Initiative), Michael Hermann (Crops for the Future), Dyno Keatinge (AVRDC) and Harry Palmier (AVRDC)

NOTE: GFAR has established a new collaboration with "New Agriculturist", a widely read and well recognized online journal, to help share your stories about how agricultural knowledge and innovation are helping to address major development challenges and make a real difference in the lives of the poor. GFAR is contributing 3 articles in each edition. These articles will be displayed on the front page of New Agriculturist.

"Diversity for Development Alliance" to be new name for DOCNet

Published on 25th Feb 2012

The Development Opportunity Crops Network (DOCNet) for the promotion of Agro-biodiversity 2nd Workshop was held on 10-11 January 2012 in Rome, Italy.

Participants agreed to call the DOCNet initiative in future the Diversity for Development Alliance.  Its  objective is to promote development through diversification at a global level. 

The program, participants, minutes and conclusions of the meeting are now available on the Globalhort portal.

The Development Opportunity Crops Network (DOCNet) 2nd Stakeholder Workshop Met in Rome January 10-11, 2012 to discuss the way forward

Published on 11th Jan 2012

DocNet has now grown to 70 participants from 30 organizations.  Hannah Jaenicke, GlobalHort Consultant, facilitated the workshop. The objectives of the workshop were are follows:

  1. To arrive at a common understanding of stakeholders' stake in the initiative
  2. To reflect on 2011 activities
  3. To define a strategy for the DOC initiative
  4. To agree on a way forward towards better promotion of agricultural biodiversity

 The following presentations were given:


GlobalHort providing leadership of the Development Opportunity Crops Network (DOCNet)

Published on 17th Nov 2011

As previously reported, GlobalHort and a number of other organizations and agencies with a common interest in promoting agrobiodiversity came together during a GFAR organized Workshop in January of 2011. These organizations exist to champion plants and crops they consider as neglected or under-utilized within the context of achieving important international development goals. From that Workshop arose the Development Opportunity Crops Network (DOCNet) and GlobalHort has been engaged by the GFAR Secretariat to aid the further development of this Network.

In September, GlobalHort engaged Dr. Hannah Jaenicke as a consultant to facilitate the preparation of a Position Paper on “Promoting Agrobiodiversity for International Development: A Rationale and Roadmap for Collective Action”. Her work on this Position Paper as well as the crafting of a paper presented on October 18 at the Beijing Science Forum 2011; organized by the CGIAR’s Independent Science and Partnership Council (see below) has been greatly appreciated by the DOCNet partners and has led to the scheduling of a second DOCNet Workshop on January 10-11, again in Rome at the FAO headquarters.

Dr. Jaenicke was Director of the International Centre for Under-utilized Crops (ICUC) for four years and Global Coordinator of Crops for the Future (CFF) until 2010.  She is now a consultant in Project Management and Evaluation:  Agrobiodiversity, Marketing and Rural Development and is Chair of the ISHS Commission for Plant Genetic Resources.  She has been a consultant for several organizations, amongst them the International Water Management Institute (IWMI), Challenge Program Water and Food, Secretary of the Pacific Community.

GlobalHort and Dr. Jaenicke have a long history of working together in the promotion of horticulture for development. ICUC and Globalhort co-organized, co-sponsored and co-participated in several events and proposals such as the ISHS symposium on underutilized crops in Arusha 2008, the All Africa Horticulture Congress (AAHC) 2009, developing the proposal for a High-Value Crops Challenge Program, the FSTP-submitted Hortinnov proposal, and the Recipes for Success project funded by Taiwan’s International Cooperation for Development Fund in 2010. 

Please feel free to contact Dr. Jaenicke if you wish to offer something in the successful completion of this project.  She can be reached at:

   email: /
   phone: +49-2225-838989-5/6
   mobile: +49-176-52527583
   Burghof 26, 53501 Grafschaft-Gelsdorf, Germany
   A member of the NRGroup

Supporting Documents (PDFs)

Development opportunity crops and species (DOCS): strategy, action plan, and integrated R4D programme.  A discussion paper prepared by Ralf Kwaschik (Alliance for Non-Timber Forest Products)..

GFAR Agrobiodiversity flyer

The Development Opportunity Crops Network (DOCNet) makes a case for horticulture at the Science Forum 2011

Published on 17th Nov 2011

GlobalHort has cooperated with the Global Forum on Agricultural Research (GFAR) to facilitate the preparation of a position paper on agrobiodiversity at the Science Forum 2011 biennial flagship conference held in Beijing, China October 17-19, 2011.

The theme of Science Forum 2011 was ‘The Agriculture-Environment Nexus.’ It focused on new opportunities to adapt the agricultural research landscape to meet these emerging challenges. The debate at the Science Forum structured around the following themes:

  • Resource scarcity and the ecological intensification of agriculture
  • Sustainability Science
  • Metrics, monitoring and certification to support sustainable intensification of small-holder agriculture
  • Can intensifying agriculture save the forests?
  • Agro-biodiversity: an important contributor to productivity and the key to sustainability, nutrition and rural incomes
  • Animal protein: increased production and a healthy environment in conflict?
  • Strategic Foresight - helping decision makers to cope with complex issues in an uncertain world

Coosje HoogendoornCoosje Hoogendoorn, International Network for Bamboo and Rattan (INBAR), spoke on behalf of the Development Opportunity Crops Network during the theme session, “Agro-biodiversity: an important contributor to productivity and the key to sustainability, nutrition and rural incomes” Mark Holderness, Executive Secretary, Global Forum on Agricultural Research, was the convener. He stated in his remarks that “This session will explore the extent of our knowledge of the potential value and role of our use of agricultural biodiversity in meeting sustainable production increase challenges and development needs, and the potential risks of its loss, whether consciously through production system choices, or inadvertently through agro-ecosystem disruption.”

The abstract of Dr. Hoogendoorn’s  presentation  is as follows:

Population increase, likely shortfalls in food production and difficulties to ensure that available food reaches people in need are major challenges to world agriculture. In addition, the projected effects of climate change on productivity will have negative implications on the economies of developing countries in particular. An unprecedented level of hunger, malnutrition, and community unrest is expected. Food security, through enhanced productivity and yield stability, is therefore of the highest priority. While the bulk of the calories in the world’s diet will continue to come from the major staple crops, other crops – which range from non-timber forest products through to grain, root and tuber crops, fruits and vegetables, and fodder and agro-forestry crops – are needed to provide a balanced diet. Furthermore, these non-staple crops help to diversify crop ecosystems and rotations and provide options for adapting to extreme and variable climatic conditions and a wide range of other biotic and abiotic stresses, thus providing productivity where major crops may fail. Examples will be provided to illustrate in which ways research on the subject of these “Development Opportunity Crops” (DOCs) can support communities and reduce household risks in terms of readily available food, livelihoods, nutrition/health benefits, and cash.

Synergies between cutting-edge research on staple food crops and the interests in many of these development opportunity crops should be enhanced. Research on the development opportunity crops cannot be effectively addressed in the historical green revolution way as research on the major staples. By their nature they require consideration of their role within productive systems and their significant contribution to income and livelihoods, food and nutrition security and environmental resilience – and their particular relevance for smallholder farmers seeking to escape poverty. While research on the development opportunity crops has not yet gone to the depth addressed by extensive research on major staples, it can certainly gain from that new knowledge on genomics, climate change adaptation and GIS generated information. Conversely, it can be anticipated that more resilient cropping systems can arise from new knowledge gained from the development opportunity crop species – for example physiological, nutritional and agronomic traits of value to plant breeders and crop management and health and nutrition benefits that can come with diversification, rotation and inter-planting. Alongside are trade-offs between research investment on crops that are traded nationally and internationally, largely to feed the urban poor, yet which may themselves compromise benefits of mixed crop production and incomes to poor rural communities. Trade-offs, synergies and balances between these dimensions frame many of the dilemmas in today’s agricultural systems.

Opportunities exist for productive collective action involving the organizations that advocate for the development opportunity crops. Through cooperation and collaboration will come greater development impact. Likewise, the potential of these crops and species warrant much greater recognition by the agriculture research for development community at large.

It is intended that elements of this presentation will be published in a peer-reviewed journal along with the other papers given at the forum.

GFAR Promotes Agro-Biodiversity

Published on 24th Mar 2011

The multi-stakeholder constituencies of the Global Forum on Agricultural Research (GFAR) have prioritized the issue of agro-biodiversity as one of prime global importance. The International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources in Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA) recognizes the importance of agricultural research and contains special provisions for the exchange of information, transfer of technology and capacity building related to plant genetic resources.

To promote greater international synergy around this crucial agenda, GFAR, with the ITPGRFA Secretariat, held an initial meeting in Rome on January 20-21, 2011. This meeting brought together UN organizations, international research networks and institutions as well as civil society, all concerned with generating, accessing and using knowledge of these crops and with promoting their sustainable use and their value in development. Through productive discussions, these diverse programmes agreed to form a collective movement, open to all and provisionally termed the Development Opportunity in Diversity Initiative, with the goal of collaborative action to strengthen the role and value of agro-biodiversity and its sustainable use in contributing towards development aims.

Through this meeting the potential importance of these crops, based on three key development objectives (pillars), was highlighted:

1. Nutrition and health - through production of foods, providing household/community food security and a diet diversity naturally rich in micronutrients;

2. The resilience of farming systems and environmental services at field or landscape level (e.g. to manage pests and diseases or maintain soil fertility); and
3. Source of income for resource-poor small farmers, enabling market opportunities and value addition potential, especially for poor producers who have very little land.

A short-term action plan was proposed:

1. Set up inclusive working groups to grow collaboration around each of the 3 development pillars;
2. Organize a side event at the fourth session of the Governing Body of the International Treaty in March 2011 highlighting the agenda and its development linkages (see below); and
3. Identify and pursue appropriate subsequent events (e.g. Science Forum, 2011; Rio plus 20, 2012) to build collaborative actions that can achieve large scale development impacts.

Three key messages were highlighted:

1. We need to initiate solid and inclusive actions to build concerted      and practical actions on sustainable use;
2. We need to clearly demonstrate the added value of regional and    international actions in support of national needs; and
3. We must create the evidence base for wider commitment and      actions.   >>>More


Sustainable Diets and Biodiversity: Directions and Solutions for Policy, Research and Action


This book presents the current state of thought on the common path oSustainable Diets and Biodiversityf sustainable diets and biodiversity and addresses the linkages among agriculture, health, the environment and food industries.

The alarming pace of biodiversity loss and ecosystem degradation and their negative impact on poverty and health makes a compelling case for re-examining food systems and diets. Thus, there is an urgent need to develop and promote strategies for sustainable diets, emphasizing the positive role of food biodiversity in human nutrition and poverty alleviation.

Sustainable Diets are those diets with low environmental impacts which contribute to food and nutrition security and to healthy life for present and future generations. Sustainable diets are protective and respectful of biodiversity and ecosystems, culturally acceptable, accessible, economically fair and affordable; nutritionally adequate, safe and healthy; while optimizing natural and human resources.

The contents of this book represent the presentations given at the International Scientific Symposium on Biodiversity and Sustainable Diets, organized by FAO and Bioversity International and held at FAO, Rome, from 3 to 5 November 2010.

Download Full Report  [5Mb]      

New Book: Living with the Trees of Life by Roger Leakey

itle: Living with the Trees of Life: Towards the Transformation of Tropical Agriculture. July 2012 / Paperback / 224 Pages / 9781780640983.  Published by CABI. Click here to purchase.

Author: R. R. Leakey, Chairman, International Tree Foundation.

Based on the career of Roger Leakey, the former Director of Research at the International Centre for Research in Agroforestry, this book presents the experiences of real life situations in rural villages of remote and distant places. Living with the Trees of Life demonstrates how the multi-disciplinary science of agroforestry, which embraces biology, genetics, ecology, agronomy, horticulture, forestry, soil science, food science, and the social sciences, can offer hope from the doom and gloom often emanating from the tropics. Written in an accessible and engaging style that will appeal to both a professional and general readership, this book takes a more positive approach to the issues facing agriculture and highlights an innovative approach to resolving the big issues of poverty, malnutrition, hunger and environmental degradation including climate change.

Dr. Leakey was interviewed recently in CABI Ezine August 2012. Click here to read the interview, "Harnessing the Ecological Power of Trees".


Recipes for Success: A Crops for the Future Project

Recipies for Success / Photo: Patrick Maundu, KENRIKRecipes for Success is about enhancing productivity and consumption of indigenous horticultural food crops for better nutrition and health through enhanced communication of research results in community-run resource centres.

Recipes for Success is a one-year pilot project supported by the International Cooperation Development Fund, Taiwan, through the Global Horticulture Initiative, that investigates ways to increase the nutritional status of underprivileged groups in Benin, Kenya and Tanzania through better production of and access to traditional fruits and vegetables.

>>>More on Crops for the Future website
>>>More on GlobalHort website

Strengthening Indigenous Informal Seed Systems in Southeast Asia: A HortCRSP-funded Exploratory Project

The University of California Davis (UC Davis) leads an international effort to help developing countries through improved marketing and production of high-value horticultural crops. Established by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Horticulture Collaborative Research Support Program (HortCRSP) supports projects to improve the livelihoods of the world’s poor and builds on their needs highlighted in the Global Horticulture Assessment.  There are thirty exciting projects that are supported by HortCRSP at this time. This article highlights one of these projects as an example of the potential impact that these projects could have. GlobalHort is very proud to be affiliated with HortCRSP.

Dr. Ricky Bates, Horticulture Department of Penn State University has received a one-year exploratory grant from HortCRSP to look at methodologies for strengthening informal indigenous seed systems in Northern Thailand and Cambodia.   Jerry Miner, GlobalHort Information Officer, interviewed Dr. Bates on April 26, 2011 about this project just prior to his departure for Chiang Mai as well as to attend the 2nd International Symposium on Underutilized Plant Species “Crops for the Future-Beyond Food Security” in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The following include excerpts from this interview.  The full interview can be read here.

“We are now in the middle of this one-year HortCRSP funded exploratory project. In May we started to lay the ground work for it. We got the award October 1, 2010 and it goes to September 30, 2011 so we are 6 months into it. Most of the field work has been accomplished, but this project with an informal seed system is a one-year exploratory project… What we wanted to do for this exploratory project was central to develop a team and a strategy.  The money was really there and you did not have to have a functional team ready to go like for the shovel-ready immediate impact projects.  You could spend part of your effort essentially developing the team.

From my experience I came to realize that informal seed systems are a very important part of the puzzle when you are dealing with resource-poor farming systems and smallholder farmers in poor places. Another thing that I noticed was that there is a lot of diversity and a lot of underutilized species in many of these local systems.  These are off the radar and there is not a lot of attention paid to them. When I started to dig a little bit deeper into this it became clearer to me that what we were doing as a horticultural community in developing communities is to conserve and to collect out of this system, improve it, and to disseminate these indigenous species. They are not doing a very good job at that. I thought that the fundamental piece of the puzzle that we wanted to focus on was that these informal seed systems were pretty important, but they need to be optimized. To be able to optimize them we had to understand some things about the germplasm and the characteristics of what they are using. Not only that but we had to know the pathways and gate keepers in these informal systems, and then to improve the systems for the people that are there operating in them. In order to do this we need to improve their access to seed information because they are off the radar and the commercial seed  business does not really address those and they are not really dealing with commercial cultivars or hybrids.

Our project would have immediate impact during the 12-month implementation phase, but would also pave the way for longer term benefits which would be regional in scope, and could address USAID Feed the Future focus countries in the region such as Bangladesh and Cambodia.  The formation of a partnership between Maejo University, ECHO Asia and Penn State University will result in a cohesive strategy to enhance the effectiveness, impact and reach of Southeast Asia’s informal seed system through institutional capacity building and training.  Impacts realized within the first year will include: 1) identification of key seed traders and farmers functioning within the Northern Thailand informal seed system, 2) initial inventory of important indigenous crop species, 3) documentation of specific indigenous knowledge surrounding the culture of these key crop species, 4) training of ECHO seed bank manager and key Maejo University and ECHO personnel, 5) seed exchanges and training conferences.  Longer term benefits include: 1) formation of ECHO seed bank-farmer linkages that allow non-commercial seed producers to access new varieties, hybrids and high-value seed resources not available from traditional sources, 2) development of value chains around key indigenous species, 3) regional distribution of important seed resources to less developed neighbor nations such as Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam and Bangladesh.” 

The ECHO seed bank partnership is a very important integral part of this project.  Dr. Bates states that, “ECHO has been around for awhile. ECHO is located in Ft. Myers Florida and has been around for at least 20 years. They see themselves more or less as an extension service where they are there to resource and support NGOs and people working all around the world with poor farmers.  It is a little like an extension system where they provide information and printed material via online or telephone calls to people who may find themselves perhaps in India with World Vision. ECHO is there as a resource for NGOs that do not have an agricultural background.  What grew up with the development of ECHO has been the development of a vey innovative seed bank in Ft. Myers Florida where they sort of specialize in tropical fruits and vegetables. They make these seeds available at low cost or no cost to individuals and NGOs working around the globe in development.  What happens when you buy or are given a packet of seeds you are also asked to fill out a survey as to how that performs in your area to provide feedback to the seed bank. So over the decades they have acquired quite a database of good locally adapted material that they have collected from all over the world.  Many people are not familiar with what ECHO does, but many people are familiar with their seed bank…ECHO is starting to get a little bit bigger.  The other thing that is new is that they are developing regional offices.  Their seed bank has become so popular that they are realizing that they are probably not in the best position to send out seeds everywhere. They have been focusing on Latin America and the Caribbean. They have realized over time that they have to focus on some other regions and they are developing regional offices. Three years ago the ECHO Asia regional office in Chiang Mai was started and now they are currently establishing two ECHO regional offices in West Africa and East Africa. This exploratory HortCRSP project is to help them develop capacity in this ECHO Asia regional seed bank. They have identified a seed bank manager, and  they have brought the seed bank manager over to the ECHO Florida seed bank offices for a month of training  She became very proficient in terms of seed intake, acquisition, seed accessions, labeling, storage, germination and testing. What we are trying to do also with this project is to build capacity within their local seed bank. That has to happen in order to have an impact locally. The ECHO Asia seed bank wants to be a source of these annual and perennial species that enter the seed bank. They want to reach into India and Bangladesh, Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, and Vietnam.  They are on the road to doing that.”

When questioned about partnership with private seed companies Dr. Bates stated, “Partnerships with the private seed companies are encouraged and we see it as the next step. That will be the next step as it probably will not happen unless they are involved. We see this one-year exploratory project as essentially verifying the proof of concept to take a region with a lot of biodiversity in terms of the important economic crops that are being used there, document what is good within that system and get that into the seed bank along with the partnership of the university that will then be a good partner in terms of any value chain development around a particular species,  presence on the ground and the ability to have staying power in terms of working with those communities and developing enterprises within those communities. It is kind of a proof of concept and the next stage if there is any kind of scale up that really requires some larger entities.  That is where we might have to call on these larger companies like East West to help.  The one thing that we have to be sensitive to is that part of the goal of the project is to make sure that the local people in these local regions who are doing the work will benefit through the development of value chains around these important crops that are identified.” 

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