New Delhi – An international information gateway for the genetic data of food crop seeds approved by the 136 members of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA) will help farmers, scientists and nations develop new plan varieties.
“As climate change accelerates, it is vital for farmers, scientists, plant breeders, private sector companies to be able to develop new plant varieties resistant to pests, floods and drought, in order to maintain sufficient agricultural production levels,” The Food and Agricultural Organization said.
To do this they need to know what is where, and how to get it, currently no easy task in the myriad number of actors that hold that information, which was not only with seed banks and research centres but also in the plants growing in farmers’ fields, and uncultivated land, the so-called crop wild relatives.
The system has to be global because no country is self-sufficient in crop germplasm that has been travelling across borders for centuries, it said, adding that the potato on a German dinner table originates from the Andes, the wheat in a Pakistani chapati from the Mediterranean and the maize in East African ugali from Mexico.
“GLIS will contain a virtual gene library that will include data from seed banks, research centres and farmers’ organisations,” said the Treaty Secretary ShakeelBhatti.
“It is going to take time to get it fully functional because of the vast array of interests involved, but it will greatly facilitate the work of all the actors along the seed value chain, in developing and developed countries.”
The Philippines-based International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) has made the first contribution to the gateway by placing with it the genome sequences of more than 3,000 rice varieties.