The World Olive Germplasm Bank seeks agreement with the IOC for the exchange of varieties

The World Olive Germplasm Bank seeks agreement with the IOC for the exchange of varieties

02/06/2014 - The Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Rural Development of the Government of Andalusia, Elena Vívoras, said yesterday in Córdoba that the World Olive Germplasm Bank will sign an agreement with the International Olive Council (IOC) to exchange olive varieties with different member countries of this body, which is open to other national and international organizations interested in supporting this project.

This was noted by Elena Víboras during the inauguration of the technical conference “The Seed Bank and Certified Olive Tree Production in Andalusia”, organized by the Andalusian Institute of Agricultural Research and Training (IFAPA) under the Ministry, with the collaboration of the University of Cordoba.
In her speech, Ms. Víboras stressed that genetic diversity characterizes the Andalusian olive grove, “a nature reserve that allows us to find solutions to current and future diseases or those properties that make a species better adapted to different mediums, which means a guarantee of the future for the sector”.
In this regard, the Minister said that this conference aimed “to deepen knowledge of one of the treasures that Córdoba holds, the World Olive Germplasm Bank, which includes more than 880 live samples with 500 different olive varieties of the 1,200 cataloged, not only to preserve them but also to know them better and use them to obtain new varieties”.
“We are witnessing a new era for the olive grove, a time of change that has been occurring with intensity in recent decades, because for centuries, farmers have been tilling the varieties that best suited their territory”, said Ms. Víboras, while adding that “a crop that has few varieties, and low genetic diversity, is more vulnerable to diseases or changes because it has fewer resources to adapt and further damage will spread faster”.
New varieties
The Minister also recalled that through this project, researchers at the University of Córdoba and IFAPA have managed to develop and register a new variety on super-intensive olive crops: Sikitita, which since 2009 is exported to several countries.
In addition, different varieties are being tested in seven Andalusian provinces to see which are best adapted to climate change. Techniques have also been developed to prevent the spread of diseases in olive saplings.
“Though Andalusia is the main interested in maintaining this diversity due to the enormous social and economic importance of this crop, the gene has a universal value and therefore, from its origins, the Germplasm Bank has been collaborating with other gene networks in other countries and will continue to do so”, noted Ms. Víboras.
On the other hand, the Minister said that olive is facing major challenges and one of them is the control of verticillium, for which varietal improvement is necessary. “We have a unique position to lead this progress, with excellent researchers and professionals of centers such as IFAPA, the University of Córdoba, the University of Jaén, CSIC, the nursery sector and, of course, an important both institutional and business support”, she said.

Professor Diego Barranco, one of the scientists responsible for the Bank, stressed that it is a great opportunity for the olive sector to involve in the expansion of the Bank with new varieties through an agreement with the International Olive Council. “If we can bring more disease-resistant varieties, adapted to new weather conditions and certify their production it will help the industry to move forward”, he said.

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