Retaining crop biodiversity in the face of a civil war

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    Authors & editors

    Publisher Milling & Grain
    Year of publication 2015 April

    Medium Digital

    Climate, environment and development > Biodiversity



    Scope & contentICARDA (The International Centre of Agricultural Research in Dry Areas) honoured by the Gregor Mendel Foundation for the rescue and conservation of genetic plant material from Syria

    by Olivia Holden, Milling and Grain

    On 19th March 2015, Dr Mahmoud Solh, Director General of The International Centre of Agricultural Research in Dry Areas (ICARDA) received the Gregor Mendel Innovation Prize in Berlin, one of the world’s top honours for outstanding contributions to plant breeding. In the face of civil war and political insurgency, Dr Solh and his team worked meticulously under difficult conditions in Aleppo, Syria to save and transport genetic plant material to Svalbard Seed Vault in Norway. Most of the germplasm collections that have been transported are unique landtraces and wild relatives of cereals and legumes, collected from Central and West Asia, and the North Africa region over the past four decades.

    More than 80 percent of the globally unique collection of crop genetic resources has now been safely duplicated at this Arctic facility. The Svalbard Seed Vault has received a total of 116, 484 plant genetic materials from ICARDA.

    The relentless effort of ICARDA’s management and gene bank staff in Syria has contributed to conserving crop biodiversity. The Global Seed Vault in Svalbard, managed jointly by the Global Crop Diversity Trust, the Nordic Genetic Resource Centre (NordGen) and the government of Norway, is serving as an insurance plan in case of a catastrophic global wipe out of crops... Read more.


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