The workshop gathered representatives from Bioversity International, the Ministry of Agriculture (MAG) and the Ministry of Environment and Energy (MINAET) as well as participants from public research centers and genebanks (INTA, CATIE, Universities), NGOs (INBIO), and farmer cooperatives.

During the workshop participants discussed the need for joint efforts to tackle climate change because, if the temperature rises in the coming years, agricultural production will contract severely, and yields of major crops may fall. They stressed the need for use of plant genetic resources to prevent loss.

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Experts argued that the challenge facing humanity involves greater efficiency of production technologies (crop management, water use, controlled environments, etc.) and genetic improvement.

Walter Quirós from the ONS and president of the National Commission on Plant Genetic introduced the importance of the ITPGRA, and Costa Rica’s commitments and obligations and the benefits expected for the country. Meanwhile, Staff from Bioversity International gave an extensive overview of the ITPGRA, its legal framework and operational mechanisms; as well as on the fundamental steps leading to national level implementation and the role of the project in this direction.

Quiros said that plant genetic resources are the germplasm used by producers to grow crops and for conducting research for the development of breeding programs.
“They are the raw material for the development of new plant varieties. So it is a strategic resource for genetic and seed improvement programs, and consequently, for the food security of any country,” he added.

The second day of the workshop was dedicated to a short visit to the germplasm collections maintained in CATIE (Centro Agronómico Tropical de Investigación y Enseñanza) and to a discussion with national researchers around the activities to be carried out under the project’s complementary research themes.

Nelly Vasquez Morera from Plant Genetic Resources and Biotechnology at CATIE mentioned that there are currently over 1750 genebanks worldwide, of which 130 have more than ten thousand samples each.

“Genebanks are found all over the continent, but there are relatively fewer in Africa compared with the rest of the world. Of the total 7.4 million preserved specimens, 45 percent are owned only by seven countries. We can also say that over 90% of crop varieties have disappeared from the fields in the last 100 years and 790 livestock breeds have become extinct,” she added.

The workshop activities were very fruitful, resulting in participants getting more knowledge about the project and the International Treaty. In addition, it raised an interest among relevant national stakeholders about conservation and use of PGRFA and set very good basis for fruitful development of the project.

It is also important to mention that MAG incorporated climate change and environmental management as a fundamental pillar in the State Policy for the Agricultural Sector and Rural Development 2010-2021. Within this pillar there is a strategic area called “agro biodiversity”, which emphasizes the development of strategies and collaborative interdisciplinary and inter-related works for the conservation and use of plant and animal genetic resources.

Furthermore, MAG is working on aspects such as conservation, access and use of plant and animal genetic resources, which includes an analysis of the legislation of Costa Rica in genetic resources and intellectual property, and a national strategy for its implementation.

The Costs Rica News (TCRN)
San Jose Costa Rica