Expanded dryland crop genebank opens in Lebanon

Included in the unique array of crop genetic resources are rangeland and forage species.
Included in the unique array of crop genetic resources are rangeland and forage species. | File photo
The International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA) opened a new agricultural genebank with plant genetic resources from around the world.

The expanded genebank is in Terbol, Lebanon. The genebank is filled with 154,000 crop genetic resources, held in trust, representing the world’s most important drylands food crops and forages. The majority of these resources will go to help crop-breeding and other programs around the world.

“As today’s commercial crop seed industry concentrates its efforts on a narrow genetic base, these public goods genetic materials from the ICARDA collection and other CGIAR international research centers are a strategic resource to ensure global food and nutrition security,” ICARDA Director General Mahmoud Solh said. “The genebank provides collections that all countries and global breeding programs can use to develop new crop varieties that have improved yields, and can assist resource poor farmers in the fight against food insecurity and climate change.”

Included in the unique array of crop genetic resources are rangeland and forage species, faba beans and grasspea. Also included is crop wild relatives from across the Fertile Crescent which is where the largest collection of wild cereals (barley, wheat, and grasspea) are.

“These native rangeland species and crop wild relatives are a powerful weapon to fight climate change that threatens their agricultural systems,” Ahmed Amri, ICARDA’s head of genetic resources, said. “Wild crops have robust properties – including heat, cold and drought tolerance, resistance to crop disease and pests – that can be bred into existing food plant varieties to make them more resilient and higher yielding. They can also be used directly for restoration and rehabilitation of degraded eco- and farming systems. ICARDA continues to enrich this collection of genetic resources through adaptive traits targeted collecting missions, and some 11,000 new crop wild relatives samples were added to the collection in the past four years.”

Organizations in this story

International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas Verdun Beirut, Beirut Governorate

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