Plant Production & Protection Division - AGP
Crop and Grassland Service - AGPC

Identification and promotion of Priority Crop Research

Activities and Projects:

As a result of budget difficulties in 1996, most of the planned activities in the area of research promotion were postponed; the situation was made more difficult by delays in filling a Plant Biotechnology post. Nevertheless, by browsing through the descriptions of activities and ongoing projects which follow, it should be possible to get a notion of the kinds of things FAO does and hopes to do in the area of promoting crop research.

We aim to provide information to national programmes on applying plant biotechnologies for crop improvement and enhanced production. This includes preparing position papers and guidelines on appropriate technology developments, technical papers on (tissue culture) methodologies for rapid in vitro multiplication of some key tropical crops, as well as critical areas of crop production research and development. Unfortunately, FAO's assistance in this area has been greatly reduced in 1996 because of a delay in the recruitment of a Plant Biotechnologist. We hope the post will, however, be filled early in 1997 and then we envisage a strengthened programme to provide guidance and technical input to developing country programmes.

Before returning to his home country, Mexico, our plant biotechnologist helped the government of Chile to elaborate its national plant biotechnology research strategy and action programme. He also played a major role in setting up a plant biotechnology network for Eastern European countries. Similar support is given to the Latin American Biotechnology Network, guided by FAO's Regional Office in Santiago, Chile. For more information see REDBIO

In 1983, the S.O. (Industrial Crops - AGPC) discovered that cold tolerance exists in the oil palm. Subsequent breeding work done in collaboration with ASD Seeds of Costa Rica resulted in 15 D XP progenies being tested in trials in 1992. Several of these showed very good precocity as well as cold tolerance. This is highly significant in expanding the ecological limits of profitable oil palm cultivation to elevations higher than 1000 m, which are cooler and have more rainfall. Examples could be East Africa, where most countries are importers of edible oils, and South America. The first plantation scale was established in Gelesha, Ethiopia, at 960 m, and the palms were producing harvestable bunches after three years. A TCP project was authorized in August 1996 to establish smallholder plantations of the new ASD seeds in northern Malawi.


Example of a research promotion in FAO's Field Programme:


Support to India's Rice Improvement Programme

Lucerne hay production in Altai Region, China

Progress on several fronts deserves special mention


Examples of Project Outlines in the Crop Research
Portfolio can be viewed by clicking on the titles:


Consortium for increasing the agricultural output and sustainable development of the moist savannah of sub-Saharan Africa

Improving cassava marketability by minimizing post-harvest deterioration of roots using an integrated genetic approach

Genetic manipulation within cropping systems to enhance integrated nutrient management: 1. Phosphorus