Collaboration key in germplasm conservation, scientist says

ARUSHA: A seed scientist has rooted for string collaboration in improving Germplasm conservation in Africa.

Dr Sognigbe N’Danikou from the World Vegetable Centre said Africa was still grappling with the challenge of having proper and adequate genebanks, thus it was important for the public and the private sector to work in synergies to address the dire situation.

“Both, the private and the public sector must come together as collaboration is key in improving Germplasm conservation and management,” said the expert, at the end of the 3rd Taiwan – Africa Vegetable

Initiative (TAVI) five –day course on Germplasm conservation, quality management, and connecting genebanks to society.

While Sub Saharan Africa was known to be a key vegetable biodiversity hotspot, it was worrying to see how poorly preserved the veggies were.

According to Dr N’Danikou, 62 per cent of 126 selected African Vegetables on the continent were poorly conserved ex situ.

“This is why we’ve taken through the trainees on how to maintain and conserve seeds, quality management component and also discussed ways of enhancing Germplasm connectivity,” added the expert.

Drawing more than 40 participants in person, and another 100 attendees online, the training aimed at strengthening the skills and technical capacities of national genebank staff, researchers and professionals involved in the management of seed collections, and will help to ensure that they make them increasingly available for use in breeding programs that support food and nutrition security.

The training sessions covered good practices in germplasm classification, conservation and safety back-up; seed testing and viability monitoring of African vegetables.

Ms Sumini Sampa, a trainee from the Zambian National Plant Genetic Resources Centre (NPGRC) argued that African countries need to enhance their capacities and knowledge in Genebank operations and to put all the quality management aspects in place like the staffing levels, the risk management aspects, as well as the equipment, infrastructure and reagents that are used in day-to-day Genebank operations.

“The other important aspect that we can take away is to ensure that our materials that we conserve in the genebanks and utilized by our users…we are not museums, but instead we are custodians of indigenous seed as well as indigenous knowledge that needs to be shared and people need to know about the importance of keeping this plant genetic resources,” she added.

The World Vegetable Center conducts research, builds networks, and carries out training and promotion activities to raise awareness of the role of vegetables for improved health and global poverty alleviation.

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