Global Partnership Initiative for Plant Breeding Capacity Building (test)

Plant breeding programs in Portugal


In line with general trends in Western agriculture, agriculture in Portugal is contributing less and less to GDP, falling from 14% in 1985 to 2.8% in 2005. It remains, however, an important employer. Portugal is one of the poorer performing countries in terms of yields, reaching only one third of the average of the other European countries.

The Portuguese agricultural research system is mainly conducted under the authority of the Ministry of Science, Technology and Higher Education (MCTES) and the Ministry of Agriculture, Rural Development and Fisheries (MADRP). The NARS comprises several public and private institutes, with plant breeding being an important priority area since the 1980s. Two universities are also involved in plant breeding activities. There are some examples of fruitful cooperation between different institutions.

Wheat, maize, rice, wine grapes, triticale, legumes and forages are the crops covered by Portuguese breeding programmes, by order of importance. For the majority of the institutions the “germplasm enhancement” activity is increasing and a great concern of the breeders is to increase the crop productivity under biotic and abiotic stresses.

There are strong limitations in Portugal to develop breeding programmes with good continuity. The number of breeders for each crop is too small and there is no organized structure that integrates the classical methodologies with the modern ones. Additional limitations are the irregularity of financial resources to carry out field and laboratory experiments and the inadequate programmes coordination among the several institutions.

Research and education institutes with activities in plant breeding

Public Institutes


National Agricultural Research Institute - Instituto Nacional de Invesitção Agraria (INIA)
Website available in Portuguese

INIA is the government Institution that carries out research activities and experimental development in the areas of agriculture, forestry and fisheries, with an important priority area on plant breeding. INIAP is dependent on the MADRP, employs 300 researchers and has seven centres throughout the country. The Estação Nacional de Melhoramento de Plantas (ENMP), part of the INIA, is the most active institution in plant breeding activities, with a high number of segregating populations and more than 40 new varieties released in the last ten years.


Direcção Regional de Agricultura de Entre Douro e Minho (DRAEDM)
Website available in Portuguese

DRAEDM is a regional service from the Ministry of Agricultural, Rural Development and Fisheries, located in the North of the country, in the city of Braga. DRAEDM contributes to the definition of the agriculture, food and rural development policies and gives technical advice to farmers. The Portuguese Bank of Plant Germplasm is located at Braga and is under the umbrella of DRAEDM. Several activities concerning the conservation and evaluation of plant genetic resources are underway at DRAEDM.


Direcção Regional De Agricultura de Trás- Os-Montes (DRATM)
Website available in Portuguese

DRATM is a regional service from the Ministry of Agricultural, Rural Development and Fisheries, located in the North of the country, in the city of Mirandela. DRATM contributes to the definition of the agriculture, food and rural development policies and gives technical advice to farmers. Several activities concerning conservation and characterization of the plant genetic resources, particularly the field collections of olive tree and almonds are underway at DRATM.


Department of Genetics and Biotechnology - Departamento Genética e Biotecnologia, Universidade de Trás os-Montes e Alto Douro (UTAD)
Website available in Portuguese and English

Founded in 1986, UTAD is located under the Ministry of Science Technology and Higher Education. The Department is responsible for the Master course on Genetic resources and plant breeding (crop and forestry plants). Some of the target areas of this Department are concerned with plant breeding (namely cereals) and plant genetic resources conservation and characterization.


Superior Institute of Agronomy - Instituto Superior de Agronomia (ISA)
Website available in Portuguese and English

ISA coordinated an important activity on grapevine research: the National Grapevine Selection Programme. The development of this programme has the strong cooperation of the several Institutions that are concerned with grapevine: researchers and technicians from the Universities and the State Laboratories (EAN and EVN), nurseries and farmers.

Private Institutes


Institute of Experimental and Technological Biology - Instituto de Biologia Experimental e Tecnológica (IBET)
Website available in Portuguese and English

IBET is a private non-profit biotechnology research organization created with the specific purpose of being an interface between research and production activities. At present IBET is carrying on research in rice breeding (biotic and abiotic stresses), almond tree (molecular characterization of Portuguese varieties, studies concerning tolerance to biotic and abiotic stresses). IBET is also working on molecular characterization of Portuguese varieties of grapevine, olive tree, forages and maize.


Website available in Portuguese

Plansel is a nursery enterprise whose main objective is to produce grapevine scions and varieties for selling to the farmers.


Information by Maria Manuela Veloso (2007) - Information based on the Portugal's full report from the PBBC survey. Last revised 30-03-2010, GIPB.