Currently the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Husbandry (MAAHF), in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (The FAO), executes the project “PR 45708 – Establishment of a National Information Sharing Mechanism on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture and preparation of an updated National Re-port on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture”. The project commenced in December 2010 and will come to an end by the end of this month. One of the objections of the mentioned project is to attain increased awareness on plant genetic resources under the Surinamese community.
Several activities were carried out during the project phase. On the 6th of March 2012 the third national workshop under the project was held. During this session the PGR portal for the Republic of Suriname was launched. The portal, that is still under construction, facilitates a National Information Sharing Mechanism for the exchange of information on PGR and agriculture in Suriname. One of the recommendations that was made as a result of working group sessions was that a more defined PGR policy should be developed. It is also necessary to get a clear picture of what our current status is on PGR and to determine our ultimate goal with regard to PGR activities. The necessary legal measures should also be in place. A plan of action and time table need to be prepared to accomplish the recommendations from the workshop. Information obtained from participating institutes will be included in the country status report on PGR that is currently being prepared.
Plant Genetic Resources (PGR) are the mechanisms responsible for crop propagation, increased crop production and the productivity and sustainability in agriculture. In view of this it is evident that they contribute to national development and guarantee a permanent food supply. A specific group is recognized, namely “Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture” (PGRFA). This is any genetic material of plant origin with an actual or potential value for food or agriculture. Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture are important for the conservation of genetic diversity; are the basis for crop research and crop breeding, comprise a very important input for the farmer and are the biological basis for food security.
The reproductive component of plant genetic resources is known as plant genetic material: any material of plant origin, including reproductive and vegetative propagating material (germplasm), containing functional units of heredity, specifically seed or and other plant part (leaves, stem parts, pollen grain, some isolated cells). Conservation of plant genetic materials can take place in parks, botanical gardens, protected areas, experimental gardens or seed banks. Farmers have, in the course of time, preserved a number of crop varieties and lines and are an important factor in the conservation of genetic material.
The CARICOM Region holds an enormous variety and quantity of plant genetic material. Unfortunately, no systematic measures for the conservation of plant genetic material are carried out in the region, among others due to insufficient knowledge on this matter. The same applies to Suriname. Our country lacks systematic procedures for the collection and conservation of plant genetic material. Also the policy on genetic resources and genetic material needs to be defined more clearly.
Considering the fact that genetic resources are the basis for food security it is necessary for our country to undertake serious measures for the conservation of genetic material and to create awareness under the Surinamese community on the value, the use and the threats arising from genetic material.
Picture: Patricia Milton, National Focal Point for Plant Genetic Resources, explains to the Permanent Secretary, mr. Gerrit Breinburg, and the participants what information can be obtained from the PGR portal.