July 13-14, 2021
COMSTECH conducted an international training webinar entitled “Acquisition, Conservation, Exchange, and Safety Duplication of Plant Genetic Resources in OIC Member Countries – ASIA Chapter” on July 13-14, 2021 in collaboration with the Bio-resources Conservation Institute (BCI) of Pakistan Agricultural Research Centre (PARC) and the OIC Islamic Organization for Food Security (IOFS). The training webinar was a continuation of COMSTECH efforts to build member states’ capacity for management of plant genebanks, and the preservation and expansion of biodiversity. Prior to this, COMSTECH has constituted a multi-country Working Group on Plant Genetic Resources (PGR) and conducted several physical training workshops and consultative meetings in Islamabad (Pakistan) and Baku (Azerbaijan).
The present workshop was a follows up of the online Workshop on Development of National Gene Banks, organized by IOFS and COMSTECH during July 5-6, 2020. It was the first workshop of a 3-part series of regional workshops for the Asia, Africa and Middle East-North Africa (MENA) regions.
The objectives of this series of webinars are to build the capacity of OIC Member countries in the maintenance and operations of gene banks (collection of genetic materials, conservation, germplasm exchange policies), and to train the participants with international and national laws and policies on the subject. The webinar was also aimed to enhance networking among national gene banks of different countries, as effective international collaboration will help preserve biodiversity and ensure long-term agricultural sustainability and food security worldwide.
The opening session of the Workshop was addressed by the Coordinator General of COMSTECH Prof. M. Iqbal Choudhary and Director-General of IOFS Dr. Yerlan Baidaulet. Both the organisational Heads emphasized the importance of preservation of plant genetic resources in ensuring the food security of member states. It was observed that some of OIC member states were more developed than others in this field, and it was very important that the capacity of all states is developed by mutual cooperation.
The senior experts who contributed their experience and knowledge to this activity represented various leading PGR research institutions from Pakistan, Turkey, Kazakhstan, Tunisia, Oman, Malaysia, and Azerbaijan. The list of participating institutions included: the National Agricultural Research Centre (NARC), the National Genebank of Pakistan, the Kazakh Research Institute of Agriculture and Plant growing, the Natural and Medical Sciences Research Center at the University of Nizwa, Oman, the Biodiversity and Genetic Resources Department at the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry of Turkey, the Malaysian Agricultural Research and Development Institute (MARDI), the Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciences (ANAS), and the National Genebank of Tunisia.
This event will be followed by similar training sessions for Africa and MENA region during the July-November 2021 period. Due to the COVID-19 restrictions, the events are expected to be online. The other training sessions would also be organized as a joint activity of COMSTECH, IOFS, and PARC. It is worth noting that IOFS and COMSTECH signed a Memorandum of Understanding and adopted a Joint Action Plan to implement joint activities and projects for July-November 2021 period.
After the training webinars for Asia, Africa and Mena will have taken place, there are plans to organize a conclusive session for specialists from all of these regions to consolidate the outcomes and cement the newly formed partnerships between the genetic banks.