Crag News

Bringing genetic improvements to farmers to create a more competitive sector

This is the main objective of the GEMIPLANT demonstration project, which prepares training and transfer actions on plant genomics for farmers, horticulturists and breeders
GEMIPLANT dialogue table at IRTA - Mas Badia.
GEMIPLANT dialogue table at IRTA - Mas Badia.

Knowing an organism's genome - its DNA - is the gateway to understanding how it works in detail, its potential, its risks and its opportunities for improvement. And plant genomics is the discipline that deals with the study of plant genomes. In Catalonia, we have the expertise and skills of researchers and research centres in the agricultural sector. But this synergy cannot take place if professionals do not have clear and precise information on how genomics can help them develop new varieties that benefit the sector, consumers and the environment. So, we need to get to know each other.

To achieve this, the GEMIPLANT project was launched, led by the Department for Climate Action and Rural Agenda (DACC), the Centre for Research in Agricultural Genomics (CRAG) and the Institute for Agrifood Research and Technology (IRTA). Through this demonstration activity, the scientific community aims to communicate to producers the details of the application of genomics to agriculture, with clear benefits such as improved and more sustainable production or greater resistance to disease and pests. Genomics is an innovation tool that can help the sector become more competitive.

During its two-year duration, it will include several actions: dialogue tables where farmers, horticulturists and breeders in Catalonia can interact directly to exchange doubts and concerns; training sessions for the sector; information and audiovisual material; and a visit to CRAG with theoretical and practical training on genomics.

The four planned dialogue tables have already been held in different Catalan locations. They were held in Girona (IRTA Mas Badia) on 27 September, in Lleida (IRTA Fruit Centre) on 28 September, in Tarragona (IRTA Mas Bové) on 4 October and in Barcelona (IRTA Cabrils) on 5 October. The participants in the round tables were members of different sectors, such as horticulturists, representatives of cooperatives, wine growers, feed producers, extensive crops (rice, wheat, barley, maize, alfalfa...), fruit crops (dry and sweet fruit), horticultural crops and the plant health sector, among others. "Through these meetings, we have been able to learn first-hand about the challenges and concerns of the different production sectors in Catalonia," says Marta Pujol, who is in charge of the project and IRTA researcher at CRAG, "which can be summarised in how we can obtain new varieties quickly and efficiently, what genomic tools are being developed and what the current regulations are for their use". He concludes: We have a great scientific and technological capacity that must be adapted to the real needs of the agri-food sector, and it is thanks to these demonstrative actions that we will be able to boost innovation.

The completion of the dialogue tables marks the end of the first phase of the project. GEMIPLANT will soon be announcing the dates of the training sessions.

Activity financed by the operation 01.02.01 Transfer of Technology of the Rural Development Programme of Catalonia 2014-2022.