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The Second International Plant Breeding Congress and EUCARPIA Oil and Protein Crops Conference were held under  the leadership of Plant Breeders Union of Turkey  (BISAB) by the Turkish Seed Union (TURKTOB), General Directorate of Agricultural Research and Policies,  General Directorate of Plant Production, as well as the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Livestock and relevant organisations, Turkish Plant Breeders’ Association, Economic Cooperation Organisation Seed Association (ECOSA), and international organisations and institutions such as the FAO, CIMMYT, ICARDA and EUCARPIA along with 350 participants from 40 countries and over 400 scientific presentations on November 1-5, and thus the 2nd International Plant Breding Conference was successfully completed.


Chairman of the Organization Committee of the Congress, Vice Chairman of BISAB , Dr.  Vehbi Eser thanked all the institutions in the opening of the congress and briefly said the following about the congress;“We have been involved in a tiring work with all the organisations and persons for our second congress for the last 2 years. We brought the practical dimensions  of plant breeding into the forefront.  As you know, the majority of congresses are mostly scientific and it’s not so easy to practice the scientific knowledge. As a result, we wanted to fill the gap with regard to plant breeding.  We are bringing the practical dimensions  into the forefront.”


Dr.  Vehbi Eser also recalled that the content of congress was very intensive and translation services would be furnished in multiple languages.


Stating that they have decided to organise the congress every other year, Dr.  Vehbi Eser thanked all the participants.


Afterwards, Chairman of the European Association for Plant Breeding (EUCARPIA) Prof. Richard Visser gave brief information about his association, saying that he is very happy to participate in the 2nd Plant Breeding Congress.  


Chairman of EUCARPIA Prof. Richard Visser emphasised the importance of seeing the plant breeding activities and practical applications on the site and informed the participants on the Oil and Protein Crops Conference which is organised synchronously.


Speaking for his part, Chairman of the Executive Board of BISAB,  Assoc. Prof. Dr.  Yalçın Kaya said that the congress basically aimed at sharing the scientific developments in the international field of plant breeding.


Stating that they would work in three main issues throughout the congress, namely, plant breeding, biotechnology and genetics, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Yalçın Kaya said that the entire work that they conducted aimed at “the future of seed quality.”  


Kaya wished that the congress results would be useful for plant breeders, private sector, academics and farmers and also gave information to participants about the historical and touristic study tours to be held within the context of the congress.  



Making an opening speech, Ministry of Food and Agriculture’s Director General of Plant  Production Mevlüt Gümüş spoke about the work conducted by the Ministry, saying that the plant breeding is indispensable to ensure safe and economical vegetative production.


Stating that the plant breeding requires knowledge, effort and patience, Mevlüt Gümüş recalled that the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Livestock has enacted the Law on Plant Breeders’ Rights for New Plant Varieties that paved the way for the sector in 2004 and also the Seed Law that restructured the sector in 2006.


Touching on the importance of the use of certified seeds and saying that they provided the seed sector with a support of 1,1 billion TL, Mevlüt Gümüş continued to say the following: “Turkish Seed Union and seven sub-unions  were established in accordance with the Seed Law that was enacted in 2006. One of these associations is called the Sub-Union of Plant Breeders. Protecting the economic and social rights of plant breeders, BISAB is now capable of signing its name under international congresses. This is one of the important indications of the point reached by the sector.”


Furthermore, Director General of Plant  Production Mevlüt Gümüş said that 168 seed companies have been authorised to carry out the agricultural research work, the certified seed production has increased from 145,000 tons to 800,000 tons, the comparative rate between the import and export has climbed from 31% to 79% and Turkey has exported seeds amounting to 148 million US dollars.


Stating that 4,000 plant species out of 12,000 worldwide were originated from Turkey, Gümüş said that such richness was hope-inspiring in terms of developing the diversity of plants.


Emphasising that the food safety is based on seeds, General Director of Agricultural Researches and Policies Assoc. Prof.  Dr. Masum Burak said, “Turkey is one of the unique countries with rich biodiversity. The endemic plants are the richest sources of plant breeding. Turkey is the homeland of many plants, including the barley, wheat and pomegranate. Our Ministry has made a great progress in the livestock and vegetative production thanks to its change and transformation program in the last decade.  We considered the agriculture as a strategic sector. We came up as a Ministry using the Research and Development in the public sector and proved that.”


Stating that the Research and Development go a long way back in Turkey, Burak said, “The seed sector has been accelerated since 1990s. 49 research agencies carried out important works. There are 2,200 researchers in our institutes.  Our 25 institutes are carrying out the Research and Development work with regard to vegetative production. The countries’ development rates are measured with the shares allocated to Research and Development. We were able to allocate only 18 per thousand of our national income to Research and Development 10-15 years ago. This rate increased to 93 per thousand today.”


Burak continued to say the following: “The agricultural research budget climbed from 11 billion Turkish liras to 25 billion Turkish liras last year with an increase of 25 times. We established the world’s 3rd largest genbank in Ankara. We also opened 15 Research and Development centers, which are equipped with the cutting-edge technology. We supported the projects conducted by the private sector and universities in accordance with the Agriculture Law. We opened the research institutes’ infrastructure for research and development work implemented by the private sector. Our institution gets the highest support from TÜBİTAK funds. We received a budget of 104 million, completed 68 projects and our 42 projects are underway.”


Making an assessment of the breeding activities that are conducted, Burak said, “We have developed 929 varieties since 1963 until now. We developed 90 percent of the field crop varieties that are currently in use.  We were just the rice importers, but now we use and export only domestic seeds. We registered the seedless lemon variety for the first time in the world. We gained acceleration in terms of domestic hybrid vegetable seed production. There were domestic seeds by 10 percent until 2004 and the rest were imported. 60 percent of the currently used hybrid vegetable seeds are domestic and exported to 35-40 countries. There are the plant breeders underlying them. The legal regulations should be issued along with such work. Turkey became a member of the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV) in 2007. We can also protect our varieties internationally as well.”

Stating that they will continue to act along with shareholders and provide support in order to ensure that the seed sector could achieve competitive capacity, Burak said that the breeding was quite important for the world’s food safety.

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