Itaka Crop Solution is part of the European project BRESOV “Breeding for Resilient, Efficient and Sustainable Organic Vegetable Production”, which aims to improve the competitiveness of three important vegetable crops broccoli, snap bean and tomato when grown in an organic and sustainable environment.
The project has strong participation of stakeholders from the breeding and farming sector and aims to create a pipeline for crop improvement that will accelerate the production of high-quality organic seeds for breeders and farmers around the world.
With changing climatic conditions and a rapidly growing world population estimated to reach 9 billion by 2050, it is estimated the food production needs to increase by 70 %*.
BRESOV is exploring the genetic diversity of three of the economically most significant vegetable crops from the botanical families Brassicaceae, Fabaceae, Solanaceae. The consortium’s overall aim is to increase the plants’ tolerance to biotic and abiotic stresses and adapt the varieties to the specific requirements of organic and low-input production processes to improve their sustainability.
To achieve their ambitious goals, the group will use modern techniques to explore the natural diversity within each crop and then use this to expand the breeding base to select and improve resilience traits in organic farming systems using annual crop rotation schemes. The new breeding lines will be tested for efficiency when grown under water, temperature and nitrogen stresses as well as for resistance to pests and diseases. In addition, desirable traits such as taste, visual appearance and post-harvest performance will be assessed.
Prof. Ferdinando Branca from the University of Catania, Italy, is coordinating the project, he says: “As the demand for organically produced staple food is growing constantly, we need to act now. The idea behind the BRESOV project is to better match research outcomes with producer and consumer demands.
“Existing breeding material is predominantly optimised for conventional agriculture. Therefore, we aim to adapt and enhance genetic resources specifically for organic production to make it more competitive and attractive for farmers throughout and beyond the European Union.”
Itaka Crop Solution is the only private company taking part in the project. Since it was founded in 2014, the Italian company has become rapidly a national and European leader in developing solutions for Organic Agriculture.
Itaka Crop Solution’s philosophy is its great sense of responsibility towards the environment, the consumers’ and farmers’ health.
Itaka Crop Solution’s project focussed on tomato, string bean and cabbage, and these will be grown in a greenhouse in Santa Croce Camerina, under the careful supervision of specialised technicians.
The 22 partner institutions from ten European countries as well as China, Tunisia and South Korea, pursue an interdisciplinary multi-actor approach placing special emphasis on the input and needs of the breeding and farming sector.
BRESOV is funded with a total budget of € 5.96 million over the next four years by the European Commission’s current Research Framework Programme Horizon 2020. Another one million euros (in total) will come from the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) and the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST).
*according to the World Resources Institute, http://www.wri.org/