Enhancing fig tree diversity for sustainable Mediterranean agriculture

The three-year FIGGEN project brings together experts from across the Mediterranean to improve fig biodiversity and promote sustainable fig production in the face of climate change.

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Fig tree
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

FIGGEN is a three-year project promoted by the PRIMA programme (Partnership for Research and Innovation in the Mediterranean Region) which aims to make the fig tree one of the most adapted and profitable crops in the Mediterranean basin in the context of climate change. The project is financially supported by the European Union and is coordinated by Professor Tommaso Giordani (University of Pisa, Italy) with the collaboration of four partners: Agencia Estatal Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas (CSIC, Spain), Centro de Investigaciones Científicas y Tecnológicas de Extremadura (CICYTEX, Spain), University of Tunis El Manar (UTM, Tunisia) and University of Çukorova (CU, Turkey).

Among tree crops, the fig tree shows good adaptation to dry, calcareous and saline environments, typical of the different regions of the Mediterranean basin and the Middle East, where it has been cultivated for thousands of years. This crop has a great potential for expansion thanks to its valuable nutritional and nutraceutical characteristics and is particularly suitable for the application of sustainable agriculture based on biodiversity, such as mixed farming systems and agroforestry. Despite its importance, the fig tree has undergone little genetic improvement work and most crops in the Mediterranean region are based on local varieties that are currently under severe threat of genetic erosion due to various pests and diseases, abiotic stresses, intensive urbanisation, and monovarietal crops. FIGGEN aims to contribute to the efforts of breeding programmes by addressing crop tolerance to multiple abiotic stresses in order to improve productivity, efficiency and sustainability of agricultural systems.

Breeding depends on the collection, conservation and sharing of appropriate plant genetic resources between breeders and farmers. In this sense, the project will create a participatory context involving the main actors of the value chain in a transdisciplinary approach where socio-economic knowledge and recent scientific advances in biodiversity assessment will be combined with the traditional knowledge of local private and public actors. FIGGEN aims to enhance fig biodiversity and select genotypes best adapted to the environmental conditions imposed by climate change in order to ensure the sustainability of fig resources and a sustainable production of figs in the Mediterranean basin and worldwide.

Source: FIGGEN project

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