The Regional Centre for Plant Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology was established in Doha in support of Qatar`s efforts to develop the region`s agro-genetic engineering capacities.
The Center will serve as an international Center of Excellence for scientific research in the field of genetic engineering and biotechnology as well as a know-how and information hub for regional centers and research institutions in Arab countries. By pioneering state-of-the-art research solutions related to plant genetic engineering and biotechnology, the Centre will contribute to increased agricultural production and improved nutritional quality of food, crucial to food security and poverty reduction efforts in the Arab region.
The objectives are:
- To develop and promote the application of biotechnology in the agricultural sector to address issues of low productivity and enhance agricultural production and biotech research in Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and other Arab countries;
- To assist GCC and other Arab countries in strengthening their scientific and technological capabilities in the field of biotechnology (i.e. Training of biotech Researchers);
- To serve as a forum of exchange of information and act as a knowledge hub, experience and know-how and to act as a focal point of a network of affiliated (national, subregional and regional) centers and research institutions in GCC and other Arab countries;
- To develop and harmonize biosafety regulations in the GCC countries and eventually other Arab countries (i.e. Biosafety regulations); and
- To exploit plant genetic resources available in local gene banks and in situ collections using gene marker-related breeding techniques.
The Centre's main achievements that can be replicated involve provision of capacity building support to researchers from GCC and other Arab countries in strengthening their scientific and technological capabilities in the field of plant genetic engineering and biotechnology. The State of Qatar has played a leading role in the area of commercial tissue culture in the region.
To date, as part of the medium-term research programme, plant tissue culture protocols for commercial purposes were developed for 15 varieties of plant species, consisting of ornamental plants, endangered desert plants, plants of medicinal value and fruit crops - including those native to Qatar. The aforementioned plant species included: Glossanema and Atriplex, both wild plants grown in the desert, subject to foraging by camels and threatened by extinction; Quisqualis indica, an ornamental plant; Fragaria virginiata and Psidium guava, fruit crops, among others.
As a result of this project, plant tissue culture techniques that are commercially viable to propagate in a laboratory were newly introduced. The scientific and technological capabilities of 79 researchers from Qatar, as well as Yemen, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq in the field of plant biotechnology (e.g. biochemistry, microbiology, chemical technology and genetics) has been developed and strengthened through technical assistance and capacity building support, including two workshops on basic and advanced techniques, designing and conducting a mini research and visits to project sites and applications under the guidance of expert researchers.
Furthermore, the project has also contributed to the establishment of a fully equipped plant tissue culture laboratory including provision of laboratory equipment for purposes of research and training.
Partners: IFAD, Ministry of Environment (the former Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Agriculture), Qatar; Serendib Horticulture Technologies Middle East WLL.
Country Program Manager
Via Paolo di Dono 44
00142 Rome, Italy
Tel. +39 06 5459 2500
Fax + 39 06 5459 3500