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Plant genetic resources

The International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture is the global framework for access to agricultural plant genetic resources in force since 29 June 2004. The EU and all 27 EU countries have ratified it. An important part of the Treaty is the standard Material Transfer Agreement (sMTA) for access to genetic resources and benefit-sharing if products arising from this material are commercialised. The sMTA was adopted in 2006. The Treaty includes over 1.5 million samples with 444,000 transfers with the sMTA per year. Specific less strict EU requirements apply for traditional old varieties facing extinction. Part of the treaty includes the Nagoya Protocol.

​Activities related to the conservation of plant material of local varieties are underway in order to prevent genetic erosion (decline and extinction) of valuable varieties from occurring and promote their sustainable use. Activities related to the conservation of plant material of local varieties are underway in order to prevent genetic erosion (decline and extinction) of valuable varieties from occurring and promote their sustainable use.

The SPMU together with other competent entities are continuously trying to collect seeds and other propagating material of various species from different locations in Malta and Gozo to be used in trials for conservation purposes. 

Identification of local ecotypes through preliminary morphological characterization is currently being done, primarily on vegetables (watermelons, melons, onions, garlic, etc). Internationally-recognized plant descriptors are being followed. 

As regards fruit trees, sanitary selection of local peaches and vines has been carried out in previous years by the Plant Health Directorate. Trials are currently underway on local ecotypes and varieties of citrus. Sanitation of infected plant material and the eventual establishment of a genebank are envisaged.