Every two years, the International Winter Wheat Improvement Program (IWWIP) conducts a traveling seminar to evaluate germplasm, assess current practices and relations, and develop a plan for future improvements in winter wheat production. IWWIP is a joint program between the Government of Turkey, CIMMYT and ICARDA, serving the winter wheat breeding programs globally, though its main target is the Central West Asia and North Africa region.
This year the traveling seminar was held in Azerbaijan and Georgia in the last week of May. There were more than 50 participants from Azerbaijan, Georgia, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Lithuania, Russia, Turkey, Ukraine and Uzbekistan. Speaking at the opening meeting on the first day, the Deputy Minister of Agriculture of Azerbaijan said, ‘IWWIP provides not only invaluable germplasm to Azerbaijan breeding programs, but it also serves as a learning avenue for the young researchers of the world.’
After the meeting, the seminar participants visited the Azeri Research Institute of Farming and the Genetic Resources Institute of the National Academy of Sciences. Germplasm development using wild species of cereals captured the attention of many participants, who expressed their interest in cooperating with the researchers in the institute for novel germplasm development. Material at the dryland sub-station of Azeri Research Institute of Farming was evaluated. Participants also visited and evaluated the material at Terter Agricultural Research Station, mainly for irrigated wheat. The high yield potential of cultivars in the station was a key highlight.
From there, the group traveled to Georgia and visited the Georgian National Research Center and Lamtogora Farm, which is the main seed producing company in Georgia. The company closely cooperates with IWWIP in the release and promotion of the IWWIP-originated cultivars that cover a vast acreage in Georgia. It has established big seed production farms and seed processing units that serve the Georgian farmers.
A key recommendation that emerged from the participants on the last day was that pre-breeding activities should be done in IWWIP to create germplasm with novel genes to increase the yield, and enhance tolerance to biotic and abiotic stresses. The participants appreciated the high level and well-managed trials in the institutes and their interactions with a young and motivated new generation of researchers.
IWWIP commended the contributions and support of the following for the success of this year’s traveling seminar: the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Livestock of Turkey, CGIAR Research Program on Wheat, Azeri Research Institute of Farming (Azerbaijan), Agrarian Center of the Ministry of Agriculture (Azerbaijan), Genetic Resources Institute (Azerbaijan), Lomtagora Farm (Georgia), and Georgian National Research Center (Georgia). Kazakhstan has offered to hold the next traveling seminar in 2017.