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Biodiversity Unit

“Biological diversity” means the variability among living organisms from all sources including, inter alia, terrestrial, marine and other aquatic ecosystems and the ecological complexes of which they are part; this includes diversity within species, between species and of ecosystems.(UN Convention on Biological Diversity).

Agricultural biodiversity or Agro-biodiversity involves all forms of life directly related to agriculture. In crop production, new varieties are outcome of formal breeding and are often characterised as high yielding or tolerant/resistance to biotic and abiotic factors that affect crop production (FAO).

T&T is a signatory to the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA) and the Convention on Biological Diversity. The Research Division of the MALMR has been designated the National Focal Point of the treaty. As signatories we are obligated to ensure the conservation, sustainable utilization and benefit sharing of Plant Genetic Resources.

Goals

  • To identify and secure land races and threatened crops in Trinidad and Tobago through the collection and storage of seed material and the establishment of museum plots of selected species at different locations.
  • To develop a database of the land races and threatened crops in Trinidad.
  • To disseminate the information collection to sensitise farmers and the general public of the importance of the preservation of plant genetic resources and the relationship between the loss of biological diversity and changing land use patterns.
  • To promote the incorporation of these landraces and threatened crops in the diet as a means of improving the nutritional content and reduction of food costs and maintaining food security.

Accomplishments

  • Compilation of information on land races and threatened crops – photographs, major uses and propagation methods.
  • Conservation of 150 accessions of vegetable seeds

Current Projects

Characterization of Five (5) Sorrel (Hibiscus sabdariffa) Varieties found in Trinidad and Tobago Collection.

Future Projects

  • Characterization and evaluation of Bird pepper (Capsicum frutescens) varieties grown in Trinidad and Tobago
  • Development of a plant genetic resources database of land races and threatened crops in Trinidad.
  • A Public awareness Programme to sensitise the general public of the importance of the conservation of plant genetic resources as part of the economic and social development of the country.