`Argentina Likely to Host Olive Council's Fourth Olive Germplasm Bank - Olive Oil Times

Argentina Likely to Host Olive Council's Fourth Olive Germplasm Bank

May. 4, 2022
Paolo DeAndreis

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Argentina’s national olive germplasm bank is one step closer to assum­ing the sta­tus of a world olive germplasm bank within the net­work estab­lished by the International Olive Council (IOC).

Such a global insti­tu­tion, a first for South America, would facil­i­tate and speed up olive farm­ing invest­ments in the coun­try and the con­ti­nent, its pro­mot­ers said dur­ing a series of meet­ings in Argentina between IOC del­e­gates and local author­i­ties.

Germplasm banks play a piv­otal role in pro­tect­ing the genetic integrity of olive cul­ti­vars and pro­mot­ing bio­di­ver­sity while also sup­port­ing research and farm­ing.

Today, a net­work of 20 national olive germplasm banks is affil­i­ated with the IOC net­work, which is also con­nected to the three cur­rent inter­na­tional banks located in Córdoba, Spain, Marrakech, Morocco, and Izmir, Turkey.

See Also:Researchers Work to Identify Olive Varieties Best Adapted to Higher Temperatures

With its olive tree cul­ti­vars, lab­o­ra­to­ries, green­houses, fields and spe­cial­ized experts, the Argentine insti­tu­tion is a can­di­date for the fourth such world olive germplasm insti­tu­tion.

The Argentine bank includes three nuclei of dif­fer­ent ages, genet­ics and typol­ogy, cov­er­ing 15 hectares. It holds more than 100 olive vari­eties cur­rently grown for olive oil and table olives.

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It is the largest and most impor­tant olive col­lec­tion in the Americas,” Carlos A Parera, national direc­tor of the National Institute of Agricultural Technology (INTA), told Olive Oil Times.

Parera noted how the bank also hosts almost 200 acces­sions rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the Mediterranean basin, with more than 1,000 trees.

The orig­i­nal nucleus of the bank, called Dante Floreal Marsico,” was cre­ated by the National Olive Growing Corporation at the end of the 1940s.

It was part of the National Network of Experimental Variety Trials,” Parera said. Its main objec­tive was to carry out exper­i­men­ta­tion and research tasks aimed at ana­lyz­ing the eco­log­i­cal and eco­nomic suit­abil­ity of the dif­fer­ent olive grow­ing areas in Argentina.”

Today, this nucleus expands on six hectares. These olive trees have been planted in our province for almost a cen­tury, which con­sti­tutes a true legacy for our coun­try since the tie between these ances­tral olive trees and the ter­ri­tory is extremely close,” Parera said.

In 2015, Argentine experts and researchers began to expand the insti­tu­tional germplasm bank, the nucleus known as INTA Expone,” and added new vari­eties not present in the orig­i­nal nucleus to an area of about half a hectare.

In 2019, the expan­sion tasks went on, incor­po­rat­ing new vari­eties in a more inten­sive plant­ing sys­tem, to con­tinue incor­po­rat­ing and eval­u­at­ing the largest pos­si­ble num­ber of olive vari­eties from all olive-grow­ing coun­tries through­out the world,” Parera said. Today, this nucleus expands over an area of eight hectares.

Parera also empha­sized how in that same year, 2018, the national olive col­lec­tion was declared a cul­tural and nat­ural her­itage of the San Juan province. That province, located in the mid-west­ern part of the coun­try, is one of Argentina’s most rel­e­vant olive-pro­duc­ing areas.

The pro­mot­ers of estab­lish­ing the fourth IOC world germplasm bank in Argentina empha­sized the sig­nif­i­cant role that it could play at a time that is increas­ingly chal­leng­ing for olive farm­ers due to cli­mate change.

In this con­text, Parera said the dis­tance from the other banks and the expan­sion of olive grow­ing might require a new insti­tu­tion in the Western Hemisphere to ben­e­fit all of the coun­tries in the region.

In this sense, Argentina olive grow­ing, as in many other coun­tries of the Southern Hemisphere, devel­ops within envi­ron­ments sub­ject to dif­fer­ent tem­per­a­tures and rain­fall pat­terns than those of the Mediterranean, which leads to the assump­tion of a dif­fer­en­tial agro­nomic and phys­i­o­log­i­cal behav­ior in these new grow­ing areas,” Parera said.

According to INTA, in such a sce­nario, genetic resources must be pro­tected and new stud­ies under­taken to sys­tem­at­i­cally eval­u­ate the phe­no­typic plas­tic­ity of exist­ing cul­ti­vars in our coun­try and poten­tial new olive geno­types or vari­eties,” Parera said.

This will allow us to deter­mine the most resilient olive tree vari­eties,” he added. Thus, both the tech­ni­cal and pro­duc­tive sec­tors need to begin to revalue this olive grow­ing her­itage and reflect on var­i­ous aspects of the crop, such as adapt­abil­ity to new regions, dis­tinc­tive man­age­ment and use of diverse resources, water, for exam­ple, pro­duc­tion and dif­fer­en­ti­ated mar­ket­ing of prod­ucts.”

The talks between the IOC and the local author­i­ties have also con­firmed that the local olive cul­ti­var, Arauco, will be included in the next update to the World Catalog of Olive Varieties.

Until the late 1990s, Arauco has been the coun­try’s most widely farmed olive cul­ti­var because of its high oil con­tent and high polyphe­no­lic com­po­si­tion.

Arauco has prof­itable char­ac­ter­is­tics for com­mer­cial pro­duc­tion of vir­gin olive oils, espe­cially because it has a well-bal­anced fatty acid com­po­si­tion and a high con­tent of antiox­i­dant com­pounds,” Parera said. Our germplasm bank has the only national col­lec­tion of Arauco, with sev­eral clones of this cul­ti­var.”

Arauco is also the main cul­ti­var that has to be present in extra vir­gin olive oil pro­duced in the province of Mendoza to fall under the pro­vi­sions of the first Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) attrib­uted to an Argentine oil.

During their talks, the IOC and the Argentine author­i­ties also dis­cussed adopt­ing the IOC def­i­n­i­tions for olive oil in the Mercosur, a com­mon mar­ket area com­pris­ing Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay.

The IOC also plans to make Argentina the host for the Southern Hemisphere edi­tion of its Mario Solinas olive oil yearly con­test.

In those meet­ings, INTA said olive grow­ing in Argentina has changed over the years, as farm­ers increas­ingly have added mod­ern groves to tra­di­tional ones.

These new olive groves result from large invest­ments, which means that the aver­age plan­ta­tion area of each farm is exten­sive,” Parera said. Such olive plan­ta­tions are devel­oped, to a large extent, under the con­cepts of mech­a­niza­tion, fer­til­iza­tion and mea­sured and con­trolled pro­vi­sion of irri­ga­tion water, few vari­eties, among other aspects.”

According to IOC data, Argentina has seen its olive oil pro­duc­tion sig­nif­i­cantly grow in the lat­est decade. The aver­age pro­duc­tion from 2011/12 to 2021/22 reached 32,000 tons, com­pared with the 17,700 tons recorded in the pre­vi­ous decade.

The future suc­cess of this activ­ity will depend on main­tain­ing these two sec­tors, increas­ing pro­duc­tion and domes­tic olive oil con­sump­tion,” Parera said. A strate­gic vision that aims to main­tain the pro­duc­tive bases, but capa­ble of respond­ing ade­quately to new chal­lenges such as cli­mate change, water scarcity, emerg­ing dis­eases, sus­tain­abil­ity, bet­ter work­ing con­di­tions and prod­uct qual­ity, among oth­ers.”

In this regard, it is impor­tant to high­light the tasks of con­ser­va­tion and val­oriza­tion of the genetic resources of olive cul­ti­va­tion,” he added. In an agri­cul­ture with dra­matic global changes, hav­ing a broad vari­etal spec­trum allows us to respond quickly and effi­ciently to such changes.”



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