ITAGS Introduction and Strategy

Introduction

During the 16th COGENT Steering Committee Meeting held in Kochi, India in July 2012, participants decided to create thematic action groups, aiming to boost international activities in the fields of research related to coconut genetic resources.

COGENT has (re-)established four International Thematic Action Groups (ITAGs) to lead in the identification and coordination of priority projects for germplasm conservation and use, linked to implementing COGENT’s Global Strategy for the Conservation and Use of Coconut Genetic Resources.

During the 2012 SC meeting, participants from 18 countries recognized the need to create six International Thematic Action Groups (ITAGs), aiming to promote and coordinate international theme-specific research related to coconut genetic resources. The terms of reference for these ITAGs were discussed during the SC meeting. ITAGs are not decision-making bodies.

Their objectives are to:

  • Assemble a group of the best thematic specialists
  • Strengthen communications between researchers working in different countries but in the same thematic field.
  • Provide useful recommendations to COGENT’s SC, (the decision-making body) and secretariat.
  • Proovide new research ideas to spearhead the implementation of the Global Strategy in the relevant thematic area,   and develop funding proposals (see below for list of current priority projects).
  • Help to protect the specific research interests of COGENT member countries

The 2012 recommended 6 ITAGs were:

i) Ex situ conservation;

ii) Genomics;

iii) Breeding;

iv) Phytopathology & germplasm movement;

v) Ethnobiology & Socioeconomics

vi) In vitro culture.

During the funding hiatus little was further developed until the ACIAR/DFAT proposal development. In 2018 the SC recommended the addition of one new ITAG and slight changes to ITAGs 5 and 6 as follows:

v) Farmers’ Participatory Research, Ethnobiology & Socioeconomics, and

vi) In vitro culture and cryopreservation, and the new group

vii) dedicated to value-chain research.

In 2019, ACIAR/DFAT endorsed the proposal to support revitalizing COGENT, as a programme within ICC (see section 6), with a caveat that the ITAGs be rationalized to 3-4 in number.

Also, since COGENT is now an ICC programme, the socioeconomic and value-chain work can be housed in other ICC programmes. The 4 proposed ITAGs are:

i)             Ex- & in-situ conservation

ii)            Genomics & breeding

iii)           Phytopathology, entomology & germplasm movement

iv)           In vitro culture & cryo-preservation

Strategy

This Global Strategy for Conservation and Use of Coconut Genetic Resources has been compiled by Dr Roland Bourdeix and Dr Alexia Prades of CIRAD, (formal launch at the APCC 48th COCOTECH meeting in Bangkok 20-24 August 2018). An implementation plan will be discussed at a COGENT side-meeting 25-26 August. COGENT embraces 39 coconut-producing member-countries, representing more than 98% global production. COGENT aims to strengthen international collaboration in conservation and use of coconut genetic resources; promote improving coconut production, and boost linked livelihoods.

This Strategy is the product of consulting with more than 90 key-experts receiving more than 400 contributions over seven years. It has been supported by Bioversity International, CIRAD, the CGIAR research program Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA), and ACIAR/DFAT, and aims to support optimizing the conservation and use of as much representative diversity as possible.

It is hoped that, as an evolving document, this Strategy will provide the benchmark for effectively implementing the comprehensive conservation and research agenda proposed by the international coconut research community, as a route to the enhanced wellbeing of the millions of coconut smallholders across the globe.

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