INNOVATIVE ORGANIC FRUIT BREEDING AND USES
“Climate change is increasing impacts and risks to organic fruit production.”
“Large market demand is expanding for organic fruits but the current commercial cultivars (cvs) range previously selected in high input paradigm are, for most of them, not adapted to organic production.”
InnOBreed proposes to mobilise Innovative Solutions (ISs): social innovations,new ideotypes, new methods for screening robust cvs and genitors with larger genetic bases) for fostering organic fruit breeding. InnOBreed’s scope encompasses many Rosaceous species but also citrus and grape.
These ISs will be targeted and developed on participative, multi-actor and multitrait based approaches and then applied for evaluating underutilized Fruit Tree Genetic Resources (FTGR), pre-breeding and advanced material.
European consumers demand in organic food is continuously increasing and the actual production both on qualitative and quantitative bases is not sufficient to achieve the target of at least 25% of EU’s agricultural land under organic farming by 2030. In fruit species, based on consumers’ and society expectations, organic production is increasing but it is still insufficient to reach the actual and prospective market demand. Two major reasons explain the actual situation.
Firstly, a large majority of commercially cultivated fruit cultivars are not well adapted to the Organic Farming (OF) system because they have been dedicated to conventional fruit production, except a few ongoing initiatives mostly focused on apple. Hence, current cultivars have been selected and screened based on yield, easy and cheap plant protection spray schemes, standard smooth, standard-sized look and taste, good keeping ability in sophisticated cold chambers and to a less extend have monogenic resistance to few major pests and diseases at risk of breakdown. Thus current available commercial varieties are far away from being adapted to low or no-input farming systems. However, organic farming requires crops, which are more robust, more tolerant to pests, & diseases, resilient and better adapted to more variable conditions such as climatic change engenders. Secondly, the surfaces already developed on organic farming systems are too limited and the length of the vegetative cycles in fruit perennials is too long for being in line with the expectations in the due time.
To cover the increasing market for organic products, to counteract these concerns and reach the EU objectives, adapted cultivars (including prospective risks such as climatic change, susceptibility or resilience against present and future pests and diseases) have to be developed to enlarge the production surface.
In brief, significant plant evaluation, breeding efforts and subsequent plant propagation are needed to improve the performance of the fruit sector through better-suited varieties and the introduction of these varieties through the organic fruit supply chain.
InnOBreed – project aims to promote and aggregate Innovative Solutions (IS) focussed on the participative development of fruit varieties and on a fruit plant production system dedicated to the organic farming system.
- Design adapted ideotypes for current and future agroecological areas and assess the prioritization of the relevant traits adapted to fruit crop species;
- Identify available IS (tools, methodologies, social non-technological innovations) to characterize and evaluate FTGR and cultivars. Their assessment, their impact, the risk associated with, their possible
integration and the identification of the relevant FTGR will be analyzed;
- Implement and validate IS in pre-breeding and breeding association of technical-socio-economic related characters;
- Increase the use of already available databases by fruit scientists and stakeholders by bridging them through the harmonization and integration of current (or existing), descriptions and data issued from InnOBreed;
- Implement participative diagnostic technologies to optimize the choice of fruit cultivars.
At the organizational /socio-economic level, InnOBreed will set up a European Fruit project gathering FTGR, Innovation providers and stakeholders of the fruit chain to:
- Capitalize on already available IS and on a large set of Case studies able to be implemented by the Innovation providers;
- Identify on participative bases the most suitable accessions for the fruit organic sector at local and regional levels;
- Anticipate the impacts of environmental changes;
- Ensure that the requirements of the fruit sector, consumers and civil society are integrated in the project’s approaches;
- Foster integrated and harmonized genetic diversity assessment, knowledge spill-over and technology transfer through networking, workshops, seminars and consultations;
- Identify and evaluate genetic resources not economically used to enhance long-term food security;
- Highlight the practical & technological conditions for implementing the different IS.
- Apply a socio-technical approach for analyzing Fruit Organic production taking into account the actors by country and species to overcome the lock-in effects for implementing Fruit Organic production;
- Implement the transfer of IS to the fruit industry by sharing the available expertise on transfer platforms;
- Conceive objective robust medium-throughput criteria and procedures for accessing mandatory traits for organic fruit production to evaluate plant material performances in the orchard and post-harvest stages;
- Characterize and evaluate FTGR (in charge of Research Institutes and NGO’s for Fruit species), at agronomic, pests and diseases, robustness, … (in the orchard and post-harvest stages) and molecular levels with the newly defined and prioritized criteria, tools and procedures of the VCUS-OF protocol;
- Optimize the selection methodologies for maximizing the impact of the OF-VTN.
InnOBreed is deeply connected with running initiatives, programmes and resources involved in OFS, organic fruit participative and classical breeding, fostering FTGR uses by fruit-chain, scientists and stakeholders.