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 Botswana National Plant Genetic Resources Centre

 
 
 
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Background

The National Plant Genetic Resources Centre (NPGRC) operates as a unit in the Department of Agricultural Research (DAR). In the past individual Dar researchers used to collect and conserve the germplasm they are working on. A number of collaborative collection missions of DAR with international conservation institutions assembled a number germplasm in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Handling that volume of accessions proved to be very difficult and it was foreseen that most of the collected germplasm would be lost either through misplacements, pest infections or loss of viability. This therefore advocated for a deliberate programme of conservation with facilities and equipment. In 1986 the DAR inaugurated then Germplasm Unit to undertake formal and more organized conservation of crop plant genetic resources for crops mandatory to the DAR.
The primary objectives of the unit were to:
  • Explore and collect;
  • Preserve plant germplasm within the mandate of the DAR
Collaboration

Almost a year (1987) after the inauguration of the Germplasm Unit by DAR, the SADC Plant Genetic Resources Centre (SPGRC) the former SADCC Regional Genebank was established with the primary objective to co-ordinate plant genetic resources conservation in the SADC sub region. This was to be done through a network system of National Plant Genetic Resources Centres (NPGRCs). The establishment of the NPGRC in Botswana meant take over of the activities of the Germplasm Unit. To help in the co-ordination of the NPGRC activities the National Plant Genetic Resources committee (NPGRCom) was formed in 1987.

The committee helps in developing the national strategies, priorities and ensuring the efficient use of the plant genetic resources in Botswana. The member institutions are:
  • Department of Agricultural Research/NPGRC;
  • Botswana College of Agriculture (BCA);
  • The University of Botswana (UB);
  • National Tree Seed Centre;
  • National Museum Monuments and Art Gallery/National Herbarium and Botanic Gardens Agriculture Resources Board;
  • Forestry Association Botswana;
  • Thusano Lefatsheng;
  • Veld Products Research and Development.
The last three institutions are NGOs, UB and BCA are academic institutions and the rest are government institutions.
The inaugural collection expedition was done in November 2003 and it covered a very good proportion of the country and a number of targeted species were located. It started with a seminar to outline the objectives of the project to the stakeholders a day before the departure at the National museum hall. Although it was meant to be more of a reconnaissance survey, but a number of species were collected. Those participants who were not confident in germplasm collection routine were given hands on feel of the collection activities. The second expedition was done in January and we are expecting another two expeditions in March and May respectively later on this year.

Activities

The Millenium Seed Bank Project, Botswana

On the 14th February 2003, the government of Botswana signed a five year project document with the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. This project is part of the millennium seed bank project that is being coordinated globally by the RBG, Kew. The project’s primary goal is to collect and conserve about 400-targeted wild species classified as rare, endemic, and endangered or have potential for economic value.

 

Hoodia currori ssp. lugardiiA picture of Hoodia currori subsp. lugardii taken during one of the missions

 

 

The collaborating institutions are:

  • NPGRC as the national focal point. It is tasked with seed processing, storage and distribution. Where possible to develop germination protocols for the new species;
  • RBG, Kew, which is tasked with keeping duplicate collection and helping in developing germination protocols for the new species;
  • National Herbarium and Botanic Gardens tasked with keeping life plants of the target species as well as developing propagation protocols for the endemic, rare and endangered species;Veld Products Research and Development, which is the only NGO in this project, is tasked with developing the propagation protocols for the utilitarian species in target.
The inaugural collection expedition was done in November 2003 and it covered a very good proportion of the country and a number of targeted species were located. It started with a seminar to outline the objectives of the project to the stakeholders a day before the departure at the National museum hall. Although it was meant to be more of a reconnaissance survey, but a number of species were collected. Those participants who were not confident in germplasm collection routine were given hands on feel of the collection activities. The second expedition was done in January and we are expecting another two expeditions in March and May respectively later on this year.

Publications

  • The Proceedings of the First National Workshop on Plant Genetic Resources, Gaborone, Botswana 1992;
  • The Proceedings of the Second Botswana National Workshop on Plant Genetic Resources 20-23rd June 2000, Gaborone Botswana;
  • Botswana cowpea germplasm catalogue volumes 1,2,3 and 4.
  • Groundnut Catalogue: Volume 1
  • Cowpea germplasm catalogue volumes 5 (in the pipeline)
Material
National Plant Genetic Resources Committee (NPGRCom)
  • Ms Mary Molefe - Chairperson
  • Mr Chiyapo Gwafila - Secretary
Staff
  • Ms Mary Molefe - Curator
  • Mr G. Chiyapo - Research Officer (on study leave - MSc)
  • Ms Tiny Motlhaodi - Research Officer (on Sandwich Scholarship - PhD)
  • Ms K. Kgokong - Technical Staff
  • Ms E. Molaodi -Technical Staff (on study leave - Diploma in Agriculture)

 


Contacts

Department of Agricultural Research,

Private Bag 0033, GABORONE, Botswana

Tel: +267 3668100, Fax: +267 928965
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Website: www.dar.gov.bw