With the kick-off meeting held from 27 to 28 June 2018 in Ljubljana, the five-year project ECOBREED funded by Horizon 2020 program, has been officially launched. The project is coordinated by Agricultural Institute of Slovenia and carried out in collaboration with 24 partner organisations representing 15 countries: AT, CN, CZ, DE, ES, GR, HU, IT, PL, RO, RS, SI, SK, UK, and the USA. Participants were addressed by the director of the Institute prof. dr. Andrej Simončič and project coordinator Dr. Vladimir Meglič. Special guest was Ms. Tanja Strniša, State Secretary at the Ministry of the Republic of Slovenia for Agriculture, Forestry and Food, who stressed the significance of the project for the development of Slovenian organic farming.
The project will develop (a) methods, strategies and infrastructures for organic breeding, (b) varieties with improved stress resistance, resource use efficiency and quality and (c) improved methods for the production of high-quality organic seed. Activities will focus on four crop species i.e. wheat (both common Triticum aestivum L. and durum Triticum aestivum L., T. durum L.), potato (Solanum tuberosum L.), soybean (Glycine max (L). Merr), and common buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum Moench.).
During the following 5 years, the project participants will: identify genetic and phenotypic variation in morphological, abiotic/biotic tolerance/resistance and nutritional quality traits that can be used in organic breeding; evaluate the potential of genetic variation for enhanced nutrient acquisition; evaluate the potential for increased weed competitiveness and control; optimise seed production/multiplication via improved agronomic and seed treatment protocols; develop efficient, ready-to-use farmer participatory breeding systems; pre-breed elite varieties for improved agronomic performance, biotic/abiotic stress resistance/tolerance and nutritional quality; develop training programmes in genomic tools/techniques, farmers participatory breeding, use and application of improved phenotyping capabilities; ensure optimum and rapid utilisation and exploitation of project deliverables and innovations by relevant industry and other user/stakeholder groups.