FIGGEN - Valorising the diversity of the fig tree, an ancient fruit crop for sustainable Mediterranean agriculture

About Us

FIGGEN is a three-year project promoted by PRIMA (Partnership for Research and Innovation in the Mediterranean Area) programme supported by the European Union. The ambition is to make the fig tree one of the most suitable and profitable crop in the Mediterranean area in a climate change context. Among tree crops, the fig tree shows a good adaptation to dry, calcareous and saline environments, typical of different regions in the Mediterranean basin and the Middle East, where it has been cultivated for millennia. This crop has great potential for expansion thanks to valuable nutritional and nutraceutical characteristics and is particularly suitable for the application of sustainable agriculture based on biodiversity, such as mixed farming systems like agro-forestry. Despite its importance, the fig tree has undergone low genetic improvement and most cultivation in the Mediterranean area is based on local cultivars that are currently highly threatened by genetic erosion due to various pests and diseases, abiotic stresses, intensive urbanization, monovarietal crops, migration from rural to urban areas. FIGGEN wants to contribute breeding efforts to address crop tolerance to multiple abiotic stresses, improving productivity, efficiency and sustainability of agricultural farming systems. Breeding depends on the collection, conservation and sharing of appropriate crop genetic resources among plant breeders and farmers. In this sense the project will create a participatory context involving main actors of the value chain following a transdisciplinary approach where socio-economic knowledge and recent scientific advances in assessing biodiversity will be combined with traditional knowledge of local private and public stakeholders. FIGGEN aims to enhance the biodiversity of the fig tree and the selection of genotypes better adapted to environmental conditions coming from climate changes that can promote fig breeding and more sustainable fig production of the future.

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Period of Implementations

Apr 1, 2020 - Mar 31, 2023

Total Budget

EUR 655.286,00

OUR IMPACT

Goals

1- This project aims to evaluate performances and genetic variability of fig varieties integrating new knowledge and technologies in assessing biodiversity with knowledge coming from local farmers and stakeholders. 2- After genotyping and phenotyping analyses genotypes best adapted to environmental conditions coming from climate changes will be selected and made available for local farming systems and private and public stakeholders of the agri-business system for evaluation in the field trials, so to transfer results and strategies developed in this project to a real environment. Selected genotypes will be introduced within traditional agricultural systems to obtain mixing cropping systems as agroforestry. 3 -Genome wide association studies allow us to identify molecular markers linked to yield and drought/salt adaptation for future breeding programs.

Objectives

FIGGEN aims at the valorization of the fig tree biodiversity and the selection of fig genotypes better adapted to marginal areas affected by drought/salt conditions that will support fig breeding and more sustainable crop production in new biodiversity-based crop systems. The ambition is to make the fig tree one of the most suitable and profitable crop in the Mediterranean area in a climate change context.

Impact Pathway

FIGGEN impacts on valorisation and conservation of biodiversity analysing 300 genotypes of fig germplasm including neglected or under-utilized cultivars from countries that are the main producers of figs in the Mediterranean region. The introduction in agricultural systems of new fig cultivars better adapted to drought/salt conditions will help fig sustainable production of the future. This will contribute to implement biodiversity-based agriculture, more resilient to climate uncertainties, and more sustainable, producing beneficial effects in terms of conservation of natural resources including above and below ground biodiversity, soil and water conservation, poor soil valorisation and, consequently, better ecosystem services. FIGGEN results will have a positive impact both on well-being and income of farmers, on agro-ecosystem and fig production allowing to invert the decreasing trend of fig production in Mediterranean area recorded in the last years. Concerning scientific impact, the identification of genes or molecular markers linked to yield and drought/salt condition adaptation developed through GWAS will contribute to the genetic improvement of this species developing knowledge on genetics and physiology of plant under abiotic stresses and new varieties better adapted to a changing climate.

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