Romania is known in the European Union for its extremely tasty and healthy fruit and vegetables. Traditional Romanian fruits maintain their flavour, smell and texture and are still in great demand on the domestic market.
Unfortunately, these old fruit varieties are increasingly hard to find on the market because Romanian farmers are more interested in the more recent varieties. The old varieties are also less pest-resilient.
To ensure that we do not lose those varieties, more focus must be placed on the gene pool and on its conservation.
What tools does the Commission have to encourage growers to plant old variety seeds and also to encourage research institutes to invest in seed conditioning to enable them to face the present thermal stress and the increasingly resilient pests?
U legislation includes provisions to encourage growers to plant old variety seeds by allowing less stringent requirements concerning the production and marketing within the Union of such seeds.
In particular, Commission Directive 2009/145/EC(1) aims to facilitate the production and marketing of conservation varieties by providing for certain derogations, for acceptance of vegetable landraces and varieties which have been traditionally grown in particular localities and regions. Article 3(4) of Council Directive 2008/90/EC(2) further sets out that Member States may authorise suppliers on their own territory to place on the market appropriate quantities of propagating material and fruit plants intended to help preserve genetic diversity.
Under Horizon 2020, the EU Commission is financing research and innovation related to the preservation and use of genetic resources including landraces and neglected varieties. For example, following the last evaluation of proposals in spring 2017, the Commission will fund a network to increase European capacities for the in-situ conservation of crops(3).
(3) see call text on page 21 of the 2017 Work Programme: ec.europa.eu/research/participants/data/ref/h2020/wp/2016_2017/main/h2020-wp1617-food_en.pdf