International Trials of Acacia and Prosopis: Overview of results

bullet1 Introduction

bullet2 A short history of the project

The International Board for Plant Genetic Resources (IBPGR), at the end on the 1970ís, agreed that it should support a program that would:

    1. concentrate on provision of genetic material of tree species which would be of value for planting by rural communities
    2. concentrate on the arid and semi-arid areas, where problems were perceived as most acute
    3. Give top priority to species for production of fuelwood, which was a crucial situation in most communities (taking into account that many such species would provide additional goods and services such as food, fodder, shelter and soil amelioration).

In 1979, FAO consultants and staff surveyed the needs and possibilities for a cooperative programme in support of these objectives, visiting countries in Latin America, Africa, India and S-W Asia. Their report (Armitage, Joustra and Ben Salem, 1980) initiated active preparation and implementation of a project that became known as “Genetic Resources of Arid and Semi-arid Zone Arboreal Species for the Improvement of Rural Living”. The project was led by FAO, supported by IBPGR and UNEP, and ran from 1980-1987.

From 1983-1987, eleven countries (Argentina, Chile, India, Israel, Niger, Pakistan, Peru, Senegal, Sudan and Yemen) participated in the systematic exploration, collection  and documentation of seeds of 43 species originating from a total of 281 provenances. A total 1600 kg  of seed was collected.  The genera were mainly Acacia and Prosopis. The DANIDA Forest Seed Centre (DFSC) - Denmark, CSIRO – Australia, CIRAD-Forest – France, and the Oxford Forestry Institute – UK, collaborated in this and at various other stages of the project.

During 1983 – 1989, seeds from these collections were distributed for establishment of trials by 40 institutes and projects in 22 countries, with the main aim of identifying species and provenances suited to local conditions and priorities of use. Standard designs and common evaluation schedules were recommended to allow comparison between sites. Some endangered provenances were collected in semi-bulk quantities to enable ex-situ conservation.

During these activities, capacity building was carried out. FAO consultants and staff advisory visits were made to cooperating countries to review and discuss priorities, identify needs for equipment and training, identify and solve problems of communication, and provide advice – helping to standardise and document methodologies.  Training involved study tours, national seminars, workshops, courses and meetings on specific, practical matters. Technical handbooks and documents were prepared and disseminated, and contributions made to a wide range of fora, including FAO and IUFRO conferences and workshops.

Global evaluation of a selection of the trials was started by FAO in collaboration with DFSC in 1989, so as to support and complement national level evaluations. During 1990-94, 26 trials in 6 countries (Brazil, Burkina Faso, India, Pakistan, Senegal, and Sudan) were assessed in collaboration with national institutions. Methodology was developed during the evaluations and is described in DFSC 1994(a). The results of the assessments were documented in   a series of  26 preliminary assessment reports (DFSC 1994(b)). These have been analysed and the results presented in a further series of 26 evaluation reports (DFSC 1996 - 2001). An introduction to these evaluations has been produced by the Danida Forest Seed Centre (Graudal, L. et al. (2003)). This provides fuller details of the background, objectives, collaborators, acronyms, references, and structure of individual evaluation reports, and is reproduced here:   INTRODUCTION TO THE EVALUATION REPORTS