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Taiwan-based vegetable gene bank launches project to increase crop diversity

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Taipei, Dec. 6 (CNA) The World Vegetable Center (WorldVeg), an international nonprofit agricultural research institute headquartered in Tainan, Taiwan, announced a program on Tuesday to share the vegetable germplasm it keeps with the countries of origin in an effort to increase crop diversity in Southeast Asia.

The project will involve more than 22,000 vegetables types in 183 species collected from 14 Southeast Asian countries and stored in Taiwan over the past 30 years, said WorldVeg Director General Marco Wopereis.

It will take about three years to evaluate the needs of affected countries — including Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam — and arrange for deliveries amid efforts to improve overall crop system resilience, he said.

Countries that no longer have the vegetable strains kept in Taiwan will be given priority, according to Wopereis.

It is hoped that the project will help increase food choices for Southeast Asians because over the past three decades, certain vegetable types have disappeared due to climate change, over-harvesting or the influence of foreign dining cultures, Wopereis said at a press conference.

WorldVeg was established in 1971 by the Asian Development Bank, Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, the Philippines, Thailand, the United States and Vietnam.

The gene bank, which seeks to reduce malnutrition in developing nations by improving production and consumption of vegetables, maintains the world’s largest public collection of vegetable seeds.

(By Yang Sz-ruei and Lee Hsin-Yin)

Enditem/AW

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