a1 The International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA), PO Box 5466, Aleppo, Syria
This paper addresses the current and future contributions of plant genetic resources and plant improvement to sustainable agriculture with reference to the activities of the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA) in association with national programmes in West Asia and North Africa. These regions constitute the primary centres of diversity of crops such as wheat, barley, chickpea and lentil. Genetic erosion is being curtailed by germplasm collection and preservation. Selection for low-input cultivars of barley is conducted under low input conditions, and new cultivars of lentil and barley are often intentionally heterogeneous to stabilize their performance in dry rainfed areas. The importance of genetic differences in the cultivars on subsequent crops in the rotation and on straw quality for livestock is under study. Insect pests and diseases contribute to yield instability. Because of the potential adverse impact of pesticides on the fragile ecosystems of the region, integrated control strategies based on agronomic management, host plant resistance, biological control agents and strategic use of selective insecticides are being developed.
(Accepted June 12 1991)