The differentiation between a certain mandarin or orange and another from the same group is still a problem that hinders the development of the Spanish breeding industry, dedicated to the research and exploitation of new, more adapted varieties , more profitable for the citrus grower. The authentication of a variety, until very recently and still today in most cases, is based on an expert opinion on the known agronomic characteristics of the fruit in question (Brix degrees, acidity, leaf shape, fruit morphology). It is thus a non-arbitrary system, based on highly objective criteria, but expensive, slow and certainly not unequivocal, since it leaves a considerable margin for the expert’s interpretation. The Gocitrus project – an operating group that integrates the main Spanish entities dedicated to the development of varieties, research centres and large exporters – will solve this serious problem by applying new techniques of varietal identification based on genomics, which are cheap and quick to execute and 100% reliable.
The project, which is scheduled to end in 2021 and which is the most advanced in the world in this field, will provide a second solution to another delicate matter: choosing the best variety. Today there are more than 324 registered but only a few, in each case, meet the producer’s needs. Gocitrus works on an APP that can be downloaded from any mobile or tablet, which will contain and process all the data, agronomic and some commercial, necessary to assist the farmer and identify the best varietal option and its best combination with a specific rootstock (the 3 or 4 best combinations, it is understood).
This was explained in an informative webinar held last week, at which almost 200 producers, exporters and researchers were connected and which was inaugurated by Isabel Bombal, general director of Rural Development, Innovation and Agri-Food Training of the Ministry of Agriculture.
“Spain was the country with the most initiatives programmed and effectively granted in the previous call – there are 67 projects with European funding of 42.4 million euros – and Gocitrus is a good example of how the companies in this sector themselves are capable of giving innovative solutions to complex problems, ”said Bombal, who also wanted to highlight the“ integrating ”role of the biotechnology platform that has been able to connect all the members of this consortium, Biovegen, and the role of Anecoop, which coordinates it.
Photo: Gocitrus, Victoria Ibáñez – ANECOOP