A regional conference on “Diversity, characterization, and utilization of plant genetic resources (PGR) for enhanced resilience to climate change” was conducted in Baku, Azerbaijan, during 3-4 October 2011, under the aegis of the FAO project to enhance PGR utilization in Azerbaijan, with technical support and assistance from CIMMYT-Turkey. The event attracted over 100 participants from Asia and Eastern Europe, including Iran, Russia, Turkey, and Ukraine.
Although frequently well-characterized and preserved, PGR is often under-utilized. The conference demonstrated opportunities and means of utilizing these resources using modern conventional and biotechnological tools; a high priority for the research community given the rich genetic resources of crops in the region. It was also proposed that a PGR utilization network be established, and lead institutions and countries were assigned to start pre-breeding activities for priority crops and traits. A draft for the Azerbaijan strategy of PGR conservation, characterization, and use, was also discussed and prepared. Thanks to the Azerbaijan Genetic Resources Institute for organizing the conference, with support from FAO, CIMMYT, ICARDA, and Bioversity International.