In July 1969, Erna Bennett, Genetic Conservation and Information
Specialist from the Crop Ecology and Genetic Resources Branch of the Food
and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), carried out a
mission in Greece searching for and collecting primitive wheat varieties
native to the mountains and valleys of that country. These primitive wheat
races are one of the world's richest storehouses of the genetic characteristics
that plant breeders require. They will build desirable characteristics from
crops as old as agricultural man, like building blocks, into new high-yielding
varieties. But old races are being swamped by the spread of modern varieties,
and in certain areas - and in the case of certain crops - emergency measures
are necessary to collect these old races before they disappear completely.
FAO and other leading international crop improvement organi?tions are
increasingly concerned with the conservation of primitive crop races,
whose amazing diversity hides the promise of better crops to come.
Village of Pentayioi. Miss Bennett discusses pri.itive wheat varieties with
villagers in the town square.