Pablo Morello. UCO.

The International Olive Germplasm Bank Network of the International Olive Council (IOC) was launched in 1994. Its objective has been the conservation of indigenous olive varieties representative of the biodiversity of its member countries in reference banks. At present, the network includes more than 1,800 accessions in 23 banks, six of which have been recognised as international by the IOC for meeting the strategic, location, management and representativeness requirements of indigenous cultivars from the world's olive-growing countries.


In 2016, the IOC agreed to promote the exchange of authenticated and healthy material between the Banks of the Network through the THOC (True Healthy Olive Cultivars) Transfer Project, which was coordinated by the IOC and the University of Cordoba (UCO) with the participation of the heads of the Banks of the Network and experts invited by the IOC. The main objectives of this project were to ensure varietal identity and promote the international certification of nursery plants in the member countries in accordance with the legislation in force in those countries. During the implementation of THOC 2018-2022, numerous advances have been made in the relations of the Banks of the Network, thanks to regular meetings with focuses of interest for the management of the Germplasm Banks, exchange of opinions and work methodologies, as well as promoting collaboration between Germplasm Banks to be able to develop common projects between the research centres where these Banks are located. In addition, the UCO prepared a guide for the management of olive germplasm banks that was adopted by the IOC as a practical guide.


In 2021, thanks to the participation of the members of this Network of Banks, the IOC promoted the preparation of a Catalogue of the 51 main commercial varieties propagated by olive nurseries (WMCPOC), which is intended to be published online on the IOC website in 2024. In this work coordinated by the UCO, varietal cards will be drawn up using common protocols for the correct morphological and molecular description, ensuring varietal identity and avoiding the frequent errors in varietal denominations that are a major problem in certification.


On 14 June 2024, the agreement was signed for the accession of the collections included in the BGMO of Córdoba to the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA), a cooperative instrument of the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO). This will involve the establishment of a multilateral system to facilitate access to plant genetic resources for food and agriculture and to share in a fair and equitable way the benefits arising from their use. This would allow the other Banks in the IOOC network to possibly join, expanding the ex situ collections of olive trees and thus helping to safeguard the genetic heritage of the olive tree.