ITAGS Introduction and Strategy
During the 16th COGENT Steering Committee Meeting held in Kochi, India in July 2012, participants decided to create thematic action groups, aiming to boost international activities in the fields of research related to coconut genetic resources.
COGENT has (re-)established four International Thematic Action Groups (ITAGs) to lead in the identification and coordination of priority projects for germplasm conservation and use, linked to implementing COGENT’s Global Strategy for the Conservation and Use of Coconut Genetic Resources.
During the 2012 SC meeting, participants from 18 countries recognized the need to create six International Thematic Action Groups (ITAGs), aiming to promote and coordinate international theme-specific research related to coconut genetic resources. The terms of reference for these ITAGs were discussed during the SC meeting. ITAGs are not decision-making bodies.
Their objectives are to:
- Assemble a group of the best thematic specialists
- Strengthen communications between researchers working in different countries but in the same thematic field.
- Provide useful recommendations to COGENT’s SC, (the decision-making body) and secretariat.
- Proovide new research ideas to spearhead the implementation of the Global Strategy in the relevant thematic area, and develop funding proposals (see below for list of current priority projects).
- Help to protect the specific research interests of COGENT member countries
The 2012 recommended 6 ITAGs were:
i) Ex situ conservation;
iv) Phytopathology & germplasm movement;
v) Ethnobiology & Socioeconomics
vi) In vitro culture.
During the funding hiatus little was further developed until the ACIAR/DFAT proposal development. In 2018 the SC recommended the addition of one new ITAG and slight changes to ITAGs 5 and 6 as follows:
v) Farmers’ Participatory Research, Ethnobiology & Socioeconomics, and
vi) In vitro culture and cryopreservation, and the new group
vii) dedicated to value-chain research.
In 2019, ACIAR/DFAT endorsed the proposal to support revitalizing COGENT, as a programme within ICC (see section 6), with a caveat that the ITAGs be rationalized to 3-4 in number.
Also, since COGENT is now an ICC programme, the socioeconomic and value-chain work can be housed in other ICC programmes. The 4 proposed ITAGs are:
i) Ex- & in-situ conservation
ii) Genomics & breeding
iii) Phytopathology, entomology & germplasm movement
iv) In vitro culture & cryo-preservation
This Global Strategy for Conservation and Use of Coconut Genetic Resources has been compiled by Dr Roland Bourdeix and Dr Alexia Prades of CIRAD, (formal launch at the APCC 48th COCOTECH meeting in Bangkok 20-24 August 2018). An implementation plan will be discussed at a COGENT side-meeting 25-26 August. COGENT embraces 39 coconut-producing member-countries, representing more than 98% global production. COGENT aims to strengthen international collaboration in conservation and use of coconut genetic resources; promote improving coconut production, and boost linked livelihoods.
This Strategy is the product of consulting with more than 90 key-experts receiving more than 400 contributions over seven years. It has been supported by Bioversity International, CIRAD, the CGIAR research program Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA), and ACIAR/DFAT, and aims to support optimizing the conservation and use of as much representative diversity as possible.
It is hoped that, as an evolving document, this Strategy will provide the benchmark for effectively implementing the comprehensive conservation and research agenda proposed by the international coconut research community, as a route to the enhanced wellbeing of the millions of coconut smallholders across the globe.
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ITAGs’ STRATEGIC PLANNING
This is the prelude to crafting COGENT’s Road Map which is to establishing the logical framework of the ITAGs priority areas of concerns. The ITAGs members shared their ideas during the planning and articulated the needed activities and identified the critical issues to be addressed. Despite the challenges of organizing the ITAGs matrix of key priorities was established. This strategic planning activity is the initial step in boosting the interest and commitment of ITAG members of reactivating the COGENT as the coconut conservation network. In general, this activity aimed to promote the following:
Specifically, this strategic planning and consultation meetings are intended to deliver:
- a unified and inclusive efforts and plans of ITAGs through sharing of information and insights for conservation management strategies and better exchange of germplasm
- review of the existing policies, guidelines and agreements related to conservation and germplasm exchange and formulate science-based strategies to address the challenges.
- decision on the adoption of the standards germplasm data collection and updated data management system of the ICGs/NCGs;
- strategies that will strengthen synergy of ITAGs for larger membership and networks through inclusion of academic institutions and research funding agencies both local and international.
- collaborative priority project proposals of ITAGS for potential fund sourcing and with key persons/institutions to be engaged in the projects.
In consideration of the set of goals and objectives, of the ITAGs Strategic Planning, it is expected to generate these following OUTPUTS:
- ITAGs agreed KEY AREAS of concerns aligned to the Global Strategy Plan of Germplasm Conservation, Exchange and Use
- PRIORITY STRATEGIES for the Ways Forward as a vital component of the Global Strategy
- ACTION PLANS based on Strategic Objectives of the Global Strategy Plan with identified activities, targets, resources and timelines.
- Sustainable and Synergistic COGENT’s ROADMAP FRAMEWORK with well-defined Goals, Activities, Expected Outputs and Outcomes. (VMG)
- Proposed Projects/Programs of each ITAG and COLLABORATIVE PROJECTS for fund sourcing. 6. COMMITMENT of the ITAGs for implementation and sustainability of the Global Strategy Plan.