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The Government plans to spend just over $21 million this year on plant technologies, under a project in the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce.
The Plant Breeding and Diagnostics Technologies project, which is being financed by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), aims at using radiation to induce mutation and develop plants with desirable characteristics, such as resistance to diseases and improved yields.
The IAEA provides grant assistance to countries that are able to undertake certain research using radiation, with mutual benefits. The main objectives are to establish plant diagnostics and breeding facilities in Jamaica, and to formulate protocols for induced mutations and selection of advancing mutant lines/clones with farmer specific traits.
The Scientific Research Council(SRC) is the implementing agency for the project, which has been extended to December, 2010.
Targets for this fiscal year include: completion of construction of green houses; importation of irradiate yam and ginger material; commencement of field trials and selection, as well as a fellowship in breeding and screening yams for drought resistance, for a Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries officer.
Achievements so far include: laboratory supplies received from IAEA; yam and ginger planting material multiplied and sent to Austria for irradiation; two fellowships completed; application submitted for a fellowship in breeding and screening for drought resistance yams; and, two local scientists participated in five-day symposium in Austria in 2008.

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