UWE visits Libya to advise on date palm production

Issue date: 26 September 2005


Issue date: 26/09/05

Libya is looking to date palm and olive crops – valuable trading commodities in the Mediterranean – as potential ways of supplementing its oil revenues. As part of this forward investment, the Libyan Date Palm and Olive Development and Improvement Corporation wanted to ensure it had enough ‘elite plant material’ to guarantee a steady flow of plants from their micro-propagation units near the Mediterranean coast.

Plant experts from the University of the West of England are helping to achieve this aim. Links between UWE and Libya began around eight years ago, and since then two MSc graduates from Al-Fateh University in Tripoli came to UWE to do their PhDs. They have now returned to teach at their home University.

This link led to a request for consultancy from the Libyan Date and Olive Palm Corporation to determine ways of improving the quality of the plants produced in its micro-propagation unit.

There are hundreds of varieties of date palm and the Libyans are keen to improve the quality of the plant material, making sure it is high yielding and disease-free, according to Dr Peter Spencer-Phillips, Head of UWE’s School of Biosciences in the Faculty of Applied Sciences.

Dr Spencer-Phillips and UWE visiting research fellow Dr Christopher Hunter, who both visited Libya, are specialists in plant tissue culture, plant diseases and tropical agriculture. They conducted a survey of the unit, discussed its technical operations and procedures and reported on its strengths and opportunities for improvement.

“The Libyan Date Palm Development and Improvement Corporation recognised UWE as a University well-placed to offer the advice and training they need,” Dr Spencer-Phillips commented.

The visit was hosted by Professor Ezarug Edongali, Director of the Corporation and Professor in the Faculty of Agriculture at Al-Fateh University.

The Bristol-Tripoli connection is set to continue – during his visit, Dr Spencer-Phillips gave a presentation to an audience of MSc students and academic staff at Al-Fateh University about opportunities for PhD study at UWE.

-ENDS-

Editor’s notes

Jpeg visual available upon request from the Press Office.

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