A group of scientists managed to grow iza, a wheat whose first cultivation dates back to 13,000 years ago, in a laboratory environment.
Scientists from Abant Izzet Baysal University in the northern province of Bolu did not use any seeds in production and without any outside effect. “We used a coleoptile (a protective sheath covering the shoot) from iza for production,” Günce Şahin from the university’s Department of Biology told Anadolu Agency (AA) on Friday. Şahin said that their work created an opportunity to grow iza without risk of disease while easily generating antioxidants from the plant.
Iza is rich in B1, B2, B5 and E vitamins. Abant Izzet Baysal University's Nusret Zencirci said the wheat had high quality and was a healthy crop. “It is mostly used for bulgur but can be used in making bread and pasta,” he says.
The wheat is commonly cultivated in Bolu and Bilecik in western Turkey. Scientists believe it evolved from a subspecies of Triticum monococcum, which is better known as Einkorn wheat.
Turkey, which launched an “Ancestral Seed” project in 2019, seeks to preserve indigenous seeds and crops. The project, championed by first lady Emine Erdoğan, aims to collect and store seeds that have not been subject to modification, from farmers from all around Turkey for the country’s own “seed bank.”
One such “ancestral seed” was on Friday introduced in Konya, the country’s “grain silo” at the heart of Anatolia, which faces a future drought amid excessive irrigation. “Sorgül” wheat, which does not need irrigation, was sowed in 40 acres of land in the massive Konya Plain as a pilot project. Sorgül, which originated from Mardin in southeastern Turkey, may help Konya farmers to overcome drought risk, in an area where 10% of the country’s agricultural production is done and about 4.5 billion cubic meters of water is used for irrigation.
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