Crop: Triticum turgidum L. subsp. durum (Durum wheat)

The durum wheat landrace ‘Saritsam’ is cultivated in the area of Agia Paraskevi in Lesvos Island since the Ottoman ruling of the island. This information was obtained during the collection of traditional varieties in the framework of the AGRISLES project (Douma et al 2016) in February 2011. From the name of the landrace ‘Saritsam’ it is presumed (without being confirmed yet) that the variety was brought to Greece by refugees before 1922 from Saritsam, near Adana, southeastern Turkey. Local farmers claim that ‘Saritsam’ is the best adapted durum wheat variety to local conditions and perform better than any other durum type, even the modern ones.

Cultivation System: low-input conditions.

Geographical Information

Country: Greece

‘Saritsam’ is cultivated in the area of Agia Paraskevi of Lesvos Island by 5-6 growers in an area of more than 10 ha and is also being promoted as a crop in the area of Geras.

Farmer(s) description:

According to Kokolios (1958), ‘Saritsam’ was not cultivated after 1950 as a local variety of Lesvos. That can be explained by the fact that at that time the traditional variety actually stopped being cultivated or was cultivated on a very small area as it had been replaced by other commercial varieties or the remaining predominant local ones. The variety survived and revived in later years up to the present day thanks to the insistence and concern of one of the region's grain producers. ‘Saritsam’ is cultivated in the area of Agia Paraskevi of Lesvos Island by 5-6 growers and is also being promoted as a crop in the area of Geras. Farmers use own equipment for harvesting and seed cleaning.

Propagation system: Seed, self-pollination

Multiplication procedures and consequences on landrace diversity:

Durum wheat is a predominantly self-pollinating plant. Although, there are hardly other durum types grown in the fields of the area of Agia Paraskevi except ‘Saritsam’, so there is not much possibility for crossing. Each farmer multiplies his own seed under slightly different agronomic conditions. At harvesting, some farmers select seeds that will be used for the next season. Moreover, the biggest ‘Saritsam’ grower in the area owns harvesting equipment, so mixing crops or durum varieties is usually avoided. Farmers usually exchange seeds when one farmer seeks better seed quality from a neighbour and can find pure ‘Saritsam’ seeds.

Management plan existence:

The landrace management relies completely on farming activities in the area.

Added Values

Market - existing and novel:

It has a local niche market due to its special quality and it is promoted for its products (bread, bakery products). On Sunday, March 19 2017, AEGILOPS and the local seed saving network SFONTILI, as an action of promotion of the products of ‘Saritsam’ and of public awareness organized a seed exchange event at the central high schools of Mytilene during which the participants had the opportunity to taste bread from ‘Saritsam.

Others (e.g. commercial/geographical brands or special traits):

AEGILOPS (Network for Biodiversity and Ecology in Agriculture) in order to preserve the landrace ‘Saritsam’ suggested to the Ministry of Rural Development and Food to be included in the list of varieties under genetic erosion of the Agri-environmental Measure 9. In 2018, an application was made to the Variety Research Institute of the Cultivated Plants of the Ministry of Rural Development and Food for the registration of the landrace in the Catalogue of Conservation Varieties according to the EC Recommendation 2008/62/EU of the 20th June 2008 (L 162)’. The above actions aim the protection of ‘Saritsam’ from genetic erosion and its utilization to the pedoclimatic or low input conditions of North Aegean Islands.

Today, ‘Saritsam’ has been recognized for its good cultivation behavior and adaptability to the soil and climate conditions of the region, but also for its special qualities.

AEGILOPS NGO is supporting on farm conservation of the landrace ‘Saritsam’. AEGILOPS mission, among others is to conserve heritage varieties and traditional agricultural knowledge and to restore landrace varieties into contemporary agricultural practice in ways that benefit community. AEGILOPS is supporting organic farmers' network cultivating the landrace in North Aegean Islands (Lesvos) and promote their quality organic products. Moreover, organic participatory evaluation is contacted to test agronomic performance and quality.

The Genebank of the Institute of Plant Breeding and Genetic Resources (Hellenic Agricultural Organization-DEMETER) collaborated with members from AEGILOPS Network for the registration of ‘Saritsam’ landrace to the Catalogue of Conservation Varieties.

The Greek Genebank on an expeditionary mission to the island in 2006 collected the ‘Saritsam’ landrace from Agia Paraskevi. Accessions of ‘Saritsam’ of the specific area of Lesvos can also be found in the Seed Bank of the Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Chania.

Accessions of ‘Saritsam’ are kept, under long terms storage conditions in the Genebank of the Institute of Plant Breeding and Genetic Resources of the Hellenic Agricultural Organization-DEMETER.

Provisions set by the Ministry of Rural Development and Food for the registration of conservation varieties, the high quality of the product and the niche market development may contribute to on farm conservation in the future

Uncertain. To have access to the resource

Most of the information has been provided by members of the AEGILOPS Focal Point Network in Lesvos Island.

  • Douma C, Koutis K, Thanopoulos R, Tsigou R, Galanidis A, Bebeli P (2016) Diversity of agricultural plants on Lesvos Island (Northeast Aegean, Greece) with emphasis on fruit trees. Scientia Horticulturae 210: 65–84.
  • Kokolios V (1959) Cultivated wheat varieties in Greece. Circular No 3. Ministry of Agriculture, Institute of Plant Breeding, Thessaloniki (in Greek).