No. 1378 7 September 2009

Protecting Crop Diversity for an Evergreen Revolution

Director General William Dar called for more efficient and effective use of genetic resources, which would provide food security, poverty alleviation, environmental protection, and sustainable development.

He said this in his inaugural address at the training workshop on Genetic Diversity Analysis of Germplasm – Methods and Uses held from 1 to 4 September at ICRISAT, Patancheru. Scientists from CGIAR genebanks and national partners from sub-Saharan Africa and India participated in the training workshop.

Stressing the role of agriculture in meeting the needs of almost a billion people in the world still below the poverty line, Dr Dar said “an ever increasing world population is the greatest challenge to agricultural scientists worldwide and will depend on the identification, maintenance and use of genetic diversity”. He pointed out that the crucial challenge currently faced by agriculture is climate variability and climate change. However, genetic diversity in plant species has the ability to adapt to new climatic conditions, including resistance to emerging new pests and diseases.

The genetic erosion caused by habitat loss and the use of uniform high yielding cultivars instead of landraces has dangerously shrunk the pool of genetic diversity in many which can lead to greater vulnerability of agricultural crops

Participants of the workshop Participants of the workshop on Genetic Diversity Analysis of Germplasm with Director General William Dar and DDG-R Dave Hoisington.

Dr Dar also emphasized the need for an ‘Evergreen Revolution’ through sustainable crop production to meet the ever increasing demand for food: “To overcome these situations, an “Evergreen Revolution” needs to be ushered in through sustainable crop production, which in turn depends upon the efficient conservation and judicious use of diverse genetic resources for present and future generations.”

Dr Dar also lauded ICRISAT’s strategic research on core and mini core collections, and in identifying the trait specific germplasm that would enhance the use of germplasm in breeding programs globally to develop cultivars with a broad and diverse genetic base. He said that the mini core was now an International Public Good and a gateway to access genetic diversity by the global community.

DDG-R Dave Hoisington welcomed the participants, and CLL Gowda, Global Theme Leader – Crop Improvement introduced the participants. HD Upadhyaya, Head , Genebank and the coordinator for this workshop spoke about the objectives. There were 17 presentations that included the various aspects of crop genetic diversity and methods used to analyze the diversity base on different types of traits or their combinations.

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ICRISAT condoles sad demise of Chief Minister

Team ICRISAT condoles the sudden death of the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh Dr YS Rajasekhara Reddy (YSR) in a chopper crash on the morning of 2 September.

Director General William Dar in his message to the honorable Governor and the caretaker Chief Minister on 3 September offered deepest condolences on the tragic demise of the Chief Minister and four others in the helicopter crash. He remembered YSR as a man who touched lives and as a person who strove to realize his vision of making Andhra Pradesh a leading state.

YS Rajasekhara Reddy File photo of YS Rajasekhara Reddy at ICRISAT with Dr Dar.

Yeduguri Sandinti Rajasekhara Reddy (8 July 1949 – 2 September 2009), popularly known as YSR, was elected to the Indian Parliament four times from the Kadapa constituency and five times to the Andhra Pradesh Assembly from the Pulivendula constituency.

He led his party to victory in the next general and assembly elections held in 2004. On 2 September the helicopter carrying Dr Reddy went missing in the Nallamala forest area. His death was confirmed by the Prime Minister’s office on 3 September.

YSR visited ICRISAT-Patancheru on 3 August 2004 shortly after taking over as the Chief Minister of the state.

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Tropical Legumes-I advances in Kenya

ICRISAT in close collaboration with the Egerton University is now implementing in full swing the Tropical Legumes-I project to improve chickpea productivity in the marginal environments of sub-Saharan Africa. ICRISAT’s Ganga Rao and Peter Kaloki visited the Agricultural Training Centre–Koibatek in August to monitor project activities. Paul Kimurto and Bernard Towett from Egerton University also attended the field visit.

The experiments included 289 genotypes of chickpea reference collection for harvest index and drought tolerance, 80 genotypes for better root traits and 30 genotypes for Helicoverpa tolerance screening. The crop performed well despite the low rainfall during the entire cropping season. However, Ascochyta blight was reported during the crop season due to low temperatures.

Two hundred and ninety three genotypes from previous years’ selections were also planted in May, and during the visit 26 promising selections were made based on drought tolerance, early maturity with high harvest index, good agronomic performance, and good grain traits.

Ganga Rao with farmers in a chickpea field Ganga Rao with farmers in a chickpea field.

Among those notable ones are Annegiri (proven Indian variety), ICC 4958 (drought-tolerant parent), ICC 3946, ICC 5383, ICC 1164, from RIL populations (ICCRIL03-037, ICCRIL03-0177, ICCRIL04-0274) and from Helicoverpa nursery (ICCVX 960183-28). Big-seeded genotypes suitable for green vegetable types were also selected especially from IG series (IG 70826, 72109).

Thirty genotypes from the Helicoverpa nursery are being evaluated for pod borer tolerance and variations were found in egg and larval counts and pod damage, which helped to identify tolerant lines (ICC 506). A post graduate student associated with the project also conducted a bioassay for the resistance using 4–5th instars.

The conditions at the experimental site mirror those of high altitude drought-prone areas and a pigeonpea trial involving 3 long, 2 medium and 10 short duration varieties was conducted. Their performance indicated the potential of pigeonpea introduction in this area.

Egerton University supplied seed of chickpea (ICCVs 97105, 95423, 92944) and long and short duration varieties of pigeonpea to farmers around the training center.

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Meeting on chickpea in rainfed rice fallow lands

GT-Crop Improvement will organize a two day review and planning meeting on chickpea in rainfed rice fallow lands of Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh on 8 and 9 September in the New Sahel conference Room at Patancheru.

The project is funded by the National Food Security Mission, Department of Agriculture & Cooperation, Ministry of Agriculture, Government of India. It is executed and implemented by ICRISAT in collaboration with Indira Gandhi Agricultural Krishi Vishwavidyalaya Raipur in four districts in Chhattisgarh, and with Jawaharlal Nehru Krishi Vishwa Vidyalaya in four districts of Madhya Pradesh.

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Seed Industry honors ICRISAT’s millet breeder

ICRISAT Principal Scientist KN Rai, along with several other eminent millet breeders were honored at a seminar organized by the Gujarat State Seed Producers Association on Hybrid Castor Seed Production on 31 August. Gujarat Minister of Agriculture Dilip Sangani was the chief guest.

The other awardees included JV Majmudar of Sagar Laxmi Seeds, Ahmadabad and IS Khairwal, Project Coordinator of the All India Coordinated Pearl Millet Improvement Project, Jodhpur, Rajasthan, breeders of long-term experience in pearl millet research and development.

Congratulations to Dr Rai!

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