No. 1449 14 January 2011

Chickpea Scientists Meet at Patancheru

Chickpea Meeting Participants of the chickpea scientists’ meet at Patancheru.

ICRISAT, in partnership with the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), organized a two-day chickpea scientists’ meet on 10 and 11 January at Patancheru. Sixty scientists, including 34 from Indian NARS, one each from Canada and Australia, four from private sector seed companies and 20 from ICRISAT, participated.

The scientists’ meeting is organized biennially to facilitate interaction and sharing of knowledge within the chickpea scientific community, and to provide an opportunity for scientists and partners from India and other countries to select breeding materials and germplasm.

Chickpea Meeting N Nadarajan, D Hoisington, CLL Gowda and PM Gaur at the meet.

CLL Gowda (Research Program Director, Grain Legumes) welcomed the participants and highlighted the objectives of the meeting. DDG-R Dave Hoisington chaired the inaugural session and presented highlights of ICRISAT’s Strategic Plan to 2020. The Plan elicited strong positive response from the participants, particularly on its emphasis on purposeful partnerships to create scientific and policy innovations vital in enabling smallholder farmers to improve the productivity of their crops and increase their incomes while improving the resilience of tropical drylands.

N Nadarajan (Director, Indian Institute of Pulses Research, Kanpur) presented research achievements and the future prospects of ICAR-ICRISAT partnership projects in chickpea improvement. He pointed out that 34 chickpea varieties have been released in India through this partnership and over 80% of the chickpea area in Andhra Pradesh is planted to varieties developed collaboratively by of ICRISAT’s chickpea team, Pooran Gaur provided highlights of the recent developments in chickpea research at ICRISAT.

In the technical session, Oscar Riera-Lizaraju (Research Program Director, Dryland Cereals) made a presentation on the integrated breeding platform, followed by an update on molecular-marker assisted breeding of chickpea by Rajeev Varshney. The subject of chickpea marker-assisted breeding provided for a lively discussion, and the confusing picture of the race scenario of the fusarium wilt pathogen in India was cause for concern. CLL Gowda and N Nadarajan suggested that the All India Coordinated Research Project (AICRP) on chickpea should have a focused discussion on this and come out with a clear strategy to resolve the issue.

Chickpea Meeting Scientists evaluating chickpea germplasm in a demonstration plot.

The participants visited the genebank, various laboratories (genomics, transformation, pathology, insect rearing facility), drought and salinity phenotyping facilities and experimental fields of genetic resources, entomology, chickpea breeding and fusarium wilt screening. They selected breeding lines and germplasm of their interests and these will be supplied to them after harvest of the crop.

In the concluding session, CLL Gowda stressed the need for enhancing research emphasis on chickpea for mechanical harvesting, plant type responsive to high input conditions, and developing chickpea with better nutritional quality and suitability for development of ready-to-eat foods.

The two-day intensive meeting ended with a vote of thanks by Suresh Pande.

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Ghana Ambassador to Mali visits ICRISAT-Bamako

SIMLESA His Excellency Donald Adabere Adabre (center) with Team ICRISAT members.

His Excellency Donald Adabere Adabre, Ambassador of Ghana in Mali accompanied by his deputy Mr Daniel O Blessyn, visited ICRISAT-Bamako on 12 January.

The purpose of the visit was to have more insights into the use of sorghum as a biofuel crop and the opportunities for introducing sweet sorghum in Ghana. He learned of this when he attended a field day organized by ICRISAT and partners on 28 November 2010. His major concern is that in Ghana there is a move to cover large areas of arable land with Jatropha to produce biodiesel, especially in the savanna region of Ghana where farmers depend on sorghum for their livelihoods.

Bonny Ntare welcomed the visitors. After a brief introduction, Eva Weltzien discussed the potentials of sorghum in production of ethanol and other products (food and feed) and research and development issues that need to be tackled to realize the potential.

The Ambassador was informed that ICRISAT was in collaboration with scientists at the Savannah Agricultural Research Institute (SARI) in northern Ghana and that a set of sweet sorghum germplasm had already been shared with the sorghum breeder for experimentation. The group also discussed possibilities of developing a joint project to develop a biofuel strategy for Ghana. The ambassador promised to explore the opportunities with the relevant government ministries in Ghana.

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Asian Media Conference to be held in Hyderabad

ABI AMIC Secretary General Sundeep Muppidi (extreme left) and Board Chair Ang Peng Hwa interact with Drs William Dar, Rex Navarro and Kiran Sharma during their visit to ICRISAT-Patancheru in December 2010. .

Understanding and enhancing the role of the media in communicating biotechnology to the public will be the focus of a media colloquium to be held in Hyderabad in conjunction with the 20th Annual Conference of Asia’s apex media organization, the Asian Media Information and Communication Centre (AMIC). The conference, set for 24-27 June this year, will also mark AMIC’s 40th anniversary celebration.

During the visit of AMIC’s top officials last month, ICRISAT proposed to conduct a media colloquium on reporting agri-biotechnology in collaboration with AMIC, International Services for the Acquisition and Application of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA), and Department of Biotechnology, Government of India (DBT-GOI).

To be held at the Platform for Translational Research on Transgenic Crops (PTTC) a day before the AMIC Annual Conference, the colloquium aims to share contemporary challenges, issues and concerns related to crop biotechnology, enhance capacities of Asian media practitioners and researchers in communicating crop biotechnology, and release science stories on crop biotechnology for the Asian media.

AMIC’s Annual Conference will draw top media practitioners and researchers in Asia to take stock of media and communication studies keeping in mind the challenges and opportunities arising out of globalization, new media and the rise of Asia. AMIC is a non-profit organization based in Singapore with the mission of spearheading the development of media and communication expertise in Asia within the broad framework of economic, social and cultural development.

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Climate-change ready crops for the Philippines

Hari Upadhyaya Philippine Agriculture Secretary Proceso J Alcala receives Asha groundnuts from Dr Dar. .

Director General William Dar presented samples of climate change-ready crops Asha peanut, pigeonpea and sweet sorghum to Philippine Agriculture Secretary Proceso J Alcala during a courtesy call held at the Department of Agriculture office in Quezon City on 11 January.

According to Dr Dar, the seeds that come from ICRISAT’s very own seed bank, when massively produced in the rainfed areas of the Philippines, can be developed into other processed products and be exported to neighboring regions.

Pigeonpea alone, when produced on a substantial scale, can be the next export champion for the country. The turnover strengthens the partnership of the Philippine Government with ICRISAT in enhancing the capability of Filipinos to produce their own nutritious food and increase income in rainfed areas.

Dr Dar made the courtesy call while currently on home leave in the Philippines.

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