No. 1560 01 March 2013

Building new and innovative partnerships for a purpose
Genotyping by sequencing workshop held

(Right) Director General William Dar delivers his Opening Address at the Genotyping by Sequencing Workshop, flanked by Drs S Grando and T Fulton (Institute of Genomic Diversity), (left) as participants listen keenly to the proceedings.

"The best partnerships are those that share a common purpose, with clear roles and responsibilities and sharing of decisions from beginning to end. ICRISAT’s Strategic Plan calls it Partnerships with Purpose,” said ICRISAT Director General William D Dar, in his address at the opening of the Genotyping by Sequencing Workshop held at the ICRISAT headquarters on 26 February – 1 March.

“The workshop, which is a collaboration between the Institute for Genomic Diversity (IGD) at Cornell University and ICRISAT, funded by BREAD (Basic Research to Enable Agriculture Development), is exactly the type of partnership that we need,” he added.

The main objectives of the workshop held under the National Science Foundation/BREAD project on “Platform, Pipeline and Analytical Tools for Next Generation Genotyping to Serve Breeding Efforts in Africa,” were to familiarize plant breeders with the biological and technical aspects of Genotyping by Sequencing  procedures and to discuss ways in which it along with single-nucleotide polymorphism markers can be applied to crop improvement. The partnership between Institute for Genomic Diversity  and ICRISAT builds on the complementary capacities of the two institutes feeding into common goals of both organizations.

Reminding the participants of the challenges of declining water resources, climate change, population explosion and land degradation being faced by agricultural researchers, Dr Dar urged them to pursue their research as a challenge to free the world from hunger. He also mentioned that ICRISAT is the only CGIAR Center that has led genome sequencing of its mandate crops (pigeonpea and chickpea). He added that the Institute is looking forward to leading the sequencing of the pearl millet genome in the near future.

In her welcome address, Dr Stefania Grando, Research Program Director – Dryland Cereals, emphasized the need to apply new generation technologies to crop improvement, particularly of dryland cereals and orphan crops, as well as to crops where reference genome sequences are not yet available. She said that Genotyping by Sequencing would further reduce the cost/data point, and urged the participants to pass on the technology they had learnt during the workshop to their colleagues.

Dr Theresa Fulton, Director of Education, Institute of Genomic Diversity, thanked ICRISAT for hosting the workshop and emphasized the impact Genotyping by Sequencing  would have on crop improvement. She also informed the group that it was the first international workshop to be held outside USA.

Thirty researchers working on cereals, legumes and oil crops, representing ICRISAT, International Centre for Maize and Wheat Improvement (CIMMYT), International Centre for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA), The University of Queensland in Australia, ICAR research centers, Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI), and agricultural universities attended the workshop.

back to top Back to top

Devising strategies to raise pulse production and productivity in Bihar

The project team with farmers in Kotwali in Bhanka district of Bihar.

Starting the 2012 rainy season (kharif), Bihar Agricultural University (BAU) in Sabour, Bhagalpur district of Bihar state was included in phase II of the Tropical Legumes II project. With a view to reviewing its ongoing activities, the project team visited the villages of Jamsi and Machhipur (Bhagalpur district) and Kotwali (Bhanka district) during 21 to 24 February where chickpea and pigeonpea seed production activities and Farmer Participatory Varietal Selection (FPVS) trials are being implemented.

Fields of lead farmers Nakul Sahadev (Jamsi), Jay Prakash Singh (Machhipur village), and Mahendra Kumar and Manoj Kumar (Kotwali) were visited and project activities under implementation were discussed. Commending ICRISAT’s chickpea and pigeonpea varieties for their performance in their fields compared to local cultivars, the farmers  requested  technical assistance in seed production and storage. A Farmer’s Field Day was also organized in Kotwali village on 22 February for  120 farmers on integrated crop management technologies incorporating the new chickpea and pigeonpea varieties identified in the FPVS. 

At a workshop on “Strategies of improving pulse productivity for sustainable intensification and diversification of production systems in Bihar” chaired by BAU Vice-Chancellor Dr ML Choudhary on 23 February, the Vice-Chancellor pledged his total support for the project and its success in Bihar State. He likened the project to a transit R&D program that would transform the lives of smallholder farmers from poverty to prosperity, and agreed to support the creation of Problem Solution Centers and crop consortiums where expert teams  would develop crop-specific solutions along a value chain. The workshop was attended by 85 progressive/lead farmers, scientists, traders and graduate students.

Delivering the keynote address, Project Coordinator Dr ES Monyo emphasized the need to define four areas for successful pulses production and productivity in the State, namely the opportunity, meaning the important areas planted to different pulses by agro-ecology; constraints to production and productivity enhancement;  partners along the seed value chain; and a plan or seed road map.  He also stressed the need to be objective and transparent while recording the lessons learned. A pre-planning meeting for TL II implementers reviewed the progress made in 2012 and plans for 2013.

The ICRISAT team comprising of Dr ES Monyo, Dr Myer Mula, Dr CV Sameer Kumar and Mr BV Rao were accompanied by Dr Ravi Gopal Singh (Director Research, BAU), Dr PK Singh (Associate Director of Research), Dr RN Sharma, Dr Rafat Sultana and Dr Rakesh Ranjan who explained the project’s progress in on-going research and seed production activities in groundnut, chickpea and pigeonpea.

back to top Back to top

Sorghum scientists’ field selection program held

Participants of the Field Selection Program in a sorghum field at Patancheru.

A Sorghum Scientists’ Field Selection Program was organized on 21 February at the ICRISAT headquarters to showcase the depth and variability in postrainy sorghum material bred for various traits and nuances under the sorghum improvement program.

Four public sector and nine private sector scientists from various institutes in India participated in the activity. Dr Stefania Grando, Research Program Director – Dryland Cereals, acknowledged the scientists in helping the ICRISAT sorghum program make its research objectives, strategy and methodologies more focused and relevant to the needs of India, such as giving more emphasis on postrainy season adaptation.

Dr Grando also cited the work done under the HOPE project in enhancing postrainy sorghum yields (grain yields by 40% and stover yields by 20%) in 25,000 farmers’ fields in Maharashtra state in India, which is now a well-known success story on partnership impacts. She added that the field selection program provides an opportunity to exchange information on new tools, examine the potential and relevance of the various products and technologies in sorghum at ICRISAT, and bring out the needed focus in sorghum research to achieve the set impact readily at farm level. The selection program provides a strong partnership platform for implementing the CGIAR Research Program on Dryland Cereals.

Participants were taken to the field to see the sorghum material for various traits. ICRISAT’s A Ashok Kumar, P Srinivasa Rao, Belum VS Reddy and Rajendra Mughate explained the progress of work in various sorghum areas and the organization of material in different fields to facilitate the selection by the scientists. Dr Reddy, in his closing remarks, called on the participants to make use of new information and products developed by ICRISAT in partnership research and work to generate outcomes to help smallholder farmers.

back to top Back to top