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Although traditional breeding has generated some hybrids to enhance yield, there is an urgent need to deploy molecular breeding approaches for improving varieties and hybrids. Because of limited genetic diversity and ..

01 Feb 2013

HYDERABAD (Commodity Online): A comprehensive, three-year, $2 million pigeonpea molecular breeding project has been launched aimed at improving the food, nutrition and income security of millions of poor people in the drylands.

The project "Pigeonpea Improvement using Molecular Breeding" supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) India Mission, aims to assist pigeonpea breeders to develop improved cultivars more efficiently using genomic tools.

Although traditional breeding has generated some hybrids to enhance yield, there is an urgent need to deploy molecular breeding approaches for improving varieties and hybrids. Because of limited genetic diversity and non-availability of genomic tools, molecular breeding has not been used in pigeonpea breeding programs.

With the decoding of the pigeonpea genome sequence by an ICRISAT-led global research team in November 2011, the Ministry of Agriculture, Government of India (GoI) together with ICAR and ICRISAT started to develop a road map for pigeonpea improvement using molecular breeding. That road map has led to the implementation of this USAID India Mission sanctioned project.

The project will be implemented by the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) headquartered in Hyderabad, India, along with the National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources (NBPGR), New Delhi; the University of Agricultural Sciences (UAS), Raichur, Karnataka; Acharya NG Ranga Agricultural University (ANGRAU), Hyderabad; and other partners in India and Africa.

In the fight against poverty and hunger amid the threat of climate change, highly nutritious, drought-tolerant crops are the best bets for smallholder farmers in marginal environments to survive and improve their livelihoods. Pigeonpea, grown on about 5 million hectares in Asia, sub-Saharan Africa and South-Central America, is a very important food legume for millions of poor in the semi-arid regions of the world.

“I am very pleased to announce here today this new partnership between the governments of India and the United States, and ICRISAT – a partnership that will take new studies in pigeonpea genomics to the next stage of scientific research” said Ms Elizabeth Warfield, Deputy Mission Director, USAID, New Delhi during the project launch.

This collaboration will improve the agricultural productivity of pigeonpea, a main source of protein for more than a billion people in Asia, Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean," she added.

Pigeonpea is an important crop for India’s food security, consumed in the form of dal in regular diets of majority of the country’s vegetarian population.

India is the largest producer of pigeonpea in the world, largest consumer of pigeonpea and largest importer of pigeonpea.


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