Blue Sky Research project on pigeonpea launched

(From L-R) Drs D Cook, B Duguma, WD Dar, EA Siddiq, R Varshney and S Jackson during the launch of the BSR project. Photo: PS Rao, ICRISAT

The recently approved Blue Sky Research (BSR) project on pigeonpea was launched at the second annual review and planning meeting of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded project on ‘Pigeonpea improvement using molecular breeding’ held on 18 February at the ICRISAT headquarters.

The BSR project aims at converting the three-line hybrid pigeonpea technology to two-line hybrid breeding system using environment-sensitive breeding materials to enhance crop yields. Two-line hybrid breeding system can considerably reduce the production cost of hybrid seed to the benefit of smallholder farmers.  “Pigeonpea is an important crop which supports the livelihood of millions of poor smallholder farmers in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. It is really important that we take up more and more activities to improve the crop productivity and also enhance nutrition,” ICRISAT Director General Dr William Dar said at the project launch.

Dr Dar also acknowledged the support of USAID and stressed upon the need to use science-based technology to elevate the current level of pigeonpea production and enhance the micronutrient/protein content in the crop. Dr Bahiru Duguma, Director, Food Security Office, USAID, India appreciated the efforts of the pigeonpea research group at ICRISAT. “We are very pleased to see the progress of the project, and how efforts of ICRISAT have worked in both Africa and Asia continents,” Dr Duguma said.

Dr EA Siddiq, Professor and Honorable Director- Biotechnology Centre, Acharya NG Ranga Agricultural University (ANGRAU), mentioned the importance of enhanced genetic base and application of molecular markers for crop improvement.

Drs Doug Cook, Professor, University of California, Davis, USA; Scott Jackson, Professor, University of Georgia, USA; and Rajeev Varshney, Research Program Director – Grain Legumes, ICRISAT, were among others who took part in the meeting. Dr Rachit Saxena, Scientist, Applied Genomics presented an overview of the BSR project.

The USAID and BSR project teams included Drs RK Varshney, RK Saxena, CV Sameer Kumar, Vikas K Singh, Vinay Kumar, Pallavi Sinha, PT Lekha from ICRISAT; Dr HA Shimelis, Professor, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa; Drs G Anuradha and KN Yamini from ANGRAU; and Dr PS Dharmaraj and Mr S Muniswamy from Agricultural Research Station, Gulbarga. The Project Advisory Committee (PAC) composed of Drs B Duguma, D Cook, S Jackson, Srivalli Krishnan, Activity Manager, USAID, India reviewed the progress of the project.

Source: ICRISAT Happenings