DG advocates use of genomics for food security – CEG Course

Dr Rex Navarro, representing the DG with the participants of the sixth ICRISAT-Center of Excellence in Genomics training Course.

The genomic tools developed by ICRISAT will help increase food production and reduce hunger for the teeming millions in the semi-arid tropics. This assurance came from Director General Dr William Dar at the inaugural of the ICRISAT-Center of Excellence in Genomics (CEG) course in Application of Genomics Technologies in Plant Breeding, being held from 16 to 27 November at Patancheru. This is an important initiative to enhance the skills of the molecular breeding community in India and other developing Asian and African countries.

Dr Dar, in his message read by Dr Rex Navarro, Director of Communication, drew the attention of the scientific fraternity to the ‘perfect storm’, which is a confluence of enormous problems converging around the poor. He says, “The Institute uses promising genomic tools and approaches for the genetic improvement of its mandate crops (pearl millet, sorghum, chickpea, pigeonpea and groundnut), with the larger goal of reducing poverty, hunger, malnutrition and environmental degradation in the semi-arid tropics.”

He pointed out that selection based on DNA analysis of the plants takes less time compared to the conventional selection process. He said that ICRISAT’s CEG has the capacity to generate about one million data points every year.

According to Dr Dar the newly-launched Platform for Translational Research on Transgenic Crops with the support of Department of Biotechnology, Government of India, will study potential genetic engineering options and then advance them to meet specific objectives in agriculture.

Dr Navarro stressed the need for training courses in India, highlighting how a researcher can use molecular markers for crop improvement even without generating data in the laboratory. Mike Butterfield, Global Theme Leader, Biotechnology; V Balaji, Global Leader, Knowledge Management; Rosana Mula, Coordinator, Learning Systems Unit and Rajeev Varshney, Course Coordinator also spoke on the occasion.

A total of 28 participants representing Botswana, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria, Tanzania and India are participating in this two-week training course. The Director General interacted with course participants on 17 November and said that learning is a mutual process. The course will conclude with a graduation ceremony.

Source: ICRISAT Happenings