Ninth ICRISAT CEG Course

Participants trained: 27 participants including 5 self-sponsered from Sri Lanka, Nigeria, and Chile and 22 Indian participants from State Agricultural Universities, ICAR research centers, research foundation and medium-sized private seed industry

The ICRISAT ‘s Center of Excellence in Genomics (CEG) hosted its Ninth training course on “Molecular Plant Breeding for Crop Improvement” during 7-18 November 2011 at ICRISAT Campus, Patancheru, under ICRISAT-CEG Phase II. Twenty-seven participants including five participants who are self-supported from Sri Lanka, Nigeria, and Chile and 22 Indian participants from State Agricultural Universities, ICAR research centers, research foundation, medium-sized private seed industry participated in this two-week interactive training course. The participants learnt more about the advance methodologies of molecular plant breeding and its applications, rather generating the data. The participants were exposed to DArT/SSR markers, linkage and QTL mapping, association mapping and its applications in crop improvement, introduction and application of genomic selection and its applications, NGS technologies, bioinformatics tools in crop improvement etc. Welcoming the course participants CLL Gowda emphasized the role of molecular breeding as one of the tools for crop improvement. CLL Gowda mentioned though there are several modern tools, it is the plant breeders who is the behind of molecular biologists to implement the tools successfully.

Rajeev Varshney, the course coordinator congratulated the participants on selection to this course and explained why the ICRISAT-CEG is organizing such type of courses. He informed the participants though the country made some progress in some pulse crops in use of molecular markers in crop improvement but lot more need to be done in the coming days keeping the challenges that agricultural research community would face in the coming years. He said that cost and infrastructure are two major constraints that are inhibiting most of the developing countries to have access to the technology. To serve the national partners to have access this technology through capacity building and the genotyping services, ICRISAT established the Center of Excellence of Genomics supported by the Department of Biotechnology, Government of India. This is the first training of under the second phase of Department of Biotechnology funded Project for organizing this training course. Rajeev Varshney informed the participants that learning is a continuous and evolutionary process and requested the participants institute also can impart the knowledge from the participants.

Reading out the Message of the Director General, Willam D. Dar, Gowda described the major challenges that agricultural community would face in the coming day as DG mentioned “As you all are aware, international agriculture is facing several challenges today. Warming temperatures, droughts, floods, increasing land degradation, loss of biodiversity, rising food prices, zooming energy demand and population explosion are creating extreme challenges to feed the world. To tackle some of these challenged, ICRISAT has developed a new Strategic Plan that includes improving the crop productivity, producing sufficient foods, better health and nutrition as its main institutional outcomes in IMOD framework. IMOD is meant for inclusive market oriented development that will help poor farmers of the semi-arid tropics of the world to overcome from poverty and empower them. “ The DG also emphasized how genomic tools play an important role facilitating the rapid crop improvement”. DG welcoming the participants said “I very much hope that this course will be helpful to impart our skills in the modern genomics and molecular breeding. I am very sure that Rajeev and his colleagues will be very pleased to extend any help if you need. We wish you a very productive and enjoyable stay in ICRISAT”.

Oscar Riera-Lizarazu welcomed the participants and mentioned that it is nice to see this diverse group who are form Asia/Africa and America working on diverse groups. He mentioned still there is lot need to be learned from the genetic basis of the plants. He also outlined the reasons for dwindling research resources for agricultural research area. He requested the participants to take the advance of the integrated technologies for carrying out their research.

The two-week interactive learning course concluded on 18 November 2011 with the Graduation Ceremony. ICRISAT Director General Dr William Dar and Professor HS Dhaliwal, Professor Biotechnology, Akal School of Biotechnology, Eternal University Baru Sahib via Rajgarh, Distt. Sirmour, Himachal Pradesh graced the occasion.