DG Encourages Enhanced Toolkits to Battle Global Scourges

Dr William Dar with the participants of the training course on Molecular tools for Crop Improvement.

Molecular tools can improve the efficiency of conventional plant breeding by allowing indirect selection for a trait of interest by looking for molecular markers linked to the particular trait. Molecular tools offer greater scope to assess the genetic diversity and to evaluate plant genetic resource pools; they can also facilitate the transfer of desirable genes among plant varieties.

Director General Dr William Dar highlighted these facts at the inaugural of the ICRISAT-Center of Excellence in Genomics (CEG) sponsored Seventh Training course on Molecular tools for Crop Improvement, being held from 10 to 21 May at Patancheru.

Dr Dar also emphasized the importance of biotechnology and modern techniques in developing improved varieties in general and ICRISAT’s mandate crops in particular. “Battling the scourges of poverty and malnutrition is going to become more difficult as increasing food prices, high population growth rates, land degradation, and climate change rage all around us to make up the perfect storm. Extraordinary scientific and technological advances are required to enhance humanity’s toolkit for confronting these challenges,” he continued.

Addressing the participants as ‘warriors’ of biotechnology, he advised them to disseminate the knowledge downstream. Molecular genomics can revolutionize breeding and research, for which scientists must be allowed to focus on the research problem. CEG is enabling this by making highly sophisticated research equipment available to the participants.

DDG-R Dave Hoisington termed the course as an important initiative to enhance the skills of the molecular breeding community in India and other developing countries, and said that the participants should look beyond ICRISAT’s mandate crops for future applications of their newly acquired skills.

Rajeev Varshney, Officer-in-Charge, Acting-Global Theme Leader, Biotechnology and Course Coordinator, stated that CEG has trained 137 participants including 17 overseas participants from developing and African countries since 2008. He emphasized the need of such interactive courses, which are immensely beneficial for the plant breeding community.

RP Sharma, former Director, National Research Centre on Plant Biotechnology of Indian Council of Agricultural Research, emphasized the need for application of molecular technology in crop improvement. A total of 24 participants representing India, Burkina Faso, Nigeria and Saudi Arabia are participating in this two-week training course.

Source: ICRISAT Happenings

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