Identifying research priorities based on feedback and identifying opportunities to utilize modern research tools, especially genomics and phenomics, to elevate genetic gains was the focus at a recent consultation meeting with members of the Hybrid Parents Research Consortium (HPRC).
Based on presentations made by experts and inputs from participants during group discussions on present cultivar trends and trait preferences of the said crops in India, emerging researchable issues were identified. Some of the issues are:
- Hybrids suited for postrainy season
- Shoot fly resistance and grain mold tolerance
- End-product specific cultivars
- Developing plant ideotype that can accommodate larger plant population and facilitate mechanical harvesting
- High biomass, sugars and higher digestibility in sweet sorghum
- Blast disease resistance
- Lodging resistance
- Heat tolerance
- Cytoplasmic diversification
- Improved pigeonpea hybrids and their seed production
- New plant type concept on improvement of erect varieties and parental lines
- Expansion and promotion of super-early pigeonpea genotypes in new niches
Ms Gitu Grace from African Seeds Trade Association (ASTA) presented the activities of ASTA and how they can help seed companies establish their business in African countries. Presentation on adopting new tools for crop improvement for increasing genetic gain was made by
Dr Rajeev Varshney, Research Program Director (Grain Legumes) and Director, Centre of Excellence in Genomics. Dr Vincent Vadez, Assistant Research Program Director (Dryland Cereals) and Principal Scientist – Plant Physiology, spoke on high-throughput phenotyping methods. Participants provided inputs in crop-specific group meetings which centered on prioritization of research and on developing an action plan to meet newly identified researchable issues.
The meeting held on 26 November at ICRISAT, Patancheru, involved 44 scientists from the 21 partner seed companies in HPRC, representatives from the Indian Institute of Millets Research (IIMR), All India Coordinated Pearl Millet Improvement Project (AICPMIP) and several State Agricultural Universities, along with 36 ICRISAT scientists.
Mr Nageswar Rao, Acting Director IIMR, Mr HP Yadav, Project Coordinator, AICPMIP and scientists from state agricultural universities played a key role. A new Advisory Committee of HPRC for 2016-2017 was constituted.
Mr Brijendra Pal from Bio-Seeds, Mr AK Singh from Bayer Crop Sciences, Mr SK Gupta from Hi-tech Seeds, Mr A Satyanarayana from NRI Agri-Tech Private Limited, and Mr AK Jayalekha from Bayer Crop Sciences were unanimously elected as new members from the private sector.