In an effort to take stock of the achievements and capacity of existing breeding programs and to optimize genetic gains, the ‘Excellence in Breeding’ (EiB) platform organized a workshop at ICRISAT during 19 – 21 March 2018. The EiB platform, set up in 2017 by the CGIAR, and led by CIMMYT, is a step towards modernizing and empowering crop breeding programs in Asia, Africa and Latin America where less than 5% of breeding investment is made.
During the workshop, there were 21 parallel sessions with thematic groups on ‘Non-rice’, ‘Rice’ and ‘Hybrids’. The groups came up with recommendations, an optimization plan and potential areas where EiB could offer support for improvement. Key aspects from the working group sessions included recommendations to devise an analytical tool for parental lines selection, for a cost effective way of trait selection and work closely with seed system specialists.
Emphasizing the importance of adhering to standard operating procedures for genotyping activities, Michael Quinn, EiB Leader said “The approach is to work with breeders, geneticists, bioinformatics and biometric specialists to define best practices, tools and services. This would help increase the rate of genetic gains and enable implementation.”
In his introductory speech, Dr. Rajeev Varshney, Research Program Director – Genetic Gains, highlighted the role of ICRISAT scientists in two EiB modules: the High Throughput Genotyping Project – HTPG and the Genomic and Open-source Breeding Informatics Initiative – GOBii. “Scientists are linking the projects to optimize outputs. On behalf of the Director General and Deputy Director General – Research, ICRISAT, I would like to emphasize ICRISAT’s commitment towards the deployment of EiB at ICRISAT and at NARS programs,” he said.
The EiB is important for the CGIAR to enhance development and delivery of resilient, productive, nutritious and market-oriented varieties. This is particularly useful as many farmers in emerging economies lack access to seed varieties adapted to their location and needs.
The platform works through four regional hubs in South Asia (Hyderabad), Eastern and Southern Africa (Nairobi), West Africa and Latin America. The EiB platform is available to all CGIAR breeding programs and four selected National Agricultural Research Systems (NARS).
To know more about the EiB platform, click here.
To know more about ICRISAT’s work in crop improvement, click here.