8) ICRISAT Hosts AICPMIP's Annual Group Meeting 2007

The 42nd All India Coordinated Pearl Millet Improvement Project (AICPMIP) Annual Meeting 2007 was held at the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) Patancheru campus from 14-16 May.

Approximately 130 delegates from all over India and 15 scientists from ICRISAT attended the meeting that reviewed the progress of research on pearl millet for the year 2006-07, and formulated the technical program of work for the year 2007-08. This was the first ever meeting of any All India Coordinated Pearl Millet Improvement Project at ICRISAT, and is a true reflection of a long and very productive research partnership between the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR, AICRP-Pearl Millet) and ICRISAT.

Dr William D Dar, Director General of ICRISAT, in his inaugural message highlighted the achievements made through ICAR-ICRISAT partnership, starting with the development of an open-pollinated variety (WC-C 75) of pearl millet that was released in 1982. He commended this partnership that has grown in strength over the years and that has become more productive. The large-scale use of ICRISAT-bred materials in joint variety and hybrid development, and open recognition of these contributions reflect the success of the partnership, he said. Dr Dar also stressed upon the continued sharing of germplasm, breeding materials and scientific information that have been the key to the success of this program in India . The ICRISAT-Private Sector Pearl Millet Hybrid Parents Research Consortium that has 35 members from the seed companies and a research foundation was also recognized for its productive partnership. He further stated that 70 hybrids of pearl millet are under cultivation in India , which contributed to yield enhancement and stability. This includes the first biotechnological product (HHB 67-Improved) produced by marker-assisted selection.

The partnership has led to the development of several high-yielding varieties and hybrids. The quality seed of these hybrids and varieties is made available to resource poor farmers who are cultivating pearl millet in difficult environments. The efforts made by pearl millet scientists, farmers, and also by many private seed companies have increased the productivity of pearl millet from 400-500 kg ha-1 during the 1970's to 800-850 kg ha-1 in 2005-2006, leading to a substantial increase in production.

The projections of demand and supply of pearl millet for 2012 were discussed at length in the meeting by the scientists, administrators and policymakers. The total production of pearl millet needs to be raised from the current 7-8 million tons to 11.25 million tons during the XI Plan period. Dr SN Shukla, Assistant Director General, Food and Fodder Crops (ICAR) in his inaugural remarks called upon the scientists for more research on pearl millet. Considering its future utility and foreseeing climatic change scenarios, water shortages and shortening of effective growing season will increase the demand for short duration crops such as pearl millet in India.

Dr IS Khairwal, Project Coordinator, AICPMIP, presented the Coordinator Review: 2006-07 and emphasized the need to heed the early warning signals for undertaking more basic research on pearl millet rather than banking upon the chance of a good monsoon. He also advocated the upgrading of AICRP-Pearl Millet to Directorate of Pearl Millet Research or National Research Center for Pearl Millet as recommended by ICAR's quinquennial review team of 1997-2001. Upgrading the AICRP-Pearl Millet will certainly enhance research capabilities on (i) value addition, alternative uses of pearl millet human food, animal and poultry feed, forage and fodder for livestock and use of surplus grain in breweries as a cheap source in alcohol production, (ii) basic research on biotic and abiotic stresses through application of biotechnological tools, and (iii) inter-institutional partnerships.

The Pearl Millet Crop Management and Seed Production Manual, co-authored by ACIPMIP and ICRISAT scientists (Drs IS Khairwal, KN Rai, B Diwakar, YK Sharma, BS Rajpurohit, Miss B Nirwan and Dr R Bhattacharjee) was released by Dr SN Shukla during the meeting. This manual has been published under the umbrella of the ICAR-ICRISAT Research Partnership Project.

The Society of Millet Research and the AICPMIP, Mandor, Jodhpur facilitated the contribution of the retired scientists: Dr Prem Kishore, Principal Scientist, IARI, New Delhi and Dr ON Mathur, ARS, Durgapura; and also awarded certificates of merit to ICRISAT's Pearl Millet Improvement Program as the best AICPMIP's research partnership center. The best ICAR-ICRISAT partnership recognition went to Drs CT Hash of ICRISAT and IS Khairwal for their efforts in developing and releasing downy mildew resistant hybrid HHB 67-Improved using the marker-assisted breeding. The recognition for best Private Seed Sector went to Pioneer Overseas Corporation.

Five lead lectures by experts in pearl millet research and development reviewed the state of art in such diverse areas as fodder production, alternate uses of pearl millet grains, and biotechnological tools available for enhancing the pace of pearl millet improvement.

Ten hybrids were identified for release in various agro-climatic zones. These include MH 1328 (GHB 757) for the A1 zone (very dry parts of Rajasthan, Gujarat and Haryana receiving rainfall <400 mm); MH 1257 (B 2095), MH 1274 (NMH 68), MH 1272 (GHB 744) medium maturity, and MH 1299 (JKBH 676); MH 1307 (GHB 732), MH 1302 (HHB 197), and MH 1295 (PHB 2168) late maturity for A zone (Rajasthan, Haryana, Gujarat, Delhi, Punjab, UP, MP); MH 1257 (B 2095) and MLBH 134 for B zone (southern and central India); and MSH 167 (PB 727) for summer cultivation. At least eight of these were based on ICRISAT-bred male sterile lines. Several crop production-protection technologies were also finalized in the meeting.

by ICRISAT. All rights reserved.