1) Crop Science Society of America honors head of ICRISAT genebank

Dr Hari D Upadhyaya who plays a key role in preserving the germplasm at the genebank in the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), vows to save the variety of life in 2010- the
United Nations International Year of Biodiversity.

Conserving biodiversity is a way of life at ICRISAT. Serving as a world repository of mandate crops (sorghum, pearl millet, chickpea, pigeonpea and groundnut) including their wild relatives, ICRISAT has been helping in reducing poverty, hunger and environmental degradation in the semi-arid tropics.

The global collections held in the ICRISAT genebank help in the restoration of germplasm to the source countries when national collections are lost due to natural calamities, civil strife, etc. For example, sorghum germplasm lost during civil wars in Ethiopia and Rwanda was replenished from the collection maintained at ICRISAT genebank.

Similarly, ICRISAT has repatriated several thousand germplasm accessions to countries like Botswana (362 sorghum), Cameroon (1827 sorghum and 922 pearl millet), Ethiopia (1723 sorghum and 931 chickpea), India (44,701 accessions of five mandate crops and six small millets), Kenya (838 sorghum and 332 pigeonpea), Nigeria (1436 sorghum), Somalia
(445 sorghum), Sri Lanka (71 pigeonpea) and Sudan (977 sorghum and 594 pearl millet).

Thus, national agricultural research systems (NARS) have regained access to precious heritage that would have been
lost, had it not been conserved in ICRISAT genebank.

Germplasm conserved at ICRISAT genebank has become an important source of diversity available to researchers in both public and private sectors through out the world. Between the years 1975 and 2009, ICRISAT genebank has distributed over 706,286 samples of its mandate crops and small millets to users including 395,878 samples in India and 310,408 samples in other 143 countries. ICRISAT is safely duplicating its germplasm collection at the Svalbard Global Seed Vault
in Norway.

In recognition of his efforts, Hari D Upadhyaya, Principal Scientist and Head, Genebank was honored as a Fellow of the prestigious Crop Science Society of America (CSSA) on 3 November 2009. This honor was conferred upon him at the annual meetings of the American Society of Agronomy (ASA), Crop Science Society of America, and the Soil Science Society of America (SSSA) at Pittsburgh, USA. Hari Upadhyaya is one of the few scientists to have received this recognition. Upadhyaya is now a fellow of two societies – Crop Science Society of America and American Society of Agronomy.

Dr Ken Quesenberry, President of CSSA honored Hari Upadhyaya for his outstanding research that reflects a gamut of
high quality basic, strategic, and applied study. Hari Updhyaya’s seminal strategy of selecting ‘mini-core’ germplasm
(1% of the entire collection) is now an International Public Good and has captured the imagination of scientists around
the world as a gateway to exploit the diversity in germplasm collections.

Using the mini-core approach, Upadhyaya has identified genetically-diverse and agronomically superior parental lines having resistance to biotic and abiotic stresses. He has also identified superior agronomic traits, which can be used by plant breeders to develop high-yielding broad-based cultivars. He has developed a large number of early-maturing groundnut breeding lines, which are resistant to diseases and aflatoxin contamination. Several of these lines had desirable combination of traits such as resistance to foliar diseases and fresh seed dormancy, some of which have been released in Asia, sub-Saharan Africa and Oceania.

His genetic studies on resistance to wilt in chickpea provided the scientific basis for breeding wilt-resistant cultivars at ICRISAT and elsewhere. The studies were also responsible for ICRISAT winning the King Baudouin Award in 2002. Similarly, genetic studies on traits of adaptation, productivity, and quality in peanuts have contributed significantly to the successful breeding of early-maturing peanut cultivars. Upadhyaya uses wild relatives as a source of noble variation and transfers the desirable genes to the cultivated groundnut, chickpea, and pigeonpea through pre-breeding.


The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) is a nonprofit, non-political organization that does innovative agricultural research and capacity building for sustainable development with a wide array of partners across the globe. ICRISAT's mission is to help empower 600 million poor people to overcome hunger, poverty and a degraded environment in the dry tropics through better agriculture. ICRISAT belongs to the Alliance of Centers of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR).

About CSSA

Crop Science Society of America (CSSA) is a prominent international scientific society headquartered in Madison, Wisconsin. Because of their common interests, CSSA, the American Society of Agronomy (ASA), and the Soil Science Society of America (SSSA) share a close working relationship as well as the same headquarters office staff. Since its inception, CSSA has continued to evolve, modifying its educational offerings to support the changing needs of its members. Today, CSSA is seen as a progressive scientific society meeting the needs of its members through publications, recognition and awards, placement service, certification programs, meetings, and student activities. There is also a science policy office in Washington, DC to give members a voice in government.

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