13) ICRISAT germplasm materials making impact on global food security (20 May 2011)

Hyderabad, India 20 May 2011 A total of 735 highly-nutritious and drought-tolerant crop varieties developed using germplasm and breeding materials from the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) has been released in 78 countries, significantly contributing to increased income and better nutrition of resource-poor people in the dryland tropics.

ICRISAT’s substantial contribution to global food security over the last three decades was evident from the recent report on varieties released by National Agricultural Research Systems (NARS) worldwide.

Using ICRISAT germplasm and breeding materials, 735 varieties/hybrids have been released by the NARS as of December 2010: sorghum - 242; pearl millet - 163; groundnut - 145; chickpea - 120; and pigeonpea - 65. Of these, 347 are in Asia (198 in India); 319 in sub-Saharan Africa (183 in East & Southern Africa and 136 in West & Central Africa); and 69 in the rest of the world.

The collaborative research partnership between India and ICRISAT has been particularly productive, as illustrated in the release of 198 improved varieties of sorghum (35), pearl millet (80), chickpea (36), pigeonpea (21) and groundnut (26) by national- or state-level release committees or by private sector seed companies, raising production and incomes of millions of smallholder farmers in the country.

On the varietal release report, ICRISAT Director General William D Dar said, “We are pleased that our germplasm and breeding materials are contributing to global food security. We congratulate all national program partners and ICRISAT scientists for this accomplishment. Through partnership-based international agricultural research-for-development that embodies Science with a Human Face, ICRISAT will continue to work for the improvement of the well-being of millions of smallholder farmers, particularly in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.”

Grain legumes such as groundnut, pigeonpea and chickpea are susceptible to pests and diseases. This increases the risk for smallholder farmers and limits the adoption of improved cultivars. ICRISAT has scored important successes in this area and continues to battle these biotic constraints in an integrated way, by including breeding for resistance as well as the judicious use of biological, crop management and chemical-control methods.

ICRISAT and its Indian partner institutions’ creation of the world’s first hybrid pigeonpea is now making major impacts on the income and nutrition of many poor people worldwide. These hybrids increase yield by an average of 33% in
on-farm trials, adding about US$ 400 to net income per hectare. This will revolutionize the production of the
high-protein ‘poor people’s meat’ crop across India, Myanmar and China in the coming years.

Earlier-maturing, heat-tolerant high-value chickpea varieties from ICRISAT, particularly JG 11, have more than doubled yields, from 600 to 1400 kg/ha in Andhra Pradesh state, India, stimulating a four-fold increase in sown area from 160,000 to 630,000 hectares. The added value of grain is $69 million annually, reaped by 6 million people in rural farm households.

In Anantapur (India), where over 50% of farm income comes from groundnut, the new variety ICGV 91114 from ICRISAT increases yield by 23% and is characterized by its  drought –tolerance, higher-value large seeds, more uniform harvest maturity, disease tolerance and greater palatability of haulms (straw) for livestock. An estimated additional 42,000 tons of groundnut is being produced annually, worth US$ 3.7 million to 30,000 farm households (150,000 people). Net income from this crop increases by 35%, on the average 1.5 ha groundnut field area per
farmer, worth an extra US$110. Cows fed on these haulms  produce 11% more milk. By 2020, the impact of this
variety in Anantapur is projected to increase to 35% from 0.75 million hectares of groundnut.

ICRISAT’s vision of a prosperous, food-secure and resilient dryland tropics is shared by its NARS partners all over the world. It generates scientific and technological innovations to: reduce smallholder farmers’ vulnerability to drought and climate change while increasing crop diversity and value; harness development pathways for inclusive prosperity; raise and secure productivity for health, income and sustainability; and increase productivity to help end hunger and food insecurity.


For media enquiries, contact: Showkat Nabi Rather, Senior Media Officer, +91 40 3071 3187, R(dot)Showkat(at)cgiar(dot)org. or
Cristina P Bejosano, Head, Science Writing and Media Relations, Tel: +91 40 30713236, C(dot)Bejosano(at)cgiar(dot)org
by ICRISAT. All rights reserved.