20) Olympic medalist lauds ICRISAT’s gene conservation efforts in the fight against hunger and poverty

Hyderabad, India, 30 December 2012 – “ICRISAT’s plant genetic conservation initiatives illustrate the value and use of biodiversity in the fight against hunger and poverty, and its impact on the livelihoods of millions of smallholder farmers in the dryland tropics,” said India’s ace badminton player and Olympic bronze medalist Ms Saina Nehwal.

During her visit to the Hyderabad-based International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) today, Ms Nehwal described her experience touring the Institute’s facilities, particularly its RS Paroda Genebank, as delightful and an eye-opener.

“Nature has truly blessed us with a rich genetic diversity, which is unique and important in sustaining life in this planet. This visit gave me a better understanding of the importance of plant genetic conservation in sustaining and using genetic diversity for global food security,” Ms Newhal added.

“ICRISAT’s RS Paroda Genebank is a treasure trove of genes useful to crop improvement for sustainable food production and improved livelihoods, particularly in marginal environments, and genes that can provide climate resilience to future crop varieties through increased drought, heat and salinity tolerance, and pest and disease resistance, said ICRISAT Director General William D. Dar.

ICRISAT has been conducting research-for-development initiatives with partners globally for the past 40 years to increase agricultural production in the semi-arid regions of Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. ICRISAT’s genebank, one of the world’s largest public-funded genebanks, preserves seeds of more than 120,000 accessions of pearl millet, sorghum, chickpea, pigeonpea, groundnut and small millets (finger millet, foxtail millet, barnyard millet, kodo millet, and little millet), that are kept as in-trust collections on behalf of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations (UN), for the benefit of the present and future generations. It has also distributed more than 1.4 million seed samples to 146 countries, restored about 55,000 germplasm lines to 9 countries, and released 830 cultivars in 79 countries from its germplasm and breeding materials.

Ms Newhal visited ICRISAT upon the Institute’s invitation to help spread the importance of genetic conservation in the global fight against hunger and poverty. Her hard work over the years enabled her to clinch a historic bronze medal in the London Olympics to cover new ground for Indian badminton.

Note to Editors:
The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) (www.icrisat.org) is a nonprofit, non-political organization that conducts agricultural research for development in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa with a wide array of partners throughout the world. ICRISAT is headquartered in Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh, India, with two regional hubs and five country offices in sub-Saharan Africa. It is a member of the CGIAR Consortium

Our Vision: A prosperous, food-secure and resilient dryland tropics.
Our Mission: To reduce poverty, hunger, malnutrition and environmental degradation in the dryland tropics.
Our Goal
: Partnership-based international agricultural research-for-development that embodies Science with a human face.
Our Approach:
Inclusive Market-Oriented Development (IMOD).


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