Dr Arvind Kumar, Deputy Director General -Research ICRISAT, in his inaugural address congratulated the group for contributing towards achieving genetic gains of about 3% per annum for pearl millet productivity in India. He urged the participants to use the opportunity to select promising materials for developing resilient and nutritionally rich cultivars for the future.
Dr Vilas Tonapi, Director, Indian Institute of Millet Research, Hyderabad commended ICRISAT for broadening the genetic base of pearl millet cultivars by providing diverse range of breeding lines to programs in public and private sector. Representing the private sector seed companies, Dr RS Mahala from Seedworks International, appreciated the efforts made by ICRISAT to facilitate selection of breeding materials in such challenging times. Dr Harish Gandhi, Theme Leader Crop Improvement and Interim Global Head, Asia Program, said that ICRISAT will use a variety of mechanisms to share breeding materials with public sector institutions, given the challenges of Covid-19.
Dr SK Gupta, Pearl millet breeder at ICRISAT, informed that the breeding program in India has derived promising hybrid parental lines using diverse materials from Western and Central Africa to diversify the genetic base of available germplasm. These new materials were highlighted during the field day. A significant number of materials with high grain iron and zinc in promising agronomic backgrounds were available reflecting the institute’s drive to mainstream nutrition in its breeding programs. Participants were advised to select such materials to enhance micronutrient content in future pearl millet cultivars to help eliminate micronutrient deficiency in millet-consuming populations.
About 40 scientists representing 25 public and private sector organizations selected material for their programs. COVID-19 protocols were followed and field visits limited to 10-12 participants were staggered from May 1-5.
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