Screenshot of the virtual training program on pigeonpea diseases – detection, phenotyping and management.

Upskilling pigeonpea researchers in climate-smart disease management

Screenshot of the virtual training program on pigeonpea diseases – detection, phenotyping and management.

Screenshot of the virtual training program on pigeonpea diseases – detection, phenotyping and management.

One of the fallouts of climate change is an increased incidence of new diseases in pigeonpea and reemergence of old diseases, leading to increased crop losses. To address the issue, an expert group led a virtual workshop to standardize protocols for detection, phenotyping and management of major pigeonpea diseases to cope with the changing disease scenario. More than 80 researchers from 13 countries across Africa, South Asia, Europe and South America attended the 3-day marathon sessions.

Though the sessions were focused on emerging and re-emerging disease detection, diagnoses phenotyping and management of pigeonpea diseases, aspects of surveillance and monitoring of emerging diseases were included. With newer diseases affecting pigeonpea crops, it is increasingly important to detect and manage them on time.

ICRISAT scientist Dr Mamta Sharma, Cluster Leader-Precision Phenotyping, said that one of the effects of climate change has been an increased incidence of pest and diseases in pigeonpea crop and minor diseases are becoming major, thereby increasing the burden of crop losses due to diseases”. Dr Rajeev Varshney, Research Program Director-Accelerated Crop Improvement, ICRISAT, emphasized on the need of such training programs that focus on phenotyping with standardized protocols.

The development of multiple disease-resistant varieties and identification of disease-resistant genes is critical to the success of breeding programs and in addressing the needs of target beneficiaries, said Dr A S Dhawan, Vice Chancellor, VNMKV, Parbhani.

Dr I P Singh, Project Coordinator-AICRP-Pigeonpea, said that their scientists are looking forward to the development of new and rapid disease phenotyping techniques from the workshop to cope with the changing disease scenario. He said that it was important for training programs like these to be periodical.

The program included a) Expert lectures and updates on the current scenario of diseases; b) Online practical training sessions on individual disease/pathogen and; c) Brainstorming and group discussions. Expert lectures from the private sector and advanced research institutes covered the areas from disease-resistant varieties to advance use of robotics and machine learning for rapid disease detection and screening for disease resistance.

The virtually training session, ‘Online International Expert Training on Pigeonpea diseases – Detection, Phenotyping and Management’ was held during 24-26 November, jointly organized by ICRISAT, VNMKV-Parbhani, ARS-Badnapur and AICRP on pigeonpea.

The training workshop covered modules related to:

  • Surveillance and monitoring of diseases
  • Disease diagnosis and identification
  • Phenotyping for disease resistance
  • Innovative management approaches
  • Emerging diseases and the way forward

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