Pigeon Mill_Gulberga_Molecular Breeding_lRVarious products such as hybrid purity testing kits, markers for disease resistance and enhancing yield and yield-related traits, novel populations for bringing new alleles/combinations in future pigeonpea hybrids/varieties are some of the important outputs of the USAID-funded project ‘Pigeonpea improvement using molecular breeding’.

Information on the 11 products developed during Phase I of the project was shared with stakeholders at a recent workshop, at ICRISAT-India.

Dr Bahiru Duguma, Director, Food Security Office, USAID, mentioned that USAID was keen on this project as it sees it as a climate change adaptation option. “We see this as a good vehicle to transfer outputs to the global level and share them with developing countries. We are looking for quick applicable results,” he said.

The two-day workshop included a day in the field, where project partners interacted with about 40 farmers at the Agricultural Research Station, Gulbarga , India. These farmers have benefited from growing pigeonpea varieties developed by ICRISAT and its partners. They gave positive feedback on the high-yielding, disease-resistant pigeonpea varieties, and shared that they are getting better yields and higher income after adopting the improved varieties. They also shared their concern that sterility mosaic disease (SMD) incidence was on the rise now, and expressed their need for new varieties with enhanced disease resistance.

A progressive farmer, Mr Devendrappa Bedjirgi is growing six pigeonpea varieties and also hybrids on 1.5 ha, out of his total 5 ha land. He said, “Until 2011, I was growing the regularly available pigeonpea variety and managed to get a yield of 1.5 tons per ha. But now I am growing improved varieties and also adopting advanced technology and my yield of pigeonpea has increased to 2.5 tons per ha.”

On the second day of the workshop, at ICRISAT, Patancheru, information on the 11 products from the project, was shared. Dr Rajeev Varshney, Research Program Director, Grain Legumes, ICRISAT, while presenting the products, said, “Markers for enhancing seed protein content is important work, and is also a criteria of the Indian government, and the outcome from this project will feed into the pulse revolution that the Prime Minister of India is talking about.”

According to Dr Servejeet Singh, ADR (Seeds) cum Head of Plant Breeding & Genetics, Rajasthan Agricultural Research Institute, Jaipur, “Farmers in Rajasthan are looking for a pigeonpea variety that will fit into the crop rotation with wheat. The products from this project are promising and we hope to get a good variety suitable for the drought-prone state.”

Dr IP Singh, Project Coordinator, Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) – All-India Coordinated Research project (AICRP) Pigeonpea, appreciated the efforts on the new material generated and stated that sharing the available material through the AICRP centers should be taken up as the reach out will be greater through the large network existing throughout the country. He said, “Phytophthora blight incidence in pigeonpea is also high, and disease resistant varieties for this should also be considered.”

Prof Scott Jackson, Professor, University of Georgia, USA, a member of the project advisory committee, stated that it was interesting to see the collaboration between the public and private seed companies, and the lab to land link being established.

The workshop was attended by project partners from across the country; representatives from key public pigeonpea research centers; private sector representatives from India and Africa; along with USAID officials and project advisory committee members.

The project supported by United States Agency for International Development (USAID) was implemented in partnership with Agricultural Research Station (ARS) – Gulbarga, University of Agricultural Sciences (UAS), Raichur, Gulbarga, India; National Bureau for Plant Genetic Resources (NBPGR), New Delhi, India; Agricultural Research Station (ARS) – Tandur, PJTS Agricultural University, Hyderabad, India; and ICRISAT. This activity was undertaken as part of CGIAR Research Program on Grain Leguemes

Adapted from ICRISAT Happenings