RRP 1: Conservation, management and enhancement of genetic resources
The goal of this program is to improve food security and livelihoods through genetic conservation, enhanced crop production and environmental protection by using improved and diversified cultivars, eco-friendly and cost-effective pest and disease management practices, efficient seed systems, and alternative uses of crop produce.
The Genebank at ICRISAT research station at Sadoré, about 40 km from Niamey, Niger, plays a significant role in conserving plant genetic resources (PGR) as a prerequisite for their future use.
Millet and Sorghum
Millet and sorghum research at ICRISAT WCA go hand-in-hand. Most research projects target both crops.
Research on sorghum hybrids pursues the twin objectives of providing “proof of concept” for hybrids that combine desirable grain traits with increased grain yields in the Sudanian zone, and creating the foundation for viable hybrid development in the region.
A large diversity of sorghum is grown under a wide range of production conditions - from infertile soils without fertilizers to higher-productivity cotton-based systems. ICRISAT examines how this diversity can be best used to breed superior sorghum varieties.
A principal activity of the pearl millet improvement program is to identify heterotic groups among WCA pearl millet landraces and breeding materials by studying agro-morpho¬logical differentiation, genetic diversity at the DNA level, and by evaluating population hybrids representing putative inter- and intra-pool crosses. Landrace varieties are domesticated varieties developed by farmers and their ancestors over thousands of years.
Photoperiod-sensitive flowering and intra-varietal heterogeneity for flowering time have evolved in the landraces due to natural and human selection. ICRISAT studies how much of both is required to obtain high-yielding, stable varieties under the variable cropping conditions of WCA.
WCA is the main center of origin and diversity of pearl millet. Characterization of this diversity is improving the efficiency of plant breeding efforts. Molecular markers are time-effective and provide information on important genetic relationships.
Pearl millet is the staple cereal of the hottest, driest regions, including sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia where famers rely on the rains for tilling their lands. We characterized the relationships of 199 pearl millet accessions from all over WCA using 16 Simple Sequence Repeat (SSR) markers.
This project of ICRISAT has two objectives: Identify groundnut varieties with farmer- and market-preferred traits and use modern breeding tools to develop as yet-unenhanced breeding material to share with NARS in the region.
Over 4.5 billion people in developing countries are chronically exposed to high levels of mycotoxins contaminating their food crops. Among these are aflatoxins. Such exposure to toxins may lead to reduced growth rate and liver cancer. ICRISAT’s goal is to remove this avoidable health burden from the vulnerable poor communities of SAT.
One of ICRISAT’s objectives in the region is to diversify crops. Together with the World Vegetable Center, which is also known as AVRDC, ICRISAT develops vegetables adapted to regional conditions. Vegetables supplement our mandate crops sorghum, millet and groundnuts.
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