South Asia, for years, has been trying to tackle different challenges in their agrifood system. Some of these challenges are identifying genetic resources, mapping traits for drought, salinity, and submergence tolerance, as well as identifying grain quality requirements based on the market demand in South Asia. As a response, plant breeders at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and national agricultural research and extension systems (NARES) convened to launch the One IRRI-NARES Rice Breeding Network Team-South Asia in India.
The IRRI-NARES collaboration aims to enhance genetic gains by strengthening the breeding network activities in South Asia under One Rice Breeding Strategy. This strategy aims to improve rice breeding at IRRI and among the Consortium of International Agricultural Research Centers (CGIAR) centers and national agricultural research and extension systems (NARES) partners through a comprehensive breeding framework. Through this initiative, access to common terminology, resource management, size management, and allocation systems will be available to CGIAR breeding centers.
During the launch meeting in India, coordinators and pipeline associates of the One IRRI-NARES Rice Breeding Network deliberated their primary responsibilities to attain a clear vision, plan, and strategy to support India’s national breeding programs. The researchers also discussed IRRI's operational model and various rice diseases such as blast, brown spot, false smut, and sheath blight which, in worst case scenarios, can cause up to 100% crop losses relevant to tackling regional challenges.
“This renewed commitment of IRRI and NARES in India to work together provides a good opportunity for expanding our scope and continuing our efforts to implement the One Rice Breeding Strategy and transform the rice-breeding program in the region," said IRRI Regional Breeding Lead-South Asia Vikas Kumar Singh.
"We believe in the capacity of research and development in food and nutritional security in India and other South Asian countries through strong partnerships and support from our stakeholders,” Dr. Singh added.
“It is critical to find sustainable solutions to these challenges and these entail involvement of the local communities as well as a stronger collaboration with NARES partners and other stakeholders,” said Dr. Hans Bhardwaj, head of the Rice Breeding Innovations (RBI) Platform at IRRI.
Sankalp Bhosale, RBI’s deputy platform leader, highlighted the significant responsibilities of NARES coordinators and pipeline associates in identifying market segments, validating product concepts, and expanding the IRRI-NARES Rice Breeding Network South-Asia.
Dr. Bhosale also discussed working on the regional requirements and concerns of IRRI’s partners and building the capacity of NARES to support breeding activities.
In response to this initiative, Dr. Gopalakrishnan S. from Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI), New Delhi said, “I truly appreciate IRRI’s efforts towards strengthening the breeding network with a clear vision, plans and strategy to support the National breeding programs, as well as their way of sharing of genotypic information along with germplasm or breeding lines.”
Soon, Bangladesh and Nepal will join this crop diagnostic network to work with NARES partners in the region with global strategies and vision catering to local needs.
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