The IRRI South Asia Hub at Hyderabad organized multiple sessions to strengthen the capacities of its rice breeding networks from 5th to 10th April 2023. The first event, the strategic planning workshop for Hybrid Rice Adoption was organized on 5th April in Hyderabad at the ICRISAT Campus in Hyderabad. The global hybrid rice adoption is progressing at a very slow pace, and in India, the adoption is still limited to a few specific regions. To address this issue, policymakers, hybrid rice scientists, and critical stakeholders convened to identify and overcome the challenges hindering widespread adoption.
The workshop aimed to understand the current status of hybrid rice technology, recognize constraints and challenges, develop well-defined strategies and time-bound action plans, and assign teams responsible for implementing these strategies. The workshop saw brief presentations from the different stakeholders and highlights focussing on the constraints and challenges, and discussions centered on overcoming these obstacles by forming local, regional, and global teams.
The second event, the IRRI–NARES advancement meet was organized from April 6 – 8, 2023, at the ICRISAT Campus, Hyderabad, with its national partners in South Asia to develop and deliver better products, at a faster pace, through the IRRI-NARES breeding networks. During this three-day deliberation, the participants exchanged ideas to supplement the national program with ways to address priorities such as germplasm, pre-finish products, breeding strategies, technologies for better yield, and capacity building. On the final day of the IRRI-NARES advancement meet, a significant initiative called the "Emerging Disease Project" was launched by IRRI in collaboration with Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) and other project partners. This project, funded by the Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Government of India, aims to promote reduced pesticide usage by enhancing the understanding of pathogen diversity and facilitating rapid responses to plant diseases. The objective is to develop effective strategies to combat emerging diseases, ensuring a more sustainable approach to plant protection.
This last day also saw the launch of the global BioNET – the global Bionet stress screening network as part of the OneIRRI-NARES Breeding Network. With pathogens evolving faster than plants and the impact of climate change on disease and pest distribution, BioNET proposes a comprehensive solution through a global network of rice pathologists, entomologists, and breeders. The Global BioNET encompasses all national BioNETs, including five countries in Southeast Asia, four in South Asia, and six in East and Southern Africa. In India, the BioNET aligns closely with the IRRI-ICAR work plan and aims to strengthen the AICRIP network, further enhancing collaboration and efforts to address plant stressors globally.
On 10th April, the IRRI South Asia Hub also organized the annual meeting for The Network for Accelerated Rice Varieties for Impact (NARVI). Launched in 2020-2021, NAVRI is a membership-based network for the private sector, modeled upon previous-sector sharing and evaluation networks such as the International Network for Genetic Evaluation of Rice (INGER) and ASEAN RiceNet. Private sector companies members of the NARVI network gain advanced but non-exclusive access to a pipeline of pre-commercial new elite rice advanced lines developed and owned by IRRI. The objectives of this meeting were to provide updates on IRRI’s current breeding programs, its unique structure, the enormous opportunities to collaborate with the private sector rice breeders, discuss the challenges faced by NARVI, and explore potential ways forward. The participants also engaged in discussions on the upcoming phase of NARVI, aiming to strengthen the partnership between IRRI and its members.
The participants of all these events included NARES partners (ICAR Institutes, State Agricultural Universities-SAUs, Central and SAUs’ research stations) from across the country, delegates from Bangladesh, Africa, Nepal, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, private sector stakeholders and scientists from IRRI Philippines and India.
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