Staff Reporter

ICRISAT workshop underlines the need to increase productivity

  • Biotechnology helps in embryo rescue, tissue culture, and selective breeding of crops
  • ICRISAT injects genes into pigeon pea and chick pea to make them resistant to pod-borer
  • Field trials on for transgenic groundnut resistant to virus

    PATANCHERU (MEDAK): With world population poised to touch the 6.5 billion mark by 2020 and demand for food grains productivity required to grow by almost 70 per cent, biotechnology would come handy to fill the gap, said Director General of International Crops Research Institute for the Semi Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) William.D.Dar here on Monday.

    Inaugurating the two-day workshop on `Reporting biotechnology issues and opportunities' for the Telugu and English news media organized jointly by ICRISAT and the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA), Dr Dar described biotechnology as the tool to develop better crops that are resistant to diseases and pests, drought resistance varieties, etc., with the help of marker-assisted selection and breeding, embryo rescue, tissue culture, low- cost disease-testing kits and transgenic technologies.

    Field trials

    He also announced that ICRISAT has been conducting contained field trials for transgenic groundnut, pigeon pea and chickpea for the last four years. Field trials were going on for transgenic groundnut, resistant to the Indian peanut clump virus (IPVC) and for Rosette disease in Africa.

    For both the pigeon and chick pea variety, bacillus thuringiensis genes have been introduced to make them resistant to the pod-borer (helicoverpa armigera).

    Stressing on the need to create awareness among the farming community on the benefits of biotechnology, he said that ICRISAT would be on the forefront in using these tools for the benefit of the poor farmer. ISAAA (South Asia) national coordinator Bhagirath Choudhary, Dave Hoisington, K.K. Sharma and H.C. Sharma of ICRISAT also participated.