Hyderabad: A USD 2-million comprehensive pigeon pea molecular breeding project has been launched to improve the food and income security of millions in the dry-lands around the world, agri-research body ICRISAT said today.
The three-year, project -- `Pigeon pea Improvement using Molecular Breeding` -- supported by the US Agency for International Development (USAID) India Mission, aims to assist pigeon pea breeders to develop improved cultivars more efficiently using genomic tools, International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) said in a release.
The project will be implemented by city-based ICRISAT, along with the National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources (NBPGR), New Delhi, the University of Agricultural Sciences (UAS), Raichur, Karnataka, Acharya NG Ranga Agricultural University (ANGRAU), Hyderabad, and other partners in India and Africa, it added.
"In the fight against poverty and hunger amid the threat of climate change, highly nutritious, drought-tolerant crops are the best bets for small-holder farmers in marginal environments to survive and improve their livelihoods," the release said.
Pigeon pea, grown on about five million hectares in Asia, sub-Saharan Africa and South-Central America, is a very important food legume for millions of poor in the semi-arid regions of the world.
Known as the "poor people`s meat" because of its high protein content, it provides a well-balanced diet when accompanied with cereals.
"I am very pleased to announce this new partnership between the governments of India and the United States, and ICRISAT, a partnership that will take new studies in pigeon pea genomics to the next stage of scientific research.
"This collaboration will improve the agricultural productivity of pigeon pea, a main source of protein for more than a billion people in Asia, Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean," said Elizabeth Warfield, Deputy Mission Director, USAID, New Delhi during the project launch yesterday.
William Dar, Director General, ICRISAT, acknowledged USAID`s commitment to the project.
"USAID has always been an advocate of the agricultural research-for-development continuum. Thus, this project has a research component in Phase I and an application component in Phase II," he said.
"The primary objective of the project is to translate genome information into farmers` fields....The project team is quite confident and looks forward to working with different partners and stakeholders in enhancing pigeon-pea crop productivity that will eventually help ensure food security in India and generate more incomes for farmers in Africa," said Rajeev Varshney, Project Coordinator and Director, Center of Excellence in Genomics, ICRISAT.