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IRRI gears up for a modernized rice breeding program

posted May 11, 2017, 1:59 AM by Rowena Baltazar ‎(IRRI)‎
by Maria Rowena M. Baltazar

NEW DELHI, India—“Modernize your rice breeding program.” 

This is the challenge issued by Gary Atlin (left), senior program officer, Agricultural Research and Development of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), to the scientists and partners of the Stress-Tolerant Rice for Africa and South Asia (STRASA) program, supported by the BMGF, during the annual review and planning meeting.

 “By modernizing the rice breeding program, we will be able to help Africa and South Asia partners sustainably increase the rate of genetic gains they deliver, especially for the smallholder farmers,” added Dr. Atlin.

The IRRI-led STRASA was recognized for its “wise leadership” that led to its successful implementation. Around 180 participants from IRRI headquarters and partners from India, Nepal, Bangladesh, and Africa, attended the Phase 3 Annual Review and Planning Meeting held on 30 April–2 May at the National Agricultural Science Complex, India.

Dr. Trilochan Mohapatra, secretary of the Department of Agricultural Research Education and director general of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), welcomed the participants with a declaration to support the STRASA call to deliver higher rates of genetic gains to farmers and increase the rate of varietal replacement in the region.

Meanwhile, the Chief Guest, Sh. Shobhana K. Pattanayak (right), secretary of the Department of Agriculture-Cooperation and Farmers’ Welfare, reiterated Sec. Mohapatra’s remarks in his inaugural address. “It is now a policy of India not to promote rice varieties that are more than 10 years old,” added Pattanayak.

The STRASA meetings began with concurrent sessions on its four major objectives groups (drought, submergence, salinity, and seeds dissemination), and the cross-cutting groups on biotic stresses and grain quality. The concurrent sessions reviewed the progress made during the last year and discussed next year’s workplans and activities. (Read more here)