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First blast resistant, biofortified wheat variety released in Bangladesh-A great breakthrough of Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute

First blast resistant, biofortified wheat variety released in Bangladesh

by Hans Braun, Pawan Singh, Ravi Singh, Shahidul Haque Khan, Velu Govindan / October 18, 2017

Members of National Technical Committee of NSB evaluating BAW 1260 in the field. Photo: CIMMYT
Members of National Technical Committee of NSB evaluating BAW 1260, the breeding line used to develop BARI Gom 33. Photo: CIMMYT

DHAKA, Bangladesh (CIMMYT) — As wheat farmers in Bangladesh struggle to recover from a 2016 outbreak of a mysterious disease called “wheat blast,” the country’s National Seed Board (NSB) released a new, high-yielding, blast-resistant wheat variety, according to a communication from the Wheat Research Centre (WRC) in Bangladesh.

Called “BARI Gom 33,” the variety was developed by WRC using a breeding line from the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), a Mexico-based organization that has collaborated with Bangladeshi research organizations for decades, according to Naresh C. Deb Barma, Director of WRC, who said the variety had passed extensive field and laboratory testing. “Gom” means “wheat grain” in Bangla, the Bengali language used in Bangladesh.

“This represents an incredibly rapid response to blast, which struck in a surprise outbreak on 15,000 hectares of wheat in southwestern Bangladesh just last year, devastating the crop and greatly affecting farmers’ food security and livelihoods, not to mention their confidence in sowing wheat,” Barma said.

Caused by the fungus Magnaporthe oryzae pathotype triticum, wheat blast was first identified in Brazil in 1985 and has constrained wheat farming in South America for decades. Little is known about the genetics or interactions of the fungus with wheat or other hosts. Few resistant varieties have been released in Brazil, Bolivia and Paraguay, the countries most affected by wheat blast.

The Bangladesh outbreak was its first appearance in South Asia, a region where rice-wheat cropping rotations cover 13 million hectares and over a billion inhabitants eat wheat as main staple.

Many blast fungal strains are impervious to fungicides, according to Pawan Singh, a CIMMYT wheat pathologist. “The Bangladesh variant is still sensitive to fungicides, but this may not last forever, so we’re rushing to develop and spread new, blast-resistant wheat varieties for South Asia,” Singh explained.

The urgent global response to blast received a big boost in June from the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR), which funded an initial four-year research project to breed blast resistant wheat varieties and the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), which also provided grant to kick-start the work in South Asia. Led by CIMMYT, the initiative involves researchers from nearly a dozen institutions worldwide.

Chemical controls are costly and potentially harmful to human and environmental health, so protecting crops like wheat with inherent resistance is the smart alternative, but resistance must be genetically complex, combining several genes, to withstand new mutations of the pathogen over time.

Key partners in the new project are the agricultural research organizations of Bangladesh, including the Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute (BARI), and the Instituto Nacional de Innovación Agropecuaria y Forestal in Bolivia, which will assist with large-scale field experiments to select wheat lines under artificial and natural infections of wheat blast.

Other partners include national and provincial research organizations in India, Nepal and Pakistan, as well as Kansas State University (KSU) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Services (USDA-ARS). The U.S. Agency for International Agricultural Development (USAID) has also supported efforts to kick-start blast control measures, partnerships and upscaling the breeding, testing and seed multiplication of new, high-yielding, disease resistant varieties through its Feed the Future project.

BARI Gom 33 was tested for resistance to wheat blast in field trials in Bolivia and Bangladesh and in greenhouse tests by the USDA-ARS laboratory at Fort Detrick, Maryland. International partnerships are critical for a fast response to wheat blast, according to Hans-Joachim Braun, director of CIMMYT’s Global Wheat Program.

“Worldwide, we’re in the middle of efforts that include blast surveillance and forecasting, studies on the pathogen’s genetics and biology, integrated disease management and seed systems, as well as raising awareness about the disease and training for researchers, extension workers, and farmers,” said Braun.

With over 160 million people, Bangladesh is among the world’s most densely populated countries. Wheat is Bangladesh’s second most important staple food, after rice. The country grows more than 1.3 million tons each year but consumes 4.5 million tons, meaning that imports whose costs exceed $0.7 billion each year comprise more than two-thirds of domestic wheat grain use.

WRC will produce tons of breeder’s seed of BARI Gom 33 each year. This will be used by the Bangladesh Agricultural Development Corporation (BADC) and diverse non-governmental organizations and private companies to produce certified seed for farmers.

“This year WRC will provide seed to BADC for multiplication and the Department of Agricultural Extension will establish on-farm demonstrations of the new variety in blast prone districts during 2017-18,” said Barma.

As an added benefit for the nutrition of wheat consuming households, BARI Gom 33 grain features 30 percent higher levels of zinc than conventional wheat. Zinc is a critical micronutrient missing in the diets of many of the poor throughout South Asia and whose lack particularly harms the health of pregnant women and children under 5 years old.

With funding from HarvestPlus and the CGIAR Research Program on Agriculture for Nutrition, CIMMYT is leading global efforts to breed biofortified wheat with better agronomic and nutritional quality traits. The wheat line used in BARI Gom 33 was developed at CIMMYT, Mexico, through traditional cross-breeding and shared with Bangladesh and other cooperators in South Asia through the Center’s International Wheat Improvement Network, which celebrates 50 years in 2018.

Stable window 1 and 2 (W1W2) funding from CGIAR enabled CIMMYT and partners to react quickly and screen breeding lines in Bolivia, as well as working with KSU to identify sources of wheat blast resistance. The following W1 funders have made wheat blast resistance breeding possible: Australia, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Canada, France, India, Japan, Korea, New Zeland, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the World Bank. The following funders also contributed vital W2 funding: Australia, China, the United Kingdom (DFID) and USAID.

(This report has been taken from the website of CIMMYT,http://www.cimmyt.org for greater dissemination to inform and inspire all concerned.I specially congratulate the team of scientists for this great breakthrough.I also thank the funding agencies for their great contributions towards food and nutrition security.I heartily acknowledge the authors of the article,”First blast resistant, biofortified wheat variety released in Bangladesh” who depicted the details of the breakthrough and published at http://www.cimmyt.org/first-blast-resistant-biofortified-wheat-variety-released-in-bangladesh)

Overcoming smallholder challenges with biotechnology(Taken from FAO website for further dissemination)

The article is taken from FAO website for further dissemination.This article may be accessed at the following link:

http://www.fao.org/news/story/en/item/202820/icode/

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Overcoming smallholder challenges with biotechnology

From breeding to bugs, a new FAO publication looks at biotechnologies at work in small-scale crop, livestock and fish production

 

Harvesting Jian carp from a pond.

29 October 2013, Rome – A new FAO publication calls for greater national and international efforts to bring agricultural biotechnologies to smallholder producers in developing countries.

The publication, Biotechnologies at Work for Smallholders: Case Studies from Developing Countries in Crops, Livestock and Fish, asserts biotechnologies can help smallholders to improve their livelihoods and food security.

Biotechnologies at Work for Smallholders covers 19 case studies in crops, livestock and fisheries, written by scientists and researchers worldwide. It describes the practical realities and experiences of taking biotechnology research and applying it in smallholder production of bananas, cassava, rice, livestock, shrimp and more, in different parts of the developing world.

The case studies encompassed a wide range of biotechnologies. They included older or “traditional” ones like artificial insemination and fermentation, and cutting-edge techniques involving DNA-based methodologies – but not genetic modification.

The publication was prepared by a multi-disciplinary team at FAO as part of an agricultural biotechnologies project partially funded by the Government of Canada.

“With the right institutional and financial arrangements, governments, research institutions and organizations can help to bring biotechnologies to smallholders, improving their capacity to cope with challenges like climate change, plant and animal diseases, and the overuse of natural resources,” said Andrea Sonnino, Chief of FAO’s Research and Extension Unit.

Case studies

Four case studies were from India, two from China and one each from Argentina, Bangladesh, Brazil, Cameroon, Colombia, Cuba, Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Tanzania and Thailand.

Researchers used their knowledge of DNA markers to develop a flood-tolerant rice variety in India with a potential yield of 1-3 tons per hectare more than previously used varieties, under flood conditions. After being released in 2009, the new variety, Swarna-Sub1, spread rapidly and was used by three million farmers in 2012.

“In summary, submergence-tolerant varieties provided opportunities for improving and stabilizing yields in flash flood-affected areas, significantly contributing to national food security,” stated Uma Singh and colleagues from the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) who prepared the case study.

In China, the Jian carp was developed using within-family genetic selection and gynogenesis (a reproductive technology resulting in all-female offspring that have only received genes from their mother). The Jian carp is now grown on about 160,000 fish farms and makes up over 50 percent of common carp production in China.|

In northern Cameroon, the use of DNA-based diagnostic tools in the field allowed veterinary authorities to quickly diagnose outbreaks of Peste des Petits Ruminants, a highly contagious viral disease affecting goats and sheep. Rapid and accurate disease diagnosis meant that the authorities could stamp out these outbreaks and stop the spread of the fatal disease to other flocks.

“Without this rapid response, thousands of sheep and goats would likely have succumbed to the disease during these outbreaks, leading to millions of CFA francs in losses,” affirmed Abel Wade and Abdoulkadiri Souley from the National Veterinary Laboratory (LANAVET) in Cameroon.

The editors say biotechnologies can improve crop-, livestock- and fish-related livelihoods by boosting yields and enhancing market access. Introducing new and traditional biotechnologies on family farms can also keep production costs down and improve sustainable management of natural resources.

Lessons learned

The publication offers lessons from the case studies which can be used to inform and assist policymakers in making decisions on programs involving biotechnologies. High up on the list was the need for national political commitment to improving smallholder productivity and livelihoods; financial support from non-governmental sources to supplement national efforts; and, long-term national investment in both people and infrastructure linked to science and technology.

The publication also found international and national partnerships were vital for achieving results, as was the sharing of genetic resources, techniques and know-how across national and continental borders.

Biotechnologies at work for smallholders
 also underlines the importance of involving smallholders in the process at all stages, taking into consideration their knowledge, skills and own initiatives.

Raising gender on the global development agenda:News taken from UN WOMEN Posted on March 28 2012

Sustainable development will not be achieved without the full participation of women. As government officials met in March to prepare for Rio +20, the upcoming United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, a special dialogue was hosted by UN Women, with the Women’s Major Group – a formal group representing women’s priorities in sustainable development – supported by the Governments of Brazil and Switzerland.

Talks focused on better integrating gender equality into the international development agenda beyond 2015 (the scheduled term-end for the Milenium Development Goals or MDGs) – and into the Sustainable Development Goals, which were recently proposed by the Government of Colombia as a framework to be adopted at Rio +20.

Four key principles were agreed on as critical to the upcoming global development agenda:

Equality: the goals need to be framed from an equality perspective and address biases and discrimination based on gender, class, race, ethnicity, among other factors in order to reach those that need it the most.

Holistic and integrated: the goals need to build on the synergies across different sectors and thematic areas, and be able to respond to the global and regional challenges of today. This requires strong multi-sectoral approaches and forms of collaboration among actors in the social, economic and environment fields.

Participatory and inclusive: the goals need to emerge from strong participation and ownership at all levels: local, national, regional and global levels. Only when the process is in the hands of the people—both women and men—and their decision-makers, will there be true ownership and accountability for the required progress and results. Extensive consultations need to be held with key stakeholder groups, including the major groups of Rio+20.

Implementation: the goals need to be aligned with existing declarations and normative frameworks. Focus needs to be placed on strong and effective mechanisms for financing, implementation, monitoring and evaluation to enable sustainable results.

“Both the SDGs and the post 2015 development agenda have a common vision: to set objectives that will make a difference to people’s lives and the world we live in,” said UN Women’s Director for Policy, Saraswathi Menon,in her speech at the event “Both the process of identification of the goals and the process of their attainment need to be inclusive. If not, they will not be transformational or make a difference to people’s lives.”

Panelists represented a wide range of UN agencies, government representatives and NGOs from around the world, from the UNDP to the Development Alternatives with Women for New Era (DAWN). They stressed that women’s daily decisions are significantly impacting sustainable development.

Many are often well-aware of the issues but don’t know what to do about them, and need support, noted Ms. Menon. She recalled a meeting with rural women in Ghana who struggled to make a living by informally trading smoked fish. “In response to a question on priorities that they would set for global policy makers, they mentioned clean oceans and a fishery sector that will sustain future generations for a very long time,” she said. “Women recognize the importance of sustainability through their daily lives.”

Another of the event’s key conclusions was the need for the developments goals and agendas to be combined in one process, rather than parallel streams. Many speakers also pointed to the need to build on experience with the Millenium Development Goals, such as the way in which successes of MDG3 on gender equality and women’s empowerment have had a “multiplier effect” on results related to the other seven goals.

An informal working group was launched at the end of the meeting to continue to ensure that a gender perspective continues to be placed high on the global development agenda, particularly at Rio +20, in June 2012.