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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)

CIMMYT-Center of Hope for the World – By Dr. Syed Md. Zainul Abedin

CIMMYT is a non-profit research and training center.Its headquarter is in Mexico. The abbreviation “CIMMYT” derives from the Spanish version of the name of the cenetr: Centro Internacional de Mejoramiento de Maíz y Trigo.
Mission

To sustainably increase the productivity of maize and wheat systems to ensure global food security and reduce poverty.
Vision and strategic goal

CIMMYT works with and brings together public research and extension organizations, private companies, advanced research institutes, NGOs, and farmer associations in countries worldwide, working pragmatically and apolitically to fight hunger and poverty. The Center applies the best science to develop and freely share:

High-yielding, stress tolerant maize and wheat varieties.
Large, unique collections of maize and wheat genetic resources.
Productivity-enhancing, resource-conserving farming practices.
Training and information relating to the above.

Through these activities and outputs, CIMMYT works to foster global and local food security, helping farmers meet rapidly rising demand from expanding populations and affluence, while addressing the emerging challenges of global climate change and resource degradation and scarcities.

CIMMYT achieves the above with about 105 specialized research staff and 500 support staff from about 40 countries, on a yearly budget of some USD 50 million. The Center is funded by international and regional development agencies, national governments, private foundations, and the private sector. It is a member of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR).
Origins

CIMMYT grew out of a pilot program in Mexico in 1943, sponsored by the Government of Mexico and the Rockefeller Foundation. The project developed into an innovative, sustained collaboration with Mexican and international researchers. It established international networks to test experimental varieties. Under the leadership of late wheat scientist Dr. Norman E. Borlaug, the team developed shorter wheat varieties that put more energy into grain production, responded better to fertilizer than older varieties, grew well at different latitudes, and were resistant to the devastating wheat disease known as stem rust. By the late 1950s, Mexico was self-sufficient in wheat production. Mexico’s success inspired project researchers to become fierce and effective advocates for the Mexican innovation model in other countries.

Around 1965, South Asian cereal production was in dire straights. Population was outstripping wheat and rice production, and more than 10 million tons of grain were regularly being imported to make up for the deficits. Hunger was widespread, and government leaders in Pakistan (which then included East Pakistan, now Bangladesh) and India were desperate to improve national cereal production. The following year, CIMMYT was established as an international center with its headquarters in Mexico. In 1967 India imported 18,000 tons of seed of the improved Mexican wheat varieties, and Pakistan soon began to use them. During 1967-71, the two countries doubled their wheat production.

The successes of the new crop varieties, along with improved management practices like the use of fertilizer, sparked the widespread adoption of improved varieties and farming techniques in the developing world—a phenomenon that came to be called the “Green Revolution.” The social and economic benefits of this movement were recognized worldwide when the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Norman Borlaug in 1970. The following year, a small cadre of development organizations, national sponsors, and private foundations organized the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) to spread the impact of research to more crops and nations. CIMMYT was one of the first international research centers to be supported through the CGIAR.

Why do maize and wheat matter?

Seventy percent of the world’s poorest people live in the countryside. Many depend on farming, especially of maize and wheat, for food and income.
According to FAO, maize and wheat account for about 40% of the world’s food and 25% of calories consumed in developing countries.
Millions of people—including poor people in urban areas—get more than half of their daily calories from maize and wheat alone.
Maize and wheat occupy almost 200 million hectares in developing countries. We must grow these crops in environmentally responsible ways, or the results could be devastating.
To meet the need for food, developing countries will need 368 million additional tons of maize and wheat by 2020 (today, they need about 700 million tons).

The impact of CIMMYT’s work

Wheat varieties bred at CIMMYT and its predecessor organization prevented famine and hunger in South Asia and elsewhere in the world. The benefits of this Green Revolution were recognized through the 1970 Nobel Peace Prize.
More nutritious maize varieties developed by CIMMYT won recognition through the 2000 World Food Prize.
Recent estimates indicate that wheat varieties developed by CIMMYT and its partners are planted on more than 64 million hectares in developing countries, representing more than 75% of the area planted to modern wheat varieties in those countries.
Maize varieties developed by CIMMYT and its partners are planted on nearly half of the area sown to improved varieties in non-temperate areas of the developing world.
As reported in Science (v. 300: 758-62), in the absence of CGIAR Centers such as CIMMYT, with their many partners in the developing world, crop yields in developing countries would have been 19.5-23.5% lower; prices for food crops would have been 35-66% higher; imports would be 27-30% higher; calorie intake would have been 13.3-14.4% lower; and 32-42 million more children would have been malnourished. The area planted to crops would be 4% higher for wheat and 2% for maize.
Lower food prices extend the benefits of agricultural research to poor consumers in urban areas and landless people in rural areas (and even to the industrialized world).
If the developing world attempted to meet its food requirements in 1995 without the improved varieties of food crops developed since the Green Revolution, an additional 426 million hectares of cropped area would be needed (a five-fold increase over cropped area in 1965).
This land savings helped to preserve forested and environmentally fragile lands and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 35%. A higher concentration of greenhouse gases might have caused climate change to begin sooner.

The goal of CIMMYT Capacity building & knowledge sharing

The researchers who attend CIMMYT courses play a critical role in meeting their countries’ national food security and resource conservation goals. They work on behalf of the world’s poorest and most marginal farmers. By creating an agricultural community of knowledge in critical regions through quality and gender-balanced training, CIMMYT empowers researchers to help these farmers and, in so doing, to help their countries towards a more food-secure, sustainable future.

What makes CIMMYT Capacity building & knowledge sharing different?

In contrast to formal academic training in plant breeding and agronomy in most countries, which is mainly broad and theoretical, CIMMYT training activities are highly specialized and ‘hands-on’. Through a unique training program that combines practical experience in the everyday processes of maize or wheat research and the theoretical knowledge to support their actions, course participants develop and sharpen researcher skills in conducting efficient research that responds to the challenging circumstances of developing countries.

Furthermore, CIMMYT offers a global perspective. Because CIMMYT works throughout Asia, Africa, and Latin America, the researchers who attend CIMMYT courses benefit from the mass of information and data assembled and handled in a global research program.

Because course participants are drawn from many nations, they have an opportunity to exchange information, experiences, and strategies that may prove useful in other settings. This same exchange occurs between participants and the CIMMYT researchers – many of them internationally recognized scientists – who lead the courses.

Human resource development at CIMMYT connects researchers to a broad, interactive scientific community. Course participants and CIMMYT staff form a community of ‘best practices’ for research that continues to function informally long after the course work ends. Alumni of CIMMYT courses often become a significant force for agricultural change in their countries.
Maize is the most important cereal crop for food in sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America, and a key feed crop in Asia. Declining soil fertility and environmental stresses affect crop production and health in less developed regions. Climate change and degraded soils threaten the food security of millions, especially in sub-Saharan Africa. Lack of access to seed and other inputs, underdeveloped markets, and low investment in research and extension worsen farmers’ marginalization in low-income countries.

The Global Maize Program

Uses maize genetic resources to provide diverse, high-yielding varieties that withstand infertile soils, drought, insect pests, and diseases.
Conducts crop and natural resource management research to help farmers exploit the full potential of improved seed and to preserve and enhance soil and water resources.
Explores new market opportunities for smallholder farmers.
Works with a range of partners to generate and share knowledge and techniques, ensuring that research results reach farmers’ fields and make a difference.
Offers a rich assortment of training opportunities in maize breeding and crop management research (in-service courses, visiting scientist appointments, pre- and post-doctoral fellowships, among others).
The famous Avis car rental ad campaign of the early 1960s said “We’re number 2, so we try harder.” Wheat is the number 2 staple crop in the developing world. Its geographic distribution is truly global. From the humid lowlands of northern Mexico to the dry plains of Kazakhstan wheat is sown on more than 200 million ha of developing country farmland. CIMMYT works to ensure the farm families of the developing world who depend on wheat for their livelihoods have the best research support behind them.

Global Wheat Program

While many wheat farmers grow their crops on relatively large farms, large numbers, especially in the eastern Indo-Gangetic Plains of India, Bangladesh and Nepal are resource poor, with little land. The demand for quality wheat products like bread and chapatti in developing countries is increasing with the rising population and urbanization but the farming systems impose major constraints on the environment and the future capacity to produce.
The current challenges may be divided into to major, though not mutually exclusive areas.

Rainfed farming systems
Half of the area sown to wheat in developing countries suffers from poor or erratic rainfall, poor soils, aggressive diseases, and sometimes extreme heat or cold. This program seeks to improve food security and resource conservation in these very diverse ecologies, which cover large areas of Asia, northern, southern, and eastern Africa, and Latin America, and include countries where half of the daily food requirement is met by wheat alone. Expected applications of research carried out in the program will provide farm households with new options to diversify crop and livestock production systems, improve their productivity, and conserve scarce water and soil resources. Some areas experience widespread and serious micronutrient malnutrition.

Irrigated/Intensive systems
Intensive agricultural systems are a source of food and income security for rural and urban households in Asia, North Africa, and Latin America. These systems are central to reducing poverty in Asia, which still has the largest number of poor people in the world. Intensive systems are usually irrigated and highly productive, featuring multiple crops (including large areas of maize and wheat). They also face serious problems, including the unsustainable exploitation of water and soils, inefficient use of chemical inputs, and emerging or worsening disease and pest problems. This program conducts research to overcome these limitations and ensure that these key agricultural areas remain productive and ecologically sound into the future. Focus regions include the Indo-Gangetic Plains, the Mediterranean littoral, the Yellow River Basin, and northwestern Mexico.
CIMMYT has established as the Center of Hope through its remarkable programs and activities in partnership with the concerned agencies.We congratulate CIMMYT for its outstanding achievements.
(The article is prepared on the basis of the website of CIMMYT)

UPDATE ON 06 JUNE 2012

Bangladesh and CIMMYT: Decades of partnership, commitment, and achievement

CIMMYT E-News, vol 5 no. 8, August 2008

Work by CIMMYT with researchers, extension workers, policymakers, and farmers in Bangladesh for nearly four decades has helped establish wheat and maize among the country’s major cereal crops, made farming systems more productive and sustainable, improved food security and livelihoods, and won ringing praise from national decision makers in agriculture, according to a recent report published by CIMMYT.

“CIMMYT is one of the leading centers of the CGIAR …working in Bangladesh since the early 70s…initiating multi-dimensional work for varietal improvement, improved crop management, conservation of natural resources, and human resource development,” says Dr. Md. Nur-E-Elahi, Director General, Bangladesh Rice Research Institute, citing the center’s contributions to the development of high-yielding maize and wheat varieties, wheat-rice and maize-rice systems, whole-family training, small-scale farm mechanization for conservation agriculture, and triticale (a wheat-rye hybrid) for fodder. “”CIMMYT’s contributions to agricultural research and development in Bangladesh are highly recognized.”

Building capacity among scientists and farm families
More than 140 Bangladeshi wheat and maize scientists and extensionists have taken part in courses at CIMMYT-Mexico or come as visiting scientists in crop breeding, agronomy, pathology, cereal technology, experiment station management, seed production, economics, heat stress, and resource conserving practices. Dozens of scientists from Bangladesh have also attended conferences or international workshops organized by the center and partners. Finally, joint efforts in crop, soil, and water management research over the last 20 years have added to expertise in Bangladesh.

More often than not, women and children contribute substantively to farm activities, so CIMMYT and the Wheat Research Centre (WRC) developed and refined a whole-family-training approach that has boosted adoption of improved cropping practices. “We’ve reached over 27,000 women and men farmers on maize and wheat production, and around 700 small-scale dairy farmers,” says Anton Prokash Adhikari, CIMMYT-Bangladesh Administrator. Follow-up studies in 1996 among a randomly-selected subset of families who attended training sessions showed a 90-100% adoption of improved practices. After training, maize farmers adopted a range of improved production practices, planting the crop on more land and raising grain yields by 0.8 tons per hectare. “This type of training has raised the quality of farming in Bangladesh,” says Adhikari.

With an average of over 1,000 inhabitants per square kilometer, Bangladesh is among the world’s most densely-populated countries, and nearly two-thirds of its people work in agriculture. The country furnishes a case study for the future of farming in developing countries: as a result of intensive cropping rotations, every square centimeter of arable land is used 1.8 times a year, and resources are stretched beyond what is normally considered “sustainable.” A recent report on CIMMYT efforts in Bangladesh gives an interesting account of how, through broad partnerships and sustained research for farmers, an international agricultural center can help improve farmers and consumers’ lives.
Joint work brings food and windfalls

“The last quarter century of work by a small team of dedicated CIMMYT staff and their colleagues in Bangladesh national programs has brought improvements in local and national income, food security, human nutrition, and well-being,” says agronomist Stephen Waddington, who worked for CIMMYT in Bangladesh during 2005-2007. “This is easily seen by any visitor to Bangladesh, where nowadays many otherwise poor people regularly have wheat chapattis for their breakfast, a glass of milk from triticale fodder-fed cows for their lunch, and maize-fed chicken, eggs, or fish for their dinner.”

Bangladesh emerged on the map of significant wheat-growing countries in the 1980s, according to Waddington. “Wheat became the second major cereal after rice, contributing to food security and human nutrition, and improving the livelihoods of resource-poor farmers and urban consumers,” he says. “Nineteen of the twenty-four wheat varieties released in Bangladesh carry CIMMYT lines in their backgrounds.” Much crop management and soil research for wheat was conducted in joint Bangladesh Wheat Research Center (WRC)-CIMMYT programs.
With climate change, enter maize and alternative crops

After playing a crucial role in Bangladesh agriculture, wheat production has declined in recent years, due chiefly to higher temperatures that hamper grain filling and incubate wheat diseases. But maize has become increasingly popular, partly in response to rising demand from the poultry sector for feed. “Last year farmers produced 1.3 million tons of maize, and output and interest are growing ,” says Enamul Haque, Senior Program Officer for CIMMYT-Bangladesh. “Maize fits well in Bangladesh’s climate, soils, and intensive farming systems.”

Again, CIMMYT has helped in a big way, providing improved maize lines adapted to local conditions, offering expertise in hybrid-based maize breeding and crop management research, helping to promote dialogue on enabling policies that foster productivity and effective markets. “Six out of the seven maize hybrids released by the Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute, in recent years contain CIMMYT maize lines, and there is significant use of CIMMYT maize by emerging private breeding companies,” says Haque.

Finally, in recent years, triticale has become a source of high-quality green fodder for small-scale dairy producers during the cool, dry, winter season. “Dual-purpose fodder and grain triticale can produce 7 to 12 tons per hectare of fresh fodder, and as much as 2 tons per hectare of grain for poultry feed or for chapattis,” says Haque. All triticale varieties sown in Bangladesh come from CIMMYT.
Mechanization and resource-conserving practices

Within the last decade or so, agriculture in Bangladesh has become highly-mechanized: 8 of 10 farmers use two-wheel tractors, which are more apt for their small and scattered land holdings than the four-wheel variety. Since 1995, Haque has worked with the WRC and local organizations to promote a varied set of implements for reduced, more efficient tillage and seeding. One key aim has been to enable farmers to sow wheat or other crops directly after rice harvest in a single day—instead of after two weeks of back-breaking, fuel-hungry plowing—thus saving money and allowing the new crop to mature before the pre-monsoon heat shrivels the grain.

[Craig Meisner (left), a CIMMYT wheat agronomist during 1990-2005, contributed significantly to CIMMYT’s presence, partnerships, and achievements in Bangladesh.]

Craig Meisner (left), a CIMMYT wheat agronomist during 1990-2005, contributed significantly to CIMMYT’s presence, partnerships, and achievements in Bangladesh.
“To date thousands of farmers have adopted a small, two-wheel tractor-driven implement that tills, seeds, and covers the seed in a single pass,” says Haque. “This reduces turn-around between crops by 50%, cuts costs 15-20%, saves 30% in irrigation water and 25% in seed, and improves fertilizer efficiency—all this, as well as increasing yields by 20%, for wheat.” Owners of the single-pass seeding implement often hire out their services, earning USD 1,000-2,000 a year and each helping 20-100 other farmers to obtain the above-mentioned benefits. In addition, the reduced tillage implement and practices help address labor shortages that constrain farm operations at peak times, and are opening lucrative opportunities for machinery manufacturing and repair businesses.

For the future, CIMMYT staff are testing and promoting with researchers and farmers the use of permanent, raised beds and straw retention systems that can increase yields as much as 50% in intensive, wheat-maize-rice cropping sequences. Future activities of CIMMYT-Bangladesh will also focus on strengthening wheat and maize breeding programs, system-based research and resource-conserving practices, and the use of maize as food, fodder, and feed. “We’d also like to do more capacity building, study soil health and nutrition, and better disseminate useful technologies to farmers and extension agents,” Haque says, “but much depends on the resources available.”
Extensive partnerships key to past and future success

“CIMMYT has worked with national programs, NGOs, the private sector, farmers, donors, and policy planners,” says Md. Harun-ur-Rashid, Executive Chairman, Bangladesh Agricultural Research Council, and Director General, Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute. “These joint programs have accumulated an impressive array of achievements and benefits.”

In addition to the key partners cited above, CIMMYT has worked with agricultural universities in Bangladesh, the Department of Agricultural Extension, the Bangladesh Livestock Research Institute, the Soil Resource Development Institute, the Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee (BRAC), the Bangladesh Chashi Kollan Samity, the Bangladesh Institute of Nuclear Agriculture, Deoel Agro Industries Complex Ltd., and the Mahbub Engineering Workshop at Jamalpur. IRRI; ILRI; ICRISAT; IFDC; FAO; Murdoch University, ACIAR, and CSIRO, in Australia; Cornell University, Texas A&M University, Winrock International, and the Helen Keller Foundation, USDA, in the USA.

You can read the article of CIMMYT with the photographs at the follwing link :
http://www.cimmyt.org/en/newsletter/37-2008/146-bangladesh-and-cimmyt-decades-of-partnership-commitment-and-achievement