Tag Archives: staple food

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)

One Morning of The Spring in My University Campus – Dr. Syed Zainul Abedin

Life in university is always a memorable event.It is not unlikely that an alumnus feel nostalgic when some thought on the university life comes across his or her memory.I encountered a passionate experience this morning when I went for a visit to the campus for some business.This campus is very special for my life and career.I got admitted in 1972 and left the campus in 1977 after graduation. Though the name of educational establishment was Bangladesh Agricultural Institute when I got admitted,this was transformed into a university later as the Sher-e-Bangla Agricultural University.

The campus was decorated by the flowers of mango trees.The lovely inflorescences of mango covered most of the canopies of the mango orchard and plants scattered across the campus.The advent of spring is declared by the emergence of mango flowers.The Nobel Laureate poet,Rabindranath Tagore composed the famous poem,’Amar Shonar Bangla….(My golden Bengal)’ indicating that mango flowers bloom in the spring. The other plants that flower to welcome the spring are bauhinia,coral,shimul,polash,krishnochura and shaddock.All these plants were in the campus with their wonderful blooms.The fragrance emitted by these flowers had made the campus a paradise on the earth.Bees and butterflies were flying on the flowers to collect nectar assisting in pollination.There were birds to collect food from the flowers and other sources.

I walked to the horticultural garden.The protected area accomodated many flowers and vegetables.A large

rose garden was there with many varieties.The roses were pink,red,yellow,white,green and mixed.Some of them were very large while some were miniature types.Some had fragrance while others were without any smell.

The vegetables were tomato,cabbage,spinach,onion and many others.Most of the horticultral crops were grown for experiments to understand the production,profit and promotional potential.I met some teachers and researchers in the garden.

I talked with a teacher-researcher who developed some short duration mustard varieties to fit beteween two rice crops which is staple food of our people.He was a successful innovator and continues his work on mustard genetics and breeding program.I visited his experimental fields which reached the harvesting stage.There were some fields of pulses around the fabulous tower erected for holding permanent agricultural fairs.

There were some experiments on rice and wheat too.Various equipments were being used in the experimental fields by trained personnel.All looked very busy to make use of the cool morning weather.

Then,I went to the large cannon ball trees to see their amazing flowers.All the trees carried flowers on their trunks.The cannon ball tree is said to be a rare plant.It carries wonderful flowers that look like the hood of cobra.It is also said that the fruit which resembles cannon ball are poisonous.However poisonous the fruit or flower of this plant may be,I always felt a crazy attraction for this plant,particularly,its amazing flowers.

After the visit of the campus resources,I met a number of persons to accomplish my business.I was welcomed by them.Shared about my passion with them.It was a wonderful morning of spring in my beloved educational centre.

When coming back I looked to the avenue trees of mast tree and road side jackfruit trees.The jackfruit tree were bearing flowers on the trunks and main branches.The beauty of the campus was enhanced by the trees in the campus.