Updated on 17 June 2013
Please share some key insights on the wheat research in India?
Since its inception till now, the All India Coordinated Wheat Improvement Project (AICWP) has released 378 improved varieties of bread wheat, durum wheat, dicoccum wheat and triticale for commercial cultivation under various production conditions. In addition to the development and release of wheat varieties, development and registration of 136 trait-specific genetic stocks of wheat has been another big achievement of AICWIP. These genetic stocks include donors for resistance to major biotioc and abiotic stresses, primary yield component, grain quality attributes, and Cytoplasmic Male Sterility (CMS) lines.
Seeds of all these genetic stocks have been maintained in the National Gene Bank at National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources (NBPGR), New Delhi and the germplasm of DWR, Karnal.
What are some of the major challenges and how are you coping with these challenges?
Since the losses due to rust account for 60-80 percent of the total production, no variety can be released without checking. Among the best varieties was PW343, which used to cover 90 percent of the wheat area since 1994. Though it had enhanced yield, it was susceptible to stem rust. Therefore, its use was discontinued and new varieties were released.
Generally, farmers have a rigid mindset and it takes time to adopt to the new varieties. Hence the farmers have been advised to go for the diversification as they were using the crops not approved officially. Consequently, the occurrence of stem rust in Punjab, Haryana has been reduced.
However, India certainly has had an edge over others as far as wheat is concerned. The epidemic has been limited to the specific zones as each one of them is diverse and the genotypes are variable. Durable resistance is the only answer and that is when the varieties released are not totally free from rust. Adoption of molecular approach to complement conventional wheat improvement program is one of the recent initiatives taken up by DWR through a research network project. Research capabilities and facilities are being strengthened through various network projects to enhance output of competent research centers under AICW and BIP.