Updated on 17 June 2013
What is the role being played by biotechnological tools in wheat improvement?
Many of the coordinating centers are working in the area of biotechnology and molecular markers were developed and are being used in breeding programs. There are numerous examples, but to name a few the PCR-based markers for selection have been developed for Yr10 (DWR, Karnal), SR31 (Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, Trombay), Lr24 and LR19 (Indian Agricultural Research Institute, New Delhi), markers linked to Lr15, Lr3a, Lr28, Lr22 (NCL, Pune).
Besides these, Quantitative Trait Loci (QTL) for tripe rust resistance were identified from T monococcum and T boeoticum (Punjab Agricultural University); for spot blotch resistance (Banaras Hindu University) for grain quality traits. Apart from that, genetic resource characterization and genetic diversity analysis are carried using molecular markers and seed storage proteins in tetraploid wheat.
What are some of the major achievements and what is the outlook for future?
In the last fiscal year, we exceeded the target of 86 million tonnes with the production of 93.9 million tonnes. Our average of 3.14 per hectare even exceeded the global 3.1 per hectare. We are looking forward to repeat the performance. There were 29 million hectares that were under cultivation. Even the record 7 tonnes per hectare was registered last year by a farmer, which is a great achievement.
We are proud to be a part of the ICAR system that is very unique and has no replication of work anywhere is the world. Even Dr Norman Borlaug, when he visited India was amazed to see the amount of work that is being done in the country. For the best results, policy planners, researchers, and farmers have to work closely. The production increases with zero tillage technique and timely sowing of seeds. We expect the states of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh to increase production due to better awareness among farmers and usage of high yield varieties. Punjab is expected to do average production.
(The author was on a visit to the directorate of wheat research, Karnal, India, at the invitation of Borlaug Global Rust Initiative and Sathguru Management Consultants)