During 6-10 September 2011, 40 scientists from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Bhutan convened in Kathmandu for the 3rd Wheat Breeding Review Meeting of the Cereal Systems Initiative for South Asia (CSISA) objective 4 program. Participants included representatives of the Ayub Agricultural Research Institute (Pakistan), the Wheat Research Centre of Bangladesh (Dinajpur) and Bangladesh Agriculture Research Institute (Ghazipur), India’s Directorate of Wheat Research (Karnal), Punjab Agricultural University (Ludhiana), Banaras Hindu University (Varanasi), the University of Agricultural Sciences (Dharwar), the Indian Agricultural Research Institute (Indore), Uttarbanga Krishi Vishwa Vidyalaya (Coochbehar, West Bengal), Nepal Agricultural Research Council (NARC), Renewable Natural Resources (RNR), Research and Development Centre (RDC), Bajo, the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (Bhutan), CIMMYT, and the Centre for Advanced Research in International Agriculture Development (Bangor University, UK).
Within a wider framework of discussing issues concerning wheat improvement, the meeting also reviewed the progress of the 2010-11 cycle, and established work plans for the coming 2011-12 crop cycle. After an opening address by Arun Joshi, CIMMYT Wheat Breeder for South Asia, seven review sessions were conducted, chaired by colleagues from the National Agricultural Research Systems: Indu Sharma, Niranjan Prasad Adhikari, Makhdoom Hussain, Md. Sirazul Islam, and B.N. Mahto. Three sessions were used to present review reports from the ten research centers, and a further session discussed conducts of trials, straw samples, weather data, segregating material in Kenya, and submission of data booklets and reports. Another session discussed strengthening existing links with CSISA Hubs and other stakeholders, and explored the possibilities of providing quality seeds of newly released improved varieties to farmers as quickly as possible. Discussion on the inclusion of conservation agriculture and participatory variety selection was also encouraged. The final two sessions were devoted to outlining a work plan.
Joshi also highlighted nine major achievements by the centers, during the 2010-11 cycle. Breeding for climate change was more focused; germplasm exchange with CIMMYT increased; the majority of advanced lines in CIMMYT trials carried resistance to Ug99 and other rusts; more Ug99-resistant and agronomically superior lines were released in south Asia; shuttling of segregating generations between south Asia and Kenya increased; there was a greater use of physiological tools for heat and drought tolerance in the regional breeding programs; significant genotypic variations were achieved for straw traits in CIMMYT trials; stronger links were formed between breeders, seed producers and farmers; and capacity building was promoted in the region. Dinesh Pariyar, NARC Executive Director, expressed his best wishes for the meeting, saying that “the strong networking between CIMMYT and wheat scientists of the region is paving the way for sustained food security in south Asia.”
The review enabled CSISA wheat breeders and pathologists to increase their understanding of the current challenges being faced, and the opportunities for further improvements. It also provided the ideal opportunity for creating further collaborations between wheat researchers and other stakeholders in the region.