This is business unusual. IMIC-Asia is a partnership of over 40 institutions (seed companies, national programs and foundations) formed by CIMMYT to develop and share improved maize inbreds and hybrids for targeted impacts on the hybrid maize scenario in Asia. This is all done through a shared research investment. Modelled on ICRISAT’s successful consortium on pearl millet, IMIC-Asia, which was established in 2010, has so far developed and distributed over 1,500 improved inbred lines developed by CIMMYT to members for use in new inbred line development or in heterotic hybrid combinations of the partners. IMIC germplasm incorporates trait priorities jointly identified by members while still maintaining the typical vast genetic diversity of CIMMYT germplasm. Through the germplasm selected at field days, members have also sampled the diversity in terms of tolerance to major abiotic stresses (drought and heat) and biotic stresses, a key strength in CIMMYT’s tropical maize germplasm base.
Whether it is training on maize breeding, field based phenotyping for abiotic stresses, statistical and genomic data management imparted through this consortium or evaluation of pre-release hybrid combinations of partners, IMIC-Asia has added value to the research portfolio of member companies. The consortium members helped in establishing a strong collaborative testing network for identifying best-bet pre-release products, which now serves as a precursor for such products to be further evaluated at the national or state level as a part of the varietal release process. CIMMYT hybrid combinations are in the process of being allocated to interested members, especially small and medium enterprises for commercialization and deployment. In 2014 alone, 10 new members were inducted into IMIC-Asia.
Riding on this success, the consortium will be entering its second phase in mid-2015, all with renewed vigor, member strength and innovative research ideas/activities.