On a recent visit to the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-arid Tropics (ICRISAT), badminton ace and Olympic bronze medallist Saina Nehwal said the Hyderabad-based institute's efforts to conserve plant genetics are laudable.
“They (ICRISAT's initiatives) illustrate the value and use of crop biodiversity in the fight against hunger and poverty and its impact on the livelihoods of millions of small-holder farmers in the dryland tropics,” Nehwal said.
She toured the institute’s facilities, particularly its RS Paroda Genebank, as its invitee, and described her experience as delightful and an eye-opener. During her visit, she helped spread the word about the importance of genetic conversation in the global fight against hunger and poverty.
“Nature has truly blessed us with a rich genetic diversity, which is unique and important in sustaining life in this planet. This visit gave me a better understanding of the importance of plant genetic conservation in sustaining and using genetic diversity for global food security,” Nehwal added.
ICRISAT’s genebank, one of the world’s largest public-funded genebanks, preserves seeds of more than 120,000 accessions of pearl millet, sorghum, chickpea, pigeonpea, groundnut and small millets (finger millet, foxtail millet, barnyard millet, kodo millet, and little millet), that are kept as in-trust collections on behalf of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations (UN), for the benefit of the present and future generations.
It has also distributed more than 1.4 million seed samples to 146 countries, restored about 55,000 germplasm lines to nine countries and released 830 cultivars in 79 countries from its germplasm and breeding materials.
“ICRISAT’s RS Paroda Genebank is a treasure trove of genes useful to crop improvement for sustainable food production and improved livelihoods, particularly in marginal environments, and genes that can provide climate resilience to future crop varieties through increased drought, heat and salinity tolerance, and pest and disease resistance,” said William D Dar, director general, ICRISAT.