Chickpea experts from around the globe converged at ICRISAT's headquarters in Patancheru, India, for the organization's Chickpea Scientists’ Field Day on 30-31 January 2024. The gathering, organized by ICRISAT’s Chickpea Breeding Unit, brought together 38 leading scientists and researchers to explore the latest advancements in chickpea innovation.
Set against the backdrop of vast black precision fields, participants were exposed to over 8,000 advanced breeding lines, diverse segregating populations, and valuable genetic stocks of chickpea, including Desi, Kabuli, and mixed types.
This year's Chickpea Scientists’ Field Day drew participants from various institutions, including ICAR-AICRP centers, private seed companies, the Center for Sustainable Agriculture, and delegates from international institutions in Bangladesh, Ethiopia, and Germany. The presence of distinguished former ICRISAT scientists such as Drs Jagdish Kumar, Pooran Gaur, KB Saxena, SN Nigam, and Suresh Pandey added prestige to the occasion.
Dr Jacqueline Hughes, Director General of ICRISAT, underscored the significance of such initiatives in nurturing sustainable collaborations.
"As we navigate the complexities of dryland agriculture, collaboration emerges as our most potent tool for sustainability. This gathering epitomizes our commitment to forging partnerships, propelling us towards a future where resilience, prosperity, and nutritional well-being flourish hand in hand" said Dr Hughes.
Several prominent figures delivered addresses at an opening ceremony held to mark the event, including Dr Sean Mayes, Global Research Program Director – Accelerated Crop Improvement, ICRISAT; Dr Victor Afari-Sefa, Acting DDG-Research and Research Program Director, Enabling Systems Transformation, ICRISAT; Dr Sanjeev Gupta, Assistant Director General (Oilseed & Pulses), Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR); Dr Girish Prasad Dixit, Director, Indian Institute of Pulses Research; and Dr Shailesh Tripathi, Project Coordinator, ICAR-AICRP on Rabi Pulses.
Remarks centered on the significance of collaboration, resource exchange, and skills development in advancing chickpea research.
"Bringing together breeding expertise on chickpea, past and present, is an excellent way to ensure that pre-breeding and breeding decisions are based on the experience of the past and the potential of the future for chickpea," shared Dr Mayes.
Dr Rakesh Srivastava, Global Chickpea Breeding Lead at ICRISAT, presented a comprehensive program overview, offering participants a range of chickpea breeding lines and genetic stocks tailored to different product profiles and stakeholder interests. These included trait-based nurseries spanning different maturity groups, progenies suitable for rice fallow systems, lines resilient to biotic and abiotic stresses, herbicide-tolerant varieties, and selections enriched with high protein, iron, and zinc content. Participants also had the opportunity to explore chickpea lines and genetic stocks in the breeding, genebank and wilt-sick fields.
“The Chickpea Scientists’ Field Day offered excellent opportunities for the chickpea breeders to select trait-specific genotypes from breeding lines and germplasm accessions suited to their agroecologies. The event also served as a platform to refine chickpea product profiles, and strengthen partnerships between ICAR and ICRISAT," said Dr Tripathi.
To complement the field demonstrations, attendees also engaged with innovative ICRISAT facilities such as LeasyScan/LysiField, the Climate Change research unit, and the Rapid Generation Advancement (RGA) facility. These interactions fostered meaningful discussions and promoted alignment of chickpea product profiles between ICRISAT and the ICAR-AICRP on Rabi Pulses, laying the groundwork for collaborative breakthroughs in chickpea research.
In closing, Dr Srivastava thanked all participants, noting that this scientists' meeting served as a springboard for the chickpea community, fostering collaboration towards a shared vision of enhanced resilience, greater farm income, and improved nutritional well-being.
This work aligns with SDGs 1, 2, 3, 13 and 17.