Institute of Life Sciences, Bhubaneswar organized expert discussion on improving productivity of pulse crops

Bhubaneswar: Institute of Life Sciences, Bhubaneswar and Department of Biotechnology, Govt. of India organized an expert discussion on improving productivity of pulse crops of specific importance to eastern India and rainfed agriculture system. Pulses play an important role in maintaining soil fertility, contribute to protein nutrition and are an important component of dietary habits of the people. There is a growing concern of shortfall in production of pulses in India as we import large quantities from other countries and the unusual high price. More than 30 experts from all over the country participated in the meeting representing agriculture universities and advanced research institutions of ICAR and DBT. Dr. S. R. Rao, Senior Advisor, Dept. of Biotechnology in his opening remarks called for science and technology based interventions for improving productivity of pulses with an overall objective of enhancing farmer’s income in rainfed areas as well as addressing protein malnutrition. He called for a joint and coordinated approach for working in the area of genetic resources, genomics and breeding for improved quality characters. This should be taken on a mission mode approach and DBT will support such an initiative, said Dr. Rao.
Dr. Ajay Parida, Director, Institute of Life Sciences mentioned that the pulse crops particularly black gram, green gram, horse gram, rice bean which were widely cultivated earlier is no longer find a place in cropping systems. In the Eastern regions of India and in non-irrigated lands these crops could be profitably cultivated if we could develop drought, salinity and high-temperature resistant varieties with superior productivity and quality traits. Dr. Kuldeep Singh, Director, National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources, New Delhi spoke about the huge collections of these pulses at national level and mentioned that using advanced technology of genetics and genomics, it would be possible to identify promising varieties for cultivation by the small and marginal farmers. Dr. T. P. Singh, Director, Indian Institute of Pulses Research, Kanpur outlined the recent approaches for improvement of pulses, and advised the researchers to focus on the pulses of particular relevance to dryland conditions in the country. Dr. Dinabadnu Sahoo, Director, Institute for Bioresources, Imphal spoke on the huge diversity of pulses in northeast regions of the country and emphasized on undertaking systematic studies on them. Experts in the meeting also outlined the requirement from the processing, quality assurance, value addition and marketing challenges as limitation for enhancing pulses productivity. Dr. K. V. Prabhu, Joint Director, Indian Agriculture Research Institute, New Delhi mentioned that the priority should be to develop and provide framers with quality seeds, good management practices and training farmers in post-harvest management. Dr. Sabhyata Bhatia, Scientist, National Plant Genome Institute, New Delhi outlined various biotechnological approaches for enhancing pulse production. The participants discussed the current state of research in these crops and identified critical gap areas and relevant technologies for addressing them using germplasm characterization, phenotypic evaluation, identification stress tolerant varieties, understanding molecular mechanism and employing advanced genetic technologies for contributing to enhanced pulse productivity in the country.