An international team of CGIAR researchers will delve deeply into the causes of gender disparity in the agricultural sector with a $1.1 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
This grant adds to the investments of 11 CGIAR Research Programs (CRPs), the Government of Mexico; the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ); the World Bank and the CGIAR consortium office, to support an international collaborative research initiative known as “GENNOVATE: Enabling gender equality in agricultural and environmental innovation.” The project is engaging gender and social development specialists with 11 CRPs to identify practical actions which can strengthen the ability of agricultural research for development organizations to support poor rural women, men and youth to expand their power and capacity to access, take up and benefit from improved agricultural and natural resource management technologies and practices.
In the densely populated areas of South Asia on the Indo-Gangetic plains (IGP) and Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), climate change threatens to pose an enormous risk to food security. By the year 2050 both regions are expected to suffer crop yield decreases of at least 20%, with a 40% chance of crop failure for maize in a given season in much of Southern Africa, making a sustainable increase of food production critical in the near future.
Purple maize varieties with high anthocyanin accumulation can have significant nutritional and economic value, but cannot be identified using the R1-nj marker.
Doubled haploid (DH) technology provides important benefits to maize breeding programs, as DH lines enhance genetic gains and improve breeding efficiency in addition to offering significant economic advantages. DH lines can be generated in less than half as many seasons as lines generated through traditional breeding, thus saving valuable time, resources and energy. The large scale production of DH lines is dependent on the identification of haploids at an early seedling stage. Haploids have traditionally been identified by the R1-nj (Navajo) anthocyanin color marker which, when crossed with haploid inducer lines through induction crosses, will produce haploid progeny seed with purple markings on its outer layer, or pericarp. This is to differentiate haploid from diploid seedlings, which are not useful for DH breeding.
Dr. Abdur Rahman Beshir, CIMMYT maize improvement and seed systems specialist, speaking at the introduction of new, high-yield maize varieties at NARC in Islamabad. Photo: Sana Jamal
Several new high-yield maize varieties have been introduced for commercial use in Pakistan this past week, lauded as the “first ever type of maize innovation in Pakistan,” according to the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) Maize Improvement and Seed System Specialist, Dr. Abdur Rahman Beshir. The varieties, which were developed by CIMMYT, can yield as much as 10 tons per hectare.