[To contribute to this conference, send your message to firstname.lastname@example.org.
For further information on the Electronic Forum on Biotechnology in Food and
Agriculture see Forum website.
Note, participants are assumed to be speaking on their own behalf, unless they state otherwise.]
Sent: 08 December 2003 10:27
Subject: 71: MAS, new crops and developing countries
This is P.M. Priyadarshan again.
I fully agree with the points raised by Nazimi Acikgoz (Message 66, December 4). Derivation of varieties for a micro-environment is very important, especially when excessive and under-utilized agricultural land is available.
I have the following points:
1) The current world population of 6 billion is estimated to reach 7 billion in 7 years (by 2010) and even 8 -10 billion by 2025. The demand will be to produce 40-50% more food and fiber by 2025. This is a formidable challenge, in view of the fact that plant breeding might have reached the "theoretical limits". One option for this is to utilize the maximum available area with higher yielding varieties.
2) Of the estimated 350,000 plant species in the world, 80,000 are edible. Only 150 species are actively cultivated for food, feed, fiber and fuel. Of these, 30 produce 95% of the human calories and proteins. Half of our food derivatives come from only four species - wheat, rice, maize and potato. What about utilizing the under-exploited species? Now, the question will be how to change the 'taste of the mouth'. Again, back to MAS for changing quality traits!
3) I am unaware whether FAO or CGIAR have a programme to popularize under-utilized species. If not, I would suggest that some activity in this direction is essential. Crop diversification will also reduce disease/pest insurgence. A consortium of FAO and CGIAR (with active IPGRI participation) can bring out some useful results on the description of under-utilized species. [One recent initiative that might be mentioned here is the release in November 2003 by The Global Facilitation Unit for Underutilized Species (GFU) of its web site on underutilized species (http://www.underutilized-species.org/index.htm). Initially covering only plants, there are plans to extend its scope in future. On the initiative of GFAR (Global Forum on Agricultural Research), an informal group of representatives from FAO, IPGRI (International Plant Genetic Resources Institute), ICUC (International Centre for Underutilized Crops), IFAD (International Fund for Agricultural Development) and BMZ (German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development) developed the concept of the GFU. For more information, contact i.zeledon (at) cgiar.org...Moderator].
4) Scientists, especially those of developing countries, despite being given perks and incentives are scaring away from working under new environments. Lack of social facilities is one reason. One option is to have young, talented and capable personnel on a contract basis for 3-5 years. The International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA, a CGIAR centre in Syria) is successfully following this option, especially for rejuvenating agriculture in war-torn Afghanistan. This is an excellent example of sheer determination and confidence. Developing countries must follow the example set by ICARDA.
5) But, if plant breeding is approaching the "theoretical limits", then the situation is worrisome. When we think of a new area of operation for a specific crop, it largely depends on how scientists make themselves available for working in that environment. Often, not a lack of resources but lack of skilled manpower is the constraint that developing countries face (maybe due to lack of fair selection!). As Nazimi Acikgoz pointed out, it is easy to do laboratory work at the cost of valuable fieldwork. The latter is invaluable, directly contributing to the derivation of varieties.
6) Developing countries can experiment with MAS on crops where a linkage map has been developed and the DNA sequence analysis completed (e.g. rice and, to a large extent, tomato).
7) Aquaculture needs a great deal of emphasis. Seafood is more nutritious than anything else; and sea resources are exploited to the minimum. (Rightly, the Moderator says participation from the aquaculture specialists is minimum in this conference)! I would look forward to see active participation from the World Fish Center (a CGIAR center).
Rubber Research Institute of India,
Regional Station, AGARTALA - 799 006,
Tel: Off : 91-381-2355287/2355143 - Extn:205
Tel: Resi : 91-381-2354325
pmpriyadarshan (at) hotmail.com
alternate e-mails: pmpriyadarshan (at) rediffmail.com pmpriyadarshan (at) yahoo.co.in
personal web page: www.freewebs.com/pmpriyadarshan/
Sent: 08 December 2003 10:48
Subject: 72: MAS technology
My name is T. Gopalakrishna, a research scientist involved mainly with blackgram and groundnut crops.
I feel that there is no "exact time" as to when developing countries should develop MAS technology as this would depend on the particular crop in question. For example, in the case of blackgram (Vigna mungo), a relative of mungbean (Vigna radiata), the interest would be mainly in India as it is extensively grown in India. As far as traits are concerned, MAS would be most appropriate (as many have mentioned earlier) for "difficult to score visually" traits as well as in gene pyramiding.
Dr. T. Gopalakrishna
Nuclear Agriculture and Biotechnology Division
Bhabha Atomic Research Centre
Mumbai 400 085
tgk (at) apsara.barc.ernet.in