A two-day workshop on Conservation of Plant Genetic Resources of Garo Hills, Meghalaya was organised by ICAR-NBPGR, New Delhi on 20-21 September, 2018 at Social Mobilization Experimentation and Learning Centre (SMELC), Dakopgre, Tura, Garo Hills, Meghalaya. A total of 87 participants from State Department of Agriculture, Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVKs) and custodian farmers from five districts (West Garo Hills, East Garo Hills, North Garo Hills, South Garo Hills and South- West Garo Hills) located in Meghalaya have attended this workshop. This workshop has been organized for the first time to have an exchange of information and strengthening linkage with different stakeholders to facilitate germplasm augmentation for ex situ conservation, documentation of plant genetic resources (PGR) from these insufficiently-explored areas, generate database on custodian farmers, and exploring feasibility of on-farm management of crop diversity and community seed bank. Workshop was inaugurated by the Chief Guest Mr. Ram Singh (IAS), Deputy Commissioner, West Garo Hills, Tura with Dr. Puspita Das, Dean, CCS, Tura, Meghalaya, Dr. Narendra Prakash, Director, ICAR RC-NEH Region, Umiam, Ri-bhoi, Meghalaya being Guests of Honour. Dr. SP Ahlawat, Head, DPEGC welcomed the participants while Dr. Kuldeep Singh, Director, ICAR-NBPGR gave opening remarks. The guests emphasised on the importance of such workshop besides underscoring the need to conserve the PGR for posterity, through citing the ever-increasing threats faced by local crop landraces.
In technical session, the role, activities and achievements of NBPGR in management of plant genetic resources, trends in agrobiodiversity of NEH region, citrus diversity in NEH region, particularly in citrus gene sanctuary, threats and approaches for conservation were presented by Dr. Kuldeep Singh, Dr. DK Hore, and Dr. SK Malik. In the next day, presentations were made on status of horticultural crops in Meghalaya (Dr CP Suresh, Professor, Deptt. of Horticulture, NEHU, Tura), biodiversity of different crops in East Garo Hills (Dr. AS Singh, Head, ICAR-KVK, West Garo Hills, Tura), on the status of collected vs conserved PGR from Meghalaya including above districts of Meghalaya (Dr. RS Rathi, NBPGR, New Delhi). Dr. JC Rana discussed in detail the need for on-farm conservation of PGR, role in nutritional security, human health and community seed bank. Presentations were also made by KVK officials and officials of state agriculture and horticulture Deptt., highlighting the PGR wealth (crop landraces, local fruits and wild economic plants) available in respective districts. Such information has also been provided by custodian farmers during the interaction session. Farmers have also displayed seed/live samples of unique landraces like cotton, citrus and uncommon economically important plants and plant products. All these had paved the way to understand the collection/ conservation gaps, and to formulate exploration plan in the near future. Discussions on establishment of community seed bank, on-farm management sites for crop landraces, and database on custodian farmers were also made. Participating officials from KVKs and state department of agriculture had assured that they would extend all possible help in above endeavours. The meeting was ended by distribution of certificates to the participants. Besides above, Drs. KC Bhatt, K Pradheep, GD Harish and Subarna Hajong, Sh. Mukesh Kumar Meena and Sh. OP Dhariwal had also attended this workshop as members workshop organizing committe from the Bureau.
(Source:Dr. Sudhir P Ahlawat, ICAR-NBPGR Regional Station Shimla)