Online World Food Day Lecture by Dr SK Vasal at ICAR-NBPGR on October 16, 2021

Date Posted: 16-10-2021

As part of celebration of Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav, ICAR-National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources organised a Webinar on occasion of World Food Day 2021 on October 16, 2021.

An online lecture entitled "Working Models to maximize the use of Genetic Diversity in Crop Improvement Programmes" was delivered by Dr S K Vasal, a renowned geneticist and plant breeder, known for his contributions in developing a maize variety with higher content of usable protein. He worked with biochemist Evangelina Villegas for 35 years to develop a protein enriched form of maize in the 1970s. Quality Protein Maize is created by adding protein to low nutrient corn and is prevalent in China, Mexico, parts of Central America, and Africa today and is referenced as "miracle maize" because of its role in alleviating malnourishment. They were jointly awarded the World Food Prize in 2000 for their development of Quality Protein Maize at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center in Mexico.

The Director NBPGR welcomed the speaker and the participants to the webinar which was followed by a brief introduction of the Speaker by Dr Gurinderjit Randhawa. Dr Vasal in his lecture covered the strategies in maize breeding to be followed for sustaining long term gains, on reducing genetic vulnerability by widening the genetic base, avoiding excessive use of few lines and using new and diverse lines from recurrent selection programmes. For the benefit of the students, he explained certain basics on the breeding models to be followed for self-pollinated and cross-pollinated crops. He gave a very exhaustive talk on maize breeding models used in Thailand, China, USA and Canada vis-à-vis the model they used at CIMMYT, Mexico. He also covered germplasm management and how it had changed dramatically over the years. His lecture was followed by discussion where the participants directly interacted with him and sought clarification.

The over 300 participants from NBPGR and its regional stations, other ICAR institutes and SAUs participated through the zoom platform and also joined the live stream on Youtube. The Director, ICAR-NBPGR in his remarks appreciated the coverage and vision of Dr Vasal and expressed the desire to organise a brain-storming session on ‘Developing Strategies for Effective Utilization of Genetic Resources from National Genebank in Maize Breeding’ in the near future. The programme ended with a vote of thanks by Dr Kavita Gupta, Nodal officer, PME Cell, ICAR-NBPGR.

(Source Dr Kavita Gupta, PME Cell, New Delhi)