Under ICAR-DBT Program on Minor Pulses (Component 3: Characterization and evaluation of genetic resources for genetic enhancement and improvement of minor pulses), agro-morphological characterization of five minor pulses have been done in four environments over two years (Kharif 2019 and 2020) on two different geographical locations. Overall, characterization of a total 13,882 National Genebank accessions including green gram (4100 accessions), cowpea (3720 accessions) black gram (2266 accessions), moth bean (1550 accessions), and horse gram (2186 accessions) has been concluded. Wide genetic variability was unravelled for several economically and agronomically important traits such test seed weight, pods/plant, seeds/pod, plant height, plant height and branching, flowering and maturity time, grain yield per plant etc.
With the multi-environmental characterization data, core sets were developed in Cowpea (425 accessions), Green gram (400 accessions), black gram (219 accessions) and horse gram (300 accessions), which are being evaluated at four locations each. This large-scale agro-morphological characterization and preliminary evaluation of five minor pulses was done by ICAR-NBPGR at New Delhi, Thrissur, Akola, Ranchi, Hyderabad and Jodhpur in collaboration with project partners ICAR- Central Arid Zone Research Institute, Jodhpur; Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana; University of Agricultural Sciences, GKVK Bengaluru and World Vegetable Centre, South Asia/Central Asia, Hyderabad.
To showcase the variability captured by the core set cowpea, a Germplasm Field Day was jointly by organized by Badnapur Agricultural Research Station of the Vasantrao Naik Marathwada Agricultural University and ICAR-NBPGR on 13-14 October 2021 at ARS Badnapur.
On 13 October 2021, more than 50 breeders/researchers from SAUs (PDKV, Akola, MPKV, Rahuri and VNMAU, Parabhani along with different research stations), ICAR institute (ICAR-NBPGR and ICAR-IIPR Dharwad station), and Private Seed Companies participated in the Field Day. From ICAR-NBPGR Director, ICAR-NBPGR, project coordinator Dr. Sunil Archak, Project PI, Dr D. P. Wankhede and cowpea crop convener/Co-PI Dr Kuldeep Tripathi participated in the field day. Dr. D.P. Waskar, Director of Research, VNMKV, in his speech highlighted the importance of field day in accelerating varietal development in crop plants. Dr Deepak Patil, PI Minor Pulses Project at Badnapur gave a brief account of project activities undertaken by the centre in the last three years. In his address, Dr. Ashok Kumar, Director, ICAR-NBPGR, New Delhi outlined the importance of germplasm that are important as grain, vegetable and fodder source. Dr. Sunil Archak in his remarks encouraged all the researchers to register the genetic stocks at ICAR-NBPGR and also to deposit the germplasm at National Genebank and obtain national identity numbers. Dr. D. P. Wankhede gave a brief account of the molecular work going on in the project and in cowpea per se which could be used for identifying QTLs/QTNs for important traits. Dr Kuldeep Tripathi highlighted the variability available in the cowpea for different traits which the researchers/private partners can make use of for varietal development. All the participants visited the cowpea field and keenly observed and noted the variability for different traits in cowpea for indenting the germplasm. Post-field visit, in the interaction session, participants’ queries regarding requisition of germplasm, material transfer agreement for public and private sector were answered.
On 14 October 2021, Dr. Trilochan Mohapatra, Secretary (DARE) & Director General (ICAR) visited the Cowpea Germplasm Field Day. Dr. Mohapatra keenly observed the core set accessions and appreciated the variability found in the traits of interest, viz., early-maturing, dwarf-stature, anthocyanin content, long-podded, thick-podded, erect-synchronous maturity type, etc. The DG also urged for early and effective utilization of the genetic resources in Cowpea Improvement Programmes. The Director General was accompanied by Dr. Suresh Kumar Chaudhari, Deputy Director General (Natural Resource Management), ICAR; Dr. R.K. Singh, ADG (CC), ICAR; Dr. A.S. Dhawan, Vice-Chancellor, Vasantrao Naik Marathwada Krishi Vidyapeeth, Parbhani and Dr. D.P. Waskar, Director of Research, VNMKV, Parbhani, Maharashtra.
(Source: Dr Dhammaprakash Wankhede, New Delhi)