International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (Icrisat) will implement a three-year pigeonpea molecular breeding project. The Rs 10-crore project, which will be supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), was launched on Thursday. The project is aimed at assisting pigeonpea breeders to develop improved cultivars more efficiently using genomic tools. The National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources (NBPGR), New Delhi; the University of Agricultural Sciences (UAS), Raichur, and Acharya NG Ranga Agricultural University (ANGRAU), Hyderabad, would also take part in the programme.
Pigeonpea is grown on about 50 lakh hectares in Asia, sub-Saharan Africa and South-Central America. Called ‘poor people’s meat’ because of high protein content, it is a staple food for millions of poor in the semi-arid regions of the world. “This project has a research component in Phase I and an application component in Phase II,” William Dar, Director-General of Icrisat, said in a press release.