There is a demand for high-oleic groundnut varieties particularly by the food processing industry for its enhanced shelf-life benefits and by consumers for health benefits. To contribute to the CGIAR sub-IDO “Increased availability of diverse nutrient-rich foods”, a collaborative genetics and variety development work was undertaken by ICRISAT, ICAR-Directorate of Groundnut Research, Junagadh Agricultural University in Gujarat, Tamil Nadu Agricultural University in Coimbatore, Acharya N G Ranga Agricultural University in Tripathi under the funding support of the CRP-Grain Legumes, and CRP-Grain Legumes and Dryland Cereals, Department of Agriculture, Co-operation and Farmers Welfare (DoAC&FW) of Govt. of India; OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID); Mars Inc. to develop new and improved groundnut varieties compliant to the All India Co-ordinated Research Project on Groundnut (AICRP-G) formulated guidelines for testing and release of high oleic groundnut varieties in India which set fatty acid profile of 80+2% oleic acid content to be referred as high-oleic groundnut.

In line with this research priority, the variety development efforts which started in 2011 was able to release two high oleic cultivars, Girnar 4 (ICGV 15083) and Grinar 5 (ICGV 15090) in India in 2019, after only eight years of time as compared to the normal breeding duration of 12-15 years; thanks to the innovative processes in groundnut breeding and testing pipeline employed which included early generation testing using SNP markers and NIRS and rapid generation advancement using greenhouses. These innovative approaches to variety development which shorten the breeding period have also been taken up by partner NARS. Data from national testing under AICRP-G, Girnar 4 and Girnar 5 recorded 41-57% and 37- 52% higher pod yield, respectively over the national checks, TG-37A and GPBD-4.

In the CGIAR terminology, these innovations contribute to nutrition and food security goals, have been taken up by users, and are at Maturity level 3 i.e. policy and/or practice changes influenced by these new high-oleic groundnuts have led to adoption or impacts at scale or beyond the direct CGIAR sphere of influence. Among others, this is evidenced by the sharing of high oleic groundnut breeding lines developed at ICRISAT in Patancheru with collaborators in nine countries in Asia and Africa, including Australia.

The industry acceptance of these new groundnuts is high with organized plans by 35 participating industries, the Chairman of Indian Oilseeds and Produce Export Promotion Council (IOPEPC), and the President of Saurashtra Oil Millers to reach consumers with high-oleic groundnut oil and products in 2-3 years. Further, ICRISAT`s engagement with MARS Inc., Mondelez International and Nestle. MARS has been financially supporting the commercialization preparations of high oleic varieties in India since 2016. Aside from these current market players, several confectionary and oil processors have reached out to ICRISAT for access to these new groundnuts.

With this scale of demand for high-oleic groundnut products, Girnar 4 and Girnar 5 accumulated large indents of breeder seeds shortly after their release in 2019. These varieties received 4 mt of breeder seed indent in May 2020,and 5 mt in August 2020. To make the best of the huge demand, Hindustan Insecticides Limited took approval from   ICAR-Directorate of Groundnut Research and ICRISAT, to acquire Nucleus Seed to take up Breeder and Foundation Seed class production to meet this huge demand.

This blog is written by Victoria Clarke, and Jake Carampatana (CRP-GLDC MEL Team)

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