Through the two outcomes (new varieties and allied innovations, and robust and responsive global to national breeding systems), the Flagship Program 4 (FP4) seeks to contribute to Program level outcomes. These include expanded, resilient and inclusive production, value chain, trading, and consumption of nutritious grain legumes and dryland cereals (GLDC) in target countries, and improved capacity and inclusivity of agri-food system stakeholders to collaboratively develop innovations that respond to the needs of women, men and youth in GLDC-based livelihoods and value chains.
The cultivars released in 2020 combine production, market and consumer traits, thereby contributing to nutritional security, climate resilience, driving new value chains, promoting employment opportunities among youth and women and environmental sustainability. These GLDC crops targeted grain nutritional quality traits like Fe, Zn and Ca, protein, oil, and fatty acid content and composition. Other quality traits included fodder quality and digestibility and physical grain properties like yellow pericarp in sorghum and kernel size in groundnut. The year marked release of first chickpea cultivars, ICCV’s 97105 and 97114 in Mawali, the first dual-purpose pearl millet hybrid, IKMH18001 in Burkina Faso and the dedication of the first high oleic groundnut varieties Girnar 4 (ICGV 15083) and Girnar 5 (ICGV 15090) to India by the Prime Minister of India on the occasion of 75th anniversary of the Food and Agriculture Organization
Partnership with NARS resulted in the commercialization of 30 GLDC crop cultivars by ICRISAT, ICARDA and IITA, including lentil (5), groundnut (5), chickpea (10), sorghum (2), pearl millet (5), soybean (1) and finger millet (2) in Africa (Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Malawi, Kenya) and Asia (India). The machine harvestable chickpea cultivars released in Ethiopia and India, Eshete (ICCV 10102), RVG 209 (ICCV 08108), and Phule Vishwaraj (ICCV 15109) are resistant to wilt, early maturing and drought tolerant, besides key traits for climate resilience and sustainable production. Early maturity and drought tolerance alongwith resistance to groundnut rosette disease and early leaf spot disease have been combined in varieties released in Malawi, and high kernel oil and large seeded varieties, Chhattisgarh Mungfali-1 (ICGV 06420) and ICGV 06189 meeting two diverse market needs including oil and the confectionary industry were released in India. An early-maturing soybean variety TGx1991-2F was also released in Malawi. A yellow grain sorghum variety Telangana Jonna 1 (ICSR 89064) preferred by consumers was released in India. Multi-cut forage cultivars of pearl millet (IKMH18001) and sorghum (JAICAR NUTRIGRAZE) were released to meet the needs of livestock production systems. Fertilizer-responsive, erect and blast-resistant finger millet varieties Katope, and Kambulanje were released in Kenya and Malawi.
Varietal characteristics remain the drivers for the adoption of GLDC crop varieties where their product profiles are designed and/or revised through stakeholder consultations, feedback from Crop Network Groups (CNGs) and value chain studies. One such value chain study conducted in collaboration with the FP1 team revealed that 70% of both female and male value chain actors in Mali prefer sorghum and millet cultivars with improved grain and food quality. The future market study on opportunities for GLDC crops as functional foods and ‘plant-based protein’ by MPAB and FP1 will guide the design of future product profiles. The breeding pipelines under development meet the needs of major market segments in Africa and Asia as informed by the CoA4.3.
Multi-environment testing (MET) was the emphasis for characterization of the Target Population of Environments (TPEs) that identified seven homogeneous production units for groundnut in India and TPE analysis is in progress for pearl millet in India and West and Central Africa. Institutionalizing the MET process through formal advancement meetings and use of MET data to assess the genetic gains are in progress. Speed breeding protocols were developed and deployed at ICRISAT for chickpea and groundnut, and for lentil at ICARDA for which the scaling up plans are being prepared. While the protocol development and/or deployment is in progress for other GLDC crop commodities. Further, while the High-throughput phenotyping (HTP) has been established, drone-imaging technologies are being developed for the GLDC crops.
Crop Network Groups (CNGs), the multi-stakeholder platforms established by FP4 are moving in the direction of a self-sustainable model. Partnership with private sectors like food industry, seed industry and service providers for genotyping tools and imaging technologies have been instrumental in further planning. While the case studies on community seed banks from Uganda, Zimbabwe, India and Nepal point to the viability of community seed banks as seed producers and distributors, their long-term success remains a challenge due to their dependence on several factors.
For quality trait analysis, portable NIRS devices and a mobile XRF sensor are also being tested. Computer tomography is now being used to assess grain features and an algorithm is being developed for the determination of the shelling percentage in groundnut (without actually shelling). To quantify the nutrition outcomes, a study is underway to measure the nutritional impacts of the introduction of short season lentil varieties in Bangladesh following an estimated 99% adoption of improved lentil varieties (Yigezu et al. 2019).
Triadic comparison of technologies (Tricot)/citizen science approach is an ideal tool for testing and dissemination of best GLDC crop varieties. Through various technology awareness creation models, 1,766,253 farmers were reached under AVISA project in Africa. Two women-led seed companies viz.,((i) Zasse Agricultural Seed and Food Company Limited (ZASFCO LTD) (ii) Namburi Agricultural Company Ltd) in Tanzania were trained on variety prioritization to enhance women participation in seed business.
With these activities and interventions, the FP4 is well on its way to meet the projected activities and outcomes towards addressing key pathways of the CRP-GLDC Theory of Change.