AVRDC East and Southeast Asia and the Rural Development Administration (RDA), Republic of Korea have developed a research project to develop disease resistant cucurbit germplasm with the Vegetable Research Division of the National Institute of Horticultural & Herbal Science, Suwon, Republic of Korea. In 2013, Yun Chan Huh, the institute’s Senior Cucurbit Breeder, spent one month at AVRDC’s Research and Training Station in Kamphaeng Saen, Thailand to assist in the evaluation of AVRDC pumpkin lines for multiple virus resistance in the field. Dr. Yun took some AVRDC resistant pumpkin lines to Korea for testing.
Narinder Dhillon, AVRDC Cucurbit Breeder, and Supannika Sanguansil, Research Assistant – Cucurbit Breeding, visited cucurbit trials at the Vegetable Research Division from 25 September to 1 October 2014. The AVRDC pumpkin lines were exhibiting good field resistance to viruses in the research plots compared with the susceptible local varieties of pumpkin. Bitter gourd is becoming popular in Korea as people consider it a health-promoting vegetable, but powdery mildew is a serious bitter gourd production constraint in Korea. Korean researchers were curious to learn about powdery mildew resistant lines developed by AVRDC and were keen to test these lines at their institute.
Supannika and Narinder made a presentation to institute staff and updated them about the current status of cucurbit breeding at AVRDC and the prospects of further collaboration with RDA researchers. They also visited local pumpkin farmers’ fields, vegetable sections in the supermarket, and the pumpkin exhibition at the Korea Agriculture Expo 2014 in Daegu, which helped them understand the traits stakeholders along the value chain want in pumpkin. This knowledge will help re-orient AVRDC’s pumpkin breeding program.
Supannika and Narinder visited the pumpkin farm of one progressive farmer, Geun-Myoung Choi, popularly known as “Master Pumpkin” in the area. He cultivates pumpkin on 14 hectares at his farm in Daesan near Seosan City, about 100 km from Suwon, and also processes pumpkin on his farm. He markets pumpkin juice and pumpkin porridge. Most of his clients are from Korea; about 2% are Korean immigrants in the USA, Australia and Japan. He also demonstrates pumpkin processing techniques to nearly 6000 Korean tourists who visit his farm and factory each year.