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Training for South Asia’s seed companies

A report on the training needs of the Indian seed sector highlighted demand for WorldVeg South Asia to strengthen the knowledge of vegetable breeders, managers, and other key experts working in private seed companies. In early 2018, seed company representatives attended a needs assessment at WorldVeg and set out a priority list of training topics. In response, WorldVeg South Asia organized three courses to address their training requirements.

A participant learns how to grow cultures for disease screening.

About 45 participants from 24 leading seed companies in India participated in the three training courses held from October to December 2018. WorldVeg Molecular Geneticist Roland Schafleitner, Pepper Breeder Derek Barchenger, Pathologist Abhay Kumar Pandey and Entomologist Abdul Rasheed War led the workshops, and also established close working relationships with public institutes that contributed their expertise—in particular, Telangana State Agricultural University and International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT).

“We are very happy to be part of this training course,” said a trainee who participated in the seed health management and quality testing course. “We would like to know more about seed import procedures.” Abhay Pandey and Abdul Rasheed War led the course, supported by a team of external trainers: Dr. Sujatha, Dr. Pushpavathy, Dr. Vijaya Bhaskar Reddy, Dr. Narayan Reddy, Dr. Girish, Dr. Peerzada, Dr. Sudini Harikrishna and Mr. Prashanth.

Derek Barchenger and Abhay Pandey, with support from Seed Production Officer Lucy Sarkar, volunteered to provide hands-on practice to seed company participants on screening methods for anthracnose and bacterial wilt resistance in pepper.  Senior pathologists among the participants group were excited share their experience with the other participants. The combination of pathologists and breeders fostered learning across disciplines—truly a fertile breeding ground for new ideas! “I have never worked on anthracnose screening till now, and with this training I am confident to do it in my company,” said a plant breeder who took part in the training.

The WorldVeg/ICIRSAT course on marker assisted selection attracted a large group of international and national participants to form a highly interactive platform. “Credit goes to Dr. Roland Schafleitner for handling 42+ participants,” said a participant. “He did his best to make the class lively and engaging.” In their concluding remarks, Dr. Peter S. Carberry, Director General, ICRISAT and Dr. Rajeev K. Varshney, Director – Genetic Gains, ICRISAT thanked Roland and the WorldVeg team for their effort.  Ms. Anu Chitikineni from ICRISAT and Ms. PVL Bharathi from WorldVeg coordinated the course.

Collecting anthracnose-affected chili pepper from plants in the field.

Story: PVL Bharathi   Photos: M Abhilash

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Seed germination testing.

Participants and resource persons in the seed health management and quality testing course.

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