Training on modern breeding concepts and tools enhances capacity of AFACI member countries

(Los Baños, PHILIPPINES, 11 September 2023) The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and the Asian Food and Agriculture Cooperation Initiative (AFACI) conducted a training on Modern breeding concepts and tools to enhance the capacities of NARES partners in 10 AFACI-member countries on 7-9 September 2023 at IRRI headquarters in the Philippines.

Thirty-four participants from Bangladesh, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Nepal, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Uzbekistan were trained on modern breeding tools and approaches to support and enhance national breeding and product development programs.

The  training featured a comprehensive program consisting of lectures, field visits, and hands-on activities. RBI scientists provided lectures on quantitative genetics, genomic selection, design and analysis of experiments, multi-environment testing and phenotyping for drought, salinity and submergence stresses, and the application of trait research in rice breeding. The Enterprise Breeding System (EBS) Team demonstrated the EBS software, an open source breeding software developed to support breeding activities related to germplasm management, analytics, service management, including management of user groups, their communication channels and domains used.

Participants visited the IRRI’s plant growth facility and rapid generation advance setup, as well as the high-throughput phenotyping rainout shelter setup for drought stress and the IRRI gene bank.

The participants reviewed  protocols and standard operating procedures (SOPs) for trials  conducted using early, medium, late maturing materials, including trials for drought, salinity and submergence stresses.  Participants also observed the hotspot salinity stress screening trial in Infanta, Quezon where the IRRI Salinity breeding team provided onsite lecture and discussion on the trial design, protocols, and SOPs. This further enriched their understanding regarding  variation in salinity levels rice plants are subjected to in coastal rice areas inundated with tidal saline water, making the salinity stress screening more efficient.

The participants expressed their satisfaction with the training, citing the relevance and practicality of the topics covered. They also appreciated the opportunity to interact with experts in the field, learn from their experiences and provide feedback for future capacity development needs.

The IRRI-AFACI project on Stress tolerant, high yielding rice varieties suitable for AFACI member countries and Germplasm Utilization for Value Added (GUVA) aims to develop and deploy improved rice varieties with stable yields across prevalent abiotic stress conditions in 11 target countries. The training equipped project partners with the necessary skills and knowledge to achieve the project goal.

The successful completion of the training is expected to contribute to the achievement of  IRRI-AFACI Project Objectives and to the development of sustainable rice production systems in Asia.