The Division of Field Crop Improvement and Protection, CIARI, Port Blair has been working on basic, strategic and applied aspects of crop improvement and protection for Andaman & Nicobar Island conditions. It encompasses genetic improvement primarily of rice, pulses, oilseeds, maize etc. for the island conditions. The research efforts also focussed on basic understanding and management of plant biotic stresses including diseases and insect pests. Biodiversity collection, conservation and characterization mainly of native germplasm of field crops, potential micro-organisms and insect flora of agricultural importance have been other priorities. Division of Field Crops came into being in 2003 with the amalgamation of erstwhile Divisions/ Sections of Crop Improvement, Plant Pathology and Entomology. The systematic crop improvement efforts mainly in rice and pulses were started around 1986. Since then extensive collection, evaluation and development of rice germplasm were carried out under different national and international programs. About 20 rice land races initially introduced by settlers from various origins which got subsequently adapted under island conditions have been collected and characterized using biochemical and molecular markers. The initial breeding efforts also aimed at introduction and evaluating early and medium duration rice varieties. The rice varietal trials were conducted for screening for tolerance to coastal salinity, acidity, aluminium toxicity, iron toxicity, low phosphorus condition etc. Several promising lines and donors were selected from evaluation trials and formed the basis of the rice breeding program. The combining ability analysis through line X tester studies identified good parents for hybridization. A new species of wild rice Oryza inandamanica Ellis sp. Nov. perceived to have higher drought tolerance was reported from Rutland of South Andaman. Significant to mention, lot of work on tissue culture, somaclonal variation and Agrobacterium mediated transformation was carried out for rice improvement.
Genetic Resources management
Disease and Pest Management
Major activities of the Division
Collection, evaluation and characterization of germplasm of field crops and microbial resources.
Basic and strategic research for genetic enhancement of field crops
Harnessing the power of molecular markers and tissue culture for crop improvement
Development of eco-friendly Integrated Disease and Pest Management strategies
Seed production, distribution and transfer of developed technologies to farmers and stakeholders.
The Division of FCI&P have two research farms (Bloomsdale and Garacharma Farms for seed production, crop improvement and protection experiments) and well-equipped laboratories for undertaking molecular works for crop improvement (Biotechnology lab), diagnosis and characterization of plant pathogens, maintenance of microbial cultures (Pathology lab) and maintenance of insects (Entomology lab with unique insect repository). Labs equipped with PCR machine, Gel documentation unit, Cooling Centrifuge, Deep freezers and others. Further, a micro-plot facility is also available for screening of crops for stress related experiments especially salinity tolerance.