Division of Field Crop Improvement and Protection

Scientists

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.

As a result of these sustained over several years, five varieties of rice CARI Dhan -1, CARI Dhan -2, CARI Dhan -3, CARI Dhan-4 and CARI Dhan -5 were developed and released by CIARI, for general cultivation in the islands in 2009. Of these CARI DHAN -1, CARI DHAN -2 and CARI DHAN -3 are exotic introductions through IRRI, Philippines which have been recommended for cultivation in normal soils. On the other hand, CARI DHAN -4 and CARI DHAN -5 are derived from somaclonal variants of Pokkali and have been recommended for cultivation in coastal saline-acidic soils.

The pulse improvement program was started in 1986 with the evaluation of germplasm of mung bean, urd bean etc. The mutation breeding approach was employed for improvement of green gram. Crosses were also made to understand the combining ability of mung bean germplasm. Several promising lines of mung bean and urd bean were evaluated and subsequently sent for All India Co-ordinated Pulse trials.

The diseases and insect-pests of various agricultural, horticultural and forest trees of Andaman and Nicobar Islands were surveyed and catalogued. The biology of bacterial wilt of solanaceous vegetables has been studied and suitable management strategies recommended. The production technology including spawn production for oyster and milky mushrooms has been developed and demonstrated through training programs.

Among pests, salient achievements were made for the management of snails, rice stem borer, tomato fruit borer and rhinoceros beetle through baculovirus. Similarly extensive surveys were carried out to record and document the populations of fruit fly of fruits and cucurbits, insects of mangroves and butterflies in the Andaman and Nicobar islands. The Hindi version of Butterflies book Andaman ki Titliyaan has also been bestowed upon ICAR Award on Technical book on Hindi.

Thrust area

  • Genetic Resources
  • Varietal Improvement
  • Disease and Pest Management
  • Agricultural Biotechnology

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.

Infrastructure

The Division of Field Crops has research farms (Bloomsdale and Garacharma Farms for crop improvement and protection experiments), well-equipped laboratories for undertaking molecular work for crop improvement. The equipment include Bio-log system for microbial Identification analysis, Fluorescence microscope, PCR machine, Fermentor, Photosynthetic Chamber, Dehumidifiers, Cooling Centrifuge, Turbidometer are available. The tissue culture lab functions to make use of embryo rescue and micro-propagation techniques to find alternate solutions. The division has also well equipped laboratories to work on diagnosis and characterization of plant pathogens, maintenance of microbial cultures, entomology lab and unique insect repository etc.

Projectwise Achievements

Genetic Improvement of Long Duration Rice for Andaman and Nicobar Islands:
  • A total of 245 lines/improved varieties of long duration rice have been evaluated for yield, its attributing characters and biotic stress resistance for consecutive 4 years in station trials. The selected promising lines have been evaluated across locations in different Islands.
  • Through yield evaluation trials and farmers participator variety selection, 3 promising lines of long duration rice have been selected for further up-scaling.
Augmenting rice productivity through varietal purification of popular land races :
  • Individual panicles of traditional rice varieties, C14-8, Kushbayya and Black Burma were collected from farmer’s fields. These have been planted as panicle to row progenies to see any variation.
  • Lot of intra –varietal variation has been recorded in C14-8 progenies with respect to grain husk colour and yield performance.
Molecular tagging of biotic stress resistance in rice:
  • Seven long duration rice lines viz ANR-16, ANR-17, ANR-23, ANR-24, ANR-25, ANR-31 and ANR-32 showed multiple resistance against major pest and diseases. Three lines CARI-BBR 11-1 , CARI-BBR 11-2 and IET 8585 have been found resistant against bacterial leaf blight upon artificial inoculation . It was found that xa5 and xa 13 genes confer resistance against the predominant race of bacterial blight pathogen under Islands conditions.
Genetic improvement of pulse crops for Andaman & Nicobar Islands conditions:
  • A total of 333 germplasm/ landraces have been collected, characterized and conserved in mungbean (126 ), urdbean (163 ) and pigeonpea (44 ).
  • Some promising accessions among local landraces were identified as a potential donors for improving pulse productivity under Bay island conditions.
Survey Propagation and Molecular characterization of soft endosperm (Macapuno) coconuts in Bay Islands:
  • A total of 15 dahi nariyel or macapuno palms were identified in South Andaman and Havelock Islands.
  • More than 250 dahi nariyel coconuts were collected and the embryos are in different stages of development.
Development of biotic stress resistant lines in brinjal:
  • The bacterial wilt (Ralstonia solanecearum) is the most important disease of brinjal and other solanaceous crops in Islands.
  • Concerted efforts have resulted into understanding the gene action development of advance progenies of cultivated brinjal (Solanum melongena ).
  • Four wild species of brinjal (Solanum spp.)from islands have been collected, evaluated and being conserved for the possible bio-prospecting.
Induction of systemic resistance through application of potential antagonistic microorganisms against Ralstonia solanacearum causing bacterial wilt of solanaceous crops:
  • Thirty isolates of bacterial wilt pathogen Ralstonia solanacearum were isolated from solanaceous vegetables cultivated in different areas of Andaman Islands:
Development of eco-friendly IPM modules for okra and cucurbits in Andaman.:
  • IPM modules have been developed for the management of okra fruit and shoot borer and cucurbit fruit fly by using locally available leaf extracts.
  • Data of On Farm Trial revealed that the adoption of IPM technology in okra resulted in reduction of number of pesticide sprays to only 2 from 5-6 in farmer’s fields
  • Economic analysis revealed a much higher yield of 8.1- 9.6t/ha in IPM than 5.5 to 6.5t/ha in non-IPM fields. Though the cost of production was slightly higher in IPM fields, however on account of higher yields in IPM fields’ , higher income was obtained.
Funded Project:
ICAR Seed Project –“Seed Production in Agricultural Crops”:
  • A total of 4 quintals of Breeder Seed and 29 quintals of Truthfully Labelled Seed of rice has been produced during Kharif 2011-12.
Stress Tolerant Rice for Africa and South Asia (IRRI funded)
  • The farmers’ participatory evaluation of 17 salt tolerant rice genotypes in farmers’ saline fields (ECe~ 4dS/m) revealed better performance and preference of CARI Dhan 5 followed by CSRC(S) 21-25 and CSR36 in Middle and South Andaman.
All India Network Project on Rodent Control
  • The status of extent of rodent infestation in coconut across 39 locations in Andaman and 19 locations of the Nicobar region have been studied. Rodent damage in areca nut, oil palm, vegetables and rice has also been recorded.
  • Little Indian field mouse (Mus booduga), Asian House Rat (Rattus tanezumi andamanensis) and Cutch rock-rat (Cremnomys cutchicus) were reported as new species from Andaman Islands.
Exploration of plant pathogenic and antagonistic microbial resources associated with vegetable and spice crops of Andaman and Nicobar Islands
  • Sixty four 16S rDNA sequences have been submitted to NCBI which includes 12 Trichoderma spp (GQ426033-44), 24 fungal pathogens (GU222366-84), (EU697200-03) and EU744584 and 28 bacterial sequences (GU250810-27) and (HQ400616-25). A total of 54 bacterial and fungal microorganisms were also submitted to National Bureau of Agriculturally Important Microorganisms, Mau.
Monitoring of Pesticide residue at National Level
  • Out of 184 samples analysed only few samples were found to have pesticides above maximum residue limit.
Production of disease free elite planting materials for improving the productivity of coconut in Bay islands.(CDB funded)
  • A total of 1200 disease free coconut seedlings have been sold/distributed to the farmers.

Technology developed

  • Release of 5 high yielding and medium duration rice varieties for cultivation in Andaman & Nicobar Islands. Of these, CARI Dhan 1, CARI Dhan 2 and CARI Dhan 3 are suitable for normal soils whereas, CARI Dhan 4 and CARI Dhan 5 are suitable for coastal saline areas in the islands.
  • The production technology including spawn production for oyster and milky mushrooms
  • The technology on rodent management in paddy was demonstrated in farmer’s fields of South and North Andaman.
  • The technology of IPM modules has been developed for the successful management of okra fruit and shoot borer and cucurbit fruit fly.
  • Farmers’ demonstration and registration and of Bacterial wilt resistant line (CARI- Brinjal-1) in NBPGR, New Delhi.

Technology developed

  • Breeder seed production and distribution of rice varieties
  • Farmers’ participatory variety selection and seed production of field crops
  • Front line demonstrations of promising genotypes of rice, pulses, maize and bacterial wilt resistant CARI Brinjal -1.
  • Rodent control in plantation and field crops
  • Disease and insect pests control at farmers fields through IDM/IPM technologies.
  • Supply of disease-free coconut seedlings to farmers.
  • Supply of spawn for oyster and milky mushroom production.
  • Supply of bio control agents such as Trichoderma and Pseudomonas cultures
  • Training programs for various stakeholders and farmers

Gallery

A gelatinous dahi nariyel nut
Bumper harvest of CARI Brinjal - 1
CARI Dhan 5 salt tolerant rice variety
Conidia of Trichoderm viride
Farmers' participatory variety selection in rice
Fruit Borer, Spodoptera litura
Indian Field Mouse, Mus booduga
Milky mushroom