Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurates IRRI’s newly built Speed Breeding Facility
Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated IRRI’s new state-of-the-art Speed Breeding (SpeedBreed) Facility on 23 December 2021. The facility established at IRRI South Asia Regional Centre (ISARC) in Varanasi was inaugurated during the Prime Minister’s stone laying ceremony of Amul’s dairy cooperative in Karkhiyao. SpeedBreed has been developed within a short span of two years since the establishment of ISARC. Speed breeding is an emerging strategy among plant breeders to speed up varietal development through advanced technologies and protocols. This new facility, established with support from the Department of Biotechnology (DBT) and the Department of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare (DA&FW), will accelerate the breeding of new crop varieties, which can help Indian farmers increase their incomes and be less vulnerable to climate change effects. The facility can be used to advance 39,200 rice plants (at a time) for 4-5 generations in a year against only 1-2 generations under normal conditions. Estimates have shown that speed breeding can reduce the development of new varieties by 2 to 4 years. This facility will help ISARC to develop biofortified, low Glycaemic Index (GI), and resilient rice varieties at a faster pace.
ISARC is also developing rice-based products such as cookies, biscuits, pasta, rice flakes, and a fortified ice-cream from specialty and traditional rice varieties such as Kalanamak and Black rice, to help diversify rural and urban consumers’ diets for better nutrition and to maximize the income of the farmers cultivating these traditional landraces.
The establishment of theISARC in Varanasi in 2018 became a very important step forward strengthening IRRI- India partnership. Within a short span of time, ISARC has truly become a state-of-the-art center that cultivates skills and knowledge to benefit India. Aspects of grain quality, nutrition (biofortification), value chain development of landraces and traditional varieties, climate resilience, seed-systems, and capacity development for various stakeholders, including women and youth, are the main priorities of this center. “We are delighted that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has inaugurated our new Speed Breeding facility, which is a revolutionary leap forward in ISARC’s capabilities and technological capacity. After having inaugurated our centre in 2018, it was an honour to have the Prime Minister inaugurate our new facility,” said Dr. Sudanshu Singh, Director of ISARC. Aside from rice, ISARC will be collaborating with other institutes to extend the speed breeding facility’s capabilities to other crops, such as wheat, maize, soybean, chickpea, peanuts, and vegetables, Dr. Singh further added.