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Cracking the genetic code of the pigeonpea holds key to feeding the world

 

World Agriculture Forum

 

Scientists have cracked the genetic code of the humble pigeonpea, known as “poor people’s meat” because of its high protein content, and this could be the key to helping to feed the world, according to experts at the World Agricultural Forum Congress 2011, meeting next week (28 November) in Brussels. The scientist leading the research is available for interview.

The impact of these findings will be discussed at the 2011 Congress of the World Agricultural Forum entitled “Rethinking Agriculture to sustain a growing global population” from 28 November to 1 December 2011 in Brussels. Delegates will address the new ways of feeding the growing global population, now seven billion. Global leaders from the business, political, diplomatic, NGO and academic worlds will be attending.

Following years of analysis by a global research partnership, scientists have cracked the pigeonpea genome sequence. The legume is set to join the world’s league of food crops, to provide a cheap source of food in regions ravaged by famine and hunger. Drought tolerance was identified as unique to the genes of the pigeonpea, a vital trait that can be transferred to other crops to improve food production in semi-arid regions of the world.

Experts from the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics will present their findings at the World Agricultural Forum Congress 2011, a gathering of speakers and delegates from around the world, representing business, political, diplomatic, NGO and academic experts.

William Dar, Director General of the International Crops Research Institute, said: “The mapping of the pigeonpea genome is a major breakthrough. Now that the world is faced with hunger and famine, particularly in the Horn of Africa brought about by the worst drought for decades, this is vital to providing a solution to poverty and hunger.”

The breakthrough will help to reduce the cost of developing new improved varieties of pigeonpea for farmers, grown on about 5 million hectares in Asia, sub-Saharan Africa and South-Central America.

Constituted by the non-profit World Agricultural Forum, the Congresses have a unique record of bringing together speakers and delegates from all walks of life in a neutral environment. Global leaders from the business, political, diplomatic, NGO and academic worlds will be present to think and debate how things can be done differently to improve global food security. As always many delegates will have strong opinions. But being impartial, the Congress is open to all ideas and shades of opinion.

 

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