India's Agriculture Minister visits the cream of the crop at Cobbitty

29 February 2012

Indian Agriculture Minister Mr Sharad Pawar with staff from the Plant Breeding Institute.
Indian Agriculture Minister Mr Sharad Pawar with staff from the Plant Breeding Institute.

India's Minister for Agriculture, Mr Sharad Pawar, has visited the University's Plant Breeding Institute at Cobbitty to hear about work on the development of disease-resistant and drought-tolerant crops.

Mr Pawar, who is also president of the National Congress Party, met the PBI Director, Professor Peter Sharp, and heard presentations about some of the latest joint projects with India. His visit was coordinated by the Office of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor International.

The PBI is a world leader in breeding rust-resistant wheat cultivars and delivering training in wheat rust genetics and pathology. The Australian Cereal Rust Control Program, established in 1973 and funded by the Grains Research and Development Corporation, has a national mandate and with six senior scientists, eight technicians and seven PhD students, is one of the largest cereal rust research groups in the world.

Mr Pawar met some of the PBI's leading researchers including Associate Professor Harbans Bariana; Professor of Plant Breeding, Richard Trethowan; and the former director of Cereal Rust Research, Emeritus Professor Bob McIntosh.

He also spoke to three Indian Research Fellows working at the PBI: Dr Davinder Singh, who specialises in cereal rust genetics; Dr Urmil Bansai (wheat molecular genetics); and Dr Raju Tokachichu (wheat and pulse disease resistance).

The University has a long history of joint research with India including a recent project involving the Australian Centre for International Agriculture Research and the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR). Mr Pawar said he was impressed with the work being carried out at the PBI, and it is hoped that a memorandum of understanding with ICAR will be signed during a visit to India by a University delegation later this year.

Contact: Richard North

Phone: 02 9351 3191

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