Ace shuttler and Olympic bronze medallist Saina Nehwal has lent her support to the cause of genetic conservation of plants in fight against hunger and poverty.

Saina today visited the city-based International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) and lauded its gene conservation efforts.

“ICRISAT’s plant genetic conservation initiatives illustrate the value and use of crop biodiversity in the fight against hunger and poverty, and its impact on the livelihoods of millions of small-holder farmers in the dryland tropics”, a press release issued by ICRISAT quoted Saina as saying.

She visited ICRISAT on the Institute’s invitation to help spread the importance of genetic conservation in the global fight against hunger and poverty.

Saina described her experience of touring the ICRISAT facilities, particularly it’s RS Paroda Genebank, a delightful and eye-opening experience, the release said.

“Nature has truly blessed us with a rich genetic diversity, which is unique and important in sustaining life in this planet. This visit gave me a better understanding of the importance of plant genetic conservation in sustaining and using genetic diversity for global food security”, the 22-year-old said.

“ICRISAT’s RS Paroda Genebank is a treasure trove of genes useful to crop improvement for sustainable food production and improved livelihoods, particularly in marginal environments, and genes that can provide climate resilience to future crop varieties through increased drought, heat and salinity tolerance, and pest and disease resistance”, said ICRISAT Director General William D Dar.

ICRISAT’s genebank, one of the world’s largest public-funded genebanks, preserves seeds of more than 120,000 accessions of pearl millet, sorghum, chickpea, pigeonpea, groundnut and small millets that are kept as in-trust collections on behalf of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations (UN), for the benefit of the present and future generations.

(This article was published on December 30, 2012)
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