Unfortunately the number of rice breeders has decreased over the years and those that remain need to combine their traditional breeding skills with new pre-breeding concepts and precision tools afforded by advances in rice genomics and information technology. Meanwhile, breeding varieties that are adoptable by farmers remains a major challenge along with the dwindling funds for breeding research.
Therefore, CWARice offered a new course to help breeders redesign their programs for increased efficiency and effectiveness in region countries. Rice Breeding course was held by CWARice in cooperation with IRRI and RRII in Rasht, Iran with attendance of 14 trainees from seven member countries of CWARice including Iraq, Turkey, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Azerbaijan, Tajikistan and Iran. Also, its educational affairs (including theoretical and practical parts) were conducted by four senior scientists from IRRI (Drs. E. Redoña, J. Ali, B. Collard and G. Gregorio) with assistance of Iranian resource persons (some faculty members of RRII and other agricultural research institutions of Iran). Rice breeding course provided the participants with the theoretical knowledge on modern plant breeding methods and techniques; taught them planning and information management tools and experimental techniques and software for developing an efficient rice breeding program; gave the participants the opportunity to share experiences and lessons with breeders from other region countries and share to the participants the information on the latest developments relevant to modern rice breeding and the worldwide exchange of rice genetic resources; gave breeders planning tools based on selection theory, permitting them to make the best use of limited research resources and helped breeders understand the strengths, weaknesses, and applications of new techniques, and to decide if they should be applied in their own programs.
The training course used various approaches: interactive lectures, group learning exercises and discussions, presentations on country / institutional breeding programs, field and laboratory visits, post-training action plan development and a field trip to observe Iranian breeding programs.
In the closing ceremony dated on 19 August, trainees’ certificates were given them by Dr. Shahdi, Dr. Davat Gar and IRRI senior scientists.
The main outcome of rice breeding course besides the specified targets was to develop a joint research project by the initiative of Dr. K .A. Shahdi with collaboration of IRRI senior scientists (Drs. E. Redoña, R. Ali, B. Collard and G. Gregorio) for member countries entitled: "Establishing a Multilocation Evaluation and Research Network for Genetic Enhancement in Central and West Asia (EMERGE-CWA)". Mentioned project discussed and approved by all TMC members at the second TMC meeting in Turkey on 18-19 Sept, 2013.