At the fourth Regional Coordination Meeting of South Asia and China Program of ICARDA, the research priorities and work plan for barley across different countries in the region has been chalked out. Prioritizing pre-breeding and trait discovery efforts for use of landraces and wild relatives in incorporating better tolerance to different stresses was emphasized.

Drought, heat, cold/frost, salinity were identified as key traits for abiotic stresses, and similarly, aphid tolerance spot blotch and stripe rust resistance were identified as priority traits in biotic stresses. In the case of barley food program,  nutritional traits like high Fe, Zn, and beta-glucan contents were prioritized. Use of doubled haploid technology and markers assisted selection in speed effective breeding program was of high priority in the case of enabling technologies.

The Regional Coordination Meeting for South Asia and China on “Strategic Partnership towards Enhancing Food and Nutritional Security in South Asia and China” was organized at NARC Kathmandu from 27-29 February 2016, where ICARDA reviewed the progress and prepared the work plan for next two year in the region for barley research.

Barley is an important crop of the region under rainfed and limited irrigated system for feed, forage, malting and food in the region. Representatives of national partners from South Asia and China recognized the contribution of ICARDA under the framework of CGIAR Research Program on Dryland Cereals

Partners expressed that ICARDA’s support under the framework of Dryland Cereals would be required to strengthen several cross-cutting areas. These include capacity building for integrated crop improvement; better genetic resources conservation (Genebank strengthening with NARS); breeding for newer niches in different cropping systems; and resources mobilization for R4D (genetic material and funding).

India with 790 thousand ha, China with 630 thousand ha and Afghanistan with 280 thousand ha are the three major countries for barley cultivation in South Asia with its uses in feed, fodder, and malting purposes

The meeting inaugurated by Mr. Uttam Kumar Bhattarai, Secretary, Ministry of Agricultural Development, Government of Nepal and was chaired by Dr. Mahmoud Solh, Director General, ICARDA. More than fifteen researchers and research managers from Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China and Nepal attended the meeting. Dryland Cereals was represented by Ramesh Verma, Crop Coordinator-Barley of Dryland Cereals and Barley Breeder at ICARDA.