History of Plant Breeding in India


History of Plant Breeding in India

Organised agricultural research in India dates back to 1871, when the government of India created the Department of Agriculture. The first scientist to be appointed in the department (in 1892) was an agricultural chemist. In 1905, the Imperial Agricultural Research Institute was established in Pusa, now in Bihar, this was the first agricultural research institute in the country. The buildings of this institute were damaged by an earthquake in 1934; the institute was, therefore, shifted to its present location in New Delhi in 1936. The name of the institute was changed to its present one. i. e. Indian Agricultural Research Institute, in the year 1946.

Agricultural colleges were established at Kanpur, Pune, Sabour, Llyalpur and Coimbatore between the years 1901 and 1905. The main objective of these colleges was to impart agricultural education and training. About this time, a number of Agricultural Research Farms were established in each province. But the progress in Agricultural research was disappointingly slow. In view of this, the Imperial Council of Agricultural Research was established in 1929, its name was changed to the present Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) in 1946.

The Indian Central Cotton Committee was established in 1921. The committee carried out many notable researches on breeding and cultivation of cotton, E. g Development of 70 improved varieties of cotton. Encouraged by these results, central commodity committees were set up on jute, sugarcane, tobacco, oilseed, coconut, arecanut, spices , cashewnut and lac. ( a total of 9 committees). Subsequently, these committees were merged in the ICAR.

In 1956, a project for Intensification of Regional Research on Cotton, Oilseed and Millets (PIRRCOM) was initiated in order to intensify research on these crops. The PIRRCOM was located at 17 different centres spread throughout the country; it focussed on cotton, castor, and groundnut, Brassica sp, til, torai, taramira, jowar, and bajara.

The all Indian Coordinated Maize Improvement Project was started in 1957, with the objective of exploiting heterosis. The first hybrid maize varieties developed under the project were released in 1961. The phenomenal success of this project prompted the ICAR to initiate coordinated project, for the improvement of other crops as well. The ICAR was reorganised twice in 1966 and 1973 with a view to improve its efficiency. The first agriculture university was established in 1960 at Pantnagar, Nainital (U.P). Subsequently, such universities were established in most other states of the country. In some states, E. g U.P and Maharashtra, there are 4 universities each. The agriculture university have the responsibility for education, research and extension in the different areas of agriculture. In addition, over two dozen different Central Research Institute of ICAR are engaged in crop improvement activities.

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