The National Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (BIOTEC) is a research centre under the umbrella of the National Science and Technology Development Agency, Ministry of Science and Technology, Thailand. One of its main areas of focus is to contribute to the enhancement of core competencies in the biotechnology field. As such, it has developed strong ties with the Integrated Breeding Platform (IBP), acting as a certified IBP Hub in the region.
Institutions or programmes hosting IBP Regional Hubs are key members of the IBP Team, providing local technical support for the roll-out of the IBP’s Breeding Management System (BMS), as well as personalised training across their region and crop expertise.
“Plant breeding informatics tools are front and centre in Thailand as a strategy to increase productivity and incomes, both for local farmers and national exports. In this effort, BIOTEC is very systematic in evaluating and following-up on concrete success indicators, and their use and dissemination of IBP tools will surely contribute to further enrich the value chain”, comments Dr Mark Sawkins, IBP Technical Support Manager.
Beyond just installing the product, deploying the BMS supposes adopting better practices. BIOTEC intends to undertake this shift in knowledge and behaviour by organising adapted workshops at targeted institutions willing to replicate the use of the BMS across their respective communities. These training activities will first be tailored for rice, maize and cassava breeders.
Accordingly, five (5) workshops have taken place since the beginning of the year, mainly focusing on data management, statistics and BMS applications. These intensive trainings were attended by breeders, lecturers, researchers and graduate students from public institutions, universities and private companies.
Jonaliza Siangliw, IBP Hub Representative at BIOTEC explains: “Our training sessions not only aim at introducing scientists to data management and to the BMS but, more importantly, at including the BMS as part of Universities’ Plant Breeding curricula and into institutions’ routine practices”.
Indeed, after receiving demos in April and in June, the Agronomy department’s head and other lecturers at Kasetsart University agreed to make the BMS a selected topic with graduate credits within their Plant Breeding curriculum. An intensive session then took place over a week in July to train their graduate students on data management and statistics: “The BMS is very useful for data collection and analysis in plant breeding. There is a curve to learn how to use it effectively, but once I pass this step and achieve progress in applying the BMS in an actual breeding programme, I believe it will become routine for me to use it for my cassava research. I find it practical and fast for managing breeder activities”, shares Dr Pasajee Kongsil, lecturer at the Department of Agronomy, Faculty of Agriculture, Kasetsart University.
The IBP Hub in Thailand (BIOTEC) is delighted to be working closely with such committed individuals in research institutes and universities that are willing to lead the implementation of the BMS into their breeding programmes, and to eventually spread its use across their unit or centre. Relationships have been established with researchers from the Rayong Field Crops Research Center, the Nakhon Sawan Field Crops Research Center, the Rice Department, and the Rice Gene Discovery Unit, as well as with three universities – Rajamangala University of Technology Lanna in the north, Khon Kaen University in the northeast and Kasetsart University in central Thailand.
If all goes well in the coming years, BIOTEC intends to extend the promotion of IBP tools and practices to neighbouring countries, including Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar and Vietnam.