APSA Virtual Technical Session 2021 - Special Interest Group on Field Crops 24 November 2021 / 12:00 – 14:00 hrs ICT (GMT+7)

Special Interest Group on Field Crops
Wednesday the 24th of November 2021
12:00 – 14:00 hrs ICT (GMT+7)



12.00 – 12.10

Opening Remarks
Dr. Frisco Malabanan, Chair, APSA Special Interest Group on Field Crops
Moderator: Mr. Venkatram Vasantavada, Committee Member, APSA Special Interest Group on Field Crops

12.10 – 12.30

Prospect of Popcorn in India
Dr. Sain Dass, Ex-Director, ICAR-Indian Institute of Maize Research

12.40 – 13.10

New Technology for Field Crops Breeding / MNP Marker Method, an Efficient Way for Breeding and PVP
Dr. Li Tiantian, Associate Researcher, Institute for Systems Biology, Jianghan University, China

13.10 – 13.15

Online Coffee Break

13.15 – 13.45

Golden Rice: Biotechnology Milestone for Improved Nutrition in the Philippines
Dr. Ronan G Zagado, Head, Development Division, Philippines Rice Research Institute, the Philippines

13.45 – 13.55

Special Interest Group on Field Crops Current Activities Update
Dr. Frisco Malabanan, Chair, APSA Special Interest Group on Field Crops

13.55 – 14.00

Award Announcement: APSA Recognition Award for Most Influential Plant Breeding Researchers in the Asia Pacific Seed Sector for Field Crops
Mr. Wichai Laocharoenpornkul, APSA President

14.00 - 14.05

Closing Remarks
Dr. Chua Kim Aik, Co-Chair, APSA Special Interest Group on Field Crop


Mr. Venkatram Vasantavada
Committee Member
APSA Special Interest Group on Field Crops

Venkatram Vasantavada has over 29Years of work experience with best-in-class MNC’s and large Indian Corporates across Asia and Africa including Dupont Pioneer, Monsanto, Advanta-UPL, Deepak Fertilisers and Petrochemical corporation Ltd, VST Industries, Voltas and Real Value Appliances. His diverse Industry experience includes Agricultural inputs, FMCG, Durables and Telecom in areas of operations management, strategic planning, and business development. He successfully built and managed commercial organizations with sustained growth in revenue, profitability, market share gains and geographical expansion, He has to his credit exposure of executing differentiated Go to Market models and building innovative solutions in work situations in the areas of People Development, Sales Development and Supply chain. He worked extensively across Asia and Africa in markets served by small and marginal farmers in building strategic alliances and collaborative relationships with many forums in developing models for improving farm productivity and farm incomes. Vasantavada was on the board (Whole Time Director) of publicly listed Advanta. He is a visiting faculty at several Agribusiness Management Institutes and an active member of Rural Management Association of India (RMAI).

He has many accolades to his credit and some of them are CEO of the year Award,2021 by Corporate Guru World (Summit and Awards), HMA (Hyderabad Management Association) Entrepreneur of the year -2019. He has been awarded RMAI Leadership Award-2016, This award is presented to   outstanding contributions in providing leadership in Rural Markets. He also featured twice as the 50 Most admired Rural marketing professionals in India. He is an Honorary advisor to HMA (Hyderabad Management Association) and member of Board of studies at Kalinga School of Rural Management, Kalinga Institute of Industrial Technology (KIIT)-Deemed to be University, Bhubaneshwar. 

A certified six sigma green belt, He holds a Post Graduate Diploma in Rural Management (PGDRM) from Institute of Rural Management, Anand (IRMA) and is a Graduate in Dairy Technology. He is currently pursuing his PhD in Business Management, Chitkara University, Punjab.

Dr. Sain Dass
ICAR-Indian Institute of Maize Research

Dr. Sain Dass was Former-Director Maize-ICAR, and presently an advisor hybrid crop, Hindustan Insecticide Ltd. (a Govt. of India undertaking) and is an outstanding maize scientist having 47 years’ experience in hybrid technology. He worked as advisor hybrid crops in National Seed Corporation and Independent Director on the board of the States Farm Corporation of India (SFCI). He also worked as advisor to many states government and Seed Corporation towards ensuring quality seeds for the benefit of the farmers. He provided extraordinary scientific leadership and made a notable contribution to the Indian maize programme. A strong proponent of single cross hybrid technology, Dr. Sain Dass has inculcated the hybrid culture in maize program, re-strategized maize heterosis breeding, streamlined the national maize program, motivated breeders and young maize scientists and reinforced the farmers’ faith in the hybrid technology. Dr Sain Dass efforts for germplasm exchange in public and private sector have led to advance the maize crop improvement program by 10-15 years in the country and he is known as MAIZE MAN OF INDIA. 

Globally popcorn has emerged as one of the nutritious snacks across several countries in the globe. Traditionally, the North America, especially The United States of America was the main producer, consumer and exporter of popcorn in the World. The consumption and demand for popcorn has increased in Japan, Brazil, Argentina, China, Japan and several countries in Europe. In India also the demand for popcorn has increased gradually. Presently, apart from the big metro cities, the popularity of popcorn in India has reached to even minor cities. India, traditionally the major importer of popcorn, continues to import popcorn in major quantity. However, off-late the commercial cultivation of popcorn in some parts of India like Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka and Maharashtra has started to meet the increasing demand for popcorn. India being the diverse country has huge marketing opportunities due to urbanization which is grown from 13 to 30 percent, presence of numerous tourist places, and presence of large number of big cities coupled with avenues of markets like cinema/movie theatres and large number of consumers. Even the street vendors also constitute the bulk of the popcorn market in India. Currently in India, the popcorn market is growing at CAGR 15% (2018-22). The growing population and majority of adult population is actually driving the demand for popcorn due to increased awareness about popcorn among adult population of the country. 

Even though much of the consumers in India may not be aware about the several health benefits of popcorn but unknowingly the consumers are experiencing numerous health benefits of popcorn due to its nutritional composition. It is considered as better functional food as compared to many vegetables with respect to availability of many antioxidants and soluble fiber. Popcorn was found to improve digestion due to its high fiber content in the grain. It has also been found to regulate blood sugar due to slow release of carbohydrate after consumption. Popcorn is consumed either raw or as value added products depending on the type of popcorn and it has two types namely butterfly type and mushroom type. The mushroom type is largely used to prepare several value-added products and several value-added products of mushroom type popcorn are available in the market across several countries including India. Globally the market for value added products of popcorn is growing at the CAGR of 6.7%.

India being the varied agro-climatic conditions, popcorn can be grown in one or the other part of the country round the year in different season’s namely rainy (kharif), winter (rabi) and summer or spring. In the past low R&D in popcorn India has been due to high demand of field corn and priority has been to make India self-sufficient in the field corn so popcorn priority went to back seat. Therefore, the efforts in research development in popcorn in India is relatively low as compared to field maize. In fact, some efforts were made to cross between popcorn and field corn to diversify the existing genetic base of popcorn but the efforts could lead to develop good popcorn cultivars. Nonetheless, India has developed few hybrids and open pollinated varieties (OPVs) or composites of popcorn but the demand from the urban as well as the high-class society is for high expansion volume popcorn. Since the present popcorn cultivars are not meeting the high expansion volume quality, India is importing lot of popcorn from outside. However, India has favorable climatic conditions to execute required R&D programs to develop high expansion volume popcorn cultivars. The possibility to grow popcorn in multiple seasons in a year would certainly fasten the breeding program to develop good quality popcorn hybrids. The availability of locally adopted good popcorn hybrids in near future would certainly educes the import of both quality seed and commercial popcorn in couple years. In fact, India has become a country of net exporter of sweet corn and baby corn from net importer in couple of years. Similarly Indian can become net exporter of popcorn in near future in few years. The continued demand for popcorn in India will certainly enhance the efforts towards developing better cultivars of popcorn suited to different agro-ecologies of the country.

Dr. Li Tiantian
Associate Researcher, Institute for Systems Biology
Jianghan University, China

Dr. Li Tiantian is dedicated to the development of DNA markers and application in plant variety identification. Her team developed a new DNA identification technique which has the advantages of high accuracy, high efficiency and easy popularization. This technology is widely applied in agriculture sector and approved as the Chinese national standard for the identification of plant essential derived varieties (EDV). Her team has built DNA fingerprint database include more than 10,000 registered varieties from different species like rice, maize, cotton, kiwi, pear, etc. This national standard and database by this technology are important for the scientific implementation of the national essentially derived variety system.

DNA markers are an essential tool for genetic fingerprinting, forensic analysis, and genomic breeding. Effective markers must be highly reproducible, polymorphic, accurate and efficient to profile. We have developed a novel type of DNA marker named multiple dispersed nucleotide polymorphisms (MNP) and an efficient MNP-genotyping method, called MNP-Seq, to accurately detect and estimate genetic variations, particularly for polyploid hybrid plants and medicinal plants which are difficult to genotype accurately. The new method has been adopted as the Chinese national standard for the determination of plant identities with such applications as registration and protection of plant variety intellectual property rights. To demonstrate the utility and efficacy of MNP markers, we presented the applications of MNP markers to several challenging problems, such as identification of essentially derived variety (EDV), Seed quality control, and traceability of agricultural products.

Dr. Ronan G Zagado
Head, Development Division
Philippines Rice Research Institute, the Philippines

Dr. Ronan G. Zagado is a chief science research specialist of the Development Communication Division at the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) based in the Science City of Munoz in Nueva Ecija. He is currently the head of the PhilRice Development Communication Division and the lead of the communication and stakeholder engagement for the Golden Rice Project. His fields of specialization include: science communication, information campaign, risk communication, agricultural extension, and communication research. He earned his PhD degree in Media Studies from the University of Adelaide, South Australia; MS in Development Communication (with cognate in Community Development) from University of the Philippines Los Baños; and BS in Development Communication major in Development Journalism from Central Mindanao University. 

Golden Rice is a new type of rice produced through modern biotechnology that is biofortified with beta carotene (vitamin A precursor). GR is intended to complement other vitamin A sources in the diet, and is viewed as a potential intervention to address vitamin A deficiency in rice-consuming countries. It was donated by its inventors (Professor Ingo Potrykus, then of the Institute for Plant Sciences, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, and of Professor Peter Beyer of the University of Freiburg, Germany) for public and humanitarian purposes to help address vitamin A deficiency. It is estimated that such deficiency affects about 2.1 million children in the Philippines.  We share the goal of the conference towards safe, responsible, and equitable use of new seed technologies, and in this presentation, we will share our own experience in the journey to developing and deploying Golden Rice in the Philippines. As a product of biotechnology, Golden Rice underwent and successfully completed the biosafety regulatory requirements in the country. It received the biosafety approval for commercial propagation by the Department of Agriculture - Bureau of Plant Industry (DA-BPI) last July 21, 2021, and plans are underway for pilot-scale deployment in selected communities with high incidence of micronutrient deficiencies. This talk provides updates on the Golden Rice project in the Philippines being led by the Department of Agriculture – Philippines Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) in collaboration with the International Rice Research Institute.