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2/1/07

QUEENSLAND scientists have made a breakthrough they believe will help feed millions of starving people. A hybrid, using species of the common Australian wild pigeon pea and commercial cultivated plants or cultivars, has been developed by Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries (DPIF) staff at Biloela in central Queensland. Pigeon pea is a major food source eaten as a porridge and as a green vegetable in south-east Asia, the Caribbean, Africa and India but most varieties of the crop are very susceptible to pests and diseases, state Primary Industries and Fisheries Minister Tim Mulherin said.

"The hybrid varieties emerging from the research could hold the key to developing cultivars that are resistant to pests and diseases," Mr Mulherin said.

DPIF scientist Sally Dillon said the pigeon pea F1 hybrids held the key to developing better cultivars. "We have identified 13 native pigeon pea species endemic to Queensland, Northern Territory and Western Australia that thrive in the wild and are extremely tolerant in terms of limited soil moisture and soil nutrients," she said. Dr Dillon said Australian species of the crop were drought tolerant, high yielding and palatable, as well as being disease and pest resistant. Pigeon pea also provides livestock fodder, is a source of fuel and its woody stems are used as a building material. 

Pigeon pea is a grain legume crop that contains amino acids and has an average 24 per cent protein content. 

Brisbane: NEW RESEARCH AT BILOELA MAY HELP FEED STARVING NATIONS Friday, 29 December 2006 From http://www.tamilbrisbane.com/content/view/345/1/

Millions of starving people in countries like Africa may benefit from a research breakthrough by Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries staff at Biloela. A scientific breakthrough in developing a cross hybrid using widespread Australian wild pigeon pea species and commercial cultivars was announced today by Minister for Primary Industries and Fisheries Tim Mulherin. 

"In south-east Asia, the Caribbean and countries like Africa and India, pigeon pea is a major food source eaten as a porridge and as a green vegetable," Mr Mulherin said. "Pigeon pea is a grain legume crop that contains important amino acids and has an average 24 per cent protein content, however most varieties are very susceptible to pests and diseases." 

Mr Mulherin said the research work carried out by DPI&F scientists at the Biloela Research Station's Genetic Resource Centre, was addressing the problem. "The hybrid varieties emerging from the research could hold the key to developing cultivars that are resistant to pests and diseases," he said.

 "This is potentially a major breakthrough as currently the pigeon pea cultivars that are grown in tropical and sub-tropical climates are susceptible to more than 200 pests and diseases that seriously impact on plant performance and grain yield." DPI&F scientist Sally Dillon, at the Biloela Research Station's Genetic Resource Centre said the pigeon pea F1 hybrids may hold the key to developing better cultivars. 

"We have identified 13 native pigeon pea species endemic to Queensland, Northern Territory and Western Australia that thrive in the wild and are extremely tolerant in terms of limited soil moisture and soil nutrients," Dr Dillon said. "But the best part of these wild species is their natural resistance to pests and diseases, including Helicoverpa (heliothis) and pod borer insect attack. "The 13 endemic species that include annual, biennial and perennial plants are drought tolerant, high yielding and palatable, but further research will be needed to evaluate the hybrids for their specific disease and pest resistance." In addition to being a food source, pigeon pea also provides livestock fodder, a fuel source and its woody stems are used as a building material. 

Mr Mulherin said the breakthrough could be the catalyst for an international collaborative research project with a humanitarian objective to support sustainable agricultural productivity to benefit developing nations

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