Illumina, Inc. has announced the Illumina Agricultural Greater Good (AGG) initiative to help spur critically needed research in identifying and breeding plants and animals that will increase the sustainability, productivity and nutritional density of agricultural and livestock species.
Under the initiative, the company will make available free of charge its sequencing or genotyping reagents to a selected crop or livestock research organization.
Illumina has awarded its first AGG grant to the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), which will develop a rice breeding course for farmers in southeast Asia using modern tools of molecular analysis, and expand use of molecular testing in countries in need to help develop drought tolerant and disease resistant lines.
"Food supplies are under tremendous pressure from population growth, climate change and political instability. The Illumina Agricultural Greater Good initiative is designed to help researchers find new ways to boost crop yields, make agriculture and livestock more sustainable, and improve nutrition worldwide," said Jay Flatley, President and CEO of Illumina. "We're proud that through this initiative, Illumina technology and know-how will play a central role in helping to alleviate global hunger, malnutrition and poverty."
Rice is the most important staple food crop for the world's poorest, with more than 640 million people living in poverty in Asia dependent on it. "Illumina's foresight in providing key technical resources will further enable IRRI's scientists to translate advances in genetics into improved rice varieties that will directly help farmers meet the challenges of the future," said IRRI's Deputy Director General for Research Dr. Achim Dobermann. "Farmers will need our support even more as they will increasingly have to grow rice in challenging environments with fewer inputs and in the face of climate change."