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CIRAD-CA (formerly IRCT), has participated in cotton research (mainly G. hirsutum) in a number of tropical countries in Africa, Latin America and Asia, for 45 years. Especially in cotton breeding, the work carried out has led to the creation of high quality plant material, well suited to the specific ecological conditions of the countries concerned and whose fiber qualities have progressively joined the best in their category. These varieties are grown currently on more than 1 500 000 hectares (ISA 205, STAM F, ISA 319, IRMA BLT, P 288, and glandless GL7). In the past, Ginning Out-Turn, a characteristic of great economical importance, has been improved. In fiber technology, the two main spinning processes (Open End and Ring spinning) have produced two types of demand, firstly for strong and fine fiber about 1″3/32 long (Open End) and secondly for high grade cotton with long and strong fiber (Combed ring spinning). In seed technology, the development of Glandless varieties can improve returns from cotton growing. CIRAD CA participates actively in the training of national teams of breeders, provides assistance to the organisation of international research Networks (CORAF, Cono Sud) and makes efforts to master the new tools of biotechnology in view of giving access in the tropical countries to the benefits from progress made in genetic science. The introduction into cotton’s genomes of genes providing resistance to insects, opens up a new way of research, which could limit the use of insecticide sprays, with an economical and ecological impact on production costs and protection of the environment.
CIRAD-CA varieties are grown each year on more than 1.5 million hectares in three continents, Africa, America and Asia. Modern CIRAD-CA varieties (GL7, ISA 205, ISA 319, P 288, STAM F, IRMA BLT) are well placed on the international market in relation to their competitors.
The glandless GL7 is currently the most widely grown variety in French-speaking Africa, with an extension of nearly 270 000 hectares. With this glandless variety, African growers have a plant that can be used simultaneously as a cash and a food-producing crop. The use of the glandless kernel requires encouragement, either in local villages, or industrially, to produce food for man or animals.
Ginning Outturn, Technology of fiber and glandless characteristic of the seed, have been the subject of a major research effort by the CIRAD-CA for the last ten years in Africa. Much progress has been realised and fiber productivity /hectare increased 6 fold in 30 years in Africa.
The current evolution of the genetic programs at CIRAD-CA, concerns:
- explicative research work aimed at a better understanding of the physiological adaptation of cotton plants to their environment.
- developing particular efforts on the problems related to seed coat neps and stickiness.
- engaging, over the last few years, in studies in biotechnology which are aimed at the genetic transformation of the cotton plant.
The role of the CIRAD-CA in co-operation assistance continues. Our knowledge of tropical countries and our experience with National Agronomic Research Structures, put us in a key position to help southern countries access the benefits of promising new technologies. CIRAD is a valuable partner for international cooperation.
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