The Crop Improvement Division, formally known as the Breeding Division is without doubt the oldest Division of CSIR-Oil Palm Research Institute. It started in 1961 when the Institute received introduced materials (Advanced) from the Nigerian Institute for Oil Palm Research (NIFOR), for breeding and seed production. Other introductions were made from IRHO, Malaysia, Honduras and Dami Papua New Guinea subsequently.
The objective of the Main Breeding Programme is to provide the necessary parent stock by introductions, selection and subsequent breeding for the production of high quality planting materials. Important projects under the main breeding programme include:
This project which seeks to exploit the good characteristics (good bunch production with high mesocarp content) of fertile pisifera palms for increased palm oil yield has led to the selection of some of the best fertile pisifera lines with high ffb yield and OER of 30-42 %. A novel method for germinating pisifera seeds under plantation conditions was discovered in 1973.
The objective of this project is to exploit the good characteristics of E. oleifera (low stem growth rate, high tolerance to diseases and good oil quality) in improving the oil palm through interspecific hybridization and backcrossing techniques. CSIR-OPRI has populations of E. guineensis x E. oleifera hybrids that could be used for further improvement programmes.
This which started in 1977 seeks to create variability for breeding and selection through the use of radiations. This work led to CSIR-OPRI being the first Institute to develop and own populations of M1 palms obtained from irradiated seeds and pollen. Present collaborative work on this project with BNARI-GAEC the IAEA on production and screening of M2 populations has led to the identification of putative dwarf/semi-dwarfs as well as putative fusarium tolerant lines. Protocols for in-vitro screening for drought tolerance and optimum concentrations of GA3 for screening for dwarfism have been developed. Eight different M2 populations have been established on the field for further evaluation.
The Crop Improvement Division in collaboration with PORIM (now MPOB) conducted the first ever oil palm germplasm collection exercise in Ghana in 1996. Since then the Division has undertaken four more collection missions and about 400 wild oil palm accessions have been planted for evaluation. Preliminary results indicate the presence of very high variability for vegetative and yield characteristics as well as other traits of interest.
Screening of wild accessions for oil composition and quality characteristics (e.g. fatty acid composition, lipase activity, pro-vitamin A and vitamin E content is currently on-going under the VITAPALM Project (EC sponsored) with partners in Cameroon, France and Germany. The VITAPALM project seeks to improve the nutritional quality and stability of palm oil produced by African smallholders to fulfill African consumers’ needs through the development of new varieties of oil palm that produce non-refined crude oil with lower saturated fats, higher levels of vitamins and low lipase content/activity.
The Division collaborates and partners with local and international institute and organizations in achieving its objectives and the Vision of the institute as a whole. The following are some of the organizations that have collaboration with the Division:
The Crop Improvement Division is headed by Mr. Daniel Agyei-Dwarko (Snr. Research Scientist) and has Research Scientists, Technologists, and Technical Officers among others as staff.
High yielding oil palm bred by CSIR-OPRI
Artificially pollinated bunches
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