Biotech Updates

African Nations Receive Grants to Boost Cassava Research

January 9, 2013

A number of research projects to enhance the production of cassava in Africa were granted by different funding organizations, including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF). Among these are the three projects targeting the deadly viral cassava diseases--the cassava brown streak disease (CBSD) and cassava mosaic disease (CMD), which received a financial boost to develop resistant varieties in Eastern Africa. The project will use advanced technologies such as molecular marker-assisted selection to speed up and increase the accuracy of breeding for new CBSD and CMD resistant varieties in Uganda and Tanzania.

Another project, on the other hand, aims to improve cassava's productivity and build human and technical capacity for plant breeding in sub-Saharan Africa. The five-year project is hosted by Cornell University with five partner institutions: the National Crops Resources Research Institute (NaCRRI) in Uganda, National Root Crops Research Institute (NRCRI) in Nigeria, International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in Nigeria, Boyce Thompson Institute (BTI) for Plant Research in New York, and US Department of Energy Joint Genome Institute of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, in California. The said project will ensure that cassava genetic research is at par with other top food crops such as wheat, rice, maize and potato.

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