Biotech Updates

Scientists Develop Rust-Proof Soybean for Africa

July 3, 2009

Good news for soybean farmers in West and Central Africa. The Nigeria-based International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA) has developed a new variety resistant to the deadly Asian soybean rust, a disease that could wipe out as much as 80% of infested crops. Caused by the fungus Phakopsora pachyrhizi, the plant disease has wreaked havoc in Africa and South America. According to the IITA, Brazil lost an estimated US$2 billion in yields despite spending US$400 million on fungicides to control the disease in 2003 alone. For most African farmers, using resistant varieties is the most viable method to control the dreaded rust as applying fungicides proves very costly.

The new variety, named TGx 1835-10E, is also high-yielding, averaging 1655 kg/ha grain and 2210 kg/ha fodder. TGx 1835-10E was released for cultivation in Nigeria. Trials are also underway in other parts of Africa. Hailu Tefera, IITA soybean breeder, noted: "The variety can be used for direct cultivation in tropical Africa or as a source of resistance genes in soybean breeding programs. It was previously released in Uganda, and has already shown excellent performance in trials carried out in Southern Africa."

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