Biotech Updates

Yam Improvement Project to Benefit West Africa

April 4, 2012

The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and several partners will spearhead the Yam Improvement for Income and Food Security in West Africa (YIIFSWA) project, which is supported by a US$12 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

IITA in collaboration with the governments of Ghana and Nigeria, the UK's Natural Resources Institute (NRI), the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), and Catholic Relief Services (CRS) will focus on increasing yields through better seed tuber supply and improving markets. Yam breeders will develop and widely disseminate new, higher-yielding, disease-resistant varieties.

"Right now, most farmers cultivate yams mainly for household consumption, but if we can increase yields, while also improving marketing conditions, then many of these farmers should be able to earn a steady income from growing yams," said IITA's Director General Dr. Nteranya Sanginga. "Yam prices have been rising in recent years because there is a strong demand for the crop in Africa, and even in places like Europe and the United States, where rapidly growing West African immigrant communities still have a big appetite for their traditionally preferred staple."

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