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Plant breeding academy opens to boost Africa's food supply with improved indigenous crops
Date:12/3/2013

NAIROBI, KENYA (Dec. 3, 2013) --- The African Orphan Crops Consortium (AOCC) today opened the African Plant Breeding Academy to help improve the livelihoods of Africa's smallholder farmers and their families, reduce hunger and boost Africa's food supply. AOCC's goal is to use the latest scientific equipment and techniques to genetically sequence, assemble and annotate the genomes of 100 traditional African food crops to guide the development of more robust produce with higher nutritional content.

'Orphan crops' are African food crops and tree species that have been neglected by researchers and industry because they are not economically important on the global market.

The consortium includes the African Union - New Partnership for Africa's Development (AU-NEPAD Agency); Mars, Incorporated; World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF); BGI; Life Technologies Corporation; World Wildlife Fund; University of California, Davis (UC Davis); iPlant Collaborative; and Biosciences eastern and central Africa - International Livestock Research Institute (BecA - ILRI Hub).

Located at ICRAF in Nairobi, Kenya, the Academy will train 250 plant breeders and technicians in genomics and marker-assisted selection for crop improvement over a five-year period. The work will drive the creation of improved planting materials that will then be offered to smallholder farmers throughout Africa. The Academy provides scientists and technicians with a dedicated place to sequence, assemble and annotate the genomes to help develop food crops with higher nutritional value and which can better withstand climate changes, pests and disease. The data derived from this collaborative effort will be made publically available with the endorsement of the African Union through a process managed by the Public Intellectual Property Resource for Agriculture.

"The African Orphan Crops Consortium and the new African Plant Breeding Academy represent an unprecedented opportunity
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Contact: Ryan Bowling
908-914-1702
ryan.bowling@effem.com
Mars, Incorporated

Paul Stapleton
254-717-718-387
p.stapleton@cgiar.org
World Agroforestry Centre (Nairobi)

Bicheng Yang, Ph.D.
86-755-82639701
yangbicheng@genomics.cn
BGI
Source:Eurekalert


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