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Plant breeding academy opens to boost Africa's food supply with improved indigenous crops

to leverage the training programs we have developed for plant breeders in Africa," said Allen Van Deynze, Director of Research at UC Davis' Seed Biotechnology Center. "The partnerships allow African breeders to take advantage of the latest technologies to rapidly advance development of crops that are important to African diets and health."

"I am delighted that we are hosting this new initiative," said Prof. Tony Simons, Director General of the World Agroforestry Centre. "For the continent that is the most malnourished, the poorest, the most rural and the least forested, the AOCC gives Africa a chance through new science and its application to address many of its perennial problems of development. To date, the entire world has genetically sequenced 57 plant species and this uncommon public-private collaboration, based in Africa with Chinese and US support, will nearly triple this number over the next four years. The addition of so many tree species in the list, which can help rural and urban people achieve their full cognitive and physical potential, is ground breaking, and these perennial solutions to nutrition will reinforce the progress Africa is making in so many other fields."

The 100 targeted crops are the 'back garden' crops of rural Africa, home to 600 million people. So improving them will greatly improve the diets of Africa's children, helping to eliminate hunger and malnutrition, which causes stunting. Stunting - short stature for age and incomplete neurological development - is rife among the children of rural Africa.

"The NEPAD Planning and Coordinating Agency has as its primary thematic area food and nutrition security; rightly so because of the issue of low agricultural productivity that impacts on this," said NEPAD CEO, Dr. Ibrahim Mayaki. "Malnutrition is a direct product of food insecurity. A large number of Africans suffer from deficiencies of micronutrients such as minerals, iron and vitamin A with devastating effects

Contact: Ryan Bowling
Mars, Incorporated

Paul Stapleton
World Agroforestry Centre (Nairobi)

Bicheng Yang, Ph.D.

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