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

on population including high mortality and morbidity rates and blindness among children, agricultural labour reduction and poor quality of life."

Mars, Incorporated previously led a similar uncommon collaboration that sequenced, assembled and annotated the cacao (cocoa) genome and made these data publically available on the Internet to all researchers in 2010. Howard-Yana Shapiro, Chief Agricultural Officer of Mars, Incorporated, who made the case for the AOCC at the opening of the Plant Breeding Academy, said, "In 2010, I learned for the first time that malnutrition and chronic hunger cause a devastating condition called stunting in children. It was shocking to try and grasp the scale of this tragedy, with more than 35% of the children in Africa affected. Today, we are opening an Academy that will place fundamental science that can help in fighting chronic hunger and malnutrition in the hands of many more practitioners. This is huge leap forward for the diversity and sustainability of African agriculture and the start of a very different future for rural and urban food consumption patterns."

The first orphan crop to be sequenced, assembled and annotated at the Academy will be baobab, which can be used as a dried fruit powder for consumer products. Baobab is called 'the wonder tree' in Africa because its gluten-free fruit has ten times the antioxidant level of oranges, twice the amount of calcium than spinach, three times the vitamin C of oranges, four times more potassium than banana, antiviral properties and much more. By sharing knowledge of the genome sequences of baobab and other African crops, scientists and technicians working at the Academy will inform plant breeders and farmers of species varieties that are more nutritious, productive and robust.

"Life Technologies is proud to be part of this global humanitarian effort to help improve the health of future generations in Africa," said Gregory T. Lucier, Chairman and CEO of Life
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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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