Sunday, October 09, 2011

Orphan Crops to Be Sequenced For African Plant Breeders

I quote from Science magazine:
A consortium of biotech companies and non-profi t organizations plans to sequence the genomes of at least two dozen neglected crops in Africa. The University of California (UC), Davis, will set up an academy next year in Accra, Ghana, to train 80 to 100 plant breeders in bioinformatics. “This is a hugely important initiative,” says Jon Foley of the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. The consortium has raised $7.5 million of what it hopes will be a $40 million, 4-year effort. BGI, a genomics center in China, will sequence the genomes of the not-yet-chosen plants, and Life Technologies Corporation will donate research equipment to Ghana. The academy will be based on a 2-year professional development course at UC Davis. Jane Guyer of Johns Hopkins University, an anthropologist who has studied orphan crops in Africa, hopes the consortium will focus on plants, such as cassava, that can also generate jobs in processing and transport. Foley adds that, in addition to better seed, many farmers in Africa simply need more water and fertilizer.
This  seems like a very good initiative, a great example of both public-private partnership and North South cooperation!

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