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Participants at the Speedbreeders and Genomics meeting in Nairobi in June 2016 (Photo: C.Bukania)

Commitment to Mainstreaming Beta-Carotene (pro-Vitamin A) into National Program Breeding Efforts

At the recent 15th Annual Sweetpotato SpeedBreeders  Meeting, held in Nairobi 6-10 June 2016, discussions were held concerning which of the released varieties to date were being adopted most widely and why.  Breeders are selecting 100 “Best Bet” Sweetpotato varieties for sub-Saharan Africa that will be prioritized for maintaining core stocks of disease-free pre-basic cuttings (seed) at the regional hub at the Kenya Plant Health Inspection Service. 

 

Participants at the Speedbreeders and Genomics meeting in Nairobi in June 2016 (Photo: C.Bukania)
Participants at the Speedbreeders and Genomics meeting in Nairobi in June 2016

Breeders discussed and debated many priority traits in their program.  Among these is beta-carotene, the trait that gives an orange color to the roots and is converted into vitamin A in the body.  It was noted that at the 2nd Global Biofortification Conference held in April 2014 in Kigali, Rwanda, Frank Rijsberman, CEO of the CGIAR Consortium, announced that the “CGIAR Research Centers, have committed to make breeding for mineral and vitamin traits in their regular food crop development programs the norm”.   However, the International Potato Center works on population development of key traits and in Sub-Saharan Africa, it is the national program breeders who officially release varieties.  At this meeting, 30 sweetpotato breeders working in 14 African countries recognized that given the high levels of vitamin A deficiency in the region, breeding for varieties with high levels of beta-carotene combined with other traits such as virus resistance and/or drought tolerance was of high priority.  They debated what mainstreaming such a trait truly means.  Given that beta-carotene is a visible biofortified trait and one that is often new to many farmers, it is important that awareness campaigns go hand in hand with releasing biofortified, orange-fleshed sweetpotato.  At the present time, these breeders agreed to strive to assure that at least 50% of the clones they submit for release are biofortified, orange fleshed types.

 

 

We note that since 2009, 7 out of 10 of the new varieties released in sub-Saharan Africa were orange-fleshed.  Odds are high that these Speedbreeders will continue to exceed their minimum target levels.

 

The following sweetpotato breeders’ signed commitment to mainstraiming Beta-Carotene into national breeding efforts:

 

 

 

15th Annual Sweetpotato SpeedBreeders Meeting

6-10 June 2016

Nairobi, Kenya

 

We, the sweetpotato breeders active in sub-Saharan Africa that are engaged in breeding and/or varietal selection, agree that prioritizing the integration of significant levels of beta-carotene into sweetpotato varieties is of high priority given the high levels of vitamin A deficiency on the continent. We commit to striving to assure that at least 50% of the clones we submit for release are biofortified, orange-fleshed types.

 

First Name

Country

Kwabena Acheremu

Ghana

Solomon Olufemi Afuape

Nigeria

Daniel Akansake

Ghana

Abilio Dos Santos Alvaro

Mozambique

Maria Isabel Andrade

Mozambique

Ernest Baafi

Ghana

Astere Bararyenya

Burundi

Ted Carey

Ghana

Martin Chiona

Zambia

Konan Eurard Brice Dibi

Cote D’Ivoire

Fekadu Gurmu

Ethiopa

Laura Karanja

Kenya

Benjamin Musembi Kivuva

Kenya

Sunette Laurie

South Africa

Godwill Simbarashe Makunde

Mozambique

Robert Mwanga

Uganda

Obed John Mwenye

Malawi

Jean Ndirigwe

Rwanda

Gaspard Nihorimbere

Burundi

Grace Nwaigwe

Nigeria

Michelin Bruno Rasoloniaina

Madagascar

Jose Ricardo

Mozambique

Placide Rukundo

Rwanda

Damien Shumbusha

Rwanda

Koussao Some

Burkina Faso

Gorrettie Ssemakula

Uganda

Godfrey Sseruwu

Uganda

Obaiya Grace Utoblo

Ghana

Charles Wasonga

Uganda

Bernard Yada

Uganda

 

 

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