We continue to strengthen sweetpotato breeding in Africa to ensure continuous production of high yielding, disease-resistant, nutritious varieties adapted to local agro-climatic conditions and the preferred trait combination for producers, processors and consumers. Our accelerated breeding approach is based on having more sites at the earliest breeding stages. At least one of those sites will be a stress environment of interest, for example where virus pressure is high. With the accelerated breeding approach we have reduced the time from crossing to having a variety ready to release from 7-8 years to 4-5 years.
CIP’s extensive sweetpotato collection was begun in 1985 and the CIP genebank at present holds samples of over 8000 accessions (about a thousand of which are wild) from the Americas, Asia and Africa. The Center’s scientists use this diverse reservoir of genetic material to provide healthy planting material for farmers, and to breeders developing sweetpotato varieties with wider adaptability, pest resistance, and tolerance to abiotic stresses such as climate change. Researchers also improve varieties providing the particular qualities needed for processing and increased table use according to cultural preferences, and monitor and improve the nutritional properties of the crop, with special emphasis on increasing vitamin A content.
Global sweetpotato genetic diversity is maintained in a number of gene banks around the world. These contain various types of germplasm, ranging from wild relatives to cultivated varieties, including farmers’ landrace varieties, old varieties, currently important cultivars, and breeding materials. Because sweetpotato is a clonally propagated crop, typically sweetpotato germplasm is in clonal form (maintained in tissue culture, frozen, or as living plants in a greenhouse or field gene bank). Sweetpotato genetic resources may also be maintained as populations of seed; typcially the case for wild relatives and populations from breeding programs. There are many sweetpotato gene banks around the world, typically with information about sources and characteristics of the germplasm in them. We provide here information and links to gene banks and to sources of information about sweetpotato germplasm, including guidelines on sweetpotato germplasm characterization and gene bank management.