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Genomic Tools for Sweetpotato Improvement (GT4SP)

Project Ongoing

The more than 13.5 million metric tons (MT) of sweetpotato produced in Sub-Saharan Africa annually feed millions of people. However, the full potential of sweetpotato has yet to be recognized as large yield gaps (ca. 20 MT/ha) exist across rain-fed SSA due to a wide range of biotic and abiotic constraints, and the lack of productive, resilient, consumer-preferred varieties.

This project will develop modern genomic, genetic, and bioinformatics tools to facilitate crop improvement and improve genetic gains in sweetpotato, an important food security and cash crop with highly recognized potential to alleviate hunger, vitamin A deficiency, and poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), and predominantly grown in small plot holdings by poor women farmers.

We work in sub-Saharan Africa – with partners spread across Uganda, Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria, Tanzania

Dr. George Craig Yencho

NC State University

Department of Horticultural Science

214 Kilgore Hall ,Campus Box 7609

Raleigh NC 27695


Key Project Information

Our specific project objectives include: (i) development of genomic and genetic resources for sweetpotato improvement, including complete genome sequencing of NCNSP-0323 and NCNSP0306 two diploid lines expected to be suitable for use as the cultivated sweetpotato, I. batatas, reference genomes; (ii) development of a genome sequence-based molecular marker platform, with supporting bioinformatics, quantitative genetic methods, and analytical environment to facilitate modern sweetpotato breeding; (iii) multi-location phenotyping and marker-trait/validation studies in Uganda and Ghana; (iv) traditional and web-based training and capacity development efforts to incorporate MAB tools in sweetpotato breeding programs in Africa; and (v) effective project management and communication processes to ensure project success and dissemination of newly-developed resources to the wider sweetpotato and scientific communities.


AREAS OF INTERVENTION: Genomics, Genetics and Breeding,



NAMES OF OTHER TEAM MEMBERS: Awais Khan (CIP); Lachlan Coin (UQ); Robin Buell (MSU); Lukas Mueller (BTI); Benard Yada (NaCRRI); Robert Mwanga (CIP); Ann Tomko (NCSU); Mercy Kitavi (CIP); Lina Quesada (NCSU); Zhao-Bang Zeng (NCSU); Reinhard Simon (CIP); Zhangjun Fei (BTI); Bode Olokulu (NCSU); Fred Wright (NCSU); Marc Ghislain (CIP)


Leader Craig Yencho
Start date
End date
Lead organization NC State University
Collaborating organizations North Carolina State University (NCSU), Raleigh, North Carolina International Potato Center (CIP): Lima, Peru; Kumasi, Ghana; Kampala, Uganda; and BecA-ILRI Hub, Nairobi, Kenya Michigan State University (MSU), East Lansing, Michigan Boyce Thompson Institute (BTI) at Cornell University, Ithaca, New York University of Queensland (UQ), Brisbane, Australia National Crops Resources Research Institute (NaCRRI), National Agricultural Research Organization (NARO), Namulonge, Uganda Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, Crops Research Institute (CSIR-CRI), Kumasi, Ghana
Region Sub-Saharan Africa
Countries Uganda, Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria, Tanzania
Status Ongoing
Type of project Research
Financing Sources Bill &Melinda Gates Foundation
Funding Amount (USD) $12,409,389
Members Zhangjun Fei, Marc Ghislain, Benard Yada, Craig Yencho, Mercy Kitavi, Robert Mwanga, C Robin Buell, Lukas Mueller, Bode Olukolu, Reinhard Simon, Awais Khan, Boadi Ahenkora, JOSE MARIO CARDENAS, Wangoru Kihara, Stephen Angudubo, Walter Omony


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