Crop breeders in eastern Africa modernize to end regional hunger
A quiet transformation is underway at the Kenya Agriculture & Livestock Research Organisation (KALRO). New facilities are being developed, flows of digital data are coming online, ways of working and partnerships are being redrawn. All this, as part of a new way of investing in crop breeding research in a bid to finally end hunger in the region.
Over the last two years, the CGIAR Excellence in Breeding Platform (EiB) has made in-kind contributions worth around US $340,000 to the KALRO maize and wheat breeding programs, thanks to funding through the Crops to End Hunger (CtEH) initiative. Just as important as these investments are the changes that enable them, along with the new priorities and cost savings that result.
Joyce Malinga, KALRO director of food crops research, highlights the adoption of product profiles that are used to guide the development of new varieties that meet the needs of farmers and seed companies as one example. “We have been able to bring on a multi-function team that allows you to look at the whole value chain, from the breeder to the consumer, including social scientists, nutritionists, pathologists, agronomists and, of course, the agronomist.”
The first step was to undertake a full assessment and costing of the KALRO breeding program, which identified high-impact improvements such as equipment to digitize manual work, investment in irrigation and disease screening facilities, access to genotyping services, internet upgrades and adoption of data management systems.
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Header credit: CIMMYT/ Peter Lowe.
Story by Sam Storr, EiB Communications Consultant. Contents reflect the information and views of the authors/quoted individuals only. EiB and partners are supported by CGIAR Trust Fund Contributors and the Crops to End Hunger initiative.