In the best possible taste
Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, United States of America
The pursuit for higher and more stable yields, alongside better stress tolerance, has dominated maize breeding in Africa for a long time. Such attributes have been, and still are, essential in safeguarding the food security and livelihoods of smallholder farmers. However, other essential traits have not been the main priority of breeding strategies: how a variety tastes when cooked, its smell, its texture or its appearance.
They are now gradually coming into the mainstream of maize breeding. Researchers are exploring the sensory characteristics consumers prefer and identifying the varieties under development which have the desired qualities. Breeders may then choose to incorporate specific traits that farmers or consumers value in future breeding work. This research is also helping to accelerate varietal turnover in the last mile, as farmers have additional reasons to adopt newer varieties.