The Collaborative Breeding Leadership Program: Bridging the skills gap in plant breeding

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By 2050, our planet will be home to over 10 billion people, with Africa alone needing to feed more than 2.5 billion—a monumental task amidst climate crises and global uncertainties. Today, we stand at a pivotal moment. The disparity between population growth and food production in sub-Saharan Africa emphasizes the urgency for innovative solutions. A recent joint paper by Australia’s National Science Agency, CSIRO, Lincoln University in New Zealand, and McGill University in Canada highlights the urgency of this mission. The paper presents a concerned picture of the future capacity in the plant breeding area, emphasizing the critical need to address the skills shortage to maintain our agri-food, fiber, and feed production level. This shortage has been building for some time and poses a significant threat to agricultural production worldwide. This is where public breeding programs like National Agricultural Research and Extension Systems (NARES) and CGIAR play an important role. We must develop resilient, nutritious, and market-driven crop varieties reinforced by advanced agronomic practices.

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