Cassava: constraints to production and the transfer of biotechnology to African laboratories

Title 
Cassava: constraints to production and the transfer of biotechnology to African laboratories 
Publication Type 
Journal Article 
Authors 
Bull SE, Ndunguru J, Gruissem W, Beeching JR, Vanderschuren H 
Year of Publication 
2011 
Publisher 
Springer 
Place Published 
New York 
Volume 
30 
Journal 
Plant Cell Reports 
Issue 
Pagination 
779 - 787 
Date Published 
5/2011 
ISSN 
1432-203X 
URL 
http://www.springerlink.com/content/t2000472901m8v65/ 
Keywords 
Africa, biotechnology, Cassava, Technology transfer, transformation 
DOI 
10.1007/s00299-010-0986-6 
Abstract 

Knowledge and technology transfer to African institutes is an important objective to help achieve the United Nations Millennium Development Goals. Plant biotechnology in particular enables innovative advances in agriculture and industry, offering new prospects to promote the integration and dissemination of improved crops and their derivatives from developing countries into local markets and the global economy. There is also the need to broaden our knowledge and understanding of cassava as a staple food crop. Cassava (Manihot esculenta Crantz) is a vital source of calories for approximately 500 million people living in developing countries. Unfortunately, it is subject to numerous biotic and abiotic stresses that impact on production, consumption, marketability and also local and country economics. To date, improvements to cassava have been led via conventional plant breeding programmes, but with advances in molecular-assisted breeding and plant biotechnology new tools are being developed to hasten the generation of improved farmer-preferred cultivars. In this review, we report on the current constraints to cassava production and knowledge acquisition in Africa, including a case study discussing the opportunities and challenges of a technology transfer programme established between the Mikocheni Agricultural Research Institute in Tanzania and Europe-based researchers. The establishment of cassava biotechnology platform(s) should promote research capabilities in African institutions and allow scientists autonomy to adapt cassava to suit local agro-ecosystems, ultimately serving to develop a sustainable biotechnology infrastructure in African countries.

 
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