Modernising Sweet Potato Breeding in West Africa

A series of five online meetings would be holding from May 27 to June 9, 2020, to discuss ways of modernizing sweet potato breeding in West Africa and strengthening the West African Sweetpotato Breeding and Seed Community of practice.

Organized by the International Potato Center (CIP) in collaboration with CORAF and the ECOWAS Root and Tuber Regional Center of Excellence based in Ghana, the gathering would discuss the development and dissemination of nutritious and productive sweet potato varieties in West Africa. CIP is currently implementing a project designed to modernizing sweet potato breeding in Africa known as SweetGAINS Africa.

Below are the two specific objectives of the online meetings:

  • Work towards building a functioning regional sweet potato Breeding and Seed Community of Practice in West Africa;
  • Strengthen the capacity of interested partner programs in key elements of breeding excellence, including product profiles, stage-gate management, trial design, and data management;

The time and topic for each of the five sessions are as follows:

  • May 27, 10 – 12 a.m. GMT. Regional breeding/seed background and potential;
  • May 29, 10 – 12 a.m. GMT. Concepts in breeding/seed excellence.
  • June 1, 10 – 12 a.m. GMT. Concepts in breeding/seed excellence.
  • June 3, 10 – 12 a.m. GMT. Strengthening breeding and seed system linkages.
  • June 5, 10 – 12 a.m. GMT. Next steps towards a regional vision.

Participants will be attending from several national programs in the ECOWAS region, including Ghana, Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Mali, Cote d’Ivoire, Togo, Senegal, and Sierra Leone, and additional interested participants are welcome to attend.

Participants also include actors from CIP, the CGIAR Program on Roots and Tuber, US universities of the Feed the Future Lab network, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foudation, and other research partners.

CIP has been operating in West Africa for about ten years. In the process, they allied with the CORAF Regional Center of Specialization at CSIR-Crops Research Institute in Kumasi. The collaboration established a regional breeding and seed community of practice, which emphasized collaboration with Ghana, Nigeria, and Burkina Faso, and more recently, with Cote d’Ivoire.

However, the broader regional interest in the nutritious orange-fleshed sweet potato has become very clear, and the need for a strengthened and broader regional approach is obvious. This gives rise to the current planning effort, which we anticipate will build on previous efforts and identify new opportunities for harnessing sweet potato potential for transforming and strengthening regional food economies.

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