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DFID research: New vegetable varieties expand options for African farmers

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

New vegetable varieties expand options for African farmers

From disease-resistant tomatoes to nutrient-packed indigenous leafy greens that produce over longer periods, 32 new vegetable varieties developed from AVRDC - The World Vegetable Center lines will diversify food production in sub-Saharan Africa and help farmers and communities become more self-sufficient and less vulnerable to food price shocks.

In early March, the National Variety Release Office in Mali announced the release of 23 improved vegetable varieties developed from AVRDC germplasm. Tanzania’s Horticultural Research and Training Institute (HORTI-Tengeru) and Agricultural Seed Agency released nine AVRDC lines as new varieties in February so the latest releases bring the number of vegetable varieties AVRDC and partners have introduced to Africa to 32 in 2011 alone.

“These releases are a major breakthrough in winning the war against malnutrition in Africa,” said Dr. J.D.H. “Dyno” Keatinge, Director General, AVRDC - The World Vegetable Center.

New tomato varieties released in Tanzania have resistance to blight diseases which limit production in cool wet weather. The new varieties, therefore, have the potential to bridge the seasonality gap in production by allowing farmers to grow tomato during the off-season. The relatively firm fruit can be transported long distances, presenting opportunities for export. Other releases in Tanzania include nutritious amaranth lines with extended harvesting periods.

Highlights in Mali’s release group include three varieties of okra, ‘Sasilon,’ ‘Batoumambe,’ and ‘Safi’ adapted to grow in the hot dry and cool dry seasons; hot peppers ‘Nafama’ and ‘Nisondia,’ which farmers and consumers ranked as favorites for taste in participatory trials; and ‘Soxna’ and ‘L10,’ high yielding African eggplant with a slightly bitter taste preferred by consumers.

Vegetables, especially indigenous vegetables, are vital for good health and a healthy agricultural sector. They are the best source of vitamins, micronutrients, and fiber required by the human body, and add much-needed nutritional diversity to staple-based diets.

For further information, see the link to the full AVRDC press release below. DFID provides core funding to the AVRDC, helping support the ongoing breeding pipelines in Africa.