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Banana breeding project to improve nutrition in Africa

Dr. Robert Reid, research assistant professor with UNC Charlotte’s Bioinformatics Services Division at the North Carolina Research Campus, has been awarded a $25,000 grant through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for the “Improvement of Banana for the Smallholder Farmers in the Great Lakes Region of Africa.”

The goal of the Gates Foundation is to reduce hunger and poverty for millions of farming families in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia by increasing agricultural productivity in a sustainable way.

Reid will be working with Dr. Al Brown of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture to improve genomic breeding approaches for the East African Banana. The IITA, celebrating its 50th year, is a nonprofit organization that generates agricultural innovations to meet Africa’s most pressing challenges of hunger, malnutrition and poverty.

Ultimately, the project will accelerate the development of new varieties of crops that are more resistant to disease, provide more nutrition for consumers and better yield for farmers, stimulating local economies.

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