New technology could breed more productive cassava for Africa

New technology from Victoria scientists could help breed more productive cassava for Africa, an important crop for the continent. Agriculture Victoria in cooperation with agricultural biotech company, AgroSciences, developed the technology known as "Optimum Haloid Value" (OHV).

Cassava is the main source of calories for 500 million people across the world, and is ­indispensable to food security in Africa. The new technology is planned to be used by Next Generation Cassava Breeding, a humanitarian project that aims to increase the rate of genetic improvement in cassava breeding and lead to a more productive and viable vegetable.

Agriculture Victoria’s executive director of biosciences research, Professor German Spangenberg, said OHV was an advancement of ­genomic selection, which uses genetic information and physical characteristics to select the best parental lines.

“We’ve made OHV available for this humanitarian project due to the importance of cassava not only for Africa, but for global food security,” Prof Spangenberg said.

“Breeders and farmers will benefit from the use of OHV to accelerate the development of higher-yield, disease-resistant cassava varieties. The technology also has potential applications for other crops, including those like wheat and canola that are important to the Australian agriculture sector."

Using OHV, and genomic selection, Professor Spangenberg believes new releases of cassava could be available in nearly half the time.


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