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Israel – Uganda research collaboration:

Working on virus-resistant sweet potato planting material

Ugandan agricultural scientists and Israeli researchers are researching virus-resistant sweet potato planting material. The aim of the project is not to develop a new cultivar, but rather to understand the mechanism of virus resistance in the present East African sweet potato cultivars, and to improve future breeding programmes. reported on Dr. Peter Wasswa’s - of Makerere University- four-year project, in conjunction with Dr. Victor Gaba and Dr. Amit Gal-On at Volcani Centre, an agricultural research centre in Israel.

The project is titled ‘Sustaining Sweet Potato Productivity by Exploiting Reversion from Virus Infection‘ and it is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, running until 2018. The researchers are developing scientific tools for breeding advanced virus-resistant sweet potatoes.

This innovation is set to guarantee cheap and sustainable planting material, appropriate for subsistence farming systems. According to Wasswa, the project seeks to provide knowledge of the natural ability of some East African sweet potato varieties to resist virus infection and on how to breed new virus-resistant sweet potato varieties.

This was revealed when a team of African journalists recently met Gaba at the Volcani Centre in Israel. The Volcani Centre serves as the research arm of Israel’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

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