This AgExchange is being held in conjunction with a USAID-sponsored session on January 17 at the Plant & Animal Genome Conference XXIV.
The U.S. Agency for International Development’s Bureau for Food Security makes substantial investments in crop improvement research in crops critical for global food security. Crops such as peanuts, common beans, cassava, and banana (Roots, Tubers, Bananas; RTBs) are critical sources of nutrition for undernourished populations in developing countries. Their continued, consistent availability will rely, in part, on high quality germplasm available to farmers. While we plan to continue providing foundational investment in crop improvement programs, we also want to explore the range of opportunities to accelerate progress in these breeding programs - from next-generation phenotyping tools to genomics-assisted breeding approaches. We have planned this AgExchange to help inform new investments to accelerate progress in crop improvement programs in our partner countries.
We hope your participation in this AgExchange will connect you with leading researchers in these crops and technologies and help identify the breeding gaps and opportunities in the coming years.
DIRECTIONS: Log in to your Agrilinks account or create an account to weigh in on the discussion questions below. Click on "Reply here" after an individual question to submit a comment, or scroll to the bottom of this page to browse and reply to any question or comment. All comments are public, and we encourage open dialogue.
The discussion will be actively facilitated by USAID/BFS staff from January 11-20.
Throughout these questions, we ask you to discuss the tools and approaches you currently use, or propose for use, in developing-country breeding programs. These tools and approaches may include:
- Techniques for genetic characterization, analysis, and selection
- Novel approaches for accurate, efficient phenotyping
- Rapid and low-cost DNA extraction protocols
- New approaches for data management, processing, analysis, and sharing to support breeding efforts
- Innovative technologies and systems that promote human and institutional capacity to implement breeding programs
- Other “outside-the-box” ideas that have the potential to drive success in developing-country breeding programs
Theme 1: What are the challenges / constraints (demand side)?
1. Please specify the crop(s) you work with. What are the three most important phenotypes, other than yield, that you consider in your breeding program? (Please consider both productivity and marketing traits.) What key phenotyping constraints need to be overcome?
2. Think of the tools and approaches that you have successfully integrated into your breeding programs in the last 10 years. What led to success?
3. Identify the #1 overall constraint to your programs as well as the #1 constraints in each: A) germplasm characterization B) variety testing C) other aspects.
4. In 5 years, what do you see as your greatest challenge? Different than today?
5. Often, human and institutional capacity constraints, not technical challenges, are primary obstacles to breeding program success in developing countries. What type of capacity or expertise is most needed? What obstacles prevent effective use of trainings etc?
Theme 2: What are the opportunities / tools (supply side)?
1. Which tools and approaches have the greatest potential to make developing-country legume and RTB breeding programs more effective and more efficient? Consider a range of possibilities and timelines, e.g.:
a. Within the next 5 years, what are the most promising low-cost, near-term opportunities with potential to rapidly advance legume and RTB breeding efforts?
b. Within the next 5-10 years, which of the tools and approaches that have most increased effectiveness of maize, soybean etc breeding in elite programs and industries could be adapted successfully to drive gains for developing-country breeding programs?
c. Over the next 10+ years, what are some cutting-edge tools or approaches that, given time and investment, have the highest potential to revolutionize developing-country breeding efforts for legume and RTB crops?
2. Given the existing toolbox, which tools are the most suitable for a given RTB or legume crop? Which tools are most broadly suitable across all crops?
3. Often, human and institutional capacity constraints, not technical challenges, are primary obstacles to breeding program success in developing countries. What type of training or preparation is needed to enable use of these new technologies?
4. Given your answers to previous questions, what are the top three critical infrastructure investment needs to enable success?