Feed the Future Peanut Innovation Lab

A blog about leading science in peanut and food security.

Plant breeding program in Ghana accepting PhD applicants

The West Africa Centre for Crop Improvement (WACCI) is taking applications for PhD in plant breeding at WACCI, University of Ghana. Successful applicants will be enrolled in January 2020 as the 13th cohort of students in the WACCI PhD Plant Breeding training programme.

Prospective students must have a master’s degree in plant breeding, plant genetics, plant pathology, horticulture, crop science, applied entomology, applied nematology or related fields, and be able to pay for the program through a scholarship or personal funds.

Applications are due by July 31.

Check out the WACCI fee schedule or apply for admission.

Nominate an Innovation Lab scientist for BIFAD awards

Do you want to recognize a scientist who is doing outstanding research through a Feed the Future Innovation Lab?

The Board for International Food and Agricultural Development (BIFAD) is accepting nominations for the BIFAD Award for Scientific Excellence in a Feed the Future Innovation Lab. Each year, the Board recognizes a recipient in both the Senior Researcher (or Research Team) and Student Researcher categories.

The nominees are judged based on:

  • Scientific and technical merit of the research;
  • Relevance of the research to developing countries’ national and/or regional agricultural research priorities;
  • Potential for the research to contribute to improvements in food security, nutrition, resilience and inclusive, sustainable economic growth;
  • Evidence of commitment to capacity building.

The full Call for Nominations and submission portal can be accessed on the BIFAD Awards page and at www.aplu.org/bifad.

Please direct any questions regarding the award or application process to dferguson@aplu.org.


Peanut Genome Initiative starts phase 2, including flavor research

Can we breed a peanut plant for flavor? The people at The Peanut Foundation think so.

The foundation, which initiated the Peanut Genome Initiative to map the genetic code of the peanut plant, is proposing a second phase of the work. Phase II of the initiative would use the genomic (not GMO) tools developed during the first phase to breed peanuts with improved traits, including:

  • disease resistance (initially focusing on leafspot);
  • aflatoxin resistance;
  • drought tolerance; and
  • flavor conservation.

Flavor conservation was perhaps the most controversial part of this proposal, the foundation said, as some people believe that flavor traits are too complex and genetic traits are inseparable from environmental factors.

But research into other foods has tied flavor to genes, including tomato, which lost genes for flavor as breeders selected for color, shelf-life and other traits.

In. a recent paper published in “Nature,” researchers describe a rare allele selected against during domestication that impacts the flavor of commercial tomatoes. (more…)

Peanut milk product discontinued after just 2 years

Elmhurst has discontinued its line of peanut drinks just two years after launching the products. The change includes Milked Peanuts-Chocolate, Chocolate Peanut Protein and Vanilla Protein Shakes. The company stopped making the original Milked Peanuts drink at the end of last year.

“We made this tough decision based on manufacturing difficulties involving peanuts,” Elmhurst said in a statement to its customers. “By removing this ingredient from our portfolio, we will create more capacity—both in research and production—for the exploration of new, innovative products.”

“Members and alternates at the National Peanut Board, our farm families and staff are disappointed, but we still believe a peanut milk product would be welcomed by consumers who enjoy alternative milks,” said Bob Parker, president and CEO of the National Peanut Board. “We are confident that a peanut milk product with an equivalent nutrition profile to dairy milk; with the same amounts of protein, calcium, Vitamin D and other fortification, at a price point competitive with existing alternative nut milks would be a success.”

Peanut and nutrition advocates were excited when Elmhurst, a former dairy milk producer in New York, launched the product in 2017. While other nut milks may contain water and fillers, Milked Peanuts contained just five ingredients, mostly healthy peanuts.

The NPB plans to contact other makers of alternative milks to draw attention to the potential for peanut milk products.

Fish Innovation Lab accepting research pitches

The Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Fish is accepting proposals for research projects west Africa, east Africa, and Asia.

The lab intends to fund approximately 10 proposals for up to three years and with budgets in the $200,000 to $800,000 range. Current lab activities are in Bangladesh, Nigeria, Kenya, and Zambia. Other Feed the Future target and aligned countries may be considered if justified.

Areas of inquiry include advancing the productivity frontier, reducing and mitigating risk to fish production systems, and improving human outcomes. Successful proposals also will integrate four crosscutting themes: gender mainstreaming and youth engagement, improving human nutrition, resilience of fish value chains and households, and capacity building.

The competition is open to any qualified research, educational, governmental, private sector, or non-profit institution globally that has a Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) and is registered in the System for Award Management.

Concept papers are due May 24, and final proposals by July 24. More information about the funding opportunity and complete application instructions on the lab’s Piestar page.


USDA looks for US universities to train in aflatoxin control

USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) is looking for U.S. universities willing to host mid-level agricultural managers from lower and middle-income countries under the Cochran Fellowship Program. The program calls for universities to design and deliver a training program for six English-speaking fellows on improving food safety in Pakistan through aflatoxin control.

The objective of the Cochran Fellowship Program is to assist eligible countries to develop agricultural systems necessary to meet the food and fiber needs of their domestic populations. Strengthening and enhancing trade linkages between the eligible countries and the U.S. also is important to the program

The closing date for applications is Wednesday, May 1. Contact Zach Bachtell for direct inquiries about this program.



EasyJet bans peanuts

EasyJet has banned peanuts on flights, joining airlines such as Qantas, Southwest Airlines, Lufthansa and British Airways that have yielded to pressure from customers. Peanuts will no longer be served on flights and passengers may be asked to refrain from eating nuts if someone on board reports an allergy when he buys his tickets.

Read the full story about EasyJet’s decision to no longer serve or sell peanuts.