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Burow team lands peanut breeding grant

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) announced $8.65 million in grants on Wednesday to 22 plant breeding research projects through its Agriculture and Food Research Initiative program.

The funding includes $650,000 for a project led by Texas A&M’s Mark Burow, who also directs the Peanut Innovation Lab project, Breeding for Drought, Leaf Spot and Oil.

The NIFA grant includes Peanut Innovation Lab co-PIs from Ghana, Theophilus Tengey, Richard Oteng-Frimpong, and James Asibuo, as well as Venu Mendu at Texas Tech, who leads a Peanut IL project exploring biochemical markers for aflatoxin resistance in peanut seed coat

The NIFA project uses modern biotechnology tools to help with advancing alleles for resistance to pathogens and pests by transferring novel wild species alleles into a set of backcrossed breeding lines sharing a common, popular genetic background (the variety Florunner), and each possessing a small segment of chromosomal DNA inherited from the wild species parents. 

As part of the effort, the team will screen the breeding lines for disease and pest resistance, identify DNA markers diagnostic for these resistances, and identify candidate genes responsible for resistance. The product breeding lines will be available for marker-assisted pyramiding of alleles into multiple disease-resistant cultivars.

The project also will create opportunities for graduate and undergraduate students in natural sciences and agriculture at US universities, including a minority-serving undergraduate college, and in universities in West Africa.

Read more about the project here. 

Agrilinks celebrates 10 years with webinar

Agrilinks is celebrating 10 years of spreading information about agricultural research and innovation around the world.

Supported by the USAID Bureau for Resilience and Food Security (RFS) through the Feed the Future Knowledge, Data, Learning, and Training (KDLT) program, Agrlinks is a hub sharing knowledge, training and connections through blogs, newsletters, webinars and other digital means.

To celebrate the 10-year anniversary, Agrilinks is hosting a special webinar on a new platform.

Zachary Baquet of USAID will give an introductory talk on the history of Agrilinks, and a little information on how you can use Agrilinks to enhance your work. Food security specialists then will share perspectives on the past, present, and future of agricultural development. How did we get here and what can we do to achieve a zero hunger future? Join Agrilinks to find out. 

Sign up for the webinar here.

Food Safety IL seeks applications from MSIs

The Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Food Safety is accepting applications from researchers at Minority Serving Institutions and especially early career faculty and researchers who haven’t yet gained much experience in global development projects.

The lab’s goal is to reduce the burden of food-borne illness in Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean. Researchers from a wide range of disciplines are eligible for this opportunity, including but not limited to food science, food processing, agribusiness, agricultural economics, agricultural education, animal science, family and consumer sciences, gender studies, microbiology, epidemiology, public health, human nutrition, and international relations and affairs.

Projects must be led by a researcher at a Minority Serving Institution (MSI), but project teams may include non-MSIs and other organizations as collaborators. To apply, go to the lab’s website.

Researchers at a non-MSI in the U.S. or at an institution outside the U.S. who are interested in partnering with an MSI on a research proposal may complete this optional interest form.

The lab will host an informational webinar on April 29.

Annual APRES meeting will be virtual

The 53rd American Peanut Research and Education Society Annual Meeting will be virtual, rather than in-person, organizers decided this week.

The 2021 gathering was scheduled to be in Dallas the week of July 13-15, but many potential participants work for agencies or companies that have travel restrictions due to the lingering Covid-19 pandemic. While vaccinations are providing some encouraging signs that people may be able to travel and gather safely soon, society may not meet that milestone by the July meeting.

“It became clear through this discussion the meeting we all want–filled with colleagues, collegial atmosphere, and dynamic discourse is currently compromised by the ability for many to travel to and meet in Dallas. The use of APRES’ reserves to offset any potential financial impact from reduced attendance carried the vote to a virtual format,” President Gary Schwarzlose and Program Chair David Jordan said in a message to society members.

The meeting will explore the theme “Complicated and Challenging World Created by Viruses,” and all presentations will be virtual, but live including the breakout sessions, general session, technical symposium and the Joe Sugg Oral Presentation Graduate Student Competition. Poster-presenters will be asked to record and explanation of their work.

Abstracts will be accepted until April 15. Registration is $250 for APRES members, $25 for students, post docs, and retired members.

Sign up for chat on empowering women in post-production work

Agrilinks is hosting a webinar to share findings from a landscape analysis conducted by the Feed the Future Advancing Women’s Empowerment (AWE) program that examines women’s empowerment in beyond-production activities.

Women engage in a variety of agricultural roles across the value chain. Many approaches, promising practices, and tools to support women’s empowerment in production have emerged in recent years. However, much less is known about women’s engagement, benefit, and empowerment in beyond-production activities such as input and service provision, marketing, agro-processing, and retail.

This webinar, we will will explore common approaches to empowering women in beyond-production activities. Then, we’ll do a deep dive into concrete ways to collect and use data to understand and implement good practices in women’s empowerment in beyond-production.

This discussion, led by AWE consortium member ACDI/VOCA, will be followed by a Q&A session during which the audience will have an opportunity to ask questions about women’s empowerment in beyond-production activities.

Register here to join on Wednesday, March 31 at 9:30 a.m. Eastern time.

Ghana groundnut group plans July meeting

The Ghana Groundnut Working Group (GGWG) has set a date for its third annual meeting, a slightly delayed gathering that will address the theme of strengthening the peanut value chain in the era of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

The GGWG was created to help people and organizations share information and build stronger partnerships that will enhance the groundnut value chain in Ghana. 

The tentative program for the 2021 meeting, which will be held July 27 and 28, will include introductions by representatives of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA), USAID, and the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Peanut. 

Experts will discuss the role nutrition plays in boosting immune systems against infections such as Covid-19, standards and food safety concerns associated with groundnuts, and the status of aflatoxin policies in Ghana. Other presentations will provide an overview of groundnut seed systems; examine tools that will help groundnut farmers minimize production risk; and provide the latest information on postharvest management, nutrition, and economics of the groundnut value chain. 

The program will promote open discussions on strategies to overcome challenges that currently limit the potential of the groundnut industry and supply chain in Ghana.  Presentations by graduate students from universities in Ghana will demonstrate some of the research projects designed to provide solutions to these challenges.

For more information on the 3rd Annual Meeting of the GGWG, please contact Jerry Nboyine at CSIR-Savanna Agricultural Research Institute at: nboyinejerry@gmail.com or + 233 55 758 4561 by June 2 to attend.

USAID looking for university to run Hort IL

The new Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Horticulture has been posted to grants.gov and can be found here. The closing date for applications is May 11.

The purpose of the Horticulture Innovation Lab is to identify and strengthen opportunities for smallholder farmers to develop and sustainably manage horticulture based enterprises in Feed the Future production systems. This includes research and local capacity development on climate-resilient management of nutrient dense food and inclusive horticultural business growth and commercialization, with focus on youth opportunity, gender equality and women’s empowerment. 

The Horticulture IL’s overarching goal is to reduce global hunger, malnutrition and poverty through science, technology and innovation. The Horticulture IL will work to realize inclusive and sustainable agriculture-led economic growth, strengthened resilience among people and systems, and a well-nourished population, especially among youth, women, and young children. The Horticulture IL will build on USAID’s prior investments, including the previous Horticulture IL and its precursor Collaborative Research Support Program (CRSP). The Horticulture IL will function as a five-year Leader with Associates (LWA) Cooperative Agreement, awarded to an eligible U.S. university to develop a global portfolio of horticulture research-for-development.

Any questions must be emailed to Kelly Miskowski (kmiskowski@usaid.gov) by March 25, 2021 at 4 p.m. Washington, D.C. time. Eligibility is restricted to Title XII U.S. universities and other eligible institutions.