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New Crop Innovation Lab looking to partner with NARS institutions

The Innovation Lab for Crop Improvement soon will begin accepting applications for Centers of Innovation, National Agriculture Research System institutions that would work with the innovation lab on crop improvement research, variety development and release.

Projects through the ILCI must be led by a Principal Investigator (PI) based at a NARS institution from a Feed the Future target or aligned country in East Africa (Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Burundi, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, Somalia, South Sudan, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe), West Africa (Ghana, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone), Asia (Bangladesh, Nepal, India, Burma, Cambodia, Georgia, Tajikistan) and Latin America and the Caribbean (Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Belize, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Panama, Haiti, Mexico).

Applications must clearly define all product profiles for target crops described in the application. ILCI target crops include root and tuber vegetables, legumes (excluding peanut and soybean), sorghum and millets. (more…)

Expert sought to improve peanut processing safety, quality in Senegal

The Farmer-to-Farmer program is looking for a volunteer for three weeks to train peanut processors in Senegal about proper post-harvest and processing techniques. Through Farmer-to-Farmer, U.S. volunteers provide technical assistance on practical interventions that increase food production and income, improve farm and agribusiness operations, help farmers gain access to markets, build local capacity, and conserve natural resources.

Over the 21-day trip, the volunteer will travel to Kaffrine and Touba in Senegal where he or she will train peanut processors in good practices and improved techniques and technologies, as well as develop a syllabus and training module focusing on this topic.

The volunteer will help build the capacity of two hosts, ANAMO (Touba House of Tools) and Birkelane Associations Agreement (EGABI), in peanut processing. (more…)

Report: US ag benefits from overseas research

A new report commissioned by the International Food Policy Research Institute details how international agriculture research benefits U.S. interests, both in direct and indirect ways.

The federal government spends far less than some taxpayers believe on aid to developing countries, according to “How the United States Benefits from Agricultural and Food Security Investments in Developing Countries.” Total nonmilitary assistance to developing countries was $33.3 billion in 2017, less than 1% of the budget. Foreign agricultural aid is a small bit of that, just 0.04 % of the budget.

But for that investment, U.S. agriculture reaps diverse benefits, the report finds. (more…)

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…)

New weed control book addresses peanut production systems

 Experts who worked together in the Peanut Innovation Lab precursor, the Peanut & Mycotoxin Innovation Lab, recently co-authored a book chapter on weed control in peanut.

Weed control book

“Weed Control Sustainability: Hazards and Risks in Cropping Systems Worldwide” contains a chapter on peanuts.

Weed scientists at North Carolina State University, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research’s Crops Research Institute and the University of Development Studies in Ghana wrote “Sustainable Weed Management in Peanut,” a chapter in CRC Press’ book “Weed Control Sustainability: Hazards and Risks in Cropping Systems Worldwide.”

The chapter discusses the impact weeds have on peanut production and how producers work to minimize the negative effect on yield, using examples from several countries including the Feed the Future target country Ghana.

Drs. Grace Bolfrey-Arku, Israel Dzomeku and David Jordan were actively involved in the work of the Innovation Lab and, along with lead author Dr. Ramon Leon, have created an important resource for scientists and producers who are interested in managing weeds in peanut. (more…)

Peanut Institute launches online library for nutrition research

The Peanut Institute has launched a searchable research library to serve as the hub of all peanut nutrition research publications. The resource gives anyone instant access to the latest and most noteworthy research in the nutrition field.

The database will allow users to search the library by topic, year of publication, journal, article title, study authors or keywords. A summary of publications will be provided, as well as links to the original studies online.

Research Director Samara Sterling launched the library and expects that by August 2019 it will have at least 250 publication summaries. Developing the research library is a continuous process, both of identifying and summarizing research articles, and of identifying the most user-friendly database design methods, Sterling said.




New drug could ease peanut allergy in kids

A year-long trial involving methodical exposure to small amounts of peanut protein shows promise in  alleviating the most serious peanut allergies.

The results, announced Sunday at a conference of the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology in Seattle, may lead to the first oral medication that could eliminate severe peanut allergies in children.

After six months of treatment followed by six months of maintenance therapy, two-thirds of the 372 children who received the treatment were able to ingest 600 milligrams or more of peanut protein — the equivalent of two peanuts — without developing allergic symptoms.

Check out this article in the New York Times.