Cutting-edge potatoes for Zimbabwe
MetadataShow full item record
CTA. 2005. Cutting-edge potatoes for Zimbabwe. Spore 120. CTA, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/48041
Internet URL: http://spore.cta.int/images/stories/pdf/old/spore120.pdf
Born again, sweet potato plants developed by a team of local scientists employed by Zimbabwe company Agri-Biotech are helping small-scale farmers in Zimbabwe to weather the country s food crisis...
Born again sweet potato plants developed by a team of local scientists employed by Zimbabwe company Agri-Biotech are helping small-scale farmers in Zimbabwe to weather the country s food crisis. The plants make it possible for a 30-m square plot to feed a family of seven all year round. Over 35,000 people have benefited in the past 2 years and supplies have reached eight of Zimbabwe's 56 districts. The scientists call the plants born again because they have found a way of removing the virus that plagues sweet potato crops. In a GM-free tissue culture process, they literally employ cutting-edge science. They dissect out the 0.25 mm tip of the bud, which is free from viruses and other micro-organisms, and throw the rest away. They then grow the bud tip in a test tube for 9 months into a virus-free plant, and keep on sub-culturing it to increase numbers. From there they transplant the plants into plastic greenhouse tunnels and take cuttings from them. These are bought by donors, such as the Swedish Cooperative Centre, which funded Agri-Biotech to supply 3,000 starter plants to 160 nursery farmers. The virus cleansing is not permanent and farmers return for new clean material every few years.