Sweet success with sweet potato
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CTA. 1993. Sweet success with sweet potato. Spore 46. CTA, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/49184
Farmers in Africa achieve yields of about six tonnes per hectare from their crops of sweet potatoes. Elsewhere in the world, farmers expect twice that yield. By the year 2000 it is hoped that African farmers will be able to match those higher...
Farmers in Africa achieve yields of about six tonnes per hectare from their crops of sweet potatoes. Elsewhere in the world, farmers expect twice that yield. By the year 2000 it is hoped that African farmers will be able to match those higher yields because they wile have varieties that are resistant to the serious virus disease, feathery mottle virus, which causes huge crop losses. Resistance to feathery mottle virus is being developed by scientists at Monsanto in the USA. They have taken the gene that makes the virus's protein coat and implanted it into the sweet potato. To do that they have to put the gene into a bacterium which has the ability to transfer the gene into the plant. Once the gene is in the plant, it continues to make the protein and the presence of this protein in the plant prevents the invading feathery mottle virus from multiplying and damaging it. Gene transfer is a complicated and sophisticated techmque but it seems to work; already there are some 200 virus-resistant American sweet potatoes. The next step is to transfer the gene into varieties that are popular in Africa. Monsanto, aided by USAID, has brought a Kenyan scientist, Dr Florence Wambugu, to their laboratories for training. Dr Wambugu is an expert on sweet potatoes. She has selected some of the most popular Kenyan varieties and these are being sent to America. She hopes to confer resistance on them and then take them back to Kenya in a year or two for field trials. If all goes well farmers should have the disease-resistant varieties in their fields by the year 2000. Monsanto 800 N. Lindbergh Boulevard St Louis Missouri 63167 USA