Breeders’ views on the production of new and orphan crops in Africa: a survey of constraints and opportunities


Abstract

New and orphan crops, which in the past have received only limited research attention, have great potential to support healthy diets in Africa. However, limited systematic data are available on the constraints to production faced by these annual and perennial crops, and the possible opportunities for intervention to remove critical barriers. We report on the results of a survey of African plant breeders to begin identifying constraints to crop production, guide the direction of crop genetic improvement activities and identify appropriate agronomic management interventions. The survey was completed by 67 plant breeders affiliated with institutions in 18 African countries and focused on crops prioritized for genetic improvement by the African Orphan Crops Consortium (AOCC). Of the survey respondents, 38 worked on new or orphan crops on the AOCC crop list. In total, respondents provided specific data on 30 of these crops. We discuss the findings of the survey, which indicate that pest and disease attacks, and lack of access to – or availability of – high-quality planting material are important barriers to be addressed in enhancing production. Other insights from the survey include the differentiation of responses based on the part of the crop used for food, and breeders’ views on the future importance of these plants. These results and additional findings are elaborated along with opportunities for future research to delve deeper into production constraints and solutions for new and orphan crops.

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