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UC Davis partners with African Orphan Crops Consortium to sequence genomes of 101 indigenous African foods

UC Davis, in partnership with the African Orphan Crops Consortium, is working to improve the indigenous crops of Africa in order to eradicate stunting, a medical condition resulting from malnutrition and chronic hunger.

The African Orphan Crops Consortium was launched in 2012 by Dr. Howard-Yana Shapiro, a senior fellow at UC DavisCollege of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and chief agricultural officer at Mars, Incorporated, who took on the task of sequencing the genomes of 101 indigenous African foods in order to help plant breeders improve these foods’ nutritional content, productivity and resiliency.

“We were told, in order to have any impact on nutrition, we would need to improve at least 100 crops,” Shapiro said in a press release. “In the end, we went with 101 crops, including the baobab tree, which can survive even the worst drought. You can eat its leaves, which are actually quite tasty.”

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