Among the machines humming in the seed lab stands Alice Muchugi, Genetic Resources Unit Manager at the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF). Alice has been with ICRAF since she was a Masters student at Kenyatta University. She is now integral to the African Orphan Crops Consortium (AOCC) and the African Plant Breeder’s Academy (AfPBA), which graduates its first class of plant breeders on Thursday, 11 December 2014.
The goal of the AOCC is to use the latest scientific equipment and techniques to genetically sequence, assemble and annotate the genomes of 101 African orphan crops for the development of robust and nutritious food. The 23 breeders graduating will be the first of many – the Academy aims to train 250 plant breeders and technicians over 5 years in techniques to create improved planting materials for African smallholder farmers.