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African Orphan Crops Consortium 2023 Progress Report and Appendices

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African Orphan Crops Consortium 2023 Progress Report and Appendices

From Idea to Movement: Highlights

  • The African Orphan Crops Consortium (AOCC) was hatched in in 2011; it began operations in 2013 with 6 Consortium Members including the African Union Development Agency-New Partnership for Africa’s Development (AUDA-NEPAD). To-date it has raised $6.5 million to fund Its African Plant Breeding Academy (AfPBA), including $5.5 million for the AfPBA breeders’ course, along with innumerable in-kind contributions from its 39 consortium members.
  • Of the 101 African Orphan Crops (AOC) initially targeted by the consortium for improvement, there are 75 for which DNA sequence data are available; genomes of 46 of these have been published.
  • With the graduation of AfPBA Cohort 5 in May 2023, AfPBA has graduated 151 plant breeders from 28 African nations (90% PhDs, nearly 40% women).
  • AfPBA alumni have landed nearly $168.8 million in highly competitive grants and other external funding for crop improvement, representing a 30:1 return on investment of AfPBA sponsorship funding.
  • AfPBA alumni garnered nearly $6.3 million in additional funds from their national programs to supplement their breeding program budgets, mainly to support the release of new varieties.
  • AfPBA alumni launched 143 improved crop varieties, 32 of which involved AOCC-designated African orphan crops.
  • AfPBA alumni have published over 665 scientific papers in peer-reviewed journals, several which represent the forefront of scientific advancement in the subject area.
  • AfPBA alumni have emerged as leaders in the field of plant breeding education, developing 62 graduate-level plant breeding courses – based on knowledge and tools gleaned in AfPBA – that have impacted hundreds of young people, the next generation of crop improvement scientists.
  • In 2023 the AfPBA launched its CRISPR Course, a first-of-its-kind effort to train national program scientists in gene editing, with sponsorship by Bayer Crop Sciences, Syngenta, US-based Foundation for Food and Agricultural Research (FFAR), and Morocco-based UM6P Ventures.
  • The CRISPR Course graduated 10 scientists from six countries in October 2023
  • A large percentage of AfPBA alumni have been promoted to positions of leadership within their organizations.
  • AfPBA alumni were instrumental in establishing the African Plant Breeders Association (APBA).
  • Partial funding for AfPBA Class VI and future cohorts of the AfPBA CRISPR Course has been secured, and fundraising efforts continue.
  • African farmers are using seeds improved by African scientists.
  • AOCC in collaboration with FAO will hold a Workshop as part of the 3rd biennial Conference of the APBA in October 2023 to demonstrate proof-of-concept of the AOCC model.