Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN) Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN)

On Friday 20th September 2013 in Kigali, Rwanda, The Rt Hon Prime Minster of Rwanda formally launched the RUFORUM Book, that profiles RUFORUM history and the road it has travelled during the9th Annual Meeting for RUFORUM Network.
23 September 2013 - 23 September 2013

At the National Crops Resources Research Institute in Namulonge on the outskirts of Kampala in Uganda, Luka Atwok Opio ventures forth almost daily to his outdoor laboratory – a stand of maize on a hillside. Even though the plants are well irrigated and carefully tended, they look stunted and discoloured. This delights Luka, who recently earned his MSc in plant breeding from Makerere University and studies resistance to turcicum leaf blight and maize streak virus. Africa is the seat of hundreds, possibly thousands, of diseases and pests that have for centuries ravaged farmers’ crops. Maize is one of the continent’s most important staple food crops, but harvests are frequently infected with bacteria, viruses and fungi. Turcicum leaf blight, with its characteristic cigar-shaped lesions on the leaf, can blight up to 70% of a crop. Maize streak virus, which renders leaves spotty and streaked, is even more virulent. It has been known to wipe out entire fields. Both are endemic in eastern Africa. Scientists have developed maize varieties resistant to either one or the other disease. Luka is trying to breed a new maize variety that would resist both. ‘We can’t adopt European research, as the ecological conditions are entirely different,’ he explains.

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