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  Eur.J.Hortic.Sci. 81 (2) 91-105 | DOI: 10.17660/eJHS.2016/81.2.3
ISSN 1611-4426 print and 1611-4434 online | © ISHS 2016 | European Journal of Horticultural Science | Original article

AVRDC - The World Vegetable Center's women-oriented improvement and development strategy for traditional African vegetables in sub-Saharan Africa

F.F. Dinssa1, P. Hanson2, T. Dubois1, A. Tenkouano3, T. Stoilova1, J. d’A. Hughes2 and J.D.H. Keatinge2
1AVRDC – The World Vegetable Center - Eastern and Southern Africa, Arusha, Tanzania
2AVRDC – The World Vegetable Center, Shanhua, Taiwan
3AVRDC – The World Vegetable Center - West and Central Africa, Bamako, Mali

The importance of traditional African vegetables is increasing with the rising awareness of their contribution to food security, human nutrition and income diversification, particularly in economically and environmentally marginal areas. Under the impetus of renewed donor interest, more research and development organizations are engaging in activities along the African traditional vegetable value chain, and these crops are receiving greater improvement research. From its regional office for Eastern and Southern Africa in Arusha, Tanzania, AVRDC – The World Vegetable Center commenced vegetable re-search and development in sub-Saharan Africa in 1992. We highlight significant achievements in germplasm collection, conservation, improvement and development activities regionally, and outline future breeding strategies for priority traditional African vegetables. The breeding strategy starts with selection within landraces or germplasm accessions and creation of genetic variability, and continues through to gender-disaggregated participatory plant breeding, in which selections are made within the target environment with the participation of local users, ensuring that the target production environ-ment and the needs of the end users are fully taken into account. This paper defines the roles of partners at various stages of the breeding program (germplasm development, evaluation and cultivar release) and in subsequent development activities (cultivar deployment and seed systems) for more effective and sustainable research and development in traditional vegetables.

Keywords breeding strategy, collaboration, cultivar deployment, cultivar release, germplasm development, participatory plant breeding, partners, seed systems

Significance of this study

What is already known on this subject?

  • Germplasm conservation, improvement and development activities for traditional African vegetables have been conducted on a regular basis in sub-Saharan Africa since the 1990s by AVRDC, and sporadically through projects conducted by other organizations in the region.
What are the new findings?
  • The paper presents brief reviews on major traditional African vegetables, their production constraints, past and present germplasm conservation efforts, improvement and development at AVRDC, human resource capacity building, priority crops and strategy for future breeding and development, and suitable partners for breeding programs and subsequent development activities.
What is the expected impact on horticulture?
  • Well-focused, gender-disaggregated participatory breeding and development programs in priority traditional African vegetables will generate improved cultivars adapted to target environments and acceptable to producers and consumers. This will increase the visibility of traditional African vegetables in agricultural systems and increase the horticultural sector’s contribution to nutrition, food security and income generation, particularly for resource-poor rural, peri-urban and urban households, mainly for women and children.

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Received: 19 May 2015 | Revised: 10 November 2015 | Accepted: 15 December 2015 | Published: 25 April 2016 | Available online: 25 April 2016

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