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March 13, 2011

New disease-tolerant cassava variety released in Nigeria

Combining genetic traits from two continents, a new cassava variety developed through biotechnology is being multiplied and released to farmers in Nigeria.

The new variety, CR41-10, which is resistant to cassava mosaic disease (CMD), was developed by crossing a Nigerian cassava variety with natural resistance to CMD with varieties from Latin America, where the disease is not found. Conserved in CIAT's gene bank in Colombia, the Latin American wild relatives were chosen using molecular markers linked to CMD resistance.

"This variety is the first example of a product involving biotechnology that directly reaches cassava farmers," says senior cassava breeder, Herman Ceballos. Chiedoze Egesi, from Nigeria's National Root Crop Research Institute (NRCRI), concurs: "This is proof that the excellent cassava germplasm developed at CIAT can directly add value to cassava in Africa. We hope many new varieties will follow in its footsteps."

CR41-10 was released in December 2010 after a decade of collaboration involving CIAT, the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and the NRCRI, and several years of trials in Nigeria. "Over the years there has been a huge amount of work to identify molecular markers for improving food crops," says Ceballos. "Now we're showing that this work can be applied to improve food production in developing countries where it is most needed."

New Agriculturalist

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