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New tech will speed up breeding of crops and livestock in Kenya

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Scientists have launched a revolutionary service to speed up breeding for improved crops and livestock in Africa.

The Integrated Genotyping Service and Support (IGSS) that is based at the Biosciences eastern and central Africa-International Livestock Research Institute (BecAILRI) Hub in Nairobi uses tools that process genetic data quickly, more accurately and affordably.

"Scientists are now able to shorten cycles of breeding new improved varieties of crops and livestock in the continent," Director of the BecA-ILRI Hub Appolinaire Djikeng said.

Djikeng noted that the new technologies enable scientists to have information that will support the development of resilient livestock to withstand the very harsh environments common in the face of climate change.

He observed that the technologies are meant to create opportunities for communities to benefit since breeding is an important business for farmers and livestock keepers.

Djikeng said the technology allows for the selection of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), a significant molecule which carries instructions required to reproduce, develop and live.

"It’s upon the regional governments to put money now in accessing the technology to benefit their farming communities," he added.

It enables researchers to gain a better understanding of the genetic basis for resistance to crops such as Maize Lethal Necrosis (MLN), and could speed up the development of resistant varieties to this devastating disease of maize.

Andrzej Kilian, the founder and the director of Diversity Arrays Technology, said that the platform costs 9 million U.S. dollars to be installed and have personnel trained.

It can be used by any individual, regional research organization, small and medium enterprises (SMEs), large companies operating in Africa, or international research center with particular focus on the African national agricultural research system breeding programs.

The technology provides genotyping, bioinformatics, genetic analysis, and breeding decision support services to crop and livestock improvement programs.

It also offers programs to support capacity building of any organization in using molecular plant breeding.

The IGSS project is collaboration between the BecA-ILRI Hub and Diversity Arrays Technology (DArT) from Australia to support African national crop and livestock breeders to harness the power of genomic data increase the efficiency of their breeding programs.



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