Improving sweet potatoes to tackle hunger and poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa

Associate Professor Lachlan Coin is part of an international consortium, Genomic Tools for Sweet Potato Improvement, tackling hunger and poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa by improving sweet potato crops.

Sub-Saharan Africa is one of the world’s poorest regions, in which sweet potato is an important food security and cash crop predominantly grown by women smallhold farmers.

Associate Professor Coin is developing scientific tools to examine and analyse the complex genetic blueprint of the sweet potato.

“Assembling such a complex genome will be a world first and will serve as a significant global resource to identify critical genes for important traits,” A/Prof Coin said.

“Using the genomic tools developed in this project, we can breed new varieties of sweet potato crop with higher yields, improved nutritional characteristics, higher levels of drought tolerance and improved disease and pest resistance.”

Researchers will offer advanced training to young farmers in the use of these genomic breeding methods for sweet potatoes, to build long-term capacity in Sub-Saharan Africa.

“Local growers can then develop more productive, resilient, consumer-preferred varieties in less time. This means more sweet potatoes available for home consumption and an increase in cash sales.”

Help researchers tackle hunger and poverty.