Browse Feed the Future Peanut Lab Stories

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Groundnut Rosette Disease causes stunting in peanut plants and can destroy a crop. Some plants are more resistant than others, and researchers with the Peanut Innovation Lab are homing in on the location where that resistance lies in the genes. CAES News
GRD resistance
A group of researchers has identified where within peanut’s genome the resistance to Groundnut Rosette Disease (GRD) lies, which will enable targeted plant breeding to give farmers a variety that can withstand the disease. By finding the major locus controlling GRD resistance and validating that locus as suitable for marker-assisted selection, the team achieved an historic accomplishment in 2021 in the fight against the most destructive peanut disease in Africa.
The Peanut Innovation Lab partners with Scientific Animations Without Borders (SAWBO) to create animations in various languages. CAES News
Translating agronomy
The Peanut Innovation Lab, partnering with SAWBO, recently made two animated videos about groundnut production in Southern Africa available in Portuguese. The translation comes as the lab works with Farmer to Farmer to train farmers in Mozambique, as well as in Malawi and Zambia.The videos, each around 5 minutes long, were made to help relay and reinforce good agronomic practices for farmers growing groundnuts, particularly in Malawi where the lab works with the Malawi Agricultural Diversification Activity (or AgDiv). Over time, the innovation lab has compiled guides with details specific to the region and in languages farmers understand.
Stephen Arthur, a PhD student with the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Peanut, works to create production packages that help farmers weigh the costs and benefits of different inputs. CAES News
Student Profile: Stephen Arthur
Stephen Arthur is passionate about crop management. For every problem, there is an answer, he says, but giving just one bit of advice won’t help a farmer manage his crop as well as providing him a big picture. Arthur has worked with the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Peanut for several years, first as a master’s student funded through the Peanut & Mycotoxin Innovation Lab and today as a PhD student working on a project creating production packages for Ghanaian groundnut farmers.
Peanut Innovation Lab student Joseph Gomis works with wild peanut relatives in Senegal. CAES News
Student Profile: Joseph Gomis
When Joseph Gomis finished a bachelor’s degree at Université Cheikh Anta Diop in Dakar, Senegal, he wasn’t sure whether his studies would lead him to work with plants or animals. With a degree in natural science, he just wanted to make an impact. Similarly, he didn’t predict how important peanuts would become in his life until he was offered an internship to work with Daniel Fonceka, a well respected research scientist with CIRAD and the Centre d'étude régional pour l'amélioration de l'adaptation à la sécheresse (CERAAS).
Tabitha Lomotey studies peanut resilience to certain fungal diseases, but she also discovered that some varieties grow well in the middle altitudes of Uganda, giving farmers a potential new crop. CAES News
Student Profile: Tabitha Lomotey
When plant breeders talk about the benefits of their work, they usually focus on the benefits to the farmers. Higher yielding varieties that can withstand abiotic and biotic stresses such as drought or diseases bring both food and income security for farmers. But Tabitha Lomotey, who grew up in the city, talks about the consumer, how bringing more food to market makes lower prices for food insecure people who need to stretch their cash as far as they can.
Aflatoxin can't be seen by the naked eye, but is a dangerous contaminant in food around the world. CAES News
Aflatoxin course
Though scientists have known the source of aflatoxin for decades – fungi that infect crops like groundnut and maize and leave behind toxin – more work needs to be done to keep aflatoxin out of the food supply. That work involves educating producers and aggregators about proven ways to minimize the risk of fungal infection, continuing to build testing infrastructure and researching ways to fight contamination from the field to storage to manufacturing. To continue to spread basic knowledge of aflatoxin, the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Peanut has added a course to its digital learning platform, Groundnut Academy.
Researchers in the US and Senegal are studying why young people leave peanut farming behind and move to the city, an important question for the future of farming in Senegal’s Groundnut Basin. University of Georgia PhD student Pierre Diatta and Virginia Tech’s Brad Mills (far left and left), will present early findings of the study, along with UGA agricultural economist Genti Kostandini (far right), in a webinar next week. The team is working with Katim Toure, a collaborator at ENSA (École Nationale Supérieure d'Agriculture) in Senegal. CAES News
Young Senegalese Farmers
All over the world, farmers are aging and young people are moving to more urban areas for economic opportunities. Leaders wonder what factors push young people to abandon agriculture and whether technology or other tools can make farming a more attractive option for the next generation. Next week, researchers from the University of Georgia and Virginia Tech will present early findings from research exploring those questions in Senegal, where a team surveyed more than 1,000 peanut-growing households to explore challenges among peanut producers and learn the main reasons why young people turn away from agriculture.
Professor David Bertioli and his wife, Soraya Leal-Bertioli, senior research scientist, work together with peanut plants in their greenhouses at the Center for Applied Genetic Technologies. (Photo by Andrew Davis Tucker/UGA) CAES News
Wild Peanut Genes
A decade ago, University of Georgia plant scientists David and Soraya Bertioli were living and working in Brazil when they began to wonder about peanut plants they encountered in different corners of the world with an astounding ability to withstand fungal diseases without the use of fungicides. The Bertiolis wondered if these different plants might all have something in common. Did they owe their natural resistance to a single genetic source?
Esther Achola is a PhD student at Makerere University in Uganda working with the Peanut Innovation Lab on a project to find the genetic source of resistance to groundnut rosette disease, a viral disease that can destroy peanut crops in sub-Saharan Africa. CAES News
Fighting GRD in peanut
Scientists have discovered that some varieties of peanut have natural defenses against a devastating disease that completely stunts the growth of other varieties. Now, they are homing in on where those resistant peanuts store that defense – where in its genome the disease-fighting weapon lies – so that they can tap into that resistance and give subsistence farmers a way to grow a more bountiful crop with less risk. Esther Achola has her eye on that prize.
Baffoe-Bonnie, an assistant professor of agricultural economics and agribusiness at Alcorn State, has joined the Peanut Innovation Lab at the University of Georgia heading a project on technology uptake in Ghana. CAES News
New peanut lab project
The Peanut Innovation Lab is adding another project to its portfolio, one that will help farmers in Ghana to see how improved farming practices can improve their bottom line. The project – Modern peanut technology adoption and smallholder farmers’ welfare – is led by Anthony Baffoe-Bonnie, an assistant professor at Alcorn State University in Lorman, Mississippi.