Improving nutrition through African Orphan Crops
Officially launched at the Clinton Global Initiative meetings in 2011, the AOCC is an international effort to improve the nutrition, productivity and climatic adaptability of some of Africa’s most important food crops, helping to decrease the malnutrition and stunting rife among the continent’s rural children.
AOCC’s goal is to sequence, assemble and annotate the genomes of 100 traditional African food crops, which would enable higher nutritional content for society over the decades to come. The resulting information will be put into the public domain, with the endorsement of the African Union.
Crops targeted for improvement
The focus crops are grown in all parts of Africa, but are referred to as “orphan crops” because, not being economically important on global markets, they have been largely ignored by researchers.
This includes, but is not limited to, crops like: Marula, Ethiopian mustard, Baobab, African eggplant, Egusi, Amaranth, Bananas (matoke), Moringa.
How will the AOCC improve these crops?
The AOCC will sequence, assemble and annotate the genomes of 100 neglected food crop species important to African farm family livelihoods and nutrition, a list chosen largely by African scientists. Early sequencing was carried out by the Beijing Genomic institute. The resulting data will not only be publically released, but will be worked on by researchers and breeders in Africa and elsewhere, and improved seeds will be provided to farmers all over Africa.
How will the AOCC get this information to farmers?
The AOCC created the African Plant Breeding Academy, which is establishing facilities at the World Agroforestry Centre in Kenya and at a location in West Africa. The academy will train 250 plant breeding scientists and 500 technicians over five years.Learn more about Cocoa Sustainability.