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Partnerships for enhanced engagement in research (PEER)
Cycle 4 (2015 Deadline)

Development of high yielding aflatoxin resistant maize hybrids for improved nutrition and health in Ghana

PI: Allen Oppong (, CSIR-Crops Research Institute
U.S. Partner: Marilyn Warburton, USDA ARS Corn Host Plant Resistance Research Unit
Project Dates: October 2015 - September 2018

Project Overview

Dr. Oppong and his team will apply SSR and SNP aflatoxin-resistant markers to help speed up the development of aflatoxin-resistant maize for Ghana. The incorporation of aflatoxin resistant genes into local elite inbred lines for the production of high yielding hybrids will not only improve maize availability in Ghana but will also improve the nutrition and health of Ghanaians. The process of developing aflatoxin-resistant maize will enhance the skills of Ghanaian scientists in using marker-assisted selection/breeding to hasten maize breeding activities in Ghana, and these modern techniques can also be utilized in other breeding activities for improved biotic stress resistance in Ghana and beyond. Currently, the use of marker-assisted breeding is at the initial stages in Ghana, and using aflatoxin-resistant markers will reduce considerably the time needed to breed for high yielding aflatoxin-resistant maize in Ghana.

 Maize field
 Maize field (photo courtesy of Dr. Oppong)

First of all the development of aflatoxin-resistant maize will not only impact positively on the nutrition of Ghanaians but also will have a tremendous impact on health of mothers, children, poultry, and livestock. Improving maize yields can substantially raise farmers’ income and livelihoods. It will also provide raw material for the poultry industry to increase poultry production and consequently address protein needs of Ghanaians.

Currently, Ghana is not self sufficient in poultry, partly due to the high cost of maize used in poultry feed. Consumption of aflatoxin-contaminated maize also has detrimental effects on unborn babies, child health, child development, and survival. Developing aflatoxin resistant maize will address these challenges thereby enhancing the overall well-being of Ghanaians. In addition, the acquisition of equipment to support marker-assisted selection will improve the technical infrastructure at the Crops Research Institute.

The improved human resource capacity that the project will produce can also deployed to address other stress breeding challenges 

Summary of Recent Activities

During the quarter ending September 2017, Dr. Oppong and his team harvested field trials planted in the second quarter. These include the three multilocational trials established at Fumesua, Akomadan and Wenchi to evaluate the yield potential of F1 hybrids planted in addition to the crossing blocks established at Fumesua. Field agronomic data collection
involving plant height, disease incidence and severity, stand count and other post harvest data including field weight were also taken. Fields were also prepared for the minor season plantings in the three locations indicated above as well as that for the establishment of crossing blocks. The minor season plantings were done in September and at the time of writing this report all fields have received their first fertilizer application. In addition the main season trials were artificially inoculated with Aspegillus flavus responsible
for the production of aflatoxins in all three locations. The artificial inoculation was done using the side needle method.

The PI received a supplemental grant which will support the visit of US partner, Dr. Marilyn Warburton to visit Ghana to see firsthand project implementation and offer technical advice where needed. In addition training workshop is being organized for her to train Ghanaian Scientists and students on modern techniques for Marker assisted selection in October, 2017.

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