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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

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

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

It must be noted that normally the period between January and March is the dry season in Ghana and as such not much field activity is done except collection of post harvest data and laboratory diagnostics/analyses.

During the period post harvest data on harvested materials from the three locations where trials were evaluated were collected and analyzed. Laboratory analyses of harvested materials were also done to assess levels of aflatoxins among some of the promising hybrids harvested in the previous quarters. Land preparation of fields was initiated in anticipation of planting of F1 hybrids generated in the previous quarter. Packing of seeds in readiness for planting in the 2018 main season was also done during the quarter. Two presentations on project activities were made during the period. The first one was by PhD candidate's activities and results achieved so far and the second one by the project PI during the 2018 annual in-house and planning sessions of the CSIR-Crops Research Institute, Kumasi, Ghana.

In the coming quarter the PI and his team plan to establish their fields to continue to assess the stability of hybrids that they have generated both in terms of yield and levels of aflatoxins. They plan to backcross the introduced germplasm into their elite genotypes. aflatoxin quantification analyses will also continue in the laboratory. They will prepare inoculum sources for artificial inoculation of trials that will be established. Lastly, they also plan to collaborate with the producers of aflasafe compound to find out how resistant varieties and the use of aflasafe can contribute in managing aflatoxins in Ghana.

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