Peanut Lab in Niger
Researchers in Niger and the U.S. are focusing on the aflatoxin epidemic as it poses a threat to peanut production. The research that is being conducted in Niger is focused on the seed coats of peanuts in particular and how altering the exterior compounds of the seeds can make them more resistant to the fungus. This information is leading to management interventions and is resulting in a reduction of aflatoxin contamination in peanuts.
While aflatoxin continues to be a threat to African smallholder farmers, researchers are studying the seed coat of peanut and whether increasing naturally occurring biochemicals in the coat can increase the resistance to aflatoxin. Researchers are doing this by manipulating the seed coat by adding antimicrobial compounds to peanuts pre- and post-harvest.
Peanut diversity in Western Africa
Researchers in Niger are identifying a pool of material that can serve as a new source of germplasm and alleles to unlock more genetic diversity in West Africa. Researchers hope to increase capacities for a vibrant network of peanut breeders in Eastern and Southern Africa to apply up-to-date techniques for breeding. This can lead to a larger variety of donor lines for breeding programs for Niger and neighboring countries.
Niger is a landlocked western African country and the primary language is French. The country takes its name from the Niger River, which flows through the southwestern part and the capital is Niamey. Niger extends for about 750 miles (1,200 km) from north to south and about 930 miles (1,460 km) from east to west.
Niger’s northern two-thirds of its territory lies in the dry tropical deserts. In the southern part of the country’s climate is of the type known as Sahelian, which is characterized by a single, short rainy season. From April to May the southern trade winds blowing from the Atlantic reach the equator and are diverted toward the Sahara where they meet with the harmattan. The rains last from one to four months, according to the latitude; August is the rainy month everywhere except in the far north, where the rainfall is unpredictable.
Most Nigerian meals consist of one starch, such as rice or millet, served with a sauce or stew of some sort. Couscous is quite popular as well. Since meat is not readily available, locals don’t consume it as often as other populations. Most Nigerian soups and stews are vegetable-based. Some other common ingredients are beans, cassava root, palm nuts, and yams.
Popular fruits include heavy tree fruits such as pineapples, bananas, grapefruits, melons, and oranges.