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.
CAES News
Summer research on Uganda
U.S. college students interested in a future in international development could only ponder the possibilities from afar this summer, as the ongoing global pandemic kept most from any sort of study or work abroad. That limitation applied to students participating in a National Science Foundation Research Experiences for Undergrads program at the University of Vermont, too, a program designed to prepare them for graduate school or professional work in international development, applied economics, sociology, demography or public policy.
Henry Ssendagire, a master's student at Makerere University in Uganda, is working on a project with the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Peanut at UGA to find the alternative hosts for a devastating peanut disease, Groundnut Rosette Virus. CAES News
Tracking peanut virus
Henry Ssendagire was supposed to become a medical doctor. At least, that was his mother’s dream. She may have to settle for a doctor of virology. Ssendagire, who grew up in a poor neighborhood in Kampala, Uganda, found himself studying horticulture on a government scholarship. Today, his research may help farmers control one of the most troublesome plant diseases that ruins groundnut yields and threatens food security.
Kaitlin Fischer, a PhD student in rural sociology at Pennsylvania State University working on a Peanut Innovation Lab project has won a Fulbright Scholarship to travel to Ghana and study peanut value chain interventions. CAES News
Fulbright Scholar
Women around the world play an important role in producing peanut, but how those nuts get to market is a complicated and critical part of the value chain. Kaitlin Fischer, a graduate student working with the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Peanut, has been awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to compare interventions to see how two types of commercialization schemes impact peanut farmers, especially women.
Scientists working collaboratively in global research projects have grown accustomed to meeting on Zoom. As the ability to travel safely becomes a reality, the Innovation Lab will hold on to some of the communication habits and tools that proved useful. CAES News
Digital tech bringing teams together
The innovation lab held its second annual research meeting in a digital format in June, incorporating many of the lessons learned over the past year about how to make the most out of technology for long-distance meetings. To make the most of the ability to meet online, the management entity and many project teams in the Peanut Innovation Lab have shifted the way they get together.
Groundnut Academy logo CAES News
Groundnut Academy
Students are on a break in many parts of the world, but learning can happen at any time on a new platform created by the Peanut Innovation Lab. Called the “Groundnut Academy,” the digital learning platform is a place to learn about all things groundnut, beginning with the plant itself. As courses are added, learners can explore the nutrition of the nut, safe post-harvest practices and topics related to groundnut research.
Professor David Bertioli and senior research scientist Soraya Leal-Bertioli work together with peanut plants in their greenhouses at the Center for Applied Genetic Technologies. CAES News
Best of Both Worlds
The wild relatives of modern peanut plants have the ability to withstand disease in ways that modern peanut plants can’t. The genetic diversity of these wild relatives means that they can shrug off the diseases that kill farmers’ peanut crops, but they also produce tiny nuts that are difficult to harvest because they burrow deep in the soil.
An innovative small-scale sheller can be adjusted to shell various sizes of nuts grown in different geographies. By replacing the sheller basket of the machine and passing unshelled nuts through twice, a user speed up the monotonous task with few broken or split nuts. (Photo by Allison Floyd) CAES News
Small peanut shellers
The Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Peanut is deploying several innovative small-scale shellers and grading tables to assist groundnut breeding teams in Africa. The equipment will help collaborators in Senegal, Uganda, Ghana, Malawi, Zambia and Mozambique in their quest to release drought- and disease-resistant high-yielding varieties that smallholder farmers need.
Sean Posey CAES News
Student Profile: Sean Posey
Sean Posey didn’t see how agricultural economics would feed his love of math, but a decade into his grad school journey, he’s using those skills and interests to help improve farming practices in Africa. From information communication technologies to gender roles in information-sharing and incentivization programs that will improve groundnut health, Posey has been focused on improving agricultural practices and public safety for the past four years. At the University of Georgia completing his PhD, Posey is working on a research project led by professor Nick Magnan through the Peanut Innovation Lab