KALRO receives digitization equipment to modernize crop breeding, CIMMYT releases 12 new maize lines

KENYA – The Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) has received digitization equipment from the CGIAR Excellence in Breeding (EiB) platform, aimed to modernize the public agency’s crop breeding programs.

KALRO received 23 units of equipment valued at roughly US$85,000, including seed counters, label printers, handheld data collectors, tablets and package printers.

These will help the organization speed up and enhance the accuracy of various breeding processes, including seed preparation, data collection and data analysis.

They will also support inventory management within KALRO’s maize, wheat, rice, sorghum, bean, soybean and potato breeding programs at six of its research centres in Kenya.

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“With the equipment we are receiving, information and data can be recalled by a click of a button.

KALRO Director General – Eliud Kireger

A lack of digitization equipment hampers the research efforts of many national agricultural research systems (NARS) across Africa.

This adverse situation is compounded by unreliable institutional memory, which constrains NARS efforts to breed an assortment of crop varieties efficiently.

“Currently, KALRO uses very laborious systems including manual layouts and collection, followed by manual data entry into computers. This old age process is prone to data entry errors and delays in analysis, publication and reporting,” says KALRO Director General Eliud Kireger.

“With the equipment we are receiving, information and data can be recalled by a click of a button. The equipment will also significantly reduce research costs related to labor, thus freeing our scientists to focus on core research activities,” he added.

The equipment will also support KALRO’s ongoing efforts to digitize its historical data, especially for the maize and wheat programs using the Breeding Management System (BMS).

So far, 20 years of maize historical data has been uploaded onto the BMS platform for ease of access, indicates CIMMYT in a press-release.

EiB offers digitization support across the region

As part of its commitment to supporting NARS partners, EiB provided over 10 million Kenyan shillings ($92,000) worth of material and in-kind support to various KALRO breeding operations in 2020.

This included genotyping support for maize and wheat, support to adopt the BMS digital data management system, technical support and training of KALRO breeders. 

Much of the digitization work is driven by EiB’s Operations and Phenoytyping module.

EiB will continue to support NARS across Africa and beyond to digitize their operations, and is working with partners to secure more equipment, training and resources.

With this digitization project, EiB has targeted 24 breeding programs in 14 African countries. These include programs run by AfricaRice, CIMMYT, the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI).

CIMMYT releases 12 new maize lines to boost productivity

Meanwhile, The International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) has released a set of 12 new CIMMYT maize lines (CMLs).

These lines were developed at various breeding locations of CIMMYT’s Global Maize program by a multi-disciplinary team of scientists in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia.

The lines are adapted to the tropical maize production environments targeted by CIMMYT and partner institutions.

CIMMYT seeks to develop improved maize inbred lines in different product profiles, with superior performance and multiple stress tolerance to improve maize productivity for smallholder farmers.

CMLs are released after intensive evaluation in hybrid combinations under various abiotic and biotic stresses, besides optimum conditions.  Suitability as either seed or pollen parent is also thoroughly evaluated.

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