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Legumes – Groundnuts

Improve groundnut productivity for marginal environments in sub-Saharan Africa (G6010.01)

Groundnuts A-in-A medThe two main objectives of this project are:

  1. Disease resistance: to pursue the development of genomic resources and produce the first molecular breeding products of the crop by introgressing rust and/or rosette disease-resistance quantitative trait loci (QTLs) identified during Phase I in farmer- and market-preferred varieties in partner countries, and, 
  2. Drought tolerance: to lay the foundation for future marker-assisted recurrent selection (MARS) breeding by tapping on newly identified sources of drought tolerance.

While China and India remain the leading producers worldwide, millions of smallholder farmers in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) grow groundnuts as a food and cash crop, which accounts for nine million hectares of cultivated farmland.

And while this area is 40 percent of the world total, Africa's total production accounts for only 25 percent of the world total due to low yield (950 kilos per hectare, compared to1.8 tonnes per hectare in Asia – FAOSTAT). The main constraints hampering higher yields and quality in Africa are intermittent drought due to erratic rainfall patterns, and terminal drought during maturation. Economically speaking, yield losses from drought run to millions of dollars each year.

A drought-related quality issue is pre-harvest contamination of seeds with aflatoxin, a carcinogenic mycotoxin produced primarily by the fungus Aspergillus flavus, which consequently shuts out Africa's groundnuts from export markets which would be much more lucrative. In addition, diseases such as foliar disease rust, rosette, early leaf spot (ELS) and late leaf spot (LLS), all cause devastating yield losses (50–60 percent yield losses by ELS and LLS).

To further compound the problems above, in the absence of much-needed improved varieties, outdated poorer varieties and landraces are the ones usually cultivated.

Target countries: Malawi, Senegal, Tanzania
Additional countries where research is taking place Brazil, Niger, France, USA
Lead institute: International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT)
  • Malawi: Chitedze Research Station
  • Senegal: Institut senegalais de recherches agricoles (ISRA)
  • Tanzania: Agricultural Research Institute, Naliendele

Other collaborators: France – Agropolis–CIRAD; Brazil – EMBRAPA, Universidade de Brasil; USA – University of Georgia Riverside