• Ethiopian technicians at the Melkassa Research Station making breeding crosses between sorghum lines. Photo credit: Professor David Jordan at UQ.Ethiopian technicians at the Melkassa Research Station making breeding crosses between sorghum lines. Photo credit: Professor David Jordan at UQ.

University of Queensland globally recognised for plant breeding expertise

The expertise of University of Queensland’s School of Agriculture and Food Sciences has recently received global recognition in the form of a $3.8M grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The University was selected to implement the Breeding Program Analysis Tool – a tool that will assist farmers in increasing their crop yields.  University of Queensland was chosen for the project because of its international reputation for excellence in plant breeding, particularly in tropical crops, and its experience in improving sorghum breeding in Ethiopia.

Dr Chris Lambrides explained: “This is a very exciting project because it will contribute to making a real difference to millions of resource-poor farmers worldwide. We will be using the Breeding Program Analysis Tool developed by the Gates Foundation across key public sector plant breeding programmes in Africa and Asia for sorghum, rice, maize, wheat, cowpea, chickpea, common bean, groundnut, yam, sweet potato, cassava, and banana.” 

The team at University of Queensland will review breeding programmes in 11 key African and Asian geographic regions – Mali, Burkina Faso, Nigeria, Ghana, Ethiopia, Uganda, Tanzania, Bangladesh and the Indian states Bihar, Orissa, Uttar Pradesh.  This information will be available on a website that will act as an information hub and offer tools for conducting self-assessments online.

Dr Lambrides went on to say: “We are investigating the possibility that in the future the tool will be made available to other donors and or interested parties at a reasonable cost. Effective plant breeding is fundamental to improving farmer profitability and reducing risk.”

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