Editor's Note: This is an updated version of a previously sent newsletter, correcting some errors in attribution.
October-December 2017 Newsletter
Dr. Egesi (R) with Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, the 2017 World Food Prize Laureate. Photo by Canaan Boyer.
Welcome back to the NextGen Cassava newsletter.  
 
Here with the NextGen Cassava team, the hard work continues. Among the achievements we have made this quarter, NextGen Cassava team members have worked to bring more gender responsiveness to plant breeding, participated in several conferences, published research, and engaged with corporate experts on quality control and management. You can read more about these activities below.
 
One of the highlights for me this October was giving a presentation at the 2017 World Food Prize, on biotechnology and plant breeding progress in Nigeria. This year's laureate, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, has worked for many years to improve food security in Africa. His story is not only inspirational, but a testament to how much of the work we do is made possible by the efforts of those who have come before us. As we continue into the next year, we hope our work will serve as a foundation not only for today's cassava breeders, but also for future generations.
 
Let us keep up the good work, and keep moving forward!  

Chiedozie Egesi 
NextGen Project Manager  

Ugandan researchers bring gender equality to cassava breeding
Farmers participate in a group discussion led by Ann Ritah Nanyonjo, NextGen MSc student.  Photo by Christopher Knight.
Zombo, Uganda -- This October, researchers with the Next Generation Cassava Breeding project launched their first gender-responsive participatory variety selection (PVS) trials in Uganda. For these trials, we engaged both men and women farmers in identifying the top cassava varieties for Ugandan consumers and producers.    

Read more about the PVS trials in Uganda on the NextGen blog.
Towards innovation in Gender Responsive Breeding
Nairobi, Kenya -- From 5-7 October 2017, the CGIAR Gender and Breeding Initiative held an Innovation in Gender Responsive breeding workshop. Hale Tufan, Gender Responsive Breeding Initiative Lead for NextGen Cassava, presented at and organized the workshop with a  multidisciplinary team of partners.  Chiedozie Egesi, Peter Kulakow, and Jean-Luc Jannink were also in attendance.

The outcomes of the workshop will be made available as papers on 1) gender and social targeting, 2) setting breeding objectives and priorities, and 3) case studies of gender-responsive breeding programs.
Read more about the "Gender Innovation in Gender Responsive Breeding" Workshop
NextGen at Dow AgroSciences
Photos provided.

Indianapolis, Indiana -- From 1 0-13 October, Chiedozie Egesi and Canaan Boyer visited Dow AgroSciences to meet with David Meyer, a member of NextGen Cassava's External Project Advisory Committee and several of his colleagues. Dow interacts with NextGen as part of their Hunger Solutions Network  initiative to improve food security. 

Dow has also hosted other NextGen scientists (right: Alfred Adebo Ozimati, Mohamed Somo Ibrahim, and Ugochukwu Ikeogu on a field visit led by Dow scientists) to learn about  breeding methods and best practices. Recent sessions have focused on breeding process mapping and quality control.
Partner Spotlight: National Root Crops Research Institute (NRCRI)
Okoro Maria Justin, a member of the NRCRI gender team and cassava research program, examines a NextGen Cassava field trial. Photo provided.
NRCRI is an agricultural research institute with the mandate of genetic improvement of root and tuber crops in Nigeria. It is the only research institute in Africa solely devoted to root and tuber crops. As the Nigerian national partner of the NextGen project, it is involved in testing genomic selection in African cassava breeding programs, i dentifying methods to improve cassava flowering and seed set, and developing a centralized cassava database.
 
Dr. Joseph Onyeka (top) in his office at NRCRI. I n October, Project Support Specialist Canaan Boyer (bottom) and Senior IT Specialist Stefan Einarson visited NRCRI to coordinate with the NRCRI NextGen team. Photos by Canaan Boyer.
Dr. Joseph Onyeka, NextGen Cassava breeding lead and head of the Pathology and Micro Biotechnology Unit at NRCRI, explained the benefits of the collaboration: 

"Moving forward, the partnership between NextGen and NRCRI will not only lead to enhancing the efficiency of NRCRI to develop new cassava varieties, but will actually extend to delivering new superior cassava varieties to Nigerian farmers. NRCRI is a leading institution for cassava breeding in Africa and has provided technical support for other African NARs in the past through the cassava breeding Community of Practice (CoP). NRCRI hopes to take the advantage of this network in the region to create a spillover of the benefits from NextGen project to other countries in the region."
 
Since partnering with NextGen, NRCRI has improved capacity and efficiency in breeding for preferred cassava varieties, developed human research capacity through trainings and workshops, and upgraded its laboratory and field research facilities. 
 
Multimedia Spotlight: Cassava's Flower Power
How do you breed a crop that hates making flowers? In this video, learn about the work underway in Tim Setter's lab to understand the secrets behind cassava's elusive flowering mechanism, one of the key barriers to rapid cassava breeding.
Cassava Research Highlights
Overexpression of Arabidopsis FLOWERING LOCUS T (FT) gene improves floral development in cassava (Manihot esculenta, Crantz)
 
Prospects for Genomic Selection in Cassava Breeding 
 
Local varieties of cassava: conservation, cultivation and use in Uganda 
 
Accuracies Of Univariate And Multivariate Genomic Prediction Models In African Cassava. (Pre-print)
[LINK] 

Improving Genomic Prediction in Cassava Field Experiments Using Spatial Analysis
Upcoming Events
6th NextGen Cassava Annual Meeting
19-24 February 2018 Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania  

11-15 June 2018  Cotonou, Benin
The Benin Conference represents a unique opportunity for exchanging scientific, technical, agricultural, and industrial information about cassava. Pre-registration is now open.

Cassava in the News
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Next Generation Cassava Breeding
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The Next Generation Cassava Breeding project is led by International Programs in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Cornell University, in collaboration with International Institute of Tropical Agriculture and National Root Crops Research Institute breeding centers in Nigeria, National Crops Resources Research Institute in Uganda, Tanzania's Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, and Fisheries, West African Centre for Crop Improvement in Ghana, Makerere University in Uganda, and Boyce Thompson Institute, USDA-ARS, and U.S. Department of Energy in the United States. NextGen is supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the UK Department for International Development.