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Development of crop varieties seen to enhance food security
by Melody M. Aguiba
04-November-2008 Manila Bulletin

The development of crop varieties such as late blight-resistant potato and black sigatoka-resistant banana under private-public partnerships will significantly help raise local food security.

International institutions like the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and academic institutions including University of Oxford in the UK, Tamil Nadu University of India, and the University of the Philippines-Los Baños have been taking part in a collaboration that all aim to provide technological benefits to resource-poor farmers.

One of these collaborations may soon result in the commercial release by 2010 of the genetically modified (GM) fruit and shoot borer (FSB)-resistant eggplant in the Philippines, said Dr. Frank Shotkoski of Cornell University in an interview.

GM eggplant has been found to give yield advantage of at least 50 percent against non-GM eggplants under an insect-infested (FSB) environment.

Shotkoski is responsible for raising fund in this USAID-financed program. He is also involved in the program to develop late blight-resistant potato that was started by the University of Wisconsin for the US and black sigatoka-resistant banana meant for Africa.

Both varieties may also be field-tested later for propagation in the Philippines.

USAID has been working with both state-run UPLB and Tamil Nadu in the development of the GM eggplant whose seeds will be publicly made accessible in the form of open pollinated varieties (OPVs).

But the private sector is notably involved too in these partnerships.

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