1a. Objectives (from AD-416):
To promote international research collaborations and activities for increased global food security and economic growth. Provide sound technical advice and support to USAID's international agricultural research and development initiatives.
1b. Approach (from AD-416):
ARS staff will work to oversee USAID activities in agricultural biothechnology, agricultural development, food aid safety. Project oversight, technical assessments, project evaluations, research project design and planning will be conducted. Agreement-generated collaborative research funds and dedicated project funds will be utilized to engage strategic partners at appropriate public and private research organizations.
3. Progress Report:
This year, USAID initiated research under the Norman Borlaug Commemorative Research Initiative as support of Feed the Future, the major U.S. Government plan to address global food security through a whole-of-government approach. Through this agreement, USAID provided funding for ARS directed research addressing: 1. Improved productivity of grain legumes (dried beans and pulses) by addressing (a) low input soil evaluations and coordination of the Andean Diversity Panel (ADP; Phil Miklas, ARS Vegetable and Forage Crops Research Laboratory, Pullman, WA; (b) disease Resistance; Pastor-Corrales, ARS Soybean Genomics and Improvement Lab, Beltsville, MD; (c) climatic factors: genetics and breeding for drought and heat tolerance, Tim Porch, ARS Tropical Agricultural Research Station, Mayaguez, PR; and (d) seed qualities (cooking time, nutrient bioavailability); Karen Cichy, ARS Sugarbeet and Bean Research Unit, East Lansing, MI and Mike Grusak, Child Nutrition Research Center, Houston;. 2. Development of an effective vaccine to control East Coast fever, a tick-borne disease of cattle in East Africa, Don Knowles, ARS Animal Disease Research Unit, Pullman, WA focusing initially on vaccine formulations used in prior studies to phase 3 stimulate immunity to disease in ~30% vaccinated cattle, but this level needs to be increased to at least 80% to move to the next phase. This research project would address this specific technical challenge. 3. Improved productivity of livestock starting with sequencing and assembly of the goat genome, and identification of polymorphisms to develop a very high density genetic marker panel. After that, high resolution genetic characterization of approximately 50 breeds of goats will be conducted to identify unique lineages and inform germplasm preservation decisions to maximize genetic diversity. This work will provide a framework for much longer term efforts to use novel statistical methodology to develop new genotyping tools that accelerate genetic improvement for traits of economic importance in native breeds. Furthermore, application of these tools will require training and outreach, creation of a network of people that collectively identifies animals for sequencing, genotyping and phenotyping and can effectively direct breeding of high performing individuals. Cooperators include the ILRI and ASARECA. 4) Control of aflatoxin: (a) ARS scientists are also developing germplasm with partial resistance to aflatoxin contamination that can be used to develop commercial corn hybrids. They also are developing methods to breed corn with resistance to aflatoxin accumulation with the goal to identify linked markers that can be used in marker-assisted breeding. Marilyn Warburton, Corn Host Plant Resistance Research, Mississippi State, MS. (b) ARS researchers are employing “competitive exclusion” – using benign strains to impede colonization by harmful strains of fungi that contaminate crops with aflatoxin – and the other is developing germplasm that resists buildup of aflatoxin. Researchers have developed benign (non toxigenic) strains that impede colonization on crops. This approach has been successfully employed in Africa and is the cornerstone of the Partnership for Aflatoxin Control in Africa (PACA). Peter Cotty, ARS, Food and Feed Safety Research (U. AZ), Tucson, AZ. Cooperative activities of mutual interest between USAID, Bureau for Food Security and USDA, ARS continued through FY 2012, including: 1) Development of health-enhancing snacks and other products using plantain and cowpea, Charles Onwulata, ARS Center of Excellence in Extrusion and Polymer Rheology, Wyndmoor, PA, and the CSIR-Food Research Institute, Accra, Ghana; 2) Develop new methods of sediment measurement that will improve hydrologic modeling to support assessments of watershed management and policy alternatives for Kenya, Daniel Moriasi, ARS Grazinglands Research Laboratory, El Reno, OK and Baylor University; 3) Develop carrot and onion seed production systems for Bangladesh to provide lower production costs, greater economic independence, and better adapted, more nutritious cultivars for growers and consumers. Innovative technologies developed and on-farm production information generated will apply to other more difficult-to grow seed crops and to other Asian countries. Postharvest storage and seed production methodologies will have broad application. Capacity will be built with gender equity. Phil Simon, ARS Vegetable Crop Research Unit, Madison, WI.