8 May 2015
When life
becomes art:
AVRDC seed
at the 56th
Success strikes
twice for Myo
Min Aung from
Page 10
Training for
Project Concern
International in
Pages 17-19
Page 21
Core competency
Selected samples drawn from the vast mungbean collection in the AVRDC
Genebank give plant breeders a map to the riches stored therein.
Any genebank worth its seed harbors a wide
range of crop diversity, and AVRDC’s
Genebank is no exception. Currently the
world’s largest public repository of vegetable
germplasm, the AVRDC Genebank counts
among its 61,308 vegetable accessions a very
special collection of mungbean, Vigna
radiata var. radiata (L.) Wilczek.
Lucy Lin, Research Assistant in Biotechnology/Molecular Breeding, prepares an
acrylamide gel to separate nucleic acids for analysis.
(...continued on page 2)
(...continued from page 1)
At 6,742 accessions, the Center’s
Vigna holdings are second only to
those at the Institute of Plant
Breeding, University of the
Philippines - Los Baños (just
slightly ahead at 6,900). Within
those thousands of accessions are
the traits for synchronous maturity
(so the crop can be harvested at one
time), higher yield, resistance to
Mungbean yellow mosaic virus
and powdery mildew, pods that
won’t shatter, seed color, and much
Mungbean is one of the major pulse
crops supplementing cereal-based
diets in Asia, and more recently,
Africa (see page 9, Ethiopia: Next
Stop for Mungbean?). High in
protein and easy to digest,
mungbean consumed in
combination with cereals can
significantly increase the quality of
protein in a meal. Mungbean
contributes folate and iron to the
diet, nutrients that often are in
short supply in developing
countries. The crop has the added
advantage of fixing nitrogen in the
soil making it increasingly sought
after as a catch crop in rotation
with wheat or rice. Improved
varieties can produce more than 2
tons per hectare, but viral, bacterial
and fungal diseases and insect pests
limit commercial yields. Current
breeding work addresses these
constraints, targets improved
nutritional value, and, due to the
expansion of the cultivation range,
focuses on adaptation of the crop to
new environments.
Screening such a large collection
for specific traits to achieve these
breeding targets is time consuming
and expensive for mungbean
breeders. To enhance breeders’
access to the diversity of this
valuable legume, a team of AVRDC
researchers led by Legume Breeder
Ramakrishnan Madhavan
“Ram” Nair and Head of
Biotechnology/Molecular Breeding
Roland Schafleitner recently
delved into the Center’s mungbean
holdings to select candidates for
core and mini core collections.
(...continued on page 3)
(left) AVRDC Genebank
Manager Andreas Ebert (2nd
from right).
(center) Legume Breeder
Ramakrishnan Nair.
(right) Roland Schafleitner,
Head, Biotechenology/Molecular
(...continued from page 2)
Taking the pulse of an important pulse
Subsets of genebank collections—so
-called core collections—offer
breeders a good representation of
the genetic diversity present in the
whole collection, and make the
search for traits of interest less
laborious, as fewer accessions must
be screened. The mini core
collections the AVRDC team
produced aim to maintain a good
portion of the phenotypic diversity
of the core collection and also
display a maximum of allele
diversity of the larger core.
In a paper published in late April
2015 in the journal BMC Genomics,
Ram, Roland and AVRDC co-
authors Andreas Ebert, Yen-wei
Wang, Chen-yu Lin, Shu-hui
Chu, Pin-yun Lin and JianCheng Chang, together with
Abhishek Rathore from the
International Crops Research
Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics
(ICRISAT), described how they
used geographic stratification and
cluster analysis of observable traits
to select 1,481 entries for the core
“Our current core and mini core
collections got a head start,”
observed co-author and Genebank
Manager Andreas Ebert. “Back in
1984-85, the AVRDC Genebank
engaged in a huge mungbean
phenotyping effort—more than
15,000 accessions were described
based on their observable
characteristics over the two
seasons. This led to the
development of the first core
collection. We used this historical
data as the basis for the current
core collection.”
The countries of origin of the
accessions were grouped into
regions, and then the accessions of
each region were clustered based on
eight phenotypic descriptors:
primary leaf length (cm); primary
leaf width (cm); plant height at
(clockwise from top-left):
Jean Lin, Assistant Specialist, scoring data from a gel image.
Lucy Lin, Research Assistant, preparing an acrylamide gel.
Julie Chu, Laboratory Assistant, sets up an agarose gel.
Vivian Wang, Research Assistant, capturing an image of a acrylamide
gel (inset). The gel is a solid, gelatin-like substance used to separate
DNA fragments based on size. The gel is placed in a conductive salt
buffer to which an electrical field is applied. As the negatively charged
DNA fragments migrate toward the positive pole, the gel acts as a size
filter, with smaller fragments migrating faster than larger fragments.
Researchers analyze gel images (below) and score them according to
selected codes.
(...continued on page 4)
(...continued from page 3)
flowering (cm); plant height at
maturity (cm); days to 50%
flowering; pod length (cm); seeds
per pod; and 1000 seed weight (g).
Accessions in the core collection
were genotyped using 20 selected
simple sequence repeat (SSR)
markers. Genotyping is the process
of determining the genetic make-up,
or genotype, of individuals. An SSR
marker is a short repeated DNA
sequence. Individuals differ in the
number of repetitions, and thus the
length of an SSR marker can be used
to differentiate between individuals
and to select those with specific
genetic characteristics.
Based on these marker alleles, 289
accessions that represent the allele
diversity available in the core
collection were selected for the mini
core, from which breeders can
choose as they develop improved
mungbean lines.
“The whole mungbean genome
sequence became available only in
2014, which paved the path for
molecular breeding approaches that
will be more efficient—if breeders
have access to diverse mungbean
germplasm to source the traits they
seek,” said Roland. “We expect that
the core and mini core collections
will enhance access to biodiverse
mungbean germplasm for breeding
at AVRDC and around the world.”
AVRDC has been active in
mungbean breeding since 1997.
Creation of the core collections is the
next step to ensure the Center can
continue producing well-adapted
mungbean crops that meet the
specific needs of farmers and
consumers in countries around the
Read more
Schafleitner R, Nair RM, Rathore
A, Wang Y-W, Lin C-Y, Chu S-H,
Lin P-Y, Chang J-C, Ebert AW.
2015. The AVRDC – The World
Vegetable Center mungbean
(Vigna radiata) core and mini core
collections. BMC Genomics
16:344 doi:10.1186/s12864-0151556-7.
Tay DCS, Huang YK, Chen YL.
1989. Germplasm catalog of mungbean [Vigna radiata (L.) Wilczek]
and other Vigna species. AVRDC –
The World Vegetable Center,
Shanhua, Tainan, Taiwan. 316 p.
Board on board in South Asia
In lively bright orange polo shirts, the
Board of Directors of AVRDC - The
World Vegetable Center and AVRDC
staff from around the world gathered at
the Center's South Asia demonstration
fields on 22 April in Hyderabad, India
for Science Day 2015.
Held before the annual board meeting,
Science Day acquaints board members
with regional activities and progress,
and gives them the opportunity to meet
staff and exchange advice and ideas.
After a delicious breakfast buffet in the
field, the group enjoyed several
presentations in the demonstration
plots, including a discussion of
traditional leafy vegetables for poverty
1. DG Dyno Keatinge (left) and Board Member Cathy Reade lead the group to the next field
2. Board Members Sophia Kaduma (left) and Wolfgang Kasten.
3. Legume Breeder Ram Nair (left) discusses the Center's progress in breeding diseaseresistant mungbean.
4. Bordin Rassameethes (left), President of Kasetsart University, Thailand, with DG Dyno
5. Board Member Emmy Simmons (left) reviews a poster during the field demonstrations.
(...continued on page 6)
(...continued from page 5)
alleviation and improved household nutrition
in Jharkhand by Genebank Manager
Andreas Ebert and an explanation of
integrated pest management methods to
control eggplant fruit and shoot borer by
Entomologist Srinivasan Ramasamy.
Legume Breeder Ram Nair reviewed the
Center’s efforts to breed mungbean yellow
mosaic resistance in mungbean, and proudly
introduced ‘Swarna Vasundhara,’ a vegetable
soybean variety with immense potential for
India. Postharvest Specialist Jun Acedo
demonstrated the use of simple solar dryers
for rapid and hygienic drying of vegetables,
and Greg Luther spoke about the Center’s
disaster response activities in India from 2011
The South Asia team were perfect hosts, and
attended to every detail to ensure the board
members were comfortable and had an
enjoyable and educational day in the field.
1. Postharvest Specialist Jun Acedo demonstrates easily
constructed devices to store, dry and process
2. Legume Breeder Ram Nair (right) in the legume
demonstration plots.
3. Genebank Manager Andreas Ebert (2nd from left)
examines the field crops up close.
4. Warwick Easdown (r) explains the benefits of growing
amaranth in home gardens to an attentive group.
A celebration of outstanding careers
(left) Tom Lumpkin at the genebank of the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), México.
(right) AVRDC Deputy Director General for Research Jackie Hughes (right) presents the peony scroll to Dr. Lumpkin.
Deputy Director General for
Research Jacqueline d’Arros
Hughes was invited as a guest by
John Snape, Chair of the Board of
Trustees of the International Maize
and Wheat Improvement Center
(CIMMYT), to join in celebrations
honoring CIMMYT’s World Food
Prize winners and the service of
Director General Thomas A.
Lumpkin at CIMMYT headquarters
in El Batán, México on 9-10 April
Dr. Lumpkin was AVRDC’s Director
General from 2003 to 2008. He
joined CIMMYT as DG in 2008 and
is now entering retirement.
During the two-day program, Jackie
met Jeanie Borlaug Laube (who
unveiled a statue of her father, the
Nobel Laureate Norman E. Borlaug);
Dr. Borlaug’s granddaughter, Julie
Borlaug; Bram Govaerts, the
2014 recipient of the Norman
Borlaug Award for Field Research
and Application, endowed by the
Rockefeller Foundation; and
Sanjaya Rajaram, the 2014 World
Food Prize Laureate. Dr. Rajaram
succeeded Dr. Borlaug to lead
CIMMYT’s wheat improvement
program, and Dr. Govaerts is the
associate director of CIMMYT’s
Global Conservation Agriculture
Program. Jackie interacted with
CIMMYT’s Board of Trustees and
the Center’s staff, visiting the
genebank and nutrition laboratory,
and participating in CIMMYT’s
Science Day.
She attended a dinner in honor of
Dr. Lumpkin at his residence in San
Nicolas Tlaminca, Texcoco, where
she presented him with a Chinese
watercolor scroll (depicting peonies,
a symbol of prosperity and good
fortune) and a card bearing the
personal wishes of AVRDC staff for
a happy, enjoyable and successful
Postharvest handling - food processing - market development
The USAID Horticulture Project held
a two-day training course for seven
groups on “Improved Postharvest
Handling, Food Processing and
Market Development” in Faridpur,
Bangladesh from 22 March – 9 April
2015. A total of 150 smallholder
farmers and processors, including 83
women, discussed nutrition, gender,
postharvest handling, food
processing, and how to form
marketing groups. About 80% of the
program time engaged participants
in practical, hands-on activities. After
the course, each participant received
a booklet and 10 glass bottles to
practice what they learned at home.
The International Potato Center
(CIP) and AVRDC – The World
Vegetable Center are partners in the
Mohammed Razu Ahmed,
AVRDC Acting Sector Leader –
Vegetables and Talukder
Humayun Kabir, specialist in food
processing and proprietor of South
Asian Agro Products, led the training
program with the assistance of Field
Coordinator Mustafizur Rahman,
AVRDC Assistant Field Coordinator
Participants learned how to make mixed pickled vegetables during the training course.
Samir Roy, and Ms. Shakilaand
and Shahadat Hossain from the
Department of Agricultural
Marketing (DAM).
DAM Director Md. Mahbub
Ahmed and Project Director
Shahnaz Neena attended the
closing program on 9 April and
congratulated the coordinating
team and the participants for
completing the successful training
sessions. A stakeholders’ meeting
was arranged during the closing
program; trained farmers,
processors and four representatives
of local supermarkets and shopping
malls attended to discuss potential
market development. Follow-up
visits and evaluations will start in
(left) Participants prepare brinjal chutney (eggplant sauce) to
preserve the vegetable and develop a product for market.
(right) Learning how to sort and grade tomato according to
color and stage of maturity.
ACCEPTING THE AWARD: Krishi Gram Vikas Kendra (KGVK) a nongovernmental organization that aims to synergize
development initiatives in rural Jharkhand, India, acknowledged AVRDC – The World Vegetable Center as a partner in
achieving Total Village Management (TVM) in agriculture across the state. The Center’s initiatives to establish home gardens
and promote traditional crops in Jharkhand were recognized by the Honorable Chief Minister of Jharkhand, Shri Raghubar
Das, at the inaugural TVM Award Ceremony on 23 April 2015. Scientific Officer Devender Pal Kaur accepted the award for
the Center.
TVM is based on eight pillars—Natural Resources Management; Health, Nutrition & Sanitation; Education; Renewable
Energy; Livelihoods; Women’s Empowerment; Capacity Building; and Resource Mobilisation & Infrastructure Development.
Through its work, KGVK seeks to turn beneficiaries into producers, entrepreneurs, and consumers.
The April-May 2015 issue of the Ethiopian
Business Review features an article on the
increase in mungbean production in the East
African country. The article notes that
Ethiopia is emerging as a major supplier of
the crop as global demand for mungbean is
on the rise due to drought in China and India,
the world’s top mungbean producers. The
quick-growing legume generates nearly
US$28 million in exports for Ethiopia,
provides income for cash-strapped farmers—
and fixes nitrogen in the soil, an added bonus
to enhance soil fertility. AVRDC – The World
Vegetable Center maintains the world’s
second largest collection of Vigna radiata
germplasm (6,742 accessions).
visit to India, Director General Dyno Keatinge (center) spoke with Peter
Carberry (left), Deputy Director General – Research at the International
Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT). The men
have a lot in common: Dyno was Dr. Carberry’s predecessor’s
predecessor’s predecessor at ICRISAT. Warwick Easdown, AVRDC
South Asia Regional Director, also joined the discussion.
On 1 May 2015, staff at AVRDC headquarters sadly said goodbye to Jian
-Cheng “Jan” Chang, Scientist in Biotechnology/Molecular Breeding.
Jan’s lively personality and talent for telling jokes and stories (he
memorably emceed the Center’s 40th Anniversary Celebration)
complemented his serious scholarly work examining insect pests and
plants at the molecular level. He started his career at the Center in 2011,
working as a postdoc in molecular entomology, and was promoted in
2014 as a scientist in biotechnology. He contributed to several papers
and book chapters during his time at the Center, including “Molecularphylogenetic characterization of arrestin-2 from the legume pod borer,
Maruca vitrata Fabricius” (Annals of the Entomological Society of
America 05/2013); “Phylogeographical structure in mitochondrial DNA
of eggplant fruit and shoot borer, Leucinodes orbonalis Guenée
(Lepidoptera: Crambidae) in South and Southeast Asia” (Mitochondrial
DNA 02/2014); and “Identification of okra (Abelmoschus spp.)
accessions resistant to aphid (Aphis gossypii Glover) in
Cameroon” (African Entomology 07/2014; 22(2):273-284). Jan has
taken a position as a researcher at the Taiwan Sugar Research Institute
(TSRI), where he will study the molecular makeup of medicinal herbs.
We wish him all the best!
Testimonial: “The International Vegetable Training
Course benefits my family and my community”
I am Myo Min Aung
from Myanmar. I work for
a nongovernmental
organization known as
CESVI Myanmar as a
Township Coordinator.
CESVI focuses on rural
community development
with an emphasis on
livelihoods and nutrition.
I attended two AVRDC
International Vegetable
Training Course modules: Module 3 in 2013* and
Module 2 in 2014. During the training, I learned how to
prepare vegetables to retain vitamins. I discovered it
was important to consume vegetables of different colors
each day for good health. We talked a lot about how
vegetables contribute to nutrition security in Module 2.
During Module 3, I submitted a development action
plan on “School Garden Development.” I discussed the
idea with our Project Manager and organized five
communities to set up school gardens. Villagers
contributed seed and the project team offered technical
guidance. That was in 2013; today, school gardens and
nutritional activities officially have been included in our
project workplan. This is my success No. 1!
After Module 2, I started to grow vegetables of different
colors in my home compound. Now I produce fresh
vegetables in my home garden, and my family and me
eat more fresh vegetables every day. I shared my
knowledge and experience about cooking vegetables to
retain the nutrients with my wife, who now prepares
vegetables without overcooking them. This is my
success No. 2!
* The three one-month modules of AVRDC’s
International Vegetable Training Course can be taken in
any order or combination to suit the specific needs and
schedules of participants. Contact AVRDC East and
Southeast Asia for details: [email protected]
7th Int’l Workshop on Diamondback Moth Management
(left to right) AVRDC Entomologist Srinivasan Ramasamy spoke during the inaugural session; Dr. H. Shivanna, Vice-Chancellor, University of
Agricultural Sciences – Bangalore delivered the inaugural address; Prof. Anthony M. Shelton, a renowned entomologist from Cornell University,
gave a keynote speech highlighting AVRDC's efforts to develop safe methods farmers can use to control the pest.
University of Agricultural Sciences
– Bangalore (UASB) organized the
Seventh International Workshop on
Management of the Diamondback
Moth and Other Crucifer Insect
Pests in collaboration with AVRDC
– The World Vegetable Center
(Taiwan) and Cornell University
(USA) in Bangalore, India from 2327 March 2015. About 90
participants from 15 countries
participated in the workshop. H.
Khader Khan, Dean
(Agriculture), UASB welcomed the
delegates. H. Shivanna, UASB
Vice-Chancellor, gave the inaugural
address, and M.A. Shankar,
UASB Director of Research, also
addressed the gathering.
Srinivasan Ramasamy, AVRDC
Entomologist, briefed the group on
the history of the workshop, which
was initiated by AVRDC in 1985
and has been held at regular
intervals for the past three decades.
Anthony M. Shelton, a
renowned entomologist from
Cornell University and a keen
supporter of the event, delivered a
keynote speech. N. G. Kumar,
University Head, Department of
Entomology, UASB proposed the
vote of thanks.
Participants gave 35 oral
presentations and 21 poster
presentations in seven scientific
sessions covering global challenges;
biology, ecology and behavior;
insect - plant interactions; host
plant resistance and chemical
ecology; insecticides and insecticide
resistance; biological and nonchemical management;
biotechnological tools and novel
approaches; and barriers to and
innovations for management of
diamondback moth and other
crucifer pests.
The participants also visited the
brassica production fields in
Chikkaballapur district during the
workshop. Myron Zalucki,
University of Queensland, Australia
conducted the plenary session and
discussions related to future
workshops during the concluding
Thanks to A.R.V. Kumar and K.
Chandrashekara from UASB,
and Srinivas Parimi of Mahyco,
who provided great support and
excellent logistics for a successful
The workshop participants on a field visit.
David Shiuan, Professor in the Department of Life Science and the
Institute of Biotechnology, National Dong Hwa University, Taiwan spoke
to headquarters staff about “Drug discovery from vegetables, fruits and
herbs” on 24 April 2014. He explained the process of drug development
and trends in the creation of various drug types. Producing new drugs
based on compounds synthesized from fruit and vegetables could boost
Taiwan’s biotech industry, and Prof. Shiuan encouraged AVRDC to
develop a database of the chemical components in vegetables for use in
drug development.
Maggie Douglas, PhD candidate in the Department of Entomology,
Pennsylvania State University USA and a Borlaug Fellow in Global Food
Security, gave a talk on the “Challenges and opportunities for improving
pest management of lablab bean in Bangladesh” on 17 April 2015 at
headquarters. Lablab is a popular vegetable in Bangladesh, but pesticide
use has increase five-fold since 1990 to control pests on the crop. Maggie
tested narrow-spectrum biopesticides and neem treatments to control
legume pod borers, aphids, and an unexpected population of thrips during
her six-month research program at HQ and the Bangladesh Agricultural
Research Institute (BARI). She found that to be effective, an integrated pest
management strategy for lablab bean should include different components
for summer and winter crops. Her research indicated that neem applied to
the leaves was not effective against aphids; it may need to be used as a
systemic control. While in the field tracking pest populations, she also
learned first-hand the entomologist’s dictum: The fastest way to eradicate a
pest is to study it!
On 30 April 2015, reporter Chi-ming Chan and
a crew from SET News, Sanlih E-Television,
Taipei, Taiwan interviewed Deputy Director
General - Administration and Services Yin-fu
Chang for a special program on climate change.
Dr. Chang discussed how longer, more intense
periods of drought or rain and shifting global
distribution of plant diseases and pest
populations impact vegetable production. The
crew also toured the Demonstration Garden with
Yi-chin Wu, and interviewed Yung-kuang
Huang at the Genebank about the Center’s role
in safeguarding vegetable germplasm.
GIZ management team visits AVRDC Eastern and
Southern Africa
close to Serengeti National Park, to
ensure that community residents
can share in the benefits and
revenue derived from nature
conservation and tourism.
The GIZ management team from Tanzania listened attentively to Fekadu Dinssa, AVRDC
Vegetable Breeder, Eastern and Southern Africa. GIZ country director Dr. Regine Qualmann
(5th from left) led the delegation.
As part of their annual planning
workshop, the entire management
team of GIZ (Gesellschaft für
Internationale Zusammenarbeit)
from Tanzania visited AVRDC
Eastern and Southern Africa on 19
March 2015. The meeting was
facilitated by Andreas Gramzow,
who has joined AVRDC through the
German Centre for International
Migration and Development (CIM)
program. The visitors were
welcomed by Regional Director
Thomas Dubois, and toured the
seed repository, current greenhouse
trials, and the Postharvest Training
and Services Center. GIZ Country
Director Regine Qualmann paid
particular attention to the
Demonstration Garden and the
technologies developed and
promoted by AVRDC, such as
vegetable grafting and home garden
seed kits, as well as AVRDC’s work
with traditional vegetables. The
campus tour was followed by a
discussion with AVRDC staff about
each institution’s current activities
in Tanzania.
With more than 150 staff members
in Tanzania, GIZ works in the
priority areas of health/HIV AIDS,
water and energy. Further support
is provided by GIZ to the East
African Community and to
communities of the two districts
The relationship between the
German Government and AVRDC
is a long and healthy one. The
German Federal Ministry of
Cooperation and Development
(BMZ)/GIZ is one of AVRDC’s
major donors. AVRDC also employs
German researchers in two regional
offices who are co-financed by GIZ
to support the Center in its research
activities. Danke!
NutriHAF to combat hunger and malnutrition in Eastern
and Southern Africa
NutriHAF consortium
 ZEF - Zentrum für
(Center for Development
 GlobalHort - The Global
Horticulture Initiative
 KoGa -
 FRC - Forestry Research
Center, Ethiopia Institute
of Agricultural Research
 CGS - Center for Gender
Studies at Addis Ababa
 FOFIFA - Centre National
A new research initiative, NutriHAF
(“Diversifying agriculture for balanced
nutrition through fruits and vegetables
in multi-storey cropping systems”), will
promote the cultivation of vegetables
and fruits in Ethiopia and Madagascar
to reduce malnutrition, conserve
biodiversity and natural resources, and
create awareness about the importance
of consuming a varied diet.
The Center for Development Research
(ZEF, Zentrum für
Entwicklungsforschung), the Global
Horticultural Initiative (GlobalHort)
and KoGa are leading the project
consortium. Eleven other partners,
including AVRDC – The World
Vegetable Center Eastern and Southern
Africa, will be involved in research and
capacity building.
The aim of the research project is to
find and introduce varieties of fruit and
vegetables capable of improving the
nutritional status of the local
population. New sources of food and
income will help to reduce the pressure
on natural resources and prevent
resource depletion.
A first step will be to find out more
about local food consumption habits to
identify seasonal gaps in calorie and
nutrient intakes. These gaps will be
filled by encouraging consumption of
the varieties introduced by the project.
Through awareness campaigns for
farmers and consumers, and training
for local decision makers and extension
workers, nutrition and the importance
of consuming a diversified diet will be
put on the national agenda in each
Farmers, policy makers and other
actors along the whole value chain will
be involved at all stages of the project.
Gender issues are a central aspect of the
initiative, as women are often
responsible not only for cooking but
also for food production.
The project is funded by the German
Federal Ministry of Food and
Agriculture for three years.
de la Recherche
Appliquée au
Développement Rural
 FANRPAN - Food,
Agriculture and Natural
Resources Policy Analysis
 ASARECA - Association
for Strengthening
Agricultural Research in
Eastern and Central Africa
 WHH - Welthungerhilfe
 ECFF - Environment and
Coffee Forest Forum
 AVRDC – The World
Vegetable Center
 Horticulture Innovation
 IZNE - International
Centre for Sustainable
Development at the
University of Applied
Sciences Bonn-Rhein
 UoA - University of
Protecting plant varieties
other activities in the region. Over
the following days, participants
discussed the UPOV convention
and benefits of the UPOV system,
various international treaties, the
ARIPO system, and plant variety
protection systems used by
different countries (Tanzania,
Kenya, Ghana, South Africa, the
Netherlands and France). The
group dissected some of the tough
challenges involved in harmonizing
different systems and protecting
plant breeders’ rights.
Protecting the resource base of
plants from which food crops are
derived is an essential and ongoing
activity for AVRDC – The World
Vegetable Center. AVRDC Eastern
and Southern Africa in Arusha,
Tanzania hosted a training course
on plant variety protection from 20
-30 April 2015 to ensure
professionals in sub-Saharan Africa
working in seed systems and
marketing, genetics, agribusiness
and law understand the important
issues related to the collection, use,
and management of plant
resources. Forty people from 14
countries in Eastern, Southern and
Western Africa attended the course,
organized under the umbrella of
the International Union for the
Protection of New Varieties of
Plants (UPOV).
The resource persons who led the
led the theoretical and practical
sessions represented a broad
spectrum of local and international
expertise. Staff from Tanzania’s
Ministry of Agriculture, Food
Security and Cooperatives; Ghana’s
Ministry of Trade; the African Seed
Trade Association (AFSTA); the
African Regional Intellectual
Property Organization (ARIPO) for
the protection of traditional
knowledge and expressions of
folklore; UPOV; the French Group
for the Study and Control of
Varieties and Seeds (GEVES); and
the Community Plant Variety Office
(CPVO)—an organization
responsible for the management or
protection of Community Plant
Variety Rights System for the
European Community—were on
hand to explain the background
and purpose of plant variety
protection. The development of
new plant varieties can be a longterm investment of up to 15 years;
with Plant Breeders’ Rights,
intellectual property rights are
On the first day of the course,
AVRDC Vegetable Breeder Fekadu
Fufa Dinssa introduced the group
to the Center’s breeding work and
In the Center’s breeding nursery
and in special nurseries established
for the training, participants
practiced Distinctiveness,
Uniformity and Stability (DUS) and
Value for Cultivation and Use
(VCU) testing for various vegetable
crops. To be granted breeder's
rights, the variety in question must
be shown to be distinct (easily
distinguishable through certain
characteristics from any other
known variety); uniform
(individual plants of the new
Trainees practiced what they learned in
the African eggplant breeding nursery.
(...continued on page 16)
(...continued from page 15)
variety show no more variation in
the relevant characteristics than
one would naturally expect to see),
and stable (future generations of
the variety continue to show the
relevant distinguishing
The training was organized by
Naktuinbouw, an organization
carrying out official inspection and
certification tasks in horticultural
seeds and plants under the
responsibility of the Dutch
AVRDC Vegetable Breeder Fekadu Fufa Dinssa (left) introduced AVRDC’s breeding work
and activities to the training course participants.
Read more:
In memoriam
Yvette Singbo Dossa, formerly project development officer at AVRDC West and
Central Africa, passed away on 11 April 2015 in Bamako, Mali and was laid to rest on 18
April 2015 in Porto Novo in her native Benin. She is survived by her husband and two
Getting a chance to know and work with lively, lovely and friendly Yvette was a blessing
and a privilege for all of us. Her bountiful smile, lively laughter, and gracious warmth
will be long remembered.
Training for Project Concern International
(left) AVRDC Eastern and Southern Africa Training
and Outreach Coordinator Hassan Mndiga (left)
introduces vegetable production technologies to the
Project Concern International trainees.
(right) Participants visit the screenhouse.
Project Concern International (PCI)
Tanzania, a nongovernmental
organization working in
partnership with the government of
Tanzania, district councils in
Bunda, Musoma, and Butiama, and
local communities, is in the second
three-year phase of a United States
Department of Agriculture-funded
Food for Education program, which
aims to reach more than 90,000
pre-primary and primary school
students and more than 1,148
teachers in 134 schools in Mara
Region, Tanzania.
To ensure vegetables will be on the
plate in school meals, five PCI
agricultural officers and one
volunteer attended a training
course from 13-17 April 2015 at
AVRDC Eastern and Southern
Africa in Arusha, Tanzania to learn
about all aspects of vegetable
production. The training covered
nursery management and seedling
production, crop rotation, plant
protection, and postharvest
handling. Home gardening and
seed-saving methods were
emphasized, as the participants will
help the schools establish gardens
and will offer guidance on garden
Training and Outreach Coordinator
Hassan Mndiga spoke to the
participants about the principles of
vegetable production and cropping
(left) Participants visit the Field Practical Center at HORTI Tengeru.
(center and right): Ms. Kitomari (with blue bandana) demonstrates the biogas and organic
fertilization system at her farm in Kikwe village.
(inset) Method to collect cow and goat manure to produce biogas at Ms. Kitomari’s garden.
(...continued from page 17)
(left) Participants visit Baraa school garden in Arusha.
(right) Project Concern International staff at Ms. Kitomari’s homestead garden in Kikwe village.
systems, home gardening,
micronutrients in vegetables, and
hygiene. In the field and
screenhouse, Field Manager
Omary Mbwambo provided his
expertise on nursery management
and seedling production, and gave
a few tips for growing cowpea and
okra. PhD and MSc students O.
Shila and J. Kitundu covered
production practices for
solanaceous and cruciferous crops,
including tomato grafting.
Postharvest Research Assistant
Philipo Josef discussed economic
and marketing value chain
approaches, and Radegunda
Kessy, Agribusiness Research
Associate, shared best practices in
postharvest handling at the
Postharvest Training and Services
Center. Jason Smith, a Fulbright
scholar working from the regional
office, gave a presentation on the
tomato leaf miner (Tuta absoluta),
a serious pest of tomato, eggplant
and pepper. Genetic Resources
Scientist Tsvetelina Stoilova
discussed seed quality and
explained seed-saving methods.
The group really got cooking during
hands-on sessions in vegetable
preparation to preserve vitamins
(left) Fahmia Amiri from
HORTI Tengeru
demonstrates vegetable
preparation methods to
retain nutrients, taste,
color and texture.
(...continued on page 19)
(...continued from page 18)
Five agricultural officers and one volunteer from
Project Concern International Tanzania received
certificates and AVRDC seed kits from Thomas
Dubois (above, right), AVRDC Eastern and
Southern Africa Regional Director, after
completing the training course.
and other nutritive components led
by Fahmia Amiri from HORTI
Tengeru. The participants enjoyed
the cooking and tasting exercises,
and several mentioned they had
never eaten such a large quantity of
delicious vegetables.
Participants also visited the Field
Practical Center at HORTI
Tengeru, the farm of Ms. Kitomari
in Kikwe village, Arumeru, and
Baraa school garden in Arusha,
where they saw new technologies
for vegetable production including
improved varieties, drip irrigation,
an organic kitchen garden, a
vertical vegetable garden, and a
biogas system. Ms. Kitomari led
the group through her homestead
garden, where cow and goat
manure is used for biogas and
organic fertilization. At Baraa
school, Project Coordinator Sarah
Ellis discussed the types and
quantity of different meals
available for pupils each week.
Clemence Mushi, PCI
Agricultural Coordinator, and
other PCI staff asked many
questions about maintaining
school vegetable gardens, and
noted that the Baraa school garden
was larger than the school gardens
in Mara. Water resources are scare
in Mara, and school gardens there
must depend on the rainy season
for their water supply.
AVRDC seed kits containing seed
of amaranth, African eggplant,
okra, cowpea and Ethiopian
mustard were given to PCI to distribute
to the schools. At the end of the course,
Eastern and Southern Africa Regional
Director Thomas Dubois presented
certificates to the participants, who are
now equipped with the knowledge and
skills to help schools begin growing their
own nutritious vegetables.
Improving seed systems in Uzbekistan
In recent years, national
governments, international donors,
and research-for-development
organizations have put considerable
effort into developing solutions for
sustainable agricultural production in
Central Asia. However, some
scientists argue that a paradigm shift
is needed: The focus should be on
raising production by increasing
productivity, not land area under
production. Farmers should learn to
grow more with less land, water and
other inputs. New crop varieties
adapted to local conditions and
resistant to extreme weather, diseases
and pests are essential to the success
of such an endeavor.
On 31 March 2015 a group of
scientists from the International
Center for Agricultural Research in
the Dry Areas (ICARDA), AVRDC The World Vegetable Center, the
International Center for Biosaline
Agriculture (ICBA) and Bioversity
International organized a workshop
with farmers to analyze seed
systems in Karauzak district,
Karakalpakstan, an autonomous
republic of Uzbekistan and part of the
CGIAR Research Program (CRP) on
Dryland Systems Aral Sea Action Site.
The purpose was to characterize
existing seed systems for cereals,
legumes, vegetables, fodder and fruit
in the district, understand the
strengths and limitations in terms of
infrastructure and availability of
quality seed to farmers, and discuss
ways to improve seed systems for
various crops.
Two major problems arose during the
discussion with farmers: There are no
seed production systems, except for
wheat. For example, many farmers
grow rice in the district, but
Seed producers in Andijan Region, Uzbekistan can reap good incomes by producing seed of
AVRDC’s improved mungbean varieties.
complained that they do not know
where to buy rice seed and that there
is no rice seed production system.
Farmers usually save their own seed
or buy seed on the local market, but
there is no guarantee of quality and
the cost is high.
Second, farmers do not know where
to get information about seed. They
requested reference materials and
books, and more extensive and
practical training. Lack of knowledge
considerably reduces farmers' profits.
Zokhid Ziyadullayev, director of
the National Center for Seed
Production of Grain Crops, said that
many wheat seed producers do not
know enough about necessary
technologies and as a result, their
seed output is of low quality and they
earn less. Echoing Dr. Ziyadullayev's
opinion, one of the farmers said
farmers often fail to recoup costs and
repay loans, so they lose interest in
seed production.
AVRDC - The World Vegetable Center
understands the importance of robust
seed systems. Seed is the single most
expensive input in agricultural
production; making high quality
seeds easily available can result in
substantial gains for farmers and
rural populations. To that end, the
Center released a total of 42 new
varieties of eight vegetable crops,
including tomato, sweet and hot
pepper, eggplant, vegetable soybean,
mungbean, yard-long bean and
cabbage in Uzbekistan between 20072014.
Research institutions, including
AVRDC, can provide training to
enhance the skills and knowledge of
public and private seed producers.
This would definitely help to sow the
seeds of successful and sustainable
agricultural production in Uzbekistan
and other Central Asian countries.
Excerpts drawn from the CAC Newsletter,
the Regional Program for Sustainable
Agricultural Development in Central Asia
and the Caucasus.
BANK ON IT: When art engages life to reflect the current human
condition, artists can point the way toward options for the future.
That’s why seed from the AVRDC Genebank and the Eastern
and Southern Africa Seed Repository is on prominent display in
the 56th International Art Exhibition, a world-renown event known
as La Biennale di Venezia. The exhibition, titled All the World’s
Futures, runs from 9 May to 22 November 2015 in Venice, Italy.
Belgian artist Koen Vanmechelen contacted AVRDC to obtain
vegetable seed to feature in his installation. In the Palazzo
Cavalli-Franchetti—the former site of the Banca di Venezia—
Vanmechelen has created the LIFEBANK, a display including
more than 100 types of vegetable seeds, from traditional crops
such as amaranth and African eggplant to global favorites
soybean and chili. Live camels and chickens are also part of the
installation, which aims to raise awareness of how global food
production impacts the lives of people and the health of the
Vanmechelen is one of 136 artists from 53 countries selected to participate in the prestigious event. He has partnered
with Slow Food to host his exhibit. Slow Food, an international NGO dedicated to preventing the disappearance of
local food cultures and traditions, and increasing people’s interest in the food they eat, where it comes from, and how
food choices affect the world around us, has set up a restaurant featuring local specialties, where visitors can eat the
art of human cultivation.
“The world before us today exhibits deep divisions and wounds, pronounced inequalities and uncertainties as to the
future,” said Biennale organizer Paolo Baratta. “The Biennale observes the relationship between art and the
development of the human, social, and political world.”
Ralph Roothaert (The Netherlands) joined AVRDC Eastern and Southern Africa on 3 May 2015
as Project Manager for Home Garden Scaling in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. Ralph brings 22
years of international experience in smallholder agriculture, supply chains, and developing
women’s economic leadership to the position. He received his PhD in agriculture from
Wageningen University, The Netherlands, in 2000. Previously he served as Associate Country
Director and Programme Manager for Oxfam in Tanzania; a Fund Manager for FARM-Africa,
Kenya; and as a senior scientist for Centro Internacional de Agricultura Tropical (CIAT) and the
International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) in Ethiopia.
Pendo James Mollel, Research Assistant in Plant Breeding, is the newest member of the
AVRDC Eastern and Southern Africa team. She holds a BS in Horticulture from Sokoine
University of Agriculture, and had practical training at the Tanzania Ministry of Agriculture, Food
Security and Cooperatives, where she inspected agricultural products and plants from other
countries to check for diseases and pests, and also at East West Seed, where she conducted seed
viability testing, prepared seed beds for planting, and harvested and processed seed. She also
worked at Mount Meru Flowers in Arusha, where she assisted the grading manager in selecting
good quality flowers free from pests and diseases. Pendo speaks Swahili and English. Her love of
plants is sure to be an asset to the Center’s vegetable research in the region.
Fresh, 8 May 2015
Fresh is published by :
AVRDC – The World Vegetable Center
P.O. Box 42, Shanhua, Tainan 74199
Editor: Maureen Mecozzi
Graphic design: Kathy Chen
Photographic guidance: Amy Chen and
Vanna Liu
Comments, ask a question, add a name to our mailing list: [email protected]
Contributors: Mohammed Razu Ahmed, Sheila
de Lima, Fekadu Fufa Dinssa, Thomas Dubois,
Andreas Ebert, Warwick Easdown, Andreas
Gramzow, Jackie Hughes, Dyno Keatinge, Ravza
Mavlyanova, Myo Min Aung, Srinivasan
Ramasamy, Roland Schafleitner, Tsvetelina
Stoilova, Abdou Tenkouano