Improving potato production in Cameroon – perspectives from a BecA-ILRI Hub alumnus

Mariette Anoumaa, assistant lecturer at the University of Dschang and BecA-ILRI Hub alumnus recently defended her PhD in plant physiology and biotechnologies at the University of Dschang in Cameroon. Her research was supported through the Biosciences eastern and central Africa-International Livestock Research Institute (BecA-ILRI) Hub Africa Biosciences Challenge Fund fellowship program.

161fe.jpgOn 26 September 2017, I successfully defended my PhD at the University of Dschang in Cameroon. To me, this represents more than just an academic achievement. It is a major step in my journey towards improving potato production in Cameroon.

With over 200,000 mostly smallholder farmers growing potatoes on over 100,000 hectares of land, potatoes are an important food crop and source of income in Cameroon. However, the prevalence of pests, diseases and the lack of disease-free planting materials continue to hinder increased production.

In my view, breeding potatoes that can withstand the pests and diseases is the best option to improve potato production in Cameroon. The first step towards this is to determine the diversity and relationship between potato cultivars in Cameroon, and to build a core collection that can be used in a breeding program – this is what my PhD research was all about: 'Genetic characterization of potato from the Western Highlands of Cameroon.'

I must thank the BecA-ILRI Hub for its contribution to my success in achieving the first phase of my research. Through the BecA-ILRI Hub’s Africa Bioscience Challenge Fund (ABCF) program, I received full support for the molecular analysis part of my PhD research project. From my research findings, I was able to select some local varieties of potato that have traits of interest (high yield and high dry matter content). Going forward, I would like to identify varieties that have resistance to diseases and incorporate them in the breeding program. 

Beyond the award of a PhD, I am looking forward to being promoted to senior lecturer in the Department of Plant Biology of the University of Dschang following an assessment of my progress by the Consultative Committee of University Institutions in the coming months. I feel this will be an even greater opportunity for me to share the knowledge I gained through my experience at the BecA-ILRI Hub. 


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