How Vegetable center promotes healthier diets

ARUSHA: The World Vegetable Center has collected and stored 6,000 vegetable germplasm at its state-of-the-art facility in Arusha.

The seeds comprise of more than 100 species of vegetables such as Egg plants and Solanum nigrum.

Taking journalists on a tour of the World Vegetable Center, Eastern and Southern Africa, a scientist in charge with Traditional Vegetables Conservation and Utilizatuon at the centre, Dr Sognigbe N’Danikou underscored the facility’s role in supporting better income and healthier diets for Tanzanians.

“This is a global key collection point of traditional African vegetable seeds where collection and conservation work is done in collaboration with national partners who maintain duplicate collections”, said the scientist.

This is in a bid to alleviate poverty and malnutrition in the developing world through the increased production and consumption of nutritious and health-promoting vegetables, according to Dr N’Danikou.

“Nearly half a ton of Vegetbale seeds is collected at the center every year which eventually leads to led to the release of hundreds of varieties”, he observed.

According to the Scientist, staff at the Genebank conserve and distribute vegetable germplasm to improve crops, identify superior sources of genes for important horticultural traits, characterize the Center’s germplasm to make better use of its diversity, develop DNA markers for improved traits for marker-assisted selection and use molecular technologies to isolate and validate genes affecting important traits.

Germplasm is the term used to describe the seeds, plants, or plant parts useful in crop breeding, research, and conservation efforts.

Plants, seed, or cultures are germplasm when maintained for the purposes of studying, managing, or using the genetic information they possess.

The Center’s African regional program began in 1992 in Arusha, northern Tanzania.

Today the World Vegetable Center has professional research and development staff working across Africa on important vegetable crops such as tomato, pepper, onion and cabbage, as well as a range of African traditional vegetables, and partners with more than 40 national institutions and many international organizations.

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