Cassava, a crop whose starchy roots feed 500 million Africans, is in the process of getting a makeover that employs the best that agricultural science has to offer.
From an African point of view, a big problem with cassava is that it’s originally a South American crop. African agronomists would like to bring in other New World varieties, to improve their own crops, but they cannot because most such imports fall foul of cassava mosaic disease.
The NextGen Cassava project is trying to deal with the aliens’ sensitivities by way of a breeding program based on genomics. Prizes for all this effort may be economical, social and nutritional.