Scientists also continue to look for novel traits from wild plants of the Solanaceae family that are native to the African continent. Current research activity in the rich source of diversity present within the African continent, however, does not match the potential value of these plants. There has been very little consolidated effort towards proper conservation, management, improvement and promotion of valuable Germplasm. Afri-Sol brings together a multidisciplinary team of stakeholders with the goal of unlocking the potential of African solanaceous species biodiversity for the improvement of nutrition, health and income.
Dr Rene Klein Lankhorst who is the head of the EU- Solanaceae Management office made a presentation on the functioning of EU SOL project. The 3- year USD44 million project has been running since 2009 and mainly concentrated on developing solanaceae plants with a focus on nutrition, quality, disease tolerance and better yield. One of the successes of this project has been the production of the Golden potato.
Broadly, Afri-Sol aims to address existing knowledge gaps and challenges within the respective African regions.The participants concentrated their efforts on mapping out the way forward for Afri-Sol. The problems Afri-Sol would seek to address were defined as follow:
- Knowledge gaps in terms of health and nutritional value of solanaceae, consumer preferences and ornamental value.
- Regional challenges in terms of coordination of research, access to Germplasm, markets, identification of stakeholders, research infrastructure, biotic and abiotic stresses of solanaceae.
From these identified problems, a goal for Afri-Sol was formulated and it is; “To Unlock African Solanaceous biodiversity for nutrition, health and income improvement”. The participants defined following specific objectives of Afri-Sol:
- Gathering of indigenous knowledge of African Solanaceae species (Uses, Propagation, Access to information)
- Assessment of genetic resources (existing collections, exploration, bio-prospecting, conservation, characterization and core collection, germplasm sharing, preliminary screening, gene mining, breeding)
- Basic biology (Cytogenetics, Biochemical and molecular tools, Ontology)
- Nutrition and health (Micro nutrients, Bio active analysis, Social economics studies, Novel bioactives, Human intervention studies)
- Seed systems (Indentify stakeholders in seed systems, Seed regulation, Seed quality & management, Seed markets, Seed storage)
- Value addition and Markets (Demand Analysis, Supply analysis, Product development, Post harvest, Industrial applications)
- Capacity building (Taxonomy, the “Omics” (Genomics, Proteomics, Metabolomics), Human intervention studies, Biochemistry, Infrastructure, Curriculum