What Success Looks Like

A test variety of barley susceptible to lodging, caused by a combination of wind and rain, with better-adapted varieties on either side. This photo was taken at the WSU-Mt. Vernon experiment station in Skagit County in 2016. American farmers can visit trials like this one, view data from them online, or discuss them with extension agents to help decide which varieties to grow. Breeding wheat, rice, and other grains that have high yields but do not fall over under their own weight in wind and rain has been critical to food security and economic development worldwide.

Yuan Longping, the father of higher-yielding hybrid rice, in a rice paddy. Professor Yuan is a household name in China and most rice planted in the country is now hybrid, in spite of the difficulty of hybridizing rice relative to many other crops.

Added value

Children eating orange-fleshed sweet potatoes in Mozambique, where vitamin A deficiency is common. Unlike those in the US, traditional African sweet potatoes are white. An international collaborative has adapted orange-fleshed sweet potatoes from the New World to African conditions. Orange-fleshed sweet potatoes are sweeter than those traditionally grown in Africa as well as being higher in vitamin A, and can meet daily vitamin A requirements in quantities normally consumed. Hundreds of thousands of farmers in Africa and South Asia are currently planting them, with projections of as many as 15 million by 2020.

Golden kiwis, a new specialty crop grown in China (and elsewhere). Golden kiwis are nutritionally comparable to green kiwis but can fetch higher prices for farmers.

Resiliency

Research on late blight in potato, the disease that caused the Irish Potato Famine. The potato genotype in the foreground is resistant to the strain of blight being tested against; those in the background are not.

Rinderpest outbreak affecting cattle in South Africa in 1896. Thanks to a vaccine, rinderpest has probably been eradicated worldwide, with the last confirmed case in 2001.

Sustainability

Low-cost drip irrigation system in Bangladesh. The system helps plants to get started while conserving water. Water drips slowly out of the plastic bottle. In the US, drip irrigation would typically use drip tape, a hose with holes.

Farmer Grace Malaitcha from Malawi standing in her conservation tillage maize plot. Conservation tillage is a set of practices that controls weeds and keep soil aerated with only partial or no tillage prior to planting. Note in the photo that the stubble from the previous crop remains on the surface, controlling erosion and contributing organic matter to the soil. Since adopting conservation tillage, Ms. Malaitcha has avoided the back-breaking task of hoeing the field every season as well as protecting the environment.

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