Open Access cassava database – unlocking the full potential of agricultural research / CGIAR
"Large volumes of valuable cassava data have been made openly available through a joint initiative between CGIAR Consortium member the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA-Nigeria), Cornell University and other partners. The move highlights a concrete example of CGIAR’s commitment to mainstream Open Access – with members of the CGIAR Consortium making their agricultural research data, information and knowledge widely accessible. The cassava database, called Cassavabase, was developed as part of the NEXTGEN Cassava project, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the UK Department for International Development. IITA cassava breeder Peter Kulakow hailed the launch of Cassavabase as a major step towards increasing yields and quality of cassava crops for African farmers. 'It is like putting all your data in a fish bowl for the world to see!' he said. Cassavabase will be hosted at IITA-Nigeria, a major contributor to the database, providing a one-stop shop for cassava researchers and breeders worldwide, explains a recent blog by IITA. As well as offering the latest data on cassava, the on-line database provides access to tools for genomic selection, a new technique that dramatically accelerates the breeding cycle, as well as social networking pathways for the cassava community. Although cassava is the main source of calories for 500 million people and particularly crucial for food security in Africa, it has received relatively little research and development support compared with other staples, such as wheat, rice and maize. Challenges include cassava viruses and drought conditions, both of which lower yields. The key to unlocking the full potential of cassava lies largely in bringing cassava breeding into the 21st century, say researchers involved in the project. The NEXTGEN Cassava project aims to use the latest advances in breeding methodology to improve productivity and yield in cassava production, incorporating cassava germplasm diversity from South America into African breeding programs. Cassavabase marks an important step in making that possible. Plant breeders and other scientists have already welcomed the database, which they say is well designed and easy to use. IITA scientists say that the launch of Cassavabase opens doors to designing Open Access systems for other key crops that are the focus of research at the CGIAR Research Center, such as yam and cowpea ..."