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The project

Sustainable Agriculture for Sub-Saharan Africa - Solanum aethiopicum Improvement (SASSA-SAI) is aimed at improving the production of Solanum aethiopicum, an important indigenous African crop.

Background

Malnutrition affects one in three people on the planet, with two billion people being deficient in one or more micronutrients. In sub-Saharan Africa malnutrition is a chronic problem. The sustainable production and consumption of biodiverse nutritious horticultural crops provide a key part of the solution to this problem. There are many indigenous African eggplant in the fieldvegetable species that are grown in Africa and sold in local markets, mainly by female producers, as a source of income to alleviate their poverty. However, many of these crops are under-researched and their full potential has not been realised. African eggplant, Solanum aethiopicum, is such a crop. It is widely consumed across both west and east Africa as a leafy vegetable and also as a fruit.

Solanum aethiopicum is closely related to aubergine/eggplant Solanum melongena, tomato Solanum lycopersicum and potato Solanum tuberosum. Similar to these Solanum species, the availability of soil water and the health of the soil, as defined by the presence or absence of diseases, will greatly affect productivity and nutritive content.

Project aims

There is an immense potential to improve the production of African eggplant through better water management strategies, improving soil health and growing varieties that are more resilient to water stress. Our project aims to adopt two major approaches to maximise African eggplant production:

  1. developing new plant and crop management strategies to improve production;
  2. characterise the genetic diversity towards identifying more drought resilient accessions of African eggplant.