Breeding market demanded crops adapted to Texas
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Roots and tubers are an essential part of food security and income for a large percentage of the smallholder households in Sub-Saharan Africa. Their robust nature in the face of variable climates mean that yield failures are rare even when challenged with untimely dry periods. Smallholder farmers often express the desire to have earlier-maturing varieties of cassava, sweet potato, or yam. This proposed investment would provide breeders of those crops an important tool to breed for varying maturity without the expense of growing much larger plots for multiple harvests. Refining ground-penetrating radar (GPR) to enable breeders to track root yield during development will make breeding these crops much more efficient, in order to provide smallholder farmers superior varieties of root and tuber crops.To date, the commercial applications developed by the proposed grantee are not in the realm of agriculture. Their GPR units are developed for specialized purposes such as mining, utilities, highway maintenance, and archaeology. While they may now see an opportunity for entering the agriculture market, interesting commercial opportunities for them would involve high-speed multi-row units suitable for processors, agricultural consultants, or large producers to monitor underground development of their root and tuber crops. The niche market of root and tuber crop breeders for Africa is too small to be commercially interesting. The proposed investment would allow refinement of the technology and development of slow-speed single-row units suitable for small breeders' plots. Funds would be used for development and field validation of these semi-commercial units for breeders of our target crops, and not for higher-capacity commercial units suitable for monitoring large fields from a high-speed platform.