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Challenges for late blight control in developing countries

Anne Njoroge: International Potato Center

<div>Managing late blight (LB) is tough in low-income countries (LIC) due to limited farmer knowledge, variable cropping systems, lack of inputs and technology and weak R&D bodies. LIC also have susceptible cultivars and a variable pathogen population and tackling these issues needs a multi-faceted tactic plus use of novel skills. To increase host resistance use, new resistant genotypes have been evaluated and improved methods for rating resistance developed. Recently, it’s been shown that use of intermediate levels of resistance in developing countries is more widespread than had previously been thought. Complementary to this, genetically improved varieties with 3<em>R</em> genes have been field tested in Uganda through collaborative efforts. To better understand pathogen variability and its effects for control, partners in Europe and LIC have promoted globalization of EuroBlight marker tools and online platforms. Now, researchers in Africa are promoting creation of AfricaBlight to standardize LB research in this region. Using SSR markers in Eastern Africa has revealed KE-1 lineage that is rapidly displacing the dominant US-1 and is expected to cause greater LB management issues. To understand epidemiology of late blight in varied environments, LB modelling capacity has been developed and models parameterized for highland tropical conditions, allowing prediction of climate change effect on LB. Advance of simple DSS to low-resource farmers are vital to improving farmer knowledge.</div>