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High-Yielding Varieties for Africa, in Africa

The Soybean Innovation Lab (SIL) is collaborating directly with its partners at the National Agricultural Research Stations (NARS) in Ghana and Ethiopia and with the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique to develop high-yielding, disease-resistant African-adapted soybean varieties in an effort to improve the production capacity of smallholder soybean farmers.

This work includes developing cultivars that are resistant to rust and bacteria pustule, can more efficiently fix nitrogen, can better tolerate the low phosphorus commonly found in tropical soils and can be easily processed for household consumption. This is accomplished through the introduction of high-yielding, diverse cultivars from the U.S. Germplasm Collection, crossed with locally adapted African varieties.

Part of this process involves direct mentorship of the head soybean breeders at these institutions through both Africa and U.S.-based technical training, knowledge sharing, resource support and through the provision of research equipment necessary to increase the scale and efficiency of the national African soybean breeding programs.

The Soybean Innovation Lab collaborates with three head plant breeders, Dr. Nicholas Denwar with the Savanna Agricultural Research Institute (SARI) in Ghana, Dr. Abush Tesfaye with the Jimma Agricultural Research Center in Ethiopia (EIAR) and Dr. Godfree Chigeza with the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in Zambia.

Contact us at to learn more.



Dr. Brian Diers 
University of Illinois