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Cultivating Food Security in Africa

PHOTO: Researchers standing in a cassava field in Africa.

UF researchers are developing ways to combat food insecurities in Africa. The African Cassava Agronomy Initiative is a five-year project to advance cassava farming by offering decision support tools. Farmers can access these applications to identify ways to maximize crop yield, improve root starch quality, and reduce the yield gap. The project goal is to engage 100,000 households and generate crop values worth $28 million. Patricia Moreno Cadena, a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering, explains why this can be life-changing for so many families:

“Cassava is not just a food security crop for direct household consumption, but also an industry crop with potential to generate additional income to the farmers.”

As part of the initiative, Moreno Cadena is developing a model to determine optimal timing for planting and harvesting. The model requires testing numerous simulations. With the help of UFIT’s Bioinformatics Specialist Matt Gitzendanner, the research team received training to use HiPerGator, which led to significant productivity gains. On a normal desktop or laptop, running 12 simulations would take one day. But with HiPerGator, 620 simulations can run in that same 24-hour period.

Researchers are welcome to visit https://www.rc.ufl.edu/ for more information about HiPerGator and support services available.