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MSU Scientists Helping African Farmers Grow New Sources of Protein

Atsuko Kanazawa
Atsuko Kanazawa, assistant professor in the lab of University Distinguished Professor David Kramer, focuses on understanding the basics of photosynthesis, the process by which which plants capture solar energy to generate the planet’s food supply. As a plant scientist, she is using  her knowledge, in addition to new technologies developed in the Kramer lab, to help farmers improve land management practices.
One component of the lab’s outreach efforts is its participation in MSU’s Legume Innovation Lab’s (LIL) at Michigan State University, a program that contributes to food security and economic growth in developing countries in Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America.
Kanazawa recently joined a contingent that attended a Legume Innovation Lab conference in Burkina Faso in central western Africa to discuss legume management with scientists from West Africa, Central America, Haiti, and the US. At the conference, the Kramer lab reported how a team of US and Zambian researchers are mapping bean genes and identifying varieties that can sustainably grow in hot and drought conditions.
The team is relying on a new technology platform, called PhotosynQ, which has been designed and developed in the Kramer lab. PhotosynQ includes a hand-held instrument that can measure plant, soil, water, and environmental parameters. The device is relatively inexpensive and easy to use, which solves accessibility issues for communities with weak purchasing power.
The heart of PhotosynQ, however, is its open-source online platform, where users upload collected data so that it can be collaboratively analyzed among a community of 2400+ researchers, educators, and farmers from over 18 countries. The idea is to solve local problems through global collaboration.
excerpted from “Reflections from “Feed the Future” conference in Burkina Faso” via the MSU-Department of Energy Plant Research Laboratory website

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