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Plant breeding successes in African rural development.
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This article reviews improvements in important southern African food crops, and it describes the social and economic effects of those improved crops. Author Rodomiro Ortiz, the acting Deputy-Director General of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), says that the development and distribution of high-yielding cassava cultivars led to a 50 percent increase in average yield and a 10 percent increase in per capita output throughout Africa. Meanwhile, Ortiz says that improved maize cultivars led to about a 45 percent increase in on-farm yield gains in western and central Africa. Ortiz contends that 100 million more people in sub-Saharan Africa are able to meet their daily food requirements because of IITA-led research-for-development efforts in cassava and maize. However, Ortiz asserts that the full impact of crop improvement programs "can only be judged over a relatively long period." In addition to cassava and maize, Ortiz discusses several IITA-led improvements in yams, cooking bananas and plantains, cowpeas, and soybeans.