Axarquia research centre to receive money from Bill Gates

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Plants in the Sonoran desert

THE Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, created by Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, has taken an interest in a cutting-edge research centre in Axarquia.

La Mayora of Algarrobo has obtained a €300,000 grant to participate, along with other centres and researchers from all corners of the globe, in an investigation into the possible reasons for the whitefly epidemic which is affecting cassava plants in Africa and to find a sustainable solution, if possible.

Specifically, the Axarquia centre will focus its study in the biological isolation of the different species of whiteflies and the evaluation of the impact of the plant and its viruses on the insects.

“Not so long ago, it was believed that the whitefly was a unique species,” said researcher from La Mayora, Jesus Navas, who continued: “Today we know that there are at least 30 different species; we will study the European and African groups and confirm whether or not they mate with each other.”

The aid given to La Mayora is part of a larger allocation of more than €13.8 million, given to the University of Greenwich (United Kingdom), the Agriculture Resources Institute of Tanzania and other institutions in Australia, China, Colombia, Spain, North America, Israel, Malawi and Uganda.

The results of this investigation are expected to be fundamental in improving alimentation in Africa, as well as helping to increase the productivity and income of small-farmworkers.

“The whitefly is responsible for the transmission of a huge number of viruses which attack the main cultivations of the world,” said Mr Navas, who continued: “If the farm-workers lose their cassava, they lose their food.”

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