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UH Mānoa Researchers Join National Initiative to Protect Okinawan Sweet Potatoes

Okinawan sweet potato pie.

Researchers from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa’s College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (CTAHR) joined a national network’s sweet potato protection group.

A new grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service allows UH Mānoa researchers to join the National Clean Plant Network’s project to protect Okinawan sweet potatoes from viruses.

When a virus infects a crop, it can negatively affect its yield, taste, appearance, and longevity. If it goes undetected, the virus can be inherited to the next generation of crops and spread.

The goal of the National Clean Plant Network is to create virus-free crops. CTAHR researchers from Oʻahu, Kauaʻi, Maui, and Hawaiʻi Island joined the network's group to protect the longevity of Okinawan sweet potatoes.

“During the first year, we hope to produce a total of 100 virus-tested ‘Okinawan’ plantlets in the tissue-culture laboratory of the Komohana Research and Extension Center, then distribute to Extension agents across the state," said Susan Miyasaka, an agronomist and interim administrator for CTAHR Hawaiʻi County.

If the research project goes as planned, the team will produce and distribute 2,500 clean cuttings to growers.

Zoe Dym is a news producer at Hawaiʻi Public Radio.
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