During Year 1, Africa Harvest coordinated the formation of the consortium, bringing together nine initial institutions. This involved negotiations leading to the signing of sub-contractual agreements and disbursement of funds to the institutions involved. The first planning meeting was held to map the way forward. The five-year regulatory plan was developed, led to the Freedom-to-Operate analysis of African countries. Gene transfer agreements were signed in order to facilitate technology developments. Technology development and product development began in earnest with commencement of transformation and analytical work at Pioneer, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) the University of Pretoria (UP) and the University of California Berkeley (UCB).
In Year 2, the project management participated in the GC#9 meeting and the a team from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) visited South Africa and. In Year 3 CORAF/WECARD and KARI joined the ABS Project consortium. The PAC team produced a video documentary, and was involved in various outreach activities.
Year 4 was a momentous one for the project; scientists involved got a significant breakthrough in sorghum transformation efficiency. Local sorghum varieties were characterised for agronomic and phenological traits in a South African field trial and scientists at KARI selected the sorghum cultivars suitable for introgression of ABS traits. Protein quality studies showed that ABS traits for improved protein quality and digestibility are expressed in food products.
During Year 5, the ABS project produced the world’s first golden sorghum with increased levels of Vitamin A. Transgenic plants expressing high levels of lysine were planted in CSIR greenhouses. A mock trial of a non-transgenic sorghum variety was carried out ARC’s confined field testing facility. It was shown that the Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acid Score is more than doubled in sorghum porridge from ABS compared to regular sorghum. The documentation of the diversity of sorghum wild relatives was concluded.