The AKER programme aims to improve the competitiveness of French sugar beet by 2020 by doubling the annual increase in sugar yield / hectare from 2% to 4%

September 26, 2012, Christian Huyghe, INRA's Deputy Scientific Director (Agriculture) and Project Coordinator, officially launched the AKER programme among many celebrities, scientists and industry professionals from the sugar beet sector, at the headquarters of Florimond Desprez in Cappelle-en-Pévèle (Nord).

The 8-year AKER programme forms part of the "Programme d'Investissements d'Avenir" launched by the French Authorities as part of the "Agence Nationale de la Recherche". With a budget of € 18.5 million and a resource of 80 researchers; the programme is supported by 11 partners, government agencies and private operators in the French sugar beet sector.

The AKER programme will first expand the genetic variability of sugar beet by providing a collection of genes from resources around the world. Then it will exploit the AKER genetic material obtained by crossing with elite sugar beet, to produce new varieties with high potential for use by the sugar beet industry.

This programme calls for the use of high throughput genotyping (genome analysis) equipment with the associated data processing and statistical support as well as new phenotyping (character assessment) methods.

Christian Huyghe announced: "With the AKER programme and with the support of the "Programme d'Investissements d'Avenir" increased by the "Agence Nationale de la Recherche", we will improve the competitiveness of the French sugar beet sector in an international context marked by global increasing demand for sugar".

Marc Richard-Molard, Managing Director of ITB, President of the Interprofessional Committee: "The AKER programme is an opportunity for French sugar beet sector, as it involves not only public partners but also the beet and sugar partners and the world leader in sugar beet seed".

Bruno Desprez, CEO of Florimond Desprez, President of the Coordinating Committee: "The AKER programme is a breakthrough in terms of research methods and selection tools, which will allow sugar beet to stay at the forefront of cultivated species, using methods and innovative selection tools".

Press contact :
Philippe Pelzer
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