The East African region in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) is widely considered as one of the secondary centers of diversity for sweetpotatoes [Ipomoea batatas (L.) Lam.]. Farmers in the region typically grow landraces, but hybridizations occasionally result in new genotypes. Factors such as regional conflicts, natural disasters, disease, and land pressure continually threaten the SSA sweetpotato gene pool. Despite this threat, very little updated information is easily accessible about SSA germplasm collections. Such information is valuable for purposes of management, exploration, and conservation. Using germplasm collection data from Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda, we demonstrate how publicly available GIS-based tools, e.g., DIVA-GIS, can be used to document current collections as well as make this information easily accessible, searchable, and portable. First, collection data from each country were compiled and known collection sites were georeferenced using available gazetteers. Following data cleaning and verification, georeferenced data were then converted into a GIS-compliant format, primarily as shapefiles. All files were then copied into storage media for exchange among stakeholders. To further demonstrate the portability of the GIS database files, available World Wide Web GIS web viewers enabled real-time access to GIS files uploaded to an experimental web site. This work demonstrates that with very little expense, access to extant SSA germplasm information for sweetpotatoes can be improved using publicly available GIS tools.
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