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Appolinaire Djikeng appointed Director of the BecA-ILRI Hub

9501045364_69b668a03a.jpgDr. Appolinaire Djikeng has been named as the new Director for the BecA-ILRI Hub. Having first come to ILRI, Nairobi as a PhD student in 1995 and more recently serving as the BecA-ILRI Hub’s technology manager and interim director, Appolinaire began his new appointment on 12 June, 2013.

After spending close to 11 years working in prestigious institutions in the US such as the Yale University School of Medicine and the J Craig Venter Institute, Appolinaire was keen to return to Africa. His dream was to see Africa participate in the global scientific community at the same level as other communities, and he desired to make his contribution through building the capacity of African scientists to use tools of modern biology.

“I am whom I am because many people held my hand,” says Appolinaire “I would like to hold the hands of many other people, help them cross the bridge and get to be that sophisticated scientist they would like to be because we really need many of those in Africa. Being Director of the BecA-ILRI Hub presents the perfect opportunity for me to do this.”

Joining the dots on cassava improvement

photo Preparing cassava in Nigeria                            Next  A boy works at peeling a mountain of cassava in Nigeria (photo credit: ILRI/Mann).Considered for years the “poor man’s crop”, cassava, a staple food for more than 700 million people in over 100 countries, is not only the world’s fourth-most important source of calories, but it is also the second-most important source of starch for industry.

According to Dr Claude Fauquet, plant virologist from the  International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) and Director of the Global Cassava Partnership for the 21 Century (GCP21) , the starch from cassava, is used in hundreds of products including flour, syrup, paper, glue, food additives and animal feed. Cassava starch is the most widely traded starch in the world and is vital cash crop for millions of smallholders in Asia and Latin America.

“Cassava as an important climate change resilient crop with a potential for increased yield of up to 200%, in Africa alone, over the next 20 years” said Dr Fauquet during his presentation at the BecA-ILRI Hub on Monday 10th June, 2013.

“The challenge in making this potential a reality is in the investment of advanced research and technology for better production systems, improved processing and better market management”.

As a consortium bringing together different players in cassava production, processing and trade, the GCP21 is steering various stakeholders in cassava toward a more concerted approach to cassava improvement globally. By connecting over 3000 scientists, 105 national research institutions, 45 international research institutions, funders and the private sector GCP21 hopes to unlock cassava’s potential for food, animal feed and industry.

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About the Global Cassava Partnership for the 21st Century (GCP21)
Founded in 2003, the Global Cassava Partnership for the 21st Century (GCP21) is a not-for-profit international alliance of 45 organizations and coordinated by Claude Fauquet and Joe Tohme of the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT). It aims to fill gaps in cassava research and development in order to unlock the potential of cassava for improving food security and also increasing incomes of poor farmers through work to develop industrial products from cassava. GCP21 is providing updated information regarding the crop, the scientists working on cassava and cassava R&D projects in the world.

2013 Agricultural Research Connections Workshop

The Biosciences eastern and central Africa – International Livestock Research Institute (BecA-ILRI) Hub and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) will host three Agricultural Research Connections (ARC) Workshops in July and August 2013 in Nairobi, Kenya.

These unique workshops will bring together scientists based within and outside of sub-Saharan Africa to foster scientific collaborations with the potential to create new pathways out of poverty for African farming families by addressing issues related to the crops and livestock on which they depend.  

In addition to learning about agriculture in Kenya, participating scientists will be given the opportunity to describe their own areas of expertise and explore with other workshop participants possible collaborations that could contribute to the advancement of agriculture in sub-Saharan Africa.

 

The goal of these workshops is to catalyze new research partnerships among high-caliber scientists who could then compete for funding through calls for proposals, including the upcoming Program for Emerging Agricultural Research Leaders (PEARLs) with projects led by scientists in African national programs

 

More information on the PEARL program will be available on the www.gatesfoundation.org website under 'Current Grant Opportunities' by mid-May 2013. For the PEARL program, pre-proposals led by scientists in African national programs will be accepted between mid-May and late September 2013. To be considered, pre-proposals for PEARLs will include international collaboration. To facilitate such collaboration, we are now accepting applications to attend the 2013 ARC Workshops. Please note that attendance of the ARC Workshops is not a requirement to submit a PEARL pre-proposal.

 

 ARC Workshop participants will tour regional laboratories and facilities, visit local farmers, and engage in discussion sessions in Nairobi and the surrounding area. Sessions will include presentations on agricultural challenges in Africa. We expect participants to play an active role in seeking and developing new research partnerships, including developing proposal outline ideas for future competitive funding opportunities.

 We will be hosting three ARC Workshops in 2013:

·         July 21st – 26th (This workshop will be focused on livestock.)

·         July 28th – August 2nd

·         August 25th – 30th

 

If you are interested in applying to attend one of these workshops, we encourage you to visit and complete the online application by May 15th 2013 at:

http://www.regonline.com/2013agriculturalresearchconnectionsworkshop

 

Participants for the ARC Workshops will be selected based on criteria including scientific excellence (for career stage), and potential for developing collaborative projects relevant to Africa. Prior international experience is not required and first-time visitors to Africa and early career scientists are especially encouraged to apply. We hope to include scientists from a range of disciplines related to crop, soil and livestock sciences, with varying levels of experience, transformative ideas, and a shared passion for the potential of science to alleviate poverty among smallholder farming families.

 

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BecA-ILRI Hub

The BecA-ILRI Hub is located on the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) campus in Nairobi, Kenya. The Hub is a modern biosciences research and training facility that supports eastern and central African countries to address agriculture-related problems of the highest priority for alleviating poverty and promoting development. See more about the BecA-ILRI Hub at: http://hub.africabiosciences.org/

 

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Guided by the belief that every life has equal value, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation works to help all people lead healthy, productive lives. Based in Seattle, Washington, the foundation is led by CEO Jeff Raikes and Co-chair William H. Gates Sr., under the direction of Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett. See more about our Agricultural Development strategy at:

http://www.gatesfoundation.org/What-We-Do/Global-Development/Agricultural-Development

Mobilizing biosciences for Africa's development - BecA-ILRI Hub Annual Letter


Dear Friends and Partners,

Although we are well into 2013, we would like to take this opportunity to share with you the excitement of the great successes accomplished in 2012 by the BecA-ILRI Hub team and our partners. The year 2012 was indeed very significant for the BecA-ILRI Hub, all our friends and partners on many accounts, the most important being that the BecA initiative turned one decade old.

A lot of progress has been made over these 10 years and we believe there are prospects for even greater achievements in the years to come. It has been a privilege and an honor for all us at the BecA-ILRI Hub, working with you, our partners in mobilizing biosciences for Africa's development.

I invite you to read the attached 2012 Biosciences eastern and central Africa annual letter which expresses our conviction that the BecA-ILRI Hub has and will continue to play a critical role in propelling Africa towards a bright future.


2012 BecA-ILRI Hub Annual Letter


With our best wishes

Appolinaire Djikeng,
Interim Director, BecA-ILRI Hub

Partnering for research and development

Capacity Development, Technology and Knowledge Transfer Initiative: a joint agreement between Nelson Mandela African Institute of Science and Technology (NM-AIST) and the Biosciences eastern and central Africa–International Livestock Research Institute (BecA-ILRI) Hub, 14th March 2013.

nmaist.jpgThe Nelson Mandela African Institute of Science and Technology (NM-AIST) and the Biosciences eastern and central Africa- International Livestock Research Institute (BecA-ILRI) Hub signed a formal letter endorsing a partnership between the two institutions on March, 14, 2013. The partnership will see both institutions benefit from each other’s resources and scientific knowledge. The signing of the letter of agreement for the Joint Capacity Development, Technology and Knowledge Transfer Initiative took place at the NM-AIST campus in Arusha, Tanzania.

The NM-AIST and the BecA-ILRI Hub have a shared vision of driving Africa’s development through the empowerment of African scientists to engage in cutting edge research. Through the partnership, the institutions will share skills, technologies and facilities to enhance their research and capacity building programs via exchange visits by researchers. The institutions will also conduct collaborative agricultural biosciences research aimed at addressing food safety and security in the region.

As an initial implementation of the agreement, Dr Morris Agaba, professor at NM-AIST School of Life Sciences and Bioengineering, will take up a joint appointment with the BecA-ILRI Hub. Dr Agaba will provide overall leadership of a project entitled “Harnessing genetic diversity for improving goat productivity in Africa” which brings together partners from Cameroon, Ethiopia, Kenya and Tanzania.

“The establishment of the First Research Chair is the beginning of great achievements to be realized though this partnership” said Prof. Burton Mwamila.

Other areas of collaboration will include exchange of Adjunct Faculty members, organization of joint technical meetings & workshops, various joint training courses and the co-funding of scientists to conduct research at the BecA-ILRI Hub. “There are many more opportunities for collaboration in research and capacity building” said Dr. Djikeng. “We shall continue to explore ways to further strengthen the partnership between these two institutions”.

 

The BecA-ILRI Hub - A vibrant, dynamic center of bioscience excellence

Partnerships between scientists in and outside Africa are an integral part of research geared towards achieving food security on the continent.

In Kenya, the Arbovirus Incidence and Diversity Project (AVID ) brought together (icipe), Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI ); Kenya Wildlife Services (KWS); Department of Veterinary Services; Ministry of Public Health and Sanitation; and the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI ) to improve the prediction and prevention of rift valley fever (RVF) and other emerging arboviruses that have serious health and economic implications on animal husbandry in Africa.

The BecA-ILRI Hub receives Illumina Agricultural Greater Good Initiative Grant

The BecA-ILRI Hub yesterday (15th January 2013) received a grant from Illumina’s Agricultural Greater Good

Initiative. In San Diego, USA to receive the award was the BecA-ILRI Hub Director (interim) Dr Appolinaire Djikengwho says “such initiatives are the key to bringing Africa out from the shadow of poverty and food insecurity”.

Africa Biosciences Challenge Fund Fellowship Announcement

The Africa Biosciences Challenge Fund (ABCF) is a competitive fund which facilitates access to the Biosciences eastern and central Africa-International Livestock Research Institute (BecA-ILRI) Hub in
Nairobi, Kenya, for scientists and students from African national research institutes and universities.

The BecA-ILRI Hub provides a common biosciences research platform, research-related services and capacity building opportunities to eastern and central Africa and beyond. The Hub increases access to affordable, world-class research facilities, while creating and strengthening human resources in biosciences and related disciplines in Africa.  These activities focus on addressing key constraints in African agriculture.

We seek applicants who have exceptional ideas for short-term research projects (3-6 months) that can be carried out at the BecA-ILRI Hub. Projects must be related to food and nutritional security, food safety or animal health issues. Scientists who are conducting research in the following areas are particularly encouraged to apply, as are women candidates:

  • African swine fever (ASF) epidemiology and control
  • Improved vaccines and diagnosis of contagious bovine pleuropneumonia (CBPP)
  • Development of vaccines for peste des petits ruminants (PPR)
  • Improved control strategies for other animal diseases
  • Harnessing genetic diversity for conservation, resistance to disease and improving productivity of livestock, particularly of goats, cavies (guinea pigs) and chickens (focusing on African indigenous breeds)
  • Research on orphan (under-studied) crops including: amaranth, African wild mushrooms, enset and other under- researched important African crops
  • Genetic diversity studies for improving productivity of other important crops
  • Mycotoxins: addressing aflatoxin and other mycotoxin contamination of maize and other foods
  • Plant transformation to address food insecurity in Africa
  • Tissue culture and virus indexing for production of virus-free planting materials in Africa
  • Rapid diagnosis of crop and livestock disease: adopting and adapting existing diagnostics for use in Africa
  • Plant ‘viromics’: viral screening and pathogen discovery in plants for improving and developing diagnostic tools
  • Metagenomics for microbial diversity
  • Bioinformatics
  • Other innovative ideas that could potentially lead to major breakthroughs.


Applicant requirements

  • A national of one of the BecA-ILRI Hub countries: Burundi, Cameroon, Central Africa Republic, Congo Brazzaville, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Kenya, Madagascar, Rwanda, São Tomé and Príncipe, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda.
  • Affiliated with a national agricultural research program or university in the BecA-ILRI Hub region
  • Currently engaged in agricultural research
  • MSc or PhD in agricultural biosciences
  • Good working knowledge of written and spoken English
  • Completed online application form and uploaded CV and research project concept note.


CLICK HERE to apply

Funding for travel, accommodation, medical insurance, and some research expenses at the Hub will be provided. Please note that funding for research at the applicant’s home institute or field work is not provided under the ABCF Fellowship programme.

Thank you in advance for considering this opportunity. We look forward to hearing from you.

Thank you and good bye - Dr Segenet Kelemu bids BecA-ILRI Hub Farewell

Dear colleagues, friends and partners,

As some of you already know, I am leaving the BecA Hub and ILRI at the end of November, 2012 after five and half years as the BecA Hub Director. This is also a departure from the CGIAR after over 20 years of service, 15 of these at CIAT in Colombia. I will be joining the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) as their Vice President – Programs on 01 December, 2012 (http://www.agra-alliance.org/).

The BecA-ILRI Hub participates in International Food Security Conference

Today (30th November 2012) in Sydney, key food security specialists from Africa will come together with Australian and other counterparts to focus on the many issues related to food security in Africa and the important role that Australia can play. This high level delegation of African Agriculture Ministers, researchers, policy makers and extension workers are attending an international forum “Food Security in Africa: Bridging Research and Practice”, an event which will see the launching of Australia’s new International Food Security Centre (AIFSC) by Senator The Hon Bob Carr, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Australia.

The new research frontiers

Swedish National radio highlights research at the BecA-ILRI Hub

The BecA-ILRI Hub recently hosted Pelle Zettersten, a radio journalist from the Science department of Swedish National Radio. Pelle was on a tour of eastern Africa to report recent scientific developments in the areas of agriculture, environment and energy, and the future plans by different countries as concerns science and technology.

Introducing new staff

Introducing Jacqueline Mayira, Berine Ada and Kimani Wilson

Supporting biotechnology excellence in Africa

Dr. Appolinaire Djikeng to serve on the Scientific Advisory Board of the International Institute for Biotechnology in Nigeria

The BecA-ILRI Hub Technology Manager, Dr. Appolinaire Djikeng, has been invited to serve on the Scientific Advisory Board of the International Institute for Biotechnology in Nigeria.

New staff at the BecA-ILRI Hub

Introducing Dr Timothy Holton and Dr Solomon Benor
Dr Solomon Benor joined the BecA-ILRI Hub in August 2012 as a Post-Doctoral Scientist in Molecular Genetics. He holds a Ph.D. in Biology with a specialization in molecular systematics and population genetics from Kassel University, Germany. His PhD studies were supported by a scholarship and research grant from the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and Leibniz Institute of Plant Genetics and Crop Research (IPK).

BecA-ILRI Research Fellow receives Norman E. Borlaug LEAP Fellowship

Samuel Mutiga has been selected as a Fellow for the Leadership Enhancement in Agriculture Program (LEAP) of the Norman E. Borlaug International Agricultural Science and Technology Fellows Program. Samuel, a PhD student at the Cornell University, USA, is currently attached to the BecA-ILRI Hub’s Capacity and Action for Aflatoxin Reduction in Eastern Africa (CAAREA) project.

Viral metagenomics demonstrates that pigs are a potential reservoir for Ndumu virus

Dr Charles Masembe, a recipient of BecA Hub’s Africa Biosciences Challenge Fund from Makerere University, Uganda, together with colleagues from African Insect Science for Food and Health (icipe), ILRI Biotechnology theme , the BecA-ILRI Hub and the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU), have recently demonstrated that domestic pigs are a potential reservoir for Ndumu virus (NDUV).

BecA-ILRI Hub Director receives prestigious TWAS award

The Academy of Sciences for the Developing World (TWAS) awarded Segenet Kelemu the 2011 TWAS Prize for Agricultural Sciences during the 23rd TWAS General Meeting in Tianjin on Tuesday 18 September. The award was presented to her by the Chinese President Hu Jintao “for her discovery of beneficial endophytic fungi and bacteria in the tropical forage grass Brachiaria and for her contributions to the understanding of their roles in plant development and environmental fitness.

Introducing new staff at the BecA-ILRI Hub

Dr. Laura Purdie Has joined the BecA-ILRI Hub as a postdoctoral scientist in molecular diagnostics.

Laura has a strong background in molecular biology and virology. She has also gained extensive experience of PCR, DNA cloning and virological techniques from the University of Oxford and GlaxoSmithKline.

Loop-mediated isothermal amplification of DNA (LAMP) assay Workshop

A workshop on Loop-mediated isothermal amplification of DNA (LAMP) assay for rapid detection of capripoxviruses insheep, goats and cattle will be held at the BecA-ILRI Hub from 9-13 July 2012. The workshop is being organized through the Molecular diagnosis of livestock diseases: adapting and adopting existing diagnostics for developing country laboratories, a collaborative project between BecA-ILRI Hub and the United States Department of Agriculture/Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service/Foreign Animal Diagnostics Laboratory ( USDA/APHIS/FADDL).

Introducing New Staff at the BecA Hub

 

Introducing Sarah Osama, Mercy Macharia, Joyce Njuguna and Pauline Asami.

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