Newsroom

New project to accelerate use of innovations for increased agricultural productivity in Africa

14 June 2017: An ambitious project to increase the adoption rate of agricultural technologies and reduce the food insecurity burden in Africa was launched at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) Nairobi Campus last week. 

The Innovations in Technology, Institutional and Extension Approaches towards Sustainable Agriculture and Enhanced Food and Nutritional Security in Africa (InnovAfrica) project is jointly coordinated by the Bioscience eastern and central Africa-ILRI (BecA-ILRI) Hub and the Norwegian Institute of Bio-economy (NIBIO). This four-year project will spearhead the implementation and promotion of innovations that have potential to sustainably increase agricultural productivity in Sub Saharan Africa.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), sub Saharan Africa continues to have high levels of food and nutrition insecurity despite advances in agricultural research and provision of extension services. The low uptake of innovations by farmers has been cited as a barrier transforming farming from subsistence to a profitable activity.

Speaking during the official opening of the five-day workshop marking the InnovAfrica launch, ILRI director general Jimmy Smith emphasized the need for the involvement of smallholder farmer right from the technology generation process.

‘If this project can turn ideas into solutions that add value from the customers’ perspective, then we will make a great contribution to food security search,’ said Smith.

‘Research that is supposed to benefit farmers is often carried out without ithe involvement of farmers,’ said Juvenal Musine, coordinator of the Federation of Farmers and Pastoralists of Rwanda (IMBARAGA). ‘We hope this project will integrate our indigenous knowledge into the new technologies,’ he added.

Adding his voice to the call to work closely with farmers, NIBIO director general Nils Vagstad said ‘It all begins with the farmers–empowering them and building their capacity to handle their challenges.’

1c387.jpg

InnovAfrica brings together a multidisciplinary team of experts from 16 institutions including African national agricultural research systems (NARS), CGIAR and international institutions, farmer group representatives and private sector partners. The project spans six African countries – Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Rwanda, Tanzania and South Africa – and is funded under the European Union (EU) Africa Research and Innovation Partnership, a partnership between EU and the African Union.

The BecA-ILRI Hub director Jacob Mignouna noted that partnerships and capacity building were at the heart of the project, which will use new approaches of extension services to increase smallholder farmers’ ability to adopt innovative agricultural systems. 

European Commission research programming and policy officer Agnieszka Romanowicz lauded the plans to support the practical application of research findings through multi-actor platforms.

‘What the EC would like to see from this project is the uptake of research products,’ said Romanowicz.

_____________________________________________________________________________________

Read related story: First step towards increased food and nutritional security in Africa

About InnovAfrica

The InnovAfrica project aims at improving food and nutritional security in Africa. This will be achieved by integrating sustainable agriculture intensification systems and innovative institutional approaches with novel extension and advisory services by enhancing capacity building and knowledge sharing in smallholder farming in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA).

The project is coordinated by NIBIO and the BecA-ILRI Hub and brings together a consortium of partners including:

  • Haramaya University (Ethiopia)
  • Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (Kenya)
  • Kenya National Farmers' Federation (Kenya)
  • University of Malawi (Malawi)
  • Soils Food and Healthy Communities Organization (Malawi)
  •  Rwanda Agriculture Board (Rwanda)
  • Modern Dairy Farmers' Cooperative (IAKIB) (Rwanda)
  • Sokoine University of Agriculture (Tanzania)
  • University of Tuscia (Italy)
  • Stichting Dienst Landbrouwkundig Onderzoed (DLO-Alterra) (the Netherlands)
  • Norwegian University of Life Sciences (Norway)
  • Agricultural Research Council (South Africa)
  • International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) South Africa Regional Office (Zimbabwe)
  • Knowledge Intelligence Applications GmbH (Germany)

The project is funded by the EC under the Horizon 2020 program.

 

Strengthening bioscience research capacity in Uganda: BecA-ILRI Hub partnership with Gulu University

13 June 2017–The Gulu University vice chancellor Nyeko Pen-Mogi visited the Biosciences eastern and central Africa-International Livestock Research Institute (BecA-ILRI) Hub in Nairobi yesterday.

Pen-Mogi was exploring opportunities to strengthen the capacity of the team charged with establishing and maintaining a USD 12 million biosciences research facility at the Gulu University, northern Uganda.

‘I want to ensure that my team is competent in operating and maintaining all the equipment that will be installed in the new lab,’ said Pen-Mogi, adding that he was pleased with the increased capacity of his staff who had already received training at the BecA-ILRI Hub.

The partnership between Gulu University and the BecA-ILRI Hub begun in 2009 with support to the university in developing a proposal that earned the institution a grant to establish a bioscience platform to support the human medicine, veterinary medicine, plant science and basic sciences faculties of the university. 

To date, the Ugandan institution has benefited from a range of capacity building activities including research mentorship through the Africa Biosciences Challenge Fund (ABCF) fellowship program; training during the BecA-ILRI Hub annual training workshops; hosting special trainings on laboratory management. In 2014, a team from the BecA-ILRI Hub and ILRI engineering department provided technical support in installing the university’s bioscience platform.

During his visit, Pen-Mogi met ABCF fellows from Gulu University currently conducting part of their research at the BecA-ILRI Hub including: Geofrey Kawube a lecturer investigating blast disease management in improved finger millet; and Godfrey Otim and Geoffrey Wokorach who are developing and validating a new diagnostic tool for detection and characterization of sweet potato viruses in East Africa.

______________________________________________________________________________

Read related story: BecA-ILRI Hub installs bioscience lab at Gulu University in Uganda

Listen to related interviews: Gulu University Gets UGX 1.8 Billion Bio Science Research Lab

 

Premiere African biosciences center for excellence gets a new director

Dr Jacob Mignouna has been appointed director of the Biosciences eastern and central Africa-International Livestock Research Institute (BecA-ILRI) Hub. Mignouna assumes the helm from Dr Appolinaire Djikeng who has held the post since December 2012.  

A plant molecular breeder and geneticist by training, Mignouna brings to the BecA-ILRI Hub a wealth of experience in leading research and managing donors’ investments in agricultural research for development spanning Africa, Europe and USA. 

He has previously served as the director for technical operations at the African Agricultural Technology Foundation, and most recently as a senior program officer and senior regional advisor for West Africa at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in Seattle, USA. 

In welcoming the new director, ILRI director general Dr Jimmy Smith said: 

'We are very pleased that Jacob has agreed to take up this challenging but exciting position as director of the BecA-ILRI Hub. He is eminently well qualified and offers great insights as to what the future of the Hub could look like, bringing high-end biotechnology to bear on Africa’s agricultural opportunities and challenges. I look forward working with him as a member of my leadership team here at ILRI.'

The chair of the BecA-ILRI Hub advisory panel Dr Eugene Terry said:

'On behalf of my colleagues who serve as members of the BecA-ILRI Hub advisory panel, and on my behalf, I warmly welcome the appointment of Jacob to this position. I look forward to working closely with him and the rest of the members of the BecA-ILRI Hub team in fulfilling the mission of enabling African science leaders to address key agricultural challenges through the applications of modern biotechnology.'  

The outgoing BecA-ILRI Hub director Appolinaire Djikeng welcomed Mignouna’s appointment saying: 

'I am delighted to pass the baton to a remarkable champion who has tirelessly contributed in very many ways to agricultural transformation and capacity building in Africa. In the recent past, I have had the opportunity to interact with Jacob and I am confident that under his leadership, the BecA-ILRI Hub will continue to deliver on its commitments–to grow and strengthen its position as a leading institution and important contributor of science for development.'

About his appointment, Jacob Mingouna said: 

'I am very excited about the opportunity to lead this premier African bioscience center. I look forward to building on the legacy of my predecessors and taking the BecA-ILRI Hub to a new horizon. I envision the BecA-ILRI Hub as the lead bioscience center addressing the food security challenges in Africa.'

____________________________________________________________________________

About the BecA-ILRI Hub

The Biosciences eastern and central Africa-International Livestock Research Institute (BecA-ILRI) Hub is a shared agricultural research and biosciences facility located at and managed by ILRI in Nairobi, Kenya. It provides support to African and international scientists conducting research on African agricultural challenges and acts as a focal point for learning, interaction and strategic research — enabling collaborations in the scientific community to benefit African farmers and markets within the region. The Hub was established as part of an African Union/New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) African Biosciences Initiative, which employs modern biotechnology to improve agriculture, livelihoods and food security in eastern and central Africa. ILRI is a member of the CGIAR Consortium. CGIAR is a global agriculture research partnership for a food-secure future. Its science is carried out by the 15 research centres that are members of the CGIAR Consortium in collaboration with hundreds of partner organizations.

http://hub.africabiosciences.org/ 

www.ilri.org

 

 

Transfering the Golden Gate technology to crop research in Ethiopia

From 3–5 May 2017, the Biosciences eastern and central Africa-International Livestock Research Institute (BecA-ILRI) Hub hosted a workshop on Golden Gate technology for researchers from the Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research (EIAR), Hawassa University and Ethiopian Biotechnology Institute. 

The workshop aimed at familiarizing the researchers with the technology, which can reduce months or years of plant transformation work to a matter of days. The Golden Gate technology allows the rapid assembly of DNA constructs that contain multiple desirable genes, ready for transformation and testing in plants.

The platform at the BecA-ILRI Hub was established with support from the John Innes Centre (JIC) in May 2015. Andy Breakspear and Christian Rogers of JIC conducted the workshop, with support from BecA-ILRI Hub’s Leah Kago. 

 

Call for applications: Data management and genotyping-by-sequencing analysis workshop

The BecA-ILRI Hub seeks to strengthen the capacity of the African scientific community, to conduct bioscience research and significantly contribute to improved agricultural products that can enhance livelihoods of farmers in the region.

As part of this capacity building programme, the BecA-ILRI Hub will hold a two-week training workshop on Data Management and GBS analysis from 5–16 June 2017. The first week of the workshop will focus on project organization, data management, data analysis, interpretation and visualization of various types of Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) datasets. The second week will cover Genotyping by Sequencing (GBS) data analysis and interpretation.

We are seeking applicants who require skills data management to support their research, priority will be given to participants who have NGS datasets, especially SNPs data. Researchers who are currently engaged in agricultural research within a national research organization or university are highly encouraged to apply.

About the program

The program will mainly address:

  1. Data cleaning, formatting and storage 
  2. Downstream statistical analyses for the following areas: (Metagenomics data, Genomics data, Transcriptomics data, Metabolomics data, Field data, Lab data, and other data)
  3. Variant discovery from SNPs data especially Diversity Array Technology (DArTseq) SNPs data
  4. Diversity analysis using TASSEL, R/RStudio, Structure.
  5. Genome-wide association study (GWAS) analysis
  6. Other GBS related topics.

A team of facilitators from the Ohio State University, USA; Earlham Institute, UK; collaborating CGIAR Centers and the BecA-ILRI Hub will conduct the training sessions.

Applicant requirements

  • A national of one of the following BecA countries: Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central Africa Republic, Congo Brazzaville, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Rwanda, São Tomé and Príncipe, Senegal, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda. Applicants from other African countries may be considered. 
  • Currently engaged in biosciences research and having NGS data, especially SNPs.
  • Proficiency in molecular biology and genomics
  • Holders of MSc or PhD in biological sciences
  • Good working knowledge of written and spoken English 

Women researchers are particularly encouraged to apply.

Application procedure

Online applications are submitted using the link given below:

http://hpc.ilri.cgiar.org/beca/training/Applications/DMW/index.html

*Please note that a letter of nomination/recommendation from head of department or home institution head is required.

*Incomplete applications will not be considered. 

Key dates

  • Call release: 2 May 2017
  • Application deadline: 14 May 2017
  • Notification to successful applicants: 16 May 2017

About the training venue 


The training workshop will be held at the BecA-ILRI Hub located within the ILRI Campus, Nairobi, Kenya. BecA-ILRI Hub is a shared agricultural research and biosciences platform located at and managed by ILRI in Nairobi, Kenya. The platform increases access to world-class laboratories for African and international scientists conducting research on African agricultural challenges. The BecA-ILRI Hub’s mission is mobilizing bioscience for Africa’s development, by providing a centre for excellence in agricultural biosciences. This enables research, capacity building and product incubation, conducted by scientists in Africa and for Africa, and empowers African institutions to harness innovations for regional impacts in improved agricultural productivity, income, and food and nutritional security. 

More information about the BecA-ILRI Hub is available at: http://hub.africabiosciences.org/ 


 

 

The BecA-ILRI Hub's Appolinaire Djikeng appointed director of international tropical livestock centre

8f57d.jpg

Appolinaire Djikeng has been appointed director of the Centre for Tropical Livestock Genetics and Health (CTLGH), a partnership between the University of Edinburgh, Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) and the Africa-based International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI).

Djikeng who is currently director of the Biosciences eastern and central Africa- (BecA)-ILRI Hub in Nairobi, has also been appointed to a new Chair in Tropical Agriculture and Sustainable Development at the University of Edinburgh.

With a background and interests in genomics, Djikeng brings to his new appointment a wealth of experience in developing and leading biosciences research and development and capacity building programs across agricultural development and public health initiatives.

The Centre for Tropical Livestock Genetics and Health was established to build on the world-class research expertise of its partner institutions, ensuring the development and deployment of genetics and genomics technologies to improve livestock productivity and livelihoods in the tropics.

_______________________________________________________________________________

Read the article on ILRI Clippings Blog: Appoliniare Djikeng, of BecA-ILRI Hub, appointed director of leading tropical livestock centre

The BecA-ILRI Hub to support implementation of World Bank centers of excellence initiative

20 April 2017—The Biosciences eastern and central Africa-International Livestock Research Institute (BecA-ILRI) Hub is set to play a key role in implementing World Bank funded Eastern and Southern Africa Higher Education Centers of Excellence Project (ACE II) initiative. 

da62e.jpg

As a technical partner to four East African institutions (Egerton University, Kenya; Sokoine University and Nelson Mandela African Institution of Science and Technology, Tanzania; and Makerere University, Uganda), the BecA-ILRI Hub will provide technical backing and support the strengthening of capacity for researchers from national institutions through fellowships and workshops.

The ACE II is the second phase of an initiative first launched in West and Central Africa. The new phase will be implemented in 24 centers across eight countries—Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia—and seeks to build research capacity in five regional priority areas: agriculture, applied statistics, education, health, and industry (science, technology, engineering and mathematics or STEM). 

The Kenya chapter of the initiative was officially launched by Education Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i earlier this month. Already, Egerton University has advertised calls for applications for Masters and PhD Scholarships in sustainable agriculture and agribusiness management to be conducted in part at the BecA-ILRI Hub. Other Kenyan institutions participating in the project are Jaramogi Oginga Odinga University of Science and Technology focusing on sustainable use of insects as food and feeds; and Moi University focusing on phytochemicals, textiles and renewable energy (PTRE).

Through this project, each center of excellence will receive USD 4.5–6 million over five years. With this funding, the centers are expected to achieve higher institutional capacity for quality education and advanced research; enhanced national, regional and international research partnerships for increased impact; and improved institutional management.

Centre of Excellence in Sustainable Agriculture and Agribusiness Management: MSc and PhD scholarships 2017/2018

The Centre of Excellence in Sustainable Agriculture and Agribusiness Management (CESAAM) at Egerton University (Kenya) and funded by World Bank is modelled to contribute to sustainable agricultural and agribusiness management through capacity development, research and technology transfer for enhanced food security. It offers fellowships to support students' training and research in relevant fields including Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness Management, Animal Sciences, Crop and Soil Sciences, Dairy and Food Sciences.

Applications are invited for Masters and PhD Scholarships for programmes commencing in August 2017. The awardees for the MSc programmes will be on a two year full time study while the PhD awardees will be on a three year full-time study programme.

The limited, competitive Masters and PhD scholarships are open to applicants from Kenyan, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, South Sudan, and Burundi. Preference will be given to students from the following institutions that are key partners in the project:

 

  • University of Rwanda, Rwanda
  • University of Juba, South Sudan
  • University of Burundi, Burundi
  • Gulu University, Uganda
  • Egerton University, Kenya
  • Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization, Kenya
  • BecA ILRI-Hub

The deadline for applying for the scholarships is April 30, 2017. For more details visit the link below: http://application.egerton.ac.ke/scholarship

 

The BecA-ILRI Hub at conference to increase food availability by reducing postharvest loss

28-31 March 2017—The BecA-ILRI Hub participated in the 1st All Africa Postharvest Congress and Exhibition held at the Safari Park Hotel in Nairobi, Kenya.

According to the United Nations, the world population will reach the nine billion by 2050 with Africa’s population accounting for almost 30 percent. Meeting the food and nutrition needs of this growing population requires 70 percent increase in food availability. Approximately 1.3 billion metric tons of food produced annually is (one third of the production) is lost along the supply chains globally. Thus the reduction of food losses and waste is an important strategy to mitigate the shortfall in food availability.

bbf59.jpg

Jane Ambuko, a lecturer at the University of Nairobi and an alumnus of the BecA-ILRI Hub’s Africa Biosciences Challenge Fund (ABCF) capacity building program, championed the convening of the conference as the local organizing committee. The BecA-ILRI Hub plays a key role in strengthening the research capacity of individuals and institutions in African national agricultural research systems (NARS) through the ABCF program. Forty researchers are nominated annually by the NARS to conduct research at the BecA-ILRI Hub through fellowships, while over 200 benefit from training offered through workshops in key skill areas.

According to BecA-ILRI Hub scientist Sita Ghimire, NARS are not investing enough in postharvest research. ‘Out of 600 applications to the ABCF fellowship program, only about 30 focus on postharvest management issues’ he said. 

Ghimire was made this disclosure as a panelist in discussions on the role of capacity development in research on reduction of postharvest food losses and waste. Other panelists supported his view, calling for more attention to be given to curriculum on postharvest waste management in institutions of higher learning.

‘Universities need to institutionalize postharvest research rather than have it embedded in time-bound projects,’ said Paul Nampala, the grants manager at the Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM) secretariat.

The conference featured the Postharvest Technologies Challenge (PTC) for innovators from all over Africa to share new technologies and ideas developed within the African context.

 

Ugandan Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation visits the BecA-ILRI Hub

The Ugandan Minister for Science and Technology and Innovation, Hon. Elioda Tumwesigye, visited the BecA-ILRI Hub on Thursday 9 March 2017. Tumwesigye, who was at the ILRI Nairobi campus for a meeting at the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF) had an opportunity to meet Africa Bioscience Challenge Fund (ABCF) research fellows from Uganda who are currently working at the BecA-ILRI Hub. Accompanying the Minister were AATF executive director Denis Kyetere, Uganda National Council for Science & Technology executive director Peter Ndemere and AATF’s Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology in Africa (OFAB) project manager, Daniel Otunge.

bfecb.jpg

Five-day technologists’ training at the BecA-ILRI Hub to enhance national agricultural research

After five days of intensive experiential learning at the BecA-ILRI Hub, six laboratory technologists from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda were equipped with skills that will enhance their capacity to support scientists, teach and design research at their home institutions.

2d14d.jpg

The training for technologists, conducted by the BecA-ILRI Hub from 27 February–03 March 2017 at ILRI’s Nairobi campus, is a deliberate effort to enhance support to emerging science leaders in national agricultural research systems (NARS). Every year, the BecA-ILRI Hub offers fellowships to over 50 NARS scientists through the Africa Biosciences Challenge Fund (ABCF) program. These scientists enhance their skills and knowledge in research, and receive mentorship in science leadership and resource mobilization. 

There are however, limited opportunities for laboratory technologists and technicians in most African NARS, to upgrade their skills in tandem with the researchers. This poses a real challenge in getting effective support to sustain advanced research by ABCF research fellows on returning to their home institutions. During the 5-day training, the technologists experienced hands-on learning while embedded within diverse, ongoing research projects by ABCF research fellows. 

‘I have learnt how to use equipment available at my home institution but which lack staff trained to operate them,’ said John Mshanga from the Nelson Mandela African Institution of Science and Technology in Tanzania.

b77e0.jpg

‘Through this workshop I have also made so many useful contacts,’ said Winnifred Akech from Makerere University, ‘I now know that there is support for me and the students I assist, beyond this workshop,’ she added. 

The pilot training will help the BecA-ILRI Hub to better understand the capacity gaps in agricultural bioscience research support in African NARS. 

‘Our alumni are key drivers of change within the NARS,’ said BecA-ILRI Hub capacity building senior scientist, Wellington Ekaya, adding that they can only be effective researchers and change agents if supported by technologists with the necessary capacity.

 

MPhil Seed Science Technology at West Africa Centre for Crop Improvement (WACCI) University of Ghana – Call for applications

The West Africa Centre for Crop Improvement (WACCI) is currently inviting applications for MPhil Seed Science Technology at WACCI, University of Ghana. Successful applicants will enrol in August 2017 and will comprise the third cohort of MPhil students. WACCI will provide full-time scholarship for a limited number of students this year on a competitive basis. We invite highly motivated students to apply.

Eligibility:

Prospective students must have:

  • A good first degree, at least a second class lower division in Agriculture, Botany or related field at the University of Ghana or any other recognised University in the Western and Central Africa Region.
  • For candidates whose first language is not English, a certificate of proficiency in English is required

Please, visit http://wacci.edu.gh/eligibility for full details on eligibility.

How to Apply:

Interested applicants should:

  • Complete an online form on the University of Ghana Graduate Admissions Page
  • Academic transcripts, copies of First Degree certificate, MPhil Proposal (Concept Note).
  • The email addresses of (3) referees must also be provided on the online form.

Visit the following link  for detailed information on how to apply http://www.wacci.edu.gh/apply

Application deadline: April 15, 2017

For any additional information please contact the Admissions Officer on Telephone: +233-303-707-9427 or Email: info(at)wacci.edu.gh

The BecA-ILRI Hub alumni run DNA barcoding training for Kenya plant health regulatory body

23 February 2017—The BecA-ILRI Hub is providing technical support to a three-day workshop on DNA barcoding at the Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Services (KEPHIS)

Alumni of the BecA-ILRI Hub’s Africa Bioscience Challenge Fund (ABCF) fellowship program–Florence Munguti (acting officer in charge, plant quarantine station) and Isaac Macharia (acting regional manager, Mombasa) are facilitating the training which runs from 22–24 February at the KEPHIS plant quarantine station in Muguga on the outskirts of Nairobi, Kenya. 

The training is as a major step in technology transfer to regional research institutions that are under constant pressure to tackle emerging challenges in agricultural research.

‘This training is evidence of sustainability of the BecA-ILRI Hub’s intervention towards strengthening bioscience research capacity to meet new research challenges in the region,’ said Wellington Ekaya who heads the BecA-ILRI Hub's capacity building ABCF program.

Through strategic and diverse partnerships with renowned international research and capacity building institutes, the ABCF program mentors and hosts of African scientists to enable them leverage advances in bioscience technology to advance their national and regional research priorities.

‘I realized that DNA barcoding, which I learnt while at the BecA-ILRI Hub, can enhance efficiency and accuracy in crop disease diagnostics’ said Macharia who developed a crop disease diagnostic tool to potentially prevent the 80 – 100 per cent losses currently experienced by tomato farmers in the region during his ABCF fellowship. 

‘The facilities at the BecA-ILRI Hub are truly world-class’ said Munguti. ‘Researchers don’t have to leave the continent to conduct very advanced research with such labs close to home,’ she added, emphasizing that the mentorship and exposure offered had contributed significantly to her growth as a science leader.

James Wahome, KEPHIS general manager for phytosanitary services, officially opened the workshop. During his speech, Wahome lauded the training as a critical step to ensuring KEPHIS remained relevant in the region. 

‘The Muguga facility not only serves Kenya but is a regional reference laboratory for plant protection for the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) region,’ said Wahome, ‘as such, it is imperative that we always stay a step ahead in technology.’

 

 

Training Workshop: Animal Quantitative Genetics and Genomics - call for applications 2017

The Biosciences eastern and central Africa-International Livestock Research Institute (BecA-ILRI) Hub seeks to strengthen the capacity of the African scientific community in the understanding and application of methods in quantitative genetics and genomics to support research that will improve agricultural products and enhance food security in the region. As part of its capacity building program, the BecA-ILRI Hub will hold a training course on Animal quantitative genetics and genomics from 19-30 June 2017.


This call seeks applicants from eastern and central Africa who require basic skills in quantitative genetics and genomics to support their research.  Applicants will be selected based on evidence of productive scholarship and research; relevance of the workshop to current research; and engagement in agricultural research within a national research institute or university. Selected participants will attend an intensive  10-day training course at the ILRI campus in Nairobi, Kenya, with lectures and practical sessions in population genetics, mixed linear models, genetic markers, GWAS, genomic selection among others topics. Participants will also have on hand practical sessions on programming.

Applicant requirements
•    A national of one of the BecA 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, Uganda. In exceptional cases, applicants from other African countries may be considered.
•    Affiliation with a national research program or university in any of the above countries.
•    Currently engaged in research in Animal breeding and genetics or in related subject.
•    Good working knowledge of written and spoken English.
•    Laptops will be desirable for the practical sessions.


Experts in animal quantitative genetics and genomics from the ILRI Animal Biosciences and international research partners from the College of Agricultural and environmental science (CAES) at the University of Georgia, USA will deliver the training.

Sponsorship
There are several funded places for this workshop, on a highly competitive basis. Applicants who can fund their participation will have added advantage. The approximate cost of the course is US$. 1800 excluding flights and accommodation.

Closing date for applications: midnight 31st March 2017 (Nairobi time).

The concept note is attached below.

Apply here

 

 

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Attachments: Download this file (AQGG Concept Note Final.pdf)AQGG Concept Note Final.pdf[ ]445 Kb

Training Workshop: Introduction to Molecular Biology and Bioinformatics - call for applications 2017

 

 

The Biosciences eastern and central Africa-International Livestock Research Institute (BecA-ILRI) Hub seeks to strengthen the capacity of the African scientific community to conduct bioscience research that will improve agricultural products and enhance food security in the region. As part of its capacity building programme, the BecA-ILRI Hub in collaboration with the Rwanda Agriculture Board, Rubona Centre will hold a training workshop on Introduction to Molecular Biology and Bioinformatics (IMBB) from 1-12 May 2017.

This call seeks applicants from eastern and central Africa who require basic skills in molecular biology and bioinformatics to support their research. Early career researchers working within  national agricultural research systems will be selected based on evidence of productive scholarship and research; relevance of the workshop to current research; and engagement in agricultural research within a national research institute or University. Selected participants will attend an intensive 10-day training workshop at the BecA-ILRI Hub in Nairobi, Kenya. The training will include lectures and hands-on training in pathogen isolation and morphology, nucleic acid purification, molecular diagnosis by polymerase chain reaction (PCR), RLFP-PCR and isothermal nucleic acid amplification (LAMP) PCR, DNA sequencing and bioinformatics among others. Participants will also experience the research discovery process: potentially novel DNA sequences acquired by each participant will be analyzed and discussed during the bioinformatics sessions.

 

 

 

Applicant requirements

•    A national of one of the BecA 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, Uganda;
•    Affiliated with a national research institute or university in the BecA region;
•    Currently engaged in biosciences research MSc or PhD (equivalent or higher) in biological sciences;
•    Good working knowledge of written and spoken English.
Experts in molecular biology and bioinformatics from the BecA-ILRI Hub and research partners will deliver the training.

 

Sponsorship

There are several funded places for this workshop, on a highly competitive basis. Applicants who can fund their participation will have added advantage. The approximate cost of the course is US$. 1800 excluding flights and accommodation.

Closing date for applications: midnight 17th March 2017 (Nairobi time)

The concept note about this training workshop is available below.

Apply for this training

Save

Save

Save

Save

Attachments: Download this file (IMBB 2017 CONCEPT NOTE .pdf)Workshop concept note[ ]233 Kb

A launchpad to research impact in Africa

From 5–10 February, the BecA-ILRI Hub hosted scientists from top UK research institutions seeking strategic partnerships for collaborative research and transfer of technologies to increase the impact of their work on agricultural development in Africa.

From the University of Cambridge, research group leader John Carr and PhD fellow Francis Wamonje, who have been collaborating with the BecA-ILRI Hub in the BBSRC funded project on common bean improvement, gave seminars to expound on their findings in the project and held discussions on possible future avenues of collaboration in the context of bean research.

Director, Neil Hall; head of plant genomics, Anthony Hall; and Robert Davey who heads the data infrastructure and algorithms group of the Earlham Institute gave seminars to demonstrate the bioinformatics and genomics capacity of their institution. They also participated in discussions with BecA-ILRI HubILRI and ICRAF staff on possible joint resource mobilization to leverage their institution’s advanced research capabilities.

From Rothamsted Research, a team of 16 researchers led by Head of Grants and International Programmes Simon Vaughan, co-hosted a two-day workshop with the BecA-ILRI Hub to build new research partnerships with national agricultural research systems (NARS), CG centers and other advanced research institutions.  The workshop explored future opportunities for substantive collaborations in livestock, crop and climate change research.

The BecA-ILRI Hub continues to act as a magnet to facilitate high-end biosciences research in Africa owing to its positioning at ILRI within the CGIAR system, its well-developed research network with NARS and its advanced capacity building, technological and research for development, capabilities.

Africa Biosciences Challenge Fund alumnus celebrated for outstanding research

Ethiopian researcher and BecA-ILRI Hub alumnus Asfaw Kifle has been awarded a Medal of Honor for his outstanding output in taro research. 

The researcher from the Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research (EIAR) was presented the award by Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn for his work on the under-researched yet significant food crop grown for its edible starchy corms. 

A large population in south and southwest Ethiopia solely depends on root crops including taro for their daily food. Taro is prone to viral infection and as a result, its production has declined significantly. Kifle’s work focuses on understanding the genetic and agro-ecological variability of taro in Ethiopia with a view to increasing its production.

Kifle, who conducted part of his work at the BecA-ILRI Hub through the Africa Bioscience Challenge Fund (ABCF) fellowship program, is co-steward of the Taro Community of Practice (COP). The CoP is hosted by the BecA-ILRI Hub and comprises ABCF alumni working jointly to comprehensively tackle issues facing the crop.

 

Sida research council visits the BecA-ILRI Hub in Nairobi

A high level delegation from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) research council visited the BecA-ILRI Hub laboratories in Nairobi on 25 January 2017.

The team led by the council chair Prof Thomas Roswall, who was previously the executive director of Sweden’s International Council for Science (ICSU), vice chancellor of Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) and director of International Foundation for Science (IFS) were attending a meeting with ILRI’s senior management at the ILRI Nairobi campus.

Sweden’s support to agricultural research for development in Africa has spanned decades and ILRI has benefited from this support, having received funding of USD 25 million between 2009 and 2014. Current investments totaling to USD 12 million are for research and capacity strengthening at the BecA-ILRI Hub. 

The Sida grant to the BecA-ILRI Hub supports research on an innovative approach to climate change mitigation through the use of Climate-smart Brachiaria grasses for livestock production. The grant has also facilitated collaborations with advanced research institutions for the transfer of skills and technologies to the BecA-ILRI Hub. 

A long-term partnership between the BecA-ILRI Hub and SLU has contributed greatly to the growth of the bioinformatics platform and training of scientists from national agricultural research systems in the region. Collaboration with the Swedish National Veterinary Institute (SVA) provided support  and technology transfer for the establishment of a livestock disease diagnostics platform at the BecA-ILRI Hub.

During Wednesday’s visit, the Swedish delegation met with researchers from across Africa working with equipment purchased with support of funds from Sida. The team learnt more about ongoing Swedish funded research on climate change mitigation through the use of improved Brachiaria grass as preferred livestock feed. They also hear more about the agenda to harness goat diversity in Africa by a community of practice that has emerged as a result of a Swedish funded project which ran from 2012–2014 at the BecA-ILRI Hub. 

The delegation included:

 

  • Margareta Norell Bergendahl, Professor of Integrated Product Development at KTH.(The Royal Technical University);
  • Francesca Chiodi, Professor of Host-Parasite Interactions at Karolinska Institute;
  • Anders Olofsgård, Associate Professor of National Economy at Stockholm School of Economics and Georgetown University, Washington;
  • Kerstin Sahlin, Professor of Business Economics at Uppsala University. Chief secretary for Social Sciences and Humanoria vid Vetenskapsrådet (National Research Council), including Committee for Development Research;
  • Maria Stern, Professor of Peace and Development Studies at Göteborgs (Gothenburgs) University; and 
  • Per-Olof Östergren, Professor of Social Medicine and Global Health at Lunds University.

 

They were accompanied by representatives of Sida including 

  • Karin Afli, Controller, Research Cooperation;
  • Hannah Akuffo, Research Cooperation;
  • Renée Ankarfjärd, Research Cooperation;
  • Petra Attfors Burcher, Deputy Head of the Department for Innovations and Partnerships;
  • AnnaMaria Oltorp, Head of Unit for Research Cooperation;
  • Lisa Román, Research Cooperation;
  • Staffan Smedby, Head of Unit Peace and Justice, Africa Department; and
  • Philip Chiverton, Senior Research Advisor, Unit of Research Cooperation.

_____________________________________________________________________________________________

Read more about Sweden support to the BecA-ILRI Hub

BecA-Sweden partnership

Taking stock of Sweden’s research for development investment in Africa: Dr Claes Kjellström from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency visits the BecA-ILRI Hub

Enhancing international partnerships for agricultural productivity in Africa – The BecA-ILRI Hub’s research for development partnership with Sweden in focus

Un-wrapping a 6 million dollar “Christmas Gift”: Sweden increases funding to the BecA-ILRI Hub for research towards food security

 

 

The BecA-ILRI Hub and John Innes Centre hold a workshop on advanced cereals genetics research

31 January 2017–– Starting today, the BecA-ILRI Hub in collaboration with the John Innes Centre (JIC), UK, are conducting a four-day workshop on advanced cereals genetic research for researchers in African national research institutes and universities. 

The training being held at at the ILRI Nairobi campus, is designed to introduce readily available genome sequence, marker and germplasm resources that can help accelerate research in cereals. In addition to learning these valuable skills, the workshop is serving as a consultation forum to discuss the current state of Triticeae cereal research especially for African cereal crops such as wheat, barley and teff. The forum is giving the participants opportunity to have a say on the development of new resources that are pertinent and relevant to cereal crop research in the African context.

Trainers include Nasser Yao from the BecA-ILRI Hub and Brande Wulff, Cristobal Uauy, Oluwaseyi Shorinola, Pilar Corredor-Moreno, Tilly Eldridge from JIC.

The training is among research and capacity building activities being conducted under the BecA-JIC alliance formed in 2014 to strengthen the capacity of African researchers and institutions in tackle African food security challenges.

________________________________________________________________________________________

Read related posts:
Top plant research institution stations scientist in Africa
John Innes Centre forms research and capacity building alliance with the BecA-ILRI Hub

Tackling the tick-borne diseases menace in cattle in Africa

On 21 January 2017, the BecA-ILRI Hub convened a meeting to develop the agenda for the tick and tick borne disease community of practice (CoP). The CoP has been formed to spur scientists in African national agricultural research systems working on ticks and tick borne disease, to have a more comprehensive and holistic view of their research challenges. The community will enable the researchers strategize jointly on how to mobilize resources, and how resources available in their individual institutions can contribute collectively in addressing agricultural challenges at a larger scale.

Coordinated by ABCF alumni Gaston Amzati (Evangelical University of Africa, DRC) and Barberine Assongo (University of Dschang, Cameroon), the CoP comprises ABCF alumni drawn from six countries across eastern Africa, who are conducting research on various aspects of tick borne disease. The members include Esther Kanduma (University of Nairobi, Kenya); Fredrick Kabi (National Livestock Resources Research Institute (NaLIRRI), Uganda); Diaeldin A. Salih (Central Veterinary Research Laboratory, Sudan); Triza Tonui (Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture & Technology, Kenya); Lionel Nyabongo (National Veterinary Research Laboratory, Burundi); Milcah Kigoni (Kenyatta University, Kenya); and Constantin Nimbona (Institute of Agronomic Sciences of Burundi).

This CoP is the sixth community to be formed through the Africa Bioscience Challenge Fund (ABCF) program which seeks to mobilize bioscience capacities for joint action in regional agricultural programs. Other CoPs that have been formed with the support of the BecA-ILRI Hub include local chicken genetic research for development; goat genetics, taro improvement, African swine fever and Brachiaria grass.

Photo Gallery View all Photos

BecA Hub Videos

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required