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The BecA-ILRI Hub team retreats to Naivasha to map strategies for managing research impact

From 21-23 April 2016, the BecA-ILRI Hub team was on a retreat in Naivasha to review their performance against the 2013–2018 business plan as well as to develop a strategy to define and monitor the program’s research impacts.

During the retreat, the team members had a session on managing the impact of research facilitated by Jesper Vasell, an innovation adviser from Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg, Sweden. The discussions explored the importance of articulating the desired effects of research at the onset to ensure project activities are planned towards achieving them.

Jesper Vasell of Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg, Sweden facilitates a session during the BecA-ILRI Hub annual retreat 21-23 April2016

Vasell, underscored the importance of research outputs beyond scientific publications, stressing that processes developed in the course of conducting research are critical intellectual assets.  

‘Too much knowledge generated through research is not communicated due to the tendency to focus on science publications’ said Vasell. ‘When we do research, we tend to invent many processes needed which are often not documented despite them being transferrable intellectual assets,’ he added.

The team also discussed the BecA-ILRI Hub theory of change as well as operational issues, recommending action plans to make the program more competitive.

The participation of Jesper Vasell in the annual planning retreat was made possible through the support from the Swedish government which allows the BecA-ILRI Hub to leverage a robust scientific expertise from Swedish academic and research institutes including Chalmers University of Technology, the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) and the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI).

Group discussions during the BecA-ILRI Hub annual retreat 21-23 April2016

Julius Osaso makes a point during the BecA-ILRI Hub annual retreat 21-23 April2016 

 

Vacancies at the BecA-ILRI Hub food safety and nutrition platform

Vacancy reference: REF: RA-1/BECA/04/2016

ILRI seeks to recruit a Research Associate. The specific responsibilities for this position are in the area of diagnostics and analytical chemistry. This is a national appointment reporting to the food safety and nutrition platform leader.

Requirements

 

  • MSc in analytical chemistry or equivalent and at least two years relevant working experience;
  • Expertise in analytical chemistry and diagnostics, including: sampling strategies, extraction procedures, standards preparation, data analysis and interpretation, equipment operations, troubleshooting, routine equipment maintenance;
  • Experience working in a laboratory setting;
  • Experience with experimental design and sampling procedures;
  • Experience developing and following detailed SOPs;
  • Knowledge of MS Office; and with statistical analyses and database usage;
  • Knowledge of Quality Assurance and control procedures.

Closing date for applications is 11 April 2016. For more information, visit this link: http://hub.africabiosciences.org/aboutbeca/jobs-at-beca-hub/488-research-associate2-nutrition-platform

 

Vacancy reference: REF: RA-2/BECA/04/2016

ILRI seeks to recruit a Research Associate. The specific responsibilities for this position are in the area of diagnostics and analytical chemistry. This is a national appointment reporting to the food safety and nutrition platform leader.

Requirements

  • MSc in analytical chemistry or equivalent and at least four years relevant working experience;
  • Expertise in analytical chemistry and diagnostics, including: sampling strategies, extraction procedures, standards preparation, data analysis and interpretation, equipment operations, troubleshooting, routine equipment maintenance;
  • Experience working in a laboratory setting;
  • Experience with experimental design and sampling procedures;
  • Experience developing and following detailed SOPs;
  • Knowledge of MS Office; and with statistical analyses and database usage;
  • Knowledge of Quality Assurance and control procedures.

Closing date for applications is 11 April 2016. For more information, visit this link: http://hub.africabiosciences.org/aboutbeca/jobs-at-beca-hub/487-research-associate-nutrition-platform

 

Update on the 2016 ABCF applications

04 May 2016

The ABCF fellowship review and selection process has been completed and all pre-selected applicants notified.  BecA-ILRI Hub and partners congratulate the pre-selected applicants. For those who have not been pre-selected, all is not lost. We greatly appreciate your interest in the fellowship. Your contacts and area of research have been shared with BecA-ILRI Hub staff with the intention to keep looking for opportunities to share with / engage you.

Thank you.

13 April 2016

Reviews are complete. Pre-selected applicants will be contacted between Wednesday 13th and Friday 15th April 2016.

5 April 2016

Communication to pre-selected applicants delayed to mid-April due to donor-reporting priorities at the Hub

17 March 2016

Internal review has been completed and external review is on-going. Communication to favorably reviewed applications will commence Monday 21st March 2016

18 February 2016

Administrative check on applications is complete. The applications are currently undergoing internal review, which will  be completed by end of February 2016. The next update message will follow thereafter.

 

The BecA-ILRI Hub 2016 Animal quantitative genetics and genomics training workshop

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 programme, the BecA-ILRI Hub will hold a training course on animal quantitative genetics and genomics from 30th May to 10th June 2016.

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 following BecA countries: Burundi, Central Africa Republic, Congo Brazzaville, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Gabon, Madagascar, São Tomé and Príncipe, Somalia, South Sudan and Sudan. In exceptional cases, applicants from other African countries may be considered. Please note that applicants from Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda, Senegal, Tanzania and Uganda are NOT ELIGIBLE to apply. A separate strategy has been developed to support these countries through nominations by home institutions, aiming at building on on-going engagements with BecA-ILRI Hub. However, applications from the above nine countries may be considered only if they are sponsored or have own funding to meet at least 75% of the full cost of the course. Strong affiliation with a national agricultural research program or institution or University in any of the above BecA countries.
  • 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 are
  • 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.

Dates

Closing date for applications: midnight 10th April 2016 (Nairobi time)
Successful applicants will be notified by: 20th April 2016
Workshop Dates: 30th May – 10th June, 2016

Apply

Download the 2016 AQGG Concept note

Vacancy: Research scientist – Livestock Genetics/Genomics

REF: RS/BecA/ 08/2015

The International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) seeks to recruit a Research Scientist – Livestock Genetics/Genomics to build the biosciences research capacity of scientists and graduate students in the east and central Africa region, in particular to support the many regional researchers who come to the BecA-ILRI Hub to conduct their own agricultural biosciences research projects.

Read full advertisement here: Vacancy: Research Scientist – Livestock Genetics/Genomics, REF: RS/BecA/ 08/2015

Vacancy: Senior scientist, lead plant breeder

The International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) seeks to recruit an experienced Lead Plant Breeder with solid practical experience in public and/or private sector setting. The position shall lead and manage a range of activities under the newly established Integrated Genotyping Service and Support (IGSS) at the Biosciences eastern and central Africa-ILRI (BecA-ILRI) Hub.

Closing date: 2 April 2016

Read the full vacancy announcement here.

Introduction to molecular biology and bioinformatics training workshop - 2016

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 will hold a training workshop on introductory molecular biology and bioinformatics (IMBB) from 9-20 May 2016.

This call seeks applicants from eastern and central Africa who require basic skills in molecular biology and bioinformatics to support their research. Graduate fellows and early career researchers in the NARS 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, with complimentary 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 following BecA countries: Burundi, Central Africa Republic, Congo Brazzaville, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Gabon, Madagascar, São Tomé and Príncipe, Somalia, South Sudan and Sudan. In exceptional cases, applicants from other African countries may be considered. Please note that applicants from Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda, Senegal, Tanzania and Uganda are NOT ELIGIBLE to apply. A separate strategy has been developed to support these countries through nominations by home institutions, aiming at building on on-going engagements with BecA-ILRI Hub. However, applications from the above nine countries may be considered only if they are sponsored or have own funding to meet at least 75% of the full cost of the course.

  • Affiliated with a national research program or university in the BecA region;
  • Currently engaged in biosciences research BSc, 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.

Apply for this training

Download the 2016 IMBB concept note

 
For further information about this workshop, please contact:

Valerian Aloo
Capacity Building Officer
Email: v.aloo at cgiar.org

International partnership on Cassava virus evolution launched in Africa

Group photo at NSF-PIRES project launch at the BecA-ILRI Hub, Nairobi

NAIROBI 26 February 2016—An international partnership to tackle plant viral diseases in Africa was this week launched at the Biosciences eastern and central Africa-International Livestock Research (BecA-ILRI Hub), in Nairobi, Kenya.

Established with funding from the National Science Foundation Partnerships for International Research and Education (NSF-PIRES), the partnership brings together scientists from East Africa and US to focus on tackling the Cassava mosaic disease (CMD).

Project principal investigator (PI) Linda Hanley-Bowdoin from North Carolina State University, US expressed her optimism that the partnership was the beginning of more collaborative research projects. ‘This project might be studying the cassava virus, but it is really about building international research relationships,’ she said.

The BecA-ILRI Hub director, Appolinaire Djikeng, noted that the collaboration aligned with the Hub’s strategy to harness international partnerships to benefit the African agricultural research agenda. ‘The BecA-ILRI Hub is a magnet for African and international scientists to conduct and use of high-end biosciences research in Africa, for Africa,’ he said. ‘This partnership is a good example of north-south and  south-south collaborations coming to address an issue of importance to Africa,’ he added.

Cassava is staple food for over 250 million people in sub-Saharan Africa.  Caused by Cassava mosaic virus (CMV), CMD is responsible for between 12 and 23 million tonnes crop yield losses (15-24% of total production) in Africa. The project will be studying the evolution of the Cassava mosaic virus. The virus' changes over time have enabled it to adapt to different environmental conditions and break plant resistance, confounding efforts to combat CMD.

‘This will be one of the most detailed studies on the evolution of any virus ever conducted,’ said Sioban Duffy of Rutgers University, US, who is a co-PI of the project. ‘Our research could lead to ground breaking discoveries on other viruses with significant economic and health impacts like the dengue virus’ she added.

Tanzanian scientist Joseph Ndunguru who has spent many years in cassava research emphasized that it is not only the science community that stands to benefit from the research. ‘A better understanding of the virus will help us develop diagnostic tools for use by smallholder farmers—they are the ones who should benefit the most from our research,’ he said.

In addition to providing training and capacity building for African researchers, the new project will enable early career US scientists to work with researchers at the BecA-ILRI Hub and MARI.

‘Through this project, budding US scientists will have an opportunity to work with outstanding scientists in Africa,’ said George Kennedy from NCSU who is also co-PI. ‘We hope that their experience will inspire them to pursue international research and be a part of the global workforce that is contributing to the resolution of the world food shortage,’ he added.

Participating institutions include Auburn University, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, North Carolina State University and Rutgers University in US; the BecA-ILRI Hub, Kenya; and the Mikocheni Agricultural Research Institute (MARI) and Nelson Mandela African Institution of Science and Technology, Tanzania.
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View pictures from the project launch here.

Read related story: $5 Million NSF PIRE Grant Will Fund Research on African Crop Disease

Driving agricultural research in Africa through biosciences:the BecA-ILRI Hub shares insights at FAO symposium

The increased use of biosciences by African national agricultural research systems (NARS) was highlighted by the BecA-ILRI Hub at an international symposium on the ‘Role of agricultural biotechnologies in sustainable food systems and nutrition’ held from 15-17 February 2016 in Rome, Italy.

In a presentation titled ‘Biosciences capacity building in Africa: lessons learned from the BecA-ILRI Hub’, development partnerships specialist Helen Altshul highlighted lessons learned from over a decade of supporting national programs in building their capacity to deliver on their national research mandate.

 

Altshul emphasised the BecA-ILRI Hub’s demand-driven approach to research and capacity building underpinned by the Africa Biosciences Challenge Fund (ABCF) program. Through the ABCF, the BecA-ILRI Hub continues to contribute to strengthened research capabilities of individuals and institutions within NARS in Africa.

 

The presentation demonstrated how the BecA-ILRI Hub’s focus on enabling research innovations has produced important discoveries led by national researchers including:

 

 

  • Isolation of the new virus in pigs by scientists from Uganda and Kenya led by Charles Masembe from Makerere University in Uganda;
  •  Production of new cross between maize and sorghum for crop improvement by Alexander Bombom from the Ugandan National Agricultural Research Organization (NARO);
  •  Utilizing genetic diversity of local African chicken to improve productivity by Christian Keambou from the University of Buea in Cameroon; and
  • Contribution to the release of new sorghum varieties in Sudan by Rasha Mohamed from the Agricultural Research Cooperation

 

Participants of the symposium included representatives of governments, intergovernmental organizations and of non-state actors, including civil society, private sector, research institutions and producer organizations.

 

For more information on the symposium, visit the FAO Symposium website.

Learn more about the Africa Biosciences Challenge Fund program here.

 

 

Translating science into policy and development: The African perspective

A new program 'Agriculture for Food Security (AgriFoSe): translating science into policy and development' developed by researchers in Sweden has the potential to contribute to Africa’s achievement of the SDGs.

Speaking on the African perspective of research on food security at the official launch in Uppsala, Sweden, BecA-ILRI Hub director Appolinaire Djikeng noted that the planned expansion of the program into a global network could potentially impact food security policies and the sustainable development goals at the local level in Africa.

The four-year program was developed by researchers from the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU), Lund University, Gothenburg University and Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) with a 60 million SEK grant from Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida).

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Watch Appolinaire Djikeng's presentation at AgriFoSe here

Read more about AgriFoSe. 

Download the AgriFoSe inauguration programme. 

Achieving food security in Africa is mission possible

Regional, continental and international leaders make the case for greater investment in biosciences research

Advances in bioscience technologies and innovations have the potential to transform agriculture in Africa. For over a decade, the Biosciences eastern and central Africa-International Livestock Research Institute (BecA-ILRI) Hub and its partners have played a vital role in empowering African science leaders to use biosciences in addressing major agricultural challenges.

CelebratingBecA

On 3 February 2016, the BecA-ILRI Hub held its fifteenth anniversary celebration at ILRI’s headquarters in Nairobi. In 15 years of existence, the BecA-ILRI Hub has provided training in emerging biotechnologies to over 556 African researchers from over 27 countries, availing them access to state of the art laboratories which reflect global technological trends, including: genomics; bioinformatics; mycotoxin and nutritional analysis; tissue culture and plant transformation; and molecular breeding platforms.

The BecA-ILRI Hub has also hosted 226 projects that are responding to national priorities in 21 African countries, and together with national and international partners, made groundbreaking contributions to agriculture including discovery of new viruses at the pig and human interface and in crop; contribution to the release of new sorghum varieties; contribution to a better understanding of the maize lethal necrosis disease; establishment of systems for the diagnosis and management of aflatoxin in maize; and the establishment of a regional forage program to increase livestock productivity.

The February event convened over 200 people from across the globe to celebrate these accomplishments and explore ways to scale-up the Hub’s impacts to achieve food and nutritional security and economic well-being in Africa.

During the opening of the event, Kenyan cabinet secretary for the ministry of agriculture, livestock and fisheries, Willy Bett emphasized the obligation of scientists to contribute to the creation of sustainable agro-food sectors in Africa, and the need for a paradigm shift to fast track the conversion of research-based discoveries to solutions on the ground. Minister Bett said ‘feeding a growing population with less land resources is not mission impossible’, adding that his ministry was committed to ensuring the impact of bioscience research is felt in agricultural development in Kenya. 

In his keynote address, African Union’s New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) Agency, Ibrahim Mayaki, described the BecA-ILRI Hub as a key player in agricultural research for development in Africa and lauded the initiative for contributing to the Science Agenda for Agriculture in Africa (S3A) and Africa's policy framework for agricultural transformation, the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP). The need to focus on opportunities rather than challenges was emphasized by ILRI director general Jimmy Smith who welcomed partnerships that will support the Hub’s contribution towards a well-nourished Africa.

Representing the BecA-ILRI Hub donor community, the Australian high commissioner to Kenya HE John Feakes and Canadian high commissioner to Kenya HE David Angell noted the BecA-ILRI Hub’s contribution to bridging a technological gap for African researchers. While commending individuals and institutions that were instrumental to the establishing the BecA-ILRI Hub, Gabrielle Persley, research director for the Crawford Fund Australia, challenged potential investors and partners to support the Hub and be a part of the seminal discovery for which it will be famous in the future.

In his vote of thanks, BecA-ILRI Hub director Appolinaire Djikeng recognized the invaluable contributions of African and international research and donor partners, governments and institutions to what he termed ‘the great African success story’.

The Team: BecA-ILRI Hub staff and ABCF fellows

 

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Read the announcement about this event.

Learn more about the BecA-ILRI Hub here

Read related stories:

Kenya's Agriculture Minister and AU-NEPAD CEO Underscores Use of ST&I in African Agriculture

Communication vital for Africa to achieve the SDGs

Agriculture CS urged to base policy on new tech

View a collection of and social media coverage of the event by scrolling down through one page on Storify: CelebrateBecA—15 years of African agricultural biosciences excellence

View the ILRI livestream footage of the event

Watch a new 4-min video about the BecA-ILRI Hub

Follow the hashtag #CelebrateBecA for tweets about the event

 

The BecA-ILRI Hub celebrates 15 years of biosciences in and for Africa

An upcoming event on 3 February 2016 will mark the 15th anniversary of the Biosciences eastern and central Africa-International Livestock Research (BecA-ILRI) Hub's existence as a center for excellence in agricultural bioscience research.

The event brings together global, regional and local actors in agricultural biosciences research for development  at the ILRI's headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya. It celebrates the role played by the BecA-ILRI Hub and its many national agricultural research system partners in advancing African agriculture and food and nutritional security.

Invited speakers and participants will deliberate on ways to scale the Hub’s programs and impacts, particularly by working in partnership with and further empowering African science leaders and institutions. The Hub’s technology platforms, offering vastly improved precision and efficiency in crop and livestock research, will be on display.

Celebrating BecA@15 will answer four questions.

  • Do the BecA-ILRI Hub’s platforms and services offer the region comparative advantages in agricultural science?
    What are they?
  • Has the Hub’s support through co-funding national researchers helped Africa meet its agricultural priorities?
    How?
  • Are there unexplored opportunities for the Hub to support African governments in implementing their agricultural policies?
    What are they?
  • What has enabled the Hub’s technology platforms, research projects and capacity building initiatives to thrive?
    What will do so in future?

The event

The event will be officially opened by the cabinet secretary for the Kenya Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, the honourable Willy Bett. It will feature speakers and panelists from organizations such as the African Union/New Partnership for Africa’s Development (AU/NEPAD), the Australian and Canadian high commissions in Kenya, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the John Innes Centre and the Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB).

Two high-powered panels will explore the BecA-ILRI Hub’s evolution in the agricultural biosciences space and the potential for science and technology to accelerate Africa’s agricultural development. Distinguished alumni of the Hub’s Africa Biosciences Challenge Fund (ABCF) will describe the impacts the Hub has had on their research work, careers and institutions. Interactive displays and exhibition stands will showcase ways the Hub and its partners are helping to transform agricultural landscapes across Africa. And a state-of-the-art ‘Integrated Genotyping Service and Support Service’ supported by BMGF will be launched.

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The morning sessions will be livestreamed and can be viewed here.

Find out more about the BecA-ILRI Hub by visiting its website and blog.

For more information about the event, please contact BecA-ILRI Hub's Ethel Makila: e.makila [at] cgiar.org

For information about media engagement, please contact ILRI’s Muthoni Njiru: m.njiru [at] cgiar.org

Follow the event on social media with the hashtag #CelebrateBecA

Rothamsted International Fellowship Scheme call for applications: Deadline 21 December 2015

The Rothamsted International Fellowship Scheme (RIFS) supports scientists from developing countries to train at Rothamsted Research for 6-12 months on a research project they develop jointly with a Project Leader at Rothamsted. 

Eligibility

The Candidate must meet the following criteria:

  • be of doctoral status, with at least two years post-doctoral experience. Candidates without Higher Degrees must have equivalent research experience to be considered eligible for the scheme. Applications will not be considered where the main objective of the visit is research leading to a higher degree for the Candidate.
  • The Candidate must be a citizen of a developing country, or have been based exclusively within a developing country. Please note that developing countries are defined as the countries listed on the DAC list of ODA recipients (http://www.oecd.org/dac/stats/documentupload/DAC%20List%20of%20ODA%20Recipients%202014%20final.pdf – also available in the Downloads section).
  •  It is essential that the Candidate returns to employment in their home country where the work conducted in the fellowship can be applied. Candidates who have extensive and/or continuous employment in a developed country are not likely to be awarded an RI Fellowship. If the Candidate has previously travelled overseas to carry out research, there must be evidence that the skills gained have been applied in their home country.
  • The Candidate should know their Rothamsted Project Leader (either directly or indirectly), or have been highly recommended.
  • In addition to the support of the Rothamsted Research Project leader, applications must also have the support of the Head of Department where the fellowship will be hosted.

For more information and to apply, visit the Rothamsted website.

The Africa Biosciences Challenge Fund 2016 – Call for Applications

Background

The Biosciences eastern and central Africa - International Livestock Research Institute (BecA-ILRI) Hub, located in Nairobi, Kenya, is a shared agricultural research and biosciences platform that exists to increase access for African researchers to affordable, world-class research facilities.  The mission of the BecA-ILRI Hub is “Mobilizing Bioscience for Africa’s Development” by providing a Centre of Excellence in agricultural biosciences, which enables research, capacity building and product incubation, conducted by scientists in Africa and for Africa, and empowers African institutions to harness innovations for regional impact. This mission is achieved by the BecA–ILRI Hub’s contributions to:

  • Research: enabling research to harness the potential of the biosciences to contribute to increasing agricultural productivity and to improving food and nutritional safety and security.
  • Education: contributing to the education and training of the next generation of African agricultural research leaders and scientists.
  • Innovation: promoting the development, delivery and adoption of new technologies to address key agricultural productivity constraints.

The BecA-ILRI Hub capacity building program is branded The Africa Biosciences Challenge Fund (ABCF). The ABCF program operates in the critically important intersection between agricultural research for development (ARD), food security, and individual and institutional capacity building. The ABCF program is delivered through: i) a visiting scientist program (the ABCF fellowship) targeting scientists from African national agricultural research organizations and universities to undertake biosciences research-for-development projects at the BecA-ILRI Hub; ii) annual training workshops to support the acquisition of practical skills in molecular biology, genomics, bioinformatics, laboratory management, laboratory safety, equipment maintenance and scientific writing; iii) mobilizing national and regional capacities for joint action; and iv) supporting and strengthening the capacity of National Agricultural Research Systems (NARS) to deliver on their research for development agenda.

Purpose

The purpose of the ABCF fellowship program is to develop capacity for agricultural biosciences research in Africa, to support research for development projects that ultimately contribute towards increasing food and nutritional security and/or food safety in Africa, and to facilitate access to the BecA-ILRI Hub facilities by African researchers (and their partners).  We seek applicants with innovative ideas for short to medium term research projects (up to 12 months) aligned with national, regional or continental agricultural development priorities that can be undertaken at the BecA-ILRI Hub.

Areas of research

Applicants must be scientists affiliated (through employment) with an African National Agricultural Research Institute (NARI) or university, and conducting research in the areas of food and nutritional security or food safety in Africa. Those carrying out research in the following areas are particularly encouraged to apply;

Improved control of priority livestock and fish diseases including: African Swine Fever (ASF); Contagious Bovine Pleuropneumonia (CBPP) and Contagious Caprine Pleuropneumonia (CCPP); Peste des Petits Ruminants (PPR); Rift Valley Fever (RVF); East Coast Fever (ECF); Capripox Virus diseases of ruminants;

Harnessing genetic diversity for conservation, resistance to disease and improving productivity of crops and livestock and fish (livestock focus: African indigenous breeds, particularly  goats, chickens, alternative small livestock species);Molecular breeding for important food security crops in Africa;

  • Plant transformation to address food insecurity in Africa;
  • Plant-microbe interactions;
  • Tissue culture and virus indexing for production of virus-free planting materials in Africa;
  • Orphan/underutilized species of crops and livestock
  • Crop pests, pathogens and weed management research, including biological control;
  • Microbial technology for improving adaptation of staple food crops and forages to biotic and abiotic stresses;
  • Food safety, including addressing aflatoxin and other mycotoxins contamination in food and feeds;
  • Nutritional analysis of food and animal feeds;
  • Rapid diagnostics for crop, livestock and fish diseases;
  • Genomics, bioinformatics and  metagenomics including microbial discovery;
  • Studies on climate-smart forage grasses and mixed livestock-crop systems;
  • Microbial technology for improving adaptation of staple food crops and forages to biotic and abiotic stresses;
  • Soil health in agricultural systems.

This list is not exhaustive and applicants working on other relevant topics are welcome to submit their suggestions.  Special opportunities also exist to connect with leading international scientists linked with the BecA-ILRI Hub in the following areas: wheat rusts, insect pests, and nitrogen fixation.  Other special opportunities exist to connect with CGIAR Research Programs (CRPs): including but not limited to Livestock & Fish, Agriculture for Nutrition & Health, Humid tropics etc.  Such collaboration would allow the applicant’s research to contribute more directly to an impact-oriented research-for-development agenda, and offer additional opportunities for joint activities.

Eligibility/applicant requirements

  • National (passport holder) of a BecA-ILRI Hub target country for this call: Burundi, Central African Republic, Congo Brazzaville, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Gabon, Madagascar, São Tomé and Príncipe, Somalia, South Sudan and Sudan. In exceptional cases we may consider applicants from other African countries. The applicant MUST be a researcher employed at a NARI or university.

Please note that applicants from BURKINA FASO, CAMEROON, ETHIOPIA, GHANA, KENYA, RWANDA, SENEGAL, TANZANIA and UGANDA are NOT eligible to apply to this call. A separate strategy has been developed to support these countries through nominations, to build on the on-going engagements between national research organizations and universities in these countries and the BecA-ILRI Hub. The nomination will also aim at filling priority national research gaps jointly identified through on-going engagements. HOWEVER, research scientists from the nine countries may apply to this call only if;

(i) They have own funding to fully support their research and all other costs while at the BecA-ILRI Hub, or

(ii) They are able to secure a significant portion (at least 50%) of their total research budget and other necessary costs while at the BecA-ILRI Hub. In this case they would be seeking partial funding through application for an ABCF fellowship.

  • Currently engaged in research in food and nutritional security or food safety in Africa, or in a research area with relevance to agriculture in Africa.
  •  Good working knowledge of written and spoken English.
  •  Completed online application form.
  • A signed letter of endorsement of the application from the head of the applicant’s home institute/organization/university faculty.

We particularly welcome applications from women and less resourced NARIs and universities.

What the fellowship covers

The BecA-ILRI Hub has secured funding to sponsor several fellowships on a highly competitive basis. The fellowship will cover the following costs[1];

  • Research costs at the BecA-ILRI Hub;
  • Travel;
  • Medical insurance;
  • Accommodation;
  • A modest subsistence allowance.

Key timelines

  • For any inquiries / clarifications related to this call, please send an email to: w.ekaya(at)cgiar.org Responses to inquiries/clarifications will close on December 20th 2015 mid-night (Nairobi time).
  • Closing date for applications: December 31st 2015.
  • Notification to early applicants will start from January 22nd  2016. The notification process will be completed by February 22nd  2016 (indicative dates depending on volume of applications).
  • Implementation of projects: projected start date is late March 2016. 

Application form

To apply for a fellowship, click on the online application link below:

Link to application form:  http://hpc.ilri.cgiar.org/beca/training/ABCF_2016/index.html 

Decision on applications

Details of successful applicants will be posted on the BecA-ILRI Hub Website on a continuous basis until completion of the review process.

Note: Successful applicants will be expected to secure leave from their workstation to fully focus on their research fellowship at BecA-ILRI Hub during the fellowship contract period.

Our Sponsors

The ABCF Research Fellowship program is supported by the Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture (SFSA), the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), the UK Government through the Department for International Development (DFID), the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs through the Swedish International Development Agency (Sida), and the Australian Government through a partnership between Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) and the BecA-ILRI Hub. 

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[1] Please note that BecA-ILRI Hub-funded fellowships do not cover the cost of fieldwork or research at the applicant’s home institute. Applicants who can fund their  proposed research at BecA-ILRI Hub (either fully or partially) will have  added advantage.

 

International Foundation for Science (IFS) individual research grants 2016 call for applications - Deadline 31/12/2015

The International Foundation for Science invites early-career scientists in IFS eligible developing countries to apply for IFS Individual Research Grants and carry out research projects for a period of up to 3 years. An applicant must have at least an MSc/MA, be younger than 35 years of age (for men) or 40 years of age (for women) and must do the research project in an IFS eligible country.
 
Young researchers wishing to start or consolidate their independent research careers and who fulfil the IFS eligibility criteria are welcome to apply.

For more information, download the full CALL FOR APPLICATIONS.

Alliance to tackle African food security challenges strengthened

The John Innes Centre (JIC) in Norwich and the Biosciences east and central Africa-International Livestock Research Institute (BecA-ILRI) Hub in Nairobi have announced advances in their collaboration which aims to find scientific solutions to African food security challenges.



The BecA-JIC alliance works on collaborative research projects and, in doing so, builds agricultural research capacity in the BecA-ILRI Hub and more widely in eastern and central Africa.

The BecA-ILRI Hub Director Dr Appolinaire Djikeng, visited JIC Director of International Strategy and Liaison Support Serviceshis Dr Christopher Darby earlier this week to thrash out a ten-point programme of collaboration over the next two years. Projects include improving food crops using modern breeding techniques, reducing the levels of toxins found in certain African crops and transferring key technology platforms from the UK to Africa.

The John Innes Centre has already posted a full-time research scientist to Nairobi as a concrete expression of the alliance’s goal to strengthen research through the mobility of scientists.
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Original post by Kate Sweeney on BusinessWeekly

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Research to inform continental action plan for control of African swine fever in Africa

From 10–12 November 2015, key stakeholders in the pig industry in Africa will convene in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso to validate a regional strategy for the control of African swine fever (ASF) in Africa and develop a continental program for its implementation.

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The strategy was developed by a task force set up in May 2014 and comprising the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) the Biosciences eastern and central Africa (BecA)-ILRI Hub, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) andAfrican Union Interafrican Bureau For Animal Resources (AU-IBAR).

For two years, a multidisciplinary team of researchers led by the BecA-ILRI Hub has worked to develop a clearer understanding of the pig systems and constraints to pig farming in East Africa a  with a special focus on ASF. The pig industry in Africa which has grown in economic significancewith the current pig population totalling 34.2 million head and official figures putting pork production at 1.2 million tonnes a year is threatened by ASF, a devastating disease of pigs that is present in more than 20 countries in Africa. African swine fever is highly contagious and causes up to 100 percent mortality in pig herds. Although ASF does not cause infection in people, it impacts on the livelihoods of farmers, and others who trade pigs and pork, through loss of income and food. The Australian funded research focused on pig production systems, ASF causes and transmission patterns, and control measures for the disease.

Drawing from studies on production systems, breed characteristics, health constraints including zoonotics, and disease epidemiology the project has successfully modelled disease transmission dynamics. These studies are supported by biosciences research capacity at the BecA-ILRI Hub that include deep sequencing, genotyping and bioinformatics, in vivo challenge containment facilities and lab based platforms that supports immunology. Based on this work, guidelines for the control of the spread of ASF, developed in partnership with key actors in the departments of veterinary services in the project target countries is informing the regional strategy which will be validated in Ouagadougou.

The strategy is based on three founding principles:

  • It is knowledge-based, using the  best available epidemiological and socio-economic knowledge and experiences and on optimal preparedness, to reduce prevalence and prevent further spread of ASF;
  • It is area-specific, addressing country and sector-specific epidemiological scenarios and technical options for prevention and control; developing regional and national capacities to monitor the disease situation and implement and maintain prevention and control options; and providing sustainable, technically sound and socially equitable support to control ASF;
  • It is holistic, promoting gradual transformation of the less bio-secure, small-scale, scavenging production system common in Africa into a more bio-secure, small scale, semi-intensive production system. The strategy also promotes biosecurity in existing semi-intensive and intensive production systems.

As the strategic research partner the development of the regional action plan, the 'African swine fever: diagnostics, surveillance, epidemiology and control' project team represented by ILRI scientist Edward Okoth who leads the project, will make two presentations on ASF control initiatives. The presentation on ‘ASF Control Research and epidemiology in East Africa’ will highlight research on pig value chains, ASF and how research outputs have contributed to ASF control and pig sector development. The presentation on ‘Managing of ASF risk in local pig value chains through increased prevention, detection and response capability’ will focus on a proposed ASF control approach developed in partnership with Australia’s national science organization, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO).

Partners in the BecA-ILRI Hub ASF project include CSIRO, Australia; Makerere University, Uganda; Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industries and Fisheries, Uganda; Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries (Department of Veterinary Services), Kenya; and Centro de Investigación en Sanidad Animal (CISA–INIA):  Europian Union and FAO reference laboratory for ASF, Spain.

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Read related story on African swine fever research at the BecA-ILRI Hub: Understanding the molecular variation and evolution of African swine fever virus in Uganda

Learn more about the project: African swine fever: diagnostics, surveillance, epidemiology and control

 

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

The Swedish Government’s strategic approach to sustainable development through research for development is at the heart of the sustained support for agricultural research programs in Africa including the Biosciences eastern and central Africa-International Livestock Research Institute (BecA-ILRI) Hub.

A recent visit by Dr. Claes Kjellström, Senior Policy Specialist in the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency’s Department for Africa,  to the BecA-ILRI Hub demonstrated Sweden’s support for increased agricultural biotechnology as one of the means of achieving food and nutritional security in sub-Saharan Africa.

Since 2011, the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs has provided financial support to a wide-ranging mix of innovative research for development and capacity building activities led by the BecA-ILRI Hub and implemented in collaboration with African national agricultural research systems (NARS). The Swedish funded research programs focus on two major agricultural development issues in Africa—achieving food security and climate change mitigation. The visit by Kjellström was his first opportunity to familiarize himself with the Swedish funded activities at the BecA-ILRI Hub since he assumed leadership of the BecA-Sweden partnership from Dr Gity Berhavan.

The one-day visit started with a partnership introductory meeting with Dr Appolinaire Djikeng, director of the BecA-ILRI Hub. During this first session, Kjellström was briefed on current status of the BecA-Sweden partnership and its importance in the delivery of BecA’s mission since 2011. Kjellström then met with leading scientists and other key BecA staff who have been leading various components of the partnership.

Swedish investment in African agricultural research

Morris Agaba highlighted the role played by the program on genetic diversity of goats in Ethiopia and Cameroon program in influencing national policy and farmer practices to increase investment and management of goat genetic resources; Sita Ghimire gave an overview of the ‘climate-smart Brachiaria grasses to increase livestock production in East Africa’ research program which is being implemented in Kenya and Rwanda and has raised the profile of these grasses as a preferred forage for livestock especially in drought prone areas; and Francesca Stomeo talked about the suite of genomics and bioinformatics tools developed through the Plant virome project and have been applied in the exploration of the viral community in different agro-ecological zones in Kenya.  

On the capacity building activities that are co-funded by the Swedish Government, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Australian government, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture, Wellington Ekaya underscored the impact being achieved through the close to 400 fellowships of up to one year that have been supported; over 600 NARS scientists have attended short courses; and the upgrading of bioscience research capabilities in four regional research institutions. 

Josephine Birungi who has oversight of the development of various technology platforms with the support of Swedish expertise from the Swedish National Veterinary Institute (SVA) and the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences. The tools and the knowledge gained on these platforms are being transferred to national laboratories.

Touring the state-of-the-art biosciences laboratories

During a tour of the laboratory facilities, Kjellström met with recipients of the ABCF fellowships currently working at the BecA-ILRI Hub including Damaris Mwangi from the University of Nairobi; Asheber Tegegn from Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research; and Francis Mwatuni from the Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service. Mwangi and Tegegne’s studies are leveraging on the research conducted by the Swedish funded research on climate smart Brachiaria grasses to improve livestock feed in Africa while Mwatuni is utilizing the genomics tools developed through the Plant virome project to develop a better understanding of MLND.

Emerging opportunities

Kjellström observed that the BecA-ILRI Hub’s approach to research for development is in consistent with the Swedish Government’s strategy of creating synergies between research across different programs as well as with other development investments. In agreement with these sentiments, Djikeng emphasized the emerging opportunities for further support that have arisen from Sweden’s initial support.

‘In addition to being in alignment with Sida’s regional cooperation agenda and with the BecA-ILRI Hub’s mission and business plan, the developing research areas are well positioned to respond to key national, regional and continental priorities,’ said Djikeng.

Comprehensive plans for engagement with selected NARS in eastern and central Africa have been developed to guide joint efforts and investment in research and capacity building that include commitments of resources from national governments in eastern and central Africa. A similar approach is being used with key partnering institutions in West Africa in responding to the increasing demand for support from the region.

Building on the success of the climate smart Brachiaria grasses program and the wide range of partnerships established in 11 countries, the BecA-ILRI Hub is poised to lead a regional forage program to ensure that farmers increase their options for animal nutrition. Key innovations delivered under the Brachiaria program will be pivotal to support the establishment and acceleration of robust research programs on livestock productivity for other important forage species in the region.

Outputs and outcomes from the robust livestock productivity program which has strong engagement of national research institutes and universities have already begun to guide key investments in Cameroon and other countries. There are also emerging opportunities for crop improvement including plant pathogen interactions, emerging plant disease, new cultivar development through breeding for high yield disease resistance and nutritional quality that would greatly enhance BecA’s capacity and leverage current strategic partnerships with African partners and other collaborators in advanced research institutions across the world.

Promising returns on investment

Kjellström termed his visit as an excellent update of what had been done with Sweden’s investment since 2009, saying he concurred with his predecessor’s assessment of the BecA-ILRI Hub’s achievements. ‘In her hand-over report to me Gity has described the BecA-ILRI Hub’s performance as being excellent,’ he said. ‘You have achieved all objectives with very few risks’, he added.

 

 

Regional cooperation in agricultural bioscience research: maximizing the opportunities at the BecA-ILRI Hub

2 October 2015—Increased investment in modern biosciences can significantly contribute to the transition of sub Saharan Africa from a source of raw materials to a producer of value added products and drive economic growth on the continent.

According to Dr Peter Ndemere executive secretary of Uganda National Council for Science and Technology (UNCST), science, technology and innovation in general and modern bioscience in particular are critical to the transformation of regional populations from subsistence to modern and prosperous communities. Ndemere was speaking at a symposium convened on 29 September 2015 at the UNCST headquarters in Kampala, Uganda, to discuss regional cooperation in biosciences for agricultural development.

The gathering of researchers, policy makers and representatives of international agricultural research institutions were exploring opportunities for collaboration in bioscience research and capacity building for improved agricultural productivity, income generation and food and nutritional security; and prospects for the Uganda national agricultural research system (NARS) actors to maximize opportunities available at the Biosciences eastern and central Africa–International Livestock Research Institute (BecA-ILRI) Hub in Nairobi, Kenya.

Dr Appolinaire Djikeng, the director of the BecA-ILRI Hub highlighted the support that has already been availed to Ugandan agricultural research institutions totaling over USD 725,000. The BecA-ILRI Hub’s contributions include ongoing research and capacity building activities with Makerere University, Gulu University and the National Agricultural Research Organization.

‘The BecA-ILRI Hub presents an opportunity for the African scientists to develop their capacities and should be seen as an extension of the capabilities available within the NARS’ said Djikeng.

Dr Theresa Sengooba, chairperson of UNCST commended the BecA-ILRI Hub for supporting regional NARS in seeking practical solutions to agricultural development challenges in the country and the region. Dr Sengooba who is also a BecA-ILRI Hub advisory panel member underscored the need to strengthen public-private, public-public and private-private partnerships for sustainable collaboration. 

To demonstrate the contribution of the BecA-ILRI Hub to bioscience innovation in the region, Dr Charles Masembe, associate professor at Makerere University talked about his research on African swine fever while Dr Laban Turyagyenda, director of the Ngeta Zonal Agricultural Research and Development Institute highlighted his work on tolerant cassava varieties, both of which have been done in collaboration with the BecA-ILRI Hub. Dr Alex Bombom, a post-doctoral scientist at the BecA-ILRI Hub gave insights to his groundbreaking work in the development of a hybrid crop between maize and sorghum, with high potential for dual use as food and fuel. 

The symposium was attended by 30 participants comprising UNCST Board Members and senior managers, senior scientists and researchers from NARO and Makerere University and government officials from the Ministry of Education, Science, Technology and Sports. The ILRI country representative, Dr Ben Lukuyu was also present at the symposium which was moderated by Dr Julius Ecuru from UNCST.

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Read the original article on the UNCST website.

 

Enhancing agricultural research in Africa through bioinformatics–The BecA-ILRI Hub hosts annual training advanced genomics and bioinformatics workshop

On 10 September 2015 the African Academy of Sciences (AAAS) and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) Agency launched the Alliance for Accelerating Excellence in Science in Africa (AESA). The impetus for this initiative is to increase the capacity of African Scientists to conduct for scientific and health research in Africa.

During the same week, the BecA-ILRI Hub kicked off its annual Advanced Genomics and Bioinformatics training workshop. The intensive 10-day training which runs up to Friday 18 September is among the four annual workshops designed by the BecA-ILRI Hub to address capacity gaps in agricultural biosciences research in Africa.

Through this workshop, researchers from national agricultural research systems (NARS) in eastern, central and western Africa acquire skills that help them decipher the huge amounts of biological data that could translate to the more rapid solution of challenges to acquiring food and nutritional security on the continent.

 Juliah Khayeli from Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, Kenya a participant of the Advanced  Bioinformatics Workshop 2015

Julia Khayeli, a participant from the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agricultural Technology in Kenya said ‘I am very excited because I have finally made sense of the sequences I got from my research!’ In addition to deciphering her data, Khayeli had the opportunity to network with researchers from 12 eastern, central and western African countries.

 The workshop is being conducted in collaboration with the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) which has partnered with the BecA-ILRI Hub for the last nine years, providing access to technical advice and enhanced expertise from the institution and co-convening regional bioinformatics workshops.

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Read a related story on the partnership with SLU:

 

Building bioinformatics capacity in Africa: The BecA-ILRI Hub and Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences partnership

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