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In search of food security in Africa through improved disease management

From 11-13 July 2016, international experts in research on crop and livestock disease convened at the Biosciences eastern and central Africa-International Livestock Research Institute (BecA-ILRI) Hub in Nairobi to explore how better monitoring of the economically significant diseases in East African agricultural systems can contribute to sustained increased food production in the region.

The researchers hosted by the BecA-ILRI Hub in collaboration with the University of Cambridge were attending a proposal development meeting to discuss a study that has been short-listed for funding under the Wellcome Trust programme: Our Planet Our Health.

 

The proposed project is a collaboration between crop and livestock epidemiologists at the University of Cambridge, University of Warwick, Lancaster University, the UK Met Office and international research institutions with hubs at the BecA-ILRI in Kenya and the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) in Ethiopia. 

Discussions centered around more efficient and cost effective data collection methods; standardization of data collection across boundaries. The project under development is designed to help governments and national agricultural research systems minimize crop and livestock losses, protect livelihoods of smallholder farmers and respond to emerging epidemics.

 

 

Unearthing big potential of small livestock: First international symposium on cavy takes place in Cameroon

Yaounde, Cameroon, July 8, 2016


For the first time in history, experts from South America where cavy research spans over 50 years engaged in a rich exchange of views with cavy stakeholders in Africa where research is still emerging and production is yet to reach its full potential.

Ursule Mekongo of Association des Eleveurs et Agriculteurs du Cameroun (AEAC) and oberto Moncayo Gallian of Ecuador

Over 30 participants from 13 countries from across Africa, Australia, Europe and South America attended an international symposium convened by the Biosciences eastern and central Africa-International Livestock Research Institute (BecA-ILRI) Hub to explore the untapped potential of this mini-livestock to help vulnerable households in Africa climb up the livestock ladder out of poverty.

The symposium participants who included researchers, development experts and policy makers from Australia, Benin, Bolivia, Cameroon, Cote d'Ivoire, DRC, Ecuador, Germany, Italy, Kenya, Peru, Sweden and Tanzania visited cavy producers, cavy traders in Yaounde and an agricultural training school.

Brigitte Maass (University of Göttingen), Lilia Chauca (La Molina University Peru) and Appolinaire Djikeng (BecA-ILRI Hub)

 

Potential for advancement through technology transfer

First domesticated in South America, cavies seem to have adapted to lower altitudes and more humid environments in sub-Saharan Africa through natural selection and are distributed more widely across the continent than is currently recognized. The consumption of cavy meat in Africa is widespread including in restaurants and urban markets in Cameroon and DRC, and the absence of cultural or religious inhibitions means they have significant potential to improve nutrition and livelihoods in Africa.

Earlier research has shown that while there is wide genetic diversity of cavy across Africa, serious inbreeding exists in any one local environment. This challenge can be tackled through the development of breeding programs within Africa with possible introduction of South American genes.  

Kingsley Etchu (l) of Institute of Agricultural Research for Development (IRAD) and Felix Meutchieye of University of Dschang

Additionally, cavy technology developed in South America which produces animals with an average weight of nearly 2kgs compared to 500gms in Africa can be transferred and adapted to quickly address the challenges of poor animal husbandry and low productivity found in the family based production systems in Africa.

Participants recognize that large and rapid productivity gains can be made in Africa by applying and adapting best practices from South America. The gains made through improved breeding and husbandry will be augmented by scientific research around major issues such as animal health, marketing and matching of new genetics to African systems.

The event led to the genesis of a ‘cavy network’ connecting diverse international experiences along the cavy value chain to deliver impacts for health, gender and livelihoods. This symposium was made possible by the support of DFAT Australia and IDRC Canada, together with Cameroonian partners the Ministry of Livestock Fisheries and Animal Industries and the University of Dschang.

International cavy symposium group photo

More information about the symposium: http://hub.africabiosciences.org/blog/aternative-livestock-symposium-july-2016/

More information about the research: http://hub.africabiosciences.org/activities/research/303-domestic-cavies-improving-production-nutritional-protein-and-household-income

More pictures from the event: https://www.flickr.com/photos/beca-hub/albums/72157669990170450

 

Cameroon Ministry of Livestock, Fisheries and Animal Industries seeks partnership with BecA-ILRI Hub

The Biosciences eastern and central Africa-International Livestock Research Institute (BecA-ILRI) Hub on 2 June2016 hosted officials from the Cameroon Ministry of Livestock, Fisheries and Animal Industries (MINEPIA).

The delegation was in Kenya to learn more about livestock development. The learning tour organized with the assistance of the BecA-ILRI Hub will contribute to the knowledge base underpinning the implementation of a World Bank funded livestock development project aimed at sustainable increase of productivity and development of livestock value chains in Cameroon.

The Cameroonian officials held discussions with members of the BecA-ILRI Hub regarding collaborative research for development and capacity building activities. They officials who were accompanied by the deputy director of the Kenya Livestock Production, Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries James Tendwa also toured the laboratory facilities.

 

Exploring opportunities for Africa-Japan research for development partnerships

On 16 June 2016, the Biosciences eastern and central Africa-International Livestock Research Institute (BecA-ILRI) Hub hosted a symposium to explore opportunities for collaborations with Japanese research institutions in research, capacity building and technology transfer activities that will impact smallholder agricultural productivity in Africa.

The June symposium which brought together scientists from Research Institute for Humanity and Nature (RIHN) and Hiroshima University (Japan); the BecA-ILRI Hub; ILRI; other CG centers; and African national agricultural research systems (NARS) was a follow up of earlier discussions held between the BecA-ILRI Hub and the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) in Nairobi. The event was organized by postdoctoral scientist Dr Josiah Mutuku, who was a JSPS fellow and worked at the Ken Shirasu lab at RIKEN, Center for Sustainable Resource Science in Yokohama Japan prior to joining the BecA-ILRI Hub.

Group photo of participants of the BecA-ILRI Hub/JSPS Symposium in Nairobi 16 June 2016

Presentations made during the symposium included an highlight on JSPS involvement in research for development by Mizoguchi Daisuke, director of JSPS Nairobi Station; research to support communities in Burkina Faso adapt to extreme weather by Shun Ishiyama from the Research Institute for Humanity and Nature, Kyoto; developing “Great Green Wall Initiatives’ to control desertification and improve livelihoods in semi-arid Africa by Ueru Tanaka from the Research Institute for Humanity and Nature, Kyoto; crop improvement strategies and research on climate smart Brachiaria grass as an alternative forage for Africa by Sita Ghimire from the BecA-ILRI Hub; developing a toolbox for managing viral diseases in common beans by Josiah Mutuku; and livestock vaccines research by Vish Nene from ILRI.

The existing triangular partnerships established between the BecA-ILRI Hub, African NARS and advanced international research institutions and universities have supported the creation of a continuum of collaborative research, capacity building and technology transfer activities for impact on agricultural productivity at the smallholder farmers’ level. Such strategic partnerships with the Japanese research community will enable the transfer of relevant technologies and products for improved agricultural productivity to smallholder farmers in sub Saharan Africa.

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Read related story:

The BecA-ILRI Hub seeks partnership with Japanese institutions for food security research in Africa

Pooling resources to enable research for development: keynote by the BecA-ILRI Hub at continental research and innovation meeting

The Biosciences eastern and central Africa-International Livestock Research Institute (BecA-ILRI) Hub director Appolinaire Djikeng will today (14 June 2016) give a key note presentation on transboundary pooling of resources for research and development at an Africa agriculture and innovation forum.

The presentation will be given at a session—Collaborative service and research agreements to facilitate Science Agenda facilitation—during this year’s Africa Agriculture Science Week (AASW) and the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) general assembly in Kigali, Rwanda.

BecA-ILRI Hub at the Africa A

Owing to the scarcity of resources available to implement research for development in many sub-Saharan African countries, there is need to leverage collective capabilities in research and development infrastructure and expertise; surveillance and testing to promote cross-border certification; and institutional innovations.

Drawing from the lessons learnt at the BecA-ILRI Hub, Djikeng’s presentation will illustrate how south-south partnerships and triangular partnerships between the BecA-ILRI Hub, African NARS and international research institutions and universities have enabled the implementation of collaborative research, capacity building and technology transfer that brings to bear the most advanced research and innovations in smallholder farming systems in Africa.

 For more information on the Africa Agriculture Science Week visit: http://faraafrica.org/aasw7/

Follow the event on twitter: #AASW7

 

Call for applications: BecA-ILRI Hub advanced genomics and bioinformatics training workshop 2016

As part of its capacity building program, the Biosciences eastern and central Africa-International Livestock Research Institute (BecA-ILRI) Hub in collaboration with Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) will hold a two weeks hands-on training workshop on advanced genomics and bioinformatics from 8–19 August 2016. The workshop aims at providing a learning forum for researchers in genomics (laboratory procedures in Next Generation Sequencing NGS) and bioinformatics (computational methods of analyzing NGS data).

Applications are invited from researchers in eastern and central Africa who require advanced skills in genomics and bioinformatics to support their research. Selection of participants will be based on evidence of productive research and the relevance of genomics and bioinformatic skills in their current work. Individuals who are currently engaged in agricultural research within a national research institute or a university are highly encouraged to apply. Proficiency in molecular biology and genomics 'wet-lab' activities is necessary.

Selected participants will attend an intensive 2-week training workshop at the BecA-ILRI Hub in Nairobi, Kenya. The program will include:

  • Introduction to Genomics and NGS technologies
  • Library preparation and sequencing on the Illumina MiSeq platform
  • Basic statistics for analysis of biological data
  • Genome and transcriptome assembly
  • RNA-Seq differential expression analysis
  • Variant discovery (SNP and Indel)
  • 16S rRNA Metagenomics
  • Phylogenetics

A team of facilitators from the SLU, New York University, Ohio State University and BecA-ILRI Hub will conduct the training 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 require nominations from their home institution. Applications from the above nine countries may also be considered if they are sponsored or have own funding to meet at least 75% of the full cost of the course.)
  • Currently engaged in biosciences research
  • Proficiency in molecular biology and genomics
  • MSc or PhD in biological sciences
  • Good working knowledge of written and spoken English

Application process
All those interested should fill and submit the online application. To access the form, CLICK HERE.

No other mode of application will be accepted. Online application form submitted by 8th July 2016.


Important dates
The online application form must be submitted by 8 July 2016 mid-night Nairobi time.
Successful applicants will be notified by 15 July 2016.
Applications received after  deadline and incomplete applications will not be considered.
 
Workshop sponsors

  • The Australia Government Department for Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) through a partnership between Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) and the BecA-ILRI Hub.
  • Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
  • Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency
  • UK Department For International Development
  • The Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture

For further clarifications/ inquiries on the workshop, do not hesitate  to contact us.

 

Attachments: Download this file (Concept note - ADVANCED GENOMICS and BIOINFORMATICS TRAINING WORKSHOP 2016.pdf)Concept note - ADVANCED GENOMICS and BIOINFORMATICS TRAINING WORKSHOP 2016.pdf[ ]369 Kb

BecA-ILRI Hub 2016 Introduction to principles in laboratory management and equipment operations training workshop: call extended

This call has been extended and will now close on 15 June 2016

Biosciences tools can be used to address many of Africa’s agricultural challenges such as pests, diseases and climatic constraints that result in low crop yields and poor animal productivity. However, opportunities linking modern biosciences to agricultural improvement to solve some of Africa’s major agricultural problems remain largely untapped. The BecA-ILRI Hub hosts and conducts research in crop, microbe and livestock areas where new developments in biosciences and well trained researchers can solve some intractable problems constraining Africa’s food security. For more information about the BecA-ILRI Hub please visit: http://hub.africabiosciences.org/

As part of its capacity building program, the BecA-ILRI Hub will hold a training workshop on Principles of Laboratory Management and Equipment Operations Training Workshop at the BecA-ILRI Hub on the 11th - 15th July 2016.

Scope of the training workshop
Efficient management of any laboratory facility is necessary to ensure that research is quality controlled and resources are utilized cost effectively. Laboratory management practices must ensure compliance with legal and regulatory frameworks for health and safety, waste management, import and export of biological materials and biosafety. In addition the management of laboratory equipment is a core function and contributes significantly towards the success of any laboratory. Therefore, good laboratory management skills are necessary for personnel charged with management of these vital facilities.
This course aims to cover the following scope; lab design and classification, lab information management system (LIMS), lab quality control, equipment operations and maintenance. Also included are laboratory health and safety, procurement procedures, shipping of biological samples and materials transfer agreements.

Who can apply/selection criteria
The Hub is seeking applicants from eastern and central Africa region who require basics skills in laboratory management. The training is targeting Laboratory heads or supervisors, Scientists and Laboratory/research technicians.  In addition, applicants must meet the following criteria

  • 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.
  • Have a strong affiliation with a national agricultural research program or institution or university in any of the above BecA countries.
  • Be currently engaged in agricultural biosciences research.
  • Be a holder of BSc, MSc or PhD in biosciences or a related subject.
  • Have a good working knowledge of written and spoken English.
  • Have a letter of nomination/recommendation from head of department or institution head.

Application process
All those interested should fill and submit the online application. No other mode of application will be accepted.

APPLY HERE

Important dates
The online application form must be submitted by mid-night, 15th June 2016 (Nairobi time).
Applications received after the deadline or incomplete applications will not be considered.
Successful applicants will be notified by 20th June 2016.

Workshop sponsors

  • The Australia Government Department for Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) through a partnership between Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) and the BecA-ILRI Hub.
  • Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
  • Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency.
  • The UK Government through the Department for International Development (DFID)
  • The Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture.


For further clarifications/ inquiries on the workshop, please contact us. Thank you for considering this opportunity and we look forward to hearing from you.

The BecA-ILRI Hub pays tribute to the late professor James Ochanda

66f25.jpgProfessor James Ochanda, a former coordinator (2004 – 2005) of the Biosciences eastern and central Africa-International Livestock Research Institute (BecA-ILRI) Hub, director of the Centre for Biotechnology and Bioinformatics (CEBIB) and strong proponent for the advancement of bioscience research in Africa has died.

Until his passing on 27 May 2016, Ochanda was a professor at the University of Nairobi. He also held various positions in institutions and committees of biotechnology focused on enhancing training and institutional capacity in biochemistry, biotechnology and biosafety including being an appointed member of panel of experts on biotechnology and biosafety for the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA).

The late professor Ochanda will be remembered for his many contributions to academic excellence in Africa and across the world and for the establishment of the BecA-ILRI Hub as a centre for excellence in agricultural biosciences research in Africa.

The BecA-ILRI Hub condoles with the immediate family, relatives, friends and colleagues of professor Ochanda at this time of grief.

May his soul rest in peace.

African livestock improvement programs benefit from advanced genetic research training at the BecA-ILRI Hub

From Monday 30 May 2016, livestock researchers from across Africa have been attending the Biosciences eastern and central Africa-International Livestock Research Institute (BecA-ILRI) Hub annual workshop on animal quantitative genetics and genomics.

 

 

The intensive 10-day workshop held at the ILRI campus in Nairobi attracted 20 participants from national agricultural research systems (NARS) in 11 African countries including Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda, Nigeria, Somalia and Sudan. The researchers who are actively engaged in animal breeding and genomics will acquire transferable skills that address technology gaps in their home country research programs.

Projected increases in animal protein demand and consumption are likely to maintain livestock’s position as one of the fastest growing sub-sectors in agriculture for the foreseeable future, particularly in low-income and emerging economies in Africa. Genetics and genomics which underpin the design and application of effective livestock breeding programs provide significant opportunities to sustainably improve livestock productivity in addition to maintaining genetic diversity. 

Through this training course and other capacity building activities, the BecA-ILRI Hub seeks to increase the capacity of African scientists and institutions to conduct research based on recent advances for agricultural improvement in Africa.

The BecA-ILRI Hub to benefit from Excellence with Impact Award to the John Innes Centre

The John Innes Centre (JIC), UK has committed GBP 500,000 received as an award to furthering scientific impact in Africa with regional research partners, especially the Biosciences east and central Africa-International Livestock Research Institute (BecA-ILRI) Hub.

The JIC received the prize on 18 May 2016 for winning the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council's (BBSRC) Excellence with Impact competition which aims to recognize institutions that can develop and successfully deliver a vision for maximizing impact, alongside a relevant institution-wide culture change.

The award was a culmination of a three-year project which had driven culture change throughout the institute, with new systems for public dialogue, for engaging with industry, for inspiring school children and for furthering impact outside the UK.

Regarding the planned use of the prize money, JIC Director Professor Dale Sanders said:

“The opportunity to work with excellent African scientists will create long term relationships that build a shared understanding of the challenges for agriculture in Africa and the important role of science in addressing those challenges."

Through an alliance established with the BecA-ILRI Hub in 2014, JIC and the BecA-ILRI Hub have been working on collaborative projects that are building agricultural research capacity in eastern and central Africa. The agreement between the institutions opens doors to new capacity building, resource mobilization and technology transfer activities between Africa and Europe and has enabled the placement of a JIC scientist at the BecA-ILRI Hub.

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Read original article: The John Innes Centre wins the BBSRC's Excellence with Impact Award

Read related posts:
Alliance to tackle African food security challenges strengthened

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

 

North Carolina State University brings new expertise to annual BecA-ILRI Hub workshop

The BecA-ILRI Hub annual workshop on Introduction to Molecular Biology and Bioinformatics (IMBB) kicked off on Monday 9 May 2016 at the ILRI campus in Nairobi. The intensive 11-day workshop attracted 27 participants from national agricultural research systems (NARS) in 11 African countries including Burundi, Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Eritrea, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda, Nigeria, South Sudan and Sudan.

This year’s workshop includes a new component on rapid diagnosis of Phytophthora, a parasitic pathogen of plants that is capable of causing enormous economic losses on crops worldwide, as well as environmental damage in natural ecosystems. Phytophthora infestans was the infective agent of the potato blight that caused the Great Irish Famine (1845–1849), and still remains the most destructive pathogen of crops belonging to the Solanaceae family including tomato and potato.

The module on Phytophthora diagnosis is facilitated by a leading scientist from North Carolina State University (NCSU), Jean Beagle Ristaino who is a William Neal Reynolds distinguished professor and the director, Emerging Plant Disease and Global Food Security Cluster at the NCSU department of plant pathology.

While many African NARS have basic equipment for molecular biology research, and access to the internet for bioinformatics analysis, the skills to apply the technologies to agricultural research remain largely at the nascent stage. The IMBB workshop seeks to address a skills gap in basic molecular biology and bioinformatics in African national agricultural research systems.

Through this training and other capacity building activities, the BecA-ILRI Hub is contributing to the increased capability for   African scientists and institutions to conduct biosciences research and to develop and deliver improved and new technologies for agriculture.

The BecA-ILRI Hub seeks partnership with Japanese institutions for food security research in Africa

5 May 2016, Nairobi Kenya—The Biosciences for eastern and central Africa-International Livestock Research Institute (BecA-ILRI) Hub, hosted the director / first secretary of the Japan Information and Culture Centre (JICC) of the Japan Embassy in Nairobi, Yasunori Nakamura; the director of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) Nairobi Research Station, Dr Daisuke Mizoguchi; and the assistant director of JICC in Nairobi, Hiroyuki Futaki.

During the visit, discussions were held on opportunities for collaborative research between Japanese research institutions and the BecA-ILRI Hub to tackle challenges to food security in eastern and central Africa. The Japanese delegation also took a tour of the laboratory facilities led by BecA-ILRI Hub post-doctoral scientist Josiah Mutuku, who undertook his PhD studies at Kagoshima University in Japan before joining the RIKEN, Center for Sustainable Resource Science in Yokohama, Japan as a JSPS fellow.


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

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.

 

 

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