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Modernizing small-scale livestock agriculture – Rwanda and ILRI agree to closer collaboration in future

Written by Ethel Makila, BecA-ILRI Hub communications officer

The Rwanda Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources and the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) earlier this month signed a memorandum of understanding to facilitate research that will help modernize small-scale agriculture in the country.

 

The agreement was signed in Kigali, Rwanda, on 6 May 2015 by the Rwandan Minister for Agriculture and Animal Resources, Hon Gerardine Mukeshimana, and Iain Wright,ILRI’s deputy director general for integrated sciences. Until mid-2014, the minister, who is a plant breeder by training, had beenworking at the Biosciences eastern and central Africa (BecA)-ILRI Hub, where she employed molecular virology, genomics and bioinformatics in strategies to control the spread of viral diseases of the common bean, a staple food of her country.

Present at the signing ceremony were the director of the BecA-ILRI Hub, Appolinaire Djikeng, and Romano Kiome, an agricultural and rural development specialist who formerly served as director of the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI, now the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation) and permanent secretary in Kenya’s Ministry of Agriculture.

 ‘I’m delighted to have signed, on behalf of ILRI, the MoU with the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources,’ said Iain Wright. ‘It is clear that the livestock sector in Rwanda has huge potential to contribute even more than it currently does to economic development and food and nutrition security.’ He added that the Rwanda Government’s ‘One Cow per Poor Family’ program, which has already reached nearly a quarter million poor households since its inception in 2006, is an example of the difference livestock development can make to people’s lives.

The MoU marks a new level of collaboration between ILRI and the Rwanda Government to bolster the livestock sector’s ability to feed a rapidly growing population. From 2008 to 2013, ILRI was a key partner in the first phase of a project funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation—the East Africa Dairy Development (EADD) Project—that operated in Rwanda and two other East African countries. Implemented by a consortium of partners led by Heifer International, this project has helped enhance the region’s dairy value chain and increase the incomes of its many small-scale dairy farmers.

Funders of the BecA-ILRI Hub have to date invested nearly half a million dollars in support of Rwandan scientists tackling various food challenges in their country. A joint initiative ofthe African Union’s New Partnership for Africa’s Development (AU-NEPAD) and ILRI, the Hub has helped more than 40 Rwandan scientists apply the latest biotechnologiesin research on issues of national importance.

Starting in 2013, scientists of the Rwanda Agricultural Board (RAB) have also been engaged with the Hub in collaborative research on Brachiaria grasses, producing improved, farmer preferred, varieties of this nutritious fodder that is now in use by more than 100 livestock farmers. These grasses, which are native to Africa, are among the most widely cultivated forages in South and Central America and Australia, where they have significantly increased cattle milk and meat yields in cattle. Some 56 Rwandese farms are now testing responses in productivity levels (changes in milk and/or liveweight gains) to Brachiaria feeding.

Among other Rwanda scientists the Hub has supported is Kizito Nishimwe, a lecturer at the University of Rwanda who conducted a study of the levels of aflatoxin contamination of Rwanda’s maize. To date, a dearth of data on aflatoxin levels in this nationally important crop, which feeds animals as well as people, has hampered development of policies to control contamination and has limited the growth of Rwanda’s commercial maize markets and trade. Nishimwe’s research lays the foundation for development of interventions that will better control aflatoxin poisoning.

 

This new partnership agreement between Rwanda’s Ministry of Agriculture and ILRI lays the foundation for even closer and more productive collaborations in future. Working together, scientists from Rwanda, the BecA-ILRI Hub and the rest of ILRI will be well-positioned to advance and accelerate knowledge and technologies that improve Rwanda’s agricultural productivity and incomes as well as its food and nutritional security.

Four-year John Innes Centre Science for Africa studentship: Call for applications

Deploying durable yellow rust resistance in African wheat (UAUY_J15SFA), PhD 4 year Project

Project Start Date: 01 Oct 2015

Supervisor:  Cristobal Uauy cristobal.uauy(at)jic.ac.uk

Department: Crop Genetics

Background

Wheat provides over 20% of the calories and protein consumed by humans. As the world population continues to increase, the sustainability of wheat yields must be improved by minimizing losses produced by pathogens. Wheat yellow rust, caused by Puccinia striiformis f. sp. tritici, is one of the most devastating diseases of wheat worldwide. To address Food Security new tools are needed to combat this devastating disease.

About the project

The project has an unprecedented opportunity to make a major contribution to the development of new breeding lines with improved resistance to wheat yellow rust. The studentship builds upon previous research that laid the foundations for this project by creating a host of resources that can be utilized right from the start. This includes mapping populations for resistance genes which are effective across many wheat growing environments, cutting edge molecular techniques as well as the latest genomics resources available in wheat. The project aims to characterise these resistance sources and generate closely linked genetic markers to enable deployment of these genes into African breeding lines.

The project will train the student in a set of skills that cover all aspects of modern plant molecular breeding, including bioinformatics skills, and will thus provide the student with an excellent foundation for their future. The student will come into a highly dynamic and multi-disciplinary group that uses the latest technologies in gene discovery and translation to breeders. They will form part of the Norwich Rust Group composed of seven research groups working on rust fungi and will we welcomed into a larger international project with partners across Europe, Africa and South Asia. This will provide the student with an extensive scientific network. The student will also learn more widely applicable skills like teamwork, science communication and presentation as well as long-term planning skills. The applied nature of the project also means that the student will have to frequently interact with breeding companies, giving the student an insight into the commercial side of plant breeding.

This 4-year John Innes Centre Science for Africa studentship is available to successful candidates who meet the eligibility criteria of the studentship. Below is the link to the studentship eligibility guidelines which all candidates should check to confirm their eligibility for funding. Candidates must be nationals of and ordinarily resident in a Sub-Saharan African country. The current stipend for 2015/6 is £14,057 per annum.

For full details on eligibility see the Guide to Studentship Eligibility: http://bit.ly/scienceforafrica

This studentship is open for application. For further information and an application form, please visit the ‘How to Apply’ page on our website: http://students.jic.ac.uk/current-opportunities/how-to-apply/

For further information please contact graduates.nrp(at)nbi.ac.uk

 

 Deadline for Applications: 07 Jun 2015

Call for applications: A training course on animal quantitative genetics and genomics

 

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 1 - 5 June 2015.

 

This call seeks applicants 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 5-day training course at the ILRI campus in Nairobi, Kenya, with lectures and practical sessions 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
•   Nationals of any Africa country are eligible but priority will be given to nationals of BecA countries (Burundi, Cameroon, Central Africa Republic, Congo Brazzaville, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Kenya, Madagascar, Rwanda, São Tomé and Príncipe, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda).
•    Strong affiliation with a national agricultural research program or institution or university in any of the above countries.
•    Currently engaged in animal breeding/genetics research.
•    Holders of BSc, MSc or PhD in Animal breeding and genetics or a related subject.
•    Good working knowledge of written and spoken English.
•    Basic knowledge of computer-based applications relevant to this course.
•    Endorsement by applicant’s home institution through letter of nomination/recommendation from head of department or institution head.

Women candidates are particularly encouraged to apply.

Laptops will be necessary for all the training sessions. You will be expected to have R and Fortran compiler installed

The training will be delivered by experts in animal quantitative genetics and genomics from the ILRI Animal Biosciences and international research partners from the USA.

Closing date for applications: midnight 10 May 2015 (Nairobi time)
Successful applicants will be notified by: 13 May 2015

To apply, click here

Attachments: Download this file (Anim_Quant_Gen_Geno 2015 CONCEPT NOTE.pdf)Anim_Quant_Gen_Geno 2015 CONCEPT NOTE.pdf[ ]170 Kb

Call for Applications: 2015 Introduction to Principles in Laboratory Management and Equipment Operations Training Workshop

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 Rwanda Agricultural Board, Rubona Centre in Rwanda on the 15 - 19 June 2015.

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:

  • Be nationals of BecA countries are eligible (Burundi, Cameroon, Central Africa Republic, Congo Brazzaville, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Kenya, Madagascar, Rwanda, São Tomé and Príncipe, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda).
  • 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.


Women candidates are particularly encouraged to apply.

Application process
All those interested should fill and submit the online application available at: http://hpc.ilri.cgiar.org/beca/training/Applications/labmanagement2015/ No other mode of application will be accepted.

Important dates
The online application form must be submitted by mid-night, 8th May 2015 (Nairobi time).
Applications received after the deadline or incomplete applications will not be considered.
Successful applicants will be notified by 15th May 2015.

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.
  • The Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs through the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency.
  • The Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture.
  • The Rwanda Agricultural Board


For further clarifications/ inquiries on the workshop, please contact us.

Thank you for considering this opportunity and we look forward to hearing from you.

 

Attachments: Download this file (Concep Note IPLMEO 2015.pdf)Concep Note IPLMEO 2015.pdf[ ]71 Kb

Update on ABCF 2015 Call

 
Updates to applicants
 
1st April 2015:
The call is now closed. All applications are currently undergoing administrative check

17th April 2015
1st internal review based on scientific content currently ongoing

 

 

Finger Millet Annotation Jamboree: Call for applications

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The Biosciences eastern and central Africa-International Livestock Research Institute (BecA-ILRI) Hub, in collaboration with the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU), International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) and Bio-innovate Africa hereby invites applications for a finger millet annotation jamboree to be held from 25 – 29 May, 2015. This workshop will focus on pre-processing, quality check, assembly and annotation of next generation sequence data for the finger millet genome. The jamboree will be conducted at the ILRI Campus, Nairobi, Kenya.

Eligibility / Applicant requirements

The workshop is generally open to PhD students and early career agricultural researchers with a strong interest in improving their bioinformatics and genomics skills. More specific applicant requirements include the following:

  • African scientist with PhD or MSc in any agricultural discipline
  • Fluent in English (written and spoken)
  • Currently conducting agricultural biosciences research with an African national agricultural research program or university in one of the BecA countries: Burundi, Cameroon, Central Africa Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Kenya, Madagascar, Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, São Tomé and Príncipe, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda.
  • Good working knowledge of unix command line is a requirement.

How to apply

Interested eligible scientists / researchers should apply by completing the online application form found here: http://hpc.ilri.cgiar.org/beca/training/Applications/millet/

Participants from previous advanced bioinformatics workshops are strongly encouraged to apply.

Key dates

Application deadline: 17th April 2015
Information to successful applicants: 24th April 2015
Training dates: 25th – 29th May 2015

Sponsorship

There are few funded slots for this workshop. However, applicants who can fund their participation have an added advantage.

For further information, please contact:

Dr. Damaris Odeny,
Scientist; ICRISAT, 
Email: D.Odeny(at)cgiar.org

Or

Dr Mark Wamalwa,
Post Doc scientist; BecA-ILRI hub; Kenya

Email: M.Wamalwa(at)cgiar.org

http://hub.africabiosciences.org
http://www.icrisat.org/
http://bioinnovate-africa.org/

The Africa Biosciences Challenge Fund – Call for Applications 2015

Background

5fc0e.jpgThe 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 and 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 and graduate students from African national agricultural research organizations and universities to undertake biosciences research-for-development projects at the BecA-ILRI Hub, and 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.

Purpose

The purpose of the ABCF fellowship program is to develop capacity for agricultural biosciences research in Africa, to support research 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 or graduate students affiliated with a NARI or University, and conducting research in the areas of food and nutritional security or food safety in Africa. Those carrying our 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 of goats, chickens, and cavies and other small animals);
  • 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;
  • 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): Livestock & Fish, Agriculture for Nutrition & Health, Humid tropics etc.  Such collaboration would allow the candidate’s research to contribute more directly to an impact-oriented research-for-development agenda, and offer additional opportunities for joint activities.

 *This list is not exhaustive.

Eligibility/applicant requirements

  • Nationals (passport holder) of a BecA-ILRI Hub target country: Burundi, Cameroon, Central Africa Republic, Congo Brazzaville, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Kenya, Madagascar, Rwanda, São Tomé and Príncipe, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda. In exceptional cases we may consider applicants from other African countries.
  • A researcher at a national agricultural research organization or university in a BecA-ILRI Hub target country.
  • 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.
  • MSc or PhD holder in biosciences, agriculture or related subject.
  • Good working knowledge of written and spoken English.
  • Completed online application form.
  • A signed letter of approval of the application from the head of your institute / organization/ university faculty.

We particularly welcome applications from women and less resourced NARS

What the fellowship covers

The BecA-ILRI Hub has secured funding to sponsor several fellowships on a highly competitive basis. BecA-funded fellowships will cover the following costs:

  •  Research at the BecA-ILRI Hub
  • Travel
  • Medical insurance
  • Accommodation
  • Living allowance

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 own research (either fully or partially) will have added advantage.

Key timelines

  • For any inquiries / clarifications related to this call, please send email to: w.ekaya (at) cgiar.org. Responses to inquiries/clarifications will close on 27th February 2015 mid-night (East African Time).
  • Closing date for applications: March 31st 2015.
  • Notification to early applicants will start from March 1st 2015. The notification process will be completed by April 30th 2015 (indicative date depending on volume of applications).
  • Implementation of projects: projected start time is end May 2015

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_2015/

Decision on applications

Details of  successful applicants will be posted on the BecA-ILRI Website on a continuous basis until completion of the review process (indicatively 30th April 2015).

Our Sponsors

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

For general information on the BecA-ILRI Hub visit http://hub.africabiosciences.org/aboutbeca

For information on the technologies and research-related services available at the BecA-ILRI Hub visit http://hub.africabiosciences.org/activities/services   

 

 

Regional Aflatoxin control organization recognizes role of Biosciences eastern and central Africa-International Livestock Research Institute (BecA-ILRI) Hub in fighting aflatoxins

From 17-18 February 2015, the sixth Partnership for Aflatoxin Control in Africa (PACA) Steering Committee Meeting made site visits across Africa to engage with regional stakeholders and learn about each country’s efforts to mitigate aflatoxin.

Among the sites visited was the BecA-ILRI Hub in Nairobi Kenya which hosts a number of continental initiatives towards the control of aflatoxin contamination of maize including the Storage and Drying for Aflatoxin Control Project (AflaSTOP). The Steering Committee members appreciated the state-of-the-art laboratory facilities and the result-oriented regional efforts at BecA-ILRI Hub and the progress being made by the AflaSTOP project.

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An article published in the PACA newsletter of February 2015 following this visit,  highlights the BecA-ILRI Hub's support to many African scientists and their partners in amplifying their efforts to improve nutritional security and food safety in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). Following stakeholder consultation and analysis, the BecA-ILRI Hub aflatoxin research team, through an Australian government funded partnership with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), established a shared research and capacity building laboratory and team of experts to fill the gap caused by a scarcity of laboratories equipped to adequately tackle the issue of aflatoxins in the region.

Since its establishment in 2011, the platform has hosted work of more than sixty researchers, from seven African countries, Australia, Europe and North America. Collectively, the community around the laboratory has made initial assessments of aflatoxin contamination in a number of African countries, conducted the first inoculated field trials in the region to identify maize varieties less susceptible to aflatoxin accumulation, developed models estimating aflatoxin risk at harvest, and produced a range of other important findings and tools which are beginning to reach end users to help ensure safer food and feed for Africa.

A further dimension of vibrancy and capacity has been infused by the range of other projects currently hosted in the laboratory. These include the AflaSTOP project, led by Sophie Walker, ACDI/VOCA and Agribusiness Systems International; the Aflatoxin Proficiency Testing for Eastern and Central Africa (APTECA) project, led by Tim Herrman, Professor, State Chemist and Director, Texas A&M Agrilife Research, which has achieved ISO 17025 accreditation of aflatoxin testing in the BecA-ILRI Hub lab; the MyDairy project in collaboration with Professor Erastus Kang’ethe, University of Nairobi and various CG Research Programs Agriculture for Nutrition and Health projects led by Dr Delia Grace (ILRI); and a number of others led by researchers from African institutes.


Download the PACA Newsletter here: PACA Newsletter - February 2015

Scientists join forces to decipher tsetse fly in battle against sleeping sickness

The decoding of the tsetse fly’s genome to reveal the genes responsible for its peculiar reproductive and feeding habits opened up new frontiers in dealing with the devastating trypanosome parasite it transmits. The tsetse fly is the sole vector for the parasite which causes sleeping sickness in people and livestock putting an estimated 70 million people in sub-Saharan Africa at risk every year and rendering livestock keeping almost impossible in some parts of the continent.

Unlike other insects, tsetse fly females get pregnant with a single young which is nourished and develops inside the body of the parent with "milk" secreted from special glands. Only eight to ten are produced during the lifecycle of a female tsetse fly, compared to the thousands of eggs laid by a  female mosquito over her life span. These insects also rely on proline, an amino acid that is a constituent of most proteins, as their source of energy unlike other insects which utilize different forms of carbohydrates.

Participants of the “Comparative Genome Annotation of Major Tsetse Fly Species” workshop in Nairobi, 17-21 March 2015From 15-21 March 2015, a team of scientists from across the world are gathered at the Biotechnology Research Institute-Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation (BRI-KALRO) to compare the genomes of five tsetse species and determine the genetic factors responsible for their peculiar nutrition and reproduction as well as their vectorial capacity. The workshop to give in-depth meaning to the genome sequences of tsetse flies was convened by the Yale School of Public Health (YSPH) and BRI-KALRO, in collaboration with the Biosciences eastern and central Africa -International Livestock Research Institute Hub(BecA-ILRI) Hub; African Insect Science for Food and health (icipe); the Center for Biotechnology and Bioinformatics –University of Nairobi (CEBIB-UoN); and South African National Bioinformatics Institute (SANBI).

The scientists including Lorna Jemosop from Kenya, Tania Bishola from the Democratic Republic of Congo and Abraham Mayoke from Congo Brazzaville whose participation was facilitated by the BecA-ILRI Hub, are annotating the genes associated with chemosensation and vision, immunity, reproductive physiology, horizontal transfer events, digestion, salivary biology, regulatory systems and more.

The hands-on annotation efforts are being accompanied by topical lectures on the different physiologies given by experts in these fields including BecA-ILRI Hub bioinformatics post-doctoral scientist, Mark Wamalwa.

Australian envoy to Kenya visits Australian funded agricultural research programs at the BecA-ILRI Hub

The Head of Mission at the Australian High Commission in Kenya, HE John Feakes visited ILRI on 11 March 2015 to acquaint himself with various agricultural research programs funded by the Australian Government through the partnership between BecA-ILRI Hub and Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO.

 HE John Feakes visits the BecA-ILRI Hub
During the visit, HE Feakes who was accompanied by Dr Paul Greener, ‎Senior Specialist - Agricultural Productivity and Markets at Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and key link in the BecA-CSIRO partnership, held discussions with the ILRI director general, Jimmy Smith. Thereafter, he met with BecA-ILRI Hub staff and project partners to get an overview of the partnership; the research projects; and the capacity building activities.

While at the Hub, HE Feakes took a tour of the lab facilities and was able to see the nutrition and mycotoxin analytical laboratory that was established in 2011 through the BecA-CSIRO partnership and which has since hosted work of more than 60 researchers, from seven African countries, Australia, Europe and North America, significantly increasing the capacity for mycotoxin research on the continent.

HE Feakes also met with research fellows conducting their research at the BecA-ILRI Hub under the Africa Biosciences Challenge Fund fellowship program which is co-funded by the Australian and Swedish Governments, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture.

Introduction to Molecular Biology and Bioinformatics Training Workshop - 2015 Call for applications

e9edc.jpgThe 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 from 11th to 22nd May 2015.

This call seeks applicants from eastern and central Africa who require basic skills in molecular biology and bioinformatics to support their research. Graduate students and early career researchers 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 genomic DNA purification, polymerase chain reaction (PCR), DNA sequencing and bioinformatics among others. Participants will also experience the research discovery process: potentially novel DNA sequences acquired by each participant will be analyzed and discussed during the bioinformatics sessions.

APPLICANT REQUIREMENTS

  • A national of one of the BecA countries: Burundi, Cameroon, Central Africa Republic, Congo Brazzaville, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Kenya, Madagascar, Rwanda, São Tomé and Príncipe, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda;
  • Affiliated with a national research program or university in the BecA region;
  • Currently engaged in biosciences research BSc, MSc or PhD (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. The training workshop has been organized in partnership with the African Research Consortium for Ecosystem and Population Health (Afrique One). Further details about this training workshop are available at the following links:

__________________________________________________________________________________________________

About Afrique One

Created in 2009 with the financial support of the Wellcome Trust ranking to 5 millions GBP over 5 years, the consortium Afrique One is made up of 11 core African research centers including universities, and three global partners from the north (University of Bergen-Norway, Swiss TPH-Switzerland, University of Glasgow-United Kingdom) which have been building their collective human and technical capacities through structured and well integrated training and investment programmes.

Advancing the march towards a food secure Africa: The role of the Biosciences eastern and central Africa-International Livestock Research Institute Hub

Leading African agricultural scientist, is visiting Australia this week (Brisbane and Canberra) to discuss the latest scientific developments achieved through partnerships with and support from Australian institutions and private sector partners.

 Dr Appolinaire Djikeng

‘Africa is at the stage of agricultural development that was experienced by China and India back in the 1980’s and we have their lessons to hasten our development,' says Appolinaire Djikeng, director of the Biosciences eastern and central Africa-International Livestock Research Institute (BecA-ILRI) Hub.

‘Our commitment is to support African scientists national agricultural research systems in responding to the food security needs of the region’ says Dr Djikeng.

The BecA-ILRI Hub, a shared research facility established by the African Union’s New Partnership for Africa’s Development (AU/NEPAD) and ILRI in Nairobi, Kenya, stays on the cutting edge of advanced high-tech biosciences by establishing partnerships with advanced research institutes across the globe, including with Australia’s CSIRO, which facilitates exchange visits of scientists and research technicians to and from Africa.

 Djikeng explained that a critically important Australian Government funded partnership between the BecA-ILRI Hub and Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO, has made several discoveries that are being applied by agricultural scientists in Africa, for example, to breed maize varieties that resist the accumulation of aflatoxins that threaten the health of Africa’s maize consumers, improve the production of protein rich cavies (guinea pigs) and to improve programs controlling the spread of African swine fever, an economically devastating disease of pigs on the continent.

 ‘The private sector is a significant partner in Africa, where even getting enough seed to farmers, let alone appropriate varieties, is challenging. We have private sector partnership to accelerate the delivery to farmers of innovations generated by biosciences research.’

 ‘In another related public-private partnership with Australia’s International Food Security Research Centre (AIFSRC) of the Australian International Agricultural Research Centre (ACIAR) and the Crawford Fund, we will help plant breeders reduce the cost of producing preferred improved crop varieties for smallholder farmers that meet market demands,’ explains Djikeng.

 ‘Africa’s food security depends on the continent’s capacity to efficiently use every resource available, including its rich human resource of scientists,’ says Djikeng.

‘With the support of Australia and other partners, the BecA-ILRI Hub is helping Africa lay a strong technological and scientific human resource foundation,’ he said.

Read original post: Crawford Fund News
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 About the BecA-ILRI Hub
The Biosciences eastern and central Africa-International Livestock Research Institute (BecA-ILRI) Hub is a world-class agricultural research and biosciences facility located within and managed by ILRI in Nairobi, Kenya. It supports African and international scientists conducting research on African agricultural challenges and acts as a focal point for learning, interaction and strategic research — facilitating collaborations that benefit African farmers and markets within the region. The Hub was established as part of an African Union/New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) African Biosciences Initiative, which employs modern biotechnology to improve agriculture, livelihoods and food security in eastern and central Africa.
http://hub.africabiosciences.org/

 About ILRI
The International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) works with partners worldwide to enhance the roles that livestock play in food security and poverty alleviation, principally in Africa and Asia. The outcomes of these research partnerships help people in developing countries keep their farm animals alive and productive, increase and sustain their livestock and farm productivity, find profitable markets for their animal products, and reduce the risk of livestock-related diseases.
ILRI is a not-for-profit institution with a staff of more than 600 and, in 2014, an operating budget of about USD83 million. A member of the CGIAR Consortium working for a food-secure future, ILRI has its headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya, a principal campus in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and offices in other countries in East, West and Southern Africa and in South, Southeast and East Asia.
ILRI leads the CGIAR Research Program on Livestock and Fish, leads a component of a CGIAR Research Program on Agriculture for Nutrition and Health on the prevention and control of agriculture-associated diseases, and contributes to six other CGIAR research programs. Staff members work in integrated sciences and biosciences programs that develop and deliver science-based practices, provide scientific evidence for decision-making and develop capacities of livestock-sector stakeholders.
http://www.ilri.org

Comparative Genome Annotation of Major Tsetse Fly Species: Call for Applications

Workshop Theme: From Genomes to Functions: Analyzing the Glossina genome cluster

Efforts of the International Glossina Genome Initiative (IGGI) resulted in the annotation and publication of the Glossina morsitans morsitans genome in April, 2014. The genome sequence of Glossina is of interest not only as an important vector but also for evolutionary comparison due to its positioning in the higher Diptera. Recent work supported by the National Institutes of Health USA has generated five additional Glossina genomes (G. pallidipes, G. brevipalpis, G. austeni, G. fuscipes fuscipes and G. gambiensis palpalis) and the genomes for two related dipterans, a non-vector blood feeder (stable fly, Stomoxys calcitrans) and a non-blood feeding dipteran relative (house fly, Musca domestica). These resources will facilitate comparative analysis with the G. m. morsitans genome and other available genomes to understand the various phenotypes that mediate differential vector competence, haematophagy, viviparity, host-seeking and discriminatory biology. These efforts may highlight novel targets and approaches for control of tsetse fly populations.

The Yale School of Public Health (YSPH) and Biotechnology Research Institute-Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation (BRI-KALRO), in collaboration with the International Center of Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE), the Biosciences eastern and central Africa -International Livestock Research Institute Hub (The BecA-ILRI Hub), the Center for Biotechnology and Bioinformatics –University of Nairobi (CEBIB-UoN) and South African National Bioinformatics Institutes (SANBI), invite applications for participation in an up-coming workshop on comparative analysis of the five major tsetse species. The workshop will take place at BRI, Muguga, Kenya on March 15th – 21st , 2015.

Scope and Topics

The workshop will investigate the differences and similarities among the genomes of the five tsetse species relative to those of the stable and house flies to underpin genetic factors in tsetse flies that are responsible for differences in their bionomics and vectorial capacity. The workshop topics will include annotations of genes associated with chemosensation and vision, immunity, reproductive physiology, horizontal transfer events, digestion, salivary biology, regulatory systems and more! The hands-on annotation efforts will be accompanied by topical lectures on the different physiologies given by experts in these fields.

Requirements

  • Evidence of prior training and/or experience in computational biology/bioinformatics.

  • Prior knowledge of genome annotations and participation in the IGGI network will be an advantage. 

  • Access to personal/laptop computer.

Target Audience

Postgraduate students, postdoctoral fellows and junior faculty involved in bioinformatics and/or functional genomics of insects. Prior knowledge on tsetse and trypanosomiasis will be an advantage.

Registration for Participation

Registration and lunch will be covered by the sponsors. Participants are expected to meet their own accommodation, local and international travel expenses to and from BRI, Muguga, Kenya. Full board is available at $55 per day. The organizers have limited competitive travel and accommodation fellowships for exemplary applicants unable to cater for their expenses. Please indicate your support needs to the organizers when you apply.

Application Criteria

Interested applicants are required to submit the following documents, merged into one document:

  1. Application cover letter (please describe your background, personal area of interest and potential synergy between the training and your career– limit to 1 page)

  2. Curriculum vitae

  3. Two recommendation letters from persons familiar with the applicant’s potential.


Follow the link: http://hpc.ilri.cgiar.org/beca/training/Applications/Glossina/ to apply.

For any clarifications, contact Drs. Geoffrey Attardo (geoffrey.attardo (at) yale.edu) or Paul Mireji (peterpaul.mireji (at) yale.edu)

CLOSING DATE: February 7th, 2015

Celebrating PhD award to BecA-ILRI Hub alumnus Joshua Amimo

The BecA-ILRI Hub celebrated Dr Joshua O Amimo, a BecA-ILRI Hub alumnus who received his Ph.D. in Animal Genetics and Breeding from the University of Nairobi, Kenya on 5th December 2014.

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Amimo who was among 105 PhD graduates conferred degrees by the university’s Chancellor Dr. Vijoo Rattansi, has been carrying out research on swine enteric viruses affecting pigs in smallholder farms along Kenya-Uganda border and successfully defended his thesis titled “Molecular detection, genetic characterization and zoonotic potential of porcine rotaviruses”.

Amimo’s 18-month scholarship under the ABCF fellowship program gave him access to mentorship and availed molecular biology tools that facilitated the advance in detection of rotaviruses in non-clinical pigs which would help in the design of control strategies of diarrhea in pigs in smallholder farms. He also managed to detect two other swine viruses (Astroviruses and Kobuviruses) for the first time in African pig population during his placement at the BecA-ILRI Hub. The presence of these gastroenteritis-producing viruses in clinically healthy pigs represents a source of infection of pigs, and possibly to humans.

During his placement, Amimo played a mentorship role to other ABCF fellows. Of his experience at the BecA-ILRI Hub Amimo says "Success is not counted by how high you have climbed but by how many you brought with you."

Amimo's PhD was sponsored by the Global One health program of the Ohio State University. His work feeds into a bigger Australian funded project on "Understanding African Swine Fever epidemiology as a basis for control", which will help in the development of accurate diagnostic tools and implementation of appropriate control strategies for pig diarrhea to improve pig health and production. Improved pig health will lead to improved production and ultimately improved livelihood.

Call for applications: PhD Fellowshis in Health and Productivity of Livestock at the Nelson Mandela African Institution of Science and Technology (NM-AIST), Arusha, Tanzania.

The Nelson Mandela African Institution of Science and Technology (NM-AIST) in Arusha, Tanzania in collaboration with four partner universities; Penn State University (PSU), Washington State University (WSU), University of Glasgow(UoG) and Scotland Rural College (SRUC) will be implementing a PhD program entitled “Program for Enhancing the Health and Productivity of Livestock”. Supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the program is a joint effort of the five universities andit is intended to train and engage researchers on projects to improve the health of livestock and communities in Sub-Saharan Africa. 

Under the program a multidisciplinary and international cohort of PhD students will be trained on development of effective strategies for improving the health and productivity of smallholder farmers’ livestock, and in turn enhance the wellbeing of households and communities. In this research-intensive training program, fellows will work to enhance the economic and food security of smallholder farmers in East Africa by improving livestock genetics, health, and productivity while safeguarding animal welfare, public health and the environment.

Potential projects include, among others, assessment of uptake and impact of interventions such as vaccination on the economic and food security of smallholder farmers; policy and social determinants of improved livestock health, productivity, and market access; and determination of antibiotic efficacy and impact on livestock health and antimicrobial resistance. Preferably, potential projects should be developed to address the following broad areasof enhancing health and productivity of smallholder livestock production that are also in line with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s focus on increasing productivity of smallholder livestock systemsin Sub-Saharan Africa:

  • Socio-economic impact and strategies for effective control of Contagious Caprine Pleuropneumonia, Peste des Petits Ruminants and Sheep and Goatpox to improve small ruminant productivity in smallholder farming systems in East Africa.
  • Optimizing animal health interventions through improved disease diagnostic tools for transboundary diseases of small ruminants in East Africa.
  • Understanding the socio-economic impact and the inter-epidemic epidemiology of Rift Valley fever in East Africa.
  • Spatial and temporal patterns of Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) virus circulation in livestock populations and FMD control settings in wildlife-livestock interface areas of East Africa.
  • Etiology and productivity impacts of ruminant abortions in northern Tanzania.
  • Immunizing to enhance broad spectrum innate immunity in small ruminants.
  • Defining the barriers to uptake of the East Coast fever (ECF) infection and treatment method of immunization and, quality of tetracycline and impact on “virulence” of the ECF infection and treatment immunization.
  • Tsetse and trypanosome prevalence and distribution in the Maasai Steppe.
  • Increasing nutritional and economic impact of smallholder local chicken through introduction of highly productive Kuroiler breed and deployment of mobile application system for better health and record management.
  • Genetic mechanisms of resistance to Newcastle disease in locally adapted breeds of poultry and determination of Newcastle disease impact through intervention trial analysis.
  • Antibiotic efficacy and impact on smallholder broiler production in peri-urban and rural areas of Northern Tanzania.
  • Barriers to health of smallholder poultry flocks and development of interventions with minimal impact on antibiotic resistance.
  • Robust, low-cost, point-of-care diagnostics for multiplex detection of livestock and public health significance in Tanzania.
  • Investigation of farmer-led breeding goals and strategies in smallholder dairy systems to cope with variations in feed sources and quality
  • Use of cow-side milk progesterone tests in the management of dairy cow fertility
  • Use of mobile technology for phenotype recording for dairy cow management and genetic improvement in smallholder production systems.

In addition to the proposed research areas above, highly innovative proposals that have potential to bring big impact on transformation of the lives and socio-economic wellbeing of smallholder livestock farmers in East Africa will be considered.

The Nelson Mandela African Institution of Science and Technology is soliciting applications from qualified candidates for five (5) PhD fellowships to take part in the program for the 2015/16 academic year, comprising three (3) from Tanzania and two (2) from either Kenya, Uganda or Ethiopia. Selected candidates will be registered at NM-AISTand pursue their studies by thesis and, upon successful completion of studies they will be awarded a PhD of NM-AIST (See admission criteria for PhD by thesis at www.nm-aist.ac.tz). Applicants will be subjected to an interview by a panel comprising members from the partner institutions and selection will be based on passing the interview and successful defense of the research proposal. The fellowship cover tuition fees, stipend, research and other study related costs based on NM-AIST fee structure.

The application package should comprise the following:
•    Certified photocopies of relevant certificates and academic transcripts.
•    Most recent Curriculum Vitae.
•    Names and contact details of at least two professional referees.
•    Abridged research proposal of not more than three pages.
•    Contact details:Telephone, E-mail and Postal Addresses.

Applications containing all the above documents and titled “Application for PhD Fellowship under PEHPL” should be sent by e-mail or post to:
Principal Investigator,
Program for Enhancing Health and Productivity of Livestock (PEHPL),
The Nelson Mandela African Institution of Science and Technology,
P.O. Box 447,
ARUSHA – TANZANIA E-mail: dvc-acad(at)nm-aist.ac.tz; Copy to: admission(at)nm-aist.ac.tz

Female candidates are very highly encouraged to apply.
Deadline for receipt of applications: 15th February 2015.

African Plant Breeding Academy – Call for applicants

In collaboration with The African Union, New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) Agency and the African Orphan Crops Consortium (http://www.mars.com/global/african‐orphan‐crops.aspx), the University of California, Davis is launching the African Plant Breeding Academy. The Plant Breeding Academy is a premium professional certificate program currently offered in the USA, Europe and Asia. Eight classes offered worldwide since 2006 were attended by 133 breeders from 43 countries, making the UC Davis Plant Breeding Academy (PBA) the most recognized program of its kind. The program covers the  fundamentals and the most recent developments in plant breeding theory and practice. In 2013, UC Davis has been recognized as the top University for teaching and research in
agriculture in the world (ucdavis.edu).

The goal of the African Plant Breeding Academy is to train practicing African plant breeders in the most advanced theory and technologies for plant breeding in support of critical decisions for improvement. This includes the latest concepts in plant breeding, quantitative genetics, statistics and experimental design. It also includes accurate and precise trait evaluations, development of appropriate strategies to integrate genomics into breeding programs and experience in identifying and utilizing genomic data and DNA‐based markers in breeding programs.

This six‐week program will be delivered in three 2‐ week classes with session one beginning in Nairobi, Kenya on June, 2015. The instructors are internationally recognized experts in plant breeding and seed technology. Scholarships are available for select students to attend this prestigious program.

Participant criteria and selection
Classes are limited to 25‐30 students. All students will be from Africa. Ideal students will:
1) Have a Ph.D. or Masters degree with significant plant breeding experience
2) Have taken courses in statistics, genetics and breeding
3) Be currently managing a breeding program in any crop
4) Have proficiency in English language
5) Be available to attend all 3 sessions

For more information on course curriculum, dates, the application process (see PBA site) and
scholarships, please visit http://pba.ucdavis.edu/ or www.nepad.org.

Closing date for application is January 30, 2015.

BecA advisory panel chair recognized for his role in agricultural development in Africa

14056061149_70d903c58e.jpgThe BecA-ILRI Hub Advisory Panel chair Eugene Terry has been recognized by the Modernizing African Food System Consortium (MAFS) for his devotion to raising the productivity of smallholder African farmers through advances in the biological sciences.

Terry has been lauded as being among the few African scientists who have “demonstrated the breadth of vision, the scientific discipline, the managerial skills and sheer audacity in channeling the power of scientific research to make improved technologies available to the majority of African people, who currently work in agriculture.”

Throughout his career, Terry has been involved in technology development and transfers from large international agribusinesses for the benefit of small farmers in Africa. He views agriculture as a business with great potential in and would like to see agricultural education institutions in Africa develop new curricula and approaches to training that will better equip students with business, research and marketing skills.

The MAFS is a consortium of universities in Africa and USA that aim to help African agricultural education and training (AET) institutions develop the technical skills and institutional capacity required to modernize African food systems.

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Read the full article: http://www.mafs-africa.org/african_role_models/featured_role_model

Read about the BecA-ILRI Hub Advisory Panel: http://hub.africabiosciences.org/becahub-advisory-panel

Plant breeding educators in Africa develop tools to train the next-generation of experts

“The planet needs more plant scientists”

African educators meet in Nairobi to develop educational tools for a next generation of African plant breeders

Educators of plant breeders in Africa are meeting in Nairobi this week to develop new education and training materials for “Demand led plant variety design”. The educators from several African universities, regional and international organizations are sharing experiences across eastern, southern and West Africa on the content and organization of current plant breeding courses and future needs. They are benefiting from the participation of plant breeders from the private sector who work in a market driven environment. 

The new educational materials will be based on demand-led R&D. They will be available for inclusion in post graduate programs in African universities. The course materials will also be available for continuing professional development of practicing plant breeders; and they will be made available on line for open and distance learning, thus extending the reach of the new knowledge Africa-wide.

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Dr Appolinaire Djikeng, Director of Biosciences eastern and central Africa – International Livestock Research Institute (BecA-ILRI) Hub, Nairobi, said:  “The planet needs more plant scientists. Over the past decade, there has been rapid growth in the numbers of biomedical scientists but no growth at all in the total number of plant scientists. Yet the demand for increasing quantities and higher quality, safe and nutritious food will double over the next 50 years. The BecA-ILRI Hub is giving a strong focus to strengthening plant breeding in Africa. As a shared research platform, the BecA-ILRI Hub makes available the tools for modern plant breeding to plant breeders, especially those working on staple food crops “

Dr Pangirayi Tongoona and Dr Agyemang Danquah, the delegates of the West African Centre for Crop Improvement (WACCI) at the University of Ghana said:  “WACCI is very pleased to be associated with the development of these new education and training modules on demand -led plant variety development. We believe plant breeding should be driven by stakeholder demand and this will enhance adoption of new varieties. The inclusion of demand-led approaches to variety design will help educate young African plant breeders on the importance of understanding changing customer demands when setting targets and traits to include in their national crop breeding programs. ”

094a0.jpgDr Heather Merk Program Lead for the Syngenta Plant Breeding Academy described the continuing education program that she leads within the Syngenta company. Dr Merk said “Continuing education and professional development of plant breeders is critically important. In the US, the National Association of Plant Breeders (NAPB) is a respected professional organization that brings together plant breeders from the public and private sectors in the US, where (pre) plant breeding in the universities is very important. I see a similar situation in countries in Africa, where having continuing professional development available to plant breeders in both the public and private sectors will contribute to the development of market driven, well adapted and widely adopted new plant varieties of the major food crops in Africa”.

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Background

Demand led Plant Variety Design

The project on “Demand led plant variety design” is the first project being supported by a new Alliance on R&D for food security, formed by the Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture (SFSA), the Australian International Food Security Research Centre of the Australian International Agricultural Research Centre (AIFSRC/ACIAR) and the Crawford Fund).   

The educators’ meeting is an important part of a new project on “Demand led plant variety design”, which is addressing how to make new plant varieties being developed in Africa more responsive to changing customer demands and more widely adopted by farmers. The new project covers three aspects: 1. Demand led plant variety design; 2. Education and training of plant breeders; and 3. Policy and institutions required to support the breeding, distribution and adoption of higher performing crop varieties across Africa. The Project Co-leaders are Dr Vivienne Anthony from the Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture, Basel, Switzerland ( This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ) and Dr Gabrielle Persley from the University of Queensland Global Change Institute, Brisbane Australia This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Partners in the Alliance for Agricultural R&D for Food Security

The AIFSRC is an entity established by the Australian Government in the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) to accelerate the delivery of research innovations for food security. The AIFSRC aims to support research to accelerate the uptake of new technologies; and understanding and resolving constraints to dissemination and adoption of new technologies. It has a focus on exploring different partnership models to achieve effective implementation, delivery and communication of the adoption of agricultural research for development.

The Crawford Fund is a Canberra based entity whose purpose is to make more widely known the benefits that accrue both to Australia and the developing world from investment in international agricultural research and development.  The CF conducts public awareness activities, commissions studies on research policy and practices related to its mission and arranges specialist training activities in Australia and abroad for developing country scientists. 

The Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture is a non-profit organisation based in Basel, Switzerland. Its mission is to create value for small farmers in developing countries by supporting innovation in sustainable agriculture and activation of value chains. It works with a wide range of partners operationally and in thought leadership. SFSA engages, for example, the public sector, international organizations, think tanks, the private sector, other foundations, social entrepreneurs, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). As well as establishing pilot projects, the Foundation also puts major emphasis on successful scale-up.

The Global Change Institute at The University of Queensland, Australia, is an independent source of research, ideas and advice for addressing the challenges of global change. GCI advances discovery, creates solutions and advocates responses that meet the challenges presented by climate change, technological innovation and population change. Measured through a combination of three key global university rankings, UQ is currently ranked in the top 100 of all universities worldwide and is a founding member of the Australian Group of Eight (Go8) universities. The University of Queensland Global Change Institute is the program manager of the Demand led plant variety design project, on behalf of the partners.

 

Contacts

 In Africa 

Biosciences eastern and central Africa (BecA-ILRI Hub)

Appolinaire Djikeng, BecA-ILRI Hub Director a.djikeng at  cgiar.org 

Ethel Makila, Communications Officer, BecA-ILRI Hub e.makila cgiar.org

West Africa Crop improvement Centre (WACCI), University of Ghana

Agyemang Danquah adanquah wacci.edu.gh

 In Australia

Crawford Fund, Canberra Australia

Cathy Reade, Director Communications Cathy.reade crawfordfund.org

In Switzerland

Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture

Basel Switzerland Paul Castle Communications Director paul.castle syngenta.com 

 

 

Celebrating PhD award to BecA-ILRI Hub alumnus Gladness Elibariki

The BecA-ILRI Hub is pleased to congratulate Dr Gladness Elibariki, a BecA-ILRI Hub alumnus who received her Ph.D. in Biotechnology from the University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania on 8 November 2014.

Elibariki who was among 68 PhD graduates conferred degrees by the university’s Acting Chancellor Ambassador Nicholas Kuhan, has been carrying out research on two major cassava viruses and successfully defended her thesis titled “Regeneration, diversity and RNA interference strategies to enhance resistance to cassava mosaic viruses in Manihot esculenta”.

In 2012, Elibariki successfully applied for a fellowship under the Africa Biosciences Challenge Fund (ABCF) program which enabled her to spend five months at the BecA-ILRI Hub. Her placement at the Hub gave her access to cutting-edge molecular biology tools that facilitated the advance in developing cassava landraces that are resistant disease resistance.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, cassava is the fourth most important source of carbohydrate in Africa. This food crop ranks second to maize in Tanzania and is grown by subsistence farmers for local consumption and as a cash crop on local markets. Unfortunately, the majority of cassava landraces grown in Tanzania are highly susceptible to viral diseases, compromising the food security in the country.

Elibariki’s work is feeding into a bigger research program at the Mikocheni Agricultural Research Institute (MARI) which is supported by the BecA-ILRI Hub and aims at producing several cassava cultivars that are resistant to the Cassava mosaic disease.

Congratulations Gladness!

Farmers in north western Cameroon are improving their income through better goat breeding practices

Through an innovation platform system (IP), the BecA-led project on "Harnessing genetic diversity for improved goat productivity" has begun addressing the issue of low productivity of flocks by training farmers on best practices in goat keeping.

This initiative will enable the goat farmers in Ndu, a local market in north western Cameroon, to maximize on the increased demand for their animals in major cities in the country and in neighbouring Gabon.

 

Read more: The ABCs of good goat keeping: Improving goat productivity in Cameroon15257982751_804823b0b0.jpg

 

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