New initiative to accelerate crop improvement for food security in Africa

8f548.jpg16 June 2017—A new initiative to speed up crop improvement in sub-Saharan Africa – Alliance to Champion the Acceleration of Crop Improvement in Africa (ACACIA) was launched today. The alliance has been established by founding members, the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) through the Biosciences eastern and central Africa-ILRI (BecA-ILRI) Hub in Kenya and the John Innes Centre (JIC) in the UK.

Speaking at the launch, which took place at JIC-UK, the BecA-ILRI Hub director, Jacob Mignouna noted that the initiative will fast-track scientific strides being made by African scientists and their international partners to achieve food security and improve nutrition through sustainable agriculture.

‘This alliance will harness the strengths of the global scientific community, as well as the recent advances in technology to find lasting solutions to the challenge of food insecurity in Africa’ said Mignouna.

‘ACACIA will build on the existing BecA-JIC alliance to provide African crop researchers and institutes access to cutting edge technologies’ added Appolinaire Djikeng, immediate former BecA-ILRI Hub director

‘We hope to develop a cadre of UK scientists who have a deeper understanding of the agricultural challenges in Africa and can connect to African scientists to achieve significant impact through their expertise,’ said JIC director, Dale Sanders.

Cristobal Uauy, JIC’s academic lead for international development and co-leader of ACACIA, stressed the importance of strong linkages with African National Agricultural Research Systems, CGIAR Research Centres and advanced international research institutions to advance the improvement of important African food crops. 

‘This initiative will leverage strategic, multidisciplinary partnerships to contribute to the achievement of the second United Nations Sustainable Development Goal of zero hunger,’ said Uauy

‘Africa has a quarter of the world’s arable land, but generates only 10 per cent of global agricultural output,’ said ILRI director general Jimmy Smith. ‘The partnerships consolidated through ACACIA will strengthen access to tools for crop improvement for the ultimate benefit of smallholder farmers in Africa,’ he added.



The establishment of ACACIA has been made possible through initial funding awarded to JIC by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and by the UK’s Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC). Activities carried out under ACACIA will build on achievements realized through financial support to the BecA-ILRI Hub from the Australian government, Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR), European Union, International Development Research Centre (IDRC), Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture, UK Department for International Development (DFID), US Defense Threat Reduction Agency and the Wellcome Trust, UK. 


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