BecA Director awarded the 2011 TWAS Prize for Agricultural Sciences

The Academy of Sciences for the Developing World (TWAS) is awarding the 2011 TWAS Prize for Agricultural Sciences to Segenet Kelemu “For her discovery of beneficial endophytic fungi and bacteria in the most economically important tropical forage grass Brachiaria and for her outstanding contribution to our understanding of their roles in plant development and environmental fitness.”  TWAS Prizes are awarded to individual scientists in developing countries in recognition of an outstanding contribution to knowledge in eight fields of science: agricultural sciences, biology, chemistry, earth sciences, engineering sciences, mathematics, medical sciences and physics.

Biosciences eastern and central Africa Hub receives funding boost from two major donors

The Biosciences eastern and central Africa Hub (BecA Hub) at the International Livestock Research Institute has received US$ 12 Million from the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs towards improving Africa’s agricultural productivity.  The research program will focus on efficient genetic improvement and pest and disease management of crops and livestock.  Enhancing individual and institutional capacity in biosciences across Africa underpins the program. The BecA Hub will manage and implement the research in collaboration with a team of African national and international research partners.

Kenya President Mwai Kibaki officially opens Biosciences eastern and central Africa (BecA) Hub

From Kenya’s State House News comes the following report Friday 5 November 2010 on the visit by His Excellency, President Mwai Kibaki, to the official opening of the Biosciences eastern and central Africa  (BecA) Hub, which is hosted and managed by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), at its Nairobi headquarters and laboratories. 

Welcoming Dr. Negussie Zenna to the Hub

Negussie and Bramwel at the bench

Negussie Zenna is a postdoctoral fellow with the Africa Rice Center in Dar-es Salaam, Tanzania. He is currently working on the Stress Tolerant Rice for Africa and South Asia (STRASA) project funded the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The project aims to accelerate the development and delivery of improved rice varieties that are tolerant to five major abiotic stresses; drought, submergence, salinity, iron toxicity and low temperature.

New Graduate Fellows, June 2010


Meghan Filbert is a Masters student at Cornell University where she is studying animal nutrition and nutritional toxicology.  Her research is focused primarily on aflatoxin contamination of groundnuts and peanut butter, but will be working with other scientists to study maize contamination in Kenya.  Kenya is a hotspot for aflatoxin, which makes her research very relevant and connected to current issues. 

Samuel Muiru: A short term trainee at the BecA-ILRI Hub

Dr. Samuel Muiru is an Associate Professional Officer in the Plant pathology department of ICRISAT-Malawi and is based in Lilongwe the Capital City. Samuel has been in the Hub since 7th June to learn how to detect the various virus components associated with groundnut rosette disease (GRD).

Visitors from Agricultural Research Council of Nigeria

7th June 2010: The BecA-ILRI Hub was honored to receive three distinguished visitors from the Agricultural Research Council of Nigeria (ARCN): Professor M. D. Magaji, Mr. T. Banta and Professor Abubakar (Executive Secretary) (left to right). Following a tour of the Hub research laboratories, the visitors spoke with Drs Jagger Harvey and Rob Skilton (Hub Research Scientists) about overall Hub operations, research projects and services. Professor Abubakar noted that the Hub facilities are “very impressive” and that they should be useful in ongoing agricultural improvement efforts. 

New Graduate Fellows, May 2010

laban_turagenda_1.jpg Laban Turyagyenda is a PhD student in the Department of Crop Science, Faculty of Agriculture, Makerere University in Uganda.  He holds a Master of Science degree in crop science and a Bachelor’s degree in Science from the same University. After his MSc, he briefly worked with International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) as research assistant to a banana breeder and then with Bioversity International as Research Associate (Banana Xanthomonas Wilt Specialist).

Syngenta Donates Computers to the BecA-ILRI Hub

Syngenta has made a generous donation of 20 computers to the BecA-ILRI Hub for use by students and visiting scientists.

Dr. Fidelis Cho-Ngwa, Visiting Scientist - May 2010

Dr. Fidelis Cho-Ngwa is a Senior Lecturer of Biochemistry and the acting Head of the Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology of the Faculty of Science, University of Buea, Cameroon. He is currently undertaking a one month research visit at the BecA-ILRI Hub, working closely with Drs. Rob Skilton and Roger Pelle, and his visiting PhD student Mr Jean Paul Assam Assam, on Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex (MTBC) genotyping using MIRU-VNTR and spoligotyping techniques. The project is funded by BecANet. He will return to  Cameroon on the 3rd of June 2010.

New Graduate Fellows April 2010

Dereje Beyene is a lecturer in the College of Education, Department of Biology Education University of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia where his core responsibility is lecturing undergraduate students on ‘Introduction to genetics, cell biology and evolution’. Dereje holds a master’s degree in genetics from the same university and is currently pursuing his PhD at Makerere University, Uganda in collaboration with Swedish University of Agricultural Science (SLU) through a BIOEARN fellowship.

CGIAR Consortium Board members visit the Hub

Biosciences eastern and central Africa (BecA) -ILRI Hub in Nairobi recently had a visit of their facilities from Tom Arnold and Ganesan Balachander, members of the CGIAR consortium Board who were at the International Livestock Research Institute for a weeks meeting.

Letter from the Director: Annual Letter to Friends of BecA - 2010

Dear Friends,
With your continued support, 2009 was an exciting year of completion of new facilities, continued research and capacity building and expanded possibilities. The Biosciences eastern and central Africa-International Livestock Research Institute (BecA-ILRI) Hub has now supported implementation of research projects and laboratory-based training involving 24 African and a number of non-African countries.

New graduate fellows, Jan-March 2010

jp_assam_1.jpgJean Paul Assam Assam is an attached research and teaching assistant in the Department of Biochemistry, Faculty of Science, University of Yaoundé I in Cameroon. His duties involve working with both undergraduate and graduate students during research work in the laboratory. .

Visit by the Syngenta Foundation Board of Trustees

Biosciences eastern and central Africa (BecA) Hub in Nairobi was recently privileged to receive a visit from the Board of Trustees of the Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture (SFSA): Mr. Martin Taylor (chair), Dr. Marco Ferroni  (Executive Director SFSA), Pierre Landolt, Eugene Terry, Christian Bonte-Friedheim and Andrew Bennett. They were accompanied by Dirk Seidel, (Secretary to the Board), Cristianne Close, Rose Goslinga, Mike Robinson, George Osure (SFSA staff members) and Oumar Niangado (Delegate SFSA Mali).

Eastern Africa journalists visit BecA Hub

Eastern Africa journalists visit BecA Hub

The Biosciences eastern and central Africa (BecA) Hub in Nairobi hosted more than 20 eastern Africa journalists in the country for a training course on reporting on biotechnology.  The three-day course was jointly organized by the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF) and the International Wheat and Maize Improvement Center (CIMMYT) and held at the headquarters of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI).

Mr. Bill Gates visits BecA on 04 December, 2009

Biosciences eastern and central Africa (BecA) Hub in Nairobi was recently honoured and thrilled to receive Mr. Bill Gates during a visit he paid to BecA facilities and research projects funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation that are conducted at BecA.

A visit by Gebisa Ejeta to the BecA- ILRI Hub

Professor Gebisa Ejeta, winner of the 2009 World Food Prize, visited the BecA-ILRI Hub research facilities on 11th December 2009.
The entire ILRI campus was honored by this visit during which Professor Gebisa addressed staff members at the traditional ILRI Friday morning coffee session. After further interactions with Mr Bruce Scott and other ILRI staff members, Professor Ejeta was guided by Dr. Segenet Kelemu and Dr. Appolinaire Djikeng on a tour of the BecA-ILRI Hub laboratory facilities.

Visit by Honorable Bob McMullen

Honorable Bob McMullen, the Australian Parliamentary Secretary for International Development and a delegation from AusAID visited the BecA Hub on November 3, in relation to new Australian food security initiatives in Africa. He also gave the Crawford Lecture on International Agricultural Research.

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