With international funding, the Biosciences eastern and central Africa Hub (BecA-ILRI Hub), based in Nairobi, Kenya, and managed by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), is enabling African and international scientists to partner on a wide range of new and exciting research programs. Most of these research programs focus on both animal and crop health for better productivity under challenges including diseases and abiotic stresses.
With help from its global investors—the Australian government’s Agency for International Development; Australia’s national science agency, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation; the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; the Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture; and the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs (through the Swedish International Cooperation Development Agency)—the BecA-ILRI Hub has set up a unique capacity-building fund, referred to as the Africa Biosciences Challenge Fund for African scientists. This fund enables African scientists from across the continent to access BecA’s world-class research facilities and scientific support skills to advance their research.
The BecA-ILRI Hub is about helping Africans deal with Africa’s underlying issues with food production, nutrition and animal health—by investing in our scientists and students,’ says Segenet Kelemu, director of the BecA-ILRI Hub.
‘So many of our talented African scientists leave Africa to progress their careers and don’t come back to Africa, finding opportunities elsewhere in the world. This is a big problem for Africa,’ says Appolinaire Djikeng, the Hub’s senior scientist and technology manager.
Djikeng adds: ‘These scientists are some of Africa’s best, working on extremely important issues directly related to food security and income generation in the region. The Africa Biosciences Challenge Fund makes it possible to solve these regional issues, here in Africa.’
Projects include investigations of the spread of African swine fever, breeding improved varieties of orphan crops such as Enset (commonly called ‘false banana’), and conserving and better using Africa’s native livestock diversity, such as its indigenous chickens. These projects are being led by scientists from national programs and universities in sub‐Saharan Africa.
Last week Djikeng spoke on the BecA-ILRI Hub and livestock science at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, in Vancouver, Canada. See his presentation:
See a recent slide presentation giving an overview of the BecA Hub research facilities and capacity building programs.