Agriculture / Article / Australia / BecA / Central Africa / East Africa / Goats / ILRI / Research / Sweden

African biosciences research critical for transforming African smallholder agriculture

Gity Behrevan during the BecA-Sweden partnership review in Nairobi, November 2013

Gity Behrevan during the BecA-ILRI-Sweden partnership review in Nairobi, November 2013 (photo credit: BecA-ILRI Hub/Tim Hall).

‘Biosciences research could transform Africa’s agriculture and lead to food and nutrition security, but little is being done locally to support its funding, experts say.

‘Researchers and policymakers who attended a review meeting of the Biosciences eastern and central Africa-International Livestock Research Institute (BecA-ILRI)-Sweden partnership in Kenya last month (10-14 November) expressed concern that African governments are not investing enough in research that promotes biosciences despite its potential to improve agriculture.

‘“Our research programmes are mainly funded and supported by external donors,” says BecA-ILRI Hub director Appolinaire Djikeng. “This poses sustainability risks to our work if the donors withdraw. Djikeng urges African universities to be more involved in developing biosciences. . . .

‘The delegates commended the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) for supporting the partnership which runs various research programmes aimed at increasing food security and climate change mitigation.

‘The five-year, US$24 million partnership that began in 2011 with funding from Sida has aided research in crop and livestock improvement, tissue culture and capacity building across Sub-Saharan Africa, says Djikeng. For example, a genetic diversity for goat improvement project at two research sites in Cameroon and Ethiopia that has aided the promotion and use of existing and new knowledge to improve goat husbandry and management at farm and policy levels.

Gity Behravan, the senior research advisor and first secretary regional research cooperation at the embassy of Sweden in Kenya, tells SciDev.Net: “We aim to continue supporting Africa in [the] alignment to its development agenda,” noting that their programmes will focus on addressing Africa’s agricultural challenges through risk analysis. . . .

‘Francis Wachira, the deputy executive director of the Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in Eastern and Central Africa, appreciates the partnership and calls for its continuation as it is helping in addressing Africa’s food security and capacity building challenges. . . .’

Read the whole article at SciDevNet: Biosciences research ‘key but gets small local support’, 25 Dec 2014.

For more information, visit the BecA-ILRI Hub website.

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