Science for Africa aims to raise agricultural productivity of small-holder farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa using the latest technologies and through training the future leaders for African science.

Under investment in African agriculture means that yields for small-holder farmers approximate the yields achieved in Europe in Roman times.

Science for Africa has been established to support the sustainable improvement of African agricultural yields.


The inaugural project which Science For Africa aims to undertake is to support the studies of a PhD student from Sub Saharan Africa who can focus on specific research into rusts within wheat, which will benefit African agriculture.

Wheat yellow rust is a fungal disease that affects wheat plants, and can result in a poor harvest and have a devastating impact on farmers’ incomes. Investigating how to overcome wheat yellow rust, therefore, could have a significant positive impact on world and African crops.

As part of a worldwide collaboration of scientific research projects, 40 varieties of wheat have been identified which show promise of resistance to rust. The next stage of research is to identify varieties that offer ‘partial resistance’, so that the fungus doesn’t come under enough stress to evolve into a more resilient strain, whilst still maintaining a good crop yield. In addition, the teams are studying the DNA sequences of rust samples, to see if it is possible to gain an insight into the genetic characteristics that have contributed to the rust’s behaviour in a given season and therefore have a long term view of how the fungus has adapted over time.


The overall aim is to bring these two approaches together to ultimately create wheat which is more resistant to wheat yellow rust.

Integral to this project is a strong emphasis on training and development for all of the teams involved and as part of this commitment, Science for Africa aims to fund the research of a PhD student as part of the John Innes team, to help develop and share this learning.


To make a donation visit

or contact the John Innes Centre fundraising office:

Fundraising, G17
John Innes Centre
Norwich Research Park
Colney Lane


Tel: 01603 450044

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