The second UN Sustainable Development Goal 2 of “zero hunger” could not be clearer or more challenging.

In Africa, where demographic change and climate change will impose additional burdens, meeting this goal will require significant increases in agricultural productivity.

One of the strongest routes to increased agricultural productivity is through research and development. However, African science is currently underpowered to deliver the necessary research outputs for agricultural development. It is therefore essential that the strengths of the global scientific community and recent advances in technology are harnessed to improve food crops in Africa and to build capacity in the African science base for the future.

For these reasons, the John Innes Centre has established strategic partnerships with the Biosciences east and central Africa research hub (BecA-ILRI) and the African Women in Agricultural R&D (AWARD) programme to maximise the impact of John Innes Centre science in Africa.

Through these pan-continental partnerships, the John Innes Centre is strengthening the capacity and capability of researchers, research institutes and universities across Africa. In 2016/2017, researchers from 16 different nations were involved in John Innes Centre activities in and for Africa.

This alliance of organisations in the UK and Africa is known as the Alliance for Accelerated Crop Improvement in Africa (ACACIA).

Many of the individual projects within ACACIA are funded by the UK Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) or the UK Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) Excellence with Impact Award.