16 June 2017

International scientific alliance launched for crop improvement in sub-Saharan Africa

16 June 2017

An international scientific alliance to fast track-crop improvement in sub-Saharan Africa is launched today.

The Alliance to Accelerate Crop Improvements in Africa (ACACIA) supports African Scientists to find solutions to local food security challenges – and maximize the impact of the John Innes Centre’s cutting-edge science in Africa.

The alliance has been established by founding members, the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI)by the Biosciences eastern and central Africa-International Livestock Research Institute (BecA-ILRI) Hub in Kenya and the John Innes Centre (JIC) in the UK.

The BecA-ILRI Hub director, Jacob Mignouna explained that the initiative will support and fast-track scientific advances made by African scientists and their international partners to achieve food security and to improve nutrition through sustainable agriculture.

Speaking at the launch today at the John Innes Centre, Prof Jacob Mignouna said, “This initiative will harness the strengths of the global scientific community, as well as the recent advances in technology to find lasting solutions to the challenge of food insecurity in Africa”.

Former BecA-ILRI Hub Director Appolinaire Djikeng said: “ACACIA will build on the existing BecA-JIC alliance to provide African crop researchers and institutes access to cutting edge technologies”

Along with developing the next generation of African crops, the alliance will support African and UK scientists, “We hope to develop a team of scientists who have a deeper understanding of the agricultural challenges in Africa and can connect to African scientists to achieve significant impact through their expertise,’ said JIC director, Dale Sanders.

Dr Cristobal Uauy, JIC’s academic lead for international development and co-leader of ACACIA, stressed the importance of strong linkages with African National Agricultural Research Systems, CGIAR Centres and advanced international research institutions to advance the improvement of important African food crops.

‘This initiative will build upon strategic, multidisciplinary partnerships to contribute to the achievement of the second United Nations Sustainable Development Goal of zero hunger,’ said Dr Uauy

‘Africa has a quarter of the world’s arable land, but generates only 10 per cent of global agricultural output,’ said ILRI director Jimmy Smith. ‘The partnerships consolidated through ACACIA will strengthen access to tools for crop improvement for the ultimate benefit of smallholder farmers in Africa,’ he added.

 

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