african science news science + policy + practice = development vol 00111 dec 2018 food security: learn, share best practices the principal secretary, state department for irrigation, prof. fred segor has lauded efforts be- ing spearheaded by the national irri- gation acceleration platform (niap) in advancing knowledge sharing, learn- ing and building synergies to promote and upscale irrigation best practices amongst small scale farmers in kenya, thus contributing to the attainment of the government’s big four agenda. addressing policy makers, finan- cial institutions, technology and ser- vice providers, private sector, ngos, cbos, researchers, farmers and devel- opment partners interested in irrigat- ed agriculture during a workshop on: “partnerships for scaling up smart water solutions for irrigation,” prof. segor said, the deliberations were im- portant because of the state depart- ment of irrigation’s involvement in the preparation of the big four agen- da, specifically the food and nutrition security pillar. turn to page 3 armyworm, gmo: which way for starved africans? bt maize could help farmers in africa to combat an emerging pest capable of devastating their crops, but fear of gm crops in africa has slowed adoption of the technology, says walter suza, an adjunct assistant professor of agronomy at iowa state and a coauthor of the study. “my hope is that policymakers in africa will take hold of this paper and implement this technology that’s been tested for many years,” suza says. “there’s a real need for this in africa.” suza says 13 african countries are testing gm crops, but only south africa has approved bt corn for commercial availability to farmers. suza says that’s a problem because an emerging pest called the fall armyworm is spreading rapidly through africa and threatening corn harvests. he says bt corn could help to fight the pest immediately, while developing resistance through traditional plant breeding will take years. suza worked with a research team to review the scientific literature on the safety of bt corn. the review, published in global food security, includes a risk assessment that found delaying the adoption of genetically modified crops such as bt corn in the developing world presents risks to both humans and the environment. the study cites 58 references on a range of topics including the application of genetic engineering in agriculture, the food, and environmental safety of bt crops and the importance of educational regarding biotechnology. outreach suza says the prosperity of african agriculture and food security depends on african farmers and scientists working to external actors and considerations dictating the direction of african agriculture. together, as opposed
2 | asns news dec | 2018 africas’ plan for rice self-sufficiency ciprissa provides a roadmap for accelerated action to reach self-suffi- ciency in rice by 2025 for 10 coun- tries in africa, which are important in terms of rice production and con- sumption: cameroon, côte d’ivoire, ghana, madagascar, mali, nigeria, senegal, sierra leone, tanzania and uganda (taking regional trade oppor- tunities into account). “africarice hopes to enrich cip- rissa so that it will serve as a key evidence-based policy and invest- ment decision-making instrument for accelerating and maintaining rice self-sufficiency in the continent,” stated africarice director general dr harold roy-macauley. “it will do this through systematic biannual studies, which will be extended to other countries in collaboration with stakeholders.” ciprissa is in line with the afdb ‘feed africa’ initiative which aims to transform african agriculture into a globally competitive, inclusive and business-oriented sector. mr munoru, forester the africa rice center (africa- rice) has released a new pub- lication entitled ‘continental investment plan for accelerating rice self-sufficiency in africa’ (cipris- sa), with support from the african development bank (afdb), a man- date to lead the development of cip- rissa to provide support to african countries as they strive to attain rice self-sufficiency. unccd plans meeting on land for the first time since the adop- refined further in 2014 and now mea- sures land cover, soil organic content and net primary productivity. it was made one of the sustainable develop- ment goals (sdgs) indicators of life on land in 2015 because achieving it – known as achieving land degrada- tion neutrality – will ensure there is stability in the amount and quality of land resources necessary to support life on earth by 2030, and onwards. further, cric 17 will consider, in depth, this and other emerging is- sues such as drought management, halting forced migration in degraded areas negatively impacted by climate change and progress in promoting gender equality, which are on the agenda of conference of the parties - the governing body of the conven- tion – that will meet in fall 2019. cric 17 will be preceded by a two- day training some of these issues. tion of the un convention to combat desertification in 1994, world governments are meeting to consider the impact of land degrada- tion on people and ecosystems, draw- ing on data gathered on the ground. the meeting will take place on 28-30 january 2019 in georgetown, guy- ana, during the seventeenth session of the committee for the review of implementation of the convention (cric 17). in 2009, scientists recommended, and governments agreed on the 11 in- dicators to use to measure land degra- dation. the proportion of the popu- lation living above the poverty line, which measures the impact on people, and the change in land cover, which measures the impact on the land, are mandatory. the indicator on land cover was
dec | 2018 asns news | 3 food security: learn, share best practices from page 1 the principal secretary, state de- partment for irrigation, prof. fred segor has lauded efforts being spearheaded by the national irri- gation acceleration platform (niap) in advancing knowledge sharing, learning and building synergies to promote and upscale irrigation best practices amongst small scale farm- ers in kenya, thus contributing to the attainment of the government’s big four agenda. addressing policy makers, finan- cial institutions, technology and ser- vice providers, private sector, ngos, cbos, researchers, farmers and development partners interested in irrigated agriculture during a work- shop on: “partnerships for scaling up smart water solutions for irrigation,” prof. segor said, the deliberations were important because of the state department of irrigation’s involve- ment in the preparation of the big four agenda, specifically the food and nutrition security pillar. “through this pillar, the govern- ment aims to ensure that the coun- try is firmly set on the path towards realization of 100% food and nutri- tion security,” said the principal sec- retary. participants of a master class after deliberating on financing the irrigated sector at the jomo kenyatta university of agriculture and technology. the workshop, held in nairobi, thursday, december 6, 2018, was a convening of stakeholders under the auspices of niap, hosted by jomo kenyatta university of agriculture and technology’s water research and resource centre (warrec) in collaboration with snv netherlands stakeholders to propose ways of improving efficiency and productiv- ity not only for government owned national schemes, but also for small holder schemes managed by com- munities. with irrigation being the highest consumptive user of water compared to other uses such as domestic wa- ter and hydro-power, prof. segor called for measures geared towards efficient water use for irrigation. niap coordinator and warrec director, prof. (eng.) bancy mati il- lustrated the centrality of water and irrigation to 12 sdgs related to hun- ger, poverty, good health, clean wa- ter and sanitation, among others. prof. mati said, niap provides a vibrant platform for the stakehold- ers in the irrigated water sector to share knowledge and synergies to advance actions that promote and advocate for irrigation in kenya, en- suring irrigation is given a voice by a community of practice, enhanc- ing access to technologies and fi- nancing by smallholder irrigators, empowering farmers with technical and business skills, market linkages, mainstreaming new technologies, research and innovation, advocacy and policy push for smallholder ir- rigation. according to prof. mati, war- rec’s strategic objective “is to fa- cilitate research, innovation, science and technology in the broad water sector issues and activities, and to strengthen human and institutional capacities of water sector stakehold- ers in kenya.” the agriculture and policy of- ficer, embassy of the kingdom of the netherlands in kenya, ms. rose makenzie, said “kenya is yet to at- tain its full potential of irrigated land,” noting, a large part of agricul- ture is still rain dependent, accord- ing to the 2018 kenya economic sur- vey report that registered a decline in agricultural production due to the bad weather experienced in 2017. “the best practices and tech- niques required to ensure an im- pactful irrigation sector will get effectively scaled up through part- nerships… the added value of work- ing in partnerships can lead to the successful realization of the big 4 agenda on food and nutrition secu- rity,” she said. workshop participants explored the place of public-private partner- ships in value chains and policy is- sues related to access to credit for farmers and made key recommenda- tions that will contribute to stream- lining the irrigated agriculture sector including resource mobilization to support the work of niap. through the smart water solutions for agriculture (swa) programme. prof. segor stated that the de- partment “was an enabler of the two critical objectives of the food and nutrition security pillar outcomes: increasing the annual maize produc- tion from 40 to 67 million (90kg) bags by 2022. currently, the annual maize consumption in kenya is 52 million bags; and increasing the an- nual rice production from 112,800 to 408, 486 metric tonnes by 2022. the current annual rice consumption is 538,370 metric tonnes.” he further observed that the con- tribution of his department to maize production will involve expansion of irrigated land under maize produc- tion by 10,800 acres by june 2019, as well as expanding irrigated land under rice by 1000 acres by june 2019. prof. segor told participants that the national irrigation board has commenced the innovative water storage for household irrigation programme aimed at harvesting rain-water for micro-irrigation at household level. the programme, according to the principal secre- tary, involves construction of 1,000 - 3,000 cubic metres capacity water pans of which 2,400 have so far been constructed in 12 counties. “an ad- ditional 2,500 such household water pans are expected to have been con- structed by december 2018. benefi- ciary farmers will be using the stored water to grow high value crops such as capsicums, carrots, onions and tomatoes.” he identified the cost and qual- ity improvement of irrigation equip- ment such as sprinklers and drip kits as some of the key challenges facing the sector and urged niap check africa science news service https://africasciencenews.com/
4 | asns news dec | 2018 kenya formulates agric sector plan business world is increasingly shifting attention to demand-driven and cost-effective innovations by patrick amunavi the kenya government has formu- lated the agricultural sector trans- formation and growth strategy (astgs) with a view to transform the country’s agricultural sector and make it a regional powerhouse. the strategy, according to the ministry of agriculture, livestock and fisheries, is anchored on the belief that, “food security requires a vibrant, commercial and modern agricultural sector that sustainably sup- ports kenya’s economic development and commitments to the big four presidential agenda, the malabo commitments to the comprehensive africa agriculture de- velopment programme (caadp) and the united nations sustainable development goals (sdgs).” the director in charge of knowledge management, technology transfer and capacity building, in the agriculture min- istry, dr. margaret makelo, said during the official opening of the 13th jkuat scien- tific, technological and industrialization conference and exhibition at jomo ke- nyatta university of agriculture and tech- nology, thursday, november 15, 2018. dr. makelo, who represented the principal secretary, state department of agriculture research, prof. hamadi boga, noted that the significance of the agriculture sector to the country’s socio- economic develop- ment has been emphasized through kenya vision 2030 and the medium term plan iii and the big four priority agenda for 2017- 2022 which emphasizes the importance of 100% food security for all kenyans. “the three anchors to drive the 10 - year astgs are: to increase small scale farmer, pastoralist and fisherfolk incomes; increase agricultural output and value add; as well as increase household food re- silience, dr. makelo outlined. to further drive the astgs, dr. makelo said, the government has identified the relevant enablers; strengthen research and innova- tion as launch priority, digital and data use from left, prof. moirongo, prof. abukutsa, and chief guest dr. makelo at one of the exhibition stands at jkuat yesterday. cases to better drive decision making and performance management; actively moni- tor and rapidly respond to food system risks that include nrm, disease and pests and global price shocks. she observed that the conference, which has attracted various stakeholders, should bring out the missing links that will inform the conference why more resources are required for r&d and consequently, commercialization. dr. makelo further said, managing kenya’s natural resources is at the heart of the country’s ability to respond to looming food system risks, in- cluding climate change and disaster man- agement. addressing these challenges, dr. makelo noted, “will not only sustainably increase agricultural production and put food on the table today, but it will also ensure that future generations of kenyans can continue to benefit from agriculture.” the national food and nutrition policy 2011, the kenya climate smart agriculture strategy 2016-2017 and im- plementation framework 2017-2018, and proposed astgs should therefore guide the subthemes; agricultural sciences and technologies for sustainable food and nu- trition technology, water, energy, environ- ment and climate management. the director urged the participants to ensure the conference “contributes to evi- dence based foundations that require data for rigorous performance management, as well as the research and innovation to propel decision making and technologies now and beyond and therefore information communication technology and open data platforms for development will form the centerpiece of the knowledge generated.” vice chancellor, prof victoria wambui ngumi, informed the participants that “the business world is increasingly shifting at- tention to demand-driven and cost-effective innovations as a means of maintaining their competitive edge,” and urged researchers and innovators to “focus on providing out- puts that will readily be embraced by busi- ness and corporate players . in various sectors. “it was with this in mind that we settled on commercialization of research outputs and innovations for sustainable develop- ment theme for this year’s conference, stated prof. ngumi, who was represented by the deputy vice chancellor (finance), prof. otoki moirongo. the vice chancellor reminded re- searchers that, apart from pursuing aca- demic gratification, they should “engage in productive research whose outputs can be tapped to meet our development aspira- tions at national, regional and global levels. in this regard, “jkuat is currently repo- sitioning as a research and entrepreneurial university; a move that is aimed at taking our research and innovation outputs to the marketplace.” she lauded the japan inter- national co-operation agency for support- ing the conference. the two-day conference features over 73 paper presentations spread across 7 sub-thematic areas, which the deputy vice chancellor in charge of research, produc- tion and extension, prof. mary abukutsa noted, “are aligned to the university’s train- ing and research areas, adding, the confer- ence is seeking ways of commercializing various technologies and innovations de- veloped at jkuat.”
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6 |asns news dec | 2018 editorial why africa must invest in sti the contributions of science and technology to foster development in the world cannot be gain- said. there is evolution and revolution of science and technology the world over. as a result soci- eties are transforming key sectors such as infra- structure, energy, industrial, health, education, communication, financial, entertainment, trans- port, agricultural, economic and environmental protection. but while growth of science and technology is pronounced in the western continents, the pace in africa is slow. in addition to its contribution to development, science and technology is today a menace to man, the society and ecosystem. in may 2013, as they celebrated their 50th anniversary, the heads of state and government of the african union made a solemn declara- tion: they acknowledged the continent’s past successes and challenges, and rededicated them- selves to africa’s accelerated development and technological progress. the african union’s agenda 2063, its 50- year vision and action plan for the africa that africans want calls for action by all segments of society to work together and build a prosperous and united africa based on shared values and a common destiny. science, engineering and technology hold important answers to key questions like climate change and sustainable development that we must address today. for example, an estimated 2.5 million new engineers and technicians are required in sub- saharan africa alone to achieve the sustainable development goals of improved access to clean water and sanitation. to achieve such goals there is need to at- tract every young mind to the science, technol- ogy, engineering, technology and mathematics (stem) fields, especially in africa. the advancement of science and technology will only be achieved if africans can change their mentality and lay emphasis on those key elements and measures that are of priority to de- velopment. climate change defeatable by patricia espinosa ten days ago, we gathered here to launch cop24, important the most cop since the paris agreement. our tasks were clear- ly defined, as was the urgency to complete our work. cop president kurtyka challenged parties, saying “without success in katowice, there is no success of paris.” the main objective of cop24 is to final- ize the implementation guidelines of the paris agreement. the conference had more than 100 ministers in katowice to provide politi- cal guidance. many political divisions remain. many is- sues still must be overcome. but i believe it’s within our grasp to finish the job. (…) let’s complete the paris agreement work program and, by doing so, immediately unleash the power of the paris agreement itself. ahead of cop24, the un’s intergovern- mental panel on climate change issued a special report on the achievability and impli- cations of a 1.5°celsius global average tem- perature rise compared to pre-industrial lev- els, the lower temperature goal of the paris agreement on climate change. i’ve also par- ticipated in events related to finance, technol- ogy, capacity-building, research, gender and youth. we’ve made progress, but these next days are crucial. the katowice package needs to deliver the paris agreement work program, make prog- ress on finance, and provide a solid basis for the revision of the nationally determined contributions under the talanoa dialogue. with respect to the talanoa dialogue, to- day we launch its final political phase. the dialogue represents the voices of millions throughout the world and is a clear reflection of their needs, desires and solutions to climate change.it also provides a base for the revi- sion of nationally-determined contributions, making it an essential part of our work. as to the third part of the katowice pack- age, finance, we must see greater movement on finance throughout the spectrum of these negotiations. this includes the mobilization of funding that will provide greater support and predictability for those suffering from the impacts of climate change. each one of us has the power to finish the job. this is the time for consensus. this is the time for compromises to be reached for the good of all people.i rec- ognize this work is difficult. i should know: i was in your position only few years ago— at cop16 in cancun. nobody is more aware of the pressures you face, the extent of your work and the overwhelming need for results. so, let’s finish our work. let’s complete the paris agreement work program and, by do- ing so, immediately unleash the power of the paris agreement itself. let’s rise to the chal- lenge and finish the work the world demands of us and that we demand of ourselves. the writer is the executive secretary of the un framework convention on climate change (unfccc).
dec | 2018 asns news | 7 political good-will needed to improve maternal health by adlyne wangusi d r. joyce banda, the former president of malawi on monday called on the african leaders to provide politi- cal good-will to improve access to maternal health services by women in the continent. speaking in nairobi while delivering a keynote address at the medical women’s in- ternational association (mwia)-organised regional conference 2018, dr banda said to adequately reduce maternal mortality, it is essential to address poverty and gender inequality, which together affect the de- mand for, utilization and supply of maternal healthcare services. “recognizing the interconnectedness of gender equality, peace and security, educa- tion, health, and strong leadership, it is im- perative that governments give priority to a holistic approach in unleashing women’ and girls’ health and wellbeing from womb to tomb,” she said. she pointed out that for africa to be able to take a holistic approach to women’s health, the women must get to the policy tables and decision-making positions. beth mugo, a kenyan senator and chief guest noted that there is a close link between women’s health and women rights in ensur- ing societal prosperity. “no global goals can be realized if wom- en’s rights are not protected and that the progress of any society is hugely determined by the consciousness of their women,” said mrs. mugo she pointed out that the conference is taking place at a time when kenya’s gov- ernment has declared the promotion of af- fordable healthcare as one of the big four development agenda. in the health agenda, she said, the government commits to in- crease the funding for the health sector by climate justice activists demonstrate for the paris agreement mr james kinyangi shares his thoughts with participants during the ccda 7 held in nairobi in october/ about 20 per cent in the next four years. “this is meant to move universal health coverage from the current 36 per cent to 100 per cent coverage by the year 2022. the na- tional health insurance fund is earmarked to be configured to promote digitization and extend services through 37,000 bank agents,” she said. she called on africa governments to fast- track funding for the health sector. “it is com- mon knowledge that many health facilities in the developing countries especially in the sub- saharan africa still remain under-equipped and understaffed. this is mainly due to under- funding of the health sector. she applauded the africa union’s agenda 2063 that seeks to provide high quality of and the well-being of all citizen and full gender equality in all spheres of life according to dr. christine sadia, the presi- dent of kenya women medical association, the conference will also explore how differ- ent countries within the continent and beyond are making progress towards universal health coverage (uhc) to respond more effectively to the shifting burden of disease, end extreme poverty, and boost shared prosperity. achieving uhc is one of the targets the na- tions of the world set when adopting the sdgs in 2015. countries that progress towards uhc will make milestone towards the other health- related targets, and towards the other goals. the conference brings together women in medicine, academicians, industry ex- perts, policy makers, science and global health actors to share ideas on how to fast- track the sustainable development goals (sdgs) and advancements in health for women, children and adolescents. the conference is being held under the theme “accelerating women’s health agenda: priorities and opportunities through un sdgs and au agenda 2063.” aims at harmonising the voices of women in medicine in advocating and identifying so- lutions to women’s health agenda through sustainable sdgs. “more than ever before, governments, policy makers, donors and development partners need to show continued interest in supporting women’s health issues with an aim of alleviating problems that face women and girls across the globe,” said dr. sadia, adding that the evolving socioeco- nomic, political, environmental and demo- graphic contexts for women’s health needs require urgent attention with a view to en- suring that girls and women not only sur- vive, but thrive, and that these benefits are transferred to the next generation.
8 asns news dec | 2018 cancer: adoption of universal health coverage is good by dr sonali johnson as 2018 draws to a close, it is estimated that can- cer will have claimed 9.6 million lives around the world. we know that prevention efforts focusing on reducing risk factors for cancer and other ncds are a highly cost-effective, long-term strategy to reduce the global bur- den. in addition, it is essential for prevention strategies to be ac- companied by improvements in early detection linked to timely treatment, to address the needs of the millions of people who will still go on to develop cancer. cancer continues to be a com- pelling example of inequity in health care. differential access to cancer services is not just a problem between high-income and low- or middle-income countries, we also see it within countries and regions. accessing treatment and care for cancer is pushing patients and their fami- lies into financial difficulty or to near bankruptcy. as a result, the international focus on universal health coverage (uhc), includ- ing financial risk protection, rep- resents a significant opportunity for cancer patients, irrespective of where they live. universal health coverage (uhc) is a concept that has been talked about for decades. the concept of ‘health for all’ is re- flected in who’s constitution and was the key driver in the 1978 alma-ata declaration on primary health care (phc). huge challenges emerged to achieving ‘health for all’ through development initiatives such as structural adjustment programmes (saps), which cut back public investment in health services and widened health in- equities, particularly in the most resource-poor settings. consequently, the inclusion of a target on uhc in the sustain- able development goals (sdgs) that includes financial risk pro- tection, as well as access to qual- ity essential health-care services and access to safe, effective, quality and affordable essential president kenyatta of kenya admires cancer screening machines medicines and vaccines, is a signif- icant political step. if accompanied by national action, it can transform the lives of millions of people. while some countries are mak- ing progress on including cancer in uhc plans, others are not. one possible explanation for this is that, unlike other interventions such as safe motherhood or programmes to reduce child mortality, the level of need for ncds, including cancer, is less well known, making it difficult to assess health service utilisation levels for planning and costing. another more pervasive rea- son is that cancer interventions are seen as being prohibitively expen- sive and infeasible through public funds. neither of these arguments hold up. improvements in cancer sur- veillance provide important infor- mation on the most prevalent can- cers in a country and, increasingly, data on mortality and survival. in- vestment cases on interventions related to cancer and other ncds have demonstrated a high return on health and economic outcomes and are included in the ‘who best buys(link is external)’.strong pri- mary health care is a foundation receive for achieving uhc. phc ensures people comprehensive care, ranging from promotion and prevention to treatment, rehabilita- tion and palliative care across the life course and in the communities where they live. this provides an important opportunity for cancer control where cancer prevention and early detection can be feasibly while some countries are making progress on including cancer in uhc plans, others are not” integrated into the health system alongside other, existing services. as articulated in the 2017 can- cer resolution adopted by the world health assembly, the establish- ment of centres of excellence, with skilled staff and essential medi- cines and technologies, must also be set up by governments to meet the needs of patients with complex ncd treatment and care needs. as such, diagnosis, treatment and care for cancer must also be in- cluded in any national uhc pack- age. just as uhc is about pro- gressive realisation, countries can begin with implementing a selected set of cancer inter- ventions and increase this over time. in october this year, a bold, new declaration on phc was agreed in astana, kazakh- stan. it is therefore timely that, following the un high-level meeting on uhc in september 2019, the next world cancer leaders’ summit will focus on cancer and universal health coverage and be held in almaty, kazakhstan. this constellation of events offers the cancer community the chance to collaborate with dif- ferent stakeholders to develop a package of interventions that can integrate cancer into health sys- tems as part of uhc. achieving this has the potential to help us achieve another key target of the sdgs; a reduction of premature mortality for cancer and other ncds by a third by 2030. the writer is the head of the advocacy team at the union for international cancer control
dec | 2018 man ancestors no role in giant mammal extinction in africa a study published in the jour- nal science revealed that our earliest tool-bearing an- cestors were not blamed for ancient mammal extinctions in africa over the last several million years. the findings, contrary to the long-head view over early homi- nins impacts on ancient african faunas, showed that long-term en- vironmental change led to the ex- tinctions, mainly in the form of grassland expansion likely caused by falling atmospheric carbon di- oxide levels.a group of american researchers compiled a seven-mil- lion-year record of herbivore ex- tinctions in eastern africa, focusing on the very largest species weigh- ing over 900 kilograms. three-million-year-old hominin ‘lucy’ once shared her woodland landscape with a diversity of herbi- vores including three giraffes, two rhinos, a hippo, and four elephant- like species at ethiopia. but these species disappeared afterwards and the evolution of tool-using and a researcher takes a selfie with his new discovery meat-eating hominins getting most of the blame. “our analyses show that there is a steady, long-term decline of megaherbivore diver- sity beginning around 4.6 million years ago,” said the study leader tyler faith, assistant professor in the department of anthropology at the university of utah.“this extinc- tion process kicks in over a million years before the very earliest evi- dence for human ancestors making tools or butchering animal carcasses and well before the appearance of any hominin species realistically capable of hunting them, like homo erectus,” said faith.—xinhua food insecurity: fao vouches for innovation in agriculture ing of the innovation drivers and process- es. we also need to look for concrete so- lutions, identify priority interventions and develop strategies to scale up successful experiences,” he added. family farmers represent nearly 800 million people and have long been agricul- tural entrepreneurs and innovators. they manage about 75 percent of the world’s agricultural land and produce about 80 percent of the world’s food. fostering their capacity to innovate is especially crucial today to meet the future food demands from a projected population of nearly 10 billion people in 2050, in the context of a changing climate. “innovating for family farmers and ad- dressing the factors that impede transitions to diversified agro-ecological systems must become a higher priority,” inga rhonda international symposium on agricultural innovation for family farmers. “we are seeking to develop solutions that can be easily, cheaply, and sustainably king, president of the un economic and rapid advances in agricultural inno- and support family farmers are vation that address climate change crucial if the sustainable development goals are to be achieved, the un food replicated across countries and regions,” social council (ecosoc), told the open- and agriculture organization’s director- general told the opening session of the first josé graziano da silva said. ing session. “we need to increase our understand- asns news | 9 scientists develop hiv vaccine for non-human primates american scientists have devel- oped an experimental hiv vac- cine strategy that works in non- human primates, which lends clues to identifying target and dosage for potential hiv vaccine for humans. the new study published in the journal immunity showed that rhesus macaque monkeys can be prompted to produce neutralizing antibodies against one strain of hiv that resembles the resilient viral form that infects people. egypt uncovers pharaonic tomb egyptian antiquities minister, khaled al-anany, announced sat- urday the discovery of an “ex- ceptionally well-preserved” tomb belonging to a fifth dynasty royal priest at saqqara necropolis near giza’s pyramids. “the old kingdom tomb is well preserved and the walls are deco- rated with colored scenes depict- ing the owner of the tomb with his mother, wife and family as well as a number of niches with large col- ored statues of the deceased and his family,” the minister said. the old kingdom is the period in the third millennium between 2686- 2181 b.c. kenya, china sign sti pact kenya’s education ministry and china’s top scientific think-tank on thursday in nairobi signed a memorandum of understanding (mou) to promote cooperation in the areas of science, research and innovation. under the mou, ministry of education, science and technolo- gy of kenya and chinese academy of sciences will support a variety of science, technology, innovation and higher education cooperative activities between china and af- rica in the areas of ecosystem and environment protection, biodiver- sity conservation and sustainable development, agriculture, health, the development and demonstra- tion of adaptable technologies.
10 | asns news dec | 2018 tanzania registers technology the eagerly awaited registration of afasa- fetz by the tropical pesticides research institute in tanzania has been finalized. this paves the way for the local manufacturing and commercialization of this natural, safe, and effec- tive technology that reduces aflatoxin contamina- tion in foods and feeds by over 80% and its associ- ated risks to the health and lives of human beings and livestock, and negative impact on trade and incomes of smallholder farmers. aflatoxin is a highly toxic chemical produced by aspergillus flavus, a common fungus which is found in soils and crop debris. a. flavus attacks crops in the field and remains even in storage. aflatoxin is a well-known carcinogen respon- sible for liver cancer and instant death in cases of acute poisoning. it also causes irreversible stunting in children and lowered body immunity. livestock fed on contaminated feed are also affected. aflasafetz is a revolutionary technology de- veloped by the international institute of tropical agriculture (iita) and tanzania’s ministry of agriculture with support from usaid-tanzania through the united states department of agricul- ture – foreign agricultural service (usda-fas) following nearly six years of research in the coun- try. it is made up of the aspergillus flavus fungus too, but of strains that do not produce the toxin. these strains can effectively out-compete and dis- place those that produce aflatoxin, thus reducing aflatoxin contamination in maize and groundnut by various tyoes of aflasafe tz on display 80‒90%. “the registration of the two aflasafe prod- ucts we developed is very good news for the coun- try. these are aflasafe tz01 which is region-specific and aflasafe tz02 which is specific to tanzania. we have tested the efficacy of aflasafe tz on maize in eight districts—chamwino, chemba, kibaigwa, ki- lombero, kilosa, kiteto, kondoa, and kongwa and on groundnut in four districts— kongwa, masasi, mpwapwa, and nanyumbu with very promising re- sults,” said george mahuku, iita plant pathologist who spearheaded the efforts. “biological control is a sustainable and en- vironmentally safe approach in addressing inva- sive pest challenges. registration of the aflasafe products is therefore expected to reduce aflatoxin contamination in agricultural crops and prod- ucts, thus leading to enhanced household food, nutrition and income security,” added beatrice pallangyo, principal agricultural officer in the ministry of agriculture. japanese seek deeper collaboration with nigeria, iita between japan and nigeria. he said, “right now the trade between japan and nigeria is limited to very small products. from nigeria to japan, it is one product, sesame seed, and from japan to nigeria it is also one product, which is mackerel. so as the embassy we will like to expand, not only the items but also the area.” inamura spoke during a courtesy call visit to the iita headquarters in ibadan, nigeria by the ambassador of japan to nigeria, his excellency yutaka kikuta, on 17 october. the ambassador was accompanied by the first secretary, chief among others security officer shinobu okubo. the delegation was received by senior iita management staff including kenton dashiell, deputy director general, partnerships for delivery (ddg-p4d) and may-guri saethre, deputy director general, research for delivery (ddg-r4d). in welcoming the ambassador, saethre expressed delight at the opportunity to have an exchange of scientists from diverse locations including japan, noting that there are at least three japanese scientists and one visiting staff from taiyo industry africa (a japanese private company) currently in iita as well as a japanese member of the iita board of trustees, dr shuichi asanuma. the ambassador was visiting iita for the first time and said he wanted to have a firsthand experience so he could personally report on the activities of the institute. “i was quite impressed with all the people working here, including the japanese staff. i had the opportunity to have discussions with the researchers and their story was fascinating,” said the ambassador. he spoke on a range of issues including women empowerment, sustainable research funding, and business collaboration between japan and nigeria. the japanese government has assured nigeria’s ministry of agriculture and the international institute of tropical agriculture (iita) of continued support despite the current downward trend of funding the head of development cooperation, mitsuhiro inamura at the japanese emabssy in nigeria noted that the increasing current level of collaboration, not just with iita but also
dec | 2018 asns news | 11 lenovo cloud platform ready health leaders laud vaccination more than 300 leaders from the global health community, includ- ing representatives from govern- ments, civil society and the private sector met in abu dhabi, uae to celebrate the 700 million children immunised and 10 million lives saved in the world’s poorest coun- tries thanks to gavi support since 2000. “we still have a long way to go,” said dr ngozi okonjo-iweala, gavi board chair. “despite im- provements in vaccine coverage, it is not accelerating as fast as we would like and this is particularly the case in fragile countries”. dr ngozi okonjo-iweala plan to mitigate microbial overuse veterinary organizations have is- sued a statement to ensure over- sight of antimicrobial use, mitiga- tion of antimicrobial resistance, and the continuing availability of critical animal and human medica- tions. the statement on continuous monitoring of antimicrobial use and antimicrobial resistance de- scribes strategies to preserve the effectiveness and availability of antimicrobial drugs and safeguard animal welfare, public health, and the environment. the infrastructure lenovo data center group, one fastest growing hyper- of converged (hci) vendors(according to idc) is further expanding its thinkagile portfolio to provide an innovative solution for customers who desire the agility of the public cloud and the security of a private cloud. to address this growing custom- er trend, lenovo – together with cloudistics, the cloud software plat- form company – has developed the thinkagile cp series composable cloud platform, a ‘cloud-in-a-box’ that offers all of the conveniences and ease-of-use of a public cloud en- vironment, secured behind the cus- tomer’s own data center firewall. “icp had been an early adopter of the cloudistics’ cloud platform as well as a lenovo reseller”, said sal saglik, director of business development, icp corp. malaria: who, partners launch new plan the world health organiza- tion (who) and its partners have launched new an initiative to scale up prevention and treatment, and increased investment, to protect vulnerable people from the deadly disease. the new, country-led response is aimed at revamping stalled war against malaria which has had dev- astating effects in the efforts to reduce the disease that still kills thousands of under five years and pregnant women. breastfeeding = smaller waistline breastfeeding may have one more benefit for mothers. a study showed that breastfeeding was linked with smaller waistline in the decade after giving birth among women. the study published recently in journal of women’ s health showed that the adjusted mean waist circumference of women who reported breastfeeding more than six months was 3.5 centimeters smaller compared with those who breastfed less than six months. the waistline standing for the central adiposity is a good predic- tor of long-term cardiovascular disease risk than body mass index (bmi) alone, according to the re- searchers.
africa science news covering science with an african eye | dec 2018 published by ssa (services in scientific work in africa) p. o. box 2141, 00100, nairobi, kenya tel: +2540202051330 : email: email@example.com www.africasciencenews.org sudan, iita sign pact to support small-scale farmers the director general of the international institute of tropical agriculture (iita), dr nteranya sanginga has said that the collaboration between iita and sudan will put smiles on the faces of farmers in the northern african country. this was contained in an address to a presidential delegation from sudan that spent five days in nigeria and visited iita to familiarize themselves with the institute, exchange ideas, and explore areas for collaboration with iita on cassava transformation. the collaboration between sudan and iita aims at reducing the importation of wheat and saving the country’s foreign exchange. the collaboration is also part of a broader decision that would facilitate the introduction of improved cassava varieties to sudan. dg sanginga said, “we are ready to expand into sudan with a strengthened diversified portfolio to contribute to improved livelihoods and incomes for small-scale farmers in the country.”leading the six-person delegation, professor ahmed mohamed suliman, vice-chancellor of the university of khartoum, said the country desired to become a cassava growing nation for the sole purpose of converting the root crop to cassava flour that would replace wheat in baking. according to him, sudan plans to replicate the cassava bread model in nigeria that was developed by iita and partners. he added that when implemented, sudan will be able to make up the shortfall of flour that is currently being experienced. “our presidency is very much interested in supporting the inclusion of high quality cassava flour in bread and other forms of confectionery as part of efforts to improve food security and the livelihoods of farmers in the country. on that note, i would initiate the immediate development of a mou with iita to serve as a guide to common interests between the two institutions,” prof suliman added. the visit of the delegation culminated in the signing of a memorandum of understanding (mou). dr abuelgasim elzein, head, department of agricultural biotechnology, university of khartoum, said that even though the republic of sudan was not a cassava producing country, as soon as the cassava breeding program is replicated into the farming system, agriculture will take on a new dimension. other members of the delegation were dr elhadi ali ibrahim elkhalil, prof awadalla abdalla abdelmula, dr abdalla ibrahim yousif, and hala ahmed elamin. dr alfred dixon, iita director for development & delivery noted that cassava as the third-largest crop in the tropics, is a major staple food in sub-saharan africa, providing a basic staple for over half a billion people.he added that sudan’s interest in cassava was a decision in the right direction as cassava is one of the most drought-tolerant crops, capable of growing on marginal soils. dr dixon added that with the help of cassava experts from iita and good agronomic and weed management practices, “sudan in no distant time will be known for cassava production.” we are ready to expand into sudan with a strengthened diversified portfolio to contribute to improved livelihoods and incomes for small-scale farmers”