african science news science + policy + practice = development vol 00112 jan-feb 2019 global fund $14b target zeng dian joins taopix taopix, the world’s leading provider of photo commerce and photo personalisation white label software welcomed zeng dian in taipei to their global family. zeng dian are a popular photo-gifting online retailer and have been in business since 2008. “we previously used a different supplier for our photo-gifting platform, but soon realized that it was not the right fit for our business. after a large amount of research and encouragement from a peer and trusted friend who already uses taopix, we made the decision to change over.” says allen teng, owner of zeng dian photobook 2company. inc. today announced hp africa vp pick hp the appointment of elisabeth moreno as the new managing director for hp inc. africa, effective immediately. based in johannesburg, elisabeth moreno replaces david rozzio who will move leadership position at hp, leading its central europe cluster. in this new role, moreno will be responsible for providing country leadership for south africa and driving profitable growth across the company’s printing, personal systems and services businesses across the africa region. to another the global fund announced last month its fundraising target for the next three-year cycle, outlin- ing how a minimum of us$14 billion will help save 16 million lives, cut the mortality rate from hiv, tb and ma- laria in half, and build stronger health systems by 2023. the summary of the sixth replenishment investment case describes what can be achieved by a fully funded global fund, the new threats facing global health progress today, and the risks if we don’t step up the fight now. french president emmanuel ma- cron expressed his strong support for the global fund’s replenishment target. joined in paris by global fund executive director peter sands, world health organization director-general dr. tedros adha- nom ghebreyesus, and french min- ister of solidarity and health agnes buzyn, president macron stressed the need for global collaboration to end the epidemics. the replen- ishment target comes at a crucial moment. the global community committed through the sustainable development goals (sdgs) to end the epidemics of hiv, tb and ma- laria by 2030. “we now face a de- cisive moment. do we step up the fight, or do we allow ourselves to slip back?” said sands. “new threats mean there is no middle ground. we need to step up the fight to pro- tect and build on the gains we have made, or we will see those achieve- ments eroded, infections and deaths resurge, and the prospect of ending the epidemics disappear. it’s time to deliver on that promise. if we step up the fight now, we will save mil- lions more lives.” analysis: bt vs soil researchers from the chinese academy of sciences and partners conducted a global meta-analysis examining the responses of soil enzymatic activity to bt crops. the results are published in the science of the total environment. the researchers initially quantified the responses of soil enzymatic activity to bt crop cultivations with or without bt residues incorporation. then they explored how the responses of soil enzymatic activity varied across bt crops or in different growth periods, and revealed the relative contributions on the responses.results showed that dehydrogenase and urease generally positively responded to bt crops.
2 | asns news jan-feb | 2019 charting a new course for africa plot against banana bunchy top disease re-assembled with the advent of 4th industrial revolution. emerging tech- nologies are changing the way or- ganisations shape their offerings and service new markets. they are the muses of innovation and inspiration and the keys to un- locking the potential of business in africa. it is time to build economic models that change industries and reshape the way we live, work and play. the continent is evaluating what industry 4.0 means to its citizens and businesses - organisations are begin- ning to rethink industrial architec- tures and how to optimally harness technology choices. “we need to look at how we can demystify questions around industry 4.0 and make it easier for companies to understand the scope, their roles, promise of new business models, and what it means for africa’s future,” says fuad siddiqui, senior partner for strategy and new markets con- sulting, bell labs, nokia. a workshop to strengthen na- tional capacity in disease sur- veillance and diagnosis and implement an emergency response to eliminate infected plants was recently held in ibadan, nigeria. the workshop on the “banana bunchy top disease (bbtd) aimed at diagnosis, surveillance and emergen- cy response and was sponsored by the cgiar research program on roots, tubers and bananas (crp-rtb). it involved hands-on training in the ap- plication of on-field diagnostics for the detection of bbtv using methods such as lamp (loop-mediated iso- thermal amplification) and rpa (re- combinase polymerase amplification) and using the crop disease surveil- lance (cds) mobile app for real-time surveillance and reporting. bbtd is a devastating viral dis- ease of plantain and banana caused by bbtv transmitted by the banana aphid (pentalonia nigronervosa). “bbtd outbreak in west africa was first recognized in 2010 in benin and 2011 in nigeria,” said lava kumar, iita virologist and head of iita’s germplasm health unit, and orga- nizer of the workshop. various actions by the national programs and iita have resulted in preventing disease expansion. in september 2018, bbtv was detected for the first time in togo, and the emergency response action implemented jointly by dpv-togo and iita had resulted in eradicat- ing the disease detected in three locations in the country. “inadver- tent distribution of bbtv-infected planting material has led to wide- spread occurrence of the virus in sub-saharan africa and the same factor may have led to the virus in- troduction in togo,” said kumar. fuad siddiqui the telecommunications indus- try is at a cross-road of innova- tion. it has a major role to play, but needs to renew its business model, develop ecosystem of new partners and customers, and unleash the full potential of next generation technolo- gies. imagine a world where the laws of business survival are being redefined and new competitive market models
jan-feb | 2019 asns news | 3 au to host ‘leadership investing in health’ african leaders will gather ahead of the 32nd african union summit, to launch a new initiative aimed at increas- ing commitments for health and accelerating path towards uni- versal healthcare coverage old of us$86.30 per person re- quired to provide a basic package of health services. for the world’s most youthful continent, future growth and prosperity depends on developing and nurturing hu- man capital. what: african heads of state and government, business lead- ers and global health organisa- tions will gather on 9 february 2019 in addis ababa to launch a new initiative designed to help deliver increased, sustained and more impactful financing for health across africa. according to the 2018 who global health expenditure da- tabase, african countries are gradually increasing domestic investments in health with 35 out of 55 au member states (over 64%) having increased the percentage of their gross domestic product invested in health over the previous finan- cial year. these increased in- participants of a master class after deliberating on financing the irrigated sector at the jomo kenyatta university of agriculture and technology. vestments have seen visible results in communities across africa with shining examples of strengthened sub-national and national health systems.however, while african countries have made huge strides in increasing domestic investments in health, only 2 out of the 55 au member states meet africa’s target of dedicating at least 15% of the government budget to health and do not reach the suggested thresh- however, more than half of africa’s population currently lack access to essential health ser- vices, and millions die every year from commonly preventable dis- eases. chaired by he president paul kagame, president, republic of rwanda; concurrent chair, afri- can union and aids watch africa, the africa leadership meeting: investing in health will be the first platform bringing together governments, private sector and the global development commu- nity, to coordinate and accelerate progress toward achieving uni- versal health coverage. aas supports making research accessible the nairobi-based african the european that with open research, and is why we applaud the position of the european commission as embodied by plan s.” a large numbers of scientific articles continue to be published in journals that are only accessible to those able and willing to pay subscription fees. commission the notes increasing pace of scientific discovery and growing public demand for reliable information, there has never been a greater need for immediate, universal, access to the latest research findings. but with many scientific journals behind paywalls not everyone can get hold of this knowledge. two years ago, on 27 may 2016, all member states of the european union committed to achieve this goal by 2020. it is one of the most important political commitments in science. the aas’ endorsement, issued in a letter to open access envoy of the european commission, robert-jan smits, reinforces the open access position of the aas. the academy requires researchers it funds to make their research available through open access publishing. funded that result research academy of sciences has the progressive endorsed open publishing position, plan s, of the european union. plan s is an initiative for open access publishing that was launched in september 2018. the plan is supported by coalition s, an international consortium of funders. plan s requires that, from 2020, scientific publications from research funded by public grants must be published in compliant open access journals or platforms. “africa is not as encumbered as are other regions of the world by the entrenched interests of commercial scientific publishers”, notes the aas senior advisor for communications & advocacy and former plos ceo elizabeth marincola. “this provides the opportunity and the responsibility for the continent to offer the results of its research output through a mechanism that serves scientists, science, decision makers and the general public. for these reasons, we launched aas journal science check africa science news service https://africasciencenews.com/
4 | asns news jan-feb | 2019 rwanda: new health sciences campus amid a growing number of global health crises—from ebola to rapidly rising cancer rates—and a shortage of health profes- sionals disproportionately affecting the world’s poorest, partners in health and the government of rwanda have opened the brand-new campus for a health sciences university in northern rwanda. the 100-hectare, hilltop campus will contribute to the training of a new generation of global health leaders to deliver high-quality health care in some of the world’s most remote and resource-poor settings. with seed funding from the bill & melinda gates foundation and the cummings foundation, the univer- sity of global health equity (ughe) began as a response to the health in- equities that exist in global health— particularly in africa, which accounts for roughly 24 percent of the global disease burden, but only 3 percent of the world’s health workforce. increas- ing the number of doctors and nurses is crucial, ughe leaders say. but it isn’t the only goal. central to the curriculum for all ughe students will be its flagship master’s program. the master of science in global health delivery (mghd) focuses on leader- ship and management training, as well as how health delivery is shaped by societal and environmental forces. the world needs more, and more sophisti- cated, health professionals. “our next generation of doctors and nurses can’t just focus on diagnos- ing and treating symptoms. they must understand the systems that drive so- cial determinants of health, have the skills to strategically take initiative, and find solutions to barriers to service delivery” said dr. agnes binagwaho, the university’s vice chancellor. “in other words, if an hiv patient has to travel 20 kilometers without reliable and affordable transport to get his or her medicine, it can’t be enough to in- sist that patient takes the pills on time. that’s why our curriculum aims to turn health professionals into leaders and managers who have the skills and passion to address injustices all over the world.” central to ughe’s cur- with the funding from the bill & melinda gates foundation and the cummings foundation, the university of global health equity (ughe) in rwanda riculum is also the hands-on experience that comes with working in a rural setting. ughe’s campus is located in burera dis- trict, a region of farms and towns about 80 miles north of the nation’s capital of kigali. after the university receives accredi- tation by the rwandan authorities, stu- dents of the six-and-a-half-year bachelor of medicine, bachelor of surgery/mas- ter of science in global health delivery (mbbs/mghd) program, a bachelor’s level medical degree coupled with a mas- ter’s level global health degree, will live and attend classes on campus, and train at nearby butaro district hospital and other inshuti mu buzima-supported facilities. “it’s no accident that our campus is not in an urban city-center,” said dr. paul farmer, chief strategist of partners in health and university professor at har- vard medical school. “we want our stu- dents to understand what it’s like to de- liver care in rural settings, yes, but more importantly to look beyond what they can learn in the classroom and the clinic. some of the key lessons learned in the de- livery of equitable care have been learned right here in rural rwanda, and some of these lessons are broadly applicable in cities and many disparate settings.” dr. farmer added, “the students who study here will be encouraged to learn clinical skills while also learning how to think about the world beyond the hospital. if we’re ever going to see a world where every person, no matter who they are, receives quality health care, we need to transform the way we think about training our future leaders. opening this beautiful, state-of-the-art campus today in butaro signals our commitment to improving care delivery not only in this region but across the world.” until now, ughe held classes for a part-time mghd at its kigali city cam- pus. the program, launched in 2015, is modeled after one at harvard medical school and hosts professionals and edu- cators from across academia and global health. students came primarily from east, central, and southern africa, but also from countries around the world. in 2018, 300 prospective students ap- plied for 24 spots. the new six-building campus in bu- rera district will help ughe expand its course offerings over the next several years to meet the high demand. a full- time, one-year mghd was launched in september. and, after being fully accredited according to rwandan and international standards, ughe will launch its mbbs/mghd program. candidates for ughe programs will be actively recruited from rwanda, the region, and globally, and recruitment will seek out opportunities for the un- privileged and poor.currently, nearly 100 percent of ughe students receive financial support from the university. “we believe strongly that equity in admissions will translate into a more equitable health system that benefits communities in most need,” said pro- fessor abebe bekele, founding dean of ughe. “if we don’t seek out and train health professionals from these under- served communities, we’ll continue to see gross inequalities in health services. and anyone with the heart, the brain, and the hands to become a doctor—in that order—should be provided with the opportunity to become one.” in currently, all enrollees the mghd receive scholarships. the av- erage award covers $49,000 of the $54,000 charge for tuition, room, and board. the inauguration crowned a mas- sive collaborative effort. roughly 1,000 local masons, carpenters, and plumbers built the campus in two years, using regionally-sourced construction materials.
jan-feb | 2019 asns news | 5 our november- december issue is in the process of production. our focus in the issue will be on agriculture. are you; i) a research institute? ii) seed company? iii) an ngo focused on agriculture? iv) in agri-business? you fit. send in a) your content b) your service c) your products book an advert and get one or two pages of unabridged content space. speak to your world, and frame of the issue of your interest rates full page: usd 2500 half page: usd 2000 quarter page : usd1800 you may also have a one-time sponsorship of a whole newsletter 12 page-usd 8,000 24 page-usd 10, 000 fill the form below and submit before the 5th of any month you wish to sponsor name: organisation: position/title: booking for full page: half page: quarter page: _______________________________________ _______________________________________ _______________________________________ _______________________________________ _______________________________________ _______________________________________ any special instructions i would like my content and advert to be at the centre spread / back page / editorial and commentary page i am paying 50% on december 5. will pay the remaining 50% on december 18 at the delivery of the magazine. sign: ______________________________________ all cheques must be written in favour of ssa (services in scientific work in africa) p. o. box 2141, 00100, nairobi tel: +2540202051330
6 |asns news jan-feb | 2019 editorial global food systems failing man the current approach to food, nutrition, agriculture, and the environment is un- sustainable and must change. there is no time to waste, according to the 130 national academies of science and medicine across afri- ca, asia, the americas and europe that compose the interacademy partnership. in a statement released ahead of cop24 in poland, the academies noted that “there is now a vitally important opportunity to drive collec- tive action worldwide to transform global food systems and mitigate climate change”. in a wide-ranging new report, opportunities for future research and innovation on food and nutrition security and agriculture: the intera- cademy partnership’s global perspective, the authors call for an end to business as usual and urge leaders to look to science to drive innova- tion and inform policy. prof joachim von braun, co-chair of the iap project on food and nutrition security and agriculture, president of the pontifical acad- emy of science, and director of the center for development research (zef) at the university of bonn noted that food systems are failing. “it is not only the environment that is at stake, but health, nutrition, trade, jobs and the economy. agriculture and consumer choices are major factors driving disastrous climate change. we need a robust and ambitious policy response to address the climate impacts of agriculture and consumer choices – and scientists have a major role to play”. 2018 revealed precisely how vulnerable food systems are to extreme weather and other re- sults of man-made climate change. moreover, agriculture, forestry and land-use change alone – not including food transport and other energy- intensive processes – contribute around 20 to 25% to global annual emissions. the latest spe- cial report by the intergovernmental panel on climate change (ipcc) made clear that a 2°c increase of global temperature must be avoided at all costs. in 2018, fao noted that the absolute number of undernourished people has continued to increase, between 2016 and 2017, and other nutrition targets are also being missed. first published by interacademy partnership au, jica to deepen relations the japan international cooperation agency (jica) has committed to con- tinue extending support to the jkuat- hosted pan-african university institute of basic sciences, technology and innovation (pausti) in nairobi, kenya, as part of the support to africa’s education agenda. speaking in addis ababa, ethiopia while on a visit to the african union, mr. ryuichi kato, the director general of jica deliberat- ed with his hosts on the joint collaboration in education, scientific research, infrastructure, food security and health, to accelerate the re- alization of the au’s agenda 2063 the african union commission deputy chairperson amb. kwesi quartey said that the african union’s desire to address the skills deficit on the continent, the african union commission established the pan-african uni- versities (pau) to promote science and tech- nology and to enhance the competitiveness of africans in the global economy. pau is a post-graduate training and re- search network of university nodes in five re- gions. it is supported by the african union. acknowledging the nexus between edu- cation, skills development and industrializa- tion, amb. quartey underscored the need to enhance the productive capacities to facilitate domestic and regional trade. he identified the african continental free trade area agreement, the single air trans- port agreement, and the african passport, as some of the indicators of africa’s commitment to development. mr. ryuichi kato, the dg, jica on the other hand, mr. kato, expressed desire by the jica to stay committed to sup- port projects under the new partnership for africa’s development, nepad (currently under transformation into the african union development agency), such as the regional infrastructure development and the compre- hensive africa agriculture development pro- gramme (caadp). nepad’s transformation into the african union development agency seeks to provide greater conceptual coherence to enable effec- tive delivery of agenda 2063. the african union and jica are also col- laborating on supporting the africa centres for disease control and prevention (africa cdc) in regional centres. the collaboration in various public health aspects is aimed at combating the threat of infectious diseases in africa.
jan-feb | 2019 paid for advertorial asns news | 7 organic certification improves income for bungoma women by adlyne wangusi four years ago, yetana women group mem- bers were trained under the participatory guarantee system (pgs) organic certifi- cation model. today, the women are smiling all the way to the bank as their products now fetch good prices in the market and improve their live- lihoods. the 27 members of yetana women group of bungoma county used to practicse conventional farming and would take their produce to open- air markets in kimilili, misikhu and other open- air market centres in the county. according to household baseline survey report of 2014 carried out by the agricultural sector development support programme (asd- sp) of the mministry of aagriculture, bungoma county ‘s economy is hinged on agriculture which also acts as the major source of occupa- tion and source of income for the majority of residents. it is the main source of household food and provides raw materials to agro-based indus- tries. but for the members of the yetana women group, their earnings from indigenous vegeta- bles, bananas, millet, soybeans and groundnuts sales were low and would fluctuate especially whenever there was oversupply in the market., tthanks to the favourable weather, the county enjoys. the ministry of agriculture says the an- nual rainfall in the county ranges between from 400 toand 1800 mm while annual tem- peratures vary from between 0 toand 32 ºc. the main agro- ecological zones are upper highlands (uh), lower highlands (lh), upper midlands (um) and lower midlands (lm). all these com- bine to make bungoma county as one of the leading producers of maize and beans in the country, contributing a large percentage of the country’s maize and beans annually. it is the fourth largest producer of maize and beans after trans- nzoia, uasin gishu and nakuru counties. however, yetani women group chose a different path to majority farmers of the county. trained on pgs system however, their earnings from these products changed drastically when they underwent train- ing in organic production under the participatory guarantee system (pgs) offered by the kenya organic agriculture network (koan) in part- nership with the development in education ser- vices for community empowerment (desece) organization in the year 2014. the yetani wom- en group became the first in the region to get certification under the pgs model. the group was trained ion soil fertility man- agement, pest control, value addition and how to conduct their farming activities as a business. the group composed of 20 women and 7 men went into full production immediately after the training and have fully embraced organic pro- duction under the pgs system which has signifi- cantly changed their lives through the produc- tion of healthy food and good prices offered by consumers. organic production is a system that integrates “cultural, biological, and mechanical mr james kinyangi shares his thoughts with participants during the ccda 7 held in nairobi in october/ practices that foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve the biological diversity found in an area.” what is more, while the majority maize and sugarcane farmers in the county are waont to often cry foul due to delayed payments or under payments for the delivered pro- ductes;, for the yetani group, however, it is happy smiles all the time as cash is normally on the deliv- ery of food products to the market. no brokers, no bureaucracy and no delayed payments. organic produce better in taste “the organic produce has become popular with our customers because they know the difference in taste. there is also the added benefit of the or- ganic produce being free of chemicals, which has encouraged many consumers to go for the produce, “says florence muganda. grace fuchaka, a group member has 120 ba- nana mats and a half-acre of groundnuts. she says her earnings have improved since she converted to organic production in 2014. she ripens her banan- as and sells them locally. “i was lucky to join this group, except for the labour, i do not use fertiliz- ers to grow bananas. instead, i have come to make good use of what i learnt in making the compost. nowadays i make my own compost which i use to spread around the banana mats several times in a year. the practice has led to increased yields. for pest control in my groundnuts, i use plant extracts introduced to us during the training,” she adds. increased demand from consumers organic production has led to an increased de- mand from health-conscious consumers. with the rising cases of cancer and other hitherto manage- able cases becoming rampant, many food consum- ers are becoming more concerned with what they eat. the numbers of local consumers for these farmers seem to be growing, killing off the initial fear that they might not sealle their produce. ms muganda says banana buyers from as far as lod- war come for the organic bananas, which they prefer because they have a longer shelf life. hospitals too are also increasingly becoming regular buyers of indigenous vegetables, mil- let, pumpkins and even eggs from the group. currently, more than 32 groups supply organic produce to the group for sale to consumers. participatory guarantee systems (pgs) is the same as other organic certification systems in providing a credible guarantee for consumers who want genuine organic produce. the difference is in approach as the name suggests, direct participation of farmers and even consumers in the guaran- tee process is required. the involvement of farmers is important since they are expected to supply local and other direct markets. the involvement of the farmers results in greater empowerment and also greater responsibility. the system places a high priority on training farmers, producers as well as consumers. due to the increased demand for organic pro- duce from various institutions, yetana women group has now engaged 10 other groups in the region who have been trained and now supply their organic produce to the group. improved livelihoods for members of yetana group now grows seeds and seedlings in the demonstration plots which they sell to other groups to enable them to produce and sell various products to the group. the benefits to the group have been immense. several members are already putting up permanent houses, bought dairy cows and goats and can now send their children to school and even colleges. ms muganda says the group plans to buy drying chambers and improve on packaging and branding of their products to make them more appealing to customers. this, she says will enable more consumers to iden- tify and buy the products.
8 asns news jan-feb | 2019 pregnancy-associated malaria vaccine passes first human trial malaria is still high on the list as one of the leading causes of deaths worldwide. while this parasitic infection is most deadly to children under five years old, pregnant women represent the second largest group to be af- fected by this disease. it has been estimated that preg- nancy-associated malaria (pam) results in roughly 20,000 mater- nal and 200,000 infant deaths annually. now, investigators at the uni- versity of copenhagen have just released phase i clinical trial data from a newly developed pam vaccine and the results are promising. “it is a great milestone for us to be able to show that our vaccine is completely safe and induces the exact antibody response in the blood we want,” explains se- nior study investigator morten nielsen, phd, associate profes- sor from the department of im- munology and microbiology at the university of copenhagen. “because it is the immune re- sponse that has been shown to be connected with protection from pregnancy malaria. the next step is to document that it prevents pregnancy malaria in african women who would otherwise have contracted the disease.” the findings from the new study were published today in clinical infectious diseases through an article titled “first- in-human, randomized, double- blind clinical trial of differen- tially adjuvanted pamvac, a vaccine candidate to prevent pregnancy-associated malaria.” the researchers applied the normal method for testing new drugs by assembling a random- ized, double-blind study. the effect of the vaccine was examined among 36 ger- man women and men who had volunteered for the trial. after injecting the test subjects with a mother nurses her chidld. malaira is the leading cause of hospitalisations the vaccine, the researchers were able to detect the right immune re- sponse with antibodies against the malaria parasite in the blood, and the subjects showed no serious side effects. the test subjects are described as “malaria naïve,” because they are not and will not be exposed to the malaria parasite and therefore will never develop pregnancy ma- laria. they were nevertheless used as test subjects to document that the vaccine is safe and appears to work before it is introduced in a group of african women vulnerable and at risk of developing pregnancy ma- laria. “of course, we will be doing more tests, because we want to take the vaccine as far as we can. we are therefore cooperating with hospitals in benin in africa, where we can conduct studies in women in risk of developing the disease,” states co-senior study investiga- tor ali salanti, phd, a professor in the department of immunology and microbiology at the university of copenhagen. “we expect to be able to publish the results of these studies sometime next year.” this research towards a ma- laria vaccine began with salanti’s discovery of the protein hook in the placenta of pregnant women to which the malaria parasite may attach itself. subsequently, salanti and his research team have been we will be doing more tests, because we want to take the vaccine as far as we can trying to utilize this knowledge to produce an actual vaccine against the fatal disease. “our development and produc- tion of the vaccine have only been possible due to our close public- private collaborations. it is a strong example of how such a constel- lation can make it possible to de- velop medicine for people in need, including people with few resourc- es,” remarks salanti. in academia, it is also unusual to see researchers take their discovery further to clinical trials. clinical trials can be extensive and expensive, and therefore the pharmaceutical in- dustry is typically the one devel- oping and safety-testing drugs before introducing them in the market. but in this case, the research- ers have managed to do so them- selves. “the next step in the process is a phase ii clinical trial, which will show whether the vaccine is still safe, but also whether it can prevent disease. concurrently, we have devel- oped a method for transforming the vaccine into a virus-like par- ticle. this increases the antibody response. but the crux of the matter is whether it is sufficient for at- tacking all the different forms of the protein hook found in the malaria parasite,” nielsen con- cludes. — genengnews.com
jan-feb| 2019 world agroforestry cameroon agroecology project recognized world agroforestry (icraf) cameroon’s participatory domes- tication of indigenous tree pro- gramme has been declared an out- standing practice in agroecology 2019 by the world future council in collaboration with the start-up technology for agroecology in the global south (tags). on the occasion of international green week and the global forum for food and agriculture 2019, the world future council is hosting a panel discussion on friday, janu- ary 18, 2019 at the heinrich böll foundation in berlin. the aim is to promote the strengthening of agro- ecology in politics and practice in germany and beyond. fifteen outstanding practices in agroecology will be presented, in- cluding cameroon’s, highlighting practices that protect the lives and livelihoods of smallholders, em- power small-scale food producers, nurture sustainable food production systems, promote resilient agricul- tural practices that help maintain ecosystems, strengthen capacity for adaptation to climate change and progressively improve land and soil quality. participatory domestication of indigenous trees for the delivery of multifunctional agriculture by agroforestry, the name of world agroforestry cameroon’s outstand- ing practice, helped resolve food insecurity, lower extreme poverty, decrease malnutrition and social in- equity through building the capac- ity of smallholding and subsistence farming communities in using af- fordable and appropriate farming a researcher takes a selfie with his new discovery practices with low-end, agroeco- logical technologies, particularly, agroforestry. from 1994 to 2009, 10,000 farm- ers were trained and over 1.6 million trees were planted to improve soil fertility and initiate an agroecologi- cal succession that raises above and below-ground biodiversity that is important for ecosystem functions. “inclusion in the top 15 world- wide is a great honour and acknowl- edgement that will contribute to the momentum of world agroforestry in cameroon and other countries where we work,” said ann de- grande, country representative for world agroforestry cameroon. through participatory tree do- mestication, world agroforestry has helped farmers gain access to high- quality planting material, increase productivity, diversify farming sys- tems, and improve their livelihoods through high-value indigenous fruit trees. “world agroforestry in cam- eroon is a pioneer of this practice which is receiving some well-de- served recognition of the great work done over 30 years of our presence in the country,” said tony simons, director general of icraf. “the communities the team worked with saw the evidence, adopted the tech- nologies and have improved their lives and the environment at the same time. global recognition for research work remains essential if we are to continue to test new tech- nologies. cameroon is an example of world-class research in develop- ment getting world attention.” world agroforestry’s participa- tory domestication of indigenous tree programme was developed under the leadership of prof roger leakey, a past director of research for world agroforestry, and dr zac tchoundjeu, former regional coor- dinator for world agroforestry west and central africa. infertility stigma: merck’s media recognition awards 2018 merck foundation, the philan- thropic arm of merck kgaa ger- many in partnership with h.e. rebecca naa okaikor akufo- addo, the first lady of ghana and am- bassador of merck more than a mother announces the opening of the application period for the ‘merck more than a mother’ media recognition awards 2018 for ghana and the rest of africa. the winners will be announced during the 6th edition of merck africa asia lumi- nary which will be conducted in october 2019 in accra ghana, co-chaired by dr. rasha kelej, ceo of merck foundation and her excellency first lady of ghana. the applications are invited by media professionals to showcase their work to raise awareness about infertility preven- tion and breaking infertility stigma in ghana and rest of africa. dr. rasha kelej, ceo of merck foundation and president of merck more than a mother empha- sized, “i strongly believe in the critical role media play to sensitize communities. therefore we created these media awards last year with the aim to recognize the outstanding journalistic coverage that en- hances the public engagement and under- standing of infertility, breaking its stigma and emphasizing the need to change the social perception of it in african commu- nities.” asns news | 9 nigeria approves first gm food crop nigeria is on the path to becoming the first country ever to cultivate biotech cowpea after the country’s biosafety agency granted approval for the crop’s cultivation by farm- ers. this development adds a new crop to the global biotech basket from africa. the national biosafety manage- ment agency (nbma) permit- ted the institute for agricultural research (iar) to commercial- ly release pod borer-resistant cowpea (pbr cowpea)-event aat709a, genetically improved to resist lepidopteran insect pest maruca vitrata. the permit is val- id until the end of 2022. reviving dying land is doable reviving damaged lands and the livelihoods of people affected by desertification, land degradation and drought can be possible by 2030, according to participants who attended the intergovern- mental committee that reviews the implementation of the united na- tions convention to combat de- sertification (unccd). participants at the 17th com- mittee to review the implementa- tion of the convention (cric17), which ended in georgetown, guy- ana, stated that the speed at which countries are implementing the sdgs target of land degradation neutrality puts it within reach. youth urged to fight hiv the director of icasa 2019 co- ordinator of saa, mr. luc armand bodea has urged the youth to be proactive in their fight against hiv and help reduce the current rate of the hiv/aids pandemic. he siad majority of young people living with hiv are found in low- and middle-income countries, with 84% in sub-saharan africa (un- aids 2017). in 2016, 73% of new hiv infections among adolescents occurred in africa. the number of adolescents dying due to aids- related illnesses tripled between 2000 and 2015. at such an alarm- ing rate, saa have proposed ways for better visibility and ownership of youth programme at icasa 2019 rwanda.
10 | asns news jan-feb 2019 cattle urine and climate change when cow urine falls on degraded land, it releases far more nitrous oxide – a potent greenhouse gas – than when ab- sorbed by healthy pasture. the findings of a new study show additional benefits of landscape resto- ration and conservation. the exceptional climate-altering capabilities of cattle are mainly due to methane, which they blast into the atmosphere during their daily diges- tive routine. cattle urine is a lesser-known climate offender. it produces nitrous oxide (n2o), which has warming power far greater than that of carbon dioxide (co2), the main driver of global warming. a study conducted by the international center for tropical agriculture (ciat) and partners shows that these n2o emissions can be significantly curbed by healthy cattle pastures. for the study, researchers collected urine from cattle at research sites in five countries across lat- in america and the caribbean. they spilled these 500 ml samples on paired cattle fields classified as degraded or healthy, which was determined by vegetation coverage. in six of the seven test sites, degraded pastures emitted significantly more n2o – sometimes up to three times as much. the re- sults were published january 29 in scientific re- ports, an open-access journal by the publishers of nature.“degraded pastures are bad in so many ways,” said ngonidzashe chirinda, a ciat re- searcher and the study’s lead author. “this study adds to the case for land restoration. degraded pas- calf urinates tures not only affect food security and the livelihood of farmers today, but affects the livelihood of future farmers because they emit more gases that cause global warming.” the results add urgency to global land restoration agreements, including initiative 20x20, which aims to bring into restoration 20 million hectares of land into restoration in latin america by 2020 as a first major step toward even more ambitious restoration targets. estimates vary, but chirinda calculates, con- servatively, that there are 150 million hectares of degraded lands in latin america. brazil alone is home to some 80 million hectares of degraded pastureland. degraded livestock land is generally characterized by overgrazing, soil compaction, loss of organic material and low levels of nutri- ents and soil carbon. large-scale land restoration with improved forage grasses, rotational grazing and the addi- tion of shrubs and trees (silvopastoral farming) could significantly mitigate the negative climate effects wrought by degradation. in addition to re- ducing n2o emissions, restored landscapes gen- erally contain more carbon, have healthier soils and more robust and productive livestock.“this study highlights the importance of avoiding land degradation in the first place,” said todd rosen- stock, a co-author based at the world agroforestry (icraf). “maintaining healthy pastures appears to reinforce goals of both the united nations’ framework convention on climate change and the un convention to combat desertification si- multaneously.” the curious results from the single test site that did not align with the study results – in ta- luma, colombia – may be attributed to a number of factors that merit further research. n2o emis- sions there were by far the lowest at any test site and were the same on both degraded and healthy pastures. the cattle urine used in the experiment had the lowest nitrogen content. biotec to address forest health issues diseases, and those native to the country are becoming more virulent due to external factors such as climate change,” said susan offutt, chair of the committee that wrote the report, senior consultant to the global strategy to improve agricultural and rural statistics at the u.n. food and agriculture organization, and former chief economist at the u.s. government accountability office. “a healthy forest sustains ecosystems over time and space, and provides value to humans. the loss of a tree species can have cascading harmful effects on the forest ecosystem and on the benefits it provides to human populations.” two tree species, the american chestnut and hybrid poplars, are currently under field trials to address forest health issues. the report also recommends further research to improve the use of biotechnology as a forest health tool. biotechnology is one of many approaches to addressing forest health, the report cautions, and it should not be pursued to the exclusion of other practices for managing forest health, including prevention of the arrival of invasive species and site management practices. the study by the committee on the potential for biotechnology to address forest health was sponsored by the u.s. department of agriculture, the u.s. environmental protection agency, and the u.s. endowment for forestry and communities. challenges such as the poor understanding of how the trees’ genetic mechanisms resist pests, the delay of identifying genetic changes in trees due to complex genomes, and the lack of information on the effects of releasing new tree genotypes to the environment were identified. the report also stated the importance of studying the societal responses to the use of biotechnology to address forest health threats for sound decision making. furthermore, respectful, deliberative, transparent, and inclusive processes of engaging with people to increase understanding of forest health threats and biotechnology were pointed out. if pursued, the development of these biotech trees can decrease the severity of threats to the north american forests, therefore increasing the chances of having and retaining a healthy forest ecosystem. the u.s. national academies of sciences, engineering and medicine released a report that states that biotechnology may be part of the means in protecting forest trees against destructive pests and disease outbreaks. by using biotechnology to introduce pest- resistant traits to trees, threats such as the introduction of non-native tree pests and diseases hastened by climate change and global trade and travel may be mitigated. “global the introduction of non-native tree pests and commerce has hastened
jan-feb | 2019 asns news | 11 eye disease genes uncovered tunisia: kuwait to aid farm roads hundreds of new genes kuwait rcently signed a fi- nancing agreement worth 98.5 million u.s. dollars to help build 148 agricultural roads in tunisia. linked to blindness and other vision disorders have been identified in a screen of mouse strains, according to a new research of university of california, davis. many of these genes are likely im- portant in human vision and the re- sults could help identify new causes of hereditary blindness in patients, said a release of the university on saturday. the research is published friday in nature communications biol- ogy. “this is extremely valuable for people with hereditary eye disease,” said ala moshiri, associate profes- sor of ophthalmology and vision science in uc davis, school of medicine and eye center. “the whole ophthalmic commu- nity is going to start using these data.” — agencies the deal was inked between zied laadhari, tunisian minister of de- velopment, investment and inter- national cooperation, and abdul- wahab ahmed al-bader, head of kuwait fund for arab economic development, the tunis afrique press reported.under the deal, ku- wait will finance the construction of 148 agricultural roads spreading over 912 kilometers in 22 tunisian provinces. abdulwahab ahmed al-bader, head of kuwait fund for arab economic development, chinese scientists aim for 3d map of human brain new tool to track steps of cells’ development of the intricate neurons and blood vessels in the human brain. this ambitious project is like taking 3d photos of a huge forest of nearly 100 billion trees, seeing not only the whole forest, but also every twig and leaf on each tree. “our current methods cannot see both the trees and the forest. we aim to develop new methods to obtain a high-res- olution map,” said luo qingming, leader of the research. researchers at washing- ton university school of medicine in st. louis have developed a new tool described as a “flight data recorder” for devel- oping cells, illuminating the paths cells take as they progress from one type to another. using the flight data recorder, the researchers performed experi- ments that uncovered some sur- prising details about the specific routes taken by cells that success- fully completed their flight paths. chinese scientists are plan- ning to draw the clearest yet three-dimensional map a single workout burns energy in two days chinese and american scien- tists found that a single work- out could activate neurons in mice that influence metabolism for up to two days and those effects last longer with more training. the study published on tuesday in the journal molecular metabolism offered new insight into the brain’s potential role in fitness and perhaps a new target for developing therapies that improve metabolism. “it doesn’t take much exercise to alter the activity of these neurons,” said kevin williams, a neuroscien- tist at university of texas south- western, a coauthor of the paper.
africa science news covering science with an african eye | jan-feb 2019 published by ssa (services in scientific work in africa) p. o. box 2141, 00100, nairobi, kenya tel: +2540202051330 : email: firstname.lastname@example.org www.africasciencenews.org youth agripreneur says beans can be preserved naturally bose idowu graduated from the federal of agriculture, abeokuta university (funaab) with a bsc. in animal science and an mba in agribusiness. she joined the iita youth agripreneurs (iya) program in 2012 as part of the cereals and legumes team, where she was trained in cultivation and farm management on farms in northern nigeria. “we used to plant soy bean, maize, and cowpea on 20, 40, and 50 hectares on a yearly basis. and i happened to be one of the supervisors,” she recalled. it was at this point she conceived the idea of catering to a local market and, putting together capital of ₦500,000 which she had saved from the stipends she received from iya, bose began her business by purchasing and then reselling cowpeas (beans) at the local marketplace. she continued with the aggregation business model until 2016 when she secured extra funding from iita and other donors that enabled her cultivate a 5-hectare farmland of cowpea thus helping her expand her operations to production, processing, and packaging of cowpea. further funding came in 2017 with which she was able to rent and set up a factory, equipping it with processing machinery including a pulverizer and beans cleaning machine. today, idowu is the ceo of gracevine foods, employing 4 permanent staff along with other temporary farm and factory staff who are hired whenever there is a need. idowu shared her story with a group of journalists and communication specialists who visited the factory as part of a workshop organized by the enhancing capacity to apply research evidence (care) in policy for youth engagement in agribusiness and rural economic activities in africa project, which is a partnership project of the international fund for agricultural development (ifad) and the international institute of tropical agriculture (iita). the workshop delegates were taken on a tour of the factory which has production capacity far outweighing current demands. the current product offerings have been expanded and now include clean beans, yam flour, plantain flour, beans flour, and local rice which is a recent addition. following the recent widely publicized scandal of preserving beans using a chemical insecticide popularly known as sniper, idowu was asked how she tackles storage and preservation from the scourge of weevils. she pointed out that the value proposition of offering natural products without the use of chemicals for preservation remained at the core of gracevine operations and insisted that natural preservation is possible. she noted that proper storage starts at the farm and by buying the freshly harvested products straight from the farmers, you are able to transport and then clean the beans in the factory thus ensuring product quality from the onset. after cleaning, the produce is bagged properly for storage and distribution. “once you are able to seal properly in air-tight packaging, for that period you are assured that your beans will be free of weevils,” idowu maintained. she enjoined other producers and marketers to prioritize the health of consumers and adopt natural storage technologies such as the purpose-made pics (purdue improved crop storage) bags which will keep weevils out while preserving the beans in their natural state well beyond 6 months. idowu however pointed out that the presence of weevils can sometimes be a pointer that the beans are natural and have not be treated with any chemicals. speaking about future plans for gracevine, idowu stated that applications have been made with the national agency for food and drug administration and control (nafdac) for proper product certifications. not having these certifications has limited distribution as they are unable to supply the bigger supermarket chains but once these are completed, she plans to scale production and distribution to carter to an out of town market with export possibilities also being considered. once you are able to seal properly in air-tight packaging, for that period you are assured that your beans will be free of weevils