Scientists unite to save Africa’s ailing agriculture
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24 February 2018
Author :   Karitu Njagi
Soil testing lab at ICRAF : >> Image Credits by:Isaiah Esipisu

NAIROBI, Kenya (PAMACC News) - For the first time, scientists from English and French speaking countries in Africa have teamed up to solve Africa’s worsening food crisis.

The new pan African fellowship initiative aims to pool skills from English and French speaking countries to take the continent’s scientific agenda to the next level, according to Dr Wanjiru Kamau-RUTENBERG, director, African Women in Agricultural Research and Development (AWARD).

“For too long there has been political division between scientists from Anglophone and Francophone countries,” says Dr. Kamau. “This project aims to bridge this by utilizing skills in training, perspectives and policy approaches from both divides.”

With a one million US dollars funding from Agropolis Fondation, half of the women research fellows have been shopped from francophone countries to ensure the continent’s agricultural development takes a pan African face, according to Dr Kamau.

It is clear that there are more Francophone than Anglophone countries in Africa. Yet women from French speaking countries are not investing in agricultural research training and leadership compared to those from English speaking countries.

Still, there are problems troubling the continent that do not know boundaries, like climate change, argued Dr. Kamau, hence the need for a network of scientists across Africa.
“If we are talking about Africa’s ability to feed itself, we must make sure this ability is within Anglophone and francophone countries,” says Dr. Kamau.

To achieve this agenda, the initiative aims to utilize participative science, where the search for a solution is co-constructed between farmers and scientists, explained Pascal Kosuth, the Director Agropolis Fondation, which has funded the initiative.

“This is where you engage farmers, stakeholders and scientists,” says Kosuth. “Farmers contribute to formulate the questions and vision of what could be the solution.”
According to him, this initiative is not only limited to Africa, but aims to partner with women scientists from the pacific, South East Asia, and Europe.

“It is not just helping women scientists but it is helping society to benefit from women scientists,” says Kosuth. “I am very hopeful that what AWARD gives to the women fellows they will give back to AWARD.”

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