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Scientists launch alliance to hasten crop improvements in Africa       

NAIROBI, (Xinhua) -- Scientists on Wednesday launched an international scientific alliance to fast track crop improvement in sub-Saharan Africa.

The Alliance to Accelerate Crop Improvements in Africa (ACACIA) will also contribute in helping African scientists to fasten solutions to local food security challenges.

“This initiative will harness the strengths of the global scientific community, as well as the recent advances in technology to find lasting solutions to the challenge of food insecurity in the continent,” the Biosciences Eastern and Central Africa (BecA-ILRI) Hub Director Professor Jacob Mignouna said in a statement.

He noted that the initiative will help achieve food security and to improve nutrition through sustainable agriculture and provide African crop researchers and institutes access to cutting edge technologies.

The initiative that is a partnership between BecA-International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) Hub and John Innes Centre’s (JIC) is set to build upon strategic and multidisciplinary partnerships to contribute to the achievement of the second United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDGs) of zero hunger.

“ACACIA will build on the existing BecA-JIC along with developing the next generation of African crops and also support African and British scientists,” the Director of JIC Dale Sanders noted.

Sanders observed that the initiative will develop a team of scientists who have a deeper understanding of the agricultural challenges in Africa and can connect to African scientists to achieve significant impact through their expertise.

The partners called for strong linkages with African National Agricultural Research Systems, Consultative Group for the International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) Centre and advanced international research institutions to advance the improvement of important African food crops.

According to the Director of ILRI Jimmy Smith, the partnership will strengthen access to tools for crop improvement for the ultimate benefit of smallholder farmers in the continent.

He called for more partnerships to help Africa benefit from its agricultural sector since a quarter of the world’s arable land is based in the continent but generates only 10 percent of global agricultural output.

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