John Innes Centre and Biosciences east and central Africa (BecA) collaborate on a number of research projects and this is to be extended with the agreement of a ten-point programme of collaboration over the next two years. This is to include projects on improving food crops using modern breeding techniques, reducing the levels of toxins found in certain African crops and transferring key technology platforms from the UK to Africa.
One of the recently-adopted UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), commits the global community to ‘end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture’.
The UK is poised to play a major role in the global effort to meet this goal by 2030, with overseas development funding protected in tomorrow’s spending review and more funding allocated to scientific research. The scale of the task ahead should not be underestimated given that 795 million people (1 in every 9 people) in the world are currently undernourished. In sub-Saharan Africa the prevalence of hunger rises to 1 in every 4 people.
Increases in agricultural productivity will be key to achieving this goal. While agricultural output per capita has increased steadily in most of the developing world over the last five decades, in sub-Saharan Africa per capita output has been stagnant or even declined during this period.
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