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Africa’s second plant breeding conference kicks off in Rwanda

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Scientists, entrepreneurs, institutional leaders and students from Africa and beyond are meeting in Kigali, Rwanda and online for the second continental African Plant Breeders Association Conference (APBAConf2021). The week’s long conference is expected to end on Oct.29.

Guided by the theme, “Accelerating Genetic Gains in Plant Breeding for Resilience and Transformative Food Systems and Economic Growth in Africa”, participants at the hybrid event are set to explore current research outputs and outcomes in plant-breeding and related disciplines.

AGRA is partnering with the Government of Rwanda, the West Africa Centre for Crop Improvement (WACCI), host of the Secretariat of the APBA and USAID at the APBAConf2021, a forum that seeks to shine the spotlight on plant breeding as a key component of fast-tracking the continent’s agricultural transformation. Strategic partnerships are crucial in the fight against food and nutrition security in Africa, said Prof. Eric Danquah, Founding Director of WACCI and President of APBA.

Dr. Agnes Kalibata

“The APBAConf2021 draws attention to the need for crop improvement and seed sector development in Africa to help us build resilience in the staple crops of Africa, and to increase productivity in farmers’ fields. AGRA is proud to have been part of training plant breeders who are now churning out locally adopted crop varieties. I encourage all of us to support these scientists and sustain the momentum to put high yielding as well as drought tolerant crops in the hands of farmers. I am pleased to be part of this conference which brings together scientists from across the continent to help provide solutions that ultimately improve the lives of smallholder farmers,” added Dr. Agnes Kalibata, President of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA).

Since 2007, AGRA has supported 1,100 African scientists to obtain post-graduate degrees whilst developing solutions to address the challenges of smallholder farmers with respect to seeds, soils, applied agricultural economics and policy. This is in line with the APBA platform which aims at driving an agenda for innovation in plant breeding on the continent to meet the Sustainable Development Goal 2: “End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture” and the aspirations of the African Union, “the Africa We Want” by 2063).

The APBA conference was first held two years ago in Ghana, where resolutions were made to mobilize resources and build institutional capacities for the long-term strategic development of the agricultural sector in Africa through effective plant-breeding programs.

The 2021 edition will track the progress towards the commitments made in Accra, in addition to presenting tangible solutions to other problems presenting in the plant breeding and seed industry as an outcome of the COVID-19 pandemic and other unforeseen difficulties like the locust invasion of East Africa.

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