Biosciences eastern and central Africa - International Livestock Research Institute (BecA - ILRI) Hub

Harnessing biodiversity, biotechnology, indigenous knowledge systems and technologies plays an important role in addressing some of the continent’s challenges in the areas of human health, agricultural productivity, biodiversity management and sound environmental management. The Biosciences eastern and central Africa - International Livestock Research Institute (BecA - ILRI) Hub is a shared agricultural research and biosciences platform that aims to increase access to affordable, world-class research facilities for African scientists conducting research on African agricultural challenges. The BecA-ILRI Hub is empowering African scientists and institutions to exploit the opportunities presented by advances in technology for sustainable agricultural development in on the continent. All research projects implemented at the BecA-ILRI Hub in Nairobi, Kenya, are directed towards delivering products to help improve food and nutritional security in Africa. Its mission is to mobilise bioscience for Africa’s development, by providing a centre for excellence in agricultural biosciences. The BecA-ILRI Hub is a co-creation of the NEPAD Agency and ILRI, established as part of NEPAD’s African Biosciences Initiative (ABI), with the ILRI board of trustees having fiduciary and legal responsibility. It was also developed within the framework of NEPAD’s Centers of Excellence for Science and Technology and the Comprehensive African Agricultural Development Programme (CAADP), and in alignment with regional priorities set by Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in Eastern and Central Africa (ASARECA). The BecA countries include Burundi, Cameroon, Central Africa Republic, Congo Brazzaville, Democratic Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Kenya, Madagascar, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda.

The Biosciences eastern and central Africa - International Livestock Research Institute (BecA - ILRI) Hub is a shared agricultural research and biosciences platform that aims to increase access to affordable, world-class research facilities for African scientists conducting research on African agricultural challenges. The BecA-ILRI Hub is empowering African scientists and institutions to exploit the opportunities presented by advances in technology for sustainable agricultural development in on the continent.

All research projects implemented at the BecA-ILRI Hub in Nairobi, Kenya, are directed towards delivering products to help improve food and nutritional security in Africa...

DID YOU KNOW?
The meat and milk production of a cow is only as good as the feed it gets. Through a project led by the BeCaHub, dairy farmers in the semi-arid regions of Kenya are discovering that Brachiaria, the grass which transformed the livestock industries of Brazil and Australia, can turnaround their low production levels.

The Biosciences eastern and central Africa - International Livestock Research Institute (BecA - ILRI) Hub is a shared agricultural research and biosciences platform that aims to increase access to affordable, world-class research facilities for African scientists conducting research on African agricultural challenges. The BecA-ILRI Hub is empowering African scientists and institutions to exploit the opportunities presented by advances in technology for sustainable agricultural development in on the continent.

All research projects implemented at the BecA-ILRI Hub in Nairobi, Kenya, are directed towards delivering products to help improve food and nutritional security in Africa. Its mission is to mobilise bioscience for Africa’s development, by providing a centre for excellence in agricultural biosciences.

The BecA-ILRI Hub is a co-creation of the NEPAD Agency and ILRI, established as part of NEPAD’s African Biosciences Initiative (ABI), with the ILRI board of trustees having fiduciary and legal responsibility. It was also developed within the framework of NEPAD’s Centers of Excellence for Science and Technology and the Comprehensive African Agricultural Development Programme (CAADP), and in alignment with regional priorities set by Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in Eastern and Central Africa (ASARECA). The BecA countries include Burundi, Cameroon, Central Africa Republic, Congo Brazzaville, Democratic Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Kenya, Madagascar, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda.

Learn more about the BecA - ILRI Hub

Results:

 

Research

Research at the BecA-ILRI Hub brings together over 40 research institutions, universities, government ministries, regional agencies and non-governmental organizations across 16 countries in Africa, Australia, Europe and USA. The projects, which include national partner-led research projects, are demand driven, responding to the high priority themes identified through the new AU/NEPAD Science and Technology strategy and the CAADP agenda for increasing the productivity of the food and agricultural systems in Africa:

•    Crop Improvement through plant breeding and genetics and improved plant health;
•    Food Safety and Improved Nutrition through improved productivity of both crops and livestock; enabling access to food; and better use of food, including reducing post-harvest losses and improving the nutritional quality of food;
•    Livestock Productivity  and profitability  improvement for smallholder farmers through animal breeding and genetics, improved animal health and better livestock feeds and forages;
•    Climate Change Mitigation through the development of more resilient crop varieties and animal breeds able to withstand higher temperatures and less rainfall;
•    Low input crop for Alternative Nutrition and Income Generation livestock which explores the improvement of traditionally neglected crop and livestock species that are adaptable to harsh climatic conditions and increase access to food and income for resource poor farmers.


Capacity building

Implementing a strong program in capacity building and training is central to achieving the BecA-ILRI Hub’s mission. The BecA-ILRI Hub provides opportunities to increase the capacity of institutions and individuals in Africa to conduct biosciences-related research, and to develop and deliver new technologies. The global objective is to strengthen capacity of NARS to effectively leverage on advances in bioscience research for agricultural improvement. It does this through: 

•    The Africa Biosciences Challenge Fund (ABCF) fellowship program, a competitive fund which enables scientists from national agricultural research systems (NARS) scientists to spend up to 12 months at the Hub to address key agricultural constraints through research while building their research leadership skills;
•    Annual hands-on training workshops that enable scientists acquire relevant research skills including Introduction to molecular biology and bioinformatics; Laboratory management and equipment operations; Advanced genomics and bioinformatics; and Scientific writing.
•    Strengthening regional institutional capacity by identifying key laboratories and individuals who are strategically placed to benefit from support from the Hub including equipment acquisition, training of staff in equipment maintenance and technical advice in the upgrade research facilities for the benefit of a wider research community.
•    Mobilizing capacities within NARS and beyond for joint actions geared towards improving agriculture in Africa.

Technologies and research related services

To better support research and capacity building in the region, the BecA-ILRI Hub has established a number of technology platforms comprising a range of high-end equipment necessary for advanced agricultural biosciences research. These shared facilities are available for use by African scientists and students and international partners and are continually upgraded to respond to dynamic research needs and reflect global technological trends.


Genomics
The field of genomics holds vast potential for the development and strategic deployment of existing crop varieties and livestock breeds that can thrive in an increasingly hostile environment. The BecA-ILRI Hub genomics platform was established to meet the growing needs of researchers in the region.  

Three sequencing technology platforms currently support low, medium and high throughput sequencing projects in research areas ranging from animal and plant virus discovery; detection and diagnostics of disease causing agents (pathogens) in crops and livestock; in-depth studies of genetic material recovered directly from environmental samples; genetic studies of viruses and their interactions with infected hosts; molecular breeding and detection of food borne pathogens. Through continuing collaboration with the NARS researchers, the genomics platform is helping guide the design of strategies for disease management. 

Bioinformatics
The Bioinformatics platform provides scientific informatics support for research projects led by NARS. It leverages on the genomics platform to provide advanced computational services enabling access to high performance computing, storage, management and analysis of genomic information. 

The platform’s advanced computational services have enabled the translation of huge amounts of sequencing data produced through research into practical information on livestock breeds, crop varieties, an elucidation of differences between breeds and responses to environmental stress. Aside from supporting data interpretation functions for research conducted at the BecA-ILRI Hub, the platform is equipping researchers from across Africa with skills in bioinformatics. 

Mycotoxin and nutritional analysis platform 
The mycotoxin and nutritional analysis platform was established due to the increasing demand for nutritional security and food safety research. The facility is equipped with technologies that provide a combination of both qualitative and quantitative techniques of aflatoxin and other mycotoxin (fumonisins, ochratoxin, etc) measurements. In addition, proximate analysis, minerals, vitamins, antioxidants and a range of other nutritional analyses can be conducted. 

The platform which is supported by a dedicated team of researchers within the BecA-ILRI Hub as well as affiliated scientists from the region and internationally is contributing to the human and technical capacity enhancement of NARS scientists and international projects in the region.

Crop and animal disease diagnostics platform
In response to the need to address constraints related to accurate detection of both crops and animal pathogens, a multi component diagnostics platform is under development. Selected tools including LAMP assays have been developed and applied for the detection of contagious caprine pleuropneumonia (CCPP) in small ruminants and of Xanthomonas in rice, and other bacterial and viral pathogens in cassava and Taro. These capabilities are geared towards supporting major diseases surveillance. Other types of diagnostics are under development leveraging on the analysis of the genomics information.

Breeding platform
In response to the emerging needs for better support of breeders and breeding programs  including data management, integration and analysis, the BecA-ILRI Hub entered into a partnership with the CGIAR coordinated generation challenge program (GCP) for the establishment of the breeding management system in support of breeders under the integrated breeding platform (IBP). Since 2013 the BecA-ILRI Hub is one of the Hubs of the IBP which gives breeders access to the breeding management system (BMS), an all-in-one suite of tools for effectively management of activities from project planning to final decision-making.

Tissue culture and transformation
The tissue culture facilities enable scientists to produce disease free planting materials of a wider range of crop species as well as reduce regeneration time for plant materials. The facility also has a certified genetic transformation laboratory for improving plants through addition of economically important traits and maintaining clean materials generated. 
 

Vaccine platform
 The vaccine platform is dedicated to developing vaccine-based solutions to reduce disease burdens that limit livestock productivity. The facility is equipped for diagnostics (serology and molecular), cell imaging, immunology and virology, including; BD Facscanto II flow cytometer and BD influxTM Cell Sorter, Heamatology autoanalyzer, two AID EliSpot Reader Systems with camera, Luminex screening system for detecting and quantifying multiple target analytes, cell culture systems, FPLC apparatus and other equipment required for vaccine development.

19 May 2017
New technologies allow very specific gene editing in mosquitoes and the validation of genes that are expected to be essential in malaria control.
Contact:

Email: info@nepad.org

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