Sifelani Tsiko Agric, Environment & Innovations Editor
The University of Zimbabwe is set to partner French and other African research bodies in a project that aims to promote agricultural research to boost food security on the continent.
At the just-ended Africa-France summit which was held in the southern French city of Montpellier, two major French institutions – CIRAD – the French agricultural research and cooperation organisation and INRAE, a public research institute, announced that they are actively working together, with some 20 African agricultural research bodies, to develop a joint study, training and innovation programme.
UZ is part of the programme which will focus on agro-ecology, preserving natural resources, health, food security, developing territories and jobs.
The project aims to support African research organisations to have sufficient research and higher education resources to find solutions to major challenges in the fields of agriculture, food and environment in the wake of growing threats coming as a result of climate change.
French research bodies will partner with African institutions to step up scientific exchanges – in terms of skills and knowledge – between Europe and Africa, with a view to boosting the impact of agricultural research carried out on the two continents.
“With strong African networks and a solid presence on the continent with some one hundred expat scientists, CIRAD is a firm believer in the power of collective intelligence for taking on global challenges linked to food security. It was therefore, only natural that we turned to INRAE,” said Elisabeth Claverie de Saint Martin, CEO of CIRAD.
France invited about 3 000 people for the summit, including young entrepreneurs, researchers, students, artists, sports personalities and representatives from associations on the African continent to discuss economic, political and cultural matters.
“To face the challenges of health and food security while preserving the planet’s resources, it is crucial to combine research know-how on a global scale. A world leader in research on the links between agriculture, food and the environment, INRAE is committed to stepping up knowledge- and skills-sharing with CIRAD and African research bodies.
“The research alliance between France and Africa is indispensable to finding lasting solutions to the challenge of food security,” said Philippe Mauguin, CEO and chair of INRAE.
In November last year, the French Development Agency (AFD) and the French Agricultural Research Centre for International Development (CIRAD) signed an agreement with the Department of Veterinary Services and the University of Zimbabwe to promote research and prevention of animal disease with a view to safeguarding human health and boosting the livestock sector.
Zimbabwe was also benefiting from a US$6,9 million project which was launched to combat animal trypanosomiasis, a parasitic disease transmitted by biting flies including tsetse that continue to cause serious economic losses for smallholder farmers in Africa.
The project will aim to improve the knowledge base on animal parasitic diseases, develop innovative control tools, strengthen surveillance, diagnosis and control networks by setting up harmonised epidemiological information systems and national and regional control strategies.