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10TH MAY 2018
Welcome to Issue 4 of the DrumBeat!

In this issue, we share a special feature on women’s contribution in science towards steering African development. The opinion piece section highlights Professor Yaye Gassama, Chair-High Level Panel on Emerging Technologies of AUC/NEPAD and Vice President National Academy of Technical Sciences of Senegal (ANSTS). Prof. Gassama epitomizes a prevailing formidable woman spirit with an ability to transform the society through active engagement in scientific innovations. She will be a keynote speaker during the African Women for Biosciences (AWfB) official launch, slated to take place on 10th May 2018, at the Kenyatta International Convention Center (KICC) from 2-5pm. The event will be part of the 7th National Science week celebrations themed "Harnessing Research, Science, Technology and Innovation’s Contribution Towards Achievement of "The Big Four Action Plan".  It will be live streaming on our Facebook page. Invitation is open to all! In our story of the month segment, Dr. Charity Mutegi, a Research Scientists working for the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture and member of AWfB, argues why both quantity and quality matter in food security.

The DrumBeat would like to encourage science journalists who have been reporting on agricultural biotechnology to participate in the now open media awards by the Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology (OFAB) in Africa. The seven OFAB chapters; Kenya, Nigeria, Uganda, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Ghana and Tanzania have sent out call for participation. Kenyan journalists willing to participate can find the call here.

Happy reading!


Regionally, Kenya awaits National Environment Management Authority’s (NEMA) evaluation of public comments on Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for the proposed National Performance Trials (NPTs) on Bt Cotton. The comments were submitted between 14th March to 14th April 2018.

Globally, countries around the world continued to approve biotech crops for food and feed use. In April 2018, Canada approved biotech sugarcane event CTB141175 (IR) for food use.

Story of the month
Hungry Bellies and Silent Killers: Why both Quantity and Quality Matter in Food Security

What do you look for at the market or the grocery store? Do you seek out food that offers good value for money or the best taste? Would you rather have a large helping or a dish that looks appealing? Amongst all these decisions we grapple with, one thing is easily taken for granted: that the food we eat should neither make us sick nor damage our health. Food that harms us negates the very essence of why we eat and what food should be. Basic safety is the least we deserve, yet we have witnessed people die from the lack of it.

Analysis of strain distribution, migratory potential, and invasion history of fall armyworm populations in northern Sub-Saharan Africa

Fall armyworm is a noctuid moth pest endemic throughout the Western Hemisphere that has recently become widespread in sub-Saharan Africa. This study compared the haplotypes found in different African locations and with those prevalent in the Western Hemisphere in extrapolating the likely migratory source locations and the magnitude of fall armyworm population movements.

Assessment of Genetic Variation and Population Structure of Diverse Rice Genotypes Adapted to Lowland and Upland Ecologies in Africa Using SNPs

In Africa, rice is a staple food for millions of people and constitutes a major part of the diet in the continent. This study investigated the genetic variation, relatedness, and population structure of 330 widely used rice genotypes in Africa using single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). This is in a concerted effort to aid rice breeders on parent selection for developing new improved rice germplasm

Adapting Agriculture to Climate Change: Suitability of Banana Crop Production to Future Climate Change Over Uganda

Banana is an important economic resource for rural farmers in Uganda. About 75% of Ugandan farmers grow the crop on 1.5 million hectares of land. This study aimed to determine suitability zones of future banana growth under a changing climate to guide the design of future adaptation options in the banana sub-sector of Uganda. The results provide critical information that will be useful for planning integrated adaptation practices in the banana farming subsector to promote productivity.

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