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30th APRIL 2020
Welcome to issue 27 of the DrumBeat!

As the world continues to grapple with COVID-19 pandemic, we would like to wish our readers, their families and communities good health and wellbeing. We are living in very uncertain times that require humankind to come together in fighting this common enemy. The Drumbeat will continue bringing you stories, updates and opportunities that biosciences present in addressing intractable societal challenges.

In this issue, our Story of the Month underscores the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on Africa's food and agricultural systems. Farmers, traders and other players in the agri-food sector have had to explore alternative ways of marketing and delivering food to consumers amidst tight COVID-19 control measures. The opinion by Bibiana Iraki-Kipkorir, a Program Officer at ISAAA AfriCenter, examines the situation in Kenya and Rwanda, and calls for local context-specific evidence to guide decision-making.

Our Video of the Month features a local innovation that converts human urine into environmental friendly fertilizer for farm use. The innovation developed by Dr. Adey Desta, a researcher at Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia is inspired by the need to explore novel ways of boosting sustainable agriculture while protecting the environment and biodiversity.

In the Courses we Offer, our call for science communication-training workshop is still open. Register now and improve your skills in translating your research into knowledge products for uptake by end users.

Lastly, we introduce a new section titled Topical News Roundup. Here, we will feature innovative ideas hitting our news desks. We acknowledge that modern challenges call for smart and adaptive solutions. This section will be dedicated to accentuate and promote innovative solutions developed by and for Africa.

We wish you a safe month full of love and happiness.

Happy reading!


Producing Environmental Friendly Fertilizer from Human Urine

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Story of the month


Local Evidence on Food and Agricultural Systems Key in the Face of COVID-19

Unlike in the developed world, African decision-makers are facing a unique challenge. They have to strike a delicate balance between implementing policies that curb the spread of COVID-19, while factoring what the majority must do to earn a living and put food on the table. This dilemma gets more complex in the food and agricultural system that is the cornerstone of most of Africa's economies. This opinion calls for local context-specific evidence to guide decision-making.

Country Crop Modified trait Date of approval
Nigeria Cowpea Insect resistant December 12, 2019
Kenya Cotton Insect Resistant December 19, 2019 (Cabinet Approval)
Philippines Rice GR2E Nutrient enhanced- Vitamin A December 18, 2019
Kenyatta University (Kenya) unveils ventilators made by students:

Kenyatta University (Kenya) unveils ventilators made by students:

Students from Kenyatta University have developed a ventilator that could save lives of victims of the coronavirus. This comes as the country seek to boost its ICU capacity as COVID-19 cases increase. Read more here.

South Africans develop COVID-19 test-kits that give results in an hour:

South Africans develop COVID-19 test-kits that give results in an hour:

Two South African techpreneurs have developed a groundbreaking testing kit that provides COVID-19 test results in just 65 minutes. The low-cost invention will be critical in South Africa's fight against COVID-19. Read more here.