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3rd September 2021
Welcome to issue 43 of the DrumBeat!

Greetings! As the world continues to battle the COVID-19 pandemic aggravated by emerging variants, the Drumbeat family hopes that you are safe and in good health. One thing we have learnt from the pandemic is that a sustainable food supply is crucial in mitigating detrimental effects of present and future pandemics on food security and socio-economic growth.

This issue highlights the prospects of genome editing application in Africa's Agriculture. The technology has presented Africa with an additional, more efficient tool for improving agricultural productivity. In crop breeding, genome editing will improve the ease, speed, precision, and generation time of improved varieties. However, this optimism must go hand in hand with implementation of policies that foster an enabling environment for research, development and adoption.

Our video of the month captures voices of agricultural biotechnology experts, policy and decision makers as they forecast the impact genome editing will have in improving Africa’s food production. Story of the month features an exclusive interview with Dr. Rufus Ebegba, Director General of the National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA) Nigeria. Dr. Ebegba provides fundamental insights on integration of genome editing in Africa’s crop breeding systems.

Finally, we are closing in on the Africa Biennial Biosciences Communication (ABBC) 2021 symposium. The physical-virtual hybrid symposium will run from 20th to 24th September under the theme "Accelerating the Biotech Tipping Point: Taking Stock and Celebrating the Gains". Registration closes on 15th September 2021.

Enjoy your read!


Genome Editing: Breeding Superior Crops for Africa

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Dr. Rufus Ebegba

Dr. Rufus Ebegba
Director General, National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA) Nigeria

Genome Editing in Africa's Agriculture: Crop Breeding 2.0

New breeding innovations are increasing the efficiency of improving crops with valuable traits. In Africa, CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing is already being used by researchers to address various crop production challenges. To realize its full potential, an enabling environment should be fostered through science-based policies and regulations, communication and stakeholder engagement. Here, Dr. Rufus Ebegba, Director General of the National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA) Nigeria, provide insights on the prospects of genome editing in Africa.

Country / Region Crop Modified Trait Date of approval
Philippines Rice Vitamin A enhanced July 22, 2021
Philippines Brinjal (eggplant) Insect resistant July 23, 2021
Kenya Cassava Disease resistant June 15, 2021
Australia Canola (Stacked) Herbicide Tolerance + Pollination control system May 12, 2021
Stopping Plant Disease Pandemics

Stopping Plant Disease Pandemics

Plant disease outbreaks are increasing and threaten food security for the vulnerable in many areas of the world. Plant diseases are spreading and exacerbated by climate change, transmission with global food trade networks, pathogen spill over, and evolution of new pathogen lineages. In order to tackle these grand challenges, a new set of tools are needed to prevent future outbreaks. Read more here.

Food security and welfare changes under COVID-19 in Sub-Saharan Africa

Food security and welfare changes under COVID-19 in Sub-Saharan Africa

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected all Sub-Saharan economies through a multitude of impact channels. This study determines the medium-term macroeconomic outcomes of the pandemic on the Kenyan economy and links the results with a detailed food security and nutrition microsimulation module. Read more here.

ABBC 2021 Save the Date
GM Crops and the Global Divide – Jennifer Thomson
Our Environment Under Siege: Bequeath Hope for Future Generations – Ratemo Waya Michieka