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22nd November 2021
Welcome to issue 46 of the DrumBeat!

In this issue, we dig deeper into the actors and events leading to Nigeria's environmental release approval of genetically modified maize for open cultivation. The October decision by the National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA), – Nigeria, captures the spirit of regulatory decisions informed by scientific evidence, independent and strengthened regulatory frameworks in Africa. These coupled with emboldened stakeholders, who sustain positive communication at local and regional levels have inspired a new wave of technology adoption across the continent with more approvals expected as countries approach final research stages of different biotech crops. Such efforts, continue to counter strong activism, inform policy, as well as change farmer perceptions and other target beneficiaries of biotech products across the continent.

The Video of the Month feature efforts by Kenyan scientists to provide farmers with superior genetically improved seeds. We speak to different stakeholders on status of three main biotech crops in the country; Bt cotton, Bt maize and GM cassava. The video captures experiences, lessons and best way forward to realize a food secure country powered by science-led agriculture.

The Story of the Month highlights Nigeria's journey to commercializing Bt maize. The approval by Nigeria's NBMA paves way for maize farmers from Africa's most populous nation to access seeds stacked with improved resistance to insect pests and enhanced ability to tolerate moderate drought. We talk to Dr. Sylvester Oikeh, TELA Maize Project Manager, about the project's journey; from onset to approval, the future and anticipated benefits to farmers.

In our publications corner, read about the socio-economic & trade opportunities along the Bt cotton value chain presented in our latest infographic

Finally, two announcements; In readiness to usher in the new year 2022, ISAAA AfriCenter invites like-minded partnerships to subscribe to our signature science communication and media training series as well as biotech seeing-is-believing study tours. Secondly, calling on Africa researchers to register your Genome Editing project here to be featured in the second edition of the "Genome Editing in Africa's Agriculture: An Early Take-off" booklet.

Enjoy the read!


Biotech Crops in Kenya

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Sylvester Oikeh

Sylvester Oikeh

Key Lessons from Nigeria’s Environmental Approval of TELA Maize

In October this year (2021), Africa recorded a milestone in crop biotech development when the Federal Government of Nigeria granted environmental approval for evaluation and open cultivation of TELA Maize, a new maize variety genetically modified to tolerate moderate drought and resist the fall armyworm and stem borer. The DrumBeat secured an exclusive interview with Dr. Sylvester Oikeh, the TELA Maize Project Manager. Dr. Oikeh shares his valuable experience, insights, and lessons from years of research and development into this improved climate smart TELA maize.

Country / Region Crop Modified Trait Date of approval
Brazil Wheat Drought tolerant November 11th 2021
Nigeria Corn/maize Drought-tolerant and insect-resistance October 10th 2021
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Pledges $315 Million to Support Climate Adaptation Initiatives for Smallholder Farmers

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Pledges $315 Million to Support Climate Adaptation Initiatives for Smallholder Farmers

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will donate $315 million to help smallholder farmers around the world grow climate-adaptable crops. Bill Gates made the funding announcement in Glasgow where he is attending the U.N. Climate Change Conference (COP26). Gates said the money will go to the CGIAR climate-related work to help hundreds of millions of smallholder farmers adapt to a surge of climate threats. Read more here.

COP26 Outcomes: The Global Action Agenda for Innovation in Agriculture

COP26 Outcomes: The Global Action Agenda for Innovation in Agriculture

The Global Action Agenda on Transforming Agricultural Innovation is one of high-level outcomes from the World Leaders Summit and Presidency theme days at COP26. The ongoing #ClimateShot campaign advocates for closing the innovation gap in agriculture, with new technologies and methods of producing food which protect nature. Read more here.

Infographic_Bt Cotton Socioeconomic & Trade Opportunities along the Value Chain_2021F
ISAAA Africenter Product and Services