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29th January 2024
Welcome to issue 67 of the DrumBeat!

Dear reader,

Happy New Year!

To kick off 2024, we are shining the spotlight on the exciting Feed the Future Striga Smart Sorghum for Africa (SSSfA) project. Launched in 2022, the cross-sectoral collaborative project in Kenya and Ethiopia is working to outsmart Striga (witchweed) and give sorghum a fighting chance using genome editing technology. But that's not all - SSSfA is keen on growing skills and solutions right at home, making sure that genome-edited Striga-resistant sorghum is not just a one-time product, but the beginning of a seamless introduction of genome editing to complement the pre-existing breeding techniques.

In this month's video, Bibiana Iraki, Senior Programs Officer at ISAAA AfriCenter, highlights the key milestones made within the African biosciences landscape in 2023. It was a year marked by notable advancements in research and development, regulatory approvals, communication, and goodwill to create an enabling environment for biosciences research translation. As we step into 2024, Bibiana extends an invitation to all like-minded partners to join hands in bridging the gap between science and society in the journey to realizing the shared vision of the Africa we want.

In our story of the month, we feature Stéphane Fadanka, the Executive Director at MboaLab Biotech in Cameroon, whom the Drumbeat team met at the Africa Biennial Biosciences Communication (ABBC 2023) Symposium. Stéphane highlights how Africa stands to benefit from bio-innovation ventures and start-ups. This is a primary target for Africa Biosciences Hubs (AfriBIOHubs), an initiative of the SSSfA project aimed at supporting innovation, bio-entrepreneurship, and local capacity for conducting routine genome editing research and commercialization.

The Drumbeat invites you to join the Africa Science Dialogue community, a new initiative that connects experts, journalists, and other stakeholders to interact and share factual, verifiable, and credible information about science, technologies, and innovations in agriculture, health, and the environment. Register here to be part of this vibrant community.

Finally, we would like to congratulate the European Parliament's Environment Committee for voting in favor of the proposal for New Genomic Techniques. This is a significant step towards enabling plant breeding innovations to contribute to a sustainable food system.

Enjoy your read!


Africa's 2024 Biosciences Outlook:
Gearing Up to the Africa We Want

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Stephane Fadanka

Stephane Fadanka
Executive Director, Mboalab Biotech, Cameroon

How Africa stands to benefit from bio-innovation ventures and start-ups

On the sidelines of the Africa Biennial Biosciences Communication (ABBC 2023) Symposium, the DrumBeat team caught up with Stephane Fadanka, a molecular biologist and open science ambassador from Cameroon. Stephane is passionate about enhancing equity for researchers by democratizing research tools and methods. He has been developing contextualized protocols, hardware prototypes, and manufacturing processes for local enzyme production in his country.

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From Our Newsroom
Nigeria Approves GM Maize for Commercialization

Nigeria Approves GM Maize for Commercialization

The Federal Government of Nigeria has approved the commercial release of genetically modified insect-resistant and drought-tolerant maize varieties, known as TELA maize. With this latest development, GM maize becomes the second food crop, after Bt cowpea, to be commercialized in the country. Read more.

Navigating the Tides of Change - Lessons from 2023

Navigating the Tides of Change - Lessons from 2023

As the year 2024 picks pace, ISAAA AfriCenter promises to continue working with all our esteemed partners and stakeholders towards achieving Africa’s targets stipulated in AU Agenda 2063 and the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Did you miss our closing Annual Letter? Not to worry, Drumbeat 67 gives you a chance to re-cap the message from our Director, Dr. Margaret Karembu, MBS, and share in our impact and lessons from 2023. We look forward to building on this momentum with you to ensure a more prosperous 2024. Read more.

Evolution of Genetic Improvement Tools in Agriculture: Is Communication Matching Up?
Building Capacity for Home-grown Biosciences Research and Commercialization
New ISAAA Infographic Shows Global Regulatory Landscape for Gene-Edited Crops