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27th February 2024
Welcome to issue 68 of the DrumBeat!

Dear reader,

The International Day of Women and Girls in Science is celebrated on February 11 of every year. This day recognizes the vital contributions made by women and girls in science and technology, and aims to foster their complete and equitable involvement in the same.

It provides a forum to highlight the obstacles encountered by women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) disciplines and calls for enhanced opportunities and resources to empower women in pursuing scientific careers. In honour of this year's theme, "Women in Science Leadership: A New Era for Sustainability," we spoke to a few of the outstanding women scientists in Africa.

In our video of the month, Dr Siboniso Moyo, the Deputy Director General for Research and Development at ILRI (International Livestock Research Institute) shares with us her science story, through which we understand the contribution of African women scientists in research, technology, and scientific advancements. She also highlights the benefits of inclusion of women in decision-making processes and leadership roles within the scientific community.

In our story of the month, Prof Idah Sithole-Niang, who is a Professor in the Department and the Dean of the Faculty of Science in the University of Zimbabwe's Department of Biochemistry, and who has worked in biotechnology and biosafety capacity development for two decades within Zimbabwe and in several sub-Saharan African countries, narrates her thrilling journey in STEM. Her story is an inspiration for young girls and students to pursue studies and careers in STEM fields, challenging stereotypes and biases.

The Drumbeat team 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.

Enjoy your read!


Celebrating Women in Science:
Dr. Siboniso Moyo, Deputy Director - ILRI

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Stephane Fadanka

Prof Idah Sithole Niang
Professor, Dean of the Faculty of Science, University of Zimbabwe

Prof Idah Sithole Niang

Prof Idah Sithole Niang acquired her PhD in Biochemistry in 1988 from The Michigan State University. She has since risen in leaps and bounds to the upper echelons of science royalty, joining the University of Zimbabwe's Department of Biochemistry in 1992 and climbing to the position of full Professor in the Department and the Dean of the Faculty of Science. The molecular biologist took us through her journey in STEM- Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics - and what it means to her and her community.

Read more
From Our Newsroom


The International Services for the Acquisition of Agribiotech Application (ISAAA AfriCenter) and The University of Nairobi, Kenya Aids Vaccine Initiative - Institute of Clinical Research (KAVI-ICR) organized a webinar to sensitize stakeholders on Rift Valley fever following a recent confirmed outbreak of the disease. The two organizations collaborated under the Capacitating One Health in East and Southern Africa (COHESA) project, which is led by a consortium of International Livestock Research Institute, The French Agricultural Research Centre for International Development (CIRAD) and ISAAA AfriCenter. Read more.

Rwanda's Gazettes Biosafety Law

On February 21, 2024, Rwanda marked a significant milestone with the enactment of a Gazetted Biosafety Law. This Law establishes an adequate level of protection in the field of the safe transfer and use of living modified organisms, resulting from modern biotechnology that may have an adverse effect on the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity while taking into consideration the effect of this transfer and use on human health.

The Crisis of Plant Transformation (And the Barrier to Improved Agricultural Productivity)

The Crisis of Plant Transformation (And the Barrier to Improved Agricultural Productivity)

Innovative approaches are needed to sustainably improve agricultural productivity and address global food insecurity. One such approach is plant genetic transformation — the process of introducing DNA, RNA and proteins into plant cells and tissue, followed by the regeneration of those transformed materials into whole plants. It can even help advance the genetic study and improvement of crop plants. Unfortunately, its full potential is not being realized. Read more

World's first genetically-modified banana, developed in Queensland, deemed fit for humans

World's first genetically-modified banana, developed in Queensland, deemed fit for humans

The world's first genetically modified banana developed in Queensland has been approved for human consumption and commercial sale in Australia. The QCAV-4 banana was created by a team of Queensland University of Technology researchers who wanted to safeguard the fruit industry against the soil-borne fungus, Panama disease tropical race 4. The new banana was bred by taking a standard Cavendish banana and adding a gene from a wild southeast Asian variety. Read more.

Evolution of Genetic Improvement Tools in Agriculture: Is Communication Matching Up?
Viewpoint: The uptake of new crop science: Explaining success, and failure
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