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NIESA: research on plant nematodes control in Africa

A Kenyan woman scientist – a leading plant nematologist in Africa – shared a platform with German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the Falling Walls Conference, a global forum on future breakthroughs in Science and Society, in Berlin on November 9. Prof. Waceke Wanjohi, addressed top international scientists (Chancellor Merkel included, as she has a doctorate in Physics) and showed how her breakthrough research on plant nematodes could help boost food security around the world.

Prof. Wanjohi is the co-founder of the Nematology Initiative of East and Southern Africa (NIESA), which seeks to improve crop yields in smallholder farming systems in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Malawi and Zimbabwe by effectively using alternative (mostly non-chemical), environmental friendly strategies to control the phytonematodes. On her own words, with the paper entitled “Breaking the Wall of Food Insecurity: How Agricultural Science Minimizes Nematode Damage in Sub-Saharan Africa” she intended to summarize the benefits of her research approach, that allows less pesticide use and misuse, reduces food risks and environmental damages, and increases the food harvest and ensures food security.

“From an agricultural perspective, a nematode species may be beneficial or detrimental: the pest nematodes attack plants and spread viruses, causing a global crop yield loss of 125 billion U.S. dollars annually,” she added. In Africa, through operational coordination of NIESA, cooperative projects have been developed in the last three years dealing with the control of phytonematode species that are local threats. Some of these studies, related to the biological control of nematodes, involved the collaboration of the late Dr. Brian Kerry (Rothamsted, UK); Drs. David Hunt and Simon Gowen are also core members of NIESA.

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  1. Ernst Shuttlif disse:

    Nice post. Good to know about integrated efforts to overcome hunger like this one.

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