UK scientists lead cutting edge research into ‘super crops’
New research led by UK scientists is looking to create crops that are more nutritious and resilient to disease, drought and floods. The research aims to allow farmers in Africa to adapt to the changing climate and maintain stable agriculture production.
The research will also look into developing medicines to protect livestock from disease.
Natural disasters such as floods and droughts are increasing due to the earth’s changing climate; this poses a serious threat to Africa as a millions of farmers within the continent depend on agriculture to feed their families and produce their livelihoods.
Scientists are attempting to identify individual genes within crops that provide a greater level of nutrition, as well as the genes that make them more resilient to disease and extreme weather. The research will also look into speeding up growth times for crops. Deemed ‘super crops’, the research aims to help up to 100 million African farmers out of poverty by developing crops which provide greater agricultural stability and prosperity.
International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt, who was recently criticised for her new plans to cut aid, announced the new UK aid research will be carried out by international organisation, CGIAR.
The announcement was made during a visit to the University of Edinburgh alongside Bill Gates. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation also announced further investment in UK livestock research and development during the visit.
International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt said:
"Unpredictable flooding, plant diseases and drought are threatening the lives and livelihoods of millions of farmers in Africa who struggle to grow enough crops to put food on the table - the urgency of the task is clear.
"That’s why UK aid is supporting British scientists to develop new crops that are more productive, more nutritious and more resistant to droughts and flooding, as well as creating new medicines to protect cattle and poultry from devastating disease.
During the visit plans were also announced to develop the Centre for Tropical Livestock Genetics and Health which is based in Edinburgh and Nairobi. The centre uses advances in genetics and genomics in UK farming to guide smallholder dairy and poultry farmers in sub-Saharan Africa.
Penny Mordaunt added:
"This transformative UK aid research will not only stop diseases from destroying the livelihoods of African farmers, it will also help control livestock diseases on British farms.
"New ideas, cutting edge science and innovative partnerships with organisations like the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will help Britain create a healthier, more secure and prosperous world for us all."
Aid & International Development Forum is hosting its inaugural Africa Climate Smart Agriculture Summit on 15-16th May 2018 in Nairobi, Kenya. The summit will discuss innovations and challenges in CSA practices, increasing cross industry collaboration for CSA, financial investment for CSA and much more.
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Image credit: Department for International Development.