Bio-Innovate has invested heavily on partnership as its strategy to deliver bioscience and bio-resource innovations to the end user. Each of the consortium projects is carefully designed to include key partners that span the innovation value chain from the laboratory or experimental field to the farmers or industrial partners. A consortium will typically be composed of a team of scientists, private sector player, NGOs working with farmers, and other development practitioners depending on the nature of the project. In addition, Bio-Innovate is also collaborating with policy makers in the region recognizing the critical importance of an enabling policy environment that supports the uptake and adoption of innovations in the region.
Bio-Innovate has adopted this concept in conducting its capacity building activities. The Program is supporting both MSc and PhD students whose outputs are directly linked to specific project activities. Scientists are sent out for short-term attachments to specialized laboratories outside their countries to acquire specific skills required in delivering particular project components. This ensures that the scientist acquire skills but at the same time generates data that contributes to the development of innovations and execution of a project. It also counters the ever-increasing brain drain, satisfying the skills versus competency gaps, and equipping scientists from developing countries with the requisite skills to provide solutions to the continent’s development challenges.
It is known that the eastern Africa region is plagued by perpetual food insecurity challenges influenced by outdated agricultural practices, overreliance on rain-fed agriculture, lack of an effective mechanism to disseminate new technologies to the farmers, and more recently unpredictable weather patterns due to the effects of climate change among other impediments. On the other hand the industrial sector has been accused of exacerbating the climate change problem by contributing to environmental degradation by not managing their waste effectively therefore contributing to greenhouse gases. This waste if well managed could be a useful source of bio-energy. These challenges are compounded by weak policies in the region.
As part of the monitoring and review exercise for Bio-Innovate projects conducted between May and October 2012, the Bio-Innovate Program Management Team (PMT) traveled to Kampala, Uganda on 29-30 October to review implementation progress made by project 6 on ‘use of biosciences for value addition and diversification to enhance commercialization of sorghum and millet products in eastern Africa’.
The Bio-Innovate Program Management Office (PMO) traveled to Kigali, Rwanda for a three-day project monitoring and evaluation exercise from 31 May–2 June 2012 to review the progress of project consortium 2 on ‘enhancing food security through improved seed systems of appropriate varieties of cassava, potato and sweet potato resilient to climate change in eastern Africa’.
The Bio-Innovate Program held a two-day meeting with the project consortium 3 on ‘Value added bean technologies for enhancing food security, nutrition, income and resilience to cope with climate change and variability challenges in eastern Africa’ at the Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research (EIAR) complex in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on 27-28 June 2012.