Tackling African food crop challenges

Professor Gary Foster Director of CONNECTED networkDozens of early career researchers from sub-Saharan African countries will attend a two-week training course at the University of Bristol, the UK in June 2019

It’s organised by the Bristol-based CONNECTED research network, which works to find ways of tackling plant diseases that devastate African food crops, and which are spread by vectors.

The course will have attendees including plant pathologists and entomologists. Researchers from these disciplines will come together to learn and share insect and plant expertise – fulfilling a core element of the network’s interdisciplinary function, as it seeks to find long-term solutions that will help improve African food security.

University of Bristol’s Professor Gary Foster, CONNECTED Network director, said, “The purpose of V4 is to help create a cohort of researchers with a joint understanding of virology and entomology. We want to enable them to collaborate effectively on the research challenges of plant vector-borne diseases in Africa for years to come.”

Places at the event were awarded by competitive application, with funding awarded to cover travel, accommodation, subsistence and all training costs of successful applicants. The programme will combine scientific talks, general lab training skills, specific virology and entomology lecture and practical work, workshops, desk-based projects and soft skills training.

The network’s Co-Director, Professor Neil Boonham, from Newcastle University, commented, “Plant diseases significantly limit the ability of many countries to produce enough staple and cash crops such as cassava, sweet potato, maize and yam. The CONNECTED project focuses on addressing their spread by vectors – insects that transmit a disease from one plant to another.”

Delegates attending V4 will be travelling from nations including Nigeria, Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi, Ghana, Zambia, Zimbabwe, DR Congo, and Benin.

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