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FAO and IAEA discuss scaling up of nuclear techniques in Africa’s food and agriculture sector

The first-ever joint meeting of members of the Africa Groups in both Rome and Vienna, the headquarters of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) was held to showcase what the Joint FAO/IAEA Centre of Nuclear Techniques in Food and Agriculture can offer to Africa, and to provide an opportunity for representatives from Africa to set out the key areas for strengthened support

QU Dongyu, director-general of the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), pointed to some of the recent successes the Joint FAO-IAEA Centre has contributed to in Africa, including using isotope techniques to obtain precise measurements of soil erosion rates and evaluate effectiveness of soil conservation practices in Tunisia and a similar approach that drove a 150% increase in cucumber yields in Nigeria while reducing water use.

Other success stories in the region, highlighted in technical presentations at the meeting, include enormous increase in cassava yields, livelihood gains in Senegal due to eradicating the tsetse fly in some areas and a high-performing rice mutant variety in Zanzibar, Tanzania.

“Innovations in areas ranging from soil management and plant breeding to insect pest control and food safety have brought the world a step closer to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, and scaling up the capacity to deploy such novelties is imperative,” Dongyu said.