One Planet Fellowship targets African researchers and scientists working on climate change, agriculture solutions

Image 1Investing in the next generation of African scientists, African Women in Agricultural Research and Development (AWARD) has announced that the call for third cohort of the One Planet Fellowship is open

Inspired by the AWARD Fellowship Model, One Planet Fellowship’s interventions target high potential scientists in a career acceleration process.

The US$19.2mn One Planet Fellowship seeks to invest in more than 630 agricultural scientists, fostering their leadership expertise, strengthening their research skills, including integrating gender into their work, and catalysing partnerships in Africa and between Africa and Europe. Since launching the inaugural call in 2019, AWARD has received over 2400 applications and, to date, 89 outstanding scientists from 14 African countries have been offered the One Planet Fellowship.

Selected candidates participate in an intensive, three-year non-residential, career acceleration process and those who complete it will become One Planet Laureates. “The One Planet Fellowship has made me appreciate the critical role of women in science to transform Africa,” said Austin Phiri, chief agricultural research scientist, Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development and Malawi 2019 One Planet Laureate Candidate.

Mevoyon Pamela Karrel Afokpe Research Station Manager, East-West Seed, Benin 2019 One Planet Laureate Candidate, added, “The One Planet Fellowship is a lifeline that supports sustainable development and addresses climate change.”

The call seeks applicants from Algeria, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mali, Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal, Tanzania, Togo, and Zambia. Deadline for applications is 15 February 2021.

Why the One Planet Fellowship?

As global temperatures continue to rise, the more costly and dangerous the impacts - from flooded homes and deadly heat waves to devastated supply chains and crop failure. These changes are already undermining global efforts to reduce poverty and for Africa to transform its agriculture and feed its growing population.

Research and innovation are key tools that will enable the creation of suitable sustainable solutions. However, it is paramount that these address the needs and priorities of the diverse agricultural-dependent communities in Africa, recorded to be more than 70%.

More fundamentally, Africa must look to the next generation of young researchers to provide home-grown solutions. Therefore, Africa needs to develop its scientific capacity to address the increasingly complex challenges we face in a changing climate. That is why the One Planet Fellowship has been created to build a robust pipeline of highly connected, inter-generational scientists leading climate change research across the continent.

“The world needs the next generation of climate scientists to be well equipped for the next generation and the next one! Adapting to climate change requires an investment in context-specific knowledge. That’s what One Planet Fellowship is all about,” stated Wanjiru Kamau-Rutenberg, director of AWARD.

Making a difference

The first and second cohort of One Planet Laureate candidates, all under 40 years, are working to develop climate adaptation solutions for Africa’s smallholder farmers. Their research focuses on a variety of agricultural disciplines including livestock systems and greenhouse gas emissions; plant breeding; post-harvest management; natural resource management; food science, and research commercialisation among others.

Miriam Karwitha, a 2019 laureate candidate from Kenya, is a crop protection scientist and a university lecturer who equips young professionals and the farming community in Kenya to promote reforestation and train them on better crop protection approaches.

Moussa Kante a Mali scientist and a 2020 laureate candidate specialises in agronomic research on phytosanitary issues, the protection of plants and the environment in general, and, more specifically, on Cassava Bacterial Blight. 

He is working to understand the status of this disease (CBB) in new geographical areas. Ultimately, his research aims to better understand the spread of this pathogen in production areas to help breeders select varieties with long-term resistance to CBB.

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