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UK allocates Sh12b to fund ‘super crops’ in Africa

Mwangi Mumero @PeopleDailyKe

The British government will donate £90 million (Sh12 billion) over the next three years to fund the growth of nutrious crops that are resistant to disease and better able to withstand severe floods or drought in Africa.

The funding will help UK scientists use their expertise to identify the specific genes in crops that makes them more nutritious, grow faster and are more resilient to disease and extreme weather.

To be channelled through the Department of International Development (DFID), the funding will help the scientists in collaboration with international research organisations to seek better crops that are resilient to climate change.

UK International Development Secretary, Penny Mordaunt, says 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.

At the same time, the UK is spending a further £4 million (Sh570 million) to fund research work on diseases which cause huge economic losses for African farmers.

This includes Animal African Trypanosomiasis (AAT), a disease which kills over three million cattle a year, which has been estimated to cost over $4 billion (Sh570 billion) a year to African economies and can cause sleeping sickness in people.

Scientists have uncovered new molecules, which can be developed into an effective treatment for this devastating disease. They are also working to reduce the impact of many diseases that can be passed to people from animals such as Porcine Cysticercosis – the most common cause of epilepsy in Africa.

UK also plans to develop the Centre for Tropical Livestock Genetics and Health, which is based in both Edinburgh and Nairobi.

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