Sub-Saharan Africa news in brief: 25 February–10 March 2010

Eating more guinea pigs could improve nutrition in Congo Copyright: FlickrDan

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Below is a roundup of news from or about Sub-Saharan Africa for the period 25 February –10 March 2010

African agriculture fund will link research to smallholder farmers
A fund has been has launched to stimulate the private sector to connect agricultural research with smallholder farmers. The Africa Enterprise Challenge Fund (AECF) Research into Business will fund research into developing new crop varieties, pest and disease control methods and better irrigation techniques. More>>

New efficient maize varieties in pipeline
The International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center hopes to boost food security in Sub-Saharan Africa with the launch of a project to create maize varieties that use fertilisers efficiently even in nutrient-deficient soils. Improved Maize for African Soils (IMAS) aims to develop varieties that are "better at capturing the small amounts of fertiliser than Africans can afford" and can better utilise the nitrogen taken up to produce grain. More>>

Researchers collaborate on East Coast fever research
Kenyan and Scottish researchers are investigating East Coast fever, one of the most important cattle diseases in the region, which is a lethal infection caused by the tick-borne parasite Theileria parva. They hope to increase their understanding of the live vaccine currently used to protect cattle and identify parasite strains that could be used in improved live vaccines against the disease. More>>

Integrated antiretroviral treatment effective, study finds
A study of South Africans infected with both HIV and tuberculosis (TB) has found that starting antiretroviral (ARV) therapy during TB therapy can improve survival rates. Researchers found that death rates more than doubled when ARV treatment was delayed until the completion of TB treatment. They say that their findings, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, support the integration of both treatments. More>>

Seed project to boost food security in Southern Africa
A four-year seed security project has been launched to improve access of small farmers to high-quality seeds. The multi-million dollar scheme also seeks to domesticate the Southern Africa Development Community’s seed regulatory system, boost seed trade and integrate isolated national seed markets into a single regional market. More>>

Guinea pigs could be major sources of nutrition in DRC
Scientists from the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) are examining how to increase guinea pig production to boost food security in war-torn areas of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), where inhabitants keep the rodents as "micro-livestock". The research will look at ways of improving farming practices and fodder. The DRC has one of the highest incidences of malnutrition in the world. More>>

Donor funding dearth threatens HIV/AIDS treatment
Earlier, more efficient treatment of HIV/AIDS patients, in accordance with WHO’s new guidelines (see WHO updates HIV recommendations) could prove elusive because donors are backing away from their "universal access" promise, the aid organisation Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has warned. MSF highlighted Sub-Saharan Africa, saying that many countries on the continent are heavily dependent on external funding to scale up treatment programmes

Cross-border polio immunisation programme underway
A massive cross-border programme to halt a year-long polio epidemic is underway in 19 countries in West and Central Africa and will see 85 million children under the age of five immunised. The campaign, launched last week (6 March), will involve more than 400,000 health workers and volunteers. Rotary International has invested US$30 million in the programme. More>>

Compiled by Ochieng’ Ogodo. Additional reporting by Busani Bafana, Duncan Mboya and Maina Waruru

If you would like to suggest a story for this news in brief, please contact the Africa News Editor Ochieng’ Ogodo (ochieng.ogodo@scidev.net).