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[NAIROBI] Zimbabwe's scientists have called for partners to help reignite the country's science and technology development, given hope by the recent political negotiations, which resulted in a joint government.

"Please collaborate with us," said Esther Khosa of Zimbabwe's Biotechnology Research Institute, addressing delegates at the First All Africa Congress on Biotechnology in Nairobi, Kenya, last week (26 September). "There are some of us still struggling to push science and technology in Zimbabwe."

Khosa told the meeting that Zimbabwe's scientists are starting almost from scratch and face many challenges including a lack of funding, run down laboratories, limited science infrastructure, a lack of human resources and weak collaboration between research institutions, governments and the private sector.

But Khosa said that, in spite of these obstacles, research on plant and animal biotechnology continues in the country, including field trials on a drought resistant maize and production of the drug ivermectin for cattle.

"What we require is funding, building of human capacity, renovation of the science infrastructure and collaboration with others," she said.

Ian Robertson of the University of Zimbabwe said the country has a strong science base and with stability and support from the international community "we will be back in business".

He added that the recent political situation and economic meltdown had forced many talented and well-trained scientists from the country to seek employment elsewhere.

But science will be a major factor in socioeconomic growth when normality returns to Zimbabwe and research and development will be up and running once again, he said.

"We need to pull back the best brains out there and create an enabling environment for science to grow," Robertson told SciDev.Net.