The Royal Agricultural University (RAU) and the Tropical Agricultural Association (TAA) held a successful one-day seminar on ‘Cropping systems and pulses’ at the University last week.
Launch of the African Soil Biology Project
Professor David Hopkins of the Royal Agricultural University (RAU) in Cirencester attended the inaugural meeting of the African Soil Biology Project supported by the USAID (the United States International Aid programme) at the University of Pretoria in South Africa last week.
Professor Hopkins has significant research experience of soils in extreme environments, including deserts and other environments in southern Africa, and his role in this project is as one of two international advisors and non-African collaborators to the programme.
The project will involve the most ambitious sampling and biological programme ever attempted across Africa. Inaugural research partners include researchers form South Africa, Mozambique, Namibia, Kenya, and Cote d’Ivoire, with additional collaborators in Zimbabwe and Ethiopia, and potential field sites and partners being explored in Botswana, Tanzania, Zambia and Angola. This is a three-year sampling project and the aim is to expand the coverage to as much of sub-Saharan Africa as possible.
Professor Hopkins explained that, “of all the continents, Africa is facing the largest challenges in providing food and supporting a growing population, exacerbated by climate change and other environmental changes. It is essential to generate a widespread understanding of Africa’s soil resources, and this project will provide key under-pinning data for understanding soil fertility and conserving the continent’s soil resources.”
The primary aim of the meeting in Pretoria was to design the sampling programme – a non-trivial task involving multiple national administrations and often relatively inaccessible territories.