Knowledge for Development

February 2013 K4D Newsletter

Date: 13/03/2013


In this issue, we feature two lead articles which were written by Professor Ameenah Gurib-Fakim and myself in commemoration of Women’s day on 08th March. As you read the e-newsletter, I encourage you to reflect on how the pursuit of science, the merging of various scientific disciplines and harnessing of the collective knowledge and potential of all actors can spur innovation and create new enterprises. Of course, we must continue to consider the enabling policy environment that is needed to support science and development. 

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Professor Ameenah Gurib-Fakim writes about the challenges that women continue to face and how she was able to pursue her love for science in spite of the odds. She stresses that we all lose when we fail to harness the full potential of women. Prof Gurib-Fakim studied chemistry at university level, merged three scientific disciplines – biology, pharmacology and organic chemistry and used lateral thinking to build a successful academic career in traditional medicine. She is now an entrepreneur, and leads the Centre for Phytotherapy Research (CEPHYR) in Mauritius providing innovative ideas and new lead modules for the pharmaceutical, cosmetic and food sectors. She continues to create opportunities for other young female scientists.  

My article focuses on why we should not lose momentum in championing the innovation systems approach for bringing about transformative change in ACP agricultural systems. When pursuing an innovation agenda, given the complexities and challenges, continuous innovation is needed and systemic, inter-connected thinking is required for achieving agricultural transformation. We must not lose the opportunities the innovation systems approach provides for informing policy and practice. Some other interesting items featured in the e-newsletter include articles on teff, sorghum and ackee.  

In Ethiopia, attempts were made to pilot the implementation of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) governing access to teff genetic resources and the fair and equitable sharing of benefits derived from their use. This was hailed as one of the most advanced agreements of its time, but it failed and Ethiopia is now left with fewer possibilities for generating and sharing the benefits from the use of teff genetic resources. The individual genetic make-up of 971 sorghum varieties from world-wide seed collections has been determined by an international research team using genotyping-by-sequencing (GBS). Answers have been provided on what grains are preferred for maximum crop yield in dry areas, and other ecosystems such as rain-fed areas. The ackee fruit is being considered as having promising commercial potential because of the presence of the rare omega-7 fatty acid, found in low concentration in the arils.  

Science, policy, innovation and entrepreneurship opportunities abound.  

For more in-depth reading, please click on the links in the K4D newsletter to access the full texts of all the articles. Please also share the newsletter with your colleagues and invite them to send a blank email to You can also connect with us via Twitter or Facebook! 

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