The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) has just awarded a grant of $1,700.147 (including $420,376 in co-funding from other sources) to Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) in Pretoria, South Africa, to undertake capacity building in Legume Sciences for Africa. The project will focus mainly on training and research to increase yields of major food legumes in Africa such as cowpea, groundnut, common bean and soybean. The funding will be used for basic and applied training of 12 MSc and six PhD students over a five-year period. The focus countries of this project include Mali, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Nigeria, Uganda, Tanzania and Ethiopia. It is planned that, wherever logistically possible, students recruited from these focus countries will undertake their research activities within existing BMGF-funded programs in Africa, such as N2Africa, TL II, and AGRA, hopefully leading to better project implementation and effective utilization of these talents on the African continent. The partners in this capacity-building project include TUT in South Africa (Prof Felix D. Dakora), the Centre for Rhizobium Studies at Murdoch University (Prof John Howieson), the University of California at Los Angeles Campus, UCLA (Prof Ann Hirsch), Brazil’s Agricultural Research Corporation or EMBRAPA (Prof Mariangela Hungria), and the Department of Science and Technology of the South African Government. The approach in this project is to develop a sandwich program whereby students from the seven focus countries in Africa register with TUT in South Africa and undertake part of their training in Australia, Brazil or USA, depending on the nature of the research project. Because there are currently very few female scientists in agricultural research in Africa, this project seeks to have a gender balance of 50% female and 50% male recruitment. The project will commence with immediate effect from 1 January 2012. Interested potential students from the seven focus countries should contact Prof Felix D. Dakora (DakoraFD@tut.ac.za or DakoraFD@gmail.com).
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