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We welcome Theresa Ampadu-Boakye to N2Africa as monitoring and evaluation specialist – and I’m pleased to report that we now have a full complement of staff across the project. Together with the addition of Jeff Ehlers, who leads the Small Grains & Legumes Crop Team within the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, to support Charlene McKoin in an oversight role for N2Africa this puts us in great shape for the forthcoming challenges of delivering on the ambition of N2Africa. At the same time this means that Vi Shukla of the foundation will have less of a direct role in N2Africa. We thank Vi for her help in getting the second phase of N2Africa off the ground, and I’m sure we’ll find ways of interacting in future.

The past two months have been an exciting time for N2Africa and we have a lot to report. N2Africa was awarded the "Harvesting Nutrition" prize of the of the SecureNutrition Knowledge Platform’s 2013.

At the request of the Governor of Borno State, Nigeria and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, activities of N2Africa have been expanded to include a new target area, which is a great endorsement of our approach. We have been working on a series of Master Plans to ensure coherence in our approaches across all the countries and target areas, and Andy Farrow of GeAgrofía has produced reports for Ethiopia, Tanzania and Uganda on how we can best target N2Africa activities.The final report of the first phase of N2Africa has been published and can be downloaded from the N2Africa website, as can the report on the first 6 months of the second phase. We have lots of new extension materials have been produced together with the African Soil Health Consortium, Nodumax is starting to produce inoculants in Nigeria and activities are in full swing in all of the countries.

I’m writing this introduction from a ‘double’ conference – the 6th International Food Legumes Research Conference and the 7th International Conference of Legume Genetics and Genomics in Saskatoon, Canada. I presented an invited keynote on behalf of N2Africa and Endalkachew Wolde-Meskel gave a great paper combining his earlier work on rhizobial diversity in Ethiopia and how this feeds into new N2Africa activities. The Legumes CGIAR Research Programme (to which N2Africa and the Tropical Legumes II project contribute) is very well represented with some exciting developments in grain legume varieties and seed systems. Endalkachew and I had lots of interesting discussions – and there are lots of new research areas we will form concrete collaboration.

I had the pleasure of visiting field activities in northern Rwanda together with Edouard Ruranga of the Rwandan Agriculture Board (RAB) and Jacques Hakizimana of Development Rural Durable (DRD). The climbing bean varieties developed and disseminated through the Pan African Bean Research Alliance (PABRA) are truly stunning, but only able to demonstrate their full potential when grown with manure and P fertilizer (see photos). I was privileged to be shown around some of Edouard’s trials by Mrs Gasilida after whom one of the best climbing bean varieties was named!

no manure applied

with manure and P fertilizer

On a more somber note, we received the very sad news that George Kivandah, the Chairman of the Kenya Soyabean Farmers Association (KESOFA) passed away suddenly. Rev. Kivandah had been a great supporter of N2Africa and had attended many of our meetings – his vision, energy and leadership will be sorely missed and we extend our condolences to his family and close friends and colleagues.

Ken Giller