Striga Smart Sorghum Project Launched

Dr Mithika Mwenda addresses climate activists during one of the COP27 sessions in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt.

By Don Ngome |

A new project, Feed the Future Striga Smart Sorghum for Africa, has been launched in Kenya and Ethiopia.

The project utilizes genome editing technology to develop new sorghum varieties resistant to Striga.

Striga is a parasitic weed responsible for up to 100 percent yield loss in Africa’s staple cereals, thus posing a great danger to the livelihoods of millions of smallholder farmers on the continent.

The three-year multi-institutional, multisectoral project is supported by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) which has awarded nearly US$3.8 million to support the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA) AfriCenter, Kenyatta University (Kenya), and Addis Ababa University (Ethiopia).

In Kenya, Dr. Gatama Gichini, a representative of Kenya’s Education Cabinet Secretary, presided over the project launch.

 “The Ministry encourages the partners to anchor the project within Government agricultural programs for synergy and optimum success,” he said.

The lead partners say the project is a game-changer in Africa’s quest to combat the effects of climate change on agriculture. “We are grateful for this outstanding award.This is a clear demonstration of USAID’s commitment to address agricultural challenges and empower African smallholder farmers through yield improvement interventions,” said

Dr. Margaret Karembu, the project’s contact.

Prof. Steven Runo, a co-chief scientist termed the new project a win for agriculture in the region. “Striga infestation is a real menace in sub-Saharan Africa. We convey our utmost gratitude to USAID for the big support in arresting this mammoth challenge and ensuring the region becomes food sufficient,” remarked Prof. Runo.


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