Featured Collaborator: John Bananuka
Meet John Bananuka, our featured collaborator.
We are proud to work with dedicated collaborators like John. An agronomist at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda, he balances research, teaching, and project management. That's not his only job: John is also the Regional Network Director for the Eastern Africa Programme and Research Network for Biotechnology, Biosafety, and Biotechnology Policy Development, or BIO-EARN. This consortium of East African universities and research institutions creates and supports projects that incorporate private institutions and businesses into solving food security challenges. As regional director, John manages relationships between numerous researchers and departments spanning East Africa and Europe.
John's own research focuses on cassava, the second most important crop in Africa. Cassava is a useful, multi-purpose plant: Over 200 million Africans depend on it as a staple in their diet, and many others use it in textile manufacturing and even pharmaceuticals. Unfortunately, soil infertility, disease, and a variable climate limit cassava production where it is most needed — a region too often plagued by hunger, under-developed industry, and land degradation.
John is searching for partners to help him overcome many of the problems cassava faces by developing a strong and enhanced value chain. Opportunities for improvement include: enhanced varieties to develop resilience to pests and a changing climate; better crop management to increase crop quantity and quality; improved postharvest handling and processing to ensure value to the consumer as well as increase farmer income.
Building capacity to fill value chain gaps that extend across East African cassava farmers, researchers, and entrepreneurs may seem overwhelming. But John has years of research under his belt, a model for multiplication and delivery of planting materials, and a network of colleagues committed to solving this challenge. Now he needs partners to help him catalyze his network into a machine capable of birthing a robust East African cassava value chain. To learn more about John and his challenge, see his Challenger Profile (PDF).
Contributors: Christina Golubski and Andrew Gerard
Top Photo: Sara E. Farley
Bottom Photo: Guardian UK