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The 8th African Crop Science Conference, El-Minia, Egypt 27-31 Oct, 2007
The African Crop Science Society Conference (ACSS) is a biannual event held on a rotational basis among the African countries. Based at the Department of Crop Science, Faculty of Agriculture, Makerere University, Kampala, the ACSS core function is the exchange of scientific information among scientists in the area of agricultural sciences through society conferences and journal publications.
The 8th conference was hosted by the Faculty of Agriculture, Minia University, El-Minia Governorate, Egypt from 27th- 31st October 2007. The Theme of the conference was on crop research, dissemination and adoption for increase food supply, reducing hunger and poverty in Africa.
The chairman of the local organising committee welcomed all participants to the conference and assured everybody that Egypt is “home away from home”.
He further assured the participants that the conference would provide a lifetime memory of Egypt because of the vast opportunities that would be offered in terms of food, hospitality, historic sites and natural resource management especially the Nile water. Other welcome remarks and speeches were from the President of the ACSS and the President of Minia University. Following the welcome remarks and speeches, the conference was officially opened by the Minister of Higher Education and State for Scientific Research.
The conference was attended by close to 600 participants from all parts of the world. Renowned scientists from developed and developing countries gave lectures on special topics that affect agricultural productivities in Africa. The conference comprised keynote lectures, presentations of scient i f ic papers and posters, exhibitions and field excursions. Every session had plenaries. In total, there were 10 key notes lectures given by selected renowned scientists worldwide which included the followings: Plant breeding in the 21st Century by Prof.
P. S. Baenziger, University of Nebraska, USA; Trends in Africa’s crop production and the way forward on research and development by Prof. G. D. Jourbert, South Africa; Alleviating hunger and poverty in Africa-Role of agricultural research and development by Dr. S. Pandey, FAO, UN, Italy; Functional genomics of drought adaptation in cereals by Dr. J. Gyorgyey, Biological Research Centre, Hungary; Transgenic and (Trans) genomics research in banana (Musa spp. ) by Dr. L. Sagi, Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium; Why biosafety tests of GM plants are necessary in developing countries by Dr. G. Lovei, Universities of Aarhus, Denmark; Ethical and socio-economic implications of gene technology transfer to African societies by Prof. H. R. El- Kady, Egypt ian Atomic Energy Authority; Desertification and poverty: misguided concepts and approaches by Prof. M. A. Kishk, Minia University, Egypt; Integrated water management in Egypt by Prof. Dia El-Din El-Quosy, National Centre for water research, Egypt; Drought resistance research in rice: current challenges and future prospects by Prof . R. Ser raj , International Rice Research Institute, Philippines. In addition, some keynote lectures based on experiences in developing countries were presented including: Delivering information through the internet: The case of African crops. Net by Dr. M. Omare, African Crops Networks, Kenya; Comparison of research on sesame (Sesanum indicum) and nakati (Solanum aethiopicum) at Makerere University by Dr. C. K. Ssekabembe, Makerere University; Cassava Manihot esculenta Crantz, Genetic resources and their implication for improvement of the crop by Prof. N. M. A. Nasser, Universidade de Brasilia, Brazil; Highlights on termites and ants in Africa, the present and the future by Prof. M. Z. El-Nagar, Agricultural Research Centre, Egypt; Agricultural Research in Africa: so much input yet so little gain by Prof. J. K. Immungi.
Other aspects of the conferences included field excursions, and three different field excursions were conducted to take care of the diverse interests and needs of the participants.
The key ones were farming along the isolated water points in the desert especially the Oasis. The other places visited were the Shosa and Mallawi which represent the major settlement and cultivation areas. The aim of all these field excursions was to make participants appreciate how the scarce water resources can be optimally used to ensure maximum production and productivity. In addition, there were exhibitions, mainly of hand made materials from locally available plants harvested from the Nile river especially papyrus. This papyrus was turned into materials such as bed covers, carpets and wall decorations. Others products exhibited were animal products such as honey. The conference also hosted participants to a number of social evenings such as the welcome reception, El-Minia city tour with dinner and the Gala dinner.
During the conference, the ACSS General Assembly was held where new members of the governing council were elected. The president of the new council is G. D Jourbert from the Republic of South Africa who will be responsible for organising the 9th ACSS conference in 2009 in Cape Town, South Africa. The Vice president of the council is from Egypt, the Editor-in- Chief of the African Crop Science Journal based in the faculty of Agriculture, Makerere University is Dr. J. Tenywa. Five regional representatives to the council were also elected.
Overall, the conference was well organised and attended. The quality of presentations both oral and posters was excellent, and the best poster presentations were recognised and rewarded. These were: Characterisation of traditional fonio millets (Digitaria exillis, D. iburua) genetic resources from west Africa by H. Adoukonou- Sagbadja (Benin) ;Me thods for disinfecting tools in management of Banana Xanthomonas wilt disease by M. Mwangi (Uganda). The facilities used during the conference represented the state of the art. Food and drinks were also fine and plentiful. Each registered participant was presented with at least a hard copy of the conference proceeding, a bag, a book of abstracts and a CD containing abstracts and list of participants. Each participant was also presented with a certificate of attendance. Finally, I gratefully acknowledge the BSPP for providing financial support to help me attend the conference.
Bosco Bua, Kyambogo University, Uganda