UZ partners AFD, Cirad
University of Zimbabwe (UZ) has partnered with two French development agencies in a project that will strengthen the country’s surveillance and control system for animal, plant and zoonotic diseases.
The institution entered into the agreement recently with the French Development Agency (AFD) and the French Agricultural Research Centre for International Development (Cirad), who donated new equipment to the university’s Department of Veterinary Services.
Cirad would receive a grant of two million euros and as a funding beneficiary, it will manage services, equipment and consumables, which will then be transferred to relevant partners. This three-year project has the objective to set up a biomolecular platform to facilitate the control of animal diseases and support the country’s agricultural sector. Zoonotic diseases, also known as zoonoses, are illnesses caused by germs that are passed between animals and people.
UZ vice chancellor Paul Mapfumo welcomed the initiative, saying it would be instrumental in attracting new scientific partnerships at national, regional and international levels.
“This project will be critical in the fight against animal and zoonotic diseases that can emerge in Zimbabwe.
“These initiatives build on the long-term relationship between the UZ and Cirad, who have collaborated on research platform production, conservation and other partnerships,” Mapfumo said during the agreement’s signing ceremony this week.
Zimbabwe is currently facing a food security challenge, due to increased frequency of drought, degradation of arable land and rapid population growth. Close to five million people need food assistance, including those living in urban areas.
The livestock sector is also threatened by increasing prevalence of animal diseases and there is a need for a stronger veterinary system.
France’s ambassador to Zimbabwe Laurent Chevallier also commended the launch of the project.
“The global Covid-19 crisis has clearly highlighted the continuous need to implement prevention and control measures around zoonotic diseases which can have a tremendous economic impact on our countries.
“Cirad will partner with the Faculty of Veterinary Sciences of the UZ, which will host the platform within its campus and the Department of Veterinary Services on the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement.
“The project implementation will significantly improve the autonomy of Zimbabwe to detect and control diseases, thus strengthening the resilience of the agricultural economy to the effects of climate change,” Chevallier said.
The project, entitled PACMAN, is starting in 2020 and will last three years.
Its official launch followed the inauguration of a molecular biology laboratory, essential to Zimbabwe’s autonomy in this field.
The project has three main components which involve the strengthening Zimbabwe’s biotechnology capabilities and making them accessible, training partners in the latest molecular biology and serology techniques for disease surveillance and control, quality control and research, setting up an action, partnership, financing and sustainability plan for the biotechnology platform to ensure its operation and impact over the long term.
Furthermore the project will complement the actions started by the CAZCOM project (Strengthening Zimbabwe’s Capacity for Animal and Zoonotic Disease Control) funded by the FSPI (Solidarity Fund for Innovative Projects) of the French Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs.
CAZCOM contributed to the training of dozens of Zimbabwean staff involved in zoonotic diseases and to the establishment of the aforementioned laboratory with international standards, inaugurated on November 16 at the University of Zimbabwe.
The project will allow for a scale-up of current efforts, the implementation of the EU-funded LIPS (Livestock Production Systems Zimbabwe) project under DESIRA initiative (Development of Smart Innovation through Research in Agriculture) will also strengthen the impact and the sustainability of the project’s actions.
The project will also set up a management and monitoring plan.
CIRAD, as funding beneficiary, will partner with the French National Research Institute for Sustainable Development (IRD), which also has recognised expertise in the field of setting up and operating biotechnology platforms.
AFD, headquartered in Paris, is an inclusive public financial institution and the main actor in France’s development policy.
It makes commitments to projects that genuinely improve the everyday lives of people, in developing and emerging countries and in the French overseas territories. AFD works in many sectors – energy, health, biodiversity, water, digital technologies, training – and supports the transition to a safer, more equitable and more sustainable world: a world in common. Its action is fully aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and with the Paris Agreement on climate.
Through its network of 85 local agencies, AFD operates in 109 countries and is currently supporting over 3,600 development projects. In 2018, it earmarked EUR 11.4bn to finance these projects. The Agency is rated AA (Fitch Ratings) – stable outlook.http://www.afd.fr
CIRAD is the French agricultural research and international cooperation organization working for the sustainable development of tropical and Mediterranean regions. It works with its partners to build knowledge and solutions and invent resilient farming systems for a more sustainable, inclusive world.
It mobilises science, innovation and training in order to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. Its expertise supports the entire range of stakeholders, from producers to public policymakers, to foster biodiversity protection, agroecological transitions, food system sustainability, health (of plants, animals and ecosystems), sustainable development of rural territories, and their resilience to climate change. CIRAD works in some fifty countries on every continent, thanks to the expertise of its 1650 staff members, including 1140 scientists, backed by a global network of some 200 partners As such, it supports French scientific diplomacy operations. http://www.cirad.fr
IRD is an internationally recognised multidisciplinary organisation working primarily in partnership with Mediterranean and inter-tropical countries.
IRD via its network and presence in fifty or so countries takes an original approach to research, expertise, training and knowledge sharing, to the benefit of countries and regions that make science and innovation key drivers in their development.