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Film stars

December 17, 2011

Janet Sprent, Euan James, Allan Downie, Ton Bisseling, Ken Giller … for many of us, these are the names of dear friends and colleagues we have known for years, while for others they may just be the names of authors of important publications on rhizobia. Whether we know them or not, we now have the chance to watch them, and many other rhizobium scientists, in a series of videos available at http://www.n2africa.org/N2media.

They are worth watching in order to hear these people talk enthusiastically about their favourite subject, but of course they are not just performing for our entertainment. The videos are part of a larger project called N2Africa funded by The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which aims to put nitrogen fixation to work for smallholder farmers growing legume crops in Africa. It is run from Wageningen University in the Netherlands, led by Professor Ken Giller.

This is an important project: Africa desperately needs sustainable improvements in agriculture, and biological nitrogen fixation is a necessary part of this. I urge you to look around the rest of the N2Africa web site.  Besides the videos, which everyone will learn something from, there is a practical manual for rhizobium work and material describing the aims and achievements of the project. There is something of interest there for everyone who believes that rhizobia can contribute benefits in the ‘real world’.

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One Comment
  1. Very nice project. I like to see new “media” technologies being used to present research work and direct applications for people.
    Legumes are very important in Africa for food and wood (Vigna unguiculata, beans, Acacia…). Promoting the use of rhizobia is very important there, as chemical fertilizers are too expensive for farmers. My institute (IRD) has been promoting the use of rhizobia for 20 years in West Africa, with a lab dedicated to this in Senegal, with research and production of inoculants. It is nice to see these approaches extended to other parts of Africa, with this N2Africa project. I hope all these projects are linked in some way to share experiences.

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