2Blades Foundation Newsletter
Issue 6 | March 2018
African agriculture needs a transformation. The continent has enormous potential - 65% of the world's remaining uncultivated arable land - but faces enormous challenges - a predominance of rural, smallholder farmers with inadequate resources and the greatest proportion of the world's hungry and undernourished. Crop diseases play a significant role in further destabilizing food security there, and smallholder farmers urgently need better solutions.

To enhance our ability to deliver disease resistant crops for smallholders, 2Blades has explored collaboration opportunities with the Biosciences east and central Africa - International Livestock Research Institute (BecA-ILRI) Hub in Nairobi, Kenya, over the past two years . The BecA-ILRI Hub is an internationally renowned center of excellence for agricultural biosciences, and both organizations share the goal of harnessing the best innovations for improved agricultural productivity for regional impact.
2Blades scientist Diuewertje van der Does inspecting soybean varieties at a glasshouse at Makerere University in Uganda.
In 2017 2Blades hired Dr. Dieuwertje van der Does to work full-time at BecA-ILRI to advance projects on disease resistant crops for smallholder farmers and to forge a link between 2Blades, the BecA-ILRI Hub, and The Sainsbury Laboratory (TSL) in Norwich, UK. TSL is a world leading institute working on the science of plant-microbe interactions and home to the 2Blades Group . Such a link will facilitate the exchange of knowledge, expertise, and staff and help to deliver solutions for smallholder farmers and a 2Blades base in Nairobi brings us a step closer to delivering a "techno bush" solution to help accelerate Africa's agricultural transformation.
2Blades visits BecA-ILRI Hub
2Blades and BecA-ILRI staff at the BecA-ILRI Hub, Nairobi. January, 2018
2Blades met with BecA-ILRI staff and others for several days in January to discuss how strong agricultural systems and innovation can provide a pathway out of poverty for millions of smallholder farmers. Disease resistant crops give farmers higher, more predictable yields and can help break the cruel paradox of the hungry farmer. We thank BecA-ILRI director, Dr. Jacob Mignouna and Dr. Josiah Musembi Mutuku, among others, for their congenial hospitality.
2Blades adds support to maize lethal necrosis disease project
2Blades contributed support to a project at the University of Cambridge that aims to create maize resistant to the viruses that causes maize lethal necrosis disease, a disease that has caused devastating losses across East Africa since it emerged there in 2011.

We talked to Dr Luke Braidwood, a postdoc working with Professor David Baulcombe, about their approach and how they are working with partners in East Africa to advance this much needed solution. Read our interview with Luke on the 2Blades website .
Progress tackling wheat stem rust
2Blades Program Director, Dr. Lynne Reuber visits KALRO colleagues Dr. Wanyera and Dr. Macharia at the Njoro Research Station in Kenya.
2Blades Program Director, Lynne Reuber, recently met with colleagues at CIMMYT and KALRO in Nairobi and Njoro, Kenya to discuss progress in our shared efforts to advance genetic solutions to wheat stem rust. Recently 2Blades collaborators led by Dr. Mick Ayliffe at CSIRO in Australia generated our first wheat lines carrying multi-resistance gene stacks. These lines are being characterized, and if the stacks are proven effective we hope to progress to field trials of resistant lines in East Africa in the next few years.
2Blades will participate in a panel organized by the makers of the film ' Food Evolution ' at South by Southwest (SXSW) in Austin, TX on ' GMO 2.0 ' and new opportunities for innovation to improve agricultural productivity. Join the discussion!
Upcoming talks and events

Connect with 2Blades at these upcoming events:

SXSW, Austin TX
3.30 - 4.30pm, Wednesday March 14th
A 2Blades-sponsored VIP dinner at Franklins Barbecue will follow at 6:30-8:30 pm.
Limited invitations to Franklins are available. Contact Jack Westwood for details .

June 11-12 2018

July 29 - August 3, 2018
Discovering, advancing, and delivering durable genetic resistance to crop disease