Impact for Development

It is essential that the strengths of the global scientific community and recent advances in technology are harnessed to improve food crops for Africa.


Alliance for Accelerated Crop Improvement in Africa

Improvements in food production have played a pivotal role in the emergence of modern human society and the development of our economic systems. Since the dawn of agriculture, humans have sought to improve the crops that provide our sustenance. This process of crop improvement has, for many thousands of years, been a slow and gradual process which enabled our species to move into different environments and to cope with expanding population centres.

Today, humankind faces unprecedented global challenges. By 2050 the global population will have risen from two billion to nine billion in just a little over a century. The amount of food required by humans in the next forty years may be more than we have consumed in the last 10,000 years. A changing climate and water scarcity threaten agricultural output in many areas across the globe. Diseases and pests are migrating and evolving. It is therefore crucial that the speed at which we are able to improve our food supply accelerates to match these unprecedented global challenges.

The second United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 2 of “zero hunger” could not be clearer or more challenging. In Africa, where demographic change and climate change will impose additional burdens, meeting this goal will require significant improvements in agricultural productivity. One of the strongest routes to improved agricultural productivity is through research and development.

ACACIA is an alliance of like-minded organisations with a shared ambition to harness the strengths of the global scientific community to improve food crops in Africa. It is an alliance which seeks to empower the African research community to undertake world-leading agricultural research in Africa to address African issues.

Our shared objectives are:

Research to accelerate crop improvement  

ACACIA will undertake world-leading research for development to accelerate the improvement of important African food crop species.

The right tools for the right job

ACACIA will provide African crop researchers and institutes with the access to cutting edge technologies required to accelerate crop improvement in Africa.

Build research capacity and capability

ACACIA will train, support and mentor the African and UK crop research scientific community to have greater future impact on key African agricultural challenges.

Effective multidisciplinary partnerships for delivery

from the outputs of the three objectives above, ACACIA will ensure optimal international development outcomes in Africa through strategic multidisciplinary partnerships.


Cristobal Uauy

 Cristobal is a project leader at the JIC working to develop genomics-enabled technologies to accelerate plant breeding

Jacob Mignouna

Jacob Mignouna is the Director of the BecA-ILRI Hub with a wealth of experience in leading research and managing donors’ investments in agricultural research for development

Chris Darby

Chris’ work ensures that both the scientific excellence and the impact of research at the John Innes Centre are strengthened by international engagement.

Rob Davey

 Rob is a group leader at the Earlham Institute and on the management board for the the Bioinformatics Community of Practice.

Olu Shorinola

 Dr Shorinola is a postdoctoral researcher and the programme manager for the Bioinformatics Community of Practice

Josephine Birungi

Josephine is head of technology platforms at the BecA-ILRI institute and an honorary Senior Lecturer at Makerere University

Angela Payne

Angela is the main coordinator for international activities at the John Innes Centre, ensuring the smooth running of many projects.

Mwihaki Mundia

Mwihaki  BecA-ILRI Hub’s Communication Officer She is responsible for putting out communication to all stakeholders through media and digital platforms.

Matt Heaton

Matt is the communications specialist for JIC international activities. 

Previous members

Appolinaire Djikeng

Recently moving from his position as the director of the BecA-ILRI hub, Kenya, Apollinaire holds exceptional experience in African research for development.

Tilly Eldridge

Tilly is stationed at the BecA-ILRI Hub as part of the JIC-BecA alliance and acts as a supervisor to many of the ABCF fellows.

Wellington Ekaya

Wellington Ekaya is a Head of Capacity Development at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) working on strategic leadership of ILRI’s Capacity Development portfolio.