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Chemrawn Committee


Number: 2001-086-1-021 (previous 021/17/97)

Title: CHEMRAWN XII - Chemistry, Sustainable Agriculture and Human Well Being in Sub-Saharan Africa (revised title)

Task Group
: E. Buncel and I. Onyido

Members: Stanley Langer, John Malin, Piet Steyn, and Leopoldt Van Huysteen

Remarks: Collaborative venture with UNESCO, co-sponsored by the American Chemical Society

Objective and Description:

  • Installation of practical and affordable modern scientific sustainable agriculture in sub-Saharan Africa as a long-term achievable goal for ameliorating the festering food crisis and driving towards food self-sufficiency and food security by increasing per capita food production.
  • Attitudinal conditioning for responsible natural resource management in the African continent as part of the strategy to protect the environment for the benefit of future generations.
  • Application of the stock of available chemical knowledge and technology in the drive for the reduction of the poverty level and enhancement of human well-being in the region.
  • Enhancement of awareness by African governments, the private sector and development agencies operating in the region of the technological and policy options available for increasing food security and protecting the natural base.


  • Emphasis on technology transfer and adaptation for addressing evolving problems of agricultural production and environmental preservation.
  • Reversal of declining soil fertility in Africa.
  • Enhancement of pest management strategies.
  • Application of biotechnology in improving plant and animal germplasm for the development of high-yielding and stress-resistant varieties.
  • Reduction of post-harvest losses via improved storage/processing technologies.
  • Promotion of informed usage of agrochemicals for increasing food production through safe and environmentally-friendly practices.
  • Intensification, diversification, and transformation of small-scale African agriculture through high-value products.
  • Enlistment of, and sustaining, the interest of the private sector in promoting agricultural research in Africa.
  • Promotion of collaboration between African scientists, and their more experienced counterparts in the developed and emerging countries with proven success stories in the scientific transformation of agriculture.
  • Highlighting gender issues in African agriculture and strategies for the economic empowerment of rural women.
  • Installation of pilot development and relevant research projects in the different sub-regions through the activities of the Future Actions Committee of the Conference.

Originally, the conference titled "African Food Security and Resource Management" was scheduled for 22-25 June 1999 in Nairobi, Kenya. Owing to instability in the region and associated difficulties in raising funds, it was decided to cancel the project. However, at the CHEMRAWN meeting in Berlin (August 1999), Drs. Buncel and Onyido reiterated the importance of the project, in view of the potential role chemistry can play in enhancing food production in Sub-Saharan Africa in a sustainable manner and the imperative of transferring proven chemistry-based technologies to Africans as a long-tern strategy to assist in achieving food security in the region. Their suggestions to refocus the conference program to reflect enhanced chemistry content, reorganize the budget to a modest and more easily realizable target, change the venue to a safer venue (South Africa), and to seek a suitable conference on which to "piggyback" CHEMRAWN XII, received the endorsement of the Committee.

The new title, emphasizing the compass of chemistry in enhancing sustainable agriculture has been adopted as a consequence of the refocusing of the conference program. The Conference coordinators have prepared a Conference White Paper in which the objectives, sub-themes, range of participants, expected outputs, follow-up actions, etc. are clearly spelt out.
> Download Conference White Paper (pdf file - 19KB)
A major improvement in the conference plans is enhanced gender sensitivity, since African women are known to provide much of the labor input in food production. Potential speakers, including respected authorities in the different sub-themes of the conference both from within and outside the African continent, are being approached. As well, potential donors and corporate participants are being approached. The South African Soil Science Society is a collaborator on whose annual conference CHEMRAWN XII can "piggyback". On the whole, the outlook is optimistic. While fund raising remains the major challenge, the conference coordinators feel that with sustained effort the project will be successfully realized in 2005.

Conference Venue and First Circular
A decision shall soon be made between South Africa and Senegal as the conference venue. The First Circular shall then be in circulation with all the necessary details.

Call for Papers and Appeal for Support
In order to plan effectively for a conference that will meet the objectives stated above in a functional and sustained manner, it is important for scientists and professionals to be sensitized early enough to be ready to contribute papers for oral and poster presentation. We would also like to appeal to stakeholders and donor agencies for financial support to tackle the problem of hunger, poverty and a high misery index by engaging in a sustained effort to equip Africans to tackle an African problem themselves.
A number of international organizations have already given their endorsement for the proposed Conference.

Contact person
Stakeholders, donor agencies, and scientists who would like to be part of this timely and worthwhile effort are invited to contact the Chairman of the Conference Steering Committee at the following address:

Professor Ikenna Onyido
Director, Centre for Agrochemical Technology
University of Agriculture
P.M.B. 2373, Makurdi, Nigeria
E-mail: [email protected]

Sep 2004
A one-day workshop was convened as part of the program of the International Chemistry Conference in Africa, which took place 2–7 August 2004 at the Arusha International Conference Center. The 34 participants who attended the workshop were drawn from 12 African countries as well as Sweden, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and Bangladesh.

The workshop galvanized “grassroots” support for CHEMRAWN XII by elucidating how the vast array of analytical and problem-solving tools of the chemical sciences can contribute to the quest for food security in sub-Saharan Africa.

> See full report published as a feature in Chemistry International May 2005, p. 8 - "Exploring Solutions to Africa's Food Crisis"

July 2006
A second pre-conference workshop was held during the Annual Congress of the Chemical Society of Ethiopia in February 2006 in Addis Ababa.

CHEMRAWN XII - 'The Role of Chemistry in Sustainable Agriculture and Human Wellbeing in Africa' is scheduled to be held in Stellenbosch, South Africa from 2-5 December 2007.
For more information, please contact Piet Steyn <[email protected]>, Chair of the Organizing Committee.

> www.chemrawn.co.za

> press release
> e-circular (pdf 145 KB)
> Announcement - Chem. Int. 29(3), 2007


Last update: 11 April 2007

<project announcement published in Chem. Int. March 2003>

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