Africa College unites more than 100 experts from academia and not-for-profit organisations from around the world to increase crop harvests by improving food production techniques and enhancing nutrition from the crops - while ensuring minimal impact on the environment.
The partnership's broad base of cutting-edge and fundamental scientific knowledge, skills and research is already being transferred and applied in sub-Saharan Africa, where one-third of the population is undernourished.
The International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA), active in many African countries with its main headquarters in Nigeria, and the Kenya-based International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE) have joined forces with around 75 academics from the University of Leeds working in areas such as plant science, health, ecology, the environment and social policy.
The University of Leeds has also recruited two new members of staff whose main role is to develop the network and build projects in Africa. Christine Foyer has joined the Faculty of Biological Sciences as Professor of Crop Science from Newcastle University, where she was Professor of Molecular Agriculture.
Anne-Marie Mayer has joined the Faculty of Medicine and Health and becomes Africa College's Senior Research Fellow in Nutrition. Research fellows in other areas, such as food security, are expected to join shortly. A dynamic website, www.africacollege.leeds.ac.uk, has been launched and will be developed to support knowledge exchange.
Africa College was set-up in 2008 and is led by Professor Howard Atkinson of the Faculty of Biological Sciences. He said: "We have a wealth of expertise in Leeds, and aim to apply more of it than in the past through Africa College. We need other international partners to make sure that our research has impact and delivers sustainable, workable solutions to meet African needs.
"We're taking a broad and scientifically-based view of enhancing food security. We want to find ways of maximising crop production to provide a balanced diet, improve nutrition and so enhance the health of the people in Africa. At the same time, we'll be ensuring ecosystems are valued."
Africa College was originally called Human Health and Food Security in Sub-Saharan Africa and was set up with support from the University's Transformation Fund, which is designed to enable academics to create partnerships on and off campus to tackle major global issues.
Improving future food security will be the team's focus, amid predictions that the global population could rise from around six billion people today to around 8.3 billion in 2030, with much of the growth in the least-developed countries. It is feared that climate change will affect agricultural production for those people who are most dependent upon it.
Improving understanding of what impact climate change is having on the environment is a major strand of this work. The University of Leeds leads work in this field, and is home to the UK Economic and Social Research Council-funded Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy, which it runs with the London School of Economics and Political Science.
Professor Foyer said: "Africa College is about providing the knowledge, training and on-going support to enable African people to determine their own futures.
"We are taking the University's expertise in biotechnology, medicine, ecology, social policy and the environment and combining it with expertise and practical know-how of non-government organisations to make a difference where it matters - on the ground."
Professor Tim Benton of the Leeds' Faculty of Biological Sciences, Professor Janet Cade of the Faculty of Medicine and Health, Dr Keith Hamer of the Faculty of Biological Sciences, and Dr Andy Dougill of the School of Earth and Environment are leading aspects of Africa College's development.
Professor Janet Cade said: "This is a challenging and exciting venture. Ensuring that high quality food can be sustainably provided to poor rural and urban communities in Africa is an international priority. We aim to support this through Africa College."
External advisers to Africa College include Laurence Cockcroft, of Transparency International UK, and Professor Ruth Khasaya Oniang'o, a former Kenyan MP and Shadow Minister of Agriculture.
The Africa College Partnership recognizes that despite the contraction of the world economy, the consequences of climate change must be addressed as environmental change will reduce food security in Africa.
Jessica Kwok and Ronaldo Ichiyama, International Spinal Research Trust (Feb 2018), £94,450
Dave Lewis and Colleagues in South Africa, HEFCE Global Challenge Research (Jan 2018), £48,000
Sarah Calaghan, Ed White, John Colyer, Isuru Jayasinghe, BHF (Jan 2018), £128,308
Christine Foyer and Alison Baker, HEFCE GCRF Grant (Jan 2018), £71,158
Alison Baker, Yun Yung Gong and Lindsay Stringer and ICRISAT India, HEFCE GCRF Grant (Jan 2018), £27,000
Graham Askew, Simon Walker, BBSRC (Jan 2018), £699,781
Jennifer Tomlinson, Royal Society (Jan 2018), £512,801
Alison Dunn, NERC (Dec 2017), £18,000
Jennifer Tomlinson, Royal Society-Research Fellows Enhancement Award (Dec 2017), £94,681
Helen Miller, AB AGri Grant (Dec 2017), £73,600
Simon Walker, Royal Society Enhancement Award (Dec 2017), £10,000
Carrie Ferguson, Bryan Taylor, Harry Rossiter, The Physiological Society (Dec 2017), £7,392
Ralf Richter, Royal Society (Dec 2017), £6,000
Christine Foyer, British Council Newton Fund (Dec 2017), £49,840
Adrian Whitehouse and colleagues in School of Chemistry and University of Liverpool, MRC (Nov 2017), £622,319
Michelle Peckham, Neil Ransom, MRC (Nov 2017), £495,159
Dave Lewis, British Council India (Nov 2017), £22,540
Hannah Dugdale, Royal Society (Nov 2017), £15,000
Elton Zeqiraj, Royal Society (Nov 2017), £15,000
Shaunna Burke, Cancer Research UK Innovation Grant (Nov 2017), £20,000
Alex O'Neill and colleagues in Chemistry, BBSRC (Nov 2017), £431,865
Jessica Kwok, Wings for Life (Nov 2017), £87,365
Tom Bennett, BBSRC (Oct 2017), £523,679
Neil Ranson, Darren Tomlinson, BBSRC (Oct 2017), £494,318
Nikita Gamper, BBSRC (Oct 2017), £490,426
Amanda Bretman and colleagues from UEA, NERC (Oct 2017), £430,886
Juan Fontana, Rosetrees Trust consumables grant (Oct 2017), £22,500
Helen Miller, DSM Nutritional Products AG (Sep 2017), £69,988
Neil Ranson, Juan Fontana, Mark Harris, Michelle Peckham, Ralf Richter, Peter Stockley, Patricija Van Oosten-Hawle and colleagues in Engineering, FMH and MAPS, Wellcome Trust Equipment Call (Sep 2017), £418,000
Jamie Johnston, Physiological Society (Sep 2017), £10,000
Frank Sobott, Adrian Goldman, Mark Harris, Andrew Macdonald, Stephen Muench, Sheena Radford and colleagues in FMH and MAPS, Wellcome Trust Equipment Call (Aug 2017), £415,000
Ralf Richter, David Brockwell, Eric Hewitt, Jessica Kwok, Emanuele Paci and MAPS/FMH, BBSRC (Jun 2017), £600,000
Eric Blair, Adrian Whitehouse, Nicola Stonehouse, Alison Baker, Richard Bayliss, Joan Boyes, Ryan Seipke, Sally Boxall and MAPS/FMH, BBSRC (Jun 2017), £376,000
Stefan Kepinski, Yoselin Benitez-Alfonso, Tom Bennett, Michelle Peckham, BBSRC (Jun 2017), £331,000
Roman Tuma, Lars Jeuken, Paul Millner, Sheena Radford, Peter Stockley and MAPS/FMH, BBSRC (Jun 2017), £222,000
Vas Ponnambalam, Darren Tomlinson, Stephen Wheatcroft, BHF (May 2017), £107,878
Graham Askew in collaboration with Bangor University, BBSRC (Mar 2017), £477,383
Stephen Muench, BBSRC (Mar 2017), £132,945
Nic Stonehouse, MRC (Mar 2017), £906,341
Bill Kunin, Steve Sait, BBSRC (Mar 2017), £602,831
Adrian Goldman, EU (Mar 2017), £546,576
Sheena Radford, Wellcome Trust (Mar 2017), £1,836,482
Tom Bennett, Royal Society (Mar 2017), £15,000
Jamie Johnston, Royal Society (Mar 2017), £15,000
Beatrice Filippi, Royal Society (Mar 2017), £15,000