Scientific innovation for a sustainable development of African agriculture

Thursday 30th and Friday 31st of August 2018

In Africa, more than 60% of the people living in rural areas depend on agriculture and food accounts up to two thirds of
the households budgets. However, the agricultural productivity often remains far below international standards. Compared to the yields obtained in the US, Europe or Asia, the yield per hectare for many important crops such as maize, bananas, cassava, sweet potato and sorghum is much lower in most African countries. The low productivity is related to different factors such as pests, pathogens, diseases, drought, lack of irrigation, low soil fertility, the high cost of inputs, low levels of mechanization and sub-optimal post-harvest management.

Many research initiatives all over the world are working on solutions to increase yield productivity in Africa. This research is currently performed on different crops and in different fields of expertise. Because of a high specialization of research domains, projects and scientists would benefit form increased inter-connection and increased impact of the research and obtained results and to encourage future collaborations.

The aim of the conference is to unite several stakeholders (breeders, policymakers and researchers) from Ghent/Belgium/Europe with African partners to discuss about their research and obtained results and to encourage future collaborations.

Important dates

June 15th 2018:
Deadline for submission abstracts – Oral Presentations
June 15th:
Deadline for early registration
August 21st:
Deadline for late registration
August 21st:
Deadline for submission abstracts – Poster Presentations
August 30th-31st:
September 30th:
Deadline for submission of proceedings papers and publications in Africa Focus.


The conference will be divided in several topics, each discussing a specific constraint in agriculture: (1) Relevant crops for Africa; (2) Creating new plant varieties through scientific innovation; (3) Improved soil fertility to enhance crop yields; (4) Biotic stresses threatening crop yields; (4) Abiotic stresses threatening crop yields; (5) Mycotoxins, a threat for both human and animal health and (6) Enhancing the nutritional value of important crops for Sub-Saharan Africa

Final program

Invited speakers

Marc Van Montagu, IPBO, Belgium
Leena Tripathi, IITA, Kenya
Denis Kyetere, AATF, Kenya
Robert Mwanga, CIP, Uganda
Jeremy Ouedraogo, NEPAD-ABNE, Senegal
Sheila Okoth, University of Nairobi, Kenya
Jill Cairns, CIMMYT, Zimbabwe
Zerihun Tadele, University of Bern, Switzerland
Johnnie Van den Berg, North-West University, South Africa
Sarah De Saeger, Ghent University, Belgium
Dirk Inzé, VIB-UGent Center for Plant Systems Biology, Belgium
Yves Van de Peer, VIB-UGent Center for Plant Systems Biology, Belgium
Dominique Van der Straeten, Ghent University, Belgium
Geert Haesaert, Ghent University, Belgium
Steven Runo, Kenyatta University, Kenya
Ndomelele Ndiko Ludidi, University of the Western Cape, South Africa
Hervé Vanderschuren, University of Liège, Belgium
Johan Six, ETH Zurich, Switzerland

Submission of abstracts and proceedings

We encourage participants to apply for oral and poster presentations by submitting an abstract. Submission can be done through the registration tool.
Please note that only abstracts by registered participants will be considered.

Posters: A0 (841×1189 mm), portrait orientation. The schedule for poster presentation will be included in the program.

Proceedings: Speakers at the conference will be encouraged to publish an article or proceeding in Africa Focus.
Afrika Focus is an interdisciplinary journal dealing with Africa and is co-published by the Africa Platform of Ghent University Association (GAP) and Africa Brug. Afrika Focus is an open access journal which is published biannually and subject to international peer-review. Please follow the guidelines when preparing your submission.
Please send your manuscript to before September 30th 2018.


Early Registration fee (until June 15)
(PhD) Students: 120 €
Regular: 150 €

Late Registration fee (until August 15)
(PhD) Students: 150 €
Regular: 180 €

The following items are included in the conference fee: attendance at all sessions, conference bag, abstract book, lunches, coffee/tea breaks, reception and walking diner.

Register here


Auditorium Fiers-Shell-Van Montagu
VIB-UGent Center for Plant Systems Biology
Technologiepark 927
9052 Gent-Zwijnaarde, Belgium

Travel information

The conference will be held in Ghent at the VIB-UGent center for Plant Systems Biology.
Ghent is a city located in the Flemish region of Belgium. It is the capital and largest city of the East Flanders province with a port and university.

For more information: and

If you arrive at the international Brussels Airport (or Brussels South airport with Raynair), it is recommended to take the train straight from the airport to railway station Gent Sint-Pieters. This takes about one hour.

More information with train timetables at Belgian Rail

From there you can take the public transport (e.g. bus 47, 49, 70, 71, or 72 to stop “Bollebergen – Grotesteenweg Noord”) or a taxi.

If you come by car, Ghent is located at the crossing of the two highways E40 and E17. Follow direction Gent Zwijnaarde to reach the Technologiepark.

 Scientific committee

  • E. Prof. Marc Van Montagu, IPBO, VIB-UGent
  • Prof. Godelieve Gheysen, UGent
  • Prof. Geert Haesaert, UGent
  • Prof. Patrick Van Damme, UGent
  • Prof. Geert Angenon, UGent
  • Prof. Hervé Vanderschuren, University of Liège
  • Dr. Sylvie De Buck, IPBO, VIB-UGent

Organizing committee

  • Prof. Godelieve Gheysen, UGent
  • Prof. Geert Haesaert, UGent
  • Prof. Geert Angenon, UGent
  • Prof. Hervé Vanderschuren, University of Liège
  • Dr. Sylvie De Buck, IPBO, VIB-UGent
  • Dr. Silvia Travella, IPBO, VIB-UGent
  • Dr. Marc Heijde, IPBO, VIB-UGent
  • Mrs Vanessa De Bauw, IPBO, VIB-UGent


International Plant Biotechnology Outreach (IPBO, VIB-UGent)
Technologiepark 19
9052 Gent
Tel. +32 9 292 80 44

Cancellation policy

In case you want to cancel your registration, please send a request to
All notifications received before June 15th, get refunded for 100%.
All notifications received between June 16th and August 15th, get refunded for 80%.
Cancellations requests received after August 15th won’t be refunded.

For more information, contact

With the support of