Scientific innovation for a sustainable development of African agriculture

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 1st 2018:           Deadline for submission abstracts
June 15th:                     Deadline for early registration
August 15th:                Deadline for late registration
August 30th-31st:    Meeting
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
Preliminary program


Invited speakers

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


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 €
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

Organising 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
For more information, contact

With the support of