Thursday, April 17, 2008

Relevant research

"Scientists at the IITA argue that their work demonstrates the importance of doing research close to the lives of those affected.

Researcher Busi Maziya cites the example of a paper she read which suggested Tanzanians could absorb more iron from beans if they added an enzyme.

She collapses in fits of laughter when describing the idea.

"It's not practical," she says. "It just wouldn't work. Where will they get enzymes? Who will make it?"

More practical, she argues, would be to exploit a familiar local technique like fermentation.

Like Hartmann, she is a strong believer that African science has to be directly relevant to the continent's needs.

"Africa as a continent, has HIV, malaria, food insecurity, civil wars," she says.

"If I sit here and conduct abstract research, by the time I have come up with the answer I am not sure how many people will have died.""

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