Publications: ISAAA Briefs

No. 15 - 2000

Connecting People to the Promise of Biotech: Update of the ISAAA Fellowship Program in Africa and Southeast Asia

David P. Alvarez
ISAAA and Cornell University


Published by: The International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA). Ithaca, New York 
Copyright: (2000) International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA)
Reproduction of this publication for educational or other noncommercial purposes is authorized without prior permission from the copyright holder, provided the source is properly acknowledged.
Reproduction for resale or other commercial purposes is prohibited without the prior written permission from the copyright holder.
Correct Citation: Alvarez, D.P. 2000. Connecting People to the Promise of Biotech: Update of the ISAAA Fellowship Program in Africa and Southeast Asia. ISAAA Briefs No.15. ISAAA: Ithaca,NY.
ISBN: 1-892456-19-2
Publication Orders:

Please contact the ISAAA SEAsiaCenter, write to, or order online.

ISAAA SEAsiaCenter
c/o IRRI
DAPO Box 7777
Metro Manila, The Philippines


ISAAA Fellowships Bring Biotechnology to Southeast Asian Farmers

Dr. Y. K. Chan’s Answer to Papaya Ringspot Virus: Bring Biotech—Now!

Watchareewan Jamboonsri: Building Biotech and Biosafety Capacity in Thailand

Dr. Parichart Burns: "Delayed Ripening Papayas in Thailand—without Delay!"

Dr. Umi Kalsom Abu Bakar: Moving Improved Papaya into Malaysia’s Market

Vietnamese Fellows Lam Dai Nhan and Nguyen Huy Hoang: Partnerships for Success within Southeast Asia

Ms. Lolita Valencia: Energized for Biotechnology

Indonesian Fellows Diani Damayanti and Eri Sofiari: Partnerships for Success within Southeast Asia

Dr. Eduardo Fernandez: Biosafety Management in The Philippines

Dr. Emerenciana Duran and "The Multiplier Effect"


Update from Africa: Biotech Teams at Work

A Core Team to Promote Kenyan Agroforestry: Pauline Mbubu, Professor Joe Mwangi, and Muraya Minjire

Transferring Expertise in Banana Tissue Culture: Joel Mutisya and Margaret Onyango

A Better Understanding of Maize Streak Virus: Drs. Jackson Njuguna, Benjamin Odhiambo, John Wafula

Towards Kenya’s First Genetically Modified Sweet Potato: Dr. Duncan Kirubi

ISAAA Fellowships Bring Biotechnology to Southeast Asian Farmers

ISAAA’s Private Sector Biotechnology Fellowship Program invests in people to link national agricultural institutes in developing countries with other public-sector institutes and the private-sector in industrialized countries. Awarded to researchers and policy makers from developing countries who are leaders in their fields, the Fellowships bring people face to face to exchange ideas, learn new skills, and discover mutually beneficial solutions to the hunger and poverty problems of developing countries. ISAAA Fellowships enhance the capacity of these countries to safely and effectively use biotechnology by offering advanced training in transformation techniques, intellectual property issues, commercializing products, biosafety regulations, and other core aspects of modern agricultural biotechnology.

ISAAA Fellows take an active role in learning. Visiting researchers don’t read about field trials, they see them first hand to understand what the issues are. Policy makers don’t listen to lectures about biosafety regulations, they work together with their hosts to write them. ISAAA Fellowships help to create the crucial personal contacts that are the foundation of genuine intellectual exchange. The program creates new possibilities between institutions by establishing new relationships between individuals. The following stories of the ISAAA Fellows at work in The Papaya Biotechnology Network of Southeast Asia and elsewhere offer an inspiring look at their experience and its significance for bringing the benefits of biotechnology to those who need it most, the world’s resource-poor farmers.


Update from Africa: Biotech Teams at Work

ISAAA’s 1996 Annual Report, "Advancing Altruism in Africa," focused on our African biotechnology projects. Much has happened since that report was written, and so we offer the following update on the progress being made in Africa through the safe, efficient use of agricultural biotechnology applications. The banana project in particular has met with even more success than we anticipated, and a detailed, independent socio-economic study of the project’s benefits is now available (ISAAA Briefs #10, Assessing the Impact of Banana Biotechnology in Kenya). Here we offer a sketch of our projects by following the stories of our ISAAA Fellows in Africa. Our update seeks to give a sense of the real people working on ISAAA’s projects, the local leaders who are putting biotech in the hands of Africa’s subsistence farmers.

ISAAA’s fellowship program offers biotechnology training to potential leaders for efforts in Africa, Southeast Asia, and Latin America. For although agricultural biotechnology is relatively simple for a farmer to use, any project is complex, and a core of well trained, local professionals are essential for its success. Thanks to those who have generously supported these fellowship programs, ISAAA, working in conjunction with national research and educational institutions, has helped to establish leadership teams in Africa. These teams are working now to propagate multi-purpose trees and banana plantlets and to analyze the genes of viruses that attack maize and sweet potatoes.