Did you know?

The University Research Office is based at the Govan Mbeki building on Westville campus

The University of KwaZulu-Natal currently has more than 250 post-doctoral fellows

Funds requests must be directed through the Colleges at the office of the College Dean of Research

You can upload your own publications on IRMA and ResearchSpace

ResearchSpace is the institutional repository of UKZN. It is a collection of full text theses and also includes research publications produced by UKZN academics.
Agriculture and Food Security

The African Centre for Crop Improvement

The African Centre for Crop Improvement (ACCI), located within the Faculty of Science and Agriculture, was established in 2001 to train African plant breeders, in Africa, in the area of African food security crops. Its vision: African scientists solving Africa’s food problems.


The ACCI was initially funded solely by the Rockefeller Foundation but in 2007 the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation came on board through a consortium known as the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) which is funding a second round of five cohorts of 10 students. This brings to more than 80 the number of PhDs in plant breeding that the ACCI aims to train.


The ACCI students undertake academic studies for two years in Pietermaritzburg before returning to their home countries to conduct three years of field research breeding African food security crops, primarily using conventional plant breeding methods in the environments in which the new crop cultivars will be grown by small-scale farmers.


The focus of the PhD theses is on the applied breeding of key food crops such as sorghum, cassava and cowpeas for increased disease and drought tolerance, and improved yields and quality, with the aim of improving food security in 12 African countries including Ethiopia, Kenya, Mozambique, Zambia and Malawi.


A key feature of the project is that AGRA has committed itself to ongoing funding of ACCI graduates who continue to breed their chosen food crop, aiming to deliver registered cultivars to farmers. Graduates have started to register a range of new crop cultivars in their home countries.


The staff of the ACCI each has their own plant breeding projects including mutagenesis of sorghum and wheat, development of low phytic and maize using molecular markers, breeding for high beta-carotene maize and the development of biofuel crops.


The African Centre for Food Security

Aware of the growing food security crisis in Africa, the School of Agricultural Sciences and Agribusiness established the African Centre for Food Security (ACFS) in 2006 to contribute to building and sustaining the critical mass of African expertise required to alleviate hunger on the continent.


The ACFS, one of very few institutions internationally providing accredited capacity development for food security research and policy analysis, aims to contribute towards eradicating food deprivation and enhance sustainable livelihoods among people and nations of sub-Saharan Africa. Its achievements have been remarkable and include: endorsement by the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) as the lead agency in the food security activities of the Comprehensive African Agricultural Development Programme (CAADP) and formal recognition as the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Regional Centre of Excellence for Vulnerability Assessment and Analysis (VAA), including VAA training and co-ordination. It is one of the few established Food Security Centres in the world to offer transdisciplinary training, and through UKZN, named degrees in food security. Through its representatives, the Centre played a leading role in the development of the Framework for Agricultural Food Security (FAFS).


The FAFS continues to be a reference food security document for NEPAD. The ACFS has also continued to play key roles in CAADP processes, including in the review of the agricultural investment plan and strategy for various African countries. The CAADP asserts that country-driven planning and programming is crucial for ensuring food security in Africa through agriculture-driven economic development.


The CAADP seeks to shift the development agenda away from donor-driven projects to comprehensive growth strategies that replace structural adjustment projects with a new way of doing business in Africa and through a radical African-owned initiative which broadens and improves sector-wide approaches and poverty reduction strategies.


In 2008 the Centre saw the graduation of its first PhD students.


Poultry Research

Research over the past 20 years has involved the development of simulation models that predict food intake and growth of broilers and pigs, and reproductive activity in broiler breeders and laying hens.


These simulation models have optimised the way in which broilers and pigs should be fed so as to maximise any one of a number of objective functions, such as margin over feed cost or feed conversion efficiency. The model developed at UKZN has been taken up by poultry scientists and producers around the world.

The research has led to extensive publications on the lighting management of broiler breeders and has resulted in a paradigm shift in the way that these birds are managed throughout the world.


As part of its engagement with the community, the Poultry Institute is involved in training prospective poultry managers by providing them with the skills needed to manage people, finances, poultry operations and even themselves. The Institute has impressive training facilities, including accommodation, lecture rooms, computers and a wide range of ongoing poultry operations, and these are housed on the University’s research and training farm, Ukulinga. This Institute has been, and continues to be, highly successful in training students and preparing them for life.

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