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First Belt and Road Initiative Lecture Outlines Benefits of Global Connectivity

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The First Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) Lecture hosted by Makerere University on 27th February 2020 in the Main Hall has outlined a series of benefits that Uganda, Africa and the World stand to gain by embracing the largest infrastructure project ever undertaken in history. The Lecture was presided over by Hon. Grace Freedom Kwiyucwiny, the State Minister for Northern Uganda who represented the Prime Minister, Rt. Hon. Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda.

Delivered by the Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to Uganda, H.E. Zheng Zhuqiang, the three-part lecture was discussed by the Chancellor, Prof. Ezra Suruma and a panel of eminent persons made up of; Dr. Maggie Kigozi, Eng. Ayub Sooma and Dr. Godfrey Akileng moderated by Dr. Josephine Ahikire, the Principal College of Humanities and Social Sciences (CHUSS).

Welcoming guests, the Host and Vice Chancellor, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe thanked Ambassador ZhuQiang for accepting to deliver the lecture at a time when his home country was trying to come to terms with the devastation caused by the ravaging Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19). “We stand in solidarity with the People’s Republic of China in general and our partner in the Confucius Institute; Xiangtan University, in particular.”

“I was deeply touched to learn that early this week Professor Barnabas Nawangwe flagged off a batch of surgical masks donated by Makerere University to Xiangtan University, her main collaborating university in China where more than 60 Ugandans mostly from Makerere are studying” Ambassador Zhuqiang remarked in response. “This is an epitome of the solidarity between Ugandan people and Chinese people” he added.

R-L: The Moderator-CHUSS Principal, Dr. Josephine Ahikire with Panelists; Dr. Godfrey Akileng-CoBAMS, Eng. Ayub Sooma-CAA Director Airports & Aviation Security and Dr. Maggie Kigozi-Business Consultant

Delving into his presentation, the Ambassador outlined: the origin of the BRI, its main features, achievements, potentials and opportunities; opportunities the BRI brings to Africa; and opportunities the BRI brings to Uganda in particular, as the three parts of his lecture.

The BRI has its origins in the ancient Silk Road, formed over 2,100 years ago to connect China to Middle Asia and Europe over land, and to South East, South and West Asia, as well as East Africa over the sea. “I think the ancient Silk Road might be the first attempt in the human history for globalization, a trend that is still developing now” explained Ambassador Zhuqiang.

In September 2013, H.E. XI Jinping, President of the People’s Republic of China launched the current concept of the BRI or Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-century Maritime Silk Road as it is officially known, in Kazakhstan and Indonesia.

“Today, the BRI has become a major initiative in the broad international community, with the United Nations General Assembly welcoming it through Resolution A/71/9 on November 17, 2016. By the end of March 2019, the Chinese government had signed 173 cooperation agreements with 125 countries and 29 international organizations, including over 40 African countries” highlighted the Ambassador.

He went on to state that the fundamental element of the BRI was to offer connectivity to the global village on five fronts namely; Deepening policy, Enhancing infrastructure, Increasing trade, Resourceful financial support and Strengthening people-to-people as well as state-to-state relations.

Students of Confucius Institute (CI) sang the Ugandan, Chinese, East African and Makerere University Anthems at the BRI Public Lecture on 27th February 2020.

On the opportunities it brings to the 1.3billion strong, natural and human resources-rich Africa, Ambassador Zhuqiang noted that the BRI seeks to address three bottlenecks hindering sustainable development namely, “lagging infrastructure, underdeveloped talents and shortage of funds.”

He articulated that infrastructure challenges not only push up the cost of domestic and regional trade but also hinder the continent’s efforts to attract foreign investment, a bottleneck that seems to have already been overcome by countries where the BRI has made landing. Citing Djibouti as an example, Ambassador Zhuqiang shared that the Nation’s railway and port development had helped with “job creation, economic development and created tax revenue and foreign exchange earnings for this country.”

Bringing the discussion home, the Ambassador shared; a stable political environment, rich natural and human resources, good investment policies and a hard-working and intelligent people, as the four strategic advantages Uganda has in further deepening its cooperation with China.

“On the front of infrastructure connectivity, one outstanding and tangible fruit would be the Kampala-Entebbe Expressway, the Ugandan gateway to the world. With the launch of the expressway in 2018, the commuting time between Kampala and Entebbe has been reduced from more than two hours to just about 30 minutes!” remarked Ambassador Zhuqiang.

On the trade front, he outlined six industrial parks opened by Chinese entrepreneurs, which have created more than 80,000 jobs. These include; Shandong Industrial Park in Luzira, Tiantang Industrial Park in Mukono, Liaoshen Industrial Park in Kapeeka, Uganda-China (Guangdong) Free Zone of International Cooperation in Sukulu, Mbale Industrial Park and Kehong Agricultural Industrial Park in Luweero.

Members of Management: Dr. Euzobia Mugisha Baine (Right), Dr. Helen Byamugisha (2nd Right) and officials from the Chinese Embassy including Mr. Chen Huixin (4th Right) listen to proceedings during the Public Lecture

Citing the Goodwill Tile Factory in Kapeeka, Ambassador Zhuqiang shared that in addition to creating 2,000 jobs, the facility reduced the price of tiles in Uganda by 25%, saved the nation foreign exchange worth US$35million in import substitution and generated US$10million in exports annually.

He touched on the current project to expand and upgrade Entebbe International Airport, which will enable the cargo centre to handle up to 150,000 metric tonnes of goods annually, up from 69,000 metric tonnes, after completion of the first phase. The project is being undertaken with financial support of US$200 million concessional loans from China.

In the discussion that followed, the Chancellor, Prof. Ezra Suruma applauded Ambassador Zhuqiang for demystifying and reducing to bare bones the hitherto mammoth and complex concept of the BRI. “I think that we can now say that we are better informed as a result of what you have told us.”

Speaking as an Economist, the Chancellor restricted his discussion of Ambassador Zhuqiang’s lecture to the three aspects of; infrastructure, trade and capital flows. On the infrastructure front, he noted that the coming in of China had brought great relief to Government’s efforts to build Karuma dam. “Your Excellency, we do welcome China’s willingness to provide alternative sources of capital, infrastructure and I think we are cooperating very well on these lines.”

The audience included the team from the Confucius Institute at Makerere University led by the co-Director, Dr. Gilbert Gumoshabe (Front Left)

He added that support to establishment of the Tororo Sukulu Phosphate project to produce organic fertilizer was extremely important to Uganda as an agricultural country and the region at large. “We had been wanting to build this factory for a long time with little success but the entry of China into the global arena brings alternative financing and alternative options for infrastructure development.”

On the trade front, the Chancellor mentioned the need to balance the trade between Uganda and China. He shared that whereas Uganda imports goods in excess of US$1billion from China, its exports to the same are worth less than US$30million. He nevertheless lauded the Chinese government for setting aside a special loan for the development of African Small and Medium size Enterprises (SMEs) under the Forum on China Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) arrangement. This, he thought, would be a good opportunity for the youth to secure gainful employment as they add value to agricultural produce.

Touching on the capital flows from China, the Chancellor emphasized the need to tread carefully by engaging in negotiations that will not put the Country into too more debt than we can handle. “As Minister of Finance, it would take me two to three years to negotiate a debt with the West. With China, it only takes two to three months. It is much easier but I hope we will be more careful so that we do not take on too much that we overburdened with debt.”

Prof. Suruma also stressed the need for countries to negotiate for capital flows under regional bodies like the East African Community (EAC) so as to increase individual nations’ bargaining power. “This is an important point that we shall hopefully consider going forward.”

The Guest of Honour-Hon. Grace Freedom Kwiyucwiny (2nd Right) presents a plaque to H.E. Zheng Zhuqiang (2nd Left) in recognition of his delivery of the First BRI Public Lecture as Prof. Ezra Suruma (Right) and Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe (Left) applaud on 27th February 2020, Makerere University, Kampala Uganda.

The Chancellor emphasized the need to engage China so as to learn the strategies they deployed to achieve unprecedented speed in economic development. “In the past, we prided ourselves in being a mixed economy that is private sector-led” remarked the Chancellor. “I believe it has helped us as a country but we can move faster by learning from China which has in the last 20 to 30 years gone on to become the second largest economy in the world.”

He concluded his discussion by pointing out the need to maintain our freedom as a Nation. “We have a history of colonialism and neocolonialism which we are trying to shake off. We hope that as we move into the future, we will move with faster economic growth but also with freedom.”

Hon. Grace Freedom Kwiyucwiny in her closing remarks on behalf of the Prime Minister thanked Ambassador Zhuqiang for an illuminating lecture, Prof. Suruma for an articulate discussion and Makerere University for being proactive by organizing the event. “The Belt and road Initiative is set to transform the way global trade is done. The countries which will understand the initiative and tap into it at the right time will reap a lot of benefits.”

She noted that the BRI shows us that China has already positioned itself as a country that is offering solutions, which should prompt us all to think about solutions for Africa. “We should also place ourselves at a global level otherwise we shall be left out” she cautioned.  

The State Minister lauded various infrastructure developments supported by China that are already transforming the country and called for additional interventions that can strategically create employment. She noted that land has already been identified in Northern Uganda, which offers virgin territory in as far as developing industrial parks is concerned.

 

Article by Public Relations Office

 

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Rotary International President visits Mak

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The Chairperson of Council, Mrs Lorna Magara (L) presents a plaque to Rotary International President Shekhar Mehta in appreciation of his visit and invaluable service, 15th September 2021, CTF1, Makerere University.

By Hasifa Kabejja

Rotary International President Shekhar Mehta has appreciated Makerere University for supporting and carrying forward the newly introduced programme aimed at advancing peace on the African Continent. Launched in January 2020, the Rotary Peace Centre at Makerere University runs a postgraduate diploma programme in Peace-building and Conflict Transformation. The hands-on program entails coursework that addresses topics including human rights, governance, and the role of the media in conflict. Other studies focus on refugees and migration, as well as resource and identity-based conflicts.

At a high level meeting held with the University leadership on 15th September 2021 at CTF1, President Shekhar Mehta said Rotary International was proud to be partnering with Makerere to promote peace on the African Continent. “The mere absence of war does not translate into total peace. Besides war, there are many other factors undermining peaceful co-existence. It is our duty to address these issues so as to create harmony in our communities. Through the Rotary Peace Centres across the globe, we are undertaking a number of initiatives aimed at promoting peace. Since 2002, the Rotary Peace Centres have trained more than 1,300 fellows who are working to advance peace in more than 115 countries. We are happy to work with Makerere University to foster peace and development on the African Continent,” he noted.   President Shekhar Mehta, who was on a three-day tour of Rotary projects in Uganda, was visiting Makerere for the first time since the University won the bid to host the International Rotary Peace Centre, the first of its kind on the African Continent.

President Shekhar Mehta, who was in company of past and current Governors of Districts 9213 and 9214, said peace was a necessary catalyst for the progress of humanity and general development of nation states across the globe. Elected for the 2021-22 term, President Shekhar Mehta, through his year theme Serve to Change Lives, asks Rotarians to participate in service projects where they can make a difference in their communities and the people who live in them. Since he joined Rotary in 1984 as a member of the Rotary Club of Calcutta-Mahanagar, West Bengal, India, President Shekhar Mehta has led many major service initiatives in India and South Asia, including among others, constructing 500 homes for Tsunami survivors at Andaman and Nicobar Islands, and starting the Shelter Kit programme in India which has served about 20 disasters and benefited about 75,000 disaster victims. 

Delivering her remarks, the Chairperson Council, Mrs. Lorna Magara appreciated Rotary International for entrusting Makerere University with the mandate to host the first rotary peace centre on the African Continent. “Choosing to house the Centre at Makerere University shows Rotary International’s trust and confidence in Makerere and her vision for building for the future. We are grateful for the opportunity to contribute to the advancement of Rotary International’s agenda. We also sincerely appreciate Rotarians all over the world who have committed funds to support the Rotary Peace Centre at Makerere University,” she noted. Similarly, she appreciated The Rotary Foundation (TRF) of Canada for setting up an endowment fund for the Peace Centre. “This will go a long way in ensuring the sustainability of the Peace Centre at Makerere University. The fund will help in the Capstone week where Fellows will present their social initiatives. These initiatives will showcase how the Rotary Peace Centre contributes to positive peace initiatives all over the world.”

In his remarks, the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe informed the President that the decision to establish the first Rotary Peace Centre in Africa at Makerere University was welcomed with ‘excitement and gratefulness’. “We consider this to be a vote of confidence in our efforts in the peace and conflict resolution agenda. We extend our appreciation to Rotarians in Uganda and beyond for selflessly supporting this noble cause.” The Vice Chancellor appreciated the leadership of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at Makerere, and the Director of the Centre, Dr Helen Nambalirwa Nkabala for their tireless efforts in ensuring the centre achieves the intended objective.

By the end of this year, the Centre will have hosted two cohorts of peace fellows. The first cohort was at Makerere University between February and May, 2021. Currently, these Peace fellows are carrying out their peace initiatives in their communities. The second cohort will report on September 27, 2021. In both cohorts, Peace Fellows were chosen from 20 countries and by the end of the year, the Centre will have had a total of 36 Fellows.

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Intentionality Key to Nurturing More Women Leaders

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The "Enhancing Women’s Participation and Visibility in Leadership and Decision-Making Organs of Public Universities in Uganda through Action Research" Phase One Study dissemination poster for the event held on 14th September 2021, CTF1, Makerere University and Online.

The Gender Mainstreaming Directorate (GMD), Makerere University on 14th September 2021 presented findings from phase one of the study on Enhancing Women’s Participation and Visibility in Leadership and Decision-Making Organs of Public Universities in Uganda through Action Research. The study team led by the Director GMD and Principal Investigator (PI), Dr. Euzobia Mugisha Baine also consists of Assoc. Prof. Consolata Kabonesa, Dr. Anna Ninsiima, Ms. Frances Nyachwo, Ms. Susan Mbabazi and Mr. Eric Tumwesigye.  

The team is also made of coordinators from participating Universities such as Busitema University-Ms. Elizabeth Birabwa, Kabale University-Sr. Dr. Eva Tumusiime, Mbarara University of Science and Technology (MUST)-Dr. Specioza Twinamasiko, Muni University-Ms. Amandru Stella Wawa, and Gulu Univeristy-Sr. Rosalba Aciro.

Funded by the Government of Uganda through the Makerere University Research and Innovations Fund (Mak-RIF), the study was inspired by the fact that women are persistently few in numbers as staff, more so in leadership and decision-making organs of Ugandan Public Universities. “This is despite all the various efforts at national and international levels; the numbers are not growing as fast as needed to meet development goals of the country” explained Dr. Euzobia.

Based on this background, the study team therefore sought to conduct a situational analysis of the gender terrain of the six public universities to obtain baseline information encompassing the composition of governance and leadership organs and senior staff by sex, as well as a needs assessment and profiles of potential mentors and mentees.

Furthermore, the team sought to explore the capacity to conduct gender-responsive research as well as the role of male staff engagement in gender equity interventions within the universities as the drivers of development.

Dr. Mugisha-Baine shared that results of the baseline would then be used to design participatory training manuals or guides on gender and leadership. The manuals would cover; Institutionalized mentorship, How to conduct gender-responsive research, gender and equity budgeting, among others.

The Director GMD, Dr. Euzobia Mugisha Baine
The Director GMD, Dr. Euzobia Mugisha Baine

 “Within these manuals, we shall have a male staff engagement strategy in gender equity interventions in universities” she explained.

The development of the aforementioned materials would then be followed by their adoption and use to build capacity for women not only in leadership of participating and other public university but also beyond. “We shall periodically evaluate whether the capacity we have built has influenced women’s participation in leadership and decision-making organs of the university” supplemented the PI.

The capacity building trainings for women, it is envisaged, will lay the foundation for the formation of a functional Uganda University Women’s Think Tank, starting with the six participating universities. Dr. Mugisha Baine added that through this Think Tank, a monitoring and tracking system for gender representation in recruitment, promotion, retention/turnover and leadership of public universities shall be established and maintained.  

At the conclusion of phase one, the study team had drafted participatory training manuals in gender and leadership with content on; gender specific critical analysis of the leadership spectrum of public universities, positioning of individual women within the institutional framework and strategies for their advancement, gender equity advocacy in the university setting, institutional mentorship, building capacity in conducting gender-responsive research, among others.

“This content will be validated by the participating universities before the actual research training is conducted” added the PI.

On behalf of the research team, Dr. Mugisha Baine thanked the Government of Uganda for providing the resources that facilitated phase one of the study and prayed that the Mak-RIF Grants Management Committee (GMC) would support the next phase of capacity building.

Speaking on behalf of the Mak-RIF GMC Chairperson, Prof. William Bazeyo, Dr. Helen Nambalirwa Nkabala thanked and congratulated the team led by the Director GMD upon the milestones registered in the critical research.

“We are very proud of that work that is being done by all researchers in Mak-RIF and we would like to most sincerely thank Management for all the support throughout this process” she remarked.

Dr. Nkabala encouraged the research team to continue disseminating and using the findings for the furtherance of gender mainstreaming, particularly through the aspect of male staff engagement in gender equity interventions.  

The Executive Director, NCHE, Prof. Mary Okwakol. Courtesy Photo.
The Executive Director, NCHE, Prof. Mary Okwakol. Courtesy Photo.

Prior to delivering the keynote address of the day, the Executive Director National Council for Higher Education (NCHE) Prof. Mary Okwakol thanked the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe for inviting her to the important forum, noting that women’s participation in decision making and governance is a priority area of the Uganda Gender Policy 2007.  

She commended Makerere University for being at the forefront of gender mainstreaming in Uganda, noting that this prominence was one of the reasons why the Gender in Education Policy 2007 provides for replicating the institution’s strategy in all other Higher Education Institutions.   

Prof. Okwakol whose keynote address was punctuated incisive personal examples reaffirmed the statistics that women are generally not visible in leadership of Universities. That notwithstanding, in instances where they rise to leadership and decision-making positions, they are regularly subject to roles traditionally deemed as women’s inconsiderate of their managerial seniority and experience.

She nevertheless rallied the women to play their respective roles in enhancing participation and visibility at a personal level. The following were some of the strategies she proposed; work hard to acquire academic credentials so as to compete favourably with men, acquire necessary administrative training and experience, network among women, join professional networks as well as do research and publish.  

On joining professional networks, she shared her personal experience as a young zoologist who joined UNESCO’s Tropical Biology and Fertility Programme. “Within a short time I was appointed Coordinator for Africa and after two years, I was elected as a Member of the International Board of Management. After serving for two years, I became Vice Chairperson of that Board and finally I became Chairperson of that International Board.”

At the institutional level, Prof. Okwakol appealed to the Chairperson Council and Vice Chancellor to proactively recruit women who meet the requirements for leadership positions even if it means actively seeking out the reluctant ones. In this regard, she shared that it would be useful for the university to develop a database of women and their qualifications to ease this process.

She shared that NCHE has in recognition of female underrepresentation at every level in Higher Education approved the establishment of a Gender and Equity Unit with the aim of promoting inclusive gender participation in the sub-sector.

“This unit has been placed under the Directorate of Quality Assurance and Accreditation which implies that as we look out for and regulate quality, gender will be a very important aspect of that regulation” she reassured.

Prof. Okwakol concluded by urging participants to read the; Third National Development Plan (NDPIII), Uganda Vision 2040, and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) noting that there is no way all three can be achieved while women are left behind because they each make a case for inclusion of the female gender.  

The Vice Chancellor, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe follows proceedings during the dissemination.
The Vice Chancellor, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe follows proceedings during the dissemination.

“What we are addressing here are historical injustices” said Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe as he commenced his remarks, “And in the case of Makerere University, it is well known that the institution started as a male-only institution and we all know the original motto was ‘Let us be men’” he added.

Citing examples from history such as; Marie Curie – one of the smartest physicists, Hatshepsut, Nefertiti and Cleopatra – prominent Pharaohs of Egypt, George Eliot, Rosa Luxemburg and Hypatia – all great philosophers as well as Chancellor Angela Merkel – first female Chancellor of Germany, the Vice Chancellor said there is no plausible argument that there are things women cannot do as well as their male counterparts.

He said it was against this knowledge and in a bid to correct historical injustices that Makerere University pioneered initiatives such as putting in place affirmative action for girls, establishing a Gender Mainstreaming Directorate as well as a School of Women and Gender Studies. The Vice Chancellor nevertheless stressed the need to go beyond pioneering to protecting these gains through legislation. “Historically we have seen that discrimination can only be addressed by laws and policies.”

Prof. Nawangwe thanked the Government for providing funds to support Mak-RIF as well as the Funds GMC and Secretariat for ensuring that these funds are put to good use. He equally thanked the Chairperson of Council, Mrs. Lorna Magara for her not only her support but also sparing time to attend a good number of the research dissemination events.

A screenshot of the Chairperson of Council, Mrs. Lorna Magara delivering the concluding remarks.
A screenshot of the Chairperson of Council, Mrs. Lorna Magara delivering the concluding remarks.

Delivering the concluding remarks, Mrs. Magara acknowledged that the study was timely and relevant the contemporary University, as one of the critical drivers of the national and international development agenda. She therefore reechoed the Vice Chancellor’s thanks to the Government of Uganda for generously supporting the University’s research through Mak-RIF.

Turning to the keynote speaker she said, “I thank Prof. Okwakol for ardently discussing the critical issues affecting the female gender, the strategies to overcome the challenges, including sharing her inspiring personal experiences.”

Mrs. Magara equally thanked Prof. Okwakol for her very instructional analysis, providing mentorship guidance with the resultant impact of enhancing the female gender in decision-making positions. In the same breath she congratulated the PI and her team upon successfully concluding phase one of the project.

“Phase one has generated insights in understanding the status of women in leadership in public universities, the legal and policy framework and its implications on women’s visibility, the institutional mentoring systems and the gaps therein” she observed.

The Chairperson of Council acknowledged that the challenge of underrepresentation of women in leadership roles cannot be resolved at an individual level. She therefore advocated for broad based strategies that can address deep-seated structural and cultural biases facing women. “These include developing mentorship networks, enacting laws and policies that address the imbalances and providing training programmes to address the leadership gaps.”

She therefore pledged the University Council’s unwavering support to the Gender Mainstreaming Programme by ensuring an enabling policy environment that facilitates gender-responsive teaching, learning, research innovation and community service.   

The research dissemination was moderated by the Principal Public Relations Officer (PRO), Ms. Ritah Namisango and the Director Communications, Learning and Knowledge Management, ResilientAfrica Network (RAN) and PRO Mak-RIF, Ms. Harriet Adong.

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Section Editors & Associate Editors Wanted-CABI Agriculture & Biosciences Journal

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The CABI Agriculture and Biosciences Journal (CABI A&B) is still in search of both Associate Editors to join the CABI A&B Editorial Board, as well as a Regional Editor-in-Chief to lead for Africa in addition to serving as a Section Editor in the area of either Environmental and SOIL SCIENCE, AGROECOLOGY, OR AQUACULTURE AND FISHERIES. Ideally CABI wants Section Editors (SE) who are prominent members of their research communities, with high-level established positions at a research institution, with a strong, current record of international collaborations and publication, with an H-index of at least 25.  For Associate Editors (AE) we hope for researchers who have with established positions at a research institution (e.g., not post-docs or Ph.D. candidates), with a strong growing record of international collaborations and publication (e.g., around 8 publications in the past two years), and have an H-index of at least 15.

Very importantly, CABI hopes for SEs and AEs who are good communicators and are passionate about serving and building the journal to be an outlet for both large and small steps of sound science that will improve the lives and livelihoods of people worldwide.

Please see Downloads for the CABI EDITORIAL DIRECTORY

Interested applicants should email PHILIPPA J. BENSON, PH.D. MANAGING EDITOR | _CABI A&B | P.BENSON[at]CABI.ORG

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