A number of efforts have been made by the ICAC to set up a regional network for the English speaking countries in Africa particularly for the southern and eastern Africa countries. The East African Regional Meeting was held in September 1982 in Sudan, which was supported by the ICAC. In 1984, an effort was made to organize a meeting and form a network but only a mini meeting could be held in Tanzania in October 1984. Later, the First African Cotton Conference was held in Togo in February 1989. All these events were supported by the ICAC but nothing could be organized on regular basis.
In February 1994, ICAC organized the World Cotton Research Conference-1 in Australia where researchers from the Southern and Eastern African countries organized their meeting and decided to form the African Cotton Research Network. They elected Dr. Joe Kabissa of Tanzania as Chairman and Dr. Mary Wabule of Kenya as Vice Chair. The agreed objectives of the network were:
Review of research programs in member countries
Identification of production constraints
Avoid duplication of efforts
Coordination of research programs
Exchange of information
Sharing of research facilities
The network tried to meet but no activities were held until early 1997. At the First All African Crop Science Congress held in Pretoria, South Africa from February 13-16, 1997, the Network organized a meeting, which was again supported by the ICAC. By then the Southern and Eastern African Cotton Forum (SEACF) had become active but activities were more focused on marketing of cotton in the region. The Forum did have a Technical Committee to deal with production research.
In February 1997, Technical Committee of the SEACF and the African Cotton Research Network were merged together and jointly named as SEACF. Now SEACF is all devoted to production research while the marketing activities have slowly disappeared.
Since February 1997, a number of meetings of the SEACF have held in various countries to discuss common production research issues. The SEACF secretariat has also implemented a fast track project on cotton diseases in the member countries that was funded by the Common Fund for Commodities.
SEACF works under the auspices of the ICAC but membership is open to all cotton producing countries in the region. There is no membership fee and the forum has no legal status. The objectives remain the same as mentioned above.