Platform for African – European Partnership in Agricultural Research for Development

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

New strategies for financing agricultural mechanisation

17 July 2014. Nairobi. New strategies for financing agricultural mechanisation.  Panel discussion. Session AFRACA and the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD)

In the 1960s many African states set up programmes of large-scale farming which promoted mechanisation. However, these programmes have failed, which has led to a lot of scepticism about mechanisation policies. Currently, agencies which dare to design mechanisation programmes, simply provide equipment but hardly integrate its maintenance in their strategies.

These are the issues which this session discussed:

  • It is very easy to put equipment in place but maintaining it is a challenge. Nevertheless, if African agriculture is to become a modern sector, it needs to mechanise. But how, and how should mechanisation be financed? Today, this is far from clear. 
  • Nigeria is currently setting up a mechanisation programme, but it is based on many assumptions. Are we making the right choices? 
  • Should we go for a strategy based on cooperatives in rural areas, or a public-private partnership? 
  • Should mechanisation be subsidized by the government, or driven by the market? 
  • From the few examples of recent mechanisation policies that we can see, what has worked and what has not? 
Related (1):
Advancing Agricultural Mechanization (AM) to promote farming and rural development in Africa
Position paper of CEMA
July 2014, 6 pages.

  • The current levels of commitment and encouragement by international actors andgovernments to promote agricultural mechanization in developing countries are comparatively low. Infact, notwithstanding its fundamental importance and potentially beneficial role, AgriculturalMechanization, in the words of the FAO, is “the neglected waif” of agricultural and rural development in developing countries.
  • The successful examples of, for instance, Bangladesh and Indonesia demonstrate that whenever AM strategies have been tailored to local needs and integrated into broader agricultural policy approaches,they have proven successful in supporting farming and rural development.

About the European Agricultural Machinery

  • CEMA is the European association representing the agricultural machinery industry. For more than 50 years CEMA has acted as a network of national associations and provides services, advice and a common European industry view on relevant topics. 
  • The industry represented by CEMA includes 4,500 manufacturers of agricultural equipment employing directly 135,000 persons and indirectly in the distribution and service network another 125,000 persons. 
  • The companies are mainly small and medium-sized manufacturers according to the EU definition and in 2011 had a total turnover of 26 billion euro.

Related (2):
Farm power and conservation agriculture for sustainable intensification (FACASI)
From 29 April to 10 May 2013, 16 agricultural engineers, 

agronomists, machinery importers, and machinery 
manufacturers from Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, 
and Zimbabwe took part in a study tour in India 
organised by CIMMYT and the Indian 
Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR).
The aim of this project is to identify appropriate small-scale machines (e.g. 2-wheel tractors) to improve farming practices (such as planting, harvesting, milling and transporting), and the commercial mechanisms needed to deliver these to smallholder farmers. The project will identify opportunities to create new markets for equipment and services, and supporting policies and networks.

Only launched in March 2013, the Farm Mechanization and Conservation Agriculture for Sustainable Intensification project (FACASI) is already making significant progress.

Related blogpost:
Mechanization of conservation agriculture slashes farming costs
11 June 2014. IFAD. FARMERS can increase yields, efficiency and drastically reduce the cost of ploughing, planting and weeding in the 2014 season following the introduction of mechanized Conservation Agriculture (CA).

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Revolutionising finance for agri-value chains

14 - 18 July 2014. Nairobi, Kenya. More than 700 agriculturists, value-chain partners, ICT developers, financiers, central bank governors and the media are meeting for a four-day meeting to explore new tools, mechanisms and approaches to revolutionise agriculture to ensure smallholder farmers get access to finance.

The Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) Director, Dr Michael Hailu said at the opening of the conference that there was an
urgent need to transform smallholder agriculture into a profitable and sustainable enterprise in Africa, the Caribbean, the Pacific and other developing countries.
"Bringing about real changes depends to a large extent on access to finance that enables smallholder agriculture to grow and prosper. The Fin4Ag conference gives us a unique opportunity to learn about the different tools and initiatives that facilitate successful smallholder inclusive agriculture-value chain finance" 
The African Rural and Agricultural Credit Association (AFRACA) Secretary General, Mr Saleh Gashua said the conference provides a platform for all agricultural stakeholders to accelerate contacts with key players in the industry with a focus on the existing functional models on agri-value chain finance.

Interview with Lamon Rutten, CTA Manager (Policies, Markets and ICTs)

TXF has produced and launched a special report on Fin4Ag - free to view and download.

In this issue:
- Warehouse receipt financing
- Tony Elumelu – interview
- Commercial African banks
- Funds in the value chain
- Crop insurance
- Agricultural regulation
- Commodity traders

TXF has teamed up with The Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) to produce the special report for the Fin4Ag Conference (Nairobi, 14-18 July).

From the rise of African banks and sophisticated electronic receipt systems to the critical role of traders, you can read all the articles on the TXF dedicated Fin4Ag pagehere or download the special report in both English and French.

Related media productions 

Curtain Raiser Fin4Ag from CTA on Vimeo.

Plug and Play Playout from CTA on Vimeo.

Interview Theo de Jager from CTA on Vimeo.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

2nd African Continental Briefing

13-14 July 2014, Kenya School of Monetary Studies, Nairobi, Kenya. 2nd African Continental Briefing. Promoting inclusive finance models for farmers in Africa. Organized by The Panafrican Farmer's Organisations (PAFO), the ACP-EU Technical Center for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) and the African Union Commission (AUC).

This Briefing is addressing the rural finance gap through agricultural value chain finance. Financial services providers often see high risks because they lack an understanding of the agricultural sector and food markets, and have no way to evaluate the risks in agricultural value chains.

To most financial institutions, the cost of directly lending to small-scale farmers in remote rural areas is prohibitive and they are reluctant to finance rural entrepreneurs, citing high transaction costs and risks related to agriculture such as crop failure, diseases and market fluctuations as a justification. The result is a serious and long-lasting rural finance gap that keeps the economic potential of agriculture under used.

After many years of declining investment, there is a renewed interest in agricultural financing.
  • The best innovations in AVC finance depend on the chain, the capacity of the different stakeholders in the chain, the interests of the stakeholders and the socio-economic and political context. 
  • Agricultural value chain finance offers an opportunity to reduce cost and risk in financing and reach out to smallholder farmers, expand the financing opportunities for agriculture, improve efficiency and repayments in financing, and consolidate value chain linkages among participants in the chain. 
  • The specific opportunities that financing can create within a chain are driven by the context and business model and the relative roles of each participant in the chain.
Extracts of the first day interventions: (13/07/2014)

Session 2: Successes from farmer's organisations

Fadel Ndiame, Lead, Farmer Organization Support Centre (FOSCA), AGRA
Building Small Farmer Organizations
"Only 20 percent of the farmers are part of a farmer organisation". 
"It requires 5 time more efforts to have a farmer organisation sign a grant agreement" 

David Ruchiu, Africa Director, Farm Concern International
 "The Commercial Villages Model (CVM) is a hybrid model through which typical social administrative villages are designed and systematically graduated into commercialized competitive market-led agricultural production units. It is supported by a business incubation and graduation pathway that is efficiently organized into evolve social administrative villages into commercial villages that meet the modern markets supply chain practices that include quantity and quality (Q and Q) requirements through bulking and quality assurance."
Published on 18 Sep 2012Interview with Fadel Ndiame, Lead, Farmer Organization Support Centre (FOSCA)

On the 5th of march 2014, David Ruchiu held a presentation on " Finance innovations combining ICT’s and warehouse receipts " as part of the Brussels Briefing on ‘Revolutionising finance for agri-value chains' organized by CTA Brussels at the ACP Secretariat in Brussels.

Agribusiness development in Small Island Developing States

11 July 2014. Brussels. The Brussels Development Briefing on ‘Building resilience of SIDS through trade and agribusiness development‘, took place in the context of 2104 as the year of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and the upcoming UN Conference on Small Island Developing States (1-4 September 2014, Apia, Samoa).

Small islands face a greater risk of marginalization due to the combined adverse consequences of their small size, remoteness from large markets and high economic vulnerability to economic and natural shocks beyond domestic control.

The Briefing gave an overview of the main challenges and opportunities for agribusiness development in SIDS. It also discuss some best practices in agribusiness in ACP regions and strategies to identify new opportunities especially through innovative partnerships.

Below you may find the programme of the event, photos, the presentations of the speakers, as well as other useful information:
Programme and Background Note
A webstream recording of the Briefing is available by clicking on this link.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

European Association for Potato Research

6-11 July 2014. Brussels. The European Association for Potato Research (EAPR) organized its 19th Triennial Conference.

This congress was held for the first time in Belgium (Brussels). It represented anopportunity for the Belgian potato industry as well as for research institutions and private companies, to share their scientific and technical know-how. 

The scientific topics of the congress focused on all of the classical aspects of the potato sector, especially the latest knowledge about sustainable and innovative techniques. Recent and innovative fundamental research and applied research results were presented, together with technological transfer and implementation for users.

The Belgian potato crop and industry have been rapidly developing in the last 15 years. In Belgium alone, the potato-cropped area increased from ca 33% during the last 15 years and the Belgian potato processing sector is now number-one in the world for export and in the top 3 for production with more than 3.5 million tons of processed potatoes.

The PAEPARD supported consortium « Le développement participatif des technologies de la pomme de terre et promotion des innovations sensibles au genre et à la conservation de l’environnement au Burundi » was represented by Prof. Jean Ndimubandi of the FACAGRO of the University of Burundi and Prof Ir. Jean-Louis Rolot of the Agricultural Research Center of Gembloux. 

WORKSHOP 5 From Research to Practice (incl. connection with EU EIP-AGRI program)
Meeting CIP: Open discussion on collaboration EAPR-CIP to promote international potato research for food security

The African Potato Association is a non-profit organization that was launched in September 1985.

The objectives of APA are:
  • To promote the interests of potato and sweetpotato workers in Africa.
  • To act as a central source of information and resource exchange.
  • To facilitate greater inter-country collaboration and horizontal exchange of information and exchange visits by scientists.
  • To stimulate the development of potato and sweetpotato research, production, and utilization in Africa.
  • To popularize potato and sweetpotato as important food items in Africa.
  • To act as a link between the International Potato Center (CIP) and other relevant associations in the world and members/member countries.
  • To monitor training opportunities to its members.

Shaping our food – an overview of crop and livestock breeding

Shaping our food – an overview of crop and livestock breeding
Editor: Anna Lehrman
Authors: Anna Lehrman, Sevasti Chatzopoulou, Li Feng, Flavio Forabosco, Elisabeth Jonas, Konstantinos Karantininis, Fredrik Levander, Alessandro Nicolia, Lotta Rydhmer, Helena Röcklinsberg, Per Sandin, Jens Sundström, and Li-Hua Zhu

You may not have thought about why tomatoes look the way they do, why our pets and farm animals are so calm and friendly, or how it is possible to get a watermelon without any seeds in it. Although the breeding of plants and livestock have shaped more or less everything we eat, few people know about the scientific achievements and the tedious work that results in the food we see on our plates every day.
  • Why breed crops & animals?
  • How is it done?
  • Ethical questions
  • What GMOs are available?
  • What does the law say?
  • Who benefits from the GM-technology?
With this book an overview is given of the background of domestication and breeding, from the beginning of farming more than 10,000 years ago to the molecular work of today.

It presents the basics of the structures and functions of genes, describe why and how different breeding methods are applied to crops and livestock, and give some insight into legislation surrounding the use of biotechnology in breeding in the EU and in Sweden.

It also provides an overview of different products produced through genetic modification, a summary of the economic impact of such crops, and some ethical issues related to breeding in general and to genetic modification in particular.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Indian-Dutch exploration on ways to reduce antibiotics in dairy farming

A group of Dutch veterinarians and farmers during 
their week visit to the I-AIM Institute 
in Bangalore, South India.
In recent years, and as initiative of I-AIM (Institute for Ayurveda and Integrated Medicine) and the Tamil Nadu Veterinary and Animal Science University (TANUVAS – ), practical methods have been developed on basis of medicinal plants to control common ailments in dairy farming, such as mastitis and calf scour.

In April 2014 the E-Motive exchange program has facilitated a group of Dutch dairy farmers and veterinarians to visit southern India. They wanted to learn more about the expertise on medicinal plants that has been developed over the past 30 years by the Institute of Ayurvedic and Integrated Medicine (I-AIM) in Bangalore, together with the Tamil Nadu Veterinary and Animal Sciences University (TANUVAS) in Chennai.

This exchange project aims to reduce the use of antibiotics in dairy farming in both India and the Netherlands. For this aim the Indian expertise on the use of medicinal plants is combined with expertise on dairy farm management from the Netherlands. In this way we will collaborate to improve animal health as well as milk quality, with positive effects for both producers and consumers.

In October 2014 the Indian experts will come to the Netherlands to support the experiments of the farmers, and to exchange views with farmers, veterinarians and other organizations.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Organic Agriculture Boosts Biodiversity On Farmlands

Does organic farming foster biodiversity? The answer is yes, however, the number of habitats on the land plays an important role alongside the type and intensity of farming practices. These are the findings of an international study that looked at ten regions in Europe and two in Africa. The results has been published in Nature Communications.

The study shows that even organic farms have to actively support biodiversity by, for example, conserving different habitats on their holdings.

An international team, including scientists from Technische Universität München (TUM), investigated the contribution of organic farming to supporting farmland biodiversity between 2010 and 2013. Researchers wanted to explore whether organic farms are home to more species than their conventional neighbors. The team used uniform methods across Europe to capture data and analyze it to establish the impact of farming methods and intensity and of landscape features on biodiversity.

“Organic farming is beneficial to the richness of plant and bee species. However, observed benefits concentrate on arable fields,” says TUM’s Prof. Kurt-Jürgen Hülsbergen. His Chair for Organic Agriculture and Agronomy analyzed 16 Bavarian dairy farms.

Father Godfrey Nzamujo,
director of the Centre Songhai,
an organic farm, speaks
on the farm in Porto Novo.
(Charles Placide Tossou, AFP)
The study investigated farms in twelve regions with different production systems. In each region, farms were selected randomly, half of them certified organic for at least five years. In Switzerland, grassland-based cattle farms were studied and in Austria the study looked at arable farms. In Italy and Spain, researchers focused on farms with permanent crops such as wine and olives, and on small-scale subsistence farms in Uganda.

Organic farm in Benin, an example for Africa 

The Songhai centre, in Benin's capital now stretches over 24Ha and employs an army of workers and apprentices, who toil from sunrise to sunset growing fruit, vegetables and rice, as well as rearing fish, pigs, poultry. Songhai in tiny Benin has big plans for Africa. It already has similar operations in Nigeria, Liberia and Sierra Leone and wants to set up shop in 13 more west and central African countries. 

Nzamujo's main aim is to help Africans increase yields through simple techniques, without using pesticides or fertilisers, and while cutting production costs and protecting the environment. The Nigeria-born priest, who was raised in California on the US west coast, said he was shocked by the appalling images of famine in Africa on television at the start of the 1980s.

Friday, July 4, 2014

ARD funding opportunities


Inviting Proposals for Expert Groups 2014-2015. Inter-disciplinary SIANI Expert Groups contribute to understanding emerging issues related to food security and nutrition in low-income countries. The groups include diverse stakeholders in academia, NGOs, private businesses, government, etc., that promote activities to strengthen Swedish actors and their partners in matters of agriculture for the developing world. If groups are not based in Sweden, they must link directly to Swedish organizations and resources. SIANA provides seed funds to group coordinators. The deadline to submit proposals is 01 August 2014.

The International Plant Nutrition Institute IPNI Science Award recognizes and promotes distinguished contributions by scientists involved with global ecological intensification of crop production. The Award of US$5 thousand is presented each year. Eligibility extends to agronomists, crop scientists, soil scientists, and food scientists in the public and private sectors of all countries. The deadline for nominations is 30 September 2014.

The Work Programme on ‘Food security, sustainable agriculture and forestry, marine and maritime and inland water research and the bioeconomy’ offers opportunities in finding diverse 
and innovative solutions to well-identified challenges in key EU policy priorities. Through generic or dedicated topics, a broad multidisciplinary participation is welcomed in these efforts.
Specific topics related to Africa:
·         SFS-18-2015: Small farms but global markets: the role of small and family farms in food and nutrition security (page 29) Deadline First stage 24 February 2015

C L I M A T E  C H A N G E 

Southern and East Africa, 8th Call for Proposals. The EEP for Southern and East Africa announces its 8th call for proposals. The program invites applications in support of local private sector projects in renewable energy and energy efficiency that are close to commercial maturity, but that need a limited amount of bridging finance to enable sustainable business growth. Projects should be implemented in one or more of the following partner countries: Botswana, Burundi, Kenya, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia.The maximum grant allocation ranges from €200 thousand to €1 million, depending on the level of co-financing.The deadline for submitting concept notes is 16 July 2014.

The Wellcome Trust announces its 2nd call for proposals in Sustaining Health. The Trust is particularly interested in research on the health impacts of climate change mitigation and adaptation measures, and the health impacts of feeding a world population of nine billion people by 2050. Pilot projects may address any aspect of the interplay between health, environment, and nutrition but key is a focus on health. The Trust encourages new interdisciplinary and cross-sector partnerships such as between biomedical researchers and those working in social, economic, environmental, climate, engineering, agricultural, development, and computer sciences. Awards are of the order of £250 thousand, exceptionally up to £500 thousand. The deadline for concept notes is 25 July 2014.

DFID funds BRACED ("Building Resilience and Adaptation to Climate Extremes and Disasters") to build the resilience of people to extreme climate events in selected countries of the Sahel, Sub-Saharan Africa, and South Asia. Grants are to nonprofit NGOs that lead consortia with project partners (e.g., other NGOs, local governments, research organizations, UN agencies, and the private sector). The current call is for full proposals from projects that were awarded Project Development Grants. The deadline for full proposals is 31 July 2014.

The Energy Globe Award is for projects that conserve and protect natural resources, or that employ renewable energy. The international winner in each category ("earth," "water," "fire," "air," and "youth") is awarded €10 thousand. Applicants can be individuals as well as organizations (i.e., private companies and corporations, development NGOs, community associations, government agencies, and others). The deadline for submissions is 22 September 2014.


This Competition seeks innovative ways to reduce the amount of fisheries by-catch while protecting the environment. The contest is open worldwide and will be judged by fisheries experts, gear technologists, fishermen, scientists, researchers, and conservationists. The grand prize is US$30 thousand, and several additional prizes will be offered. The deadline is 31 August 2014.

Axé sur l’opérationnel, SEP2D s’inscrit dans l’esprit de REDD+, de la mise en œuvre du protocole de Nagoya et de la Stratégie Mondiale de Conservation des Plantes (SMCP) révisée. Dans tous les domaines, l’accent sera mis sur les actions, enseignements et projets qui auront un fort impact REDD+ et/ou participeront à la valorisation de la biodiversité végétale. Des partenariats seront développés avec le secteur privé. Six établissements français ont joué un rôle moteur dans SEP : l’IRD, le MNHN, le CIRAD, le CNRS, et les Universités Pierre et Marie Curie, et Montpellier.
Mai 2014 : En cas de décision positive de l'AFD, démarrage de SEPDD
Début 2015 : Démarrage effectif de SEPDD ;  projets, actions, opérations-pilotes

Co-administered by the UK Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the UK's Department for International Development (DFID), the Darwin Initiative contributes knowledge that links biodiversity conservation and poverty reduction in low and middle-income countries. There are no restrictions on the nationality or location of applicants. Closing dates are 03 July 2014 for Main Projects (Stage 1); 08 July 2014 for Post Projects; 04 August 2014 for Darwin Plus (i.e., British Overseas Territories); 27 October 2014 for Scoping Awards; and 27 October 2014 for Darwin Fellowships.

USAID's Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance seeks to fund an NGO that works internationally to build the capacity and technical knowledge of Kenyan NGOs in matters of disaster risk reduction at the community level in the event of future droughts. Thematic areas include management of water supply, agriculture and livestock, and others. The project will operate in one or more of Turkana, Garissa, Wajir, Mandera, and Marsabit as the basis for expansion to other organizations across Kenya. Funding Opportunity APS-OFDA-14-000008. The application deadline is 30 November 2014. Link


New Zealand's government provides a variety of opportunities for training and university study through the New Zealand Aid Program, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. The priorities often include agriculture, renewable energy, fisheries, disaster risk management, and other areas related to natural resources and environment. Application deadlines are specific to each country/regional program. The deadline for applicants from Africa is 01 August 2014.

The Christensen Fund makes grants to indigenous-led and community-based organizations for projects that combine biodiversity with cultural diversity. Most grants are in the range of US$50 thousand to US$100 thousand for one or two years. Application dates are 01 August through 31 August for project pre-proposals from the  African Rift Valley.

In collaboration with the Global Water Partnership, Australia's International Water Center announces funding for four international candidates accepted into the Master of Integrated Water Management. Two scholarships are for female candidates who are nationals in the 85 countries of the Global Water Partnership. Two other scholarships are open to international students, men and women, anywhere in the world who meet the eligibility requirements. The application deadline is 01 August 2014.

IDRC makes research awards to citizens and permanent residents of Canada, and to citizens of developing countries. The award provides for a one-year paid program of research in addition to hands-on experience in research management, grant administration, and the use of knowledge from an international perspective. Program areas include agriculture and food security; climate change and water; and several others. Applicants should be enrolled, or have previously completed, their masters or doctoral degrees at recognized universities. IDRC identifies countries not eligible for awards, as well as countries requiring prior approval. The deadline for applications is 06 August 2014.

Organization for Women in Science for the Developing World (OWSD) -- OWSD supports female scientists in Sub-Saharan Africa and Least Developed Countries (LDCs) with doctoral fellowships in the natural sciences. The fellowships are for the pursuit of a doctoral degree at a host institution in a developing country, but not in the applicant's home country. Applicants should be qualified young women science graduates (generally below 40 years of age), who have an M.Sc. degree or outstanding B.Sc. in the natural sciences. The application deadline is 15 August 2014.

International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO) -- Freezailah Fellowships, Second Cycle 2014. ITTO makes grants through the Freezailah Fellowship Fund for training opportunities, demonstration tours, participation in conferences and workshops, preparation of technical papers, and post-graduate degrees. Grants up to US$10 thousand are in support of sustainable tropical forest management. Applicants are young and mid-career professionals in ITTO's member countries; most grants are to individuals in the developing countries. The deadline for the second application cycle in 2014 is 22 August 2014.

Women scientists who are nationals or permanent residents of any country in Sub-Saharan Africa can apply for the 2014 L’Oréal-UNESCO regional fellowships. The program offers five fellowships of €5 thousand each to African Ph.D. students, and another five fellowships of €10 thousand each to African postdoctoral researchers. The age limit for applicants is 40 years for Ph.D students, and 45 years for post-doc researchers. The application deadline is 21 August 2014.

The Norman E. Borlaug Leadership Enhancement in Agriculture Program (Borlaug LEAP) offers fellowships for graduate students from developing countries for agricultural research at universities in the USA. The program currently invites applications from citizens of USAID-assisted countries in sub-Saharan Africa. Each research project is coordinated by a university in the student's home country, a university in the USA, and a mentor in the Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research (CGIAR). The next application deadline is 02 December 2014.

Innovative Doctoral Education for Global Food Security
The Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (Sweden) and Makerere University (Uganda) invite qualified applicants to participate in the upcoming course(s) and workshop(s) focused on teaching and learning in higher education. The project will cover the costs of travel, housing and meals during the course and/or workshop(s):
1) Transferable Skills Training for Doctoral Students
2) Workshop for Lecturers: Improving and Internationalizing University Courses
3) Workshop for Doctoral Supervisors

O T H E R  

The Monsanto Fund makes grants in support of agricultural communities around the world. Grants of US$25 thousand and more are available to tax-exempt charitable organizations for activities and projects that address farmers' education and training; food security; community water and sanitation; and other local needs. Monsanto's international grants are administered at the country level; interested persons should contact the Fund's national liaison. The second yearly application period is 01 July 2014 through 31 August 2014. 

Grants up to US$15 thousand are available to individual young scientists in countries belonging to the Organization of the Islamic Conference. Renewable energy is among the eligible subject areas. The application deadline is 31 August 2014. 

The Swiss Forum for International Agricultural Research annually awards a prize to scientists working at or in association with a Swiss institution in agricultural research for development. The best PhD or post-doc project wins CHF 5 thousand, and the best masters project CHF 1 thousand. The application deadline is 15 July 2014.

The Australian Center for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) awards the John Dillon Fellowships to young agricultural scientists and economists in developing countries for professional visits to Australia. The fellowships aim to develop leadership skills in agricultural research management, agricultural policy, and/or extension technologies. Applicants are citizens of ACIAR's priority partner countries who spend several weeks at one or two host Australian organizations. ACIAR funds eight to ten John Dillon fellowships per year. The deadline for applications is 31 August 2014. 

Thursday, July 3, 2014

The Role of Trees in Agroecology and Sustainable Agriculture in the Tropics

The Annual Review of Phytopathology 2014. 52:6.1–6.21
Copyright 2014 by Annual Reviews.
"This is the best justification for agroforestry that I have seen."
Olivier de Schutter United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food (2008-2014)
The future of agriculture is the focus of much international debate. The main area of consensus is that it needs to be more sustainable and more productive, and that business as usual is not an option . The problems are numerous and complex, especially in the tropics and subtropics, where interactions between both biophysical and socioeconomic issues are affecting agricultural productivity, mainly through a combination of land degradation driven by population growth and a declining resource of productive land for agriculture. This has led to farmers becoming sedentary smallholders without the financial resources to replenish soil fertility.
  1. Ecological restoration (step 1) builds on more than 25 years of research experience, led by the World Agroforestry Center (ICRAF), in the use of a number of leguminous nitrogen-fixing trees and shrubs in improved fallows, relay cropping, and, more recently, evergreen agriculture. 
  2. Tree domestication (step 2), by selecting and vegetatively propagating elite trees for planting as superior cultivars to produce culturally and traditionally important and nutritious foods has, over the past 20 years, made great progress in assisting poor rural communities.
  3. Product commercialization (step 3) creates business and employment opportunities in cottage industries engaged in processing, value adding, and marketing of the products of these agroforestry trees.
By combining agroecological restoration with income generation within a participatory integrated rural development program that provides community training and education in a wide range of relevant skills, agroforestry becomes a powerful new tool to address the cycle of land degradation and social deprivation. The income-generating component adds critical value to agroecology and may even be an important incentive for farmers to diversify their farming systems. 

Related PAEPARD blog posts
Joint ARCH AKIS Workshop 26 - 27 May 2014. Brussels.
Roundtable on Sustainable African Agriculture and CAADP 2014 review 28 November 2013. Brussels.

A series of narrated slide presentations on the topic of tree domestication in agroforestry as developed by Prof. Roger Leakey in support of his lectures on the subject. They can be used by research scientists, technicians, development specialists, students and others active or interested in this area to enhance their knowledge and skills in agroforestry tree domestication and the development of clonal cultivars producing Agroforestry Tree Products (AFTPs).

Put together, they can support a short course that should allow learners to develop a tree domestication programme within the framework of multi-functional agriculture, based on the most appropriate strategy and package of techniques. Where possible, these theoretical presentations should be accompanied by practical work and demonstrations to develop the skills mentioned.

The narrated slide presentations are chronologically organized as Modules (M), Units (U), Case Studies (CS) and Topics (T) and cover the following:



Unit 1 – Setting tree domestication in context
Unit 2 – What is tree domestication?


Unit 1 – Indigenous trees producing fruits and nuts

Case Study 1 - Safou (Dacryodes edulis) and Bush mango (Irvingia gabonensis) in Humid West Africa
Case Sudy 2 – Marula (Sclerocarya birrea) in South Africa and Namibia
Case Study 3 – Indigenous nuts in the Pacific (Cutnut - Barringtonia procera, Tahitian chestnut - Inocarpus fagifer, and Galip nut - Canarium indicum)
Case Study 4 – Bush tucker in Australia

Unit 2 – Indigenous trees producing wood and timber

Case Study 1 – Sandalwood for essential oils in Vanuatu
Case study 2 – Obeche (Triplochiton scleroxylon) – export timber from Humid West Africa

Unit 3 – Annex: Other species under domestication (slides only)


Unit 1 – Introduction to vegetative propagation
Unit 2 – Factors affecting rooting of cuttings

Topic 1 – The propagation environment
Topic 2 – Post severance treatments
Topic 3 – Stockplants
Topic 4 – Stockplant environment
Topic 5 – Issues to be addressed

Unit 3 – Phase change and ageing in reproductively mature trees

Unit 4 – Do’s and don’ts of rooting cuttings

Topic 1 – Making the best use of the techniques
Topic 2 – Key methodological points to remember
Topic 3 – Trouble-shooting
Topic 4 – Capturing the mature phase
Unit 5 – Nursery management
Unit 6 – Experimentation in vegetative propagation


Unit 1 – Towards economic, social and environmental impacts
Unit 2 – Tree domestication and multi-functional agriculture in action

Topic 1 – Rural Resource Centres in West/North West Cameroun
Topic 2 – Network for Sustainable and Diversified Agriculture in Far North Queensland


Small and Growing: Entrepreneurship in African Agriculture

2nd July 2014. DG AGRI and DG DevCo hosted consecutively the presentation of the newest Montpellier Panel report "Small and Growing: Entrepreneurship in African Agriculture" and we thought this might be of your interest.

Professor Sir Gordon Conway, Director of Agriculture for Impact, will be chaired a session with a selected number of panel members:
This report was authored by Agriculture for Impact, an advocacy initiative that convenes the Montpellier Panel to encourage better European donor support for the advancement of agricultural development in sub-Saharan Africa. The members of the Montpellier panel expose how investment in rural and food sector entrepreneurship in Africa can achieve sustainable food and nutrition security for the continent and significantly contribute to Africa's rural and economic growth.

Entrepreneurship is rooted in small farm agriculture, but it needs pro-active policy design and investment. Governments, donors and the private sector need to make these opportunities flourish by vigorously facilitating, supporting and encouraging the active involvement of young people and women.

To this end, the priority should be to support the creation of Rural and Food Sector Enterprises along the agribusiness value chain through:
  1. Strong vocational and business management training for young people
  2. Adequate and affordable financing for starting and growing enterprises
  3. Appropriate enabling environments for entrepreneurship on an individual and collective basis
  4. Political leadership that demonstrates the necessary vision and will
Launch of the report in London on 26/06/2014
Co-hosted by the All- Party Parliamentary Group on Agriculture and Food for Development (APPG), the event welcomed a panel of experts to discuss how investments in rural and food sector entrepreneurship in Africa can not only deliver food and nutrition security but also kickstart broader economic growth for all.
  • Lord Cameron of Dillington opened the panel session by congratulating the Montpellier Panel on their work and introducing the many opportunities for the sector. He specifically outlined how smallholder African farmers could be on the cusp of a new era of higher food productivity and resilient livelihoods if supported sufficiently in doing so.
  • Building on this introduction, Sir Gordon Conway, Director of Agriculture for Impact and Chair of the Montpellier Panel, explained how this report is timely given the current attention being focused on market and value chain development in Africa. “Many people incorrectly think that African agriculture is outdated, difficult and non lucrative,” Conway said, but instead he pointed to several of the success stories featured in the report.
  • Jane Karuku, President of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) and Montpellier Panel member, stressed that these opportunities must be supported through facilitating better access to finance and business skills (e.g. arranging credit, drafting contracts). “Someone needs to unlock the sector’s value at the outset,” Karuku urged, noting that AGRA has worked with many entrepreneurs who “came from nothing to become very successful small and medium-sized enterprises.”
  • Daniel Gad, owner of Omega Farms, travelled to London from his farm in Ethiopia to share his experience first-hand with the audience. “African agriculture is a $280 billion business,” he said, but also warned that “Africa has almost become its own worst enemy” by not fully modernising how food and rural value chains are managed. He noted the rapid pace of urbanisation, fuelled in part by young people moving to find city jobs because of insufficient or undesirable employment opportunities in rural areas. However, Gad argued that investing in new training, technologies and institutional innovations – for instance, by organising farmers into rural cooperative models, creating commodity exchanges and collateralising land and harvests to access credit – could encourage young people into work across the agricultural value chain.
  • This view was further supported by fellow panelist Roy Steiner, Former Deputy Director for Agriculture at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. He noted the huge opportunity of tapping into the talent and energy, especially of young people, to become entrepreneurs. “The young are incredibly well-suited to entrepreneurship,” he said, yet he noted that the farming sector still uses technologies that are thousands of years old. He said that entrepreneurship requires a sustained effort to provide training in order to cultivate trust and a sense of community amongst actors across the value chain.

Published on 24 Jun 2014

Published on 14 Jun 2014 Agriculture for Impact visit the Oromia region of Ethiopia, to see how the Meki Batu fruit and vegetable has grown into a self-sufficient, booming business, with the help of Self Help Africa. 

The Uganda Development Trust (UDET) provides business services to assist SMEs in order to improve their management, operations, prepare bankable business plans, and access credit.
  • Since 2001, UDET has forged a number of key, strategic relationships with donors committed to SME development in Uganda, and brought a distinct level of business development services (BDS) and funding options to SMES across Uganda, particularly in the area of agribusiness development. UDET is not a traditional agribusiness incubator, but rather a service provider filling a critical gap in Ugandan agribusiness incubation.
  • UDET started working with AgroWays (U) in 2009, where they found the warehouse to have insufficient storage capacity, inadequate grain cleaning machinery, poor recordkeeping practices, an erratic supply chain, and limited working capital. Together they produced a bankable business plan that was submitted to Stanbic Bank and USAID in 2011 which leveraged nearly a million dollars in trade finance, a loan to purchase a modern dryer, and $200,000 for constructing eight village aggregation stores throughout Uganda.

Inclusive and sustainable industrial development

23 - 24 June 2014. UNIDO Vienna International Centre. To support UNIDO’s role as a facilitator of knowledge and advice on policies and strategies towards achieving inclusive and sustainable industrial development, a first forum was held by UNIDO to initiate a strategic dialogue drawing on international expertise and regional knowledge with UNIDO Member States, development agencies, and other developed and developing countries on ways to operationalize inclusive and sustainable industrial development strategies and policies.

Over 300 participants, including ministers and government officials, representatives of UNIDO Member States and experts in the field, attended the First UNIDO Forum on strategies and instruments for achieving inclusive and sustainable industrial development.

Speakers offered concrete examples of rapid industrialization as well as lessons, both positive and negative. They said that both hard and soft business infrastructure play important roles, and agreed that both developing and implementing strategies and instruments for inclusive and sustainable industrial development share equal importance.

 The second forum in October 2014 will focus on mobilizing relevant
stakeholders in order to develop a portfolio of concrete partnership opportunities on establishing soft and hard infrastructure, such as industrial parks, in several countries where UNIDO has already been implementing activities and accumulating relevant knowledge.

For more information on the Agenda of the first forum, please go here

Information on the five sessions of the first forum is also available: Session 1, Session 2, Session 3, Session 4,Session 5

Extract: Session 4
Case studies in business infrastructure development: What can we learn from successful cases in Africa, Asia, Europe and Central Asia and Latin America? 

  • Ahmed Abtew, Minister of Industry, Ethiopia 
  • Olusegun Olutoyin Aganga, Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Nigeria 
  • Hadja Fatoumata Binta Diallo, Minister of Industry, SMEs and Promotion of Private Sector, Guinea 
  • Leonard Mizzi, Head of Unit, European Commission, DG Agriculture and Rural Development 
  • Shubhra Singh, Joint Secretary, Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, India 
The specialized network of UNIDO ITPOs opens up opportunities for investors and technology suppliers to find potential partners and offers unique services to both entrepreneurs and business institutions.  Through the AfrIPAnet operations and the UNIDO Investment and Technology Promotion Programme for Africa, the ITPOs enjoy strong partnerships with numerous national Investment Promotion Agencies (IPAs) in African countries.

Currently there are 15 member countries of the AfrIPAnet network (Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Nigeria, Senegal, Uganda, United Republic of Tanzania) but this is to be extended to 31 countries in the current biennium.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

2SCALE: one of the largest agribusiness incubator in Africa

30 June 2014. IFDC developed an innovative and scalable solution to agricultural market selfsufficiency.

The evolution of this approach to farm-to market linkages began in 2006  with IFDC’s 1000s+ project in West Africa. This project introduced the Competitive Agricultural Systems and Enterprises (CASE)
methodology, a revolution in agricultural development.

Under CASE, farmers are grouped into clusters and trained in the production of a common crop. The groups then connect with fertilizer and seed suppliers. They link to their value chain – networks that include banks, agro-dealers, storage facilities, processors and other agribusiness partners. Most importantly, the farmer groups connect with private sector buyers in regional and global food markets.

In a recent interview, Arno Maatman, coordinator of IFDC’s pan-Africa 2SCALE project, reflected on the evolution of the approach.
 “When we started 1000s+ using CASE, the whole concept of agribusiness clusters to support sustainable farmer-market linkages was new. Today, the concept is spreading in Africa. 2SCALE is a descendant of that project, only we’re scaling up our efforts substantially.”
 The 2SCALE project is the largest agribusiness incubator in Africa. It spans 12 countries and affects more than 1 million farmers. According to Maatman, the farmer cluster concept is key. It focuses on the networks that need to evolve around farmer production. In the past, farmers were at the mercy of unanticipated market conditions and not always fairminded produce buyers. 2SCALE strengthens the ability of farmers and local entrepreneurs to identify the most profitable channel options.

In 2SCALE’s first 18 months, more than 190 agribusiness clusters began operating in 10 countries. Farmer groups now link to more than 1,000 private sector firms. Clusters include food crops, cash crops and dairy and poultry production, among others. Large private food companies and bank partnerships have emerged. Additional cooperatives are being negotiated.

Yet, the question of equitable access to these opportunities by the poorest of Africa remains. With this new form of agricultural development, we have more power than ever to create income equity. Providing farmers the right tools and training, linking them to one another, to market services and to buyers, provides them with unprecedented social and economic opportunities.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Announcement: 1st African Symposium on Mycotoxicology - Reducing mycotoxins in African food and feed - September 2014

In an effort to address the threat of mycotoxins to food production systems, health care and trade on the African continent, an African Mycotoxin Network was established in 2011.

The objective of this network was to connect scientists, academics and industries interested in research and collaboration. With a significant membership participating in web activities, the network now is organizing the first African Symposium on Mycotoxicology in September 2014 .

The objectives of this meeting will be to:

  1. Assess the occurrence and impact of mycotoxins on African food and feed chains; 
  2. Discuss and facilitate the mitigation of mycotoxins on the continent; 
  3. Coordinate scientific research efforts on mycotoxins on the continent; 
  4. Strengthen continental and international collaboration and networking; and 
  5. Establish an African Society of Mycotoxicology (ASM) under the auspices of the International Society of Mycotoxicology (ISM). 
The 1st African Symposium on Mycotoxicology will be jointly organized by Stellenbosch University (South Africa) and the University of Nairobi (Kenya).

Research to feed Africa symposium

23 - 27 June 2014. Naivasha, Kenya. The "Research to feed Africa" symposium put the spotlight on new and emerging practical, on the ground and scalable innovations from research conducted in Benin, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, South Africa and Tanzania supported by the Canadian International Food Security Research Fund (CIFSRF) which aims to put into practice on-the-ground solutions to hunger and malnutrition.

This conference was organized by the Kenya Agriculture Research Institute (KARI), with support from Canada's International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and the Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada (DFATD).

IDRC Regional Director for sub-Saharan Africa Simon Carter said CIFSRF supports innovative research partnerships between Canadian and developing-country researchers to respond to immediate food needs while increasing access to quality, nutritious food over the long term.

"We bring together the best natural and social scientists to develop practical solutions to increase food production, support small-holder farmers - especially women – and deal with the vexing reality that hundreds of millions of people remain hungry or malnourished," Carter said.
Current CIFSRF projects in Kenya are exploring how safe, effective and affordable vaccines can tackle cattle lung disease in Kenya potentially improving the livelihoods of millions of people in Africa who rely solely on livestock.

The projects also help to scale up agricultural innovations by investigating the numerous causes of low agricultural productivity in dryland areas while at the same time identifying opportunities for linking farmers to markets and influencing the formulation and implementation of sound policies. 

Read more about CIFSRF projects.