Platform for African – European Partnership in Agricultural Research for Development

Friday, May 27, 2016

How world population has grown in the last 2,000 yearsand the projected growth until 2050

Watch human population grow from 1 CE to present and see projected growth in under six minutes. One dot = 1 million people.


See also the WorldPopulationHistory Trainer Webinar (February 2016)
Check on the milestones for Food and Agriculture:
Example: http://worldpopulationhistory.org/map/1786/mercator/1/0/25/invention-of-canning

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Evaluation of the EU Support to Research and Innovation in Partner Countries (2007-2013)

26 May 2016. Brussels. European Commission seminar. Evaluation of EU support to Research and Innovation for Development in partner countries: Lessons learned and recommendations for the future.

Final Report
Executive Summary
Executive Summary FR
Volume 2 (Evaluation Matrices)
Volume 3 (Annexes 1-8)
Volume 4 (Annex 9)

Mackie, J., Engel, P., Bizzotto Molina, P., Deneckere, M., Spierings, E., Tondel, F. (et al.). 2016. Evaluation of EU support to Research and Innovation for development in partner countries (2007-2013).

This evaluation examined the support the European Commission’s DG for Development and International Cooperation (DEVCO) provided to Research and Innovation (R and I) in partner countries during the last EU budget period (2007-2013).

Support to R&I was a major theme of DEVCO work, yet one that is hidden, not recognised and poorly understood. A new departure is to be found in the Joint Africa-EU Strategy signed in December 2007, which identifies support to R and I as a cross-cutting tool and one of eight pillars of co-operation.

The evaluation concluded that while DG DEVCO had achieved a lot with its support to R and I at the sector level, the lack of an overall strategy or explicit overall commitment to support R and I undermined the overall impact of its work in this important area for development.

  • Evaluation of EU support to Research and Innovation: Conclusions and Recommendations Presentation by James Mackie, ECDPM (Team leader) 
  • Zoom on Research and innovation for Food security, Nutrition and Agriculture Presentation by Paul Engel, ECDPM (senior expert) 



Some extracts of the reports:

VOLUME I: MAIN REPORT (130 pages)
1. Introduction
2. Key methodological steps
3. Overall policy framework
4. Intervention logic analysis
5. Inventory analysis
6. Answers to the evaluation questions
7. Overall assessment
8. Conclusions
9. Recommendations
DEVCO was active in supporting R and I at different geographic levels (global, regionaland national) and with multiple actors, including not just governments and researchcommunities, but also the private sector and civil society. This support also produced results which impacted positively on development processes particularly at the local and sector levels, but very little effort was made to capitalise on research results and make them known and available to wider audiences.
DEVCO capacity dedicated to R and I, particularly in EU Delegations, has been inadequate for a sector so important for economic development. At headquarters capacity was limited though more adequate. DEVCO has rarely felt able to deploy support to national innovation systems (...) DEVCO is not perceived as an agent for R and I for development, and little effort has been made to create such an image for improved visibility.
DG DEVCO support should continue to focus on seven principal elements: (i) Support to networks, (ii) capacity development, (iii) careful selection of partner institutions, (iv) policy dialogue, (v) actual funding of research for development, (vi) capitalisation of results and (vii) the establishment and strengthening of national innovation systems. (...) A clear approach to support national and regional R and I frameworks and the establishment of national innovation systems will assist this focus. (...) There is, however, little strategic thinking on how DEVCO can support the different phases of innovation impact pathways.
A structural problem is that R and I is a long-term process – from laboratory to farmer involving about 6-8 years in the case of developing crop varieties and can take up to 20-30 years in developing livestock breeds. It is not realistic to support long-term R and I endeavors on the basis of recurrent short-term project finance. Research institutions require, in addition, core funding to finance recurrent expenditure; finance that is almost by definition excluded from EU funding instruments
DG DEVCO should increase the attention paid to the private sector in partner countries. This will have implications for European Union Delegation capacity. (...) Support to networking among research communities and with potential users and stakeholders such as the private sector should remain another important element of DEVCO’s approach to the transfer of results. (...) The transfer of R and I results to end users has worked better in countries where national innovation systems are well developed and where advisory services, financial institutions, private companies, user organisations and government policymakers work together to drive wide-spread innovation. For instance in sectors such as agriculture the transfer of results of R and I to end users has clearly worked better because research and extension work on new technologies is very much part of a well-developed best practice organised around government or non-government extension services.
Multistakeholder partnerships, policy outreach and collaborating closely with national institutions, NGOs and farmer organisations have become more central features of most CGIAR Research Programmes (CRPs) thereby, making the strategic choice of the CGIAR as a partner for the EU stronger. (...)  Its research programmes (CRPs) define impact pathways and build partnerships to increase the relevance and uptake of their results. However, institutional obstacles remain, for example financial and administrative limitations with regard to building formal, longterm partnerships with national research institutes and other partners.
A key question is whether CGIAR is capable of going to ‘the last inch’ to reach smallholder farmers. Complex partnerships and participatory approaches do not combine well with ever-shorter funding cycles and high demands on impact attribution. In order to achieve long-term impact, funding cycles and reporting requirements should be longer and more flexible. More time should be made available to mobilise the multiple stakeholders needed to prepare and carry through the medium-term, multi-level, multi-stakeholder and inter-disciplinary research proposals needed to achieve such impact.
To stimulate understanding and learning from the complex multi-stakeholder work of CRPs, DG DEVCO could, for example, make sure that the experiences learned from systems/programmes that have experimented most with innovative and inter disciplinary approaches (systems analysis, participatory research, innovation platforms, farmer-led research, etc.) are capitalised upon and fed into current programs. This requires a larger and more specific investment into developing methodologies that are better able to document, report and assess the impact of the more complex CGIAR programs. Moreover, DG DEVCO should address the institutional barriers that remain to be resolved in order to ensure the full participation of (non-research) stakeholders in international research and review its funding periods to take into account the need for longer research cycles.
VOLUME 2 – SECTOR EVALUATION MATRICES
1. Part A – Food Security, Nutrition and Agriculture
2. Part B – Health
3. Part C – Environment and Climate Change
4. Part D – Science, Information Society and Space

VOLUME 3 –ANNEX 1 TO 8

1. Annex 1 – Terms of reference
2. Annex 2 – Inventory
3. Annex 3 – Case studies
4. Annex 4 – Survey to EU Delegations
5. Annex 5 – Final evaluation matrix
6. Annex 6 – List of persons interviewed
7. Annex 7 – Bibliography
8. Annex 8 – Methodology
On the basis of past experiences, there is a trend towards more demand-based ARD programming with a move away from the previous top-down approach to an approach of building partnerships between science institutions and public and private sectors - linking research to farmers through extension services to disseminate technical innovations with the equitable participation of smallholder farmers to maximize direct and indirect impact on food security. Besides technical innovations the new approach now encompasses non-technical innovations at institutional and organizational level, and other forms of innovation such as making more use of existing Traditional Knowledge (TK) at the smallholder farm level, to improve productivity and to mitigate risks due to climate change (droughts and floods). Regarding the latter, an important aspect of the overall approach is building towards sustainable agricultural advisory services and dissemination mechanisms that are able to:
1. Support farmer innovation and experimentation;2. Facilitate learning between farmers and researchers; and 3. Provide farmers with the information they need to make own choices regarding sustainable agricultural practices (using innovations based on TK).
ASARECA, through their Up-Scaling and Knowledge Management Program (USKM) as well as the Information and Communication Unit (ICU), has developed powerful tools for dissemination and uptake of research, involving an appropriate mix of partners and stakeholders and piloting many new methods like online learning and the application of Integrated Platforms for Technology Adoption.
Funding available for African Union Research Grants is very limited. As a consequence , the success rate for applying is low, and many potentially interesting projects do not receive funding. Nevertheless, the AUC is happy with the grant system, as one AUC official stated that the amount of funding available is ‘better than nothing’. The research grants are seen by the AUC as a good opportunity for African research organisations to invest in research capacities and conduct research relevant for Africa. At the same time, it is seen as a good preparation to be successful in FP7 calls, although it is too early to say whether AURGs will contribute to more success under FP7. Whether the AU Research Grants will remain sustainable as a funding modality remains to be seen. This will depend on the future of the Pan African Programme. The EU is pushing the AUC  strongly to find other funding sources, including AU Member States, but this continues to be a struggle. Another suggestion would be to look for a Public-Private Partnership offering commercial sponsorship to beef up the budget of the AU Research Grant.
A few examples of synergy do emerge from the information available, but not on country level. First, the Platform for African-European partnership on Agricultural Research for Development (PAEPARD) was funded under FP6 and identified research priorities that were used to shape parts of FSTP and FP7 research agendas. Indirectly it has thus contributed to the research priorities guiding DEVCO’s support to CGIAR. PAEPARD also contributed to strengthening the capacity of African researchers to bid for support from European research programmes and partnerships with CPRs and CG centres. The next expanded phase of PAEPARD is funded under FSTP (FSTP Thematic Strategy Paper 2010). Secondly, Joint Learning in Innovation Systems in African Agriculture (JOLISAA) is a project carried out in Benin, Kenya and South Africa between 2010 and 2013 by the Prolinnova (Promoting Local Innovation in ecologically oriented agriculture and natural resource management) network. The Prolinnova network works together with the CGIAR Systems research programmes and Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) programmes to integrate participatory farmer-led approaches in these programmes.
The EU has strongly supported the Innovation Platform (IP) or Integrated Agricultural Research for Development (IAR4D) approach. FARA has implemented the IP approach on a large scale in its Sub-Saharan Challenge Programme. The System programmes (Dryland Systems, Humid tropics and Aquatic Agricultural Systems) and the Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security  Programme are experimenting with IAR4D approaches such as farmer-led approaches to agricultural research and innovation. The 2011 study on Practical application of CGIAR research results by smallholder farmers has indicated that projects adopting IP of IAR4D approaches are more successful in building partnerships and achieve more impact on value chains at the local level. Evidence suggests that these approaches are slowly being adopted throughout the CGIAR system, but that there are still many difficulties in the design and implementation of the programme strategies to involve stakeholders sufficiently. This is acknowledged throughout the CG system, by GFAR and partners of CGIAR. There are still institutional barriers (culturally, financially) to address these issues.
A big challenge in agricultural research and innovation systems GFAR highlights is the reconciliation and linking of two types of knowledge and innovation; one coming from science and the other that of farmers own innovation. GFAR initiates activities that are key to AR4D capacity development like access to information, strengthening advisory services and strengthening the involvement of universities in the agricultural research system.
Evidence suggests that EU DEVCO and RTD financing modalities appear to lack systematic thought on how they can support the interlocking research, innovation and development processes that go beyond the research project itself, aiming to influence policy, institutional and practical change; and how they can be adaptive and flexible in supporting the technological, commercial, institutional and policy innovation processes that by their very nature have to adjust regularly in response to the lessons they learn. As a result, there exists a mismatch between the long impact pathway of support to R and I to development processes and the expected widespread, practical, commercial, policy and institutional impact. There is also a lack of continuity of the projects supported. The different phases of innovation impact pathways - research, development, testing, adaptation and the social (commercial, organisational, institutional, policy and practice) innovations that need to accompany the adoption of the innovation and its scaling up generally takes many more years than one project cycle allows for. As a result projects lower their ambitions for impact due to the shorter time horizons (and shorter periods of time available to prepare the proposals). Complex interventions with many partnerships become more difficult to plan for because of these shorter periods to prepare the proposals.
The 2009-2010 Global Programme on Agricultural Research for Development (GPARD) was based on the results of a consultation exercise (workshop in 2008) with the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) and the European Forum on Agricultural Research for Development (EFARD), while discussing the EC’s agricultural research programming for the Framework Programme 7 – Food, Agriculture, Fisheries and Biotechnology Theme (FP7-FAFB). Further inputs were provided by the Southern Advisory Group (SAG). EU member states have also been consulted through the European Initiative for Agricultural Research for Development (EIARD), whereby some have expressed their interest to join the GPARD. This implies that the ongoing interventions of the EC under the GPARD are in accordance with the views of the agricultural research institutes in the developing countries and likely with those of the EU member states. (...) EIARD. This implies that the expected outcomes of GPARD are to be in line with the views of these main ARD players. (...)  The six applications placed on the reserve list were awarded a Grant Contract under the GPARD for a total grant value of EUR 14.8 million. (...) Most partners are national universities and research centres or institutes; in some cases international organizations (e.g. FAO) and local NGOs. (...) Most Grant Contracts will end sometime in 2016-2017. (...) To date the sources of evidence available are rather limited for almost all Grant Contracts. (...) For none of the Grant Contracts, project progress or annual reports are available.
VOLUME 4 – ANNEX 9: COUNTRY NOTES

1. Burkina Faso
Burkina Faso is involved in a structured policy dialogue with RTD through its Ministry of Research. Recently, the Burkina Faso Government itself has established a competitive National Fund for Research.
The recent AGRA assessment (2014) identified a number of legal and regulatory constraints limit progress by the private sector in agriculture in Burkina Faso. These include weak institutional capacity, poorly trained human resources in the public as well as the private sector, and a risk-averse banking sector that does not willingly invest in agriculture; all conditions that severely hamper innovation in the sector. According to the same report, the country is trying to tackle these constraints, with the active involvement of a number of development partners including the International Fertilizer Development Center (IFDC), the World Bank, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), Agence Française de Développement (AfD) and the Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA).
Much agricultural extension work is currently done by non-governmental organisations, sometimes in collaboration with private initiatives and/or government research institutes, such as the Institut de l'Environnement et de Recherches Agricoles (INERA), the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique et Technologique (CNRST) and the Centre International de Recherche – Développement sur l’Elevage en zone subhumide (CIRDES). Sources interviewed indicate that often, donors put more trust in non-governmental organisations than in public institutes for delivering on research and innovation projects. As a result of all of the above, the institutional landscape for R and I for rural and agricultural development is described as extremely fragmented and does not reflect the implementation of a clear vision or strategy for rural and agricultural development.
Research teams generally do work closely together with NGO’s, national extension services and small businesses on innovation. This leads oftentimes to ‘deep’ innovation – research partners collaborate successfully with other stakeholders including practitioners to achieve changes in (farming, health, conservation) practices. Yet these impacts remain limited in scale; only those practitioners participating directly in the project learn and may adopt the new practices developed. All partners report difficulties with scaling up innovations to practitioners not having been involved directly in the project. (...) In general, the innovation system’s downstream organizationsand institutions (extension services, business advisors, input and services suppliers, farmcredit and risk insurance systems, NGO’s and other organizations that are needed to enable large numbers of farmers to apply validated innovations in practice) generally seem too weak to play their role effectively.
Recent participatory evaluations of the [Fertipartenaires] project results confirm the widespread improvement of farmers’ knowledge on soil fertility management, in particular composting techniques, yet wide-spread adoption lags behind. Lack of monitoring data hinders further investigation into current adoption rates and their causes.
An observation that is repeatedly made is that the EU is too much focused on monitoring during the research project – with rigid reporting procedures and due payments to project partners made only if the report has been approved, which can take considerable time - and not enough on capitalising on the results for outcomes and impact. Many interviewees suggest that a larger share of R and I project budgets needs to be reserved - in fact, demanded - for ensuring that results are documented and shared widely, and that the research process is extended to include the verification and documentation of development outcomes and impact.
2. Ethiopia

3. India
4. Kenya
5. Mauritius
6. Peru
7. South Africa
8. Tunisia
9. Ukraine
10. Vietnam

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Farmers’ organisations make agro-food chains work


24 May 2016. Brussels. DEVCO InfoPoint. Farmers’ organisations make agro-food chains work. Recent experiences of cooperation between farmers’ organisations.

AgriCord is an initiative of farmers’ organisations and their cooperative businesses to support their colleagues in developing countries by mobilising funds and expertise from organised farmers.

Representatives of farmers’ organisations explained the evolution of their position in specific agro - food chains and the impact on incomes of their members (dairy value chain in Uganda by UCCCU, cashew nut value chain in Benin by URCPA).

Presentations:
  • Piet Vanthemsche, Chairman of AgriCord – Belgium (and head of the Farmers' Union in Belgium from 2008 to 2015)
  • Clayton Arinanye, General Manager Uganda Crane Creameries Cooperative Union (UCCCU) - Uganda
  • Gwenaël Salaün, Responsable du service technique et expérimentation de la Coopérative Unicoque – France



PAEPARD video interview related to the Q&A session with Piet Vanthemsche, Chairman of AgriCord – Belgium
  1. How serious is the issue of aflatoxin contamination?
  2. Why is the collaboration between research for development and farmer organisations important?

NRI targets postharvest losses with next-generation information system

19 May 2016. The African Postharvest Losses Information System or ‘APHLIS’ is a scientific model producing calculated estimates of postharvest losses of food crops across sub-Saharan Africa.

It was developed in 2010 by NRI, the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) and information specialists ISICAD (Information Systems for International Cooperation in Agricultural Research and Rural Development) and is based on the work and expertise of Rick Hodges, NRI’s Visiting Professor of Grain Postharvest Management.

APHLIS combines scientific data from literature on postharvest loss with local factors from a network of over 35 African postharvest experts to generate localised estimates of losses. Such local factors include weather conditions, pests, grain drying conditions and the length of farm storage periods, among others. The combined information is fed through an algorithm which produces percentages loss at each link of the value chain – for example, at harvest, during threshing or storage – and is modified according to the factors for localised estimates.

All data is freely available on the APHLIS website, primarily as maps, where users can zoom in to details at a regional level, download the information as tables or pinpoint the specific scientific papers that were used to calculate the estimates.

The experts that make up the network also act as APHLIS champions; they are currently expanding their reach with a new and improved version of the information system, through a 5-year project called ‘APHLIS+’ (Aphlis plus). The core project team is led by NRI’s Bruno Tran, together with Tanya Stathers, Ben Bennett and Jan Priebe, Marc Bernard (AfricaRice), Felix Rembold (JRC), Brighton Mvumi (University of Zimbabwe), and Frank Sonntag and Rudolf Böck (AKM-Services).


Related:
GIZ - Post-Harvest Losses of Rice in Nigeria and their Ecological Footprint
The study ‘Post-Harvest Losses of Rice in Nigeria and their Ecological Footprint’ presents an analysis of food losses in the harvesting, processing and marketing stages in Nigeria, and identifies their ecological footprint. Commissioned by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and development (BMZ), special unit “One World – No Hunger”, it has been written by Dr Adegboyega Eyitayo Oguntade, Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics, Federal University of Technology, Akure, Nigeria; Daniel Thylmann, and Dr Sabine Deimling, PE INTERNATIONAL AG, Leinfelden-Echterdingen, Germany.

According to the study, the main hotspots for post-harvest losses are harvesting and parboiling followed by losses occurring during milling. The final results show an estimated post-harvest loss of 24.9 per cent, resulting in a substantial loss of revenue for farmers. Considering the entire global warming potential along the complete rice value chain a large environmental footprint can be seen: the losses in the rice value chain account for the emissions of around 0.65 million tonnes of CO2eq. into the atmosphere. The industrial value chain shows 20 per cent lower global warming potential than the traditional value chain, due to lower losses along the value chain.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Bioversity International Annual Report 2015

23 May 2016. In the Bioversity International Annual Report 2015 you will find examples that show the impact of Bioversity International’s work on people's lives on the ground in Africa, Asia and Latin America. The work of Bioversity is organized around three initiatives: 
  1. ‘Healthy Diets from Sustainable Food Systems’, 
  2. ‘Productive and Resilient Farms, Forests and Landscapes’ and 
  3. ‘Effective Genetic Resources Conservation and Use’.
One of the highlights in 2015 was the 30th anniversary of the Bioversity International Musa Transit Centre – the world’s largest collection of banana diversity, which houses more than 1,500 samples of edible and wild species of banana from all over the world.

Bioversity International also participated in the World Expo ‘Feeding the Planet – Energy for Life!’ in Milan, Italy, where Bioversity featured women farmers from Bolivia, India, Italy and Mali who came to Milan to share their stories at our main event – Agricultural biodiversity, value chains and women’s empowerment.

Upcoming developments in 2016
  1. The first ever State of Knowledge on Agrobiodiversity for Sustainable Food Systems that will be published and presented at the Thirteenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP13), in Mexico, in December. 
  2. The second is an agrobiodiversity index that will guide policymakers and investors to implement policies and investment strategies that ensure that agricultural biodiversity can contribute to food and nutrition security, and to the resilience of food production systems.

E-agriculture Strategy Guide - Piloted in Asia-Pacific countries

21 May 2016. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), together with support from partners including the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA), have developed the E-agriculture Strategy Guide - Piloted in Asia-Pacific countries (FAO/ITU, Bangkok, 2016, 222 pages). 

This publication provides a framework for countries in developing their national e-agriculture strategies. These strategies would include an e-agriculture vision, an action plan, and a framework by which results can be monitored and evaluated. Like all strategies and plans, the outcomes of these processes are not static and changes in a country’s strategic context will require a dynamic approach to updating the strategy so that it remains relevant.

Setting in place a national e-agriculture strategy is an essential first step for any country planning on using ICTs for agriculture. While the need for e-agriculture strategies is acknowledged by many stakeholders, most countries have yet to adopt a strategic approach in making the best use of ICT developments in agriculture. E-agriculture strategies will help to rationalize both financial and human resources, and address holistically the ICT opportunities and challenges of the agricultural sector while generating new revenues and improving the lives of people in rural communities. It will also help ensure that the goals of national agricultural plans are achieved.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Climate Change Urban Food Initiative Final Outputs

20 May 2016.  The United Nations Environment Programme, the Fondation Nicolas Hulot and the International Urban Food Network have produced the final outputs of the Climate Change Urban Food Initiative.

A Policy Perspectives Paper presents the challenges associated with feeding cities in a changing climate and how urban areas can take a leadership role in driving more sustainable food systems.

How and why should food be considered within the climate policies of cities?
  • Urban food systems are major contributors to climate change.
  • Urban food systems are highly vulnerable to climate change.
  • Action is needed now to ensure urban populations can access sufficient, sustainably produced, affordable, safe and nutritious food in a changing climate.
You can also watch the video or read the Policy Perspectives Paper in French.

Published on 16 May 2016
Today, 4 billion people, or 54% of the global population, live in urban areas. By 2050, this number will grow to over 6.3 billion people, representing 66% of the world's population. Cities will be a major driver of the demand for food and their inhabitants will need access to healthy, sufficient, environmentally friendly food.

Urban food systems are a considerable source of greenhouse gas emissions: from the production and processing of food to its transportation and consumption.

Furthermore, climate change can significantly impact on urban food systems. For example, climate change can create more intense heat waves which can lead to food spoilage, increasing waste and the spread of diseases.

Climate change can also impact on the supply of food to cities. Urban areas often produce only a small portion of what they actually consume. As a result, if extreme weather events such as floods or hurricanes seriously damage transport infrastructure, like bridges and roads, it can interrupt food supply to a city and lead to sudden food shortages.

These, and other climatic events which impact food supply, can cause a rise in food prices. This can have serious consequences for poorer disadvantaged populations, whom represent a quarter of the world's urban population, and who are already nutritionally vulnerable.
Actions are needed now in order to transform our urban food systems.

Urban decision-makers need to analyse the repercussions of climate change on our urban food systems with a view to finding solutions to increase resilience.

They can also help to support actions aimed at:

  • reducing food waste;
  • encouraging farming in urban areas and near-by;
  • promoting sustainable diets in communities and schools, including tackling the overconsumption of foods that cause high greenhouse gas emissions;
  • diversifying food supply sources so that cities have a range of local, regional, and international food supply options
Food systems need to be a core consideration in urban climate change planning and policy. Through our individual actions and by working together, we must take the opportunity now to achieve sustainable urban food systems.

How are businesses in Africa learning from China?

22 April 2016. The Economist. Intra-African business. By The Economist Intelligence Unit

Platforms for change

Table of contents
Bidco Africa, founded as a garment manufacturer in 1970, is now one of East Africa’s largest manufacturers and distributors of fast-moving consumer goods, sourcing from more than 30,000 farmers, operating in 16 countries. Its focus is on edible oils and related products. Vimal Shah, the firm’s CEO and son of its founder, Bhimji Depar Shah, is bullish on the prospects for Africa’s agribusiness sector and consumer market: in early 2015, he announced the intention to quadruple Bidco’s sales between 2015 and 2020. 
Bidco’s resources and counsel on precision farming, as well as market information, are all available to farmers on digital platforms. Information also flows in the opposite direction, meaning that both sides have much greater visibility on supply, demand and prices. This direct connection between producer and buyer also leads to safer, more reliable contracts. Having advised a farmer on which crop they should grow, Bidco then offers to buy a pre-agreed amount at a pre-agreed price, as long as the quality is right. Electronic payments also reduce the risks of delay or theft.
Together with urbanisation and the rise of the middle class, which are driving demand for processed food and personal care products, the Internet is changing everything about African consumer behaviour. “There are a lot of thought leaders out there now,” observes Mr Shah. “Consumers see stories online, for instance about the negative health impacts of sugar, and that informs their decisions. You have to adapt your range of products and their nutritional value to the changing demand.Mr Shah believes that thanks to the Internet, younger people in Africa are now growing up in a different paradigm and are more empowered consumers as a result.
The other challenge, according to Mr Shah, is unfair competition from businesses in the informal economy, where taxes are not paid and smuggling is rife. As one of the continent’s most successful players in the formal economy, it is perhaps not surprising that Bidco would like to see the government clamp down on the many smaller players in the informal economy that can undercut it on price. But the emphasis, says Mr Shah, should not be on making life more difficult for small businesses. “We need to reduce the enormous number of different taxes and duties that people pay, and make policies that are conducive—not an impediment—to business.”
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Friday, May 20, 2016

Investing in and collaborating with Africa

19 May 2016. Gent, Belgium. The Africa Platform of Ghent University Association organized its 3rd Network Event. This event brought together the profit and the non-profit sector, as well as the academic world and local experts from Africa. The idea was to discuss challenges and exchange best practices about investing in and collaborating with African partners.

The Africa Platform of Ghent University unites all Africa-related expertise at Ghent University Association, it distributes information on academic activities linked to Africa and the African diaspora, it facilitates collaboration with African institutes on the level of teaching and research, and it raises awareness on issues linked to African societies.


The Africa Platform publishes the peer-reviewed and open access journal Afrika Focus  it organizes an annual symposium and it offers you a database on Africa expertise at Ghent University Association.

4 thematic group discussions were organised: challenges and opportunities when collaborating with Africa
  1. Agriculture and forests ; Chris Vansteenkiste – Vredeseilanden | Isabelle Vertriest – WWF | Mémé A. Tsan Fall – Sopex Consulting, Pascal Boeckx – UGent | Landry Cizungu – Université Catholique de Bukavu
  2. (Micro)financing ; Jasmien Bronckaers – Trias | Wouter Vandersypen – Kampani | Marijke D’Haese – UGent, Josephine Mukumby – aBi Finance
  3. Energy and water, Marc Despiegelaere – Protos | Steven Poppe – DEME | Arne Verliefde – Water for Development – UGent, African students from the research group Particle and Interfacial Technology – UGent
  4. Prof. Patrick Van Damme
  5. Trade (import/export) Arne Schollaert – Oxfam
Announcement:
8 - 9 December 2016. Brussels. The Building Trust Seminar: bridging the gap between farmers, investors and food professionals. this event will a unique opportunity to connect with farmer organisations, private sector actors and financial institutions and to discover sound assessment tools for farmers' performance and professionalism

5 reasons to attend:
  1. Discover how to obtain a complete profile and rating of farmer organizations on their professionalism and entrepreneurship by using a sound tool
  2. Meet farmers, investors and food professionals in the heart of Europe
  3. Exchange finance and business experiences with smallholders
  4. Exchange learnings and insights from assessments of farmer organizations with the SCOPEinsight’s tools
  5. Connect to a platform that builds global curriculum for capacity building of smallholders to become performant business organisations

Lessons for Sustainability - Failing to Scale ICT4Ag-enabled Services.


20 May 2016. CTA has released during WSIS 2016, held in Geneva 2-6 May 2016, a new publication titled: Lessons for Sustainability - Failing to Scale ICT4Ag-enabled Services.
"ICTs have undoubted potential to boost agricultural production and value chains in ACP countries. But many efforts to introduce ICTs for this purpose have not been sustainable". Michael Hailu, CTA Director
To address this problem, Failing to Scale provides nine overall lessons to inform the design of future projects on ICT4Ag. These lessons derive mainly from the case studies described in the publication, but also draw from other sources such as the World Bank's ICT in Agriculture Sourcebook

Briefly, the nine lessons are:
  1. Consult with farmers, traders and extension workers to accurately assess demand
  2. Work with extension workers and other existing service providers
  3. Provide services in local languages and be aware that women are sometimes denied access to technology
  4. Decide who will implement the service in the long term
  5. Do not pre-commit to a specific ICT solution
  6. Keep projects simple – scale up can always happen later if a pilot is successful
  7. Develop a viable business model
  8. Make sure project costs are sustainable, and not simply led by initial donor support
  9. Do not ignore the costs of providing training and promotion.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

BIOPROTECT : Organic from father to son / Bio de père en fils

Bio de père en fils
Durée : 4min 59sec  | Chaîne : Burkina Faso
Chez les Savadogo, l’engagement pour l’agriculture biologique se transmet de père en fils. Claude Arsène Savadogo, 31 ans, titulaire de deux masters, l’un en économie rurale et stratégie des entreprises agroalimentaires et l’autre en ingénierie économique et financière des projets et des politiques publiques, aurait pu facilement trouver un emploi dans le secteur public ou privé. Au lieu de ça, il y a préféré emprunter le chemin difficile de l’entrepreneuriat.

En 2011, il crée BIOPROTECT, une entreprise de production et de commercialisation d’intrants et de pesticides biologiques basée au Burkina Faso. Cela à la suite de son père, président du Conseil National de l’Agriculture Biologique (CNABIO), qui depuis plus de 20 ans œuvre à la promotion de l’agroécologie.
Arsène emploie neuf salariés, en majorité des jeunes âgés de la vingtaine. Pour convaincre les producteurs d’utiliser ses intrants, Arsène et son équipe réalisent des champs de démonstration. Un choix qui paie.

Aujourd’hui, le jeune entrepreneur ambitionne faire de son entreprise le leader dans la production et la commercialisation d’intrants biologiques.


Organic from father to son

By : Agribusiness TV | Duration : 4min 59sec | Channel : Burkina Faso
In the Savadogo family, the engagement for organic agriculture is transmitted from father to son. Claude Arsène Savadogo, 31 years, holds two Masters degrees. One in rural economy and agro-enterprises, and another one in economics, project finance and public policies. With these, he could have easily found a job in the public or private sector. But instead, he preferred to take the risky road of entrepreneurship.

In 2011, he created BIOPROTECT, a company involved in the production and marketing of organic fertilizers and pesticides in Burkina Faso. And this has been a result of following the footsteps of his father, the President of the National Council of Organic Agriculture (CNABIO), who has worked on the promotion of agro-ecological practices for over 20 years.

Arsène employs nine staffs, most of them in their twenties. In order to convince producers to use his fertilizers, Arsène and his team conduct field demonstrations. A choice that pays off.

Today, the young entrepreneur ambitions to make his enterprise a leader in the production and marketing of organic inputs.
Related: 
5th May 2016. Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. Agribusiness TV, the first Youth in Agribusiness Web TV in Africa, launched its mobile apps and web platforms.

Despite the fact that the sector can provide many opportunities to young people with all backgrounds along the value-chain, youngsters still prefer white-collar jobs.

What Agribusiness TV aims to do is to change this perception and mindset towards agriculture and agricultural jobs. How? By showcasing the stories and paths of those youth who have succeeded in agricultural entrepreneurship through videos.

The Minister of Communication of Burkina Faso 
officially launching the web TV
Agribusiness TV is a project that is combining media, ICT and agriculture. What makes it a unique initiative in Africa is that it is the first media focusing specifically on youth in agribusiness, and also one which is available as a mobile application, in addition to its web version. Released recently, the mobile app of Agribusiness TV is available on App Store and Google Play.

Agribusiness TV is an initiative of MEDIAPROD, supported by the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA).

Better Seeds Bring Bigger Harvests in West Africa

Published on 18 May 2016. More food is being produced on farms in Cote d’Ivoire, Sierra Leone and across West Africa. What’s behind this big boost to agriculture and farming? Better seeds!

Throughout West Africa, WAAPP is supporting governments’ efforts to prepare and implement seed system strategies, improve regional seed regulations and strengthen seed certification systems. A project of this scale requires collaboration so WAAPP is working with scientists, farmers, the private sector and others to make improved seeds for rice, plantain and other staple crops available to more people.

In Côte d’Ivoire, the National Rice Development Office’s (NRDO) seed improvement initiatives are positively impacting rice supply. The NRDO is laying the ground work for six seed centers around the country. It engages with farmers and seed entrepreneurs, collecting seeds, cleaning them, and then storing them in WAAPP-funded cocoon storage facilities which preserve their quality for longer periods. It also builds up distribution networks through farmer co-ops.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The West Africa Agricultural Productivity Program (WAAPP) is working with Côte d’Ivoire – and other countries in West Africa – to revive and strengthen seed systems that were previously decimated due to a lack of infrastructure and funding.
  • Seeds from seed multiplication farms are better in quality, more resistant to pests, and can yield up to 50% more than traditional varieties.
  • In Côte d’Ivoire alone, approximately 50,000 beneficiary producers farming on 100,000 hectares of land have improved their yields by 30 to 150 percent.

Food Nigeria Expo and Conference

18 - 20 May 2016. Lagos, Nigeria. Nigerian food industry professionals came together to meet more B2B Food and Beverages Exhibition and Conference ever held in West Africa, Food Nigeria.
than 150 companies from across the world, convening to showcase their products covering food and drink, equipment, food services and hospitality at the largest

Click here to view the exhibitor list.

The three-day multisector meeting discussed current issues in the food supply chain management. It presented latest modern channels of food distribution in the region, advances in food handling and logistics, updates on safety management, and regulations on importation and exportation. Industry experts from domestic and international large-scale food companies, governments, agencies and associations gave  their insights on how to consolidate and implement
better measures in food distribution retail in Nigeria.

Objectives:
  • Address challenges in the food supply chain management
  • Identify improved measures and policies in food distribution
  • Identify new and traditional food channels
  • Discuss safety management in transport and infrastructure
  • Determine business opportunities to export 
  • Determine business opportunities to import
  • Understand the increasing shift from consumption of unpackaged, unbranded food to stronger demand for packaged and processed food
  • Business innovation in food distribution, processing and service in Nigeria ; Chris John Mamuda - Managing Director, Global Spring Consulting Nigeria Ltd, Abuja, Nigeria
  • Challenges in facilities and sanitation, processing technologies ; Ayotunde F. Ogunrinde - CEO, QSR Consult; Just Food, Lagos, Nigeria
  • Food consumption, challenges and aspirations related to BoP consumers in Nigeria ; Thompson Ogunsanmi - National Cluster Advisor, IFDC- 2SCALE Project, North West African Division, Abuja, Nigeria
  • Food safety program ; Fubara A Chuku - National Coordinator, Federal Ministry of Health Abuja, Nigeria 
  • Subsisting EU ban on Nigerian food exports and imports ; Dr Olatunde Oluwatola - Senior Lecturer, Olabisi Onabanjo University, Yewa Campus, Ayetoro, Ogun State, Nigeria 
  • Challenges in the food export industry ; Dr Obiora Madu - Chairman, Export Group, , Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Lagos,Nigeria 
  • Food contamination ; Dr Dan Orji - , Safe Food Awareness Initiative 
  • Food preservations - the good, the bad in Sub Saharan African ; Adedotun Abayomi Adepoju - Training Manager, Tantalizers, Lagos, Nigeria
Related:
4th Poultry Association of Nigeria (PAN) Annual Poultry Summit, Ikeja, Lagos
Lagos, May 18, 2016 (NAN) The Poultry Association of Nigeria (PAN) says the poultry sub-sector is contributing 25 per cent to the nation’s Gross Domestic Products (GDP) annually, amounting to the single largest contributor to agriculture.

Dr Ayoola Oduntan, President of the association made this known in Lagos on Wednesday at the 4th Poultry Summit, 2016 tagged: ``The Role of Poultry Industry in Economic Revival of Nigeria,’’ the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports.
"The sub-sector is a major consumer of commodities such as maize, cassava, soya beans and polished rice. We have it on good record that poultry contributes 25 per cent of the agriculture GDP of the country. Poultry is probably the single largest sector in agriculture, for instance, we consume 25 per cent of the maize produced in this country; we consume a lot of the polish from the rice. We also consume the entire soya beans produced as by-products; we consume cassava so we play a very significant role in the country’s economy. We are very happy that at last the industry is getting the recognition it deserves’’ 
The Poultry Association of Nigeria is an Association of poultry producers embracing all persons and organizations involved in Poultry Production. This includes input suppliers, commercial feed millers, service providers and all persons that have interest for Poultry Production.

MYCOKEY Kick-off Meeting

26-29 April 2016. Martina Franca, Italy. The MycoKey project started on 1st April 2016 and the official Kick-off meeting was held for the project partners.

This event is of great significance to a good start of the project and to allow us to better organize the work plan, to prevent any problems and to use fully the potential and opportunities that this project will offer. The meeting was conducted in a very informal way, open to all comments and concerns.
  • MycoKey presentation, Antonio F. Logrieco, CNR ISPA, MycoKey Coordinator
  • European policy on mycotoxins in feed and food: Regulatory challenges and the important role of research, Frans Verstraete, European Commission, Directorate General for Health and Consumers
  • H2020 program: insights to improve research and innovation in funded projects, Alessio Bacchielli,European Commission, REA - Research Executive Agency, FP7 SME Actions
  • The APHLIS+ international project on food safety, Felix Rembold, European Commission, Joint Research Centre, Institute for Environment and Sustainability - Monitoring Agricultural Resources Unit
  • Future challenges on mycotoxin management, Monica Olsen, Senior Risk Benefit Assessor, Livsmedelsverket - National Food Agency of Sweden
  • Ecological functions of mycotoxin detoxification, Peter Karlovsky, Universityof Goettingen
  • The SYMPHONY project: microsystems for mycotoxin detection, Andrea Adami, Fondazione Bruno Kessler, CMM-Center for Materials and Microsystems
Background:
MycoKey is a new project funded by European Commission under Horizon 2020 programme, Societal challenge 2 "Food security, sustainable agriculture and forestry, marine, maritime and inland water research and the bioeconomy challenge" - topic “ Biological contamination of crops and the food chain”.
  • It aims to deliver in 2019 the first integrated ICT based solutions to address mycotoxin contamination along the food and feed chain, by using an holistic and sustainable approach.
  • In the past, several actions have been developed to counteract mycotoxins effects and risks in the single stages of the value chain, often difficult to be applied by common farmers and SMEs. 
  • MycoKey will integrate innovative key actions into an user friendly and cheap application, able to provide real-time information and suggestions for mycotoxin management to several stakeholders. Studies will be carried out to investigate new methods to prevent the contamination in the field, during processing and storage. New sustainable technologies will be developed (i.e. drones) to monitor toxigenic fungi, analyze and prevent the mycotoxin contamination and risk, finally to apply remediation tools.
  • 32 partnersfrom Europe, China, Nigeria, Argentina, including research institutions, SMEs, industries and associations will work together for 4 years, focusing on aflatoxins, deoxynivalenol, zearalenone, ochratoxin A, fumonisins. They will also operate together to strenghten the global knowledge on mycotoxins, feed an effective cooperation with China, and to create interaction with other projects and initiatives, giving recommendations to regulators.
  • The project (total value 6,4M euro) is Coordinated by CNR ISPA, Italy and started on April 1, 2016.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Prolinnova International Partners Workshop

16–20 May 2016. Dakar. Prolinnova/PROFEIS–Senegal coordinated by Agrecol-Afrique hosted the 2016 Prolinnova International Partners Workshop (IPW)

Extract of the programme:


Bonn Climate Change Conference

16 - 26 May 2016. Bonn. Climate negotiators from around the world met for the first time since brokering the Paris climate deal to start filling in some of the gaps left in that landmark agreement.

The midyear U.N. meeting in Bonn, Germany, is much lower-profile than the conference on the outskirts of the French capital in December and the agenda is more mundane. The two-week meeting will deliver an agenda for the ad-hoc working group tasked with implementing the Paris.

In 2014 the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA), as part of its mandate to consider issues related to agriculture, decided to invite submissions from parties and observers, covering four topics, in 2015 and 2016.

The topics to be discussed at this year's meeting are:
  1. Identification and assessment of agricultural practices and technologies to enhance productivity in a sustainable manner, food security and resilience, considering the differences in agro-ecological zones and farming systems, such as different grassland and cropland practices and systems.
  2. Identification of adaptation measures, taking into account the diversity of the agricultural systems, indigenous knowledge systems and the differences in scale as well as possible co-benefits and sharing experiences in research and development and on the ground activities, including socioeconomic, environmental and gender aspects.
Related resource:
Hussein Alfa Nafo, Mali, speaking on behalf of the African Group

Paper no. 3: submission made by the African Group: page 12 - page 22
PART A: Identification of Adaptation Measures in Agricultural systems 
PART B: Identification and Assessment of Agricultural Practices and Technologies to Enhance Productivity: (Include diversity of agro-ecological zones) 
  • IDENTIFICATION OF RESILIENT AGRICULTURAL TECHNOLOGIES AND PRACTICES
  • KEY ISSUES FOR TRANSFORMATION OF AFRICA’S AGRICULTURAL SYSTEMS PRODUCTION 
The African Group of Negotiators (AGN) highlights agricultural approaches that have proven to effectively support adaptation in different farming systems. This includes improved:
  1. crop and livestock breeding, investments in water and land management that can deal with droughts and floods, 
  2. better agro-processing technologies that can transform the value chain, 
  3. integrated pest and disease management, enhanced insurance for farmers, 
  4. and better climate information services.
“We need business unusual,” said Fred Kossam, Head of Climate Change and Research Services, Ministry of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining, Malawi, who spoke on behalf of the AGN. “We need to change how we adapt agriculture in Africa. We highlighted the approaches to be supported for effective upscaling in countries,” he explained.
Workshops related to agriculture:
Thematic areas:
  • Scientific analysis of pathways for achievement of the “well below 2 ºC” global temperature goal and limiting the temperature increase to 1.5 ºC, including global and regional transformation pathways and related impacts.
  • The risks and impacts of slow-onset events as a result of climate change, particularly including temperature and those that occur in the cryosphere (sea level rise and ocean acidification) and hydrological cycle (drought).
  • Meryl Richards (CCAFS Low Emissions Agriculture) will present on "Reducing emissions from agriculture to meet ambitious limits on global temperature increase" during a of Poster presentation, Part 2 (16:45-18:00): Supporting scientific knowledge and capacity building
  • For more information visit the RD8 webpage
For more information visit the official SBSTA 44 website.


Related:
To support countries in developing their submissions, the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) prepared technical background papers on these topics, and provided technical advice to several countries and negotiating teams. Agriculture issues will be further discussed at two special workshops during the Bonn meetings.

WP agricultural practices and technologiesInfo note practices and technologies
Info note: Measures for climate change adaptation in agriculture. Messages to the SBSTA 44 agriculture workshopsInfo note: Climate change adaptation in agriculture: practices and technologies. Messages to the SBSTA 44 agriculture workshops
At a 17 May side event, CCAFS scientists and country partners from Africa, Asia and Latin America shared their approaches and visions for enhancing food security, resilience and productivity in agricultural systems, in an effort to highlight real adaptation measures, practices and technologies that deliver positive outcomes for farmers.

Watch the video: Adapting to climate change in agricultural systems: experience from Latin America, Africa and Asia


Watch Dr. Vermeulen's presentation: Adapting to climate change in agricultural systems: Key findings from CGIAR and partners: