Platform for African – European Partnership in Agricultural Research for Development

Thursday, May 30, 2024

Digital Finance Services (DFS) and agricultural technology

30 May 2024. 3:00-4:30 PM CET. Digital
Finance Services and South-South Collaboration
  • A South-South collaboration between India and Kenya, involving agtech companies, can leverage India's experience in Digital Finance Services (DFS) and agricultural technology to enhance Kenyan providers' capabilities.
  • In collaboration with BMGF, this "What's Cooking?" webinar will focus on DFS, highlighting their role in economic growth by enabling efficient, secure transactions and fostering innovation.
  • The webinar features three mature Indian agri-tech companies: Whrrl, a blockchain-driven lending platform; Dvara E-Registry, offering tailored financial solutions; and Satsure, leveraging space technology to inform farmers. Each will present unique problem statements, solutions, and plans for adaptability in Kenya and scaling in Africa. Discover how these enterprises are transforming the DFS landscape and creating new regional partnerships and growth opportunities.

Wednesday, May 29, 2024

How to Finance an Agroecology Transition

30 May 20240@5:00 PM CET. How to Finance an Agroecology Transition: Innovations in Accessible and Affordable Credit Systems

  • Date & Time  Montreal
  • Webinar ID 810 0046 8782
  • https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/8917146825648/WN_KJLBaM4PRoexkZA7kmCsuQ#/registration


This is the second webinar of the Agroecology Fund’s series on "Agroecology Economies". 

Credit is essential for any economic activity. It's no different for agroecological food production – farming, fishing, livestock rearing, and forest product collection. Without working capital, it is difficult to run a business at any scale. And we want agroecology to succeed at a large scale!


According to FAO data, in 2022, credit to agriculture reached USD 1,099 billion globally. Sadly, most credit feeds the dysfunctional way food is produced, processed, and marketed – causing large greenhouse gas emissions, destruction of biodiversity, and inequalities. To transform food systems towards agroecology, we must orient funding flows to reward sustainability and equity, especially for social sectors that have historically been denied access to affordable credit.


This webinar brings together changemakers tackling the dysfunctions of food systems and innovating to make credit available to food producers and agroecology businesses. These innovations address what and who credit is for and how to design it to be accessible, including a gender-based approach to address women’s access to credit.

  • Northern Cooperative Development Bank (NCDB), Sri Lanka: Cooperative credit schemes
  • Concertation Nationale des Organisations Paysannes au Cameroun (CNOP-CAM), Cameroon: Revolving funds mechanisms
  • FINAPOP, Brazil: A platform for connecting investors and farmers cooperatives
  • Associação de Cooperação Agrícola e Reforma Agrária do Paraná (ACAP/PR), Brazil: Leveraging public funds for agroecology
  • Dr. Rajeswari Raina, Shiv Nadar University, India: Financing the agroecological transition in India



Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Bond Investments for Sustainable Development: Can Profit and Impact go together?

28 May 2024. Bond Investments for Sustainable Development: Can Profit and Impact go together?

This talk explored how environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues create opportunities for international cooperation between the public and private sectors to fund the multi-trillion-dollar investments needed to achieve ESG goals. The event answered the following questions: 
  • What are the differences in terms of risk and performance between ESG and conventional bonds? 
  • What are the pros and cons of current ESG investment strategies such as negative screening and sustainability themed investing? 
  • What are the biggest challenges the ESG bond industry faces today? 
  • How do responsible investors reconcile financial performance and ESG considerations in managing investments?
To learn more about the talk, please visit the event page
Speakers
  • Event moderator: Gladys H. Morales, Global Head of Innovation, IFAD 
  • Keynote Speech  Gulnara Yunusova, Director & Treasurer, Treasury, IFAD 
Panel Discussion
  • Moderator: Sheila Codamus-Platel, Head - Investment Management, Treasury, IFAD 
  • Anna Hyrske, Senior Financial Officer, Asset Management and Advisory Department, Reserve Advisory and Management Partnership (RAMP), World Bank 
  • Sébastien Lévy, Head of Investment and Treasury, European Stability Mechanism (ESM)
  • Zach Dhruve, Head of Portfolio Management, Nordic Investment Bank (NIB) 
  • Emmi Oikari, Director, Unit for Development Financing and Private Sector Cooperation, Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland

9th International Symposium on Soil Organic Matter (SOM2024)

26 - 31 May 2024. The 9th International Symposium on Soil Organic Matter (SOM2024) is currently underway at the Mohammed VI Polytechnic University (UM6P) in Benguerir, marking the first time the event has been held on the African continent.

See programme

Africa plays a critical role in global food security, with vast agricultural lands and a rapidly growing population. However, the continent also faces unique challenges when it comes to soil health. Decades of drought, overgrazing, and inadequate land management practices have contributed to soil degradation, a major threat to agricultural productivity.

According to a press release, SOM2024 aims to address these issues by showcasing the expertise of African researchers in agriculture, environmental science, and soil science. The symposium provides them with a platform to share their knowledge and findings with leading international experts, fostering cross-continental collaboration and accelerating progress in understanding soil organic matter.

But the significance of SOM2024 goes beyond knowledge sharing. It’s about highlighting Africa’s contributions to finding solutions for global problems like soil degradation and climate change.

Related:

Find below a curated selection of videos on enriching soil quality organically shared by International People's Agroecology Movements, IPAM. All the videos are recorded in Urdu with English subtitles.
  • Convert garden waste into rich resource


IPAM PakistanIPAM Pakistan is a research-learning-action approach to agroecology that focuses on small-food producers and farming communities. 
  • IPAM promotes agroecology as a sustainable approach to agriculture and food production and development, in the framework of food sovereignty, ecological and social justice. 
  • At the core of IPAM is a network of Field Learning Sites, which serve as training centres or campuses of farmers’ fields, civil society organizations, institutions and universities that offer on-site learning on agroecological farming methods, innovations and techniques and sharing of experiences of movement-building for agroecology. 

Access to Finance: Implementing the AU-EU Innovation Agenda



29 May 2024. (10.00-15:00 CEST). Virtual Workshop Series of the AU-EU Innovation Agenda

This series is comprising of seven virtual workshops that will focus on topics related to the priority areas of the AU-EU cooperation in Research and Innovation: Public Health, Green Transition, Innovation & Technology and Capacities for Science and will offer working and interactive sessions, including AU-EU Deep Tech training modules.

This Workshop focuses on Access to finance for innovators. REGISTER HERE
The full programme is available here. # 4 pp.

Session 1: Opening Session 

  • Tidiane Ouattara  By African Union Commission and European Commission 
  • It’s happening!” – Updates on the AU-EU Innovation Agenda, following adoption of July 2023 By Lukovi Seke, AUDA -NEPAD & Dr Vincenzo Lorusso, European Commission 
  • Introduction to the Global Gateway Initiative By Eleonora Rella, European Commission 

Session 2: Experience sharing” 

  • Taking stock on the AU-EU Innovation Agenda By Idrissi Ganouni Najat, ARIR & Valentine Nnamani, OneGrid Energies 
  • Testimonials from the AU-EU Innovation Festival sharing insides on the experiences with the AU-EU Innovation Agenda 

3.1: Access to risk finance for all 

  • Building financial literacy for researchers and innovators By Houda Ghozzi, Open Startup & Prof. Lukas Menkhoff, Humboldt University 
    • Introduction to financial language and terminology 
    • Best practice for financial management 

Session 3.2: Navigating public and private R&I funding schemes

Session 3.2.1: Access to finance in Africa
  • A critical reflection on barriers and challenges
    (organised by ? Tomi Davies, TechnoVision, Lagos Angel
    Network (LAN) and African Business Angel Network (ABAN)


Session 3.2.2: Private & philanthropic funding
  • Driving successful and responsible Innovation in Europe and Africa: opportunities, fundings and trainings from local networks and ecosystems By Luyanda Matlala, Development Bank of Southern Africa & Krisztina Dax, European Business and Innovation Centre Network (Project Manager of BIC Africa) 
Session 3.2.3: Public funding
  • funding opportunities for the African and European R&I ecosystems By Carl Elmstam, European Commission 
Session 3.2.4: African Union and European Union Member States initiatives 
  • By Prof. Mokthar Sellami, National Council for Scientific Research and Technologies Algeria & Maria Maia, Foundation for Science and Technology Portugal 

Session 3.3: Developing critical financial skills to anticipate future problems and opportunities 

  • By Björn-Sören Gigler, GIZ & N.N., ENRICH in Africa Overview of how to access new opportunities to secure a long-term financing for your business 

Session 4: Closing Remarks and Next Steps 

  • By African Union Commission and European Commission

Session 5: “Virtual Coffee” – Matchmaking and Networking 

Session 5.1: Limited funding opportunities & lack of venture capital 
Session 5.2: Technology transfer & bridging the gap between universities and industries 
  • With Nolene Singh, Stellenbosch University - Technology Transfer Office

Session 5.3 Access to finance for AI start-ups (02:00 PM - 03:00 PM CEST)

« Dashboard » of initiatives contributing to the implementation of the AU-EU Innovation Agenda


  • The “Dashboard of initiatives” of the AU-EU Innovation Agenda represents a “living inventory” of projects, programmes, partnerships and scholarships officially recognised as contributing to the implementation of the AU-EU Innovation Agenda.
  • The aim of the Dashboard is to align as many initiatives as possible underneath the respective actions of the AU-EU Innovation Agenda to whose implementation they are contributing. This is expected to foster collaborations, leverage complementarities and catalyse potential synergies among initiatives with affinities in scope (thematically and geographically), aligned under the same action. This is hoped to generate a catalyst momentum for future initiatives and collaborations on the implementation of the AU-EU Innovation Agenda.
 

ENRICH in Africa

  • Enrich in Africa (EiA) brings together key stakeholders from the European and African innovation ecosystem to upgrade the capacity of incubators and accelerators and benefit entrepreneurs in both regions. It supports knowledge exchange, provides co-creation opportunities, and enables the delivery of quality services for European and African innovators. Join this community to learn more about what ENRICH in Africa has to offer, expand your network, and find partners and investors!

AU-EU Innovation Interface

  • The crossroads portal for the AU-EU Innovation Agenda. 
  • The AU-EU Innovation Interface will bring information on initiatives, resources and opportunities addressed to innovators, entrepreneurs, researchers and investors, generated as part of the implementation of the joint AU-EU Innovation Agenda. By doing so, the Interface aims to connect Research and Innovator Stakeholders and ecosystems at the interface between Africa and Europe and therefore bring value to the impact of the Innovation Agenda.


Monday, May 27, 2024

Improving Diets and Nutrition through Food Systems: What Will it Take?

29 May 2024
. Global Food Policy Report: Improving Diets and Nutrition through Food Systems: What Will it Take?2024 Global Food Policy Report: Improving Diets and Nutrition through Food Systems: What Will it Take?

IFPRI’s 2024 Global Food Policy Report on Food Systems for Healthy Diets and Nutrition presents policy and governance solutions to strengthen diet quality and nutrition in low- and middle-income countries, and examines priorities for future research on food systems for better nutrition. Drawing on a substantial body of research on diets, agriculture, and food systems from IFPRI and CGIAR, in partnership with colleagues around the world, the report emphasizes the critical need to focus on diets that benefit both people and the planet. 

Following a presentation of the report’s key findings and recommendations by IFPRI’s leading researchers in diets and nutrition, a distinguished panel of partners and experts will discuss the report. Remarks will focus on challenges and opportunities to transform food systems so that everyone everywhere can reap the benefits of sustainable healthy diets.

  

Opening and Report Launch 
  • Johan Swinnen, Director General, IFPRI and Managing Director, Systems Transformation Science Group, CGIAR
  • Deanna Olney, Director, Nutrition, Diets, and Health (NDH), IFPRI
Selected findings from the 2024 GFPR
  • Opportunities and Challenges of Using a Food Systems Framework Marie Ruel, Senior Research Fellow, IFPRI
  • Demand-side Determinants and Solutions Sunny Kim, Research Fellow, IFPRI
  • Food Environments for Better Nutrition Gabriela Fretes, Associate Research Fellow, IFPRI
  • Enabling Environments Danielle Resnick, Senior Research Fellow, IFPRI
Panel Reflections
  • Moderated by Purnima Menon, Senior Director, Food and Nutrition Policy, CGIAR and IFPRI
  • Soumya Swaminathan, Chairperson, MS Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF), India
  • Namukolo Covic, Director General’s Representative to Ethiopia, CGIAR Ethiopia Country Convenor and CGIAR Regional Director for East and Southern Africa, International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), Ethiopia
  • Christopher Barrett, Stephen B. and Janice G. Ashley Professor of Applied Economics and Management and Co-Editor-in-Chief, Food Policy, Cornell University
  • Lynnette Neufeld, Director, Food and Nutrition Division, Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO), Italy
  • Shelly Sundberg, Interim Director, Agricultural Development, Nutrition, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF)
  • Closing Reflections Purnima Menon, Senior Director, Food and Nutrition Policy, CGIAR and IFPRI
  • Moderator Charlotte Hebebrand, Director of Communications and Public Affairs, IFPRI

Resource:

IFPRI (2024) Global food policy report 2024: Food systems for healthy diets and nutrition. Washington, DC: International Food Policy Research Institute.

The report explores how demand-side approaches can support healthy dietary choices, the need to invest in improving affordability, and ways to strengthen food environments to support healthy diets. The report also highlights supply-side ways to improve diets, including increasing consumption of fruits and vegetables and assessing the role of animal-source foods, and discusses how effective governance can help achieve change. For each of the world’s major regions, the report identifies critical challenges and opportunities for contextually relevant actions to deliver healthy diets and nutrition for all.

What can be done to achieve equitable access to land?

28 May 2024. 2:00 pm CET. Report launch-LAND Squeeze
  • After a long period of eerie silence on the topic of land grabbing, the study analyses important current issues surrounding the control of and access to land.
  • Huge areas of agricultural land are now being bought up for carbon offsetting projects and other forms of "green grabbing". Land inequality is increasing in all regions of the world and farmers and local communities who are important for food security and who manage the land are being displaced.
  • On 28 May, IPES-Food and the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation will discuss the results of the study in a joint online event
  • The report is available in English, French, Spanish and Portuguese and can be found in the various languages here.
Speakers:
  • Nettie Wiebe, IPES-Food and La Via Campesina (LVC), Canada
  • Nick, IPES-Food 
  • Dineo Skosana (picture), Society, Work and Politics Institute (SWOP), South Africa
  • Rukka Sombolinggi, AMAN, Indonesia
  • Moderation: Jan Urhahn, Rosa Luxemburg Foundation Southern Africa, South Africa

Resource:


The IPES-Food panel calls for: Building integrated land, environmental, and food systems governance to halt green grabs, recentre communities, and ensure a just transition. This must put community-based approaches at the heart of climate and biodiversity action, including helping communities to map and defend their own land.

Saturday, May 25, 2024

Opinion: The utilitarian approach of agroecology

Ramdas, S. R., & Pimbert, M. P. (2024). A cog in the capitalist wheel: co-opting agroecology in South India
The Journal of Peasant Studies, 1–23. 
https://doi.org/10.1080/03066150.2024.2310739
# 23 p.


The Andhra Pradesh Climate Resilient Community Managed Natural Farming (APCNF) is a state-promoted agroecology model aiming to transition six million farmers and eight million hectares of land to entirely chemical-free farming. APCNF is anchored by Rythu Sadhikara Samastha (RySS), a government-owned private limited company conceptualised by the Andhra Pradesh government and the World Bank. 

The Andhra Pradesh Zero Budget Natural Farming project was implemented by India’s State of Andhra Pradesh in 2016 and renamed AP Community Managed Natural Farming (APCNF) in 2020.

APCNF is recognised as a successful example of peasant-led agroecology by social movements, multilateral UN bodies, governments, and researchers. We offer more critical perspectives here, and argue that this agroecology model deepens inequality and dispossession. 

Despite claims to the contrary, APCNF is locked in an unchanged productivist paradigm controlled by capital in collaboration with the state. By co-opting agroecology, APCNF closes down options for a just transformation of the dominant agri-food regime.


Extracts of the article:

The Andhra Pradesh (AP) and Telangana states clearly 
demonstrated their desire to fast-track 
capitalist 
economic transformation, so much so that by 2016, a mere 18 months later, the World Bank ranked both AP and Telangana 1st in the country for ‘ease of doing business’ (GoI 2016; The World Bank, 2016). This was made possible by aggressive pro-capital, land, labour, tax, power, infrastructure, water and environment reforms, all of which severely undermined workers rights, landrights, and fast-tracked environmental destruction. (page 4)

The APCNF agroecology programme rests on a superstructure of extreme inequality in land ownership (Rawal and Bansal 2021) and expanding landlessness amongst India’s most marginalised and discriminated-against citizens: Dalits, Adivasis, and Muslims. (page 5)

Between 2002 and 2012 tenancy showed a huge shift from shared tenancy to fixed rent tenancy in cash (29.9% to 55.6%), again significantly higher than all-India averages. This trend shifts the entire risk burden onto tenants and increases their vulnerability. Tenancy is also extremely high amongst socially marginalised communities. (page 6)

A recent APCNF study reports that 66% of APCNF farmers belong to historically privileged dominant castes termed Other Castes (OC) and OBC (Other Backward Classes) communities, with the remaining being Dalit (13%) and Adivasi (21%). Overall, there is very poor presence of women farmers in APCNF – a mere 5.9% of total APCNF farmers surveyed (page 6)

APCNF studies also flag poor adoption of APCNF by tenant farmers, as the APCNF hinders their ability to pay land rents in the short term, even if there are financial gains in the long term. This reluctance of tenant farmers to adopt CNF continues to date. These findings are indicative of how critical it is for the state to execute redistributive land reforms to correct the massive inequality in land ownership. Equitable land reform is a pre-requisite for any kind of agroecological benefits accruing to the landless (page 6)

In 2018, the Sustainable India Finance Facility, a partnership between the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), and the bank BNP Paribas, signed an agreement with GoAP to facilitate a USD 2.3 billion investment to scale up ZBNF (BNP Paribas 2018; UNEP 2018). Sustainability Partnerships have also been signed with IDH, which is a consortium of top Global Corporate food and agriculture agribusiness players, digital data corporations, the World Bank, and researchers of market-based solutions to climate change, biodiversity and sustainable production. This corporate partnership aims to experiment with sustainable landscape sourcing  (page 10)

Moreover, ZBNF/APCNF produce is being marketed via Producers Market (ProducersMarkets n.d.) which is a project of the Producers Trust, of which RySS is a Trade Collaborator (Producers Trust n.d.). This is a blockchain agri-tech start-up which has joined hands with IBM Food Trust to experiment with food traceability, and a technology-driven marketplace that links producers and consumers via big data technologies such as distributed ledger technologies, smart contracts, and cryptocurrency in the global multitrillion-dollar agriculture value chain.  (page 10)

Another recent public-private investment is via a Global Environment Facility (GEF) loan for ZBNF, with a contribution of USD 44 million private blended finance from the Bank BNP Paribas in the form of guarantees and equity funds (GEF 2021). This project aims to demonstrate how, ‘The avoided subsidies for synthetic fertilizers, could potentially free-up resources that can then be redirected to servicing loans from impact investors. (page 10)

Lack of access to land coupled with embedded discrimination and exclusionary practices are
core reasons for the minimal cattle livestock ownership amongst Dalit households. It can therefore be reasonably presumed that it is the dominant caste of land-owning farmers who are able to invest in desi cows, and start up APCNF biopesticide enterprises. This would result in further accumulation of wealth and assets in the hands of the haves. 
(page 12)

APCNF is based on a heavily funded top-down, one-way pedagogy of knowledge creation and transmission by ‘experts’ – moulded on the brahminical construct of ‘Guru-Shishya Parampara’, or the guru-teacher. (page 13)

APCNF farmers thus produce for the market and are cogs in distant supply chains. The inequality of the system excludes the caste-oppressed agricultural workers from purchasing and consuming the higher priced ZBNF food that was produced by their alienated labour. The income they earn from this agroecological project will go to purchasing the cheapest ‘chemical food’ in the market. This raises fundamental questions about the APCNF agroecology project and the many studies which claim that APCNF increases ‘well being’, access to safe food, and wealth for farmers. In reality, APCNF is accumulating these benefits for the historically privileged landowning castes, whilst sustaining the larger meta-frame of inequality and discrimination. (page 14)


Related:


Alpa Shah, Jens Lerche, Richard Axelby, Dalel Benbabaali, Brendan Donegan, Jayaseelan Raj, and Vikramaditya Thakur. (2017) Ground Down by Growth: Tribe, Caste, Class and Inequality in Twenty-First-Century India.  London: Pluto Press,  304 pp

This book was listed as a 2018 Book of the Year by The Hindu newspaper. 

While the world marvels at India’s economic growth rates, inequality is rising and the country’s ‘untouchable’ and ‘tribal’ communities – who make up a staggering one in twenty-five people across the globe – remain at the bottom of the economic and social hierarchy. How and why is this the case? In conversation with economists, a team of anthropologists lived with Adivasis (‘tribes’) and Dalits (‘untouchables’) in five different sites across India to answer this question. 

They show how capitalism is entrenching social difference, transforming traditional forms of identity-based discrimination into new mechanisms of exploitation and oppression. Inherited inequalities of power are merging with the super-exploitation of migrant labour, and the conjugated oppression of class, caste, tribe and gender. The struggles against these inequalities are considered.

About the author: Alpa Shah was raised in Nairobi, read Geography at Cambridge and completed her PhD in Anthropology at the London School of Economics, where she now teaches as Associate Professor.

 

Friday, May 24, 2024

Climate Capital: Financing Adaptation Pathways for Smallholder Farmers

AgFunder (2024) Climate Capital: Financing Adaptation Pathways for Smallholder Farmers # 94 p.

Varied private capital sources are investing in smallholder adaptation, including commercial banks, non-banking financial institutions, microfinance providers, large multinational corporations, local and international impact funds, farmland funds and even Silicon Valley-based venture firms. The most robust data findings in this report rely on AgFunder’s database of investment deals in agrifood technology startups, from predominantly venture capital investors.

The report reveals that tech investors -- predominantly venture capital, private equity and impact funds – have put over $5.7 billion of funding to work on adaptation tools and services for smallholder farmers in emerging markets since 2012.

Digital tools and platforms, including agribusiness marketplaces and farm management services, are among the most invested categories while Southeast Asia is the most active region for investment in smallholder-relevant adaptation tech, bringing in $1.9 billion since 2012, the vast majority of that from India.

Thursday, May 23, 2024

South-South and Triangular partnerships for agri-food system transformation


24 May 2024South-South and Triangular partnerships for agri-food system transformation

The Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU) is organizing 3 meetings as follows:

  1. Agri-food System Transformation and Climate Change, 24 May 2024; (9.30-17.00 -London, Greenwich time)
  2. Health, (Mal)Nutrition, Diets and Food Awareness in the Agri-Food System, 31 May 2024 (9.30-
    17.00 -London, Greenwich time)
  3. (Re)Valuing Food, Generational Change and Wellness, 7 June 2024 (9.30-17.00 -London, Greenwich time)

The cross-cutting themes that will inform these meetings are:

  1. Research Approaches in the Agri-food System
  2. (In)Equity in Agri-food Systems
  3. Agri-food systems Policy and Capacity-building

Each workshop will be divided into three parts. 

  1. The first session will address the ways in which the ACU could support the efforts of its members by leveraging its experience in delivering projects and programmes to strengthen capacity, fostering international mobility through funding awards and administration, and representing the sector through policy and advocacy. ACU is well-placed to facilitate capacity strengthening given its extensive experience delivering transformative educational and research opportunities, brokering national and global partnerships, and strengthening institutional capacity through individual, institutional, and inter-institutional support.

    Shared resources: 

    Ramdas, S. R., & Pimbert, M. P. (2024) A cog in the capitalist wheel: co-opting agroecology in South IndiaThe Journal of Peasant Studies, 1–23.
    • Despite claims to the contrary, APCNF is locked in an unchanged productivist paradigm controlled by capital in collaboration with the state. By co-opting agroecology, APCNF closes down options for a just transformation of the dominant agri-food regime.
    • See also PAEPARD blogpost: Opinion: The utilitarian approach of agroecology

    Levidow (2018) Sustainable Intensification: Agroecological Appropriation or Contestation?
    For at least the past decade, global institutions have been promoting sustainable intensification
    (SI) to raise yields with less environmental harm through a broad ‘toolkit’ including
    agroecological methods. In the European context, agri-intensification has diverse forms and
    policy agendas.


  2. The second session of the workshop will focus on further distilling cluster research topics under each of the themes identified for each meeting. Here, the aim is to gain a better understanding of pressing issues that require research attention and the ways in which loosely formed clusters could aid in their advancement through clearly identifiable and achievable steps and goals within the ACU’s purview.
  3. The third session of the meeting will engage with what we call ‘Critical and Transformational Pedagogies and Experiential, Place-based, and Global Learning in/of the Agri-food System’. Here, we expect to engage in a discussion around pedagogical approaches to teaching and learning about the agri-food system, curriculum-building, fostering critical thinking, and sharing best practice among others.

RESNET


In partnership with FAO, the Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU) is running a one-year pilot programme to develop a researchers’ network (RESNET) to address complex and multifaceted issues underpinning agri-food system transformation.

The vision for RESNET is a global platform designed to facilitate South-South and Triangular Cooperation on agri-food system research. Triangular Cooperation involves Southern-driven partnerships between two or more developing countries supported by a developed country(ies)/or multilateral organisation(s) to implement development cooperation programmes and projects.

The aim is to stimulate learning, problem-solving and co-production of knowledge in this area. The programme will involve bringing universities and cross-disciplinary academics together, as well as research centres and relevant bodies from across the Commonwealth, and beyond.

RESNET supports capacity strengthening, knowledge sharing, and the formation of South-South and Triangular Research clusters on agri-food systems transformation. This approach reflects the interests of ACU members whose research seeks to explore the many, interconnected factors shaping agri-food systems transformation at different scales and in different locations.

In February 2024, the ACU held its first stakeholder engagement meeting attended by agri-food systems researchers across the UK, and in Brazil, Colombia, Peru, Singapore, and South Africa. During this meeting, several issues were discussed related to inequity in the agri-food system, research approaches, and multi-level agri-food system policy. Inequity in the agri-food system and capacity strengthening were identified as cross-cutting themes in the development of RESNET beyond the pilot phase.

In the remainder of RESNET’s pilot phase, the ACU will hold three stakeholder consultations with agri-food systems researchers across the Commonwealth and beyond, including one in May 2024 on agri-food systems transformation and climate change. This process will allow us to continue to refine the mission, vision and activities associated with RESNET should it be extended beyond the pilot phase.


                                                            

Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Innovation: a key enabler for sustainable food system transformation in Africa


23 May 2024
. Brussels and online Innovation: a key enabler for sustainable food system transformation in Africa - Belgium presidency

Recording forthcoming


Keynote speech by Dr. Vincent Martin - Director of the FAO Office of Innovation (OIN) - Online

High Level panel

  • Dr. Ismahane Elouafi, Executive Managing Director, CGIAR System Organization
  • Dr Ibrahim Assane Mayaki, AU Special Envoy for Food Systems
  • Mr Bagore Xavier Bathily, Private Sector
    Representative – Laiterie du Berger
  • Ms Heidy Rombouts, Director Directorate-General for Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Aid (DGD) – Belgian governement
  • Mr Jean Van Wetter, Director of the Belgian Development Agency Enabel
  • Dr. Leonard Mizzi, Head of Unit - DG International Partnerships INTPA

Panel discussion 1 - Innovation, food security and nutrition

  • Pr. Inge Brouwer (Ms) Professor at the Division of Human Nutrition and Health, Wageningen University
  • Mr Dhanush Dinesh Chief Climate Catalyst at Clim Eat
  • Ms Siny Samba Women agro-entrepreneur (Women agro-entrepreneur supported by Enabel EU intervention and mentor for Awa Prize of the Belgian cooperation)
  • Mr Damien Ndizeye - Executive Director ADECOR, Rwanda (online)
  • Mrs. Fanta Touré - Health/Nutrition Technical Advisor at Action Contre la Faim (ACF) Regional Office for West Africa; (online)

Panel discussion 2 - Innovation, climate and environment 

  • Dr. Enoch Achigan (Mr) Professor, Genetics and Plant Breeding Director University of Abomey-Calavi (Benin), lead DESIRA (online)
  • Dr Million Belay (Mr) Coordinator of the
    Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa, member of IPES Food
  • Dr Hildegard Lingnau (Ms) - GFAIR - Global Forum on Agricultural Research and Innovation - Executive Secretary
  • Dr Rachel Glennerster (Ms) - Associate Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago & Faculty Director of the Market Shaping Accelerator 

Panel discussion 3 - Innovation in fragile contexts 

  • Dr Ann Ansoms (Ms) - Professor in development studies UCL, PRS climate, agroecology and environment
  • Mr Abdoulaye Ouedraogo - Coordinateur Général association APIL - French (online)
  • Mr Tom Devriendt – Advocacy coordinator at Caritas International, member of coalition against Hunger
  • Mr Abderrahmane Benderdouche - Expert agroalimentaire Enabel

Unlocking Finance for Climate-Vulnerable Nations at COP29 and Beyond

22 May 2024
. Unlocking Finance for Climate-Vulnerable Nations at COP29 and Beyond

Recording forthcoming

Climate-vulnerable developing countries have long called for meaningful climate finance to allow them to carry out emissions reduction plans and build resilience against the accelerating impacts of climate change. 

Yet previous pledges of finance and support from developed nations have been largely insufficient, delayed or are yet to be delivered. COP29 in Azerbaijan is an opportunity to change that by adopting a new global climate finance goal for the first time in 15 years. But there are politically contentious issues for negotiators to grapple with, from the size of the goal to the quality of the funding, and how to address the failure of developed countries to fully deliver on past commitments. 

This high-level webinar hosted by the Allied for Climate Transformation by 2025 (ACT2025) consortium featured a distinguished panel who will dive into these issues and offer solutions to reach an outcome in Baku that meets the needs of climate-vulnerable countries. 
  • H.E. Mohamed Nasheed, Secretary-General and founder, Climate Vulnerable Forum (CVF); former President, the Maldives 
  • Jennifer Morgan, State Secretary and Special Envoy for International Climate Action, Federal Foreign Office, Germany 
  • Dr. Spencer Thomas, Ambassador and Special Envoy for Multilateral Environmental Agreements, Grenada 
  • Dr. Carlos Lopes, Professor, Nelson Mandela School, University of Cape Town; Chair, African Climate Foundation Board; Former Executive Secretary, Economic Commission for Africa; Member, WRI Global Board of Directors (moderator)

Multi-stakeholder Forum on Science, Technology and Innovation for the Sustainable Development Goals


9 - 10 May 2024
Multi-stakeholder Forum on Science, Technology and Innovation for the Sustainable Development Goals

In the face of accelerating climate change, the burgeoning capabilities of artificial intelligence (AI), and the urgent pursuit of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the convergence of these domains presents both formidable challenges and unprecedented opportunities. As governments, the private sector, and the academic science and engineering communities come together at the Multi-stakeholder Forum on Science, Technology, and Innovation for the SDGs (STI Forum), the focus was on harnessing the transformative power of science, science advice, and a wide range of technology solutions, most notably AI, to address the pressing challenges of climate change and achieve the SDGs by 2030. 

A background note ( # 5p.) outlines key issues, actions, and policy challenges, providing an initial framing for the discussions at the Forum.

Extracts of the programme:

Thematic session 3: Bridging the science, technology and innovation divides to eradicate poverty and end hunger (SDGs 1 and 2) 

According to FAO, digital agriculture could increase agricultural productivity by 70% by 2050, feeding up to 9.7 billion people globally. Digital innovations can also play a key role in promoting sustainable peace and resilience. Moreover, AI when used to optimize a specific goal may cause other problems – farmers using AI to optimize productivity may ignore the ecosystem damage it causes. Early warning systems for natural disasters, conflict prediction algorithms, and platforms for community engagement and resource sharing can enhance societal resilience and peacebuilding efforts. In particular, AI-driven early warning systems for natural disasters have the potential to reduce disaster response times by up to 50%, saving countless lives annually. 


Thematic session 7: STI partnerships for accelerating structural transformation in African countries, Least Developed Countries and Landlocked Developing Countries

For Africa, addressing the digital divide, fostering innovation ecosystems, and investing in education and capacity building are crucial. Only 28% of Africa has Internet access, compared to a global average of 59%. Closing this digital divide by 2030 would require an estimated investment of US$100 billion in digital infrastructure. Policies might support sustainable economic development, leveraging AI and technology to address health, education, and agricultural challenges. However, the energy for such AI needs to be provided by non-fossil fuel energy to avoid lock-in, and the water needed for AI needs to be factored in given that water budgets are often over allocated already. 

Transforming urban food systems: Unlocking the potential of open innovation in African cities

22 - 25 May 2024Transforming urban food systems: Unlocking the potential of open innovation in African cities
Co-hosted by ICLEI Europe and EStà as part of the AfriFOODlinks project, this session aims to put the spotlight on open innovation and its role in transforming urban food systems.

The session presented insights into what open innovation can bring to urban food systems and offer concrete examples from Està of their work within AfriFOODlinks. Expert organisations and local government representatives will be invited to share their perspectives and experience on how cities can unlock the untapped potential of open innovation in Africa.

22/05 Re-embedding imagination into everyday practice

23/05 Unpacking global inequities and the fear of failure 


24/05 Reflection: Nurturing spaces for deepening African urban practice

Achieving Net Zero Emission in the Agri-Food System

22 May 2024 Recipe for a Livable Planet - Achieving Net Zero Emission in the Agri-Food System

Climate change is threatening the world’s efforts to feed a growing population. But the way we produce and distribute our food is also part of the problem, contributing almost a third of global greenhouse gas emissions. That’s more than all of the world’s heat and electricity emissions combined.

This event presented the findings from the latest report, Recipe for a Livable Planet, which identifies the most cost-effective opportunities to reduce emissions across the sector. Watch a lineup of speakers give TED-style talks, and a panel of experts who discussed the challenges and opportunities involved in moving from ambition to action.
  • Juergen Voegele Vice President, Sustainable Development, The World Bank 
  • William Sutton, Global Lead for Climate Smart Agriculture and Lead Agricultural Economist, The World Bank 
  • Gunhild Stordalen Founder and Executive Chair, EAT 
  • Nicholas Stern IG Patel Professor of Economics and Government, London School of Economics 
  • Pierre Thiam Chef, author, and social activist 
  • Cynthia Rosenzweig, Senior Research Scientist, NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies 
  • Éliane Ubalijoro, Chief Executive Officer, CIFOR-ICRAF 
  • Elizabeth Nsimadala, Board Member for the Africa Constituency of the World Farmers’ Organisation 
  • Robyn O’Brien Author, speaker, entrepreneur Ashesh Prasann, Senior Agriculture Economist, The World Bank 
  • Alexander Lotsch, Senior Climate Finance Specialist, The World Bank 
  • Ousmane Badiane, Executive Chairperson of AKADEMIYA2063

Resource: 

Sutton, William R.; Lotsch, Alexander; Prasann, Ashesh. 2024. Recipe for a Livable Planet: Achieving Net Zero Emissions in the Agrifood System. Agriculture and Food Series. Conference Edition. © Washington, DC: World Bank. http://hdl.handle.net/10986/41468 320 p.


The global agrifood system has been largely overlooked in the fight against climate change. Yet, greenhouse gas emissions from the agrifood system are so big that they alone could cause the world to miss the goal of keeping global average temperatures from rising above 1.5 centigrade compared to preindustrial levels. Greenhouse gas emissions from agrifood must be cut to net zero by 2050 to achieve this goal.

Recipe for a Livable Planet: Achieving Net Zero Emissions in the Agrifood System offers the first comprehensive global strategic framework to mitigate the agrifood system’s contributions to climate change, detailing affordable and readily available measures that can cut nearly a third of the world’s planet heating emissions while ensuring global food security. These actions, which are urgently needed, offer three additional benefits: improving food supply reliability, strengthening the global food system’s resilience to climate change, and safeguarding vulnerable populations.

This practical guide outlines global actions and specific steps that countries at all income levels can take starting now, focusing on six key areas: investments, incentives, information, innovation, institutions, and inclusion.

Calling for collaboration among governments, businesses, citizens, and international organizations, it maps a pathway to making agrifood a significant contributor to addressing climate change and healing the planet.

Fintech Startups Shaping the Future Inclusive Agrifood Systems

20 May 2024
. Fintech Startups Shaping the Future Inclusive Agrifood Systems

This webinar discussed and illustrated how Fintech startups are playing a key role in shaping the future of the agrifood system through the provision of accessible and efficient financial services for smallholder farmers and ensuring that Fintech development is inclusive and accountable.
 
The panels from development partners, startup founders, and the private sector shared their experience and way forward to strengthen the ecosystem as well as solutions for the challenge.

Moderated by Jun He, the event featured key presentations from Niclas Benni and Huda Alsahi, along with insights from industry leaders at GSMA and Chapa.


Friday, May 17, 2024

World bank land conference

13-17 May 2024. World Bank Land Conference 2024: Securing Land Tenure and Access for Climate
Action

The Conference is the premier forum for the land sector, bringing together participants from governments, development partners, civil society, academia, and the private sector to showcase research, discuss issues and good practice, and inform policy dialogue.


The theme of the 2024 Conference was "Securing Land Tenure and Access for Climate Action." 

While land tenure and governance underpin climate change adaptation and mitigation, their foundational role is often overlooked. Insecure or unregistered land tenure undermines the ability and interest of landholders to invest in climate change adaptation and mitigation, including by limiting their access to climate finance and reducing their incentives to adopt sustainable land management practices. 

Poor land governance—including unclear or overlapping laws and institutions for administering land rights and managing land use trade-offs—limits land access for mitigation, adaptation, and disaster risk management investments. 

Competition for land and its resources will require strategic decisions on how much land is used, for what purpose, and by whom. These trade-offs will only become more complex to manage over time, since land resources suitable for productive uses are expected to become scarcer as urbanization accelerates and climate impacts become more severe.


Scaling up clean cooking in Africa

14 May 2024
.  Paris, France. Summit on Clean Cooking in Africa - Mobilising Greater Commitment to Advance the Global Clean Cooking Agenda

Close to 60 countries, as well as companies and development institutions, gather in Paris to channel unprecedented resources towards addressing a challenge affecting huge numbers of women and children

The first ever high-level Summit focused on providing clean cooking access to the more than 1 billion people in Africa who currently lack it has delivered a breakthrough financial commitment for addressing one of the world’s most persistent and deep-seated inequalities.

Co-chaired by the leaders of the governments of Tanzania and Norway, and the African Development Bank and the International Energy Agency, the Summit on Clean Cooking in Africa has mobilised USD 2.2 billion in financial pledges from governments and the private sector. Close to 60 countries took part in the Summit, with over 1,000 delegates in attendance. President Emmanuel Macron of France hosted a special session for heads of state and other leaders at the Elysée Palace on the occasion of the Summit.

Make 2024 a Turning Point for Clean Cooking

   

Making Clean Cooking an African Policy Priority


   

Scaling up Finance for Clean Cooking in Africa


   

Catalysing Multi-stakeholder Partnerships


 

Evidence-Based Approaches to Building Small-Scale Farmers’ Climate Resiliency

17 May 2024
Evidence-Based Approaches to Building Small-Scale Farmers’ Climate Resiliency

A key component of USAID’s approach to climate adaptation and resilience for food and water security is centered on support for small-scale farmers in low- and middle-income countries. More frequent extreme weather events, like rainfall shocks, and slow-onset change, like warmer and drier conditions, are reducing farmers’ crop harvest stability. Global food production exacerbates these impacts, emitting approximately one quarter of greenhouse gas emissions annually. 

Building small-scale farmers’ resilience is complex, and stewarding environmental health and enhancing agricultural productivity have often been seen as at odds with each other in policy decisions. J-PAL will present findings from twenty rigorous and policy-relevant randomized and quasi-experimental evaluations of risk-reducing, climate-resilient agricultural technologies and practices from around the world. 

The presentation will share examples of findings from specific studies, and identify lessons across evaluations in multiple contexts that can inform USAID’s approach to supporting small-scale farmers in adapting to the evolving challenges of climate change.

Resources 

India
The Indian states of Andhra Pradesh, in the southeast, and Gujarat, in the west, have large rural populations, drought-prone areas, and a high reliance on rain-fed agriculture. Gujarat is wealthier and more fertile than Andhra Pradesh.

Andhra Pradesh: Among households that received a visit from an insurance educator, take-up of the rainfall insurance product increased by 11 percentage points, relative to the comparison group take-up rate of 28.2 percent. Receiving a large cash reward (Rs. 100) for participating in the survey increased take-up by approximately 40 percentage points. 

Research papers:
 

Designing and Implementing AgTech Innovation challenges and Competitions (AICC)

16 May 2024. Designing and Implementing AgTech Innovation challenges and Competitions (AICC)


Investing in agricultural innovation is crucial to address global challenges, such as improving food security and combating climate change. The World Bank is a pivotal resource in this effort and the Innovation Challenges and Competitions are a useful mechanism for driving transformational changes in the agri-food sector.

The AgTech Innovation Challenges and Competitions (AICC) is a tool to generate and/or reward AgTech innovative ideas or solutions to address a specific and pre-specified problem or take advantage of an opportunity within the agri-food sector. The AICC guidebook brings together a wealth of knowledge, including lessons learned and strategic insights, providing a practical framework for stakeholders interested in designing or implementing operations in the agri-food innovation space.

The webinar on AgTech Innovation Challenges and Competitions for Agriculture Operations served to introduce this guide to a broad audience. Attendees learned first-hand about various applications of the model, such as the experiences of ongoing WB projects in Argentina (INTA), Kenya and Uganda, as well as regional initiatives in Latin America and the Caribbean promoted by innovation experts and partners (Fontagro). This event was an opportunity to engage with a community that is actively pushing agri-food innovation and to discover how to contribute to this transformative movement.
  • Chair and Moderation: Diego Arias, Practice Manager, Agriculture and Food Global Practice, The World Bank
  • Maria Victoria Traverso, Agriculture Analyst, The World BankMartin Gurria, Senior Consultant in Technology and Entrepreneurship, Black Sea Economic Community (BSEC)
  • Páez, Roxana Beatriz, Director of INCUVA, the Innovation Node of Santa Fe of INTA
  • Jeehye Kim, Senior Agriculture Economist, Agriculture and Food Global Practice, The World Bank
  • Eugenia Saini, Executive Secretary, Regional Fund for Agricultural Technology (FONTAGRO) cooperation 

Related:


Kosmos Innovation Center (Ghana)

16 - 17 May 2024. 2024 AGRICTECH CHALLENGE PRO FINAL PITCH | DAY 2
  • Kosmos Innovation Center programs are structured to allow young entrepreneurs to create opportunities for themselves, by fine-tuning their ideas into a business focused on solving key problems in the agricultural sector.
  • Through a mix of training, mentoring, and seed-funding, young graduates in Ghana, Senegal, and Mauritania have the opportunity to bring their business ideas to life through the Senegal Startup Accelerator, AgriTech Challenge and Mauritania Innovation Challenge.


Ahead of the AgriTech Challenge Pro Final pitch event, some of the business share their learning experience so far. Relive the action 35 teams from 10 universities across Ghana presented their innovative solutions to revolutionise agriculture and promote sustainability. From climate-smart practices to eco-friendly innovations, these young entrepreneurs are determined to make a difference!