Platform for African – European Partnership in Agricultural Research for Development

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Exhibition stresses consumers’ rights to healthy food

16 March 2015. Seychelles. Members of the public including schoolchildren who are also consumers have received a large amount of information on healthy eating habits, healthy food to prevent obesity, and other health problems. They did so at an exhibition which was put together by the National Consumers’ Forum (Natcof) and its partners to commemorate World Consumer Rights Day on March 15 which this year fell on a Sunday.

The exhibition promoting this year’s theme ‘Consumers’ rights to healthy food’ brought together different partners, namely the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Fisheries and Agriculture, concerned by the increase of health problems caused by unhealthy eating and the amount of unhealthy imported products.

In remarks to officially launch the exhibition, Natcof’s executive chairperson Raymonde Course focused on healthy eating..
“In the world today consumers are facing many problems with their health, and many are being caused by nutrition, consuming food that is not good for our health. Food is one of the first priorities for us humans, for our development. 72% of the products that we consume are imported but we should consume more products that come from our fishermen and farmers. These are food that should be on our table,” Mrs Course pointed out.
For her part Minister Larue reiterated her call that we pay more attention to what we eat.
“We need to focus on the way we eat. Healthy eating should start at a young age and it starts at home. We need to work together and promote good examples on healthy eating habits. We should stop eating fast food, because it is not good for our health. Unhealthy diets are linked to overweight and obesity, high blood pressure and high level of cholesterol. Sometimes when consumers go shopping to buy groceries, they buy products that are not good for their health but these are less expensive. All people are consumers. Contrary to popular belief, healthy foods are not just for people who want to lose weight but also suitable and a better choice of food for everyone” Minister Larue stressed.
At the exhibition many organisations had been invited to promote ‘consumers’ right to healthy food’ and among them was the Seychelles Trading Company (STC) with its healthy organic food that people can purchase at the STC supermarket in Victoria. Many of the foods are sugar-free as well as gluten-free. People with allergies and who cannot tolerate certain food may also take comfort in the fact that safe food is also available. The Seychelles Fishing Authority (SFA) and the Fair Trading Commission (FTC) were also present at the exhibition.

Local farmers also had available on sale in their stalls local fruit and vegetables including cassava biscuits (galet), coconut juice, orange juice, bananas and mangoes.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Guidance for Responsible Agricultural Supply Chains

January 2015. Guidance for Responsible Agricultural Supply Chains. Draft for comment.

As the de‌mand for food increases, agriculture will continue to attract growing investment, particularly in developing countries where investment stocks in agriculture are relatively low.
  • New actors in the sector may be confronted with ethical dilemmas and find it difficult to uphold widely-supported standards of responsible business conduct (RBC), notably in countries with weak governance and insecure land rights.
  • Investors should thus implement due diligence to ensure that their investments are sustainable and bring long-term benefits to home and host countries, especially small-scale farmers and rural communities. 
In this context, the OECD and the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the UN (FAO) are developing due diligence guidance to help enterprises observe existing widely-supported standards for RBC along agricultural supply chains. This guidance will assist the National Contact Points of countries adhering to theOECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprisesto mediate any alleged breaches of the RBC recommendations contained in the Guidelines.

 

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Making economic corridors work for the agricultural sector

11 March 2015: FAO has published a report (218 pages)  providing guidance on how economic 'agrocorridors' can draw private capital and large-scale investment to projects that benefit smallholder farmers and increase food security in lower-income countries.

The report, titled ‘Making economic corridors work for the agricultural sector,' contends that such corridors encourage economic sectors, especially agriculture in developing countries, in territories connected by highways, railroads, ports or canals, through the integration of investments, policy frameworks and local institutions. It explains that the potential of these corridors as “engines of broad-based sustainable development” has remained largely untapped, and can be harnessed to achieve smarter planning.

The report details six case studies, including three advanced corridor programmes in Central Asia, the Greater Mekong Subregion in Southeast Asia and Peru, as well as three new projects in Indonesia, Mozambique and Tanzania. It describes how corridors can act as a tool favoring natural resource governance, allowing for better management of environmental risks and practices, such as unsustainable monocropping. To stimulate better governance, corridors depend on coordinated public-private partnerships to link local and central governments.

The nutritional value of forest foods in Cameroon

16 March 2015. A recently published paper documents the nutritional composition and value of foods obtained from forest trees – ‘moabi’ fruits and oil (Baillonella toxisperma), ‘Mvout’ fruits (Trichoscypha abut) and the seeds of ‘ebaye’ (Pentaclethra macrophylla).

Foods gathered from the forest are important sources of nutrients and energy for millions of people in Cameroon, Gabon, Central African Republic, Congo Republic and DR Congo.

Foods from these three species were found to make important contributions to meeting daily nutritional requirements. The seeds of ‘ebaye’ (P. macrophylla) has higher fat content than soybeans. These forest foods also contribute iron, zinc, magnesium and vitamins C and E, complementing staple crops produced in agricultural fields. The authors of the paper call for promoting increased consumption of these foods and broader dissemination of information regarding their nutritional and phytochemical composition.

The research was carried out within the 'Beyond Timber' project, which aims to produce information, tools and guidelines for government agencies and timber producers to safeguard access by local people to non-timber resources, even within timber concessions.

Read the full paper 'Nutrients and bioactive compounds content of Baillonella toxisperma, Trichoscypha abutand Pentaclethra macrophylla from Cameroon'

Food Security Governance; Empowering Communities, Regulating Corporations

Food Security Governance Empowering Communities, Regulating Corporations
Nora McKeon, January 2015. 248 pages

Extract from a review by Ingeborg Gaarde.
In her book, Nora McKeon investigates the dynamics behind the intensified struggles over the agriculture model that should be the basis for the future development path. 
  • On the one hand the author sheds lights on power relations and uncovers the discourses behind paradigms and ’objective myths’ behind corporate globalization dominating the global food system. 
  • On the other hand, the book uncovers how members of the global food sovereignty movement – uniting peasants with artisanal fisher folk, pastoralists, indigenous peoples, urban poor and other concerned citizens – have found new ways to challenge the dominant paradigm. 
In the course of the revelations of the ongoing transformations in the global food system, the author investigates people-driven alternatives that are underway, produced by the social actors that feed most of the world’s population.

What makes this volume particular captivating is that McKeon moves between global and local perspectives in a unique combination of a food regime analysis combined with her personal portrayals of encounters with some of the key actors engaged in the struggle to solve global food problems, in particular small-scale food producers themselves. The author openly states that she has been involved in many of the processes described in the book and her own personal story being engaged in the interface between institutions and civil society makes this volume a fascinating insider's view on some of the bold ongoing transformations and dynamics in the global system today.

Other reviewers:
'Nora McKeon does a superb job at describing how governments have allowed markets and corporations to take control of food systems, and which tools could be used to provide healthier diets, ensure greater resilience, and empower communities.'-- Olivier De Schutter, former UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food

'At such an uncertain time in global food provisioning, Nora McKeon’s book offers an exceptional perspective… a lively account of food system crisis, competing paradigms and new questions of governance in an accessible and forward-looking analysis.' --Philip McMichael, Cornell University, USA

'This book is an overdue account of the fight over reform. It is a fine reminder that food democracy is the key to feeding everyone equitably, healthily, affordably and sustainably.' – Tim Lang, City University, London, UK

'..a wonderfully readable account of the world food crisis, distinguished by its grounded faith in the capacity of organizations – of people and governments – to prevent future hunger.'-- Raj Patel, Research fellow at UCB and author of Stuffed and Starved, and The Value of Nothing

'Nora McKeon understands the Byzantine world of global food politics better than anyone I know …. Everyone fighting for Food Sovereignty has to read this book.' --Pat Mooney, ETC Group

'Brilliant! An eye-opening tour of the march to democratize global food governance... A must-read for all who want to go beyond competing "issues" to governance itself -- and real solutions.' -- Frances Moore Lappé, author of Diet for a Small Planet

‘A must-read for food activists seeking to go beyond slogans, techno-administrative fixes or business as usual into the realm of active, popular democracy.' -- Eric Holt-Giménez, Food First/Institute for Food and Development Policy
Related:
Nora McKeon, FAO from Food First on Vimeo.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Advances in climate change adaptation research



10 - 12 March 2015. Nairobi. The AfricaInteract Continental Conference was attended by more than 200 delegates who include senior officials of national governments, representatives of regional economic organizations, researchers, development partners, network partners, and country nodes representing farmers’ organizations, agri-business, development partner agencies and parliamentarians. 

The conference was organized under the auspices of the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) and CORAF/WECARD, with funding from IDRC under the AfricaInteract project.

Scientists who will be attending the Climate Smart Agriculture 2015 Global Science Conference March 16-18, 2015 at Le Corum in Montpellier France, will be better informed of the African perspective for climate smart agriculture.  

During the three-day conference actors in climate change adaptation including research and development experts, discussed key advances in climate change adaptation research by CGIAR, IARCs and the National Agricultural Research Institutes, reviewed climate change related initiatives in the areas of agriculture, health and urban ecosystems. 

The conference shared valuable information and knowledge on climate change adaptation and enhanced understanding of evidence-based CSA policy and programme design. It also reflected on the outcomes of the recently concluded CoP 20 with regards to the case for Africa championed by the African negotiators and deliberate on how informed decision making could contribute towards the development of an effective African Climate Smart alliance.

10 March 2015, CORAF / WECARD officially launched the synthesis of reports on adaptation on climate change in Africa.


The synthesis was launched by, Ms. Cicily Karioki permanent Secretary of the Minister of Agriculture in the presence of the Executive Director of CORAF / WECARD, Dr Paco Sereme during the Opening Ceremony of the continental conference on climate that is holding from 10 to 12 March 2015 in Nairobi Kenya.

The launching of this synthesis report stems from the partnership between CORAF / WECARD and three other regional organizations namely ASARECA (East Africa), the COMIFAC (Central Africa) and FANRPAN (South Africa) as partners in AfricaInteract project, funded by the International Centre for Research and Development (IDRC) with the support of FARA.

Three distinct themes – Urban areas, Agriculture and Health – are covered in the four regions of Africa; Western, Central, South and East Africa. Research results in these different regions show a growing knowledge base designated to adaptation to climate change as well as strengthening research capacity on adaptation in the fields mentioned above. This helped to establish the following four recommendations namely

  • the need to better understand the adaptation actions and their results, 
  • the need to address gaps in policies and increase the adhesion of policies, 
  • the need to make better use of data from this research and finally, 
  • the need to respond to gender-related concerns.
Related:

5th International Scientific Conference on Small Ruminant Production

10 - 15 March 2015. Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt. This conference started with a workshop titled "Toward A Developed Sheep. Industry in Egypt" in Cairoon 10 March 2015 and then moved to Sharm El Sheikh.

The workshop focused on events affecting sheep and goat production in Egypt. Participants discussed opportunities and constraints facing small ruminant production and developed guidelines on how to improve the small ruminant industry in Egypt. 

The Egyptian Association For Sheep and Goats is an NGO established in Egypt aiming the development of sheep and goat sector in the country. The Association manage the following activities:
  • Consultation for establishing and developing sheep & goat farms.
  • Preparation of feasibility studies.
  • Advisory on solving problems facing sheep & goats breeders.
  • Integration between sheep & goats owners and producers and implementing cooperative investment
  • Producing extension publication.
  • Executing training programs on small ruminant issues.
  • Establishing animal's shows and sharing in international shows for unique animals.
  • Facilitating genetic improvement among local flocks.
  • Management and supervising investment cooperative projects in areas of sheep & goat production and desert land reclamation.
  • Publishing “ Egyptian journal of sheep & goat sciences”
  • Holding International scientific conferences.
  • Establishing marketing channels for live animals and their products

Saturday, March 14, 2015

3rd UNCCD scientific conference

9-12 March 2015. Cancun, Mexico. 3rd United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) Scientific Conference. The contribution of science, technology, traditional knowledge and practices.

During the opening session of the 3rd United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) Scientific Conference in Cancun, Mexico, this week (9-12 March), Tarja Halonen, UNCCD’s drylands ambassador and former president of Finland, said poverty, climate change and desertification are closely linked in their causes, impacts and solutions.
Increased population growth will set new demands for productive land capacity, and that in 15 years’ time people will need 45 per cent more food, 30 per cent more water and 50 per cent more energy, with almost half of the world’s poorest people inhabiting degraded lands.
SESSION 1: DIAGNOSIS OF CONSTRAINTS
How can key vulnerabilities of ecosystems and populations with regard to climate change in the various situations in the world be identified? How can they be characterized?
  • Workshop 1.1: Climate change
  • Workshop 1.2: Environmental and ecological set up
  • Workshop 1.3: Food security, agriculture, pastoralism
  • Workshop 1.4: Socio-economics
  • Workshop 1.5: Integrated methodology and policy making 

SESSION 2: RESPONSES
How can adaptive capacities be developed or maximized at short, medium and long term? What are the major contributions from traditional and local practices and scientific research? How are they related to specific settings? How can they be generalized so that they can be adapted and applied to broader settings? What are the obstacles to more widespread use?
  • Workshop 2.1: Crops, livestock, genetics and seed systems
  • Workshop 2.2: Agro-ecosystems
  • Workshop 2.3: Soil and water issues
  • Workshop 2.4: Knowledge and knowledge transfer
  • Workshop 2.5: Desertification, land degradation and restoration

SESSION 3: MONITORING AND ASSESSMENT
How can we best measure the performance of actions to combat land degradation and desertification? How can we cost-effectively evaluate the efficiency of drought-mitigation strategies?
  • Workshop 3.1: Indicators
  • Workshop 3.2: Remote-sensing and mapping
  • Workshop 3.3: Drought, water, hydrology
  • Workshop 3.4: Sustainable land management / Land degradation neutrality
  • Workshop 3.5: Processes of degradation 


Global Forum for Innovation in Agriculture 2015

9 - 11 March 2015. Abu Dhabi - Abu Dhabi - United Arab Emirates. Global Forum for Innovation in Agriculture 2015.

300 scientists and experts from across 71 countries take park in the programAbu Dhabi - H.E. Rashid Mohammed Al Shariqi, Director General of Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority opened the Hosted Scientist Program which brought together some 300 scientists and experts from across 71 countries of the world to explore solutions to tackle the world hunger and under-nutrition caused by the scarcity of resources and climate change.

The Hosted Scientist Program was held on the sidelines of the second edition of Global Forum for Innovations in Agriculture. Focusing on critical issues such as food security, nutrition, climate change, women in agriculture and agri-biodiversity, the Global Forum is a unique platform for agricultural knowledge, innovation and enterprise communities, to work together to share information and ideas, to dialogue, and to build partnerships for action.

The Forum comprised six conferences:
  1. Global Climate-Smart Agriculture Summit (CSA) - The inaugural Global CSA Summit will be launched under the theme “Promoting sustainability & agricultural resilience” and it represent the core of GFIA 2015.
  2. Post harvest waste initiative: from prevention to valorisation - As the reduction of food waste must be part of a portfolio of solutions needed to feed the world more sustainably, GFIA 2015 will include a major focus on the important issues
  3. ICT for sustainable agriculture - This two day conference will focus on how ICT can promote sustainable, climate resilient agriculture and promises exciting solutions for food producers in terms of increasing productivity, improving market access, financing and training. Companies already confirmed to exhibit within the ICT Pavilion include Progis Software,Top-Con, PA Source, TAHA (Mascar, Crushing Tech, Bellon, Ortolon, GIL, SIP), FarmApps,Expressweather, Aeroterrascan, Fieldeye and Dalsem
  4. Edible cities: building resilience with urban agriculture - This conference will focus on the critical need for cities to develop their own sources of food to avoid severe food insecurity associated with water shortages, land degradation and climate change
  5. Forum on non-conventional water use in arid climates - This forum will seek to showcase research and innovations to tackle the issues posed by water scarcity and explore strategies to promoting sustainable solutions in the region and globally.
  6. Aquaculture and indoor agriculture discovery days - A series of workshops aimed at providing farmers and businesspeople in the MENA region with all the information they need about setting up a new food production business
Download the GFIA 2015 show catalogue including the event timetable, conference programmes, innovation and speaker profiles, exhibitor listings and product guide.
GFIA 2015: The Agricultural Revolution Continues from nadine cottman on Vimeo.

Agro-industry Development for Food and Nutritional Security in Southern Africa

9th to 10th March 2015. Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. Ad-hoc Expert Group Meeting. Over 60 experts from southern Africa including agro-industry and agribusiness experts from government institutions, the private sector, SADC institutions, civil society, academia and others development partners participated in this meeting.

This Ad-hoc Expert Group Meeting discussed emerging issues and challenges in strengthening agro-industry for food and nutritional security in the SADC region. An issues paper on Agro-industry development for food and nutritional security in Southern Africa was the major discussion paper.

Other papers addressing specific issues in agro-industry development were presented by other stakeholders. These include,

  • “Agro-industry development in East and Southern Africa: Exploring Regional Value Chains (COMESA)”, 
  • “Agro-industry development: capacity and operational needs for take-off”(UNIDO), 
  • “Agro-industry development: The Experience of the Milling Industry in Zambia” (Zambia Millers Association), 
  • Agribusiness development and participation in regional value chains in Southern Africa and 
  • “Financing agroindustry for food and nutritional security in Southern Africa” (DBSA). 

The two day meeting provided concrete recommendations on how to strengthen the agro-industry sector through among others partnerships, best practices and lessons from other regions.

Objectives: 

  • Map the structure and conduct of the sector including performance trends in the SADC sub region; 
  • Identify investment opportunities for the benefit of existing as well as emerging actors within the industry; 
  • Identify constraints that limit agro-processing development in the sub region and analyze short and long term issues that influence the effective establishment and development of agro-processing industries and affect their ability to promote food and nutrition security; 
  • Audit the current policy support mechanisms and their ability to promote an efficient, profitable, competitive, sustainable and inclusive agro-industry which sustains food security and nutrition in the SADC sub region, draw lessons and highlight success stories; 
  • Discuss alternative business models and approaches to agro-industrial development and innovative institutions to support the development of agro-industries with a clear focus on the possible role of governments, the private sector and civil society in the process; and 
  • Recommend strategic directions for strengthening agro-industry development and linkages with food and nutrition security in southern Africa. 

The small and inchoate private sector in many African countries and struggling medium and small scale industries required for the state’s involvement which is key in creating an agricultural entrepreneurial class that would invest in the agri-business.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Combating Poverty through Better Use of Natural Resources

10 March 2015. Joint research project carried out by the IASS and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) in 2012 and 2013

Responsible and pro-poor governance of natural resources is essential. This is particularly true in the context of climate change, because access to and the management of natural resources play a key role in adaptation strategies to climate change. IASS researchers Judith Rosendahl, Matheus Alves Zanella and Jes Weigelt stress this in their new study on Pro-poor Resource Governance under Changing Climates.
  • In close collaboration with local civil society organisations, case studies were prepared in six countries: Bangladesch, Bolivia, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Ecuador and India. 
  • The case studies document and analyse examples of pro-poor governance of natural resources, paying particular attention to the impact of institutional change on livelihoods and the way in which climate change and other change processes increase the vulnerability of smallholders.
  • One of the core results of the study is that climate change makes smallholders more vulnerable. While social factors also play a role here, climate change reinforces vulnerability. Securing community land rights is one crucial element of adaptation strategies. But this must be accompanied by other measures if poverty is to be reduced. All of the case studies underline the importance of political processes for increasing the capacity of smallholder populations to adapt. However, all too often the needs of these populations are ignored in such processes. 
In addition to the English-language version of the study, French- and Spanish-language versions will soon be available. Link: Study „Pro-poor Resource Governments under Changing Climates“.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Grow Markets, Fight Hunger: A Food Security Framework for US-Africa Trade Relations

Grow Markets, Fight Hunger:A Food Security Framework forUS-Africa Trade Relations
By Andrea Durkin March 2015
Copyright © 2015 by The Chicago Council on Global Affairs
22 pages

3 March 2015. A new framework for US-Africa trade relations focused on agriculture and food can advance African food security while positioning US businesses to benefit from Africa’s growing food market, which is expected to reach $1 trillion by 2030.

This report presents evidence that an effort by the United States focused on bolstering regional trade and harmonizing food standards and regulations across countries would drive economic growth while improving the availability and affordability of nutritious foods throughout Africa.

The Council recommends that the U.S. government will build on the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) Forum by creating a U.S.-Africa Food Dialogue to advance regional economic integration; reduce technical regulations and standards barriers to agriculture and food trade; and implement trade facilitation measures.
"African and American farmers and agrifood businesses stand to make big gains if we can increase regional trade in Africa through tackling some of the inconsistencies in standards and regulatory frameworks," said Dan Glickman, former U.S. secretary of agriculture and co chair of the Council's project on global food security. "We need to make more headway in reducing the cost of moving agricultural products and food within and between countries."

Summary of Report Recommendations




New $13.8 million project aims to boost banana production in Uganda and Tanzania

The researchers expect their hybrid 

banana varieties to have a 
30% higher yield and a 
50% higher resistance. 
© Rony Swennen
6 March 2015scidev.net. A five-year project that aims to improve banana farming in Tanzania and Uganda by creating high-yielding and disease-resistant banana hybrids is set to begin trials in June 2015.

The project, which received US$13.8 million funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in October last year, aims to develop banana varieties for smallholder farmers in the two countries where banana is a staple food for millions of people.

The IITA, Bioversity International and the CGIAR Research Program on Roots, Tubers and Bananas are also providing substantial co-financing.

Uganda and Tanzania produce more than 50 per cent of all bananas cultivated in Africa, but achieve only nine per cent of the crop’s potential yield because of pests and diseases, according to the Nigeria-headquartered International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA). The project will be implemented by IITA, with five doctoral and eight master’s students expected to receive research grants.
“Beneficiaries will come from Uganda’s National Agricultural Research Organisation (NARO) and IITA, and most master’s and doctoral students will be selected on a competitive basis,” says Rony Swennen, project leader and head of banana breeding at IITA. The research projects will include pest and disease control, and genetics.
The venture, says Swennen, hopes to boost resistance to common banana pests including banana weevil and nematodes; and diseases such as Black sigatoka also called black leaf streak — and Fusarial wilt disease by up to 50 per cent, while raising yields by 30 per cent higher than the current potential. Swennen adds that in June the plants will be introduced in five field sites for trials and evaluation. The venture will build on 26 already existing hybrid varieties developed earlier jointly by NARO and IITA.

Related:
Video Emission du 13 janvier 2014. Dans l’histoire d’ABE, c’est la première fois qu’une émission est consacrée à la banane et c’est aussi la première fois que l’éthique des entreprises est soumise à un véritable test.

Forum international sur l’agro-écologie

24 to 27 February 2015. Mali. Nyeleni Center. A ce forum international sur l’agro-écologie au Mali, ils étaient plus de 300 délégués et principaux investisseurs dans l’agriculture venant de 45 pays pour représenter diverses organisations et mouvements internationaux de petits producteurs produisant environ 70% de l’alimentation consommée par l’humanité.

The International Forum on Agroecology was by the following organisations:
  • Coordination Nationale des Organisations Paysannes du Mali (CNOP Mali) as chair; 
  • La Via Campesina (LVC), 
  • Movimiento Agroecológico de América Latina y el Caribe (MAELA), 
  • Réseau des organisations paysannes et de producteurs de l’Afrique de l’Ouest (ROPPA) , 
  • World Forum of Fish Harvesters and Fishworkers (WFF), 
  • World Forum of Fisher Peoples (WFFP), 
  • World Alliance of Mobile Indigenous Peoples (WAMIP), 
  • More and Better (MaB)
Objectives:
  • to come to a common understanding of agroecology as a key element in the construction of Food Sovereignty, 
  • to develop joint strategies to promote Agroecology and defend it from co-optation.
See the final declaration
Download declaration Agroecology Nyeleni 2015
  • Popular pressure has caused many multilateral institutions, governments, universities and research centers, some NGOs, corporations and others, to finally recognize “agroecology”. However, they have tried to redefine it as a narrow set of technologies, to offer some tools that appear to ease the sustainability crisis of industrial food production, while the existing structures of power remain unchallenged. This co-optation of agroecology to fine-tune the industrial food system, while paying lip service to the environmental discourse, has various names, including “climate smart agriculture”, “sustainable-” or “ecological-intensification”, industrial monoculture production of “organic” food, etc. These are not agroecology.
  • The production practices of agroecology (such as intercropping, traditional fishing and mobile pastoralism, integrating crops, trees, livestock and fish, manuring, compost, local seeds and animal breeds, etc.) are based on ecological principles like building life in the soil, recycling nutrients, the dynamic management of biodiversity and energy conservation at all scales. Agroecology drastically reduces our use of externally-purchased inputs that must be bought from industry. There is no use of agrotoxics, artificial hormones, GMOs or other dangerous new technologies in agroecology.
Dans l’après-midi de la première journée du Forum international sur l’agroécologie se tenant du 24 au 27 février à Sélingué, Mali, plus de 60 femmes d’Afrique, d’Asie, des Amériques et d’Europe ont décidé de tenir une réunion parallèle afin de pouvoir avoir une compréhension commune de la signification de leur travail en tant que paysannes, artisanes de la pêche ou pastoralistes. Nandini Jairam, une paysanne du Karnataka, en Inde, a déclaré “il est donc essentiel que les femmes débattent, échangent leurs expériences et parlent de leurs défis entre elles afin de pouvoir bien comprendre la valeur de leur précieux travail ”.

Quelles perspectives pour l’agriculture et l’alimentation en Afrique subsaharienne ?

3 mars 2015. Communiqué de FARM. Quelles perspectives pour l’agriculture et l’alimentation en Afrique subsaharienne ?
« Dynamiques agricoles en Afrique subsaharienne : une perspective à 2050 des défis de la transformation structurelle »
Bruno Dorin, Cirad, Centre de Sciences Humaines (CSH). 
Octobre 2014, pp.52
For the English abstract click here
Une étude sur les défis de la transformation structurelle : sécurité alimentaire, pauvreté, emploi.

La Fondation pour l’agriculture et la ruralité dans le monde (FARM) a commandé à Bruno Dorin, chercheur du Cirad détaché au Centre de Sciences Humaines de New Delhi, en Inde, une étude visant à éclairer les enjeux agricoles et alimentaires de la transformation structurelle des économies africaines, désormais engagées dans une croissance soutenue.

L’étude fait ressortir notamment les trois points suivants :
  1. pour asseoir sa sécurité alimentaire, l’Afrique subsaharienne augmenterait fortement sa production agricole et importerait davantage de denrées ;
  2. malgré les progrès de la productivité du travail, les inégalités de revenu risquent de se creuser entre l’agriculture et les autres secteurs ;
  3. la capacité de l’agriculture à offrir des emplois décents et en nombre croissant est limitée par plusieurs facteurs, dont les incertitudes sur la création d’emplois dans les autres secteurs et l’expansion démographique dans les zones rurales.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Highlight: management of indigenous livestock to foster agricultural innovation

Grant FED/2013/330-246 
Project duration 36 months 1/1/2014 – 31/12/2016 
EU grant EUR 999,736.74, ACP S and T program

Co-ordinator Egerton University, Kenya 

Partners: Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUANAR), Malawi and Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Nigeria 

This project improves the management of indigenous livestock (IL) through building capacity in the creation, update and use of innovative livestock technologies. The state-of-the-art on IL innovation potentials, state and levels of research and development (R and D) investments, and relationships between research and industry will be analysed, while needs and measures to improve IL management will be discussed with stakeholders along the IL product value chain. IL management capacity is strengthened through summer camps and linkages between research, industry and the civil society. Finally, a Livestock Innovation and Business Centre will be established that builds on existing capacity, and fosters innovation and agribusiness development.

Expected Results
  • Capacity of scientific staff and students at the participating institutions, as well as of enterprises (smallholder farmers, processors, traders, cooperatives, extension services….), policy makers and CSOs in Kenya, Malawi and Nigeria strengthened to create, update and use knowledge on IL management.
  • The culture and importance of ILT promoted among the general public and policy makers in governments.
  • Contributions made to local and international policies on IL management, and related scientific goals and priorities formulated.
  • Knowledge on innovative practices related to IL management developed to promote further innovations. 
Download iLINOVA Fact Sheet

Artificial insemination is an innovative reproductive technology for the enhanced productivity of indigenous chickens. Participants during training on artificial insemination in indigenous chickens at Egerton University, Kenya (February 2014) and actual semen extraction.


Related:
Within the purview of this project, iLINOVA-OAU team is compiling a compendium of appropriate science, technology and innovation (STI) in the management of indigenous livestock (MIL), with a focus on low-input, alternative livestock production systems.

  • In particular, the  iLINOVA-OAU team is interested in the application of STI related to animal breeding and stock selection, nutrition,general animal management, including innovations in processing, value addition and marketing of indigenous livestock. 
  • Responses should have some scientific basis, not just simply anecdotal reports. 
  • Ultimately, contributions will be included in the compilation of a compendium of appropriate STI for the MIL. 
  • All sources and contributors will be duly acknowledged. 
  • Contact:  S O Oseni, PhD Research Partner, iLINOVA-OAU, Animal Breeding Unit, Department of Animal Sciences, Obafemi AwolowoUniversity, Ile-Ife, Nigeria| Mobile: + 234 (0)806 658 1894 Alternate e-mail addresses: (a) soseni@ugaalum.uga.edu| | (b) soseni2@yahoo.com|

Conference on policies for competitive smallholder livestock production


4-6 March 2015.
Gaborone, Botswana. The Botswana Institute for Development Policy Analysis (BIDPA) in collaboration with the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) held a conference on  with the theme Policies for competitive smallholder livestock production.

The conference provided an opportunity for African and international scientists and the broader stakeholder groups in the livestock production sector to discuss competitiveness in livestock production systems and improving the livelihoods of livestock farmers, especially smallholders, with emphasis on southern Africa.

The broader objectives of the conference were to gather researchers, policymakers and development partners working in the area of assessing competitiveness in agricultural food production and marketing, and to provide answers to various questions rotating around four thematic areas.

The various development issues related to competitiveness of smallholder livestock farming in southern Africa  were grouped under the following sub-themes:
  • Measures of competitiveness in smallholder livestock production and policy advocacy
  • Market access and utilization
  • The role of collective action in enhancing competitiveness of smallholder livestock farmers
  • The role of governments in the provision of livestock support services
  • Economics of animal health and trade in the competitiveness of smallholder livestock production systems

Africa Seed Trade Association (AFTSA) congress

3 - 5 March 2015. Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. Africa Seed Trade Association (AFTSA) congress. The conference covered areas like seed legislation, seed certification, variety release, plant property rights, biosafety, seed production, crop protection, seed marketing, packaging, labelling, harmonisation and institutional arrangements

Several representatives from the regional and international organisations attended the congress including the International Seed Federation, Asia Pacific Seed Association, the International Seed Testing Association, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, Union for the Protection of New Plant Variety, Food and Agriculture Organisation, Common Market for East and Southern Africa, West and Central African Council for Agricultural Research and Development and United States Agency for International Development.

See: Congress Programme

Background: 
The African Seed Trade Association vice president 
Mr Denias Zaranyika (left)
AFSTA was created out of the need to have a regional representative body for the seed industry, which also serves to promote the development of private seed enterprises. This was also borne out of the realisation that quality seed is the most important agricultural input without which use of fertiliser, irrigation, crop-chemicals or improved management practices were unlikely to produce the crop yield increase needed to enhance food security in Africa.

AFSTA aims to promote trade in quality seeds, strengthen communication between the African seed sector with the rest of the world, interacting with regional governments and non-governmental organisations involved in seed activities in order to promote the interests of the private seed industry and facilitate establishment of national seed trade associations in Africa. This is the first time that Zimbabwe has hosted the regional function which brings together stakeholders in the seed industry in Africa, with over 500 delegates expected to attend the congress. Next year the congress will be hosted by Kenya.

Hidden Hunger conference

3-6 March 2015. Stuttgart, Germany. The 2nd International Congress Hidden Hunger was a global meeting of scientists, field workers, members of NGOs and representatives from the government, public, private and civil sector. It focused on causes and consequences of Hidden Hunger during early development as well as on counter-strategies.

The program offered the approximately 360 participants from around the globe
  • 66 lectures,
  • 35 poster presentations,
  • 2 panel discussions and
  • 1 film
by experts from numerous disciplines, such as nutrition, gynecology, pediatrics, agricultural sciences, and economics.

Topics included:
  1. Impact of malnutrition on intrauterine development and its consequences on long-term health,
  2. Impact of Hidden Hunger on physical and cognitive development,
  3. Consequences of Hidden Hunger for future society and economy,
  4. Early detection of Hidden Hunger and options to intervene before and during pregnancy, lactation, complementary feeding, weaning and post-weaning period.
Panel discussions with participants from high- and low-income countries focused on the links and gaps between science and reality in all parts of the world. The conference also brought together various disciplines to discuss Hidden Hunger under the perspectives of nutrition, gynecology/obstetrics, pediatrics from neonatology to adolescent medicine, social sciences, politics, economics, and agricultural sciences.


The scientific program was complemented by a “Science Meets Culture” stream , with 6 artists and 3 students from the Transdisciplinarity Master’s Program of the Zürich University of the Arts.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

New fish drying technology launched in West Africa

Women in Abobodoumé, Côte d’Ivoire, huddle around 
the FAO-Thiaroye Processing Technique (FTT-Thiaroye) 
to smoke fish. (Photo Credit: FAO)
25 February 2015. A new and easy-to-assemble fish drying technology pioneered by FAO is helping to reduce health hazards, improve food safety and quality, improve working conditions and cut down food losses in West African fishing villages.

Smoked fish is a vital source of food and income for many African coastal communities. In Côte d'Ivoire, for example, an estimated 20-30 percent of local marine and freshwater catch is consumed in smoked form, according to FAO.

A popular protein alternative, smoked fish is preferred by locals because of its taste, its nutritional benefits, its competitive prices compared to other protein sources such as milk, meat and eggs, and its long shelf-life which ranges from 3-6 months. However, traditional kilns widely used to prepare this popular food item do pose some concerns.
"Traditional smoking techniques often involve a massive burning of wood which leads to a variety of problems. For one, an exorbitant amount of CO2 is produced, so the kilns produce more greenhouse gas pollution than they should. Also, traditional smoking releases contaminants known as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), which are carcinogenic and hazardous to the human respiratory system," says Yvette Diei-Ouadi, a fishery industry expert at FAO.
In the following interview she explains what these problems are how a new project has revolutionized the process of fish smoking in this community. Detail Audio | FAO | Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

Traditional techniques also leave higher amounts of tar particles on the final product, affecting taste and quality - making it much more difficult to sell. The new FTT technology - consisting of a dual functioning oven and mechanical drier, which also can act as storage unit - is especially designed to help small-scale fish processors like those in Abobodoumé prepared and market safe, high-quality food.

A result of five years of design improvements, FTT, makes it easy to upgrade traditional ovens and is capable of significantly slashing the carcinogenic contaminants produced during smoking. At the same time, the technology reduces the amount of fuel needed and provides a load capacity five times greater than traditional barrel ovens or twice the Chorkor kiln.