Platform for African – European Partnership in Agricultural Research for Development

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

What is the role of Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) in agricultural development and research?

On the 30th of March 2010. The Farming First coalition organized one of the 8 parallel sessions held on Day 3 of the first Global Conference on Agricultural Research for Development (GCARD) which focused on Public Private Partnerships (PPPs). The objective of the session was to highlight the important contribution of PPPs in agricultural development targeting in particular smallholder farmers, with a component on applied agronomic research. The session showcased a number of case studies. The session was attended by participants from a wide range of organizations (scientific, farming, public, private and civil society organizations) and countries.

To achieve the greatest reach, business, government and research institutions should work together to develop the needed innovations and outreach programmes. Hereunder are some examples:

  1. Several partnerships have sought to address the challenge of developing locally adapted seed varieties to help improve yields in resource-poor areas. The Improved Maize of African Soils (IMAS) Alliance is a new alliance bringing together foundations, national research institutions, international donors and the private sector in a programme to develop new maize varieties that use fertilizer, and hence nitrogen, more efficiently. Similarly, researchers at the University of Bern have recently teamed up with private sector researchers to explore ways to improve the yield of tef, the most important cereal crop in Ethiopia.
  2. One of the greatest hindrances to farmers benefiting from new innovations is a lack of skills and information on how to use them. Currently, the benefits of many new technologies have yet to be fully realised because farmers haven’t been given sufficient training. To help address this, a partnership between the USAID-funded Agribusiness and Trade Promotion (ATP) project and CropLife Africa Middle East is supporting improved maize production in West Africa, setting up a series of workshops to educate farmers on sustainable farming practices and integrated pest management. By helping farmers to cost-effectively boost yields, the project will strengthen their agricultural input-output chains and improve rural livelihoods.
  3. In Kenya, an innovative programme involving a mobile phone application payment system and automated weather stations offers insurance to smallholders against financial losses if their crops are ruined by drought or flooding. The project, named Kilimo Salama or “Safe Agriculture”, is a collaboration between the Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture, UAP Insurance and telecom operator Safaricom, and it provides farmers with a safety net to help them to break out of the subsistence cycle. (For more on this, watch a video interview with Syngenta Foundation’s Marco Ferroni discussing the project.)
  4. In order for smallholder farmers in the developing world to truly grow their way out of poverty, they need access to international markets. ‘African Marketplace’, led by IIED and the Sustainable Food Lab and funded by the Gates Foundation, has been working with food retailer ASDA on a new project to link suppliers in sub-Saharan Africa with senior buyers for supermarkets. The programme aims to facilitate £30 million of new business for African products by 2030.

FANRPAN CEO & Head of Mission, Dr Lindiwe Majele Sibanda, chaired the Farming First session on Public-Private Partnerships session at the GCARD 2010 conference, “Better Benefiting the Poor through Public-Private Partnerships for Innovation and Action”. The main question addressed was: “To sustainably reach the MDG goals, what is the role of Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) in agricultural development and research?” Hereunder is an interview with Dr Lindiwe Majele Sibanda from 25/02/2009.

Reference: Guest blog: Building Partnerships to Drive Agricultural Innovation

Facilitate access, usage and exploitation of digital educational content related to Organic Agriculture

26 April 2010. Montpellier. Nikos Palavitsinis (GRNET) explained at the IAALD XIIIth World Congress, organized by Agropolis International on 26-29 April 2010, Montpellier, France
how Organis Edunet is trying to open access to multilingual, high quality content on organic agriculture and agroecology. 

Organic.Edunet aims to facilitate access, usage and exploitation of digital educational content related to Organic Agriculture (OA) and Agroecology. It deployed a multilingual online federation of learning repositories, populated with quality content from various content producers. In addition, it deployed a multilingual online environment (the Organic.Edunet Web portal) that facilitates end-users’ search, retrieval, access and use of the content in the learning repositories.

The project studies educational scenarios that introduced the use of the Organic.Edunet portal and content to support teaching of topics related to OA and Agroecology in two cases of formal educational systems, i.e., high-schools and agricultural universities. Furthermore, it evaluated project results in the context of pilot demonstrators in pilot educational institutions, as well as through open validation events where external interested stakeholders have been invited.

Organic.Edunet focused on achieving interoperability between the digital collections of OA and Agroecology content that producers in various EU countries have developed, as well as facilitating publication, access, and use of this content in multilingual learning contexts through a single European reference point. In this way, digital content that can be used to educate European Youth about the benefits of OA and Agroecology, will become easily accessible, usable and exploitable.

Funded by the European Commission: eContentplus Programme
  • started in October 2007
  • duration 36 months
  • co-funded by EC
  • Overall budget: 4.800.000 euros







United Kingdom




Monday, April 26, 2010

4th Africa Nutritional Epidemiology Conference (ANEC IV) & Call for Papers

4th to 8th October 2010. The 4th Africa Nutritional Epidemiology Conference (ANEC IV) will be held in Nairobi, Kenya from  ANEC is the leading regional conference on nutrition in Africa providing a unique opportunity for food and nutrition scientists, health professionals and policy makers, representatives of NGOs, private sector organizations and international organizations with an interest in Africa’s nutrition agenda to meet biennially in an African country. A call for papaers has also been issued with the Abstarct deadline being 15th May 2010


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Partnership for African Agricultural Market Information Systems

19 - 22 April 2010. FARA/Accra. ESOKO organised its second PARTNER CONFERENCE. The group of some 20 participants represented national and local MIS models, public sector and private sector models, country-wide, regional wide and value-chain focused models

New Partners described their projects briefly and shared short- and long-term objectives. Partners who were present during the last conference (Accra 9 - 13 March 2009) briefly discuss their projects with emphasis on achievements & challenges after the 2009 session. Each project told at what point they were in their rollout plans with details about proven solutions.The Esoko Ghana Presentation, during the second day, focused on how to make market information system (MIS) into a profitable business or sell ESOKO subscriptions to cover the cost of your MIS operations. 

The ESOKO Ghana team presented several facets of the business, including the enumeration, business development. client support and marketing. The participants discussed the revenue potential and how the franchise or MIS project can drive revenues to keep the MIS successful and growing. 
There was one session with a lively and interactive presentation of stories from Esoko users in the field. 
Two farmers (You Tube video interview forthcoming) from the SEND Foundation presented their experiences with Esoko from Northern Ghana, including project costs; Esoko set up and usage; training of users and challenges around illiteracy, and network sustainability. 
They explained how were able to increase revenues up to 40%, create more efficient use of market channels and improve adoption rates of new technologies in a rural environment.

Related blog posts: 

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Interview with the Facilitator of the Pan African Platform for the farmer of Africa (PAFFO)

Mr. Mamadou Cissokho, Facilitator of the Pan African Platform for the farmer of Africa.

Interview in French

Mr. Mamadou Cissokho est le Président honoraire du ROPPA, Le Réseau des organisations paysannes et de producteurs de l’Afrique de l’Ouest. Mais c'est en sa qualité de facilitateur de la « Plateforme Panafricaine des Organisations Paysannes et de Producteurs Agricoles » que nous l'avons rencontré dans les loacaux de la Commission européenne à Bruxelles. Dans cette interview, Mr. Cissokho nous explique les origines et les objectifs de cette nouvelle plateforme. Il mentionne le parallèlisme entre la création de cette plateforme et la réforme institutionelle de l'Union Africaine. Cependant si ce form a pour objectif d'articuler des positions communes autour des enjeux continentaux, il n'a toutefois pas vocation à absorber les plateformes régionales, conformément au principe de subsidiarité. Mr. Cissokho note également que cette plateforme est aussi un vecteur d'une intégration régionale mené par la société civile. A la veille de l'assemblée constitutive de cette plateforme, le 24 Mai 2010 à Addis Abbeba sous le patronage du Président de la Commission pour l'Union Africaine, Mr. Cissokho lance un appel pour soutenir cette initiative.

Interview with English overhead:

Mr. Mamadou Cissokho is the honourary President of ROPPA a network of Peasant organizations and Producers in West Africa. He is also the facilitator of the “Pan African Platform for the farmer of Africa”. It is this context that we met Mr. Mamadou Cissokho at the European Commission in Brussels. In this interview, Mr. Cissokho presents the historical origins and the current objectives of this new platform. Interestingly, the cration of this new platform goes along with the revival of the African Union and the NEPAD. As Mr. Cissokho puts it, it represents an endeavour to promote a civil society led regional integration. However, Mr. Cissokho points out that is about solidarity in autonomy. Hence, this new platform aims to coordinate common positions with regards to continetal issues, without being a confederation in which regional organizations would dissapear, according to the principle of subsidiarity. Mr. Cissokho launches a call to support the activities of this new forum, whose constitutive assembly will be held on the 24th of May, 2010, in Addis Abbeba under the Chairmnship of the President of the African Union Commission.

17/04 CTA Brussels office Weblog

EC policy paper to help developing countries address food security

31 March 2010. The European Commission (EC) announced that it has adopted two new policy frameworks “to help developing countries address food security in emergency and long-term situations” and has called upon member nations to implement similar policies, IRIN reports.
The humanitarian assistance framework focuses on “response tools to enhance food security, and also spells out EU efforts to tackle acute food insecurity and malnutrition in crises.” The other policy “takes a longer view and spells out the need to support agriculture in poor countries to help them reach the U.N. Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of halving hunger and poverty by 2015,” the news service writes (4/2).

An EC policy paper (.pdf) outlines an approach to help developing countries achieve food security and recommends that “sustainable small-scale food production should be the focus of EU assistance to increase the availability of food in developing countries,” . The EC “believes that access to food should be enhanced by creating better employment and income-earning opportunities in both rural and urban areas, especially via diversification and trade, thus making food more affordable for more people. It suggests that in rural areas, new jobs could be created in agricultural processing by small and medium-sized enterprises”.

The EC makes additional recommendations related to vitamin and mineral deficiency prevention, regional integration opportunities and price control (4/2). The paper also suggests launching an initiative “to help the African Union accelerate the implementation of the African Land Policy Guidelines, completed in 2009, to secure people’s rights to land”. 

The EC has supported reforming the Committee on World Food Security (CFS), a U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization technical committee, “to become the pivotal global institution on food security,” the paper said.

EU wants to help small farmers in developing countries

The Global Research Report – Africa

Africa's contribution to the global body of scientific research is very small and does little to benefit its own populations, according to a new report from Thomson Reuters

Like India and China, Africa suffers from a "hemorrhage of talent," the report said, with many of its best brains leaving to study abroad and failing to return. "The African diaspora provides powerful intellectual input to the research achievements of other countries, but returns less benefit to the countries of birth," Jonathan Adams, director of research evaluation at Thomson Reuters, said in a statement as the report was published. 

Adams and colleagues, who use a Thomson Reuters database to track scientific publications, found that three nations dominate Africa's research output -- with South Africa leading by a long way, ahead of Egypt in second place and then Nigeria. "Africa's overall volume of activity remains small, much smaller than is desirable if the potential contribution of its researchers is to be realized for the benefit of its populations," Adams said. 

The report found that part of the problem was down to a "chronic lack of investment in facilities for research and teaching" -- a deficit the authors said must be remedied. Adams said the reason behind this was not simply money: "The resources available in some African countries are substantial, but they are not being invested in the research base." 

In fields of research relevant to natural resources, however, the study found a relatively high representation of African research as a share of world publications. South Africa's 1.55 percent share of research in plant and animal science is the continent's biggest share in any field, it said, with this output surpassing Russia's 1.17 percent but well behind China's 5.42 percent share in the same field.


Regional Agricultural and Food Security Forum

6-9 April. Livingstone, Zambia.  The International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the World Bank Group, supported by the European Union, on 7 April announced a major initiative to boost private sector agriculture output in Southern Africa to help the region meet a growing demand for food, and to support economic growth and job creation.

To launch the initiative, IFC, the World Bank, and the European Union hosted a Regional Agricultural and Food Security Forum from 6-9 April in Livingstone, Zambia, attended by industry leaders, private and public sector partners, financial institutions, farmer organisations, and civil society groups.

Participants discussed ways to help emergent and small-scale farmers more easily access finance, and improve the quantity and quality of their products. The forum was supported by the Netherlands’ Rabobank and the Zambia National Commercial Bank.

Peter Daka, Zambia’s Minister of Agriculture, said, “Broader access to agriculture finance will require both public and private finance to support high impact interventions. Finding a formula for a sustainable partnership between the two will stimulate private sector led agriculture growth in the region.”

08/04/2010 The Financial global news channel 

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Belgian Development Cooperation Price goes to a study on wild edible plants in DRCongo

23 March 2010. Brussels. The first price of the new edition of the 2-yearly Price of the Belgian Development Cooperation was awarded on the 24th of March to Sarah Haesaert of the Laboratory of Tropical and Subtropical Agronomy and Etnobotany, University of Ghent. The price was hand over in the Colonial Palace of the Royal Museum for Central Africa, Tervuren, at the end of the thematic day ‘Biodiversity and environment for improved livelihoods’.

She won the price for her MSc thesis: ‘Applied Ethnobotany: Identification, use and socio-economic importance of Wild Edible Plants by the Turumbu, DRCongo, District Tshopo’ with (co-)promoters Prof. Dr. ir. Patrick Van Damme & ir. Céline Termote. This MSc thesis was part of a broader VlIR-UOS-financed project on the nutritional, cultural and socio-economic importance of Wild Edible Plants (WEP) in the District Tshopo, Oriental Province, DRCongo.

The objectives of the project are:

  1. to inventory all WEPs within the 14 major ethnic groups of the Tshopo District,
  2. to study their socio-economic, cultural and nutritional importance,
  3. to analyze the nutritional content of the WEPs and
  4. to document the market chains reposing on those plants.
Taking into account the nutritional, socio-economic and cultural value of the species, the overall aim of the project is to propose a list of priority species for further study and participatory domestication. Domestication trials of some of the priority species as Gnetum africanum and Anonidium mannii are currently being executed within small farmer groups in and around Kisangani, with the aid of Icraf Cameroun and the local collaborators Prof. Dhed’a Djailo Benoît and Prof. Bwama Meyi Marcel (Univeristé de Kisangani).

Monday, April 12, 2010

SACAU 2010 Policy Conference

29-30 March 2010.  Gauteng, South Africa. The theme of the SACAU 2010 Policy Conference was around land issues in southern Africa as they impact on farming enterprises and the agricultural sector in general. The Conference was attended by participants from African Farmers’Organisations in Southern Africa and other regions in sub-Saharan Africa, other stakeholders in the agro-value chain, Regional Economic Communities (COMESA, SADC), the African Union Commission, research institutions, international development agencies and NGOs.

Presentations made at the Conference:
  1. PLAAS - ‘Land in Southern Africa – Key Issues for Farmers and Policy Options’
  2. Absa AgriBusiness – ‘Agricultural Finance and Land issues’
  3. Land Bank AERIS – ‘Land and Agri-Business’
  4. CIRAD/UP – ‘ Large Scale Land Acquisitions in Southern Africa : Analysis, Perspectives and Regulation’
  5. IFAD – 'Land Tenure Security and Agriculture in Africa : an IFAD perspective’
 Reference: SACAU 2010 Policy Conference Programme.