Platform for African – European Partnership in Agricultural Research for Development

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

New approach to water desalination

A new approach to desalination being developed by researchers at MIT and in Korea could lead to small, portable units that could be powered by solar cells or batteries and could deliver enough fresh water to supply the needs of a family or small village. As an added bonus, the system would also remove many contaminants, viruses and bacteria at the same time.

The new approach, called ion concentration polarization, is described in a paper by Postdoctoral Associate Sung Jae Kim and Associate Professor Jongyoon Han, both in MIT’s Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, and colleagues in Korea. The paper was published on March 21 in the journal Nature Nanotechnology.
A single unit of the new desalination device, fabricated on a layer of silicone. In the Y-shaped channel (in red), seawater enters from the right, and fresh water leaves through the lower channel at left, while concentrated brine leaves through the upper channel.

Research into Use: Managing Africa’s Medicinal Plants

March 30, 2010. Research into Use’s (RIU) pocket guide and policy brief series has produced a brief that outlines the need to find ways to sustainably manage Africa’s medicinal plants. RIU continues to illustrate how complex subjects can be explained simply to policy makers and the importance of effective scientific communication. The aim is to encourage partners in both the developed and developing world to invest more in communication efforts helping useful technologies become more widely adopted.

The brief ‘Future Health: Sustainable Management of Africa’s Medicinal Plants’ highlights that eighty per cent of Africans use traditional treatments made from wild native plant species and one-third depend on them entirely. As populations go up so to does use; over-exploitation is rampant. Control is imperative to sustain forest resources before they are lost, potentially denying millions access to medicines.

Collaboration @ Rural

The Food and Agriculture Organization of thee United Nations (FAO) is one of the 33 partners in a European Union funded project called Collaboration @ Rural (C@R) (1) led by TRAGSA in Spain. The aim of the C@R project is to develop and test a Living Labs collaborative platform in rural areas to stimulate rural development through open, people-driven innovation, utilizing Living Labs (2) as collaborative working environments.

The Living Labs programme is an initiative supported by the European Commission Framework 7 Programme based on open innovation to empower citizens and civil society to influence the development of innovative services & products that eventually can benefit the whole of society.

The C@R consortium consists of 33 partners working in the development of six different Rural Living Labs in Czech Republic, Finland, Hungary, Spain and South Africa. Local needs were accessed and innovative processes are being developed in each one of them. Living Lab pilots are being carried out in fisheries, agriculture, food grocers, tourism, health, public administration (e-governance), commerce, and business incubation.

­One of the goals of the C@R project is to make an impact on rural development policy based on tangible results such as new business creation or participative public services offered to rural citizens, are emerging. Policy makers have been involved throughout the duration of the project and have helped in developing a methodological approach for exploring ways to assess the impact on rural development policies.

Besides the publications of scientific papers and the C@R book, the scaling-up activities of the C@R project include the use of the methodological framework in other EU funded projects on Territorial Innovation such as the Med Lab project (3), the establishment of new partnerships to support the Rural Development programmes, which will be featured in an international conference in Rome in January 2011.

(1) C@R Website

(2) EC Living Labs
(3) MedLab Website

ARIS — Strengthening Agricultural and Rural Innovation Systems: A Regional PhD Programme

The ARIS project seeks to develop a regional PhD programme in Agricultural and Rural Innovation Studies to enhance application of science and technology in improving rural livelihood and economic growth of countries in the Eastern, Central and Southern Africa (ECSA) region. Specifically, the project will strengthen the capacity of universities in the ECSA region namely; Makerere University in Uganda, Egerton University in Kenya and Sokoine University of Agriculture in Tanzania to train competent and relevant professionals for research and development of the rural sector.

Main Activities
  • Establishing a Steering Committee (SC) and secretariat to coordinate project activities. The SC will comprise of five persons: one representative of each of the partner universities, one from a regional organisation and the project coordinator. The secretariat will be hosted by Makerere University.
  • Consultative visit by members of the SC to the European partners to explore and concretise areas of collaboration in preparation for partnership agreements through Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs).
  • Designing and approving the curriculum. This is a process that will start with in-country stakeholder consultations in Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania to identify the priority needs that the programme should address. A regional consultative workshop will consolidate outcomes of in-country consultations, further prioritise the focus and define the programme course content and develop modalities and institutional arrangements for implementation of the programme with the European partners.
  • Developing the curriculum and learning materials. Following the consensus in the regional workshop regarding focal content areas, course decriptions and outlines will be developed by resource persons from the ECSA region jointly with the European partners. These will be used to develop documents for approval of the programme in the respective partner universities. Meanwhile the teams of resource persons will continue developing the modules for each of the courses described.
  • Developing M&E and quality assurance mechanisms to ensure continuous reflections and learning from experience in order to improve the programme implementation. Quality is paramount in these processes and a mechanism for assuring quality will be established and institutionalised.
Project Coordinator: University of Makerere, Uganda
Partners: Egerton University, Kenya / Sokoine University of Agriculture, Tanzania / Wageningen University,The Netherlands / Montpellier SupAgro, France
Duration 36 months
Implementation 01/01/2009 to 31/12/2011
EU Co-funding EUR 484.180
Total Budget EUR 571.372
Contact Dr. Paul Kibwika
Reference: Edulink

Scientists reap bumper tomato harvest

30 March 2010. EU-funded researchers have identified a mutation that can make tomatoes tastier and boost yields by up to 60%. The findings, published online in the journal Nature Genetics, could have exciting implications for the agricultural industry.

The research, carried out by scientists in Israel and the US, received EU support via the EU-SOL ('High quality solanaceous crops for consumers, processors and producers by exploration of natural biodiversity') project, which is funded under the 'Food quality and safety' Thematic area of the Sixth Framework Programme (FP6) to the tune of EUR 18.7 million.

The aim of this study was to investigate the phenomenon of hybrid vigour, also known as heterosis, which refers to the fact that the offspring of parents that are genetically different tend to be superior (i.e. taller or more productive for example) compared to offspring of genetically similar parents.

Reference: CORDIS 30/03/2010 Scientists reap bumper tomato harvest

Fourth day of GCARD

31st March 2010. Day 4 started with a Kofi Annan video address to GCARD.
In his video address to GCARD, the former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan highlighted that “our goal must be to support the small resource poor farmers and the people who rely on them. For this to happen we need to establish parallel funding flows , build dynamic national systems, and we need an agricultural value chain vision".

Report to plenary by rapporteurs on the specific actions developed through the parallel sessions on Day 3
Refinement and key elements of the RoadMAP (Montpellier Action Plan) to improve the value of agricultural research in development at national, regional and international levels.
The RoadMAP derived from the Conference deliberations will set out pathways for reform and reorientation of agricultural research systems and innovation pathways around the world, against which all constituencies brought together in GFAR can review and assess our collective progress and change through successive GCARD meetings.

GCARD Final Press Briefing
- Dr Monty Jones, Executive Director, Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) - (center position on panel)
- Dr Carlos Perez del Castillo, Chair, CGIAR Consortium Board (right position on panel)
- Dr Pierre Fabre, Commission for Recherche Agricole Internationale (left position on panel)

Third day of GCARD

30th April 2010. The Third day at GCARD was about better targeting collective actions – research themes identified for international agricultural research. The CGIAR has analysed where it feels its international research efforts could best be focused to meet tomorrow’s development needs. The collective programmes articulated by the CGIAR were presented the particicipants to the workshops were invited to comment as to how these fit with the views, focus, capacity, and investment needs of national AR4D stakeholders.
Mark Holderness, Executive Secretary of GFAR, opened Day 3 of the conference by calling upon the participants for decisive collection action: “We’ve set the theme over the last two days. I can see you are all fired up to do something; now is your chance.”

  1. Agricultural Systems for the Poor and VulnerableAround 70 participants attended a session moderated by Dr. Maarten van Ginkel, Deputy Director General of Research at ICARDA, on the agro-ecosystem research area, one of the 8 suggested thematic areas of the CGIAR.
  2. Enabling agricultural incomes for the poor
    Mark Rosegrant of IFPRI briefed session participants on the policy and institutional constraints and opportunities, and the CGIAR’s proposed thematic research focus, to support farm incomes for the poor. The absence of a platform that links the various actors along the research-development-policy continuum, from bottom up to the top, was identified as a key challenge the research theme hoped to address.

  3. Optimizing Productivity of Global Security Crops Explaining why this parallel session was exclusively focused on rice, maize and wheat, Marianne Banzinger of CIMMYT said that it was important to move quickly to study the anticipated gap between between yield and demand, which the world will face long before 2050, and that this big challenge required coordinated investment and partnerships.
    Participants were quick to point out that the CGIAR must include other essential good security crops in their analysis, particularly given that there is no specific food security theme within the CG centers.
  4. Agriculture, Nutrition and Health
    In a session moderated by Dr. Mark Cackler of the World Bank, participants in the agriculture, nutrition, and health program session noted the importance of fruits and vegetables for diversified diets against a backdrop of the rising obesity epidemic in poor countries.
  5. Knowledge, information and advice in agri-foods systems
    Research organizations, including the CGIAR, should not be satisfied just with producing high quality science,” noted Enrica Porcari of the CGIAR’s ICT-KM. “It is essential that research outputs are communicated and put to use, in the village, on the ground, in the lab, or across the negotiating table.”
  6. Agricultural Biodiversity
    This was a lively, interactive session where discussion ranged widely across many issues: including the need to bring all stakeholders into managing biodiversity, the importance of raising public awareness via the media to engage the public in that management, and the significance of advocacy in addressing policy-making on these issues.
  1. Improving PartnershipsAjay Vashee of IFAP opened the partnerships session, stating that, “you cannot improve what you do not believe in and you cannot improve what you do not measure.” Sophia Drewnowski of the World Bank emphasized the need for communities of practice to allow cross fertilization and a focus on improving current partnerships instead of just doing more and more. Dr. Lawrence Haddad of the UK Institute of Development Studies renewed important examples highlighting cases where participation by farmers leads to better impacts, and used examples of projects that build demand for better participation and provide the valuable “how.” The private sector group suggested that they should try to influence the thinking about development needs in terms of business case possibilities for all stakeholders involved. Participants noted that farmers could facilitate partnerships where resources are equally distributed, and farmers should be included in all the stages of the research and development cycle and take into account their competencies. Read about the study Perspectives on Partnerships See the pre-GCARD workshop Web site
  2. Addressing Gender for Inclusive Development
    Gender is a hot button issue at GCARD and the session on gender for inclusive development was no exception – a lively mix of videos, panel discussions and interactive nodes to map out practical ways to promote gender equality in agricultural research for development.
Open science session. The day ended with presentations about the potential that agricultural and wider science can offer for development impact.

Open science from GCARD 2010 Days 3-4 on Vimeo.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010


29th March 2010. During the GCARD 2010 meeting EFARD had the opportunity to hold an informal meeting on the way forward taking into account the latest development in Agricultural Research for Development and the ongoing debates on the changes and actions required by regional platforms for agricultural research to have greater impact on the poor. The mission of the European Forum on Agricultural Research for Development (EFARD) is to strengthen the contribution of European Agricultural Research for Development to poverty alleviation, food security, and sustainable development in developing countries by providing a platform for strate-gic dialogue among European stakeholder groups in order to promote research partnerships between European and Southern research communities. EFARD’s mission follows the principles of the Global Forum on Agricultural Research (GFAR) , and contributes to GFAR’s Global Plan of Action, in part-nership with the other regional fora of GFAR. In particular, EFARD has an important advocacy role to play in maintaining agricultural research for development as highest priority in the political agendas at European and International levels.EFARD Conferences, which are held about every three years, constitute the core element of EFARD’s activities in order to further exchange and promote strategic planning among European and partners from the South. Previous EFARD conferences, which were held in Montpellier (1997), Wageningen (1999) and Rome (2002), were directed towards the identification of common research themes and in-terests on the European level. EFARD presented during the GCARD meeting the outcome of the European GCARD consultation. The challenges faced by the European reviewers were similar in many ways to those addressed by the other 5 regional review groups in so much as they were asked to identify ways to improve the contribution of agricultural research to poverty reduction within the region, and globally; however, the challenges faced by the European reviewers were also different in so much as they had to consider the fact that Europe provides the majority of donor funding for global-ARD through bilateral and multilateral channels. Thus in presenting the synthesis, Dr. George Rothschild explained that the issues related to both the users/beneficiaries of ARD at the global and European levels and the suppliers of ARD funding had to be reviewed. This bottom-up/top-down challenge made the European review findings unique particularly since the North American donor community has not partaken in the GCARD exercise. The regional consultation from Europe ( EFARD) remarked on the need for greater AR4D to address poverty in Eastern Europe. It appears that the incidence and prevalence of relative and absolute poverty in Europe are on the increase – particularly in rural locations and city slums. The consultation revealed that the concerns of poor farming communities in Europe have been relatively neglected by the European ARD community, including by EFARD itself. However, partly as a consequence of the GCARD Europe initiative, EFARD has already proposed to include agriculture in Eastern Europe in its future agenda, in addition to addressing poverty in ‘the south’. During the informal meeting of EFARD during GCARD the participants expressed their full support to the EC funded PAEPARD project.           List of the EFARD participants [from top to bottom]: Anne Marie Sørensen (Danish Development Research Network) ; (Sweden)  ; Guy Poulter (NRI-UK);   ; David Radcliffe (European Commission, Brussels) ; George Rothschild (UK); Didier Pillot (CIRAD, France) ; Isabelle Alvarez (European Commission, Brussels) ; Tim Chancellor (NRI-UK); Paolo Sarfatti (IAO, Florence-Italy); Philippe (European Commission, Brussels) ; Jean-Luc Khalfoui (CIRAD, France) ; Jon Daane (ICRA- Wageningen - the Netherlands) ; Henri Rouille d'Orfeuil (France) ; Mariam Aissa (AICF, France) ; Allesandra Guiliani (Switzerland) ; Christian Hoste (CIRAD, France).

Workshop on Agricultural Market Information Systems in Africa : renewal and impact

29-31 March 2010, Montpellier. The researchers and lecturers/researchers at the UMR MOISA are brought together around the complementary scientific approaches and common research objectives of several social science teams from the different establishments in Montpellier: Cirad, Inra, Montpellier SupAgro and Ciheam-IAMM. These teams have worked together for a number of years on different research projects, in scientific networks and in post-graduate courses in the fields of economics and management at the University of Montpellier 1 and Montpellier SupAgro.

In parallel to the GCARD conference (but not a side event) a Workshop was held on Agricultural Market Information Systems in Africa : renewal and impact.
FARA had the opportunity to present the findings of the Inventory on innovative farmer advisory services. Agenda:
• Agricultural MIS in sub-Saharan Africa: overview and typology (Equipes MOISA et MSU)
• Conditions for an Efficient Market Information System in Cocoa Producing Countries (Eric Tollens, K.U. Leuven )
• Services d’information agricoles novateurs utilisant les TIC (François Stepman, FARA)
• A farmer-based MIS : the case of ZNFU (Pamela Muzoli, ZNFU)
• Le Système d’information sur le marché de la pomme de terre en Guinée : un instrument au service de la FPFD (Saliou Chérif Diallo, Ministère Agriculture de Guinée)
• Le Service d'information économique des légumes (SIEL) à Madagascar, un SIM non gouvernemental géré en lien avec un syndicat agricole. Intérêt et limites du dispositif (Aurélien Penche, Institut des Régions Chaudes)
• A MIS based on yields forecasts (Oscar Vergara, AIR Worldwide Corp.).
• Un SIM conçu et animé par les producteurs agricoles de Côte d'Ivoire (Daouda Diomandé, ANOPACI)
• Rôle de l’Observatoire du Riz et de la plateforme riz (PCPRIZ) dans les décisions de politique agricoles (Patrick Rasolofo, Observatoire du Riz)
• Setting a vegetable market information and consultation system in Vietnam (Paule Moustier, CIRAD)
• SIM et régulation des marchés : le cas de l’Agence de Régulation des Marchés agricoles au Sénégal (Idrissa Wade, ENSA Thiès)
• Linking Farmers to Markets in Kenya: KACE Model (James Kundu, KACE)
• Afrique Verte : les outils de commercialisation et d’information des opérateurs céréaliers (Mohammed Haïdara, Afrique Verte Mali)
• Un exemple de SIM privé : MANOBI au Sénégal (Daniel Annerose, MANOBI)
• Tracking informal cross-border trade – challenges and opportunities (Janet Ngombalu, EAGC)
• Top 10 Misconceptions about MIS – lessons from ESOKO experiences (Mark Davies, ESOKO)
• Que nous promettent les SIM de 2eme génération pour le cas spécifique du secteur des intrants agricoles ? Expériences et leçons apprises par IFDC en Afrique sub-saharienne (Patrice Annequin, IFDC)
• The regional African agricultural information system (RAAMIS) (Maurice Tankou, Economic Commission for Africa)
• GIEWS National basic food prices - data and analysis tool (Liliana Balbi, FAO)
• Pathways by which MIS can affect market performance: implications for their evaluation (John Staatz, MSU) à confirmer
• Evaluating Impact in Ghana and the Case of Esoko (Mark Davies, ESOKO)
• Making Market Information Services work better for the poor in Uganda (Shaun Ferris, Catholic Relief Services)
• SIM public et son impact sur l’intégration et l’efficacité des marchés des céréales : le cas du maïs au Bénin (application du parity bounds model) (Sylvain Kpenavoun, Univ. Abomey-Calavi)
• Estimating the Benefits from Improved Market Information: the case of OMA in Mali (Andrew Kizito, MSU)

Second day of the Global conference on Agricultural Research for Development (GCARD)

Day 2 started with a video address by David Nabarro, UN Secretary General’s Special Representative on Food Security and Nutrition.

Dr. Monty Jones, Incoming Chair of the Global Forum on Agricultural Research, and Executive Director of the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa set the scene for the day by emphasizing the responsibility of participants to represent the needs of the hundreds of millions of resource poor farmers, livestock keepers, fish producers and forest dwellers who are not at the meeting.

Monty Jones outlined reasons why research has failed to achieve adequate impact to date in order to urge participants to enact change. These included: under investment in research and capacity; fragmentation of the players in AR4D; research not being adequately linked to other sectors that would leverage better impact, such as markets and infrastructure; a lack of accountability of researchers to the end users; and underexploited opportunities for collaboration (North-South and South-South).

His hopes for outcomes of GCARD were to establish GCARD an inclusive platform; validation of the CGIAR’s priority research areas; learning and networking; and development of a road map for reorienting agriculture research to better meet the needs of the poor. “The first GCARD is being held at a time when developing- country agriculture is commanding the highest attention in over four decades. This attention is certain to wane in the coming years. We therefore must make hay while the sun shines,” he concluded.

“Africa has transformed from self sufficiency in food 50 years ago to food deficit (16.5 billion in 07)“,
Denis Kyetere, Chair FARA

In the afternoon a panel was held on how to be an active player in collective action?
During this debate Paco Sereme (Executif Director of CORAF/WECARD) indicated that it is important to align future initiatives and partnerships to the ongoing CAADP process. Anne Marie Sorensen of EFARD refered to the example and model of FARA for how to enlarge traditional researchers'networks to other stakeholders and partnerships (farmers, private companies, extension services).
Dr. Ahmed Al-Bakri, AARINENA

Reference: GCARD blog

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Interview with Lluis Riera Figueras of the EC about PAEPARD

Lluis Riera Figueras of DG Development of the European Commission explains what PAEPARD (the Platform of African European Partnerships on Agricultural Research for Development)  is about. He answers the questions if in the past 'things were wrong', íf partnership will last after financing', 'the complexity of several partners working together', and if farmer organisations are not in a weaker position to partner?

Interviews with some African Stakeholders at GCARD

Lucy Muchoki, Stakeholder, Kenya

Stephen Muchiri, Eastern Africa Farmers Federation, Kenya

Mary Njenga, Stakeholder, Kenya

Mary Mtoola, Farmer, Kenya

Joseph Kaguatha, Farmer, Kenya

Patrick Njogu, Farmer, Kenya

First day of the Global Conference on Agricultural Research for Development (GCARD)

28-31 March 2010, Montpellier, France. Global Conference on Agricultural Research for Development: Enhancing Development Impact from Research: Building on Demand
The GCARD process is addressing the following questions:
  • What are the development needs where AR can play its best role?
  • How best do we turn research in development impacts at scale?
  • How can more effective pathways be developed to create impact for the poor?
  • What investments, institutions, policies and capacities are necessary?
An influential panel of global leaders from local and international institutions opened the first-ever Global Conference for Agricultural Research for Development this morning, highlighting the need for increased collaboration, knowledge sharing, and innovation in order to meet grand challenges that we all face in feeding the world.

“GCARD offers a special opportunity to strengthen international agricultural research,” said World Bank President Robert Zoellick in a video address.
“Indeed, the theme of this conference, Shaping the future of agriculture together, is of critical importance. You must apply ingenuity knowledge, and the power of partnerships to reach new levels of cooperation, innovation and trust to create better and more sustainable solutions. I know you will keep the needs of farmers, especially the poor ones, in the forefront in order to make a difference in improving their lives.”

Dr Kanayo Nwanze, President of IFAD • Dr Jacques Diouf, Director General of FAO

Professor Adel El-Beltagy, Chair of the Global Forum on Agricultural Research (GFAR)

Panel discussion. By comparison, the challenges that we face today make the Green Revolution an easy challenge, said Sir Gordon Conway, who moderated the session entitled Partnerships for a better future. “The plant breeding innovations were easy, it focused on big farmers on land that was well irrigated and well managed.”
Each panelist was asked to identify one partnership that could serve as an example for a successful partnership.

For Tang Huajun, Vice President of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS), international and national partnerships and cross-sectoral collaboration with universities, farmers, and extension officers were critically important to China’s ability to feed over 1 billion people. CAAS currently has partnerships with 140 countries, involving thousands of researchers from Chinese and international research institutions around the world.
“We can feed our people because of these collaborations,” he said.

Huajun, Ann Tuttwieller of USDA, and Dr. Laurence Tubiana of the French Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs also highlighted the need for greater internal alignment to improve coordination and collaboration and foster a sense of common purpose and “trust” across agencies.
In summary, Sir Gordon highlighted several themes that emerged from the discussion.
1. Focus on problems, not programs.
2. Focus on partnerships that bring people together and relate to the needs of stakeholders.
3. Breakdown silos between research disciplines.
“Its isn’t easy because silos are comfortable, but if you can make working together exciting, then it will open a lot of doors for communication between one silo and another,” he closed

Panel discussion: Reshaping agricultural research systems to meet the needs of the poor.
Moderator: Prof. Ismail Serageldin.
Introduction by Moderator, followed by panel dialogue to address major requirements in reshaping agricultural research for development.

Synthesis and Close of session

GCARD conference website
GCARD blog
latest version of the GCARD2010 Program

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Taking stock of smallholder and community forestry: Where do we go from here? - SciDev.Net

24 - 26 March 2010.  Montpellier, France. Organisation: CIFOR, the French research institute for development (IRD) and the French international research center for agricultural development (CIRAD)
An international conference on smallholder and community forest management

This workshop, brought together researchers, policy makers and practitioners. It was a forum for sharing and evaluating global patterns in forest resource use and management by smallholders and community groups to outline the current state of knowledge and identify a course for future research.

  • What do we know, and what do we still need to study? What do we need to implement and how? What are global patterns, or similarities and differences across distinct regions of the world?
  • Specifically, what role have smallholder forest activities and community forestry played in sustaining forest resources, maintaining environmental services and cultural diversity, improving human well-being or alleviating poverty, strengthening local authority on forest lands and resources?"

Taking stock of smallholder and community forestry: Where do we go from here? - SciDev.Net:

Africa Rice Congress 2010

22-26 March 2010. The Africa Rice Congress 2010: had as its main theme: ‘Innovation and partnerships to realize Africa’s rice potential’. The Congress brought together representatives from the public and private sector, civil society organizations, farmer associations and research and extension communities engaged in the development of Africa’s rice sector.

The Congress took stock of advances in rice science and technology aimed at enhancing rice productivity in farmers’ fields, while protecting environmental services and coping with climate change. The Congress also provided an opportunity to discuss institutional innovations, policies and key investments needed to significantly increase rice production in sub-Saharan Africa, develop competitive and equitable rice value chains, reduce imports and enhance regional trade.

The Africa Rice Congress was organized by the Africa Rice Center (AfricaRice) under the distinguished patronage of the Malian Authorities.

Introductory remarks by Dr Papa Seck, Director General, AfricaRice, Cotonou, Benin

Dr Marco Wopereis (Deputy Director General, Director of Research for Development) of AfricaRice presenting Rice research strategies for Africa at the Africa Rice Congress 2010

Dr Tetsuji Oya, Regional Coordinator (Africa), Japan International Research Center for Agricultural Sciences ( JIRCAS), Africa Liaison Office, Accra, Ghana at the Africa Rice Congress 2010

Dr Achim Dobermann, Deputy Director General for Research, International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), Philippines at the Africa Rice Congress 2010. Comments about the new role of science with a lot more ownership to all partners and clarify the role of each of the partners involved.

Prof E. Tollens, Centre for agricultural and food economics, Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium at the Africa Rice Congress 2010

Mr. Issouf Coulibaly, IER/CRRA, Sikasso programme Riz-Bas fond (one of the stalls from IER at Africa Rice Congress 2010)

Life blog of the conference:

Public-Private Partnerships to Develop and Spread New Agricultural Technologies in sub-Saharan Africa: New Thinking, Emerging Models

March 1, 2010. Center for Strategic and International Studies, Washington, The Role of the US in Stimulating Public-Private Partnerships for African Agricultural Development Event co-sponsors by IFDC, Syngenta Foundation, The Partnership to Cut Hunger and Poverty in Africa, CSIS

Video from the keynote of this event – Josette Lewis, Director of Agriculture, USAID

Innovative public-private partnerships are emerging to meet the imperative of mobilizing new resources and developing new agricultural technologies throughout the value chain. Leaders from these sectors will discuss the importance of these alliances; the topics they address, the challenge of ensuring that results reach smallholder farmers, and the role of foundations and governments in stimulating partnerships for agricultural technology in sub-Saharan Africa.

Related:Can Private Sector R&D Reach Small Farms? MARCO FERRONIA, Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture

Agricultural Productivity in Changing Rural Worlds

Friday, March 19, 2010

Promoting farmer voice in the design, implementing and monitoring of projects

12 March 2010. The first ever ALINe Farmer Voice Awards celebrate leading examples of development organisations successfully nurturing and responding to smallholder farmers’ own efforts. They showcase organisations that listen and respond to what farmers say, throughout the course of their activities. 

The awards were judged by a high level panel includedStephen Muchiri, CEO of the East African Farmers Federation, Professor Robert Chambers of the Institute of Development Studies and Alex Jacobs, of ALINe. ALINe will work with the award winners during 2010 to identify good practice in nurturing and responding to smallholder farmers’ own efforts. We will publish case studies and practice notes, and use them to encourage and support similar efforts across the sector.

In Malawi, the Story Workshop also uses a radio programme, Mwana Alirenji, to promote self-reliance and farming techniques identified by local farmers. Listeners are encouraged to try out new approaches and learn for themselves what works, for instance through ‘radio research gardens’. For example, one listener harvested more maize where she had applied manure compared to where she had used chemical fertilizer.

CARE is using ‘community scorecards’ to generate systematic feedback from smallholder farmers on services that CARE provides to them in central Malawi. CARE uses the results like customer feedback, to make continuous improvements – for instance, changing when they distribute seeds and moving training venues to be more accessible for women.
Farm Radio International is working with radio stations in five African countries to help smallholder farmers tackle agricultural questions. Farmers are involved in identifying good practices that work for them, along with expert input. In Mali, a radio campaign led to a four-fold increase in farmers using improved composting methods.
World Vision’s Food Security Program works with smallholder farmers in 14 districts in Zimbabwe, providing assistance like: seeds, fertilizer, livestock and training. World Vision informs farmers about the project and invites them to make comments or complaints about their experiences. Techniques have included: ‘focal point’ farmers, mobile help desks and farmer feedback committees (which are particularly accessible for women).

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Africa Observer project and the smallholder implementation guidelines

With support of the UK Department For International Development and GTZ the Africa Observer project was started in 2007 to provide more opportunities for smallholder representation in the GLOBALG.A.P standard setting process. 

During 2009 the GLOBALG.A.P smallholder project developed practical tools and global best practice guidelines to facilitate implementation of the standard by smallholders worldwide. These smallholder implementation guidelines are now freely available for download:

These smallholder implementation guidelines were launched at Fruit Logistica (Berlin 3 - 5 February 2010)
Dr Stephen Mbithi Mwikya CEO of FPEAK - Fresh produce Exporters Association of Kenya and GLOBALG.A.P smallholder ambassador represented the views of smallholders in the GLOBALG.A.P Sector Committee (SC) meetings. He is directly linked with the African Horticultural Associations in Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Rwanda, South Africa, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

The GLOBALG.A.P Sector Committees appreciated the valuable input in the standard setting provided through this cooperation and has decided to establish a formal working group to continue this fruitful exchange. A first meeting of this sub-group together with representatives from African producers took place 1 February 2010. Other major achievements during 2009: (a) Setting up a National Technical Working Group (NTWG) in Kenya; (b) Training of Ghanaian sector organisations on the establishment of National Technical Working Groups (NTWG)

Rudolf Behr, vegetable farmer with organic and conventional operations speaking at the Fruit Logistica Fair in Berlin. "Is there enough organic material for organic farming?" "Both conventional and organic farming have their advantages and disadvantages" "There is no final truth about sustainability, depending on the criteria"


25th February. European Parliament. Brussels. The Public Research and Regulation Initiative (PRRI) and the Science and Technology Options Assessment Panel of the European Parliament (STOA) organised a seminar to address the impact of GMO regulation on biotechnology transfer. The seminar discussed how current regulations and policies impact the potential for public biotechnology research.

The world community is confronted with unprecedented, escalating developments such as growing world population (+ 50% by 2050); increased consumption of food, feed, fibre and fuel; loss of agricultural land (– 50% by 2050); shortage of fresh water; climate change; increasing demand for renewable fuels, and loss of natural habitats and biodiversity.

These developments create immense challenges to produce more crop per hectare and per litre of water, and to produce on marginal land, enhance the nutritional value of crops, reduce dependence on pesticides and fertilisers, and reduce soil erosion.

No single technology can solve these complex challenges by itself. The future of agriculture is not a matter of “either this or that” technology but rather of combining the most suitable approaches of each available technology and agricultural practice, tailored to specific needs and situations.

As governments and international organisations have stated repeatedly: modern biotechnology – although not a “silver bullet” - can contribute significantly to finding solutions for these challenges. Consequently, governments and international organisations invest considerably in public research in modern biotechnology to strengthen sustainable agricultural production, to improve health care and contribute environmental protection. Despite these investments, the current regulatory situation in many countries, and in the EU in particular, increasingly curtails public research in biotechnology. 

Hereunder is an interview with Prof. Walter Alhassan, Coordinator, Project on Strengthening Capacity for Safe Biotechnology Managemt in sub-Sahara Africa (SABIMA)


Prof. Hans Holmén, Associate Professor/Director of studies, Tema Institute, Linköping university Sweden: Feeding the world: Mainly more production is needed.