Platform for African – European Partnership in Agricultural Research for Development

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Roundtable on agricultural (re)insurance solutions for Africa.

June 10/11 (Nairobi) saw more than 40 clients and experts from the agricultural sector participate in a roundtable on (re)insurance solutions for Africa.

The event featured a wide range of views and case studies on agricultural insurance in Africa. Participants noted that agriculture in the region has significant business potential but is exposed to the vagaries of the weather and other risks.

" Whether it’s export-dependent flower farmers in Ethiopia, coffee farmers in Kenya, or cattle farmers in Tanzania, agricultural insurance provides them with the financial stability they need to prepare for the next season - should their income be wiped out due to drought, flood, hail, pests or diseases", said Lovemore Forichi, Senior Underwriter Agriculture for Africa at Swiss Re.

Agricultural investments are key for Africa. However, if investors are to feel confident about enabling further growth, they need a robust risk management framework. In company with local insurance firms and banks, Swiss Re can provide the financial security to cope with agriculture-related risks and prepare for future growth.

Reto J. Schneider, Swiss Re's Head of Agricultural Insurance for Africa and roundtable host, encouraged participants to fully leverage the expertise of the speakers and Swiss Re’s risk capacity to improve risk management and financial stability. The insurance industry needed to build up local capacity for underwriting and loss assessment as well as gathering more data to develop innovative risk transfer solutions for the African continent.

Said Schneider: ”Using pioneering agricultural insurance solutions, Swiss Re has been writing agricultural business in Africa since the late 1990s, working with local insurance companies to help farmers protect their income. Given the vast geographic and economic diversity of this continent, we understand the need for tailored risk transfer solutions. We are fully committed to continuously enhance our offerings for African clients."

Announcement: Special Online Forum Gender, ICTs and Rural Livelihoods

5-16 July 2010. Join e-Agriculture in a special virtual forum that will explore some of the challenges that people and projects face when implementing projects aimed at empowering women in ICT in relation to rural livelihoods.

Led by e-Agriculture Community members and The Gender, Agriculture and Rural Development in the Information Society (GenARDIS) , the online forum will discuss issues including looking at what has worked, what has not worked, and the ways in which we can learn from good practices. The critical area of capacity building will also be covered during this special event which will attract participants from around the globe. To be part of the discussion, make sure you are registered on the e-Agriculture Platform and just log in on 5 July! Subject Matter Experts will be available during the forum to share their insight.

8th EuroAfrica-ICT Concertation Meeting

June 23, 2010. Brussels, Belgium. The 8th EuroAfrica-ICT Concertation Meeting, was organised by the European Commission (DG INFSO, International Relations Unit) with the support of the EuroAfrica-ICT EU/FP7 funded project.
EuroAfrica-ICT concertation meetings have been launched in 2006 and are organised in Brussels on a regular basis with the aim of facilitating closer interaction and the development of synergies between the EuroAfrica-ICT initiative and other related initiatives addressing Euro-Africa S&T cooperation on ICT research.

The meeting was attended by 73 participants from 17 different countries in Europe and Africa, which was divided into three distinct parts: 1/. Cooperation perspectives on ICT with sub-Saharan Africa; 2/. Sharing visions and experiences; 3/. Specific workshop: identifying ICT policy and research priorities. Q&A discussions have taken place at the end of each main session contributing to exchanging visions, ideas and opinions. Also, several breaks throughout the day have been dedicated to develop networking among all participants.

  • Nicolas Chevrollier (ICT4D Team Leader of TNO Information and Communication Technology – Netherlands) looked at the mobile services as a mean to produce better health in rural areas (Innovation for development).
  • Mohamadou Arabani Saibou (Director, ESMT – Senegal) illustrated problems and expectations encountered by the African organisations when taking part in European projects: an interesting case study to understand why it is difficult for an African organisation to participate in European projects.
  • Bernard Yvetot (Vice President, Strategy International Business, France Telecom / Orange – France) presented the France Telecom / Orange’s strategy in Africa and how it can contribute to the development of telecommunication services in the Country. More and more mobile services will be available in the coming years: the mobile banking has already transformed the way people transfer money (successful initiatives in Ivory Coast, Senegal, Mali, Madagascar).
Workshop: identifying ICT policy and research priorities

The last session of the day – chaired by Daan du Toit (Minister Counsellor S&T, South African Mission to the EU, DST – South Africa) – started with a presentation of Andrew Cherry (the Africa Unit, ACU and EuroAfrica-ICT project partner – United Kingdom). Through this specific workshop, Andy introduced to the audience the work undertaken so far by the EuroAfrica-ICT project in identifying Euro-Africa ICT policy and research priorities and the obtained preliminary results. Andrew Cherry presented the different steps of the methodology which will be used to identify the relevant research priorities which will lead to recommendations to be taken into consideration in facilitating the rapid emergence of Euro-African collaborative projects addressing identified ICT research areas (consultation, analysis, recommendations and validation).
Presentations, agenda and attendees list are available here.

Training on food safety in Africa

14-18 June 2010, Lilongwe, Malawi. African food hygiene experts participated in a regional workshop on food hygiene inspection. The event has been organised by Better Training for Safer Food Africa (BTSF), a European Commission initiative to deliver technical and policy expertise on animal health and food safety. It is aimed at African public services, producers and small and medium sized enterprises. This initiative was intended to enable African producers to consistently supply products that comply with international standards, and open up access to more markets.
The workshop included a presentation on food safety management, along with a presentation of the rules for certification of establishments. Participants were also trained in the audit of food processing.

The Better Training for Safer Food Africa programme aims to train African specialists in 12 five-day workshops covering the five economic partnership agreement regions in Africa. In addition to opening up trade opportunities, training should help reduce the likelihood of consumers succumbing to food-borne diseases. This should have wider benefits for communities connected to food safety.

Representatives from the African Regional Economic Communities, Food and Agriculture Organisation, World Health Organisation, UNIDO and the European Commission attended the workshop. An agenda of the regional workshop on food hygiene inspection can be found here.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Regional Policy Dialogue on Promoting Agricultural Commodity Market Access in West and Central Africa

23rd – 24th JUNE 2010. FARA Secretariat, Accra, Ghana. In order to contribute to sustainable improvements in broad-based agricultural production, competitiveness and markets, FARA organized a Regional Policy Dialogue on Promoting Agricultural Commodity Market Access in West and Central Africa (WCA).

The workshop was organized in collaboration with the European Center for Development Policy Management (ECDPM), the Technical Center for Agricultural and Rural Co-operation (CTA), the Foundation for Democracy in Africa (FDA), the Regional Economic Communities (ECOWAS and ECCAS), and the Sub-regional Organization (CORAF/WECARD).

The workshop brought together key stakeholders involved in African agriculture and trade including policymakers, policy analysts and practitioners, researchers, and representatives of the African Union Commission, NPCA, RECs, sub-regional research organizations (SROs), regional policy institutions, regional farmers’ organizations, among others to examine the relevant policy options for promoting access to markets. The dialogue provided a platform for assessing and determining the critical issues bordering on promoting agricultural market access in WCA as well as to promote debate, enhance dialogue and facilitate discussions on WCA agricultural trade policy issues among national, regional and international experts, stakeholders and policymakers.

The WCA policy dialogue was a follow-up to the East and Southern African policy dialogue which was held in Nairobi, Kenya from 24th – 25th March, 2010. The outcomes of these two policy dialogues will be discussed during a third workshop involving representatives of CAADP implementing institutions (AUC, NPCA, CAADP Pillar Institutions, RECs, SROs, CTA, ECDPM, FDA, etc). This workshop will be organized to share lessons and mainstream key messages drawn from the two policy dialogue workshops into national and regional policy-making processes, including the CAADP country and regional compacts implementation processes.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Validation Workshop FARA advocacy and resource mobilisation strategy

22 June 2010. Accra, Ghana. The stakeholder consultation – validation of the ARM strategy for FARA and its Secretariat took place at African Regent Hotel in Accra on the 22nd June 2010 to provide selected FARA constituents and partners a platform to verify that their advocacy and resource mobilization requirements are well reflected in the draft ARM strategy as discussed and recommended in the General Stakeholders’ Consultative Workshop which held in March 2009, and to validate the document.

The thematic areas of the draft ARM strategy are threefold: (1) advocacy and resource mobilization for FARA Secretariat; (2) advocacy for increased investment in African agricultural research systems; (3) support for the implementation of CAADP Pillar IV at the sub-regional and national levels.

The workshop was facilitated by Professor William Otim-Nape and was attended by Forum stakeholders as well as FARA staff. The workshop was opened by Dr. Ramajita Tabo, the Deputy Executive Director after which there was a presentation on the objectives of the workshop by the ARM Officer, Mr. Maurice Lorka. The workshop was divided into three cluster groups to discuss the above thematic areas under the following topics:

1. GROUP 1: Raising the profile of the Forum and enhancing linkages between African agriculture and agricultural research at the country level
2. GROUP 2: Advocacy for Increased Investment in African Agricultural Research Systems
3. GROUP 3: Providing support for the implementation of CAADP pillar IV activities at the Sub-regional and National levels

Each group discussed the current situation on each thematic area, identified the challenges of advocacy in that area and suggested strategies that could be used to attain the objectives of the strategy including key actions to be taken.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Profiles of over 300 grant makers for agriculture, energy, environment, and natural resources in the world's developing countries

Terra Viva Grants develops and manages information about grants for agriculture, energy, environment, and natural resources in the world's developing countries.  

Profiles of Grantmakers:  Detailed profiles of over 300 grant makers with regional coverage for the developing world:  Southeast Asia and Pacific Islands; East Asia; South Asia; Eurasia and Central Asia; Middle East and North Africa; Sub-Saharan Africa; Latin America and Caribbean.  

Funding News: Application deadlines, new and changed grant programs, and other funding news.

Links and Resources:  A strategic inclusion of information resources for grant seekers.

Terra Viva Grants is legally registered as a non-profit organization in France and the USA. Dr. Jan Laarman and Dr. Caroline Amilien provide the vision and management for Terra Viva Grants.  Their professional backgrounds encompass university teaching and research, nonprofit organizations, consulting, and international organizations.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Niigata International Food Award awarded to Dr. Monty Jones

10 June 2010. Sadako Ogata, Chief Director of JICA, informed Dr.Monty Jones that he is awarded the prestigious Niigata International Food AwardThe prizes are awarded once every 2 years, and the first award ceremony and commemorative lecture will be held at Niigata on 29 October 2010.

Niigata City is located 300km north of Tokyo facing the Sea of Japan coast, and, with its many prosperous agricultural and fishing enterprises, is one of the foremost rural-type cities in Japan. 
With a population of 800,000, much of Niigata City is composed of wetlands that sit below sea level, giving it a long history of suffering and struggling with the elements of water and earth. 

Touzaburo Sano (1923-1994), worked to transform numerous mud paddy fields, where the mud was waist deep, into more productive rice fields, thereby solidifying Japan's food production foundation, and building future-oriented awareness. In addition, Sano also worked hard to improve farm production in China, where he played a large role in developing the San Jiang plain at the request of the Chinese government. The award is named after him, representing all those who worked to turn Niigata into a land of plenty.

“Food & Life” is the theme for the prize period (2009-2010).
There are countless people residing across the globe who find their health and even their lives in peril because they are unable to secure enough food for themselves and the food they do have is non-nutritious, or even dangerous. We seek to honor those who are facing this reality, and saving lives, improving livelihoods, and restoring dignity in the field of food.

Announcement: Africa Agriculture & Food Security 2010 Conference & Expo

21 -23 SEPTEMBER 2010 - INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE CENTRE, DURBAN, SOUTH AFRICA. The conference theme is “Sustainable Agriculture for Improved Food Security in Africa: Investing in people and livelihoods”. The Africa Agriculture & Food Security Mega Conference will host above 2,500 senior agro leaders and practitioners across the continent and internationally.

The conference will focus on the most promising advances in food security, agricultural sustainability, innovative planning & design and strategies agricultural performance improvement with particular emphasis on the leader’s role and responsibilities in agro environments.


Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Review of the European Agricultural Development Assistance to Sub-Saharan Africa

The imperial College reviewed the European Agricultural Development Assistance to Sub-Saharan Africa (Report of May 2010).

This review seeks to create an online tool for better understanding European donor support for agricultural development in sub-Saharan Africa. It is an initial attempt to map the activities, political and financial commitments of fourteen different European donors.
  • The background and rationale introduces the thinking that influenced the development of this review.
  • The information on each donor presented in this review is listed here
  • The section on donor institutions and initiatives sets out the institutional landscape for each donor reviewed.
  • The agricultural assistance data is an overview of donor commitments and disbursements on agricultural development to sub-Saharan Africa based on OECD-DAC data. A paper on this data can be accessed below and here.
On May 10th 2010, Imperial College and ONE hosted a joint workshop to discuss the challenges of measuring agricultural development assistance (see picture).

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Announcement: Call FP7-KBBE-2011 and FP7 Info Day and Brokerage Event

The registration form to the FP7 Info Day and Brokerage Event (Brussels, 13 September 2010) is now available on the BIO CIRCLE web site.

Bio Circle will upload additional information about the detailed programme of this event as soon as it is available.

3 themes are relevant for Africa in this call which will be launched end of July (deadline for submission of proposals 15/01/2011)

  1. KBBE.2011.2.5-02 Reducing post-harvest losses for increased food security — SICA Up (Specific International Cooperation Actions) to 2 projects may be funded (SICA means that non EU members are mandatory)
  2. KBBE.2011.1.3-01 New/next generation of researchers for Neglected Zoonoses at the animal-human interface – Mandatory ICPC (International cooperation partner countries ) Coordination and Support Action targeted to SMEs. Minimum number of participants: 3 from different Member States or Associated Countries and 3 from different ICPC (of which at least 2 from Africa)
  3. KBBE.2011.1.4-08 Role of aquaculture in improving food security and eradicating poverty worldwide - Mandatory ICPC Coordination and Support Action (coordinating action) Minimum number of participants: 2 from Member States and Associated Countries and 3 from different ICPC (International cooperation partner countries )
Related blog posts:

Announcement: Seminar: Innovation and decision aid in agriculture : which roles of research and which partnerships

Thursday September 2nd. Seminar: Innovation and decision aid in agriculture : which roles of research and which partnerships. This symposium will illustrate and analyse how research in agronomy can contribute to a sustainable agricultural progress, in both African and European contexts, through various types of deliverables and through diverse modes of interaction between research, farmers and their organizations, extension services and agro industry.

The conference aims to illustrate and analyze, for a varied range of socio-economic and agricultural situations, the place and the role of agronomic research in the processes of innovation in the framework of Sustainable Development. Above all, the conference will identify and discuss:

  • The nature and the form of the deliverables through which research in agronomy contributes to innovation: new techniques, new cultural practices or cropping systems, but also new decision support systems applicable at various space scales and organization levels;
  • The conditions and steps through which these various types of deliverables are elaborated (modelling, experimentations of various types, inquiries, co construction of questions, etc.), and the types of subjacent knowledge;
  • The modes of interaction efficient between research and the actors (sometimes new) of innovation: farmers and their organizations, extension services, companies and organizations concerned by the inputs (agro supplies) and outputs (collecting and transformation of the production) of the farms ;
  • The ways in which public policies and agronomic research may interact for stimulating sustainable innovation processes, in agriculture.
Provisional program - Download French version (pdf file)
It is possible to register only for this seminar by sending back the specific registration form to the Association Française d'Agronomie
Download the registration form

Gestion des systèmes post-récoltes en Afrique de l'Ouest et du Centre

24 au 27 Mai 2010. Cotonou, Benin. 2ème Semaine Scientifique de l'Afrique de l'Ouest et du Centre. Gestion des systèmes post-récoltes des produits végétaux, animaux et halieutiques pour l'amélioration de la productivité, de la compétitivité des marchés agricoles en Afrique de l'Ouest et du Centre, c'est autour de ce thème central que les scientifiques de la sous région et leurs partenaires ont échangé du Pendant quatre jours, les participants ont fait des propositions pratiques et novatrices dans la recherche de solutions intégrées pour la réduction des contraintes post-récoltes.

28 au 29 Mai 2010. Cotonou, Benin. 9ème Assemblée Générale du CORAF/WECARD. Les acteurs et partenaires du CORAF/WECARD se sont réunis du pour la 9ème session ordinaire de l'Assemblée Générale. Les travaux ont permis d'éxaminer le rapport moral du Conseil d'Administration, le rapport d'activités du CORAF/WECARD de Juin 2008 à Mai 2010, d'adopter des documents statutaires et de renouveler les membres du Conseil d'Administration.

Des technologies novatrices et des stratégies appropriées devraient être élaborées pour promouvoir l'accès des grands et petits transformateurs aux prototypes de transformation modernes, ont-ils souligné.

Les nombreuses études réalisées dans la sous-région au cours des dix dernières années ont révélé de manière pertinente la nécessité de mettre l'accent sur les technologies et les techniques post-récoltes pour que l'agriculture joue convenablement sa partition, en tant que moteur de croissance économique.

Selon des études récentes, les pertes post-récoltes atteignent en Afrique de l'Ouest et du centre, plus de 30 pc de la production et celles relatives uniquement à la filière-riz, avoisinent parfois 2,3 milliards FCFA.

Initiée par le Conseil ouest-et-centre africain pour la recherche et le développement agricoles (CORAF), la deuxième semaine scientifique agricole de l'Afrique de l'Ouest et du centre se veut un cadre d'échanges sur les innovations agricoles, afin d'accroître la sensibilité des participants et du public sur la problématique des systèmes de post-récolte.

Press release CORAF
Pana 29/05/2010 Afrique: Plaidoyer pour une gestion efficace des systèmes post-récolte
REWMI 05/06/2010 Agriculture : Réflexions transversales à Cotonou

Nouvelle Expression 03/06 Les progrès sur les recherches de la gestion après récoltes dévoilés

BIO CIRCLE trains African researchers in FAFB (3)

During the Bio Circle FP7 training workshop held at FARA, Accra on first and second of June 2010, the participants have been watching and commenting following video interviews where African researchers express their views on the FP7 or working with European Researchers more in general. 

Dr. Habiba Hassan-Wassef (Egypt) sees a misunderstanding in the fact that many researchers in Africa perceive the Frame Work Programme 7 of the European Commission first of all as a source of money forgetting it is about science and knowledge based economy. But few realise what this means. It is about generating new knowledge to serve the bio-economy and not research for research or research for development.

There is a need to look at research with a different perspective which is bringing innovation to European research. Therefore it is important to follow developments at the European and World research front. FP7 is not a lottery. It is important to understand how the evaluators of proposals think. Dr. Hassan-Wassef answers the question of which the biggest difficulties are for African researchers to participate in FP7 research projects.

Dr. Habiba Hassan-Wassef has been wondering why Europe has a renewed interest for joint research in the field of agriculture and nutrition in Africa (Framework Programme 7 Theme 2: Food, Agriculture, Fisheries and Bio-technologies).

She takes as example a recent call by the European Commission for proposals from the South-Mediterranean Area about research on African traditional technology about the use of food resources, the management of natural resources, the use of African traditional food processing technologies in order to benefit the European food industry.

She questions the principle of mutual benefit and wants to secure Africa's interest and intellectual property rights. She believes though that FP7 is a genuine change compared to the past. But she fears African scientists do not know all their rights while FP7 provides for it. Collaboration between North African researchers and Sub-Saharan researchers could be improved and accelerated. FARA, NEPAD and the different Sub-regional organisations have a role to play in this.

Sanaa ZEBAKH (Point d'Information National sur les programmes de recherche europeens - Maroc) says: "The role of NIPs is not to create illusions but about contributing to European research knowledge and about excellence". In Marocco light information products have been developped with a focus on themes which Moroccan researchers may find interesting.

Morocco has been relatively successful in participating in FP6 & FP7 calls because of the long history of scientific collaboration between Europe and Marocco. The contribution of the National Information Point to this is more difficult to evaluate. Some 30 information sessions have been organised for FP7 call all over the country and Marocco has now focal points in every university. But despite the information dissemination the success rate for the first FP7 call has been low: on the 45 submitted proposals only 2 were selected.

A new strategy is to work with a restricted group of scientists whose potential is real instead of wanting to reach as much as possible researhers. But it is difficult to judge who is part of the top of Maroccan research. The biggest bonus for Marocco from FP1 to FP6 participation is to have seen 130 research institutes collaborate in 98 EU funded projects with an average of 3 to 4 researchers per research project.

Dominique PALLET, the French coordinator of the AFTER project (African Traditional Food Revisted by research) explains the objectives of the project and the challenges of managing a FP7-project consortium (FP = Frame work programme 7 of the Eurepean Commission.

Interview with Dr. Kevin Urama of the African Technology Policy Studies (ATPS Kenya) at the NEPAD Tertiary Institutions Dialogue FARA Secretariat 28 - 30 July 2009, Accra, Ghana. He thinks that the modus operandus of the European Framework Programme is very useful because it is trying to forge partnerships and collaborations both between disciplines and across cultures and countries. Currently ATPS is working on a Manifesto for Science and Technology involving Indian, European and African partners. Work packages allow African institutes to take the lead and in this they can set their own research priorities. The multilateral research platform is a guarantee for quality control. Such types of collaboration should happen more in Africa. He gives as an example the banana tissue culture which was developed in Kenya but now involves researchers from Cameroon, Nigeria and other places. The requirement of involving policy makers, researchers, the producers and the civil society allows for innovation to develop and forces researchers to think critically about their research.

ATPS has also a Donor Watch Initiative which analyses the criteria of the calls from donors, and more in general donor-donee (recipients) relationships. 

Finally Dr. Kevin Urama answers following questions:

  • Will newcomers like Japan, China and Brazil foster Africa-Africa collaboration ? (ATPS is currently developing a Donor Watch initiative)
  • Will we have one day an African Union FP7 type of programme?

Prof. Umezuruike Linus Opara is a Professor at Stellenbosch University where he holds the South African Chair in Postharvest Technology. In this interview, Prof. Opara explains the various fields of research implied in Postharvest Technology. Furthermore, Prof. Opara makes the case for a multi-stakeholder and multi-disciplinary approach, where researchers from different backgrounds would interact with professionals of the food supply chain. Finally, Prof. Opara explains the importance of networking among researchers from Europe and Africa.

ANOTHER INTERVIEW VIEWED AND COMMENTED BY THE PARTICIPANTS WAS THE INTERVIEW WITH Dr. Angelo Visconti, Institute of Sciences of Food Production (ISPA), National Research Council (CNR) Bari, Italy

BIO CIRCLE trains African researchers in FAFB (2)

Participants at the FP7 Bio Circle training workshop (FARA, Accra, 01/06-02/06):

From left to right and top to bottom:
  1. Amoa Awah  Wisdom , Food Research Institute/Ghana  
  2. Sharon Alfred , FANRPAN, Pretoria, South Africa
  3. Gustave Ewole, PROPAC, Cameroun
  4. Mr. Moses Limuwa ,  Programmes Coordinating Office,  Bunda College of Agriculture Lilongwe, Malawi
  5. Jonas Mugabe, FARA, Accra-Ghana
  6. Majaliwa Mwanjololo,  MUIENR,  Makerere University Uganda
  7. James Aucha , ANAFE, Nairobi - Kenya
  8. Ben Kubbinga, Facilitator,  APRE/Italy
  9. Francois Stepman, Euro- PAEPARD, Bruxelles, Belgium
  10. Moses Osiru , RUFORUM, Kampala- Uganda

Additional participants (who did not stay for the full 2 day
  1. Amoah King David, National Co-ordinator, FONG/ECASARD
  2. Sasu Lydia , Executive Director, Development Action Association
  3. Banson Kwamina , Research Scientist, Biotechnology and Nuclear Agriculture Research Institute
  4. Myra Wopereis, FARA, Accra-Ghana
  5. Vesta Nunoo, FARA, Accra-Ghana
  6. Dr. Adewale Adekunle, FARA, Accra-Ghana
  7. Johnson Ukpong, FARA, Accra-Ghana

  1. Dr. Leovegildo Lopes de Matos, Office Coordinator EMBRAPA Ghana
  2. Jose Luiz Bellini Leite, Agri business coordinator, EMBRAPA Ghana

BIO CIRCLE trains African researchers in FAFB (1)

June 1st and June 2nd. Accra, Ghana. TRAINING SEMINAR OF FOCAL POINTS IN AFRICA to participate in EC/FP7 and EC/FSTP calls for proposals. The Training Workshop was organized in the framework of the Bio Circle project (01/10/2008 – 30/09/2010) co-financed by European Commission under the 7th Framework Programme (FP7).

The participants watched the video interviews of 
  • Dr. Angelo Visconti (Institute of Sciences of Food Production (ISPA), National Research Council (CNR) Bari, Italy and 
  • Dr. Kevin Urama, the director of the African Technology Policy Studies (ATPS Kenya)

The BIO CIRCLE NET is a two year project that aims to reinforce the network of National Contact Points (NCP) for the Seventh Framework programme under Theme 2 “Food, Agriculture and Fisheries, and Biotechnology” (FAFB) and extend the network to include National Information Points (NIP) for major Third Country partners in two years. BIO CIRCLE promotes the work of the EU-Africa Joint Partnership through stimulating international cooperation between EU and African researchers.

Thanks to its cooperation with BIO CIRCLE, FARA is able to provide consistent and accurate advice to researchers throughout the African continent about FP7 participation in the FAFB theme. The Round Table on African Agricultural Research priorities (co-organised with CTA in Brussels - April 2008), brokerages, twinning and the present tailor made trainings all help stimulate dialogue on these issues, thereby contributing to Overall Objective 2 (Better define specific areas of mutual interest and mutual benefit in FAFB international cooperation research between the EU and Third Countries as well as new cooperation mechanisms).

Complementing the activities which are planned under the PAEPARD project this training will enhance the capacity and capabilities of national research teams to compete for EC funds in IAR4D. More in particular it will increase the knowledge about European funding opportunities among African ARD stakeholders.
Specifically, the workshop is aimed at training some experts (information points) from Africa who will be able to:

Favour knowledge of EU opportunities by means of Internet, organisation of events, meetings on specific calls for proposals or thematic sectors.

Support scientific community to submit projects proposals that could be co-financed by European Commission (by explaining modalities of funding schemes, advising on administrative procedures and legal issues, assisting in partner search activities).

Presentation of the FSTP proposal HORTINOV by Leo Matos, Regional Director of Embrapa Accra

Draft statistics on issues that could be useful to PAEPARD: such as: a) the participation of ARD actors to S&T events organised by EC; b) the number of national participations in co-financed projects, c) the thematic sector in which there are more projects submitted and the sector in which there are more projects co-financed, d) distribution of projects per geographic area; e) average of funds per project, and so on.

Networking to share and disseminate EC funding opportunities among the African Information Points.

The beneficiaries of this training were participants and their institutions but also the PAEPARD II project and all partners who benefit from their knowledge.

The upcoming FP7 call on  FOOD, AGRICULTURE AND FISHERIES, AND BIOTECHNOLOGY (FAFB) will be launched by EC 31st of July 2010. Following research themes are relevant for Africa: (disclaimer: this may still change when the final call will be launched)
  1.  KBBE.2011.2.5-02 Reducing post-harvest losses for increased food security — SICA Up (Specific International Cooperation Actions) to 2 projects may be funded (SICA means that non EU members are mandatory
  2.  KBBE.2011.1.3-01 New/next generation of researchers for Neglected Zoonoses at the animal-human interface – Mandatory ICPC (International cooperation partner countries ) Coordination and Support Action targeted to SMEs. Minimum number of participants: 3 from different Member States or Associated Countries and 3 from different ICPC (of which at least 2 from Africa
  3. KBBE.2011.1.4-08 Role of aquaculture in improving food security and eradicating poverty worldwide - Mandatory ICPC Coordination and Support Action (coordinating action) Minimum number of participants: 2 from Member States and Associated Countries and 3 from different ICPC (International cooperation partner countries )

Monday, June 7, 2010

Announcement: MycoRed AFRICA 2011 Conference

4/6 April 2011 - Cape Town South Africa
“Mycotoxin reduction – Global solutions"

The MycoRed Africa 2011 Conference will bring together a range of international experts to discuss mycotoxicological issues in general and mycotoxin reduction measures in particular.
The Conference will be held from 4 to 6 April 2011 under the auspices of the International Society for Mycotoxicology.
The academic programme aims to address a wide range of issues concerning mycotoxins, including their production by mycotoxigenic fungi, natural occurrence, their fate during processing from farm to plate, toxicology and regulatory control. Emphasis will be placed on the conference theme, but prominence will be given to the problems in different African environments and their potential solutions.

Besides talks on numerous topics by invited speakers (local and international), there will be opportunity for presentation of original research work, either as oral or poster presentations. Participation of delegates from the African continent will be encouraged and actively promoted.
Delegates are encouraged to use this meeting as a forum to discuss their research findings.
The conference is organized by Gordon Shephard from MRC.
25/27 October 2010 - Cairo, Egypt.Mycotoxicological risks in Mediterranean countries: economic impact, prevention, management and control.
This workshop will be focused on the cooperation among Mediterranean Countries, with an overview on the current situation on the occurrence of mycotoxins and toxigenic fungi in Mediterranean Bacin.
Prevention and control of mycotoxins in Mediterranean food and feed chain, as well as Mycotoxins of Public and Animal Health Significance in the Meditteranean will be other relevant themes to be discussed.

2nd of May 2010. Interview with Dr. Angelo Visconti, Institute of Sciences of Food Production (ISPA), National Research Council (CNR) Bari, Italy (Bio Circle working visit).

Mycotoxins are secondary metabolites produced by fungi that are toxic to humans and animals consuming the products. The mycotoxins represent one of the most important and sensitive problem for our world and our life, as various many products we normally use in our diet are exposed to their contamination.

This EC FP7 project called MycoRed builds significantly on the outcome of several European projects (through most coordinators/partners of FP5 and FP6).

Mycotoxins are dangerous for  feed and food chains  as  they can create contamination in pre- and post-harvest processes. Mycotoxin research is making strong efforts to improve knowledge and reduction of aflatoxins, trichothecenes   (deoxynivalenol, nivalenol, T-2 and HT-2 toxins, etc.) , zearalenone, fumonisins and ochratoxin A   are very important to handle this problem.
Mycotoxin reduction targets of vital importance have been identified by some international food organizations (e.g. FAO, CIMMYT, EFSA, IITA, SAFE consortium), EU reports and relevant food industry representatives.

Mycotoxins effects

  • Aflatoxin B is a proven carcinogen for humans. It is immunotoxic and causes stunted growth in children and growth retardation in animals.
  • Fusarium toxins, especially fumonisins , are neurotoxic and possible carcinogens, trichothecenes  are immunotoxic and zearalenone  is estrogenic.
  • Ochratoxin A  is a nephrotoxin, possibly carcinogenic to humans and associated with Balkan Endemic Nephropathy.
Mixtures of mycotoxins probably have at least an additive, if not synergistic, egregious effects. These toxins are primary sources of both yield losses and increase of management costs worldwide.

Mycotoxins Detection Methods, Management, Public Health and Agricultural Trade

Edited by J Leslie, Kansas State University, USA, R Bandyopadhyay, International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, Nigeria, A Visconti, Institute of Sciences of Food Production, Italy

Mycotoxins are produced worldwide by several fungi on a wide range of agricultural commodities and are closely related to human and animal food chains. Examining mycotoxins and their impact from a public health viewpoint, this book provides an overview and introduction to the subject and examines the health, trade and legislation issues involved. Management of mycotoxins is discussed in detail as well as the global problems caused by mycotoxins.

29-30 April 2010 BIO CIRCLE organised in Rome its 3rd midterm Meeting and above mentioned working visit in Bari. (BIO CIRCLE = Creating a CIRCLE by extending the BIO NCP network to Third Country NIPs