Platform for African – European Partnership in Agricultural Research for Development

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

PAEPARD Agricultural Innovation Facilitators' Workshop

28 November - 2 December 2011. Entebbe. PAEPARD Agricultural Innovation Facilitators' Workshop.

The Platform for African-European partnership for Agricultural Research for Development (PAEPARD) in collaboration with The Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM) has organised a five-day facilitators' Inception Workshop of the PAEPARD Project. The main objective of this workshop is to familiarise participants with their potential role as facilitators of "agricultural innovation partnerships" established with the support of the PAEPARD project.

The workshop is daily documented by one of the participants (Nawsheen Hosenally from Mauritius)

Day 1 – Monday 28th November 2011: Introduction to PAEPARDThe theme for the first day of the workshop was “Introduction to PAEPARD”.

The question of the open space was "You have been selected as a 'facilitator of multi-stakeholder innovation processes: Which theme do you think is essential to discuss - from your experience with ARD multi-stakeholder innovation processes in - in a sub-workshop?"

The 8 sub-workshops were on the following topics:
1. How to identify relevant partners within a multi-stakeholder partnership?
2. How to balance/manage power imbalances within a consortium?
3. How can we reinforce capacities to work in partnership?
4. How can we manage stakeholders in a team? Divide roles and overcome mistrust
5. How can we keep ourselves relevant and in demand by the partnership?
6. How do we harmonise our work methods when we are driven by different ideologies?
7. How can we maintain neutrality in our facilitation?
8. How can we share financial and information resources in a sustainable partnership?

Day 2: Tuesday 29th November 2011: Facilitation of ARD Partnerships
The theme for Day 2 was "Facilitation of ARD Partnerships" and the aim was that all participants know about the role of a facilitator in a multi-stakeholder partnership.

Day 3 - Wednesday 30th November 2011: Facilitation Tools
Role Play
The first session of Day 3 was a role-play by Janet Achora and Monica Kapiriri Namumbya (both from Uganda), whereby Monica had to approach Janet (consortium) as the Agricultural Innovation Facilitator by PAEPARD.
Moderation, Coordination, Facilitation and Leadership
This session discussed the differences between Moderation, Coordination, Facilitation and Leadership.There were 3 boards in front, on each one there was a question, written on a card of different colours:
Green Card: Achieve the task (Common objectives)
Blue Card: Manage the team and avoid conflict
Pink Card: Promote learning by partners
Research Questions
The last exercise for the day was about Research Questions. Each country pair had to work together on their respective concept notes and had to generate 5 research questions and 3 sub-questions for each of the selected concept notes of the Second round of the PAEPARD call ARD proposals

Day 4 - Thursday 1st December 2011: Designing a partnership facilitation process

Presentation on PAEPARD Inception Workshop - June 2011
The objective was for participants to have an idea about how an inception workshop was organised by PAEPARD in the past and the points to keep in mind while planning and implementing the workshop. There are 4 steps which are involved for a concept note to become a formal proposal and the example given was from the PAEPARD First Call:

  1. Original proposal to PAEPARD
  2. Concept Note (Draft) drafted as a result of the PAEPARD Inception Workshop
  3. Complete Concept Note
  4. Draft Proposal Write-shop to generate formal proposal (submission)
Individual plans
Each country pair was asked to design a timeline of 3 months on the type of activities they will organise with respect to their respective consortium and also the specific output/milestone achieved for each proposed activity.

Video Projection
Mrs. Habiba Hassan Wassef of Egypt, talks about how Africans should be aware of their Intellectual Property Rights before sharing their views with Europeans.

Financing ARD
To understand about how ARD can be financed, a document from ICRA, which contained key concepts on how to finance ARD were given to the participants, who were asked to read the document. Then there was a brainstorming session to find the possible finance sources at National Level, Sub-Regional Level (Africa) and International Level.

Presentation by ASARECA
To get a better idea of how ARD are financed in Africa, there was a presentation by Mr. Joseph Methu from ASARECA. He explained about how ASARECA does the coordination work regarding financing of ARD in the East Africa Region.

Statements from World Bank
This session was a presentation on a report from the World Bank: IMPLEMENTING AGRICULTURAL INNOVATION FUNDS: Lessons from Competitive Research and Matching Grant Projects.. From that Report, different statements were taken and presented to the participants.

  1. Statement 1: The more a call is competitive – and selective, the less facilitators will be asked to play an intermediation role, as the investment will have less chances to lead to a return.
  2. Statement 2: Competitive grants strengthen the strongest actors and do not reduce the disparities between the strong and the weak.
  3. Statement 3: Mainly the growing rhetoric’s among the agricultural research and development partners to become more accountable to the beneficiary and other stakeholders has necessitated the need for partnerships and new funding schemes
  4. Statement 4: Only organizations which have a minimum budget , a critical mass of staff and a research and innovation management capacity can compete in competitive grants
Proposal formulation
The last session for Day 4 was about the proposal formulation. Participants were given a document on points to be taken into consideration while doing a proposal formulation.

Achora Janet Cox
Senior Programme Officer
Women of Uganda Network

ADIMOU Jean – Baptiste
Coordonnateur du Groupe d’appui, d’Encadrement et de Recherche en Milieu rural – GERME
Senior Research Fellow, Forest and Horticultural Crops Research Centre. Kade
College of Agriculture and Consumer Sciences
University of Ghana

Babatunde Musibau Adetunji
Lecturer, Department of Economics,
University of Ibadan
Secrétaire Permanent de la Plateforme Nationale des Organisations Paysannes et de Producteurs Agricoles du Bénin,
Chercheur à l'institut des sciences agronomiques du Burundi dans le Programme de Production des Semences et les Ressources Phytogénétques.

Directeur exécutif de l’ONG 
« Initiatives pour un Développement Intégré Durable du Burkina Faso

BUKENYA Christopher

Technical Service Manager at the NAADS Secretariat

Chargée de communication et marketing 
à la Fédération agricole Nian-Zwé

DIBI Amlan Béatrice
Organisation Non Gouvernementale EMMANUEL

Directeur Général de la Coopérative des commerçantes de vivriers de Cocody

EGESSA Patrick
Agricultural Economist

GLINX Laurent
Secrétaire Général 
de la Plate-forme Nationale pour l’Innovation 
dans le Secteur Agricole au
Benin (PNISA-Bénin)
Gunesh Toolsee

Manager, Farmers Service Corporation

Project Manger – Support Farmer Organizations in Africa Project (SFOAP)
Uganda National Farmers Federation

MBOG Sylvie Christel
Local Development Ressource at ODECO

Monica Kapiriri Namumbya
Independent consultant

NAWSHEEN Hosenally
Sales Coordinator
Meaders Feeds Ltd

Lecturer at the department of rural Economics, university of Burundi

Nketiah Joseph

Lecturer Methodist University College Ghana,
Faculty of Agriculture

Rural Development Consultancy (RDC) Ndop,
North West Region, Cameroon
Coordinator and lead consultant

Country Coordinator
Research Into Use
Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security

Chargé de communication et information
Fédération des Organisations des Producteurs Agricoles du Congo

ICT in Agriculture e-Sourcebook

ARD and infoDev kindly announce the release of the:
ICT in Agriculture e-Sourcebook
Connecting Smallholders to Knowledge, Networks and Institutions
Click Here to Access the PDF 

The ICT in Agriculture e-Sourcebook is designed to support development practitioners exploring, designing, implementing, and investing in information and communication technology (ICT)-enabled agriculture interventions.  The book is a compilation of resources related to 14 agricultural subsectors.  Each module covers the challenges, lessons learned, and enabling factors associated with using ICT to improve smallholder livelihoods in these subsectors.  Over 200 examples and case studies from five regions are presented in the text. The e-Sourcebook and website was made possible through the Creating Sustainable Businesses in the Knowledge Economy program and generous funding from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland.

Also announcing the ICT in Agriculture Website: 

A central goal of the sourcebook is to expand knowledge on the nexus between ICT and agriculture, and to generate discussion on how to use ICT effectively to improve the sector and reduce poverty.  The Agriculture and Rural Development Department (ARD) and infoDev of the World Bank invites you to participate in this discussion.  See the website above to access to sourcebook and for additional information and resources on ICT in agriculture.

We are also hosting a series of forums on ICT in agriculture with FAO's e-agriculture community. The first forum, on ICT and Strengthening Markets, will be held from December 5th-16th. Please visit the website to learn how to participate.

If you would like to receive occasional newsletters on ICT in agriculture from the World Bank, please click here to send an email (

Work Programme for agriculture at the climate talks in Durban

A group of 15 leading agricultural organisations (including three United Nations agencies, the World Bank, the Global Forum on Agricultural Research (GFAR), the World Farmers' Organisation, CTA, FANRPAN and the International Food Policy Research Institute) have jointly endorsed a letter to the COP17 climate negotiators with a specific call-to-action, namely to approve a Work Programme for agriculture at the climate talks in Durban [under the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA)] .

Agriculture is the low-hanging fruit for a deal at the climate talks this year, and this letter represents a strong consensus from key actors in agriculture on how negotiators can make progress this year -- both to mitigate agriculture's current level of emissions but also to help farmers adapt to changing growing conditions. The letter calls on negotiators to "take early action to determine the long-term investments needed to transform agriculture to meet future challenges."

The letter comes ahead of Agriculture and Rural Development Day, which takes place in parallel to the COP17 climate talks this Saturday, 3 Dec in Durban.

You can also read a Wall Street Journal article about the letter just published today:

Meeting for Coordinators’ of projects funded by the Coordinated Call for Africa

November 28th, 2011. The European Commission, Directorate E – Biotechnologies, Agriculture, Food, in partnership with CAAST-Net held a meeting of coordinators of projects funded via the Coordinated Call for Africa. The meeting explored possibilities for cooperation between the Africa Call Food Security projects in order to exploit the natural synergies of the projects. This meeting created a framework for future cooperation, identifying needs, opportunities, and priorities for areas of cooperation.

  • The creation of a network of Food Security projects funded by the Africa Call and projects relevant to the Africa Call;
  • Mutual sharing of project aims, activities, etc;
  • The creation of an international contact point for each project to facilitate cooperation;
  • A framework for future cooperation.
Africa Call Food Security Project Abstracts
EAU4Food seeks to address the need for new approaches to increase food production in irrigated areas in Africa, while ensuring healthy and resilient environments. Potential pitfalls of introducing innovations in local farming systems, like limited adoption by farmers and trade-off effects to other (environmental) systems are overcome by, respectively, i) utilizing a true trans-disciplinary approach, which involves the active participation of all stakeholders in all relevant disciplines, and ii) by determining and respecting so called sustainable production thresholds. EAU4Food is executed in four irrigated areas in Africa, viz. Southern Africa (Mozambique and South-Africa), Tunisia, Mali and Ethiopia to fully benefit from the potential of cross distributing promising strategies and innovations.

Natural biological treatment systems include lagooning, land treatment, phytodepuration, or constructed wetlands systems. They can be applied as secondary or tertiary purification treatment, allowing the removal of pathogenic microorganisms and the degradation of the organic pollutants, so that waste water can be recycled for irrigation and domestic use and hence reduce the pressure on the hydric resources. Other biotechnological techniques to be taken into account within this proposal are bio-filtration, membrane bioreactors and algae and other aquatic crops application for wastewater purification.

SUNRAY has seven work packages: WP1 optimises communication and coordination within the Consortium. WP2 maps current nutrition research activities in sub-Saharan Africa, and examines the operating environment. WP3 analyses the views of stakeholders. WP4 examines the impact of environmental changes on nutrition. WP5 builds consensus on research priorities through workshops in three African regions. WP6 develops a strategic framework for future research in the form of a roadmap. WP7 disseminates project outputs. The SUNRAY Consortium has four African and five European institutions and an Advisory Group of six external experts with complementary expertise. The total budget of 968,972 Euros is for a period of 18 months

The main aim of this project is to facilitate the participation of a broader range of European and African civil society organizations in the formulation and implementation of ARD. It will do so by:
1. Designing a structure for coordination and communication between European and African CSO’s involved in influencing policies and practices around ARD.
2. Define policy influencing strategies, including thematic priorities, target groups/individuals and tools.
3. Lobby key African and European research organizations and donors.
4. Working towards defining research priorities which draw on interaction between researchers and CSOs.

The Platform for African – European Partnership in Agricultural Research for Development (Phase II) is to build joint African-European multi-stakeholder partnerships in agricultural research for development. PAEPARD II nurtures partnerships to increase the quantity and quality of joint proposals (leading to more funded initiatives). PAEPARD II not only focuses on FP7, but includes other European Commission (EDF, EC Budget through the FSTP) and bilateral funding instruments supporting ARD that might be mobilized for emerging ARD partnerships.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Second African Diaspora Marketplace

November 21, 2011 – The Western Union Company (NYSE:WU) a leader in global payment services, the Western Union Foundation  and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) launched the second African Diaspora Marketplace (ADM), an initiative which encourages sustainable economic growth and employment by supporting U.S.-based African diaspora entrepreneurs with ideas for start-up and established businesses in sub-Saharan Africa.

“Through this collaboration, Western Union and USAID are helping to tap the economic potential of the 1.4 million Africans living in the U.S., bringing more direct investment to the continent. The African Diaspora Marketplace will strengthen and help satisfy demand for locally-produced products and services by leveraging diaspora capital and resources.”

The number of grants awarded will be determined based on grant pool and program need, and is likely to be in the range of 15 to 30 businesses.  The matching grant size is expected to be up to US $50,000, with an additional supplement of US $25,000-$50,000 in technical assistance. 

Friday, November 25, 2011

Enhancing partnerships between African and US scientists for collaborative GEC research

2012 Research Partnership Enhancement Awards
Announcing five Awards of $5,000 each to develop and/or enhance partnerships between African and US scientists for collaborative GEC research.

START is offering five grant awards to enhance partnerships between African scientists and US scientists who are currently engaged in Global Environmental Change (GEC) research.

1.  Who is eligible?                                    
Applications will be accepted from individual scientists from Africa who are based at an institution in Africa.  The African scientist must have an established contact with a counterpart scientist based at an institution in the United States.  

2.  Why are the grants being offered?
START sponsors a number of programs to build capacity for GEC research and outreach by scientists in Africa.  (   Over the years, START has received many requests to provide funds to allow face-to-face visits of scientists from the US and Africa.  The Research Partnership Enhancement Awards are being offered as a way to enhance collaborative US/Africa projects for research, training, joint scientific publications and the development of communication products.  The awards are part of START’s overall goals to:

·         increase the number of scientists in Africa who are working on global environmental change issues;
·         enhance communication at the interface of science, policy and practice;
·         encourage research that contributes to understanding global environmental change in the context of regional and national development priorities; and
·         strengthen scientific networks by fostering collaborative relationships across disciplines, institutions and countries.

Training program on agribusiness incubation for SSA

Dr Ralph von Kaufmann, Technical Coordinator,
UniBRAIN-FARA, in a discussion with Dr Dar and others
21-24 November. Aiming to promote agribusiness ventures in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) through value-chain based agribusiness incubators, ICRISAT’s Agri-Business Incubation (ABI) program under its
Agribusiness Innovation Platform (AIP) organized a training program on “Strengthening the capacity of UniBRAIN – Agribusiness Innovation Incubation Consortia (AIIC) members” at ICRISAT-Patancheru.

The training program primarily aimed to strengthen the capacity of AIIC members in incubator planning and management, in view of UniBRAIN’s plan to set up an African Business Incubators Network (AFBIN) similar to the Network of Indian Agri Business Incubators (NIABI) of India. The training was focused on incubator management, planning for incubation operations, client selection, setting up systems and processes, and other key aspects of setting up successful business incubators to promote entrepreneurship in sub-Saharan Africa.

Tamil Nadu Agricultural University (TNAU)
Twenty six participants from the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA), Universities, Business and Research in Agricultural Innovation (UniBRAIN), Pan African Agribusiness and Agro Industry Consortium (PanAAC), Agro forestry and Natural Resources Education (ANAFE), Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in East and Central Africa (ASARECA), Conseil Ouest et Centre Africain pour la Recherche et le Développement Agricoles (CORAF) and SADC joined the training program at Patancheru, which had 30 resource persons from infoDev, ISBA, STC, Trec-STEP, Technopark, Villgro, etc. who provided and shared their vast and rich experiences in agriculture and agribusiness.

The training was continued at the Business Planning and Development (BPD) units of the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University (TNAU), Coimbatore and Ooty.

UniBRAIN is a program of FARA supported by the Royal Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs (DANIDA). It is facilitated by a team of partner institutions comprising FARA Networking Support Function for Capacity Strengthening (FARA-NSF4) and its associated sub-regional organizations – ASARECA, CORAF, Centre for Coordinating Agricultural Research and Development in Southern Africa
(CCARDESA), African Network for Agriculture, ANAFE, PanAAC, and ICRISAT Agri-Business Incubator (ABI).

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

12 ways how mobile technology can boost African agriculture

In a recent report, titled Connected Agriculture, Vodafone and Accenture identified 12 opportunities for mobile phone technology to increase agricultural income and productivity. Some of these platforms are already widely used in Africa, while others are still in the early stages of implementation.
1. Mobile payment systems
Mobile payment systems give farmers without access to financial services an inexpensive and secure way to transfer and save money using their mobile phones. By allowing smallholder farmers to save small amounts of money, receive payments quickly in times of need and pay for agricultural inputs via their phones, mobile payment systems replace costly traditional transfer services and the need to travel long distances to collect funds. They also provide a secure means for employers to distribute wages to agricultural workers, and for governments and NGOs to ensure agricultural subsidies go directly to farmers.
2. Micro-insurance systems
Mobile micro-insurance systems can safeguard farmers against losses when bad weather harms their harvest, encouraging them to buy better quality seeds and invest in fertiliser and other inputs. This can improve productivity and boost farmers’ livelihoods as well as enabling suppliers to expand their market among smallholder farmers. Delivering micro-insurance via mobile avoids challenges with conventional channels that can make insurance expensive. Remote monitoring of weather avoids the need for insurers to make farm visits. With mobile micro-insurance systems, farmers also benefit from quick, secure payouts using money transfer services.
3. Micro-lending platforms
Micro-lending platforms could connect smallholders in Africa with individuals elsewhere willing to provide finance to help the farmers to buy much-needed agricultural inputs. Mobile access to micro-lending platforms provides a free and secure way for rural borrowers to be matched to potential investors and gives existing microfinance providers access to those who need loans the most. Mobile payment records can be used as proof of credit history.
4. Mobile information platforms
Through mobile information platforms, farmers receive text messages with information that help to improve the productivity of their land and boost their incomes. Governments and agricultural support organisations can use the platforms to distribute information about available subsidies and programmes.
5. Farmer helplines
Farmers call a helpline and speak to agricultural experts who can provide answers to agricultural queries. The experts and researchers can use information on the issues raised to improve their understanding of agricultural trends and the challenges encountered by farmers in Africa.
6. Smart logistics
Smart logistics uses mobile technology to help distribution companies manage their fleets more efficiently – reducing costs for farmers and distributors, cutting fuel use and potentially preventing food losses. Devices in trucks communicate with a central hub via machine-to-machine (M2M) connections, providing information on truck movements. Logistics companies supporting input providers, agro-dealers or processors can combine this with information about delivery schedules, loads, trips planned, routes and number of pick-ups to minimise truck movements.
7. Traceability and tracking systems
Mobile technology can be used to track individual food products through the supply chain from grower to retailer. Detailed tracking improves supply chain efficiency and helps smallholder farmers, food distributors and retailers provide the traceability that is increasingly demanded by consumers. It can also help reduce food spoilage. Mobile phones can be used to log the location, quality and quantity of food items at key points in the supply chain. Agents buying products at a farm and workers at distribution centres can use mobile camera phones to scan product barcodes providing details of the items. This information is sent to a central system to give retailers, exporters and distributors a detailed view of product movements. This could help open access to new markets by meeting the requirements of the European Union, for example. Farmers can use the data to comply with certification standards such as Fairtrade and organic, and potentially charge higher prices for produce that complies with such standards.
8. Mobile management of supplier networks
Food buyers and exporters can use mobile phones to manage their networks of small-scale growers and help field agents collect information. Managing large numbers of small farms and growers requires networks of field agents, auditors and technical staff to gather a wide range of information. They carry out farm audits, check the quality and quantity of harvests, and report problems. Keeping detailed paper records for this information is inefficient, can be erratic and can lead to delayed decision making. Equipping field agents with mobile phones improves the supplier management process, providing a reliable, quick and cheap way of creating electronic records in a central database. Field agents visiting farms can use their mobile phones to input data on farmers’ locations, crops and expected yield. Farmers could also use mobiles to send information about their likely harvest date and other key indicators to food buyers and other organisations. Buyers and distributors could use this information to collect fresh food items more promptly and get them to market as soon as possible, reducing food waste and increasing agricultural incomes.
9. Mobile management of distribution networks
Distributors of farming inputs such as seeds and fertiliser could use mobile technology to gather sales and stock data, improving availability for farmers and increasing sales. It can be difficult for companies supplying agricultural inputs to monitor and manage their wide network of rural retailers. Communications and transport difficulties lead to information gaps. Retailers could record sales using a mobile camera phone to scan the barcode, sending this data straight to a central system for analysis. Building up a digital record of sales across a region could help distributors avoid supply gaps. Improved understanding of supply and demand could also help identify new market opportunities and tailor products to local needs.
10. Agricultural trading platforms
Linking smallholder farmers directly with potential buyers through a mobile trading platform could help them to secure the best price for their produce. Mobile trading platforms could help dealers locate new sources of food when supplies are limited and could help companies fulfil their commitment to sourcing from smaller and more diverse businesses.
11. Agricultural tendering platforms
Online platforms for submitting and bidding on tenders for food distribution, processing and exporting could make the agricultural supply chain more competitive and efficient. There are many distribution, processing and export agents in Africa and poor communications make it difficult to achieve competitive business contracts and tenders. Using mobile phones to access online tendering platforms could help users reach a wider supplier base and promote competition. For example, a food aggregator could advertise a tender to a processing facility. Distribution companies could browse tenders and submit their offers.
12. Agricultural bartering platforms
Mobile could help agricultural workers in rural areas exchange goods and services and improve communities’ livelihoods. For rural people with little or no disposable income, exchanging goods, services and skills with community members is an important part of their livelihoods. Using mobile, people could access an online bartering platform via their mobile phone, significantly extending the network of people to barter with. Users could register their location and the goods, services or skills they are offering, along with details of what they need in return. SMS adverts could be sent to subscribed users, prompting them to respond. Transient agricultural workers could also use the platform to advertise their skills and find work. Farm managers and owners could find workers at short notice, for instance when they need to harvest crops early to stop them being ruined by bad weather. Farmers could barter their surplus food items after a harvest so that food reaches community members in need, rather than spoiling in poor storage.

Australia International Centre for Food Security (AICFS)

28 October. The Australian government will establish an international food security centre to offer research and technical expertise to willing governments and institutions in Africa.The Australia International Centre for Food Security (AICFS) will be established in the second quarter of next year.

It will be set up at a cost of around US$37 million and be hosted by the Australian Centre for International Agriculture Research (ACIAR). Under the scheme African scientists will be linked to top Australian research bodies and tertiary education institutions to access solutions to the challenges of farming in tropical and sub-tropical environments.
Australian researchers will also train African scientists in the technology the country uses to cope with many of the environmental challenges it shares with Africa, such as its extreme climate, soil infertility and climate change.
Gabrielle Persley, adjunct professor at the Global Change Institute at the University of Queensland in Australia, said the centre will help African scientists develop drought-resilient crop varieties, an area where Australia has made great strides.
The centre will also develop vaccines for livestock diseases and conduct joint research programmes with African counterparts.
"Developing the capacity of African scientists and other experts in areas such as developing market access for smallholder farmers, and deploying Australian advanced technology in helping farmers cope with impacts of climate change will be major facets of this initiative," said Persley.
The building of the centre will be preceded by an international conference on African food security, in the first half of 2012. The conference will bring together Australian and African researchers to identify opportunities for cooperation. 

The centre will eventually have a branch in an as-yet-unidentified African country. The priority of AICFS will be to achieve food and nutritional security but that it will in future phases move towards the commercialisation of smallholder agriculture.

Bio of Gabrielle Persley

Dr. Persley received her doctorate in microbiology at the University of Queensland, Australia. Her work is focused on the role of biotechnology in developing countries. She has published widely and is editor of a CAB International (CABI) published series of books on Agricultural Biotechnology. Her most recent publications are Meta review for the International Council for Science (ICSU) “New Genetics, Food and Agriculture- Scientific Discoveries—Societal Dilemmas” and “Biotechnology and Sustainable Development: Voices of the South and North”.

Dr. Persley spent several years in Washington DC as the biotechnology advisor to the World Bank, where she managed a number of biotechnology projects, in support of the applications of biotechnology in emerging economies. She is presently a member of the Steering Committee of the African Biosciences Facility, a NEPAD-sponsored center of excellence in biosciences, established on the campus of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), Nairobi, Kenya.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Innovations in Extension and Advisory Services

15-18 November 2011, Nairobi, Kenya. Over 400 academics, researchers, extension agents, farmers´ representatives, media experts, policy makers and representatives from international organizations and donors met in Nairobi to discuss innovations in extension and advisory services for food and livelihoods.

The Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation ACP-EU (CTA), the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA), the Global Forum for Rural Advisory Services (GFRAS), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), the African Forum for Agricultural Advisory Services (AFAAS), the New Partnership for Africa’s Development Planning and Coordinating Agency (NEPAD Agency), the International Centre for development oriented Research in Agriculture (ICRA) and the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) in collaboration with several national, regional and international partners including the African Network for Agriculture, Agroforestry and Natural Resources Education (ANAFE), Biovision, the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI), the Ministry of Agriculture – Kenya, the European Initiative on Agricultural Research for Development (EIARD), the University of Nairobi, the University of the West Indies (UWI) and the University of the South Pacific (USP) organised this an international conference to take stock of current policies, thinking and practice, successes and failures of ongoing and past reforms in extension and advisory services and build a coalition moving forward to specifically address meeting the future needs of small-holder farmers, marginalized communities, women and youth in a sustainable and cost effective manner. This conference integrated the GFRAS 2nd annual conference.

“With the global population approaching nine billion by 2050, we need widespread adoption of farming practices that can sustainably increase yields in a changing climate to feed more people, while also creating new job and market opportunities to address high unemployment and poverty,” Michael Hailu, executive director of the Netherlands-based Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation, was quoted as saying in a statement by the organisation, which organised the conference.
“Smallholder farmers - particularly women - produce the bulk of food in developing countries, often under difficult circumstances,” he added. “National governments and international donors must redouble their efforts to boost smallholder agricultural production if we are to reverse persistent food insecurity and rural poverty.”
Some relevant presentations on multi-stakeholder consortia on ARD:

Farmer-managed innovation funds drive multi-stakeholder learning processes.
Ann Waters-Bayer is an agricultural sociologist with ETC AgriCulture in Leusden, Netherlands. She specialises in social and institutional aspects of research and development, especially innovation processes that enhance local capacities to adapt to change.

She is also team member in two European Community-funded projects: JOLISAA (Joint Learning in Innovation Systems in African Agriculture), which operates in Benin, Kenya and South Africa; and INSARD (Including Smallholders in Agricultural Research for Development), which involves NGOs and farmer organisations in Africa and Europe. She has (co-)authored several books and articles on pastoralist development and on innovation processes involving smallholders in Africa.

Empowering smallholder farmers in markets: experiences in collaborative research with national farmer organisations to improve pro-active advocacy for smallholder market access.
by Giel Ton, LEI Wageningen UR, Agrinatura

Extension, advisory services and capability building along the value chain: Do partnerships between farmers and exporters lead to learning and innovation?
Maurice Bolo, African Technology Policy Studies Network (ATPS)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Outcome of the selection of Agricultural Innovation facilitators

Profile of the applicants
PAEPARD launched its call for Agricultural Innovation Facilitators (AIF) applications on first of August 2011. The applicants were asked to submit their application with a short C.V. by August 31, 2011.

Geographical origin (country) 
The AI Facilitator Workshop was initially scheduled for September 26th - October 1st 2011 in Kampala. The applicants were informed on September 12th that due to « technical problems » the workshop of Uganda was postponed. The selected candidates would be informed later of the new dates.

The PAEPARD Management Team Meeting of 5-7 October in Accra decided the Agricultural Innovation Facilitators’ Inception workshop will be held in Entebbe between 28th November and 2nd December 2011. 25 participants have been selected.

The screening of the 203 CVs was based on the geographical origin (country) and the profile of the applicant (research, farmer organisation (FO), private sector, nongovernmental organisation (NGO), ministry, consultant or other). The CVs have been evaluated on the relevant experience of the applicant with brokerage; identifying funding opportunities; facilitating inception workshops and facilitating learning.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Impact of the breakthrough pigeonpea genome mapping on poor farmers

The International Crops Research for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) and several partners, including China’sBGI-Shenzhen, have mapped the genome of the pigeonpea. The pigeonpea, or toor dāl in India, is an important food for millions of small farmers in semi-arid regions of Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Often dubbed “poor man’s meat,” pigeonpeas are high in protein and amino acids, and flourish in dry, hot regions. The new knowledge of its gene sequence will be used to breed more productive, disease- and drought-resistant varieties of pigeonpea. This video from ICRISAT elaborates on the breakthrough and some of its implications.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Guidelines for Non State Actor participation in CAADP processes

The Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme’s Development Partners Task Team (CAADP DP TT) Non-state actors range from anyone from farmers, donors, consultants, NGOs and other groups taking action to implement the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP).  

The paper by Ian Randall, Guidelines for Non State Actor participation in CAADP processes proposes structures and processes to ensure how non-state actors can participate and contribute fully in CAADP and the growth of African agriculture at the country, regional and continental level to boost participation from all parties involved in the process of agricultural improvement.

Another paper, “Creating Strong Stakeholder Engagement in Feed the Future: Suggested Strategy and Guidelines,”  highlights the need to engage civil society in all stakeholder dialogues, in order to enhance resource mobilization and the efficiency and effectiveness of all development outcomes.

Guidelines for Non State Actor participation in CAADP processes (2011; 1.31MB) These guidelines are written for all stakeholders committed to building broad and effective coalitions to lead the transformation of African agriculture. This includes Non State Actors themselves, Government bodies, and Development Partners.
French version>>>
Recommended Interventions to boost Non State Actor participation CAADP processes (2011; 214KB) Companion Document to the Guidelines for Non State Actor participation in CAADP processes.
French version>>>
“Creating Strong Stakeholder Engagement in Feed the Future: Suggested Strategy and Guidelines,” 
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: This brief is in response to a State Department request for civil society input on methods and mechanisms for stronger stakeholder engagement in the Feed the Future Initiative. It is part of an ongoing exchange on Feed the Future (FtF) topics between the InterAction community and officials at the State Department and USAID


10th November 2011. A dialogue platform bringing together stakeholders involved in Kenyan Agriculture, mainly drawn from Non Governmental Organisations, Civil Societies and Private sector to engage Kenyan government develop and harmonise agricultural pilicies in Kenya.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Video-mediated farmer-to-farmer learning for sustainable agriculture

From June to September 2011, Agro-Insight conducted a scoping study for SDC, GFRAS and SAI Platform on the production, dissemination and use of farmer training videos in developing countries, with a focus on sustainable agriculture. Literature was consulted, the internet screened, experts and users consulted and a global on-line survey launched in English, French and Spanish.

The survey was announced via various listservs, websites and blogs (Association for International Agricultural and Extension Education; CTA; eRAILS; PAEPARD; FARA-net; FFSNet; KIT; LinkedIn Association for International Agriculture and Rural Development; Prolinnova E-group; Swiss Forum for Rural Advisory Services; and various regional farmer platforms such as ROPPA, PROPAC, EAFF).

The on-line survey, with more than 500 respondents, indicated that research institutes, universities and NGOs are better linked to professional networks and hence more easily reached through the internet than extension services, radio stations and farmer organizations. Although feedback from the food industry was relatively low, most SAI Platform members were represented.
  • There is a general consensus that farmers need good agricultural training videos, but they do not browse the web in search of them. For watching videos they rely mainly on outside agencies.
  • Farmers would watch videos on their own with their family or neighbours if video disc distribution mechanisms were in place. And they are willing to pay for video discs and video shows.
Only about 20% of all respondents have never used video to train farmers and have never searched the web for agricultural videos. Many of those didn’t know where to look for videos, hadn’t found videos on the right subject or hadn’t found videos in their local language.

“I have viewed many agricultural videos in YouTube no doubt they were interesting. But I found that they were not relevant to the conditions of the farmers where I am involved in capacity building.” A. Thimmaiah, National Organic Program, Bhuta
About 85% of the respondents found local languages very important for farmer training videos. To ensure that videos are sharable and of use to the global community of extension service providers and farmers, producing many poor quality local language videos is not cost-effective. The zoomingin, zooming-out (ZIZO) approach shows how to make regionally relevant and locally appropriate videos. Organizations are willing to translate and use videos made in other countries if they are relevant and of good quality, and if video scripts are available. Lower quality videos serve intermediaries only and are rarely used to actually train farmers. The five priority areas for new video productions are: crops and trees, water management, plant health, soil health and farmer organizations.

The report compares the pros and cons of key models of farmer-to-farmer video production and dissemination, and discusses the implications for future capacity building and how each model could contribute content to a global web-based platform.

Most (82%) public and private service providers are keen on the idea of a new web-based platform devoted to agricultural training videos only. Many people opposed including advocacy and opinion sharing, but suggested a type of a discussion forum for users of the platform to exchange experiences on video production and use.

To reach farmers with agricultural videos, a new web-based platform is required, but not sufficient. Efforts to link people with different professional backgrounds and to establish regional and national communication, translation and video disc distribution mechanisms have to be established.

A new not-for-profit organization, called Access Agriculture, is proposed to facilitate content creation and sharing of agricultural training videos through its web-based platform and an evolving network of linkages and experts. Institutional set up and operational models for Access Agriculture have been discussed with SDC, GFRAS and SAI Platform, but are not included in this report.