Platform for African – European Partnership in Agricultural Research for Development

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Engaging the health and nutrition sectors in aflatoxin control in Africa

23 - 24 March 2016. Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. A two-day workshop under the theme “Mitigating the Health and Nutrition Impacts of Aflatoxins in Africa through Uncommon Partnerships” was held at the African Union Commission (AUC).

The workshop brought together stakeholders from the health and nutrition sectors; including representatives from member states, Partnership for Aflatoxin control in Africa (PACA), AMERF Health Africa, African union Commission (AUC) and, Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) also recognizing the need for engagement with other sectors affected by Aflatoxins in order to identify synergies.

The objective of the workshop was to foster and reinforce multi-sectorial engagements for Aflatoxin control, particularly addressing health and nutritional hazards in Africa. The workshop is expected to increase awareness among health and nutrition professionals on the burden of Aflatoxins in Africa.

During the opening session Dr. Janet Edeme, Ag. Director of Rural Economy and Agriculture of the AUC emphasized that Aflatoxins pause a threat to food security health and natural trade as well as broad developmental efforts. She noted that the impact of Aflatoxins weigh heavily on human health and the evidence is widely spread on the continent as seen on the outbreak acute Aflatoxins recorded in Kenya and the chronic exposure data
in other countries like Benin, Ghana, Cameron, Egypt, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Gambia and Uganda. This exposure cases have been linked to nutrition consumption of law grade Aflatoxins contaminated food stuffs.

She further added that the Aflatoxins are ravaging the continent and our women who are most vulnerable tend to be the most affected, as children are exposed while carried in the womb and the maternal diets. It also continues through their
weaning diets which increases their chance of being malnourished and developing anemia or having impaired growth.

Dr. Amare Ayalew, Program Manager of Partnership for Aflatoxin control in Africa (PACA-AUC) stated that that Africa loses trade due to Aflatoxins which also undermine food security both in terms of the quantum of food rendered unfit and the low-grade contaminated food regularly consumed by millions of Africans. He underscored the bottom line to all these problems is the adverse health effects of Aflatoxins.

He further elaborated that recommendations that emerge from this workshop will forge a way for the
whole continent to mitigate the health impacts of Aflatoxins. Therefore, he urged to focus more on the solutions and actions that are necessary to jointly combat the problem.

Dr. Joachim Osur, Director for Regional programs and field officer of Amerf Health state in his remarks stated that as an organization they recognize that by eliminating Aflatoxin contamination they will not only be improving supply of plant foods such as maize and groundnuts but also safer animal foods leading to healthier and productive livestock. This will save governments huge amounts of funds currently being used to treat preventable illnesses. He stressed that tackling Aflatoxin is therefore not just a nutritional and health issue but a great development initiative that will help achieve a number of SDGs.

Speaking at the workshop Prof. J. David Miller professor and NSERC Research chair of Carleton
University gave a presentation on a World Health Organization report on mycotoxin control in low and middle income countries. He focused on child health and pleaded for action for the “benefit of our children”. He further discussed the IARC working group report which has been distributed to 30,000 people worldwide and is a basis for improved health in developing countries with a focus on human exposure to Aflatoxins and fumonisions.

During the press conference that was held on engaging the Health and Nutrition Sectors in Aflatoxin Control in Africa Dr. Edeme of the AUC highlighted that more than 5 billion people in developing countries are chronically exposed by Aflatoxins.

Dr. Joachim Osur, Director for Regional programs and field officer of Amerf Health Africa further added that the problem is at a community level and that partnering is done with communities to improve their health. He expressed that until the district health system is able to come up with an intervention that can be implemented, this will continue to be seen as a problem.

Mr. Greg Garrett, Director of Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) stated that 85 countries have mandated some kind of grain fortification and the central vitamins and minerals, and many of those are in Africa. However the bad news is some 25% of crops worldwide are infected with mycotoxin and what needs to be done is work with the PACA, the African Union and the government.

Ms. Martha Byanyima, lead expert of sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Programme of Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) reinstated that COMESA is elaborating on action plan where they can take solutions and actions to member states and coordinate collective actions to ensure safe nutritious supplies.

The following workshop materials are available:
  • Two Page Description of the workshop on “Engaging the Health and Nutrition Sectors in Aflatoxin Control in Africa”
  • Program of the workshop on “Engaging the Health and Nutrition Sectors in Aflatoxin Control in Africa”
  • Concept Note for the workshop on “Engaging the Health and Nutrition Sectors in Aflatoxin Control in Africa”
  • Brief bios of speakers and presenters at the workshop on “Engaging the Health and Nutrition Sectors in Aflatoxin Control in Africa”
The following workshop presentations are available for download:

Extract from the programme
Findings of the report on Mycotoxin Control in Low- and Middle-Income Countries.
Prof. David Miller (Carleton University, Canada) Chair of the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) Working Group

Related PAEPARD blog post
17 February 2016. Action against widespread mycotoxin contamination

Video interview with Prof. David Miller (Carleton University, Canada) Chair of the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) Working Group
Findings of the report on Mycotoxin Control in Low- and Middle-Income Countries.

Prof. David Miller gave in this interview following comments: It is essential

  • to assess the exposure to mycotoxins
  • to develop cheaper bio modeling techniques
  • to develop specific knowledge to better message and translate complex information [related to mycotoxin contamination]
  • European researchers have made notable contributions to bio monitoring in Africa
  • There needs to be a greater European recognition of better functioning and cooperation of our respective skills 
  • The European Union needs to think about how to work better together more critically

Monday, March 21, 2016

African Transformation Forum

14 - 16 March 2016. Kigali, Rwanda. Stakeholder consultation workshop on Africa's Agriculture Transformation.

The African Center for Economic Transformation (ACET), in partnership with the Government of Rwanda, convened the first African Transformation Forum (ATF).
  1. The first objective of the ATF was to facilitate knowledge sharing and peer learning across global and African luminaries from the public and private sectors. These participants contributed their rich insights, and uncover challenges and solutions for galvanizing economic transformation in Africa. The discussions fell into two categories: i) the coordinated development and implementation of national development plans; and ii) catalyzing transformation within critical sectors, notably: extractives; light manufacturing; agriculture; skills development; entrepreneurship; financial inclusion; infrastructure; and regional integration.
  2. The second objective of the ATF was to launch the Coalition for Transformation in Africa – a new leadership network organized in chapters, each addressing a specific thematic area. These chapters – and the policy makers, business leaders and development partners who constitute their membership – examined and developed implementable solutions for development. 
ACET wserved as the Secretariat for the Coalition, building consensus, coordinating activities and assisting the membership in securing funding to support their agreed initiatives. The chapters also report their progress at subsequent African Transformation Forums.

This part introduced perhaps the most critical component in the African economic transformative process – agriculture and the role it must play in delivering this. It argues that while raising the continent’s low productivity levels is essential, this is a more complex matter than has often been projected.

  • How can communal land tenure systems be reformed?
  • How to incentivize educated youth to go into agriculture?
  • What roles should the state play?
  • What is the scope of public-private collaboration?
  • What should be the role of external actors, including donors?

Forests for the Future – New Forests for Africa

16 - 17 March 2016. Accra, Ghana. This conference was part of the initiative ‘Forests for the Future – New Forests for Africa’ which aims at large scale reforestation in Africa. As finance is a key enabler the conference had a strong focus on the financial aspects of reforestation.

The conference was an initiative of the Dutch forestry consultation company, Form International, the sustainable forestry plantation company, Form Ghana, Nyenrode Business University, based in The Netherlands with a research focus area on biodiversity and business, and in close cooperation with The Forestry Commission, Ghana and the World Resources Institute.

Extract of the programme: Presentations would be made available on Friday 18 March 2016.‘Boosting investment in sustainable plantation forestry, afforestation and reforestation initiatives’
  • Mr. Abdoulaye Dagamaissa African Development Bank
  • Mrs. Pauliina Halonen Finnfund
  • Mr. Kyösti Pietola European Investment Bank
  • Mr. Tobias Dorenkamp DEG

Africa-EU Symposium on Renewable Energy Research and Innovation

8 - 10 March 2016. Tlemcen. Algeria. The Africa-EU Renewable Energy Cooperation Programme held an international research symposium.
(RECP) in cooperation with the Pan African University Institute for Water and Energy Sciences (PAUWES), University Abou Bekr Belkaid jointly

Participants included a mix of African and European experts from universities and private research institutions, complemented by representatives from: public sector, centres of excellence, international companies, business associations, NGOs and development partners involved in renewable energy research. Together, the contributors presented high-quality research on pertinent and relatable renewable energy developments on both continents. Participants outlined vital aspects for the continued success of renewable energy in Africa. For example,
  • The identification of the importance of academia in advancing renewable energy market, policies, and strategies. This included the need for more joint research projects for African and EU institutions, and increased awareness and knowledge of cooperation platforms and support instruments.
  • The recognition of the necessity for a people-centred approach in every research project on renewable energy in Africa. This incorporates the need to focus on cost-effective, household level off-grid solutions and the acknowledgment of the role of women role in: energy use, entrepreneurship, policy making and research.
  • The acknowledgement of the need for greater awareness regarding financing opportunities for renewable energy research and application.
Africa-EU Symposium_Programme
Africa-EU Symposium_Book of Short Abstracts
Africa-EU Symposium_Speakers Brochure
Extract of the programme:
Feedback by Private Sector Representatives

  • Ms Eva Kagiri, Senior Planning Officer, FinCEAL Africa » 
  • Mr Anthony Ighodaro, Steering Committee Chair, African Renewable Energy Alliance (AREA) » Eng. 
  • Matthew Matimbwi, Executive Secretary, Tanzania Renewable Energy Association (TAREA)
Support Mechanisms and Funds for Renewable Energy Research and Cooperation in Africa 
  • Overview on Africa-EU renewable energy research cooperation: Mr Jean-Paul Delattre, Managing Director, Resources and Logistics (RaL) 
  • Experience with Horizon 2020: Prof. Ancha Venkata Ramayya, Jimma University, Ethiopia
  • CAAST-Net Plus: Dr Eric Mwangi, Africa region coordinator, CAAST-Net Plus 
  • German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD): Mr Sherif Abdelrazek, Senior Advisor, DAAD

2nd Cassava World Africa

1-2 March 2016. The 2nd Cassava World Africa brought together people in plantation business and end users of cassava from food to biofuels to discuss the crop’s market outlook. From food and industrial applications, investment opportunities in the region, value addition, transportation and logistics challenges, industry players presented real business case studies, country-focused sessions, sustainable solutions to increase commercialisation and utilisation and provide answers to:
  • How out-grower scheme can bridge the production and marketing gap?
  • What are the solutions to current supply chainbottlenecks? 
  • How farmers can access improved seed varieties with higher disease-resistance? 
  • How to prevent cassava diseases? 
  • What kind of mechanization is available for farmers?
  • Where to source finances to enhance cassava mechanization and plantation?

A renewed partnership of CIRAD with Ivory Coast

11 March 2016CIRAD signed a general cooperation agreement with the Ivorian Ministry of Agriculture on 2 March 2016, renewing its partnership on agricultural research, appraisals and training. In particular, the agreement covers the topics of food safety and cocoa diseases. It follows on from those signed with the CNRA in 2014 and FIRCA in 2015 and confirms the resumption of operations in partnership between CIRAD and Ivory Coast.

Renewed cooperation on agricultural research, appraisals and training is the objective of a general agreement between CIRAD and Ivory Coast, signed on 2 March by CIRAD President Managing Director Michel Eddi and Ivorian Minister of Agricultural and Rural Development Mamadou Sangafowa Coulibaly.

This renewed partnership will centre on:
  • food safety, with a contribution to establishing a specific structure;
  • oil palm varietal improvement and seed production;
  • plantain banana, in terms of plantlet production;
  • pineapple growing, with the launch of a study to identify the problems associated with the crop;
  • mango, with regard to improving quality;
  • cocoa, with the extension of the study to map soil fertility in the Savannah zone of Ivory Coast;
  • rice growing, with the launch of CIRAD-CNRA-AfricaRice-Office National de Développement de la Riziculture (ONDR) collaboration.
Michel Eddi: "This agreement is the sign of a strong partnership dynamic and of a resumption of collaboration, which had been halted due to the situation in the country. I am keen for our researchers to return our partners in Ivory Coast very shortly, to work on agricultural development priorities. "
The signature, which confirms the resumption of operations in partnership between CIRAD and Ivory Coast, follows on from three previous general agreements signed with Ivorian institutions:

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Chinese businesses in Africa

Chinese businesses in Africa. Perspectives on corporate social responsibility and the role of Chinese government policies

China’s business engagement in developing countries has grown rapidly in the past decade through direct investment, contract projects and trade. This discussion paper explores the role that Chinese policies and guidelines play in governing Chinese companies overseas, through the experiences and perceptions of representatives in those companies. 

IIED presents the key findings of fieldwork in Mozambique, Kenya and Uganda during August–September 2015, including a survey and interviews with fifty-eight Chinese personnel working for Chinese companies in these locations. What emerges is a picture of a complex governance environment affecting the companies’ social and environmental behaviours — in which Chinese policies play only a small role.

PAEPARD welcomes its 6000th member

18 March 2016. PAEPARD welcomed its 6000th member. It has been a long way since the inception of this community in September 2009 to facilitate an online discussion of some 100 participants about the GCARD RoadMap (ahead of the first GCARD conference of Montpelier - March 2010). It's rather a coincidence that this "magic figure" is reached at the eve of the 3rd GCARD conference
(Johannesburg, April 2016).
The latest member wrote as motivation: To have access to cutting-edge agriculture related knowledge and information resources as well as [funding] opportunities. (18/03)


18 Mars 2016. PAEPARD vient d'accueillir son 6000e membre. C'est un long chemin depuis la création de cette communauté en Septembre 2009 pour faciliter une discussion en ligne de quelque 100 participants concernant le GCARD RoadMap (en préparation à la première conférence GCARD de Montpelier - Mars 2010). La coïncidence veut que ce «chiffre magique» est atteint à la veille de la 3ème conférence GCARD (Johannesburg, avril 2016).
La motivation du dernier adhérant en dit plus: Pour avoir accès aux ressources, connaissances et informations de pointe liées à l'agriculture ainsi que les opportunités [de financement]. (18/03)

Friday, March 18, 2016

Award for the Operational Food Security Network

Raymond Lataste and Laura Gualdi, group moderators

with Jean-Pierre Halkin Head of Unit - DEVCO C1
- Rural development, Food security, Nutrition
29 February 2016. The “Operational Food Security Network” (Réseau Opérationnel de Sécurité Alimentaire - ROSA) of Capacity4Dev received an award during DG DEVCO staff seminar. ROSA animated the second most active group on Capacity4Dev out of 109 public groups.

ROSA is an initiative of the Directorate General for Development and Cooperation – EuropeAid (Unit C1 – Rural Development, Food Security and Nutrition in collaboration with Unit R7 – Training, Knowledge Management and Document Management).

The objectives of the network:
  1. A place for information sharing and exchanges dedicated to food security
  2. The network has two complementary objectives: sharing information and exchanging experiences and knowledge in the field of food security
ROSA offers:
  • access to relevant information on issues relating to food security; 
  • a place for exchanging ideas, experiences and good practices;
  • regular updates on key subjects in the field of food security; 
  • a collaborative working tool which promotes interaction between network members.
Dowload the ROSA leaflet 

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Management Team meeting of PAEPARD at Gent University

8 - 11 March 2016. Gent, Belgium. Faculty of Bioscience Engineering, Tropical and
Subtropical Agriculture and Ethnobotany, Departement of Plant Production.

The 12th Paepard Management Team Meeting (MTM) was organized at the University of Ghent (UGent) with the overall objective of assessing the achievements of the project against the planned activities. The following items were covered:
  • Review the progress made in implementing 2015 work plan compiled in a technical and financial reports;
  • Consolidate year 7 work plan and Budget
  • Discuss the progress made in implementing the CRF and IF;
  • PAEPARD III/Exit Strategy of PAEPARD
  • Prepare the forthcoming meetings in which PAEPARD will attend: Steering Committee meeting, PACA meeting, GCARD3, Africa-EU summit (Addis Ababa); 7th AASW;
  • Governance of the project 
  • Discuss any other business raised by partners.
  • Working visit to PAEPARD new desk manager on the project at EC/DevCo
  • Visit of some departments of the university of Gent linked to PAEPARD
11 March 2016. Gent, Belgium. Department of Bioanalysis, Laboratory of Food Analysis Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences. Below is the compilation of the presentations made during the visit and meeting with Prof. Dr. Pharm.D. Sarah De Saeger and doctoral students (see below).

General problems associated with mycotoxin analysis in Africa were discussed:
  1. analytical tests are expensive; there is a lack of expertise, or a limited number of laboratories performing the tests; 
  2. there is a lack of technical support from companies selling analytical instruments; 
  3. turn-around times for results are generally poor: a farmer with production ready-for-the-market cannot afford to wait for 1 month for analytical test results; 
  4. small-scale farmers or informal markets are not aware of the potential harm caused by mycotoxins; 
  5. there is an increasing stringent list of regulated mycotoxins, and laboratories are not always up-to-date with corresponding analytical tests; 
  6. adopting EU regulations requires sensitive and accurate methods such as mass spectrometric methods.
Presentations were made by following doctorates:
  1. Melody Hove, Ugent, University of Zimbabwe (03/01/14 - now), “Human dietary exposure to mycotoxins in Zimbabwe and related risk assessment and management” 
  2. Cynthia Chilaka, Ugent, McPherson University (01/01/2015 - now), ” Fusarium mycotoxins and their masked forms in Nigerian foods: occurrence and influence of traditional processing methods”
  3. Lerato Motloung (South Africa – Master student, performing her thesis in my lab through Erasmus+)
  4. Abebe Ayelign (Ethiopia – PhD student at Addis Ababa University, but performing his analysis of biomarkers in urine in my lab)

This meeting was followed by a second meeting with a delegation of Entrepreneurs for Entrepreneurs. This organisation relates directly agribusiness initiatives with Belgian (SME) entrepreneurs. The delegation consisted of:
Luc BonteFreddy De Mulder ,  Guy Morre and Annemarie Lambrecht.
On the left side: Paul Nampala (Ruforum), Jonas Mugabe (FARA), Vesta Nunoo (FARA) and Stephen Muchiri (EAFF). 

Below is the portfolio of the projects supported by Entrepreneurs for Entrepreneur.

One of the projects is Harmony Nutrifoods for which PAEPARD mediated for funding from Entrepreneurs for Entrepreneurs.
Having mastered the art of food business during her university time, Jessica Nanyunja
immediately ventured into processing and packaging of banana fruit juice in the brand of “Harmony omubisi ” under the company name Harmony Nutrifoods Ltd. Jessica started banana juice processing with only 300,000 Uganda Shillings given to her by the elder brother as a handout gift. 
For the first time she produced 30 harmony banana juice bottles of 500ml from her mother’s garage. However, shortly after introducing her brand on market in 2008, her business venture temporally paused when she decided to go abroad in Belgium to do a master degree. On her return to Uganda in May, 2012 to conduct her PhD field work Jessica made a comeback into the banana juice business producing a banana juice product with the same original and natural taste just like the traditional omubisi but this time with a professional touch of a Food Technologist.
Harmony Nutrifoods Ltd, located in Buddo-Kisozi, Masaka road, has since expanded its sales to a number of clients including Peace restaurant, 2K restaurant, Magic parking, and Seshaz restaurant, and now operates its own depot shop opposite Christ the King Church on Colvile Street. Today, Jessica earns a monthly profit of about 4,000,000 million Uganda Shillings. Her advice to others who want to venture into the value addition business is simple “you don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to become great” proudly declared.

Looking for healthy eating? Go to Africa!

Many diets in Africa contain a plethora of
 nutritious leafy greens. Photo credit: Joan Baxter
A 2015 study published by The Lancet Global Health journal looked at the consumption of food (both healthy and unhealthy items) and nutrients in 187 countries in 1990 and then again in 2010. The aim was to determine which countries had the world’s healthiest diets.

It found that none of the healthiest ten diets is in a wealthy Western nation, nor are any in Asia. Most were found in Africa, which is so often portrayed as a continent of constant famine in need of foreign know-how and advice on how to eat and to grow food.

And yet, of the ten countries with the healthiest diets on earth, nine of them are African.

What’s more, the three countries with the very best diets are some the world’s poorest. Chad, ranked as having “very low human development”, 185th of 188 nations on the United Nation 2015 Human Development Index, has the world’s healthiest diet. After that come Sierra Leone and Mali, 181st and 179th on the same Index.

Many diets in Africa contain a plethora of nutritious leafy greens. Photo credit: Joan Baxter

The only non-African country on the top ten list is Israel, in ninth place. Other African nations with the best diets are, in descending order: The Gambia, Uganda, Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire, Senegal and Somalia.

This doesn’t mean that these countries have no food insecurity, hunger or malnutrition. But it does mean that it is time for a serious rethink on how “development” affects diets – especially among the development agencies, international institutions and donors in the (sometimes lucrative and self-serving) business of food aid or improving food security and nutrition in Africa.

The authors of the study conclude that their results have “implications for the reduction of disease and economic burdens of poor diet by lowering the consumption of unhealthier foods, increasing the consumption of healthier foods, or both”.
But this is unlikely to happen so long as the development initiatives claiming to improve food security and eliminate malnutrition in Africa fail to recognize that their technological and market fixes may well encourage a nutrition transition away from healthy traditional diets and foods. And in doing so, they may merely compound the problems caused by already high rates of undernutrition with a whole set of new diet-related health issues.

Regional Meeting on the harmonisation of Standards Cereals and pulses

Lillian Bazaale, the country director of EAGC, 
cautioned participants against coming up 
with a position that would not favour exporters
29 February - 4 March 2016. Mombassa, Kenya. Farmers and traders in East Africa dealing in cereals and pulses will have to observe common standards across the region when the process of harmonising them is finalised. Each country have their own standards, which poses a challenge to trade across the region.

But, in 2005, an effort was started to develop the same standards across the value chain for grains and pulses. This was accomplished in 2013. In total, 22 standards were developed but various stakeholders raised concerns about some of the conditions being too stringent to enable trade and, therefore, there was need for a review.

Prof. Archileo Kaaya (right) and
EAGC board chairman Dr. Benard Otim
(Credit: Francis Emorut)
Ahead of the regional meeting a consultation meeting was organised in Kampala. The consultation was aimed at arriving at a national common position regarding grains standards of maize, soya- beans, wheat, beans and rice attracted grain dealers, government officials and stakeholders in grain industry and was organized by Eastern Africa Grain Council (EAGC) in conjunction with UNBS and supported by Food Trade East and Southern Africa.

Prof. Kaaya, who is the head of department of food technology and nutrition at Makerere University, pointed out that maintenance of high quality standards is critical for the success of the grain industry both in Uganda and at regional level.

Monday, March 14, 2016

InfoPoint lunch-time conference - Hunger and Food Security

14 March 2016. Brussels. DevCo External Cooperation InfoPoint. An overview of the situation of food and nutrition security in the world was presented. Special emphasis was given to the current situation of El Niño, current droughts in Africa South of the Sahara, and potential policies that need to be put in place in the future to minimize these and associated risks.
  • Introduction: Jean-Pierre Halkin, Head of Unit - DEVCO C1- Rural development, Food security, Nutrition
  • Presentation: Maximo Torrero, Director, Markets, Trade and Institutions Division, International Food Policy Research Institute
Maximo Torero, points out that 31% of the food calories exported from African countries went to other African countries in the mid-2000s—a low proportion, but an improvement on the 14% rate ten years earlier.

12 March 2016. The Economist. Farming in Africa. Miracle grow.
After many wasted years, African agriculture is improving quickly. Here is how to keep that trend going  | From the print edition

SOMETIMES it seems as though Adam’s curse, which promises mankind a harvest of thorns and thistles, applies only to African farmers. The southern part of the continent is in the teeth of a drought, which has been blamed on El Niño.

The weather has been even worse in northern Ethiopia, where crops are shrivelling and cows are dying. But droughts, unlike biblical curses, end eventually. El Niño does not change the fundamental, remarkable fact about farming in sub-Saharan Africa: it is rapidly getting better.

The post-war green revolution that transformed Asia seemed to have bypassed Africa. But between 2000 and 2014 grain production tripled in countries as far-flung as Ethiopia, Mali and Zambia. Rwanda did even better (see article African agriculture. A green evolution). Farming remains precarious in a continent with variable weather and little irrigated land. But when disaster hits, farmers nowadays have a bigger cushion.

Economics of Land Degradation and Improvement – A Global Assessment for Sustainable Development.
Nkonya, E., Mirzabeaev, A. and vonBraun, J. Eds. 2016.
Springer Intl. Pub. -Open. 695p.

This book on Economics of Land Degradation and Improvement provides with valuable knowledge and information both at the global, regional, and national levels on the costs of land degradation and benefits of taking action against land degradation.

A key advantage of this book is that it goes beyond the conventional market values of only crop and livestock products lost due to land degradation, but seeks to capture all major terrestrial losses of ecosystem services. Twelve carefully selected national case studies provide rich information about various local contexts of cost of land degradation as evaluated by local communities, drivers of land degradation, and amenable strategies for sustainable land management.


Economics of Land Degradation in Sub-Saharan Africa
Economics of Land Degradation and Improvement in Ethiopia
Economics of Land Degradation and Improvement in Kenya
Economics of Land Degradation and Improvement in Niger
Cost, Drivers and Action Against Land Degradation in Senegal
Economics of Land Degradation and Improvement in Tanzania and Malawi

Saturday, March 12, 2016

The Malanville Innovation Platform (IP) and rice parboiling technologies

9 February 2016. The SARD-SC project rice component in collaboration with AfricaRice and INRAB have installed energy efficient GEM rice parboiling technologies and innovations in the Malanville Innovation Platform (IP) in the irrigated rice ecology of northern Benin Republic.

The formal launch of the Malanvile IP, which attracted almost 1000 women from the nooks and cranny of the country, witnessed the presence of policy makers such as the mayors of Malanville and Gaya, Niger. It also provided additional policy incentive to the operationalization of the IP.

To efficiently use and manage the Grain quality Enhancer, Energy, efficient and durable material rice technologies(GEM) facility, 538 women rice parboilers including 10 from Gaya in Niger, were trained on processing and adding value to locally produced rice. Over a period of two months, these women households learned skills on rice parboiling and value addition as well as the management of the GEM parboiling facility.

The training alone resulted in 8 tonnes of quality parboiled rice which is already attracting consumers within and outside the Malanville community. As part of the IP process, 12 youths (10 male and 2 female) are being facilitated to learn various skills on rice processing and adding value and operation of equipment and farming tools.

The formal opening was attended by the IITA/SARD-SC Coordinator, Dr Chrys Akem. He remarked that in general, the SARD-SC project has challenges in effectively addressing gender equity – active involvement of women in project activities. The deployment of the GEM rice parboiler in the Malanville IP has fully demonstrated that pairing gender sensitive technological innovation with institutional change, can significantly bring about gender mainstreaming in agricultural productivity programs and projects.

The Malanville IP also received milling machine and other farming equipment from AfricaRice through the Japan Emergency. One of the youths of the Malanville IP who was trained on the use of farming equipment indicated that with appropriate machinery, he realized that rice farming can be enjoyable and not a burden. He is motivated to start his own rice farm in addition to the help given to the household farms. The Mayor of Malanville, Dandakoe Inoussa said that “The GEM parboiler and other technologies and innovations should be rolled out in northern parts of Nigeria close to Malanville, as well as Gaya in Niger, because we are the same people. We share the same values and culture, and can easily share and learn productivity enhancing technologies and innovations to improve livelihoods.”

To date, over 1000 women households have been reached through the GEM technology and innovations in two IPs in Benin. The GEM is being rolled out in combination with enhanced packaging and branding of locally produced rice to attract urban rice consuming households and contribute to raising incomes of women and employment opportunities for youth in the rural economy. Already, Nasarawa in Nigeria and Gaya in Niger in consultation with their respective research institutes, have requested for the GEM technology and innovation and these will be deployed in Nigeria and later in Niger.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Rethinking Global Food Security

16 - 17 February 2016. Abu Dhabi. Third annual Global Forum for Innovations in Agriculture (GFIA). GFIA was aimed at harnessing global efforts to provide enough safe, nutritious food to an expanding population, and featured more than 300 next-generation agricultural solutions that could shape the future of sustainable farming around the world.

Extract of the programme:
Extract of the side events

Innovation Challenge: increasing the shelf life of cassava organised by The Rockefeller Foundation
  • The Rockefeller Foundation hosted an interactive workshop to spark novel ideas for how innovative solutions could significantly reduce post-harvest losses in the cassava value chain.
  • Session Facilitator: Amira Bliss, Associate Director, Rockefeller Foundation

Thursday, March 3, 2016

YieldWise: How the World Can Cut Food Waste and Loss by Half

At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland,  YieldWise was formally launched, a $130 million initiative to demonstrate how the world can cut food waste and loss by half by 2030.

This is the next chapter of The Rockefeller Foundation’s agriculture and food security work, which has spanned more than a century and several continents—from seeding the Green Revolution that fed a billion people across Asia and South America in the 1950s and 60s, to the work of the Alliance for a Green Revolution for Africa (AGRA) (in partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation), over the last decade.

Smart Power for Rural Development

23 February 2016. With a commitment of $75 million, The Rockefeller Foundation will launch Smart Power for Rural Development to promote sustainable business models that deliver renewable electricity and spur economic development among poor, underserved rural

The initiative will focus on India, where the Foundation is establishing a new organization that will partner with energy service companies (ESCOs), telecom tower operators, investors, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and government agencies to electrify 1,000 villages in the next three years (2014-2017). 

The Foundation will use the experience and insights from India to explore how to support greater economic development by scaling up a viable model for rural electrification in other geographies in Africa and Asia, and to contribute to a more dynamic global dialogue on addressing energy poverty.

Download Report

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

The African Union Kwame Nkrumah Continental Scientific Award

31 January 2016. Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Nigerian scientist, Professor Umezuruike Opara emerged the winner of the African Union Kwame Nkrumah Continental Scientific Award in the field of Earth Science.

Opara was conferred with the $100,000 award at the opening of the 26th Sessions of the AU Assembly of Heads of State and Government held at the AU headquarters.

His multi-disciplinary research team is the leading group worldwide working on postharvest practices that improve the postharvest handling, packaging and marketing of pomegranate fruit. Prof Opara is recognised globally as the leading individual researcher on postharvest technology of pomegranates. His research group also tests and develops packaging and quality control methods relevant to the handling and storage of fruits and vegetables such as table grapes, citrus and apples. 

These efforts are focused on alleviating unnecessary food loss and waste in the fruit and vegetable sector. His team also recently investigated the preservation and quality of fish, and the use of cassava flour to make bread with. 
"It is an honour to have one's work recognised on such a continent-wide scale, but credit should also go to my research team and industry for supporting my ideas and research interests," said Prof Opara, who graduated in agricultural engineering from the University of Nigeria Nsukka. 
He holds a PhD from Massey University in New Zealand. "Scientific research can play a crucial role in enhancing the profitability and sustainability of agribusiness," notes Prof Opara. "This award is particularly special because it also recognises the impact of our research on building human capacity in South Africa and Africa as a whole." Since joining Stellenbosch University in 2009, Prof Opara has mentored the studies of 18 PhD and 21 MSc students from 15 African countries. In 2015 he also received an IMPRESSA award.

3rd All Africa Horticultural Congress 
7-12 August 2016 
at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture Ibadan, Nigeria.

It will be a meeting place for science and business , where all stakeholders in horticulture in Africa and beyond interact. Whether you would like to present a paper or buy or sell products, this is the place to be. The theme of the Congress is 'Horticulture for improved livelihoods'

This will be addressed in  symposia with ample opportunity for all to be a part of the discussion . There will be a trade fair/exhibition to showcase the latest technologies and products in horticulture.

For more information, please visit the Congress website  OR the website of the international Society for Horticultural science ISHS | International Society for Horticultural Science .

India-Africa Agribusiness Forum

10-11 February 2016. New Delhi. This is in continuation to the spirit of deepening India-Africa cooperation in Agrifood sector echoed during the 3rd India-Africa Forum Summit held at New Delhi.

The 2 day international business forum had the sector experts and business leaders from across Africa and India for an action oriented agenda to unlock the potential that both India and Africa have for engaging in this sector. Following African Countries participated : Benin, Togo, Seychelles, Malawi, Gabon, Togo, Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Uganda, Liberia, Cote d’Ivoire, DRC, Mauritania, Swaziland, Rwanda, Benin, Namibia, Guinea Bissau, Guinea, and Senegal.

India is keen to extend Line of Credit (LoC) to least developed African countries for joint venture business initiatives in agriculture sector. (...) We hope to extend lines of credit to joint venture Agri-business initiatives in Africa to deepen our engagement in the agriculture sector particularly in LDCs (least developed countries) and thereby help to support food security in both our regions. (...) Initially started in four countries -- Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad and Mali, it had been extended thereafter to Malawi, Nigeria and Uganada. As agreed in the recent Africa Forum meet in New Delhi, it would be further expanded to Ghana, Togo, Tanzania and Zambia over the next five-year period. (...) Cotton is certainly an important crop in Africa as it is in India, but in many countries it continues to be exported as raw material without too much of value addition. The programme is an initiative to strengthen the cotton and textile sector in selected countries (of Africa)," Commerce Secretary Rita Teaotia 
Key Themes

  • Identifying the hotspots for agri-investments
  • Commercial farming: Unlocking the land potential - need, opportunities, how and where to engage
  • Logistical infrastructure development and management
  • Agri industrialization: role of mechanisation, transforming extension services, importance of processing zones & Agriculture corridors
  • Consumer oriented production chain and value additions to integrate in global value chains
  • Innovative financing for catalysing and sustaining growth
  • Resource use efficiency
  • Research & Development
  • Opportunities for cooperation in Dairy, poultry, fisheries & aquaculture
Extract of the programme:
Empowering Agriculture Ecosystem in Africa by leveraging Indian Innovation, Science and
Download the Study: Right click here and choose Save Target As..
50 pages
  • Innovation ecosystem in India is thriving earning the country reputation of top destination for innovation, Science and technology. The enabling infrastructure provided by the government as well as the private sector is serving as a catalyst kicking in innovations for the bottom of pyramid segment for effective and sustainable growth. 
  • A lot of these innovations are in agrifood space and given that India and Africa face similar challenges in the sector, both sides can benefit through knowledge and technology sharing. India can play a critical role in building an analogous innovation led culture in Africa. This session highlighted some key opportunities for collaboration between India and Africa in Agrifood sector with a focus of easily adaptable, affordable and accessible models. 
  • The discourse covered innovation trends in high attention areas like Seed technology, ICT in agriculture, Climate Smart agriculture, Precision agriculture, Innovative technologies for integrated pest and nutrient management, etc; explore possibility of ‘diffusion of innovations’ between India and Africa and also Identify areas of human and institutional capacity development to foster innovation and  facilitate effective dissemination of technologies
Transforming agriculture through farm inputs and machinery: Opportunities for collaboration 
  • Modern farm inputs (improved seeds, quality fertilizers and crop protection products) and state-of-the-art machinery are critical in building productive capacities of any nation in agrifood sector. 
  • This session focused on seeds, agro-chemicals and farm machinery and  identified the existing engagements between India and Africa and going beyond, what could be the future trends. 
  • The participants deliberated on the possible partnership models that could be looked at in future both at B2B as well as B2G levels for building the transformative capacities in the sector.  
Innovative financing for sustained growth 
  • India has over the last six decades developed various indigenous financing models that have spurred the growth of the sector and supported the marginal as well as commercial farmers. 
  • Today, when India and Africa are looking at engaging extensively in the agrifood sector, with a significant chunk of it driven by private sector, it is very pertinent to identify the innovative sources for financing trade, joint ventures, green field investments as well as technology transfers. 
  • These finances can come from donors, development banks, commercial banks, export-import banks and even as reinvestments from farmers themselves. 
  • This session evaluated different agri-financing models adopted by India and Africa; identified successful agri-financing models in African and Indian context; helped industry understand the new ways of financing agrifood ventures and suggest imperatives for government and industry to support such models. 

Agri Entrepreneurship for Opportunity Actualization (EOpAct)

18 February 2016. Accra. Launch of Entrepreneurship for Opportunity Actualization (EOpAct). Funded by the USAID under its Africa Lead programme, EOpAct will engage participants (individuals and SMEs) in "on-the-job" internship programmes at various firms where they will acquire hands-on vocational and managerial skills to become entrepreneurs, more employable or employers.

Agribusiness in Sustainable Natural African Plant Products (ASNAPP) is set to fully commence what is being described as the best skills development programme yet for people with interest or present involvement in agriculture and agribusiness value chains. Entrepreneurship for Opportunity Actualization (EOpAct) is focused on building the entrepreneurial and vocational skills of young people to take advantage of opportunities in the horticulture, livestock and grains sub-sectors within the vast agricultural industry.
  • The program also affords SMEs, working in the agribusiness sector and looking for improved technologies and innovations, an opportunity to be attached to firms to acquire these skills and improve their operational capacities.
  • The internship programme, which typically lasts for two months can be extended for up to 12 weeks.
  • The EOpAct program ultimately aims to increase the number of skilled agribusiness professionals in the country and contribute to increased food security across Africa. ASNAPP is still accepting applications and inviting more businesses to sign up.
In sub-Saharan Africa, agribusiness has a major role to play in the transformation of the agricultural sector. The demand for high-value food products is increasing, creating an opportunity for the production and export of these goods. To capture the benefits of this trend and capitalize on this for long-term agricultural growth, the capacity for agribusiness must be strengthened at all levels. To effectively build the necessary capacities, the skills built by agribusiness education and training must correspond to the needs of the agribusiness sector. 

This article examines what capacities are needed for agribusiness development and management in sub-Saharan Africa at the individual, organization, and policy process levels. By reviewing the current agribusiness education offerings, this article identifies capacity gaps that must be filled for agribusiness development and wider agricultural transformation.

IFAD and EU supported Initiative ‘Linking agrobiodiversity value chains'

2 March 2016. Proceedings are now available from an International Conference was held in Rome in April 2015 to launch the IFAD and EU supported Initiative ‘Linking agrobiodiversity value chains, climate adaptation and nutrition: Empowering the poor to manage risk’.

The conference brought together people with expertise in different areas to discuss the role of agricultural biodiversity in fostering more resilient livelihoods, and to solicit their guidance to refine the methodological framework.

The consultative process was strategic for promoting the interdisciplinary dialogue that is fundamental to the initiative, which follows a ‘holistic value chain approach’. This approach has been developed by Bioversity International during the last 15 years and has been successfully deployed for use-enhancement of minor millets in South Asia and Andean grains in Bolivia and Peru.

The initiative is applying this approach in three new contexts, working with fonio and Bambara groundnut in Mali, Mayan spinach and tepary bean in Guatemala and kodo and little millet in Madhya Pradesh.

The proceedings include abstracts of presentations on a range of topics related to the multidisciplinary initiative, and the results from working groups that provided key inputs to refine the monitoring and intervention plan for the Initiative around four themes:
  1. food and nutrition security under climate change
  2. value chain upgrading
  3. conservation of plant genetic resources
  4. empowerment of vulnerable groups.


Role of agricultural biotechnologies in sustainable food systems and nutrition

Helen Altshul, BecA-ILRI Hub's development partnerships
specialist made a presentation at FAO symposium in Rome
(photo credit: FAO/Giuseppe Carotenuto)
15-17 February 2016. Rome, Italy. This technical conference explored how agriculturalbiotechnologies can benefit small-holder farmers, particularly those in developing countries, who need to improve nutrition and strengthen livelihoods even as their production systems are constrained by climate change, population growth, and other socioeconomic factors.  

Through a series of keynote speeches, presentations and side events, the contributions of a wide spectrum of biotechnologies to sustainable food systems and nutrition was covered. A high-level ministerial segment took place on 16 February.

Participants at the symposium included representatives from governments, intergovernmental bodies, the private sector, civil society, research and academic institutions, cooperatives, and other producer and farmer organizations.

  • The symposium focused mainly on the broad range of biotechnologies that could result in yield increases, better nutritional qualities, and improved productivities of crops, livestock, fish and trees on which smallholder farmers’ food systems, nutrition and livelihoods depend. 
  • These biotechnologies encompass a wide range of low-tech to high-tech approaches which can make the development of improved varieties and breeds that adapt to the effects of climate change, faster and more efficient. 
  • Some permit the rapid diagnosis of diseases and pests while others are used in vaccine production and the reduction of the environmental footprints of agricultural production systems. 
  • The focus was on agricultural biotechnologies that are currently available and ready to use by smallholder producers, including low-tech approaches involving artificial insemination, fermentation techniques, biofertilizers etc. up to high-tech approaches involving advanced DNA-based methodologies. 
The increased use of biosciences by African national agricultural research systems (NARS) was highlighted by the BecA-ILRI Hub

In a presentation titled ‘Biosciences capacity building in Africa: lessons learned from the BecA-ILRI Hub’, development partnerships specialist Helen Altshul highlighted lessons learned from over a decade of supporting national programs in building their capacity to deliver on their national research mandate. Altshul emphasised the BecA-ILRI Hub’s demand-driven approach to research and capacity building underpinned by the Africa Biosciences Challenge Fund (ABCF) program. Through the ABCF, the BecA-ILRI Hub continues to contribute to strengthened research capabilities of individuals and institutions within NARS in Africa.

The presentation demonstrated how the BecA-ILRI Hub’s focus on enabling research innovations has produced important discoveries led by national researchers including:
  • Isolation of the new virus in pigs by scientists from Uganda and Kenya led by Charles Masembe from Makerere University in Uganda;
  • Production of new cross between maize and sorghum for crop improvement by Alexander Bombom from the Ugandan National Agricultural Research Organization (NARO);
  • Utilizing genetic diversity of local African chicken to improve productivity by Christian Keambou from the University of Buea in Cameroon; and
  • Contribution to the release of new sorghum varieties in Sudan by Rasha Mohamed from the Agricultural Research Cooperation