Platform for African – European Partnership in Agricultural Research for Development

Thursday, May 28, 2020

WEBINAR: Impact of the COVID-19 on trans-boundary agro-commodity chains

28 May 2020. VCB-N webinar 4: The Value Chain Capacity Building Network (VCB-N), organised a series of Webinars on the COVID crises
  • This network provides professional advisory services and capacity building on Value Chain and Market System Development (VC and MSD) in Asia and Pacific Region (APR). 
  • It has been initiated by an IFAD-funded project Regional training network for scaling up pro-poor value chain programmes”. 
  •  The Network is drawing on experiences and expertise of Centres of Excellence (CoEs) from seven countries including Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam that specialized in professional training and capacity development on VC and MSD.
Some questions addressed during this Webinar 4 on agro-commodity chains (recording and report forthcoming) included:
  • How and to what extent are (international) agro-commodities chains interrupted by the pandemic?
  • How does the current COVID 19 pandemic impact the producers and the destination/consumer markets, at present, and in the long run?
  • What coping mechanisms are evolving to mitigate impacts and what recovery efforts are taking place?
  • How can Public-Private Partnerships play a role in mitigation and recovery efforts?
  • What will the “new normal” in the agricultural sector look like? And how can Public-Private Partnerships contribute to the vision of a more resilient agricultural sector?
Previous webinars
22 April 2020. VCB-N webinar 1The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on agricultural value chains

WEBINAR Climate Smart Agriculture: Loss of Biodiversity and the Uncertainties associated with Climate Change

This international technical webinar is part of the series organized by the FAO eLearning Academy, Agreenium (l'Institut agronomique, vรฉtรฉrinaire et forestier de France) and UN-ESCAP (United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific). These webinars are an opportunity for all of us to share experiences and lessons learnt, discuss challenges, and propose innovative solutions and models. They aim to provide a holistic and comprehensive view of current trends in thematic areas related to global challenges, by combining development research and innovation perspectives.

The main objective of these technical webinars is to give practitioners the opportunity to interact with international experts, United Nations officers, University professors, researchers and fellow participants, throughout the world. Webinars can be attended as interactive online sessions on Zoom, where sharing perspectives and asking questions to experts is encouraged. These sessions are also recorded and therefore available at any time, through the FAO elearning Academy:

  • Define the risks and uncertainties brought by climate change
  • Recognize the loss of biodiversity caused by climate change
  • Illustrate examples of climate smart agriculture as a response to increasing climate change issues
  • Federica Matteoli - Natural Resources Officer @FAO
  • Philippe Lemanceau - Senior Scientist INRAE
  • Philippe Lemanceau is a senior scientist at INRAE. He has coordinated a large EU project (EcoFINDERS) aimed at characterizing the biodiversity (i.e., microbiota & fauna) of European soils, their functioning and the provision of ecosystem services. He has also organized the first Global Soil Biodiversity Conference in Dijon, and held editorial responsibilities in international peer-reviewed journals.
  • Cristina Petracchi - Leader @FAO eLearning Academy

WEBINAR: Implications of the 2020 Global Food Policy Report for Eurasia

27 May 2020.Discussion on the Implications of the 2020 Global Food Policy Report for Eurasia Organised by IFPRI.

IFPRI’s 2020 Global Food Policy Report was officially launched on April 7 and highlights the critical role that inclusive food systems can play in maintaining food and nutrition security, looking specifically at obstacles and opportunities as well as the tools and technologies necessary for building inclusive food systems.

COVID-19 is having an immense impact on our health and food systems on a global scale, including in the Eurasia region. The coronavirus pandemic has an immediate and long-term effect on poverty, food insecurity, and malnutrition levels especially for poor and disadvantaged people in the developing world. Consequently, the need to work towards inclusive food systems is accelerated by the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Eurasian Center for Food Security at Lomonosov Moscow State University, Westminster International University in Tashkent together with the World Bank and IFPRI, discussed the report and the impact of COVID-19 on food systems in the Eurasia region.
  • Renaud Seligmann, World Bank Country Director for the Russian Federation
  • Sergey Shoba, Director, Eurasian Center for Food Security at Lomonosov Moscow State University
  • Kamiljon Akramov, Senior Research Fellow, Development Strategy and Governance Division, IFPRI
  • Johan Swinnen, Director General, IFPRI
  • Artavazd Hakobyan, Senior Agriculture Economist, World Bank Group
  • Komiljon Karimov, Rector, Westminster International University in Tashkent
  • Roman Romashkin, Deputy Director, Eurasian Center for Food Security at Lomonosov Moscow State University
  • Vardan Urutyan, Rector, Armenian National Agrarian University
  • Rajul Pandya-Lorch, Director, Communications and Public Affairs & Chief of Staff, Director General's Office, IFPRI

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

WEBINAR: COVID-19's Impact on Ugandan Agribusiness

27 May 2020. COVID-19's Impact on Ugandan Agribusiness

The Resilient Efficient Agribusiness Chains in Uganda (REACH-Uganda) project worked with partners of the Embassy of the Kingdom of Netherlands to survey many agricultural stakeholders throughout Uganda to understand how COVID-19 has affected their agribusinesses. 

The findings of this survey were presented. At the time of analysis, 89 private sector businesses had participated in the survey. This webinar highlighted not just the challenges presented to firms from Uganda’s private sector, but it also gave voice and agency to those who have found ways to innovate in this challenging business environment. 

* The video below starts at 1:21:15 with the statement of Joseph Nkuma of NUCAFE: "It is now more critical, more than ever before that institutions, organisations that bring together  farmers has become more and more important. (..) There is a need in a systemic way of empowering farmers to be able to access funding opportunities."

Mitigating the impact of COVID-19:
  1. Businesses are contemplating to sustain their operations by reducing the operational costs – reviewing the staff salaries/wages, working from home, laying off some staff, and suspending some activities. Some have asked for permission from the district COVID-19 task force to allow them to continue operating.
  2. Businesses have strategized the marketing of products and service delivery to the clients – door-to-door and adopting digital platforms for marketing and service delivery of products to the clients.
  3. Engaging the financial institutions to restructure the loan payment plan. Holding on/seizing advancements to farmers before delivering the outputs are key immediate considerations with some of the businesses.
  4. Digitalizing the payment system with the clients through mobile money has been targeted to enhance transactions for businesses.
Policy recommendations for support
  1. Requests for financial aid for partners to sustain their operations in the short run and/or post COVID-19 operations is the major exclamation for most of the businesses.
  2. The need for support to invest in transport equipment to facilitate the procurement and delivery of the products
  3. Seeking for long term financing aid to invest in value addition and reviving the struggling businesses is wanting. 
  4. Support to digitalizing businesses – marketing, payments, services deliveries 

Philomena Nshangano is executive director of Rubyerwa Dairy Investments Ltd. (RDI) a family business she founded with her late husband. RDI is a medium-size (80-hectare) farm in Rwanyamahembe Sub County, Mbarara District. The business draws its name from its 3 sites: Rubingo, Byembogo & Rwanyamahembe that keep different stages of herd structures. On average, RDI produces 800 liters of milk daily from 45 cows. The business has received several awards from Local Government, DDA, the African Union, and livestock Shows, and is regarded as a model Commercial Dairy Training Farm. With support from SNV/TIDE, RDI has trained 750 dairy farmers & workers. RDI has designed Dairy Operational & Financial record books and hosts interns from all educational institutions and many farm visitors.
Featured Panelists
Tobias Basson is managing director of Highgrow Agri Ltd. trading as Namakwaland farms in Uganda. Namakwaland is a social impact driven agricultural company that wishes to better the lives of Ugandan farmers through modern primary agriculture and value addition. Namakwaland’s main focus area in Uganda is Irish potato farming, working in ware potato production for retailers, processors, restaurants and local market. Namakwaland also supplies seed for the industry. Namakwaland also engages in exporting crops such as peanuts, sweet potato, and hot pepper. This is also one as part of crop rotation system. Maize for seed production is also planted. Namakwaland supplies jobs for up to 250 people, mostly women and youth and works with IFDC’s REACH-Uganda project, which connects the business with a network of over 5,000 Irish potato farmers.
Annet Kizza is the knowledge transfer country manager for East-West Seed. Kizza has managed several projects in the areas of livelihood WASH and governance; as a grant special specialist, she possesses wide knowledge on project management and resource mobilization. She is currently managing several country programs of East-West Seed aimed at promoting vegetable growing in Uganda. Kizza has worked with and managed for several donors including USAID, EU, and DFID. She has also worked as a consultant in organizational development for both private sector and government agencies.
Joseph Nkuma has spearheaded empowerment of over 1.5 million Ugandan smallholder coffee farmers using his innovation of the farmer ownership model that has increased farming household income by 250%. Nkuma has founded and established two national social enterprises: NUCAFE as Uganda’s coffee largest entrepreneurial employer and CURAD as Uganda’s largest agribusiness incubator. Nkuma successfully championed and influenced Government of Uganda to formulate the first ever Uganda National Coffee Policy in 2013, which supports farmers to own and add value to their coffee. Joseph has won NUCAFE many awards including the National Investor of the Year Award 2016 and Best Africa Farmer Organization of the year 2016 in income diversity.
John Tusasirwe is the current CEO of Transformation for Rural Development (TRAFORD) Limited. TRAFORD mainly deals in climate smart agriculture training, agro-input advisory and procurement, and produce marketing/trading in cereals, pulses, and oil crops. Tusasirwe has been a team leader/CEO at TRAFORD since 2016. He is currently giving both financial, production, and operation oversight to over 10 permanent staff coordinating TRAFORD projects supporting over 6000 youth and women in both Amuria and Dokolo districts; the two projects are co-funded by SNV and Heifer international.
Dr. Okoth Ochola Godfrey is a veterinary surgeon and CEO and founder of Asiima Agriconcern Ltd (2004), a family business run together with his wife Eva Ochola – marketer and co-director. Ochola specializes in the poultry value chain livestock subsector and has worked with the government for one year and with the private sector since 1990. Asiima operates in six districts in Uganda, employing more than 90 workers and supporting more than 3000 farmers indirectly. Asiima has assisted in training more than 2000 farmers, farmer groups, students, and interns with the support from these partners: AVSI/SKY, DANIDA, and Mukerere University. Asiima supports farmers through extension services from its veterinary pharmacy outlet in Kampala which doubles as a marketing hub for its products and services as well as a booking office for the DOCs.
Elijah Mwashayenyi is the Head of East-West Seed Knowledge Transfer in Africa, with the responsibility for resource mobilisation, partnership building, and management support to country teams. Mwashayenyi has 30 years of experience in the horticulture and development sectors. East-West Seed’s current work in Africa is focused on Tanzania, Uganda, and Nigeria but has prospects of expanding to other countries in future.
Kenneth Kagame is a retired medical professor of medicine. Since his retirement in 2011, his focus has been on dairy farming. Kagame’s 60-hectare farm is peri-urban, 12 km from Mbarara City centre. Ten hectares of the farm are devoted to bananas and fodder. Kagame keeps Friesian crosses, about 3F grade. Kagame is involved with a dairy cooperative Society, BUKAKA, under the umbrella UCCCU, in which he serves as the chairman. The cooperative owns a 3000-liter cooler and can collect and market milk for about 70 members.
Owoyesigyire Kenneth is the managing director of OKEBA Uganda, Ltd. He has over 8 years of experience in project management implementation of multi-donor-funded projects, and value addition processing and marketing. Okeba’s core business falls under three thematic areas (i) innovations for livelihoods, (ii) financing and distribution of agricultural inputs, and (iii) grain bulking, marketing and Logistics and transport. In partnership with SNV, OKEBA is implementing a Climate Resilient Agribusiness for Tomorrow (CRAFT) project in the four districts of Mubende, Kyejonjo, Kakumiro, and Kyegegwa. The project is empowering 8000 farmers to increase their incomes through increased production of soybean by use of Climate Smart Agricultural Technologies.

The webinar (Recording forthcoming) answered the following questions and more:
  • What are the current critical challenges faced by firms working in Uganda’s agriculture sector?
  • How have Ugandan firms led in business innovation?
  • What are the key gaps remaining that the agriculture business sector still needs help in bridging?

WEBINAR: Using technology to overcome challenges for farmers in value chains

27 May 2020. IIED blogpost related to their 24 March 2020 webinar. In this webinar hosted by the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) the panel discussed experiences of linking smallholder farmers to targeted services and buyers and to strengthen their position with other actors.

They considered questions of interest to practitioners working on similar issues in different contexts such as:​ 
  1. How can the platform best support farmers in their relationships with other actors?​ 
  2. What conditions need to be in place for the platform to work?​ 
  3. What challenges are likely to arise, and how can they be addressed?​ 
  4. What top tips are there for adapting the platform to other contexts (commodities, supply chains, geographies)?
  1. Stephen Muchiri, executive director of EAFF and CEO of e-Granary; 
    e-Granary is an online platform led by farmers via the EAFF that links all relevant actors in the value chain. It helps farmers strengthen their position by allowing them to jointly negotiate with buyers, finance and input providers, and access key services.

    For instance, EAFF negotiates supply contracts with buyers covering issues such as price, quantities and so on. e-Granary passes on the outcome of negotiations to farmers’ groups, who in turn provide feedback, which e-Granary incorporates and presents to the partners. Before the season starts, e-Granary carries out an assessment of past performances jointly with farmer leaders and other partners which informs future negotiations.
  2. Caroline Kariuki, project manager at VisionFund Kenya (VFK), a micro-finance institution
    e-Granary negotiated with VisionFund Kenya's (VFK) for lower interest rates and collateral requirements based on farm output. Farmers have been able to produce bigger quantities and increase their revenues as a result. 
  3. Daniel Nyagah, a farmer and user of e-Granary in Kenya
    e-Granary  assists farmers by providing credit, input and, importantly, training, and how they have managed to increase production.
  4. Giles Lewis, a grain and oilseed trader at Export Trading Group (ETG)
    ETG had set up a contract with e-Granary to provide fertiliser and purchase farmers’ produce at a minimum guaranteed price every season. For ETG this means better quality products and no need to negotiate with multiple producers – as would have been the case otherwise. 

The webinar focused on the e-Granary platform. Inspired by a similar project in India, this platform is an ambitious initiative from the Eastern Africa Farmers Federation (EAFF), a non-political, not-for-profit umbrella network of smallholder family farmers from across the region.

The platform is operating in collaboration with Export Trading Group (ETG), a leading integrated agricultural supply chain group, and VisionFund Kenya (VFK), a micro-finance institution that believes in brighter futures for children, empowering families to create incomes and jobs and unlocking economic potential for communities to thrive. Launched in 2016, e-Granary is currently serving about 240,000 farmers in Kenya, 15,000 in Uganda and about 5,000 in Rwanda.

The webinar was part of IIED’s Empowering Producers in Commercial agriculture (EPIC) initiative, funded by UK Aid from the UK government through its Commercial Agriculture for Smallholders and Agribusiness (CASA) programme. CASA seeks to increase economic opportunities for smallholders by demonstrating the commercial viability of businesses with significant smallholder supply chains and by attracting more investment into the sector.

WEBINAR of FAO: Sustaining food security and resilience in Africa in times of COVID-19

27 May 2020. This is the second edition of the "FAO Brussels Dialogues", a new concept launched by the FAO Liaison Office in Brussels to share FAO's expertise with the European Union, policymakers, academia, civil society, private sector and other partners and stakeholders. The FAO Brussels Dialogues are online events regularly taking place with a diverse panel of speakers focusing on current themes pertaining to food and agriculture that invite a global audience to interact and participate.

With over 60 percent of the African continent’s population in rural areas and dependent on smallholder or family farming, the risk from the COVID-19 pandemic to food supply chains, market access and nutrition is high. Lockdown measures have disrupted internal supply chains halting food production. Locust swarms continue to devastate crops in East Africa.
  • Rodrigo de Lapuerta - Director, FAO Liaison Office with the European Union and the Kingdom of Belgium
  • Laurent Thomas, FAO Deputy Director General
  • H.E. Josefa Sacko - Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture, African Union (AU)
  • H.E. Georges Rebelo Pinto Chikoti - Secretary-General, Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS)
  • Marjeta Jager - Deputy Director-General, European Commission Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development (DG DEVCO)
  • ​​​​​Marc Tarbella, Member of the European Parliament and the European Parliamentary Alliance against Hunger and malnutrition
  • Abebe Haile-Gabriel, Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for Africa, FAO
  • Mรกximo Torero Cullen - Assistant Director-General, Economic and Social Development, FAO
  • Dejene Tereza - Director Agribusiness Development, United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO)
  • Dominique Burgeon - Director, Emergency and Rehabilitation, FAO
  • H.E. Teneng Mba Jaiteh - Chair of the OACPS Committee of Ambassadors and Ambassador of The Gambia to the European Union

WEBINAR Urban food self-sufficiency and COVID-19

26 May 2020.  14:30 EAT (Nairobi).  Webinar on Urban Food Self Sufficiency: lessons learned from COVID-19 responses. 

Organised by  Food Rights Alliance (FRA) and Partners with support from OXFAM, HIVOS and Trocaire.

Recording forthcoming

World over cities and urban areas are characterized by high population of low incomes and wage earners. With the pandemic such as COVID19 urban populations have become highly vulnerable. In developing economies such as those in Africa (Uganda inclusive) there is limited or no adequate capacities to address the challenges and shocks that disrupt the food systems such as emergencies like a pandemic of COVID19 magnitude. 

In Uganda the options of the urban dwellers to return to rural areas was curtailed by abrupt directive that cracked down public transport to mitigate the spread of the virus to the countryside. Urban people were then trapped in their informal settlements. Government in response by supplying food portions to some urban dwellers. This too has been faced with many inadequacies in terms of quantity as well as quality since some food distributed has been found to be not of human consumption standard. Although the country has not recorded any COVID19 death, the causalities of its effect related to hunger outnumber the confirmed cases in the country.

With COVID 19 to stay with us for some time as WHO predicts, building the resilience of urban centers to food insecurity and shocks that emerge out of calamities and pandemics is of paramount importance. 
  1. What measures are being taken by Government at national and local level to mitigate the effects of COVID 19 on urban food systems? 
  2. What measures should be taken to ensure that actions taken by government to respond to the food demands during COVID 19 response prevent the urban food system to become a source of propagation of other food related disease? 
  3. What food practices need to be adopted by urban population to enhance their resilience to shocks that drive them into food insecurity even without a crisis like COVID 19? 
  4. What is the role of cities and local governments in responding to the emergency linking farmers with consumers – based on the National Agricultural Product Market opportunities?
May 27, 2020 1:00 PM - 2:00 PM CEST
The Resilient Efficient Agribusiness Chains in Uganda (REACH-Uganda) project worked with partners of the Embassy of the Kingdom of Netherlands to survey many agricultural stakeholders throughout Uganda to understand how COVID-19 has affected their agribusinesses. 

The findings of this survey are presented in a new webinar: “COVID-19’s Impact on Uganda’s Private Agriculture Sector: Business Leaders Reflect on Challenges and Opportunities for Innovation.” This webinar will highlight not just the challenges presented to firms from Uganda’s private sector, but it will also serve to give voice and agency to those who have found ways to innovate in this challenging business environment.

Download the Survey Report

The webinar will attempt to answer the following questions and more:
  • What are the current critical challenges faced by firms working in Uganda’s agriculture sector?
  • How have Ugandan firms led in business innovation?
  • What are the key gaps remaining that the agriculture business sector still needs help in bridging?

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Five stark COVID-19 warnings from the agriculture R4D sector

20 May 2020. By Francesca Billington. The agricultural Research for Development (R4D) sector is becoming increasingly relevant as potential crises loom. Some key warnings are surfacing from recent dispatches, reports and events across the CGIAR and around the globe. Here are five for us to heed:

1. Food supply chains and markets in the developing world are at risk
Researchers across centers predict food price increases, particularly locally for some vegetables and other perishables, as a result of transportation and value chain bottlenecks. And globally for some staples because of short-term and medium-term export restrictions that some countries have put in place. 

2. Now more than ever, we need nutritious food
Healthy diets are essential for building a strong immune system. But the economic crisis induced by COVID-19 is driving demand for fruits, vegetables, and animal-sourced foods down, writes IFPRI. This affects poorer households, especially women and children, most: “In the face of drastic declines in income, vulnerable households will quickly give up nutrient-rich foods in order to preserve their caloric intake.” Not to mention, disrupted supply chains can cut access to nutrient-dense foods.

3. Expect inequality to widen without comprehensive protection efforts
COVID-19 has the potential to widen gender inequalities. (...) Social distancing and lockdown procedures are affecting both rural and urban communities, causing issues ranging from gender-based violence to interruptions in public health plans. For many slum households in India, the responsibility to make money and support the family has fallen to women, often exposing them to unsafe environments. And basic sanitation is not accessible to many living in developing countries. 

4. Protect biodiversity and nature or we’ll see more – and worse – outbreaks
There’s a clear link between biodiversity loss and the rise in zoonotic diseases — a recent Scientific American piece explores how humans might be “creating the conditions for the spread of diseases” by cutting the natural barriers between virus hosts and themselves, says one disease ecologist. The era of infectious diseases is certainly not over, and the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) says Africa is catching up to Asia (ILRI) as a hotspot.

Scientists from the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) note that COVID-19 is just the most recent example of diseases that spread from animals to humans, and preventing the next one demands we safeguard biodiversity.

To better consider these linkages, experts are pushing for the One Health approach, which integrates human health, animal health, and ecosystems health — three systems often considered and studied in isolation from one another. This method encourages collaboration across sectors to drive solutions at the intersection of human and environmental health. ILRI is currently studying transmission patterns of diseases between livestock, humans, and wildlife, as well as the role environmental change has in disease incidents.

5. We won’t turn the corner without innovations, transformations, and R4D

The world is facing unprecedented challenges, and experts across the R4D sector are unifying to find solutions. While some answers have been developed and await implementation, others must be discovered. R4D is committed to focusing on the interlinked goals of COVID response, recovery, and food system transformation. 

WEBINAR: Sustainable Agriculture: Where Are We Headed After 2020? (Session 2)

Recording of session 2 forthcoming
  • What is the role of gender equality and financial inclusion in enhancing farmer livelihoods?
  • How can technology help mitigate risks and make global farming communities resilient?
  • What is the significance of sustainable supply chains in today's world?

Monday, May 25, 2020

WEBINAR: Food System Resilience - Global and Asian Perspectives

L’image contient peut-รชtre : une personne ou plus, texte et nature26 May 2020. Webinar on Food System Resilience - Global and Asian Perspectives.

This webinar is one of a series organized by the International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI) and its entities in Asia to share pertinent aspects and insights in science, food resilience, health research, and measures, as well as technological developments that can be harnessed to mitigate and address the longer-term impact of COVID-19.

Recording forthcoming

  • Introduction to ILSI - Mrs. Boon Yee Yeong, Executive Director, ILSI SEA Region, Singapore
  • Impact of COVID-19 on Global Food Supply Chain - Current Status, Implication, and Outlook into the Future - Prof. Dr. Shenggen Fan (see picture), Chair Professor, China Agricultural University, China (Former Director-General of International Food Policy Research Institute, USA)
  • Sustaining ASEAN Food Supply and Food System Resilience - Challenges and Opportunities (2020-2025) - Prof. Dr. Paul Teng, Dean & Managing Director, National Institute of Education International/ Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
  • The Post-COVID New Normal Environment, Possible Asia and Landscape and Industry Changes - Mr. Ping Chew, Head of Food and Agribusiness Research and Advisory, Rabobank Asia Pacific, Singapore
  • Moderator: Mr. Geoffry Smith, President, ILSI SEA Region, Singapore.

PUBLICATION: Biodiversity for Food and Nutrition

20 May 2020. “Biodiversity, Food and Nutrition: A New Agenda for Sustainable Food Systems”.

Current discussions on food systems emphasize the urgent need to embed resilience and 'build back better' for a healthier and more sustainable planet[1]. This week, as attention is given to the role of biodiversity in this transformation, a newly published book offers examples of how the many species and varieties around us can be leveraged to improve food, health, livelihoods, and ecosystem services:
  • In Brazil: National school feeding policies include Amazonian fruits on lunch trays and textbook covers after their high vitamin content was documented by regional universities and research centers.
  • In Kenya: Smallholder farmer groups grow African leafy vegetables and sell them directly to schools, improving local livelihoods and child nutrition, especially in times of harsh weather and food shortage.
  • In Sri Lanka: Women become their families’ primary earners through 'True Sri Lankan Taste' food businesses that utilize traditional varieties of grains, pulses, fruits, vegetables, and tubers.
  • In Turkey: nearly a million visitors flock to an annual herb festival to learn about foraging and cooking Aegean wild edible plants, a nutritious part of local cuisine and culture as well as an opportunity for niche marketing.
These four countries’ work on research, policy, markets, and awareness-raising make up the heart of “Biodiversity, Food and Nutrition: A New Agenda for Sustainable Food Systems”, the latest addition to the Routledge Earthscan series Issues in Agricultural Biodiversity.

Compiling lessons learned in dialogue with a global perspective, the book is the brainchild of the Biodiversity for Food and Nutrition Project, a multi-country, cross-sectoral initiative begun in 2012. Barriers and bright spots in promoting biodiversity for improved diets, livelihoods, and ecosystems are explored with insights from country partners, reflections by researchers, and consideration of how localized activities can be adapted to additional countries and regions.

With sections guest-authored by specialists on topics ranging from urban-rural linkages to sustainable gastronomy, the book will be of interest to policymakers, practitioners, and NGOs working on food and nutrition, as well as students and scholars of agriculture, food systems and sustainable development.

WEBINAR: What do we need for a gender-sensitive Covid-19 response in agriculture and food security?

21 May 2020. What do we need for a gender-sensitive Covid-19 response in agriculture and food security? Insights from research and practice. Organised by IFPRI.

This seminar brought together perspectives from researchers, civil society, and development assistance in a discussion of the elements of a gender-sensitive covid-19 response. Speakers will share what they have learned from research on the food price crisis and earlier pandemics; experience and insights from grassroots organizations and NGOs in India and Kenya; and views of funding organizations. They also presented an emerging gender research agenda to inform future programmatic and policy responses.

Opening Remarks
John McDermott, Director, CGIAR Research Program on Agriculture for Nutrition and Health (A4NH)


WEBINAR on Sustainable Agriculture: Where Are We Headed After 2020?

19 May 2020Webinar on Sustainable Agriculture: Where Are We Headed After 2020? 
Given the thin thread that our ecosystem hangs off and the vision to uplift and empower smallholder farmers, organisations must strive to drive sustainable practices and adopt agtech innovations to address the real threat of imperiled food security and realise the massive economic gains of a data-driven, sustainable agriculture. This webinar dived into:
  • Ways to Gender Equality, Improve Farmer Livelihood and Sustainable Supply Chains
  • Financial Inclusion of Smallholder Farmers, Risk Mitigation and Resilience
  • Overview of various sustainability and development issues in the agroecosystem from on-ground experiences 
  • Opportunities for the application of digital technologies and its impact on agricultural practice today 
  • Digitisation of farms and farmers to strengthen climate change adaptation and ensure better food security 
  • The challenges of smallholder farmers, and how agtech helps in socio-economic empowerment of women/youth in agriculture 
  • Reducing post-harvest food loss with optimal sourcing and procurement decisions 
  • Strategies to help the revival from the current disruptions to international trade and the toll on economies
  • Ganesh Neelam, Executive Director - Tata Trust CInI 
  • Harsh Vivek, Program Leader, South Asia Food and Agribusiness Advisory - IFC 
  • John Logan, Country Head, Kenya - TechnoServe 
  • Kunal Prasad, Co-founder & COO - CropIn 
  • Priti Kumar, Senior Agriculture Specialist - World Bank 
  • Vanessa Adams, Vice-President, Country Support and Delivery - AGRA

Upcoming webinar. 
Session 2
26 May 2020. 10.00 AM Amsterdam (CEST), 15.00 PM Hanoi, 16.00 PM Beijing. Webinar on
Sustainable Agriculture: Where Are We Headed After 2020? 
  • What is the role of gender equality and financial inclusion in enhancing farmer livelihoods?
  • How can technology help mitigate risks and make global farming communities resilient?
  • What is the significance of sustainable supply chains in today's world?

๐Ÿ’ฌ #JoinTheConversation on 26th May (Tuesday) as our eminent speakers discuss these and many more crucial questions related to "๐’๐ฎ๐ฌ๐ญ๐š๐ข๐ง๐š๐›๐ฅ๐ž ๐€๐ ๐ซ๐ข๐œ๐ฎ๐ฅ๐ญ๐ฎ๐ซ๐ž: ๐–๐ก๐ž๐ซ๐ž ๐€๐ซ๐ž ๐–๐ž ๐‡๐ž๐š๐๐ž๐ ๐€๐Ÿ๐ญ๐ž๐ซ ๐Ÿ๐ŸŽ๐Ÿ๐ŸŽ?" in the second of our two-part roundtable discussion.

๐’๐„๐’๐’๐ˆ๐Ž๐ ๐Ÿ:
๐Ÿ“† May 26, 2020
๐Ÿ•14:30 to 15:30 IST (GMT+05:30)

๐Ÿ”น Alan Johnson, Program Lead - Smallholder Supply Chains, IFC - International Finance Corporation
๐Ÿ”น Leesa Shrader, Program Director, Mercy Corps AgriFin Accelerate
๐Ÿ”น Lucy Muchoki, CEO, PanAAC - Pan African Agribusiness & Agroindustry Consortium
๐Ÿ”น Joe Boulier, Program Director - USA, Tanager
๐Ÿ”น Aakash Parekh, Vice-President, Europe & South-Asia, #CropIn

Guest Speaker:
๐Ÿ”น Jacqueline Njonjo, Africa Lead - Food Safety Program, IFC - International Finance Corporation

๐Ÿ”น Hemendra Mathur, Venture Partner, Bharat Innovation Fund

Zoominar V on The Role of Youth in Agri-Food System Innovation in the Context of COVID-19

21 May 2020. Zoominar V on The Role of Youth in Agri-Food System Innovation in the Context of COVID-19. Organised by FAO Regional Office for the Near East and North Africa FAO/RNE

Young people are driving innovation in agri-food systems and have a key role to play in achieving global food security and nutrition. The current crisis has brought both new challenges and opportunities for young innovators working to transform the sector. Paramount to ensuring that young people and their transformative ideas thrive is the ability of governments and partners to deliver an enabling environment and the business and technical support they need to grow.

The Zoominar addressed the following questions:
  1.  How have young ag-tech innovators been affected by the crisis? 
  2. How can governments and partners foster youth innovation in ag-tech during COVID-19? 
  3. What initiatives exist to support young people that can be scaled up and replicated?
  1. Othman Al Moamar, Chair, Y20 Engagement Group 
  2. Fatma Aglan, Agricultural & Youth Specialist, The World Bank – Egypt.
  3. Ramy Boujawdeh, Deputy General Manager, Berytech – Lebanon.
  4. Sulieman Qandah, Founder, Mushroom Box – Jordan. Mushroom box offers self-controlled incubators with the optimum conditions for growing mushrooms at home on a biweekly basis to save time and money and have a trusted clean source of fresh and healthy mushroom produce (research and development phase).
  5. Lara El Khoury, Founder, RiginO – Lebanon. RiginO is an end-to-end traceability platform enabling food producers and manufacturers to capture, log and track their data across the supply chain in order to expand market access, generate Business growth, improve brand image and company to regulation (early stage start-up).
  6. Hoda Steve and Maya Dohou, co-Founders, AfriCereal Group (mature start-up) – Benin – TBC. AfriCereal Group manufactures and provides threshing and winnowing services for paddy, soy and sorghum with motorized threshers. The services are accompanied by a digital AppRice application which alerts the producer to the weather conditions and allows producers to request services or offer their products.


WEBINAR: Poverty alleviation in cocoa, coffee and tea supply chains

26 March 2020. Yuca Waarts, senior researcher, sustainable value chain development, Wageningen University talks with Ian Welsh about the challenges developing living incomes for smallholder farmers and plantation workers. 

 She points out that the interventions that can make a difference for coffee, tea and cocoa production aren’t necessarily the same, with many factors impacting income levels, and argues that for many smallholders finding a way out of poverty is impossible with ever-smaller farm sizes. However, business can still help.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

PUBLICATION: Farm to Fork Strategy – for a fair, healthy and environmentally-friendly food system

20 May 2020. The Farm to Fork Strategy is at the heart of the Green Deal. It addresses comprehensively the challenges of sustainable food systems and recognises the inextricable links between healthy people, healthy societies and a healthy planet. The strategy is also central to the Commission’s agenda to achieve the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). All citizens and operators across value chains, in the EU and elsewhere, should benefit from a just transition, especially in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic downturn.

The COVID-19 pandemic has underlined the importance of a robust and resilient food system that functions in all circumstances, and is capable of ensuring access to a sufficient supply of affordable food for citizens. It has also made us acutely aware of the interrelations between our health, ecosystems, supply chains, consumption patterns and planetary boundaries. It is clear that we need to do much more to keep ourselves and the planet healthy. The current pandemic is just one example. The increasing recurrence of droughts, floods, forest fires and new pests are a constant reminder that our food system is under threat and must become more sustainable and resilient.

The Farm to Fork Strategy is a new comprehensive approach to how Europeans value food sustainability. It is an opportunity to improve lifestyles, health, and the environment. The creation of a favourable food environment that makes it easier to choose healthy and sustainable diets will benefit consumers’ health and quality of life, and reduce health-related costs for society. People pay increasing attention to environmental, health, social and ethical issues3 and they seek value in food more than ever before. Even as societies become more urbanised, they want to feel closer to their food. They want food that is fresh, less processed and sustainably sourced. And the calls for shorter supply chains have intensified during the current outbreak. Consumers should be empowered to choose sustainable food and all actors in the food chain should see this as their responsibility and opportunity.

“Making nature healthy again is key to our physical and mental wellbeing and is an ally in the fight against climate change and disease outbreaks. It is at the heart of our growth strategy, the European Green Deal, and is part of a European recovery that gives more back to the planet than it takes away.” Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission
“The coronavirus crisis has shown how vulnerable we all are, and how important it is to restore the balance between human activity and nature. At the heart of the Green Deal the Biodiversity and Farm to Fork strategies point to a new and better balance of nature, food systems and biodiversity; to protect our people’s health and well-being, and at the same time to increase the EU’s competitiveness and resilience. These strategies are a crucial part of the great transition we are embarking upon.” Frans Timmermans, Executive Vice-President of the European Commission


A Farm to Fork Strategy for a fair, healthy and environmentally-friendly food system
Brussels, 20.5.2020 COM(2020) 381 final, 23 pages

Press Material:
Documents accompanying the Farm to Fork Strategy:

WEBINAR: The Contribution of research and innovation in mitigating the impact of COVID-19 in Africa’s agriculture and food system

20 May 2020. WEBINAR: The Contribution of research and innovation in mitigating the impact of COVID-19 in Africa’s agriculture and food system. 3 pm CEST/CAT.

Organized by CAADP ex Pillar IV Institutions* and hosted by FARA, this webinar is the first in a series of e-forums the CAADP ex Pillar IV institutions to consult and sensitize stakeholders about the contribution of research and innovation in mitigating the impact of COVID-19 in Africa’s agriculture and food system.

The regional institutions mandated to champion the application of STI in Africa’s agriculture and food systems, namely FARA and AFAAS at continental level and ASARECA, CCARDESA, CORAF and NAASRO, at sub-regional level are leading the development of an inclusive strategy on deployment of STI to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on the continent’s agriculture and food system. This strategy is conceived to be integral to sector-wide strategies and interventions formulated by the African Union Commission (including the 16 April 2020 resolution of AU ministers of Agriculture), African Union Development Agency, Regional Economic Communities, national Governments and Development Partners.
  1. COVID-19 impacts (short. medium and long-term) whose solutions are principally rooted in research and innovation; 
  2. Identification of the priority interventions to be undertaken by Africa’s research and innovation system; and 
  3. Next steps in advancing from concept to action.

Background document:
Contribution of Agricultural Research and Innovation in Mitigating the Effects of COVID-19 in Africa. A CAADP XP4 Issues Paper for regional and continental eFORUM (May 2020, 11 pages)

"An obvious impact of the pandemic is that it has the potential to distract stakeholders from addressing pre-existing threats, such as climate change and change in ecological dynamics. With countries manage focusing all the attention the crisis, they are bound to be diverted from long-term strategic goals such as CAADP and the SDGs. This may cascade into unintended negligence of clear and existing threats to food and nutrition security." (page 8)

"While COVID19 is not an agricultural pandemic, it involves the humans within the agricultural system, which is not a traditional scenario of disaster preparedness in the agricultural sector.(page 9)

"Multi-disciplinary teams that link analysis of climate change impacts on agriculture should enable early warning and foresight towards appropriate policy interventions." (page 9)

22 May 2020. Webinar of the Africa Foresight Academy. 
Organised by FARA.

This virtual version of the Academy was hosted by the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) as a continental infrastructure for strengthening the institutional arrangements and the promotion of foresight activities on the continent in partnership with the Global Forum for Agricultural Research (GFAR). FARA’s approach to foresight seeks to foster a proactive attitude for communities faced with changes by unveiling uncertainties and using them as a means for action. 

 The basis of foresight in agriculture in Africa is to facilitate forward thinking capacity on how innovation and knowledge can best help surmount the diverse challenges facing agriculture, to ensure that agricultural research and innovation are more responsive to future agri-food system and related development need.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

WEBINAR: COVID-19 response ensuring food security in Asia

19 May 2020. WEBINAR EXTENSION AND ADVISORY SERVICES (EAS): at frontline of COVID-19 response ensuring food security in Asia 

Recognising that the impact of COVID-19 and response measures are not uniform across the globe, FAO’s Research and Extension Unit is organizing a series of webinars to discuss the role EAS in the context of the pandemic in different regions.
This first webinar focused on the Asia region and:
  • Explored and discussed the potential roles of EAS actors in providing essential services to the rural population in a short and medium term including socio-economic recovery;
  • Shared experiences of key measures that EAS actors are undertaking by adapting their capacity, activities, and operational mechanism to effectively respond to COVID-19.
  • Highlighted specific country examples from China, India and Lao People’s Democratic Republic and responses to overcome challenges of COVID-19 impact and related measures.
  • Extension and Advisory Services (EAS): at frontline of COVID-19 response ensuring food security – challenges and adaptations needed
  • Private advisory services to smallholder farmers for marketing perishable agro-products by E-commence strategy to mitigate impact of COVID-19 in China
  • Remote consultation and digital services to smallholder farmers on crop pest monitoring and control in case of COVID-19 pandemic in Sichuan province of China
  • Using Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) tools to support farmers with technical advice and marketing support during Covid-19 in India
  • Could COVID-19 crisis be a turning point for youth in agriculture, and what are the implication for rural advisory services in Lao People’s Democratic Republic?
  • Ms. Nan Bai, PinDuoDuo e-commerce platform, China. It is China’s second largest e-commerce platform based on their users and order numbers. With its existing network and infrastructure, PDD could quickly roll out measures in response to Covid-19 to help farmers sell their produce rapidly at better prices while providing much-needed resources such as training and farming supplies.
  • Mr. Zhang Mei, Senior agronomist at Plant Protection Station of Sichuan Provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, China. He has 14 years of experience in agriculture extension, has done a lot of technical research and application promotion in green prevention and control of crop diseases and insect pests, integrated control, application of new pesticides and new drugs and devices. 
  • Dr. Rasheed Sulaiman V, the Director of Centre for Research on Innovation and Science Policy (CRISP) at Hyderabad, India. Dr. Rasheed worked as Senior Scientist with the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) at the ICAR- National Institute for Agricultural Economics and Policy Research at New Delhi. Dr. Rasheed is a member of the Board of GFRAS (Global Forum for Rural Advisory Services) and he coordinates the AESA (Agricultural Extension in South Asia) Network.
  • Mr. Souvanthong Namvong, Deputy Head of the Division for Agriculture Information and National Project Director for Lao Upland Rural Advisory Services, Department of Technical Extension and Agro-Processing (DTEAP), Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF).
  • Dr. Delgermaa Chuluunbaatar, Agricultural Extension Officer, FAO
  • Mr. Sridhar Dharmapuri, Senior Food Safety and Nutrition Officer and Group Leader of the Agriculture and Food Systems Team at the FAO Regional Office for the Asia-Pacific in Bangkok, Thailand

WEBINAR. Supporting Farmers with Low-Cost Digital Tools During Covid-19.

The COVID-19 outbreak has created extreme vulnerability in the agriculture sector, impacting farmer livelihoods and resilience, food security, and agricultural market systems. Current disruptions—such as COVID-19—and future crises are presenting threats to the food supply chain. Because of this, global, local, and government organizations are increasing the application of digital tools and introducing new innovations to provide technical assistance to farmers from distance, when traditional in-person agricultural extension is impossible.

Recording forthcoming

While this pandemic presents many challenges, it also creates opportunities for digital tools to better serve farmers, as well as be adapted to assist public health responses, and prepare for new agricultural needs that arise.

This webinar, part of the virtual edition of the ICT4D Conference and ongoing ICT4D webinar series, discussed low cost digital and mobile technologies to support farmers under these unprecedented circumstances.

Discussion topics included:
  • Applying digital technology to provide smallholder farmers with customized and actionable information to improve their livelihoods
  • How to adapt your services to provide new COVID-related information and provide solutions to COVID-related market disruptions?
  • How to better understand and respond to (changing) farmers' needs with real-time feedback mechanisms?
  • How to build trust of farmers/program users at a distance?
  • How have you or will you adapt your user-centered design in this rapidly changing context?
  • Funding of digital technologies to help farmers weather the COVID storm
  • Future outlook: could this be an opportunity to disrupt the traditional agricultural extension system for more effective approached?
  • Dr. Anthony Whitbread, Research Program Director, Innovation Systems for the Drylands and Country Representative of Tanzania, The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) 
  •  Erna Goudt, Client Relationship Manager, eProd Solutions Ltd Jonathan Lehe, Chief Development Officer and Director of New Programs, Precision Agriculture for Development (PAD) 
  •  Ram Kiran Dhulipala, Theme Leader, Digital Agriculture and Youth, Innovation Systems for the Drylands, The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) 
  • Moderator Sonja Ruetzel, ICT4D Partnerships and Conference Manager, Catholic Relief Services