Platform for African – European Partnership in Agricultural Research for Development

Friday, August 31, 2012

African cooperation 'dropped from EU research calls'

European researchers may
now have less incentive to
seek collaborators in Africa
31 August 2012. Paula Park for SciDev.Net. From 2013, African scientists may be more likely to be left out of lucrative collaborations with European Union (EU) researchers, according to some policy experts.

A mandate for EU research groups to include African partners in projects was dropped from the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) 2013 calls for proposals for EU competitive research grant issued last month (9 July).

The calls cover 11 themes, including agriculture, water and energy, and are worth 8.1 billion Euros (US$10.2 billion).

In the FP7 grants for the period 2010–2012, researchers engaged in investigating a number of themes, including fisheries and biotechnology, were required to collaborate with at least one international group from Africa.

Some fear that in the absence of a specific mandate, EU researchers will be unwilling to collaborate with African peers. There are also concerns that the decision may affect calls for grants for Horizon 2020, the EU's 2014–2020 framework programme for research and innovation to replace the FP7, worth around US$100 billion.

François Stepman, European co-manager of the Platform for African-European Partnerships for Agricultural Research for Development (PAEPARD), told SciDev.Net that without requirements for African collaborations, many EU researchers will be reluctant to work with African scientists, believing it will not help their careers to do so.

"There's a decline [among EU researchers] in trying to include African researchers," Stepman said.

Young scientists keen on building careers are more likely to collaborate with US researchers, because this is more likely to lead to publications in international journals, he explained.

Stepman told SciDev.Net that EU scientists also worry African researchers can lack the administrative support available in developed countries, leading to challenges in "getting the reports in on time and in getting the finance".

"You have to do too much work to get them on board," he said.

The decline in partnerships will affect the ability of scientists to research subjects of mutual interest, including food security and price hikes, climate change, biofuels and genetically modified organisms, he added.

For African scientists, the fallout could be severe.

"Many African experts don't have access to research funding from their [own] countries," Kevin Chika Urama, executive director of the Africa Technology Policy Studies Network (ATPS) in Nairobi, Kenya, told SciDev.Net. "The EU research funding has been a pivotal avenue to partnership with EU researchers."

"A lot of African issues, such as the needs of the poor in rural areas, are under-researched," Urama added. "Some of these issues are not of interest [to European researchers]," he said, adding that a solution may be for the EU to set up a specific grant programme aimed at African researchers.

The move to drop the mandatory collaboration with Africa from 2013 calls for proposals reflects European political leaders' disquiet about the use of funds outside the EU generally, said Andrew Cherry, coordinator for the Network for the Coordination and Advancement of Sub-Saharan Africa-EU Science & Technology Cooperation (CAAST-Net).

However, Daan du Toit, minister counsellor for science and technology at the South African Mission to the EU said the move does not mean fruitful cooperation is not possible.

"All topics of this year's FP7 calls for proposals are open for African participation. African researchers have to identify, which ones are relevant for them, and ones where they can add value to the work of the European or international consortia — then participation will follow. In many of the topics in this year's calls African researchers are well placed to play an important part."

Michael Jennings, a European Commission spokesperson for research, innovation and science, told SciDev.Net there was a need "to better articulate science and technology capacity-building initiatives" to be supported with "collaborative research activities that can be selected and funded through FP7 and the upcoming Horizon 2020 programme".

Cherry told SciDev.Net that it remains to be seen how African researchers can participate in Horizon 2020.

Related article:
3 September. Nature. International Weekly Journal of Science

Announcement:Africa's role in solving the global food crisis

“Africa is the missing piece in the global food security puzzle. If Africa is seen as a problem today, it may very well hold the key to global food security tomorrow."–Pascal Lamy, Director General, WTO, speaking at Feeding the World summit in Geneva.

Africa has the greatest amount of arable land left fallow but very low current levels of trade in food. In contrary in less than 30 years Brazil turned itself from a food importer into one of the world’s breadbaskets. During those same 30 years Africa went from being a net food-exporting continent to being a net food importer.

15-16/11/2012. Africa's role in solving the global food crisis. Bringing policy-makers together with agribusiness, donors, farmer organisations and civil society FEEDING THE WORLD, a conference of the Economist, will discuss what Africa needs in order to reproduce the Brazilian miracle.

Debate topics:

  • What government policies will help Africa exploit its latent agricultural potential, enabling the development of vibrant markets in rice, maize, soy beans etc? 
  • How can farmers be supported with the skills, financing and access to markets that they need? 
  • How can new technologies boost yields and solve critical nutrition needs?

Le consortium Soja Bénin (CSB)

Le consortium Soja Bénin (CSB), une plate-forme multi-acteurs mis en place en avril 2011 par un groupe d’acteurs qui s’investissent dans la promotion de la filière soja grâce à l’appui technique et financier de l’IFDC.

Les membres de cette plate-forme ont rédigé et soumis au PAEPARD, une note conceptuelle du consortium soja au Bénin sur l’agro-business autour du soja. La note conceptuelle ont été appréciées a été accepté par les partenaires de PAEPARD pour soutenir l’initiative du consortium pour sa construction.

Tous conscients de la nécessité de s’impliquer d’avantage dans la promotion des chaînes des valeurs du soja dans lesquelles ils s’investissent. Le CSB regroupe aujourd’hui plusieurs catégories d’acteurs qui ont décidé d’unir leurs expériences, compétences pour une synergie d’action en vue du développement de la filière soja au Bénin.


Le Consortium Soja du Bénin regroupe plusieurs catégories d’acteurs. On peut citer :
  • Associations des producteurs (SOJAGNON, URPS B-Z, UNPS, UCP Z, …)
  • Union National des Agriculteurs Professionnels (UNAP-BENIN)
  • Organisations Non Gouvernementales (DEDRAS, CRADIB, CBDIBA, REPFED, Etc.)
  • Unités agro-industrielles (Triturateurs, Transformateurs locaux et Provandiers )

Le CSB regroupe tous les maillons des chaînes de valeurs du soja. Ci dessous vous trouverez la plaquette élaboree par le consortium.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

What can be done to reduce Africa's dependency on food imports

15 aug 2012. TV2Africa. VOA's Ndimyake Mwakalyelye talks with Faustine Wabwire, of The Bread for the World Institute, about what can be done to reduce Africa's dependency on food imports.

Mauritius Breadfruit Sector Consortium: 2nd Partnership Inception Workshop

8th & 9th August 2012. Food and Agricultural Research Council (FARC), Reduit, Mauritius. The Mauritius Breadfruit Sector Consortium organized a two-day Partnership Inception Workshop.

The overall objectives of the workshop were to:
(1) develop Concept Notes for each of the Research questions formulated from previous workshop and working sessions,
(2) discuss on possible funding opportunities,
(3) develop a partnership action plan.

During the two days of the workshop, the participants were exposed to presentations and group activities in line with the workshop objectives. The presentations served to increase awareness and understanding of the PAEPARD project in Mauritius and give an over-view of past activities of the consortium; to explain how to write project proposals and tap funding opportunities. Group activities were formulated to develop Concept Notes for the different Research Questions generated.

PAFO’s second General Assembly elects new president

23rd to 25th of August 2012. PAFO’s second General Assembly was held in Yaoundé, Cameroon.

The elections The new President is Mr. Bagna Djibo of Niger was elected to the position of Vice President of the Pan-African Farmers’ Organization (PAFO). He represents the Network of Farmers’ and Agricultural Producers’ Organisations of West Africa (ROPPA) and took over from Mrs Elizabeth Atangana of Cameroon representing Central African Regional Farmers’ Organization (PROPAC).

The following is the full PAFO executive board for the next two years:
  1. President: Mr. Bagna Djibo (ROPPA)
  2. Vice President: Mr. Felix E. Jumbe (President of SACAU)
  3. Treasurer: Mr. Phillip Kiriro (EAFF)
  4. Women Representative: Mrs. Elizabeth Atangana (PROPAC)
  5. Youth Representative: Mr. Ahmed Jarallah (UMAGRI)
Among other items, the assembly discussed the PAFO Constitution and Strategic Plan.


More and Better at the PAFO congress

PAFO had invited the closest cooperating partners to attend the congress as guests. Because of the short notice – and vacation time in many European countries, only the More and Better Network was present. The good and important cooperation between PAFO and More and Better was also underlined in the report of PAFO’s work since the founding congress. Here is their story.

The congress was called on a very short notice, less than three weeks. The reason was that the PAFO board had not been aware of one condition on the main funding: the money had to be spent before the end of August – or be returned to the donor. The small staff of PROPAC and the national farmers organization in Cameroun, CNOP-Cameroun, had done an amazing job to organize the congress. They got the government to make exceptions for visa rules so visa could be issued on the border for all delegates, background paper were prepared, banners, bags, pens etc. for the congress had been made, translation and technical equipment functioned perfectly, and all delegates stayed in a nice hotel where the meeting also took place.

The last evening, after the congress had finished, became a wonderful and memorable evening at a training center where the outgoing president, Elisabeth Atangana, started for farmers more than 15 years ago. The center, located in the Mfou village in the outskirt of Yaounde, runs an agricultural school of two years for 70 student, runs other short time courses, organizes conferences. The center has also farming activities with plant nursery, raising chicken and pigs. When the delegates and guests arrived at the center, we were met by African music and dance , and the entrance and outdoor area had been turned into a beautifully decorated restaurant where we were served wonderful locally produced food.

The day after the congress a national seminar for leaders of cooperatives and initiatives for new cooperatives took place at the center – with Elisabeth Atangana as the facilitator! She had been working day and night the last three weeks to organize the congress, and the first morning and the full day she headed the work of about 40 farmers from Cameroun. “We had planned this meeting before we planned the congress,” told Elisabeth, “I could not turn these people down and cancel the meeting because I had worked hard for the congress.”

Debate on cassava flour in bread intensifies in Nigeria

06 August 2012. Press reports in Nigeria indicate that on the eve of the introduction of a 15% increase in duties on wheat imports, the annual cost of Nigerian wheat imports had risen to US$4.1 billion. This measure, which according to USDA increased the import levy from 5 to 20%, was introduced as part of the policy to promote a substitution of cassava flour for wheat flour in bread. The measure is to be accompanied by an additional 65% levy on wheat flour, to bring the applied duty to 100%. As part of this policy, the government of Nigeria has not only increased import duties but is also offering corporate tax rebates to millers, with duty-free imports of all equipment for processing or blending cassava flour.

While bakeries are to be allowed 18 months to comply with new requirements, 10% blending of cassava flour with wheat flour is to be introduced in 2012, increasing to 40% by 2015. This is seen as creating new market opportunities for Nigerian farmers. In addition, despite initial political controversy over the health effects of the use of cassava flour in bread, the president of the Nutrition Society of Nigeria has come out in favour of blending requirements, arguing that by lowering the glycaemic index of bread, cassava-blended bread would help combat diabetes and would in addition be more nutritious.

There remains scepticism over the initiative, given the failure of a similar 10% blending requirement in 2005. Faced with opposition from millers linked to the quality of the cassava flour produced, blending requirements were first reduced and then abandoned. The 2005 experience and similar shortcomings in the 2002 presidential initiative on cassava have been cited as past examples that have discouraged investors from engaging with the new policy.

However, some companies have publicly endorsed the initiative and pledged support for the government’s blending objectives, and in June 2012 the Association of Small Scale Agro Producers in Nigeria (ASSAPIN) came out in favour of the use of cassava flour in bread. However, ASSAPIN warned that the government needed to consult and carry small-scale farmers along with the new initiative.

The current ‘cassava bread’ initiative offers considerable potential for job creation (estimated by the government at 1.3 million jobs), as well as increased returns to cassava farmers and foreign exchange savings.

However, cassava is a versatile crop with multiple uses. In addition to growing international demand for cassava as an animal feed, there is a range of existing national and regional markets for cassava-based food products. For example, gari, a manufactured cassava product, is consumed widely in all parts of Nigeria and in the region.

Expanding the use of cassava flour in food products will require the development of an efficient and well-integrated production and marketing system, in order to assure a steady supply of cassava products of stable, high-quality standards, with specific properties at appropriate prices. The Nigerian government aims to meet this challenge in part by expanding production from the current 35 million tonnes (Nigeria is already the world’s largest producer) to 51 million tonnes. However, a shortage of contiguous land for commercial development, linked to Nigerian land tenure systems, suggests the need for a greater focus on expanding smallholder cassava production.

At a regional level, the Nigerian government’s decision to ban cassava flour imports from March 2012 (despite the absence of any current trade) sits uneasily with regional trade policy commitments and regional initiatives to promote cassava production and intra-regional trade in cassava products.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Tanzania: Sh160bn fund planned for agriculture

23 August. Dar es Salaam. A $100 million (Sh160 billion) catalyst fund will be launched before the end of this year to help attract the private sector to participate in the implementation of the Agricultural Growth Corridor of Tanzania (Sagcot).

The fund will help prepare investment opportunities for local and international investors and it will also complement existing government and donor-backed financing initiatives in the agriculture sector.

The fund will also compliment other funding models including the Tanzania Agricultural Development Bank to be launched this year, the $25 million Danida backed-PASS facility, Agra/Stanbic Bank’s and Agra/NMB’s $25 million guarantee facility to support established and commercially viable agriculture business and the $5 million Africa Enterprise Challenge Fund window for Tanzanian agri-business.

According to the Sagcot blue print, the catalyst fund provides early ‘social venture capital’ to cover the start-up costs of commercially viable agri-businesses and other key investments.

The Confederation of Tanzania Industries chairman Felix Mosha urged farmers to get prepared to help in the transformation of Tanzania’s agriculture.

“After the catalyst fund is set regulations will be made clear on how to access the fund and what are the criteria for one to qualify for it,” said Felix Mosha.
Sagcot chairman (and SACAU board member) Mr Salum Shamte said the successful implementation of Sagcot will see an investment inflow of $2.1 billion from the private investment and $1.3 billion from the public sector by 2030. The result will be a tripling of agricultural production in about 350,000 hectares in Southern Tanzania. And at least 420,000 new employment opportunities will be created in the agricultural value chain and more than two million people lifted out of poverty. “We hope the outcomes of Sagcot by 2030 will lead to regional food security and annual revenue from farming of about $1.2 billion,” said Mr Shamte.

Already, there are investment opportunities to be undertaken in the five regions of Mbeya, Rukwa, Ruvuma, Morogoro and Iringa which form the special agricultural corridor of Tanzania. Investment will be in production of rice, sugar, banana, citrus, horticulture and pulses and keeping livestock. In Mbeya for example there will be the Mbozi seed farm of 3,000 hectare nucleus seed estate and irrigated outgrowers scheme for maize, soya, sunflower, sesame and pulses. In Iringa, there are seed potatoes at Mtanga farm for growing seeds and distribution on up to 100 hectare nucleus farm and throughout grower pragramme to provide improved seeds to farmers.

Major threats and opportunities for water and food security

The Stockholm International Water Institute released its report "Feeding a thirsty world: Challenges and opportunities for a water and food secure world", which will provide official input into the discussions to take place at the 2012 World Water Week in Stockholm on August 26-31.

Authored by a dozen experts from SIWI, the Food and Agriculture Organizations of the United Nations (FAO) and the International Water Management Institute (IWMI), the report provides new evidence that shows how continuing current trends in food production could lead to increased shortages and intense competition for scarce water resources in many regions across the world.

The report notes that 900 million people are hungry and two billion more people are under nourished in spite of the fact that per capita production continues to increase. With 70 per cent of all water withdrawals used in agriculture, growing more food to feed an additional 2 billion people by 2050 will place greater pressure on available water and land.
"Feeding everyone well is a primary challenge for this century. Overeating, undernourishment and waste are all on the rise and increased food production may face future constraints from water scarcity," said report editor Dr. Anders Jägerskog. "We will need a new recipe to feed the world in the future."
The authors spotlight a number of essential and largely overlooked challenges where dedicated action can help ensure food security to a growing global population with available water resources. These include:
  • improvements in on-farm water efficiency, 
  • reductions in losses and waste in the food supply chain, 
  • enhanced response networks to early warning systems for agricultural emergencies, 
  • and increased investment to close the gender gap in agricultural production. 
The report also investigates the impact of the recent surge in foreign direct investment to lease land in developing countries on local and regional water resources, a phenomenon that requires more stringent regulation to ensure that the water and land rights of local farming communities are upheld.

Related: Farmer-led irrigation schemes could transform food security in sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia. Study shows potential for smallholder water management innovations to boost crop yields and household revenue by tens of billions of US dollars
Media Release: Farmer-led irrigation schemes could transform food security in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.
Synthesis report: Water for wealth and food security: New research sheds light on huge potential of farmer-led innovation in water solutions. Results suggest that water management investment priorities should be reassessed to boost global food security and poverty alleviation.
Seminar: Sunday 26 August at Stockholm 
Investment Scenario Modeling Tool: to compare agricultural water investment options
26-31 August 2012. Stockholm, Sweden. World Water Week is hosted and organised by the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) and takes place each year in Stockholm. The theme for 2012 is: Water and Food Security.

26/08 Smallholder Agriculture + Water = Solutions to Rural Poverty & HungerCountry Perspectives: Achieving Policy Change by Linking Research with Decision Making
  • Ghana: Food, Water, Energy Nexus. Mr. Ben Nyamadi, Ghana Irrigation Development Authority
  • Tanzania: Government Investment in Smallholder Irrigation. Eng. Mbogo Futukamba, Ministry of Agriculture, Food Security and Cooperatives and Prof. Nuhu Hatibu, Kilimo Trust
26/08 Communities of Practice, Financial and Institutional Tools for Sustainable Water Management in Africa

Panel Discussion on Way Forward. Panelists:
  • Prof. Jumanne Maghembe (MP), Minister for Water, Tanzania
  • Dr. Laurent G. Sedogo, Minister of Agriculture, Water Resources and Fisheries, Burkina Faso, Sering Jallow, (AfDB OWAS)
  • Prof. A Szollosi-Nagy, (UNESCO-IHE)
  • Mr. Hama Arba Diallo, (GWP)
  • Mr. Dominic Waughray, (WEF-WRG)
Managing African Water Resources: Challenges and Opportunities
  • Co-Chair: Hon. Charity Kaluki Ngilu, MP, Minister of Water and Irrigation, Kenya and Hon. Issoufou Issaka, Minister for Hydraulic and Environment, Niger 
  • Moderator: Dr. Joakim Harlin (UNDP)
Regassa Namara, Senior Economist & Head of IWMI West Africa office GHANA, talks about outgrower farming schemes in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Branding Agricultural Commodities: The development case for adding value through branding

This paper examines the potential for branding agricultural commodities in developing countries. We look at how producers in these countries can exploit the same commercial marketing principles and supply chain innovations commonly used in the mature markets of the developed world.

Agricultural commodities matter to development. Commodity products such as sugar, coffee or beef contribute to more than a quarter of GDP in developing countries, where over 1 billion farmers derive at least part of their income from them. As most of these farmers are smallholders, raising the value of commodities can do much to reduce poverty.

Unfortunately, the trend has been the opposite. Modern food chains place increasing importance on branding, distribution and services — activities ‘downstream’ of farmers’ traditional role in supplying produce to markets. As a result, primary producers of agricultural commodities have been capturing less and less of the total value of their products. At the same time, power has become concentrated in the hands of a small number of buyers — the giant supermarket chains and manufacturers who dominate the global food market.

By branding commodities, producer countries and organizations can reverse this growing imbalance. Branding creates consumer demand, giving producers leverage in negotiations with major buyers.

A longer paper is also available

Incentives for sustainable cocoa production in Ghana

 Incentives for sustainable cocoa production in Ghana : moving from maximizing outputs to optimizing performance 2012

This study has been conducted and funded under the Multi-Annual Strategic Plan 2012-2015 of the Netherlands Embassy to Ghana, and carried out to provide an overview of the incentives system in the cocoa chain in Ghana and The Netherlands in view of mainstreaming sustainable cocoa production.

Communicating Agricultural Biotechnology in Africa

The International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA) has released several interesting reports and news items on crop biotechnology and its communication.

These include:

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Transfer Innovations From Research Labs to Farmers Fields

From left: minister of agriculture and 
rural development, Dr Akinwumi Adesina; 
Permanent Secretary, Mrs Fatima Bamidele, 
and president IFAD, Dr Kanayo Nwanze at a dinner 
in honour of IFAD president in Abuja
21 August. Ibadan, Nigeria. Kanayo F. Nwanze, the President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) delivered a keynote speech at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) about the critical role of research in obtaining food security for the country and beyond.
"No one is better placed to know conditions on the ground in Nigeria, and to discover solutions to the country's challenges, than Nigerian scientists themselves. We cannot and should not rely exclusively on research done in developed countries to address the needs of developing countries." 
Nwanze, a scientist by training, was previously Director-General of the Africa Rice Center for a decade.

As the largest producer of cassava, Nwanze said the country's agricultural sector has immense potential, and that research and development of rural areas are vital to its development. He said that scientists must understand the environment where their innovations and breakthroughs will be used, and the needs of the people who live there. If they don't, their research will never get beyond the lab.
"For research to move from the lab to the field, it needs to be supported by a strong extension system and enabling policies that link research to products and markets so that the applications benefit both the public and private sectors."

From left: vice chancellor, university of Ibadan, 
prof Isaac Adewole; president IFAD, Dr Kanayo Nwanze and 
the director general, IITA, Dr Nteranya Sanginga, 
at a lecture on investing in agriculture for 
the future of Nigeria in Ibadan on Tuesday (21/8/12)
IFAD has worked in Nigeria since 1985, and today is partnering with the government on three programmes to strengthen the country's rural sector, with a special focus on women and young people. The new Value Chain Development Programme, which was approved by IFAD's Executive Board in April 2012, will help strengthen the existing extension system in Nigeria.

A strong extension system ensures the link between research and farmers, taking new technology from the lab to the farm. Through its interaction with small farmers, extension feeds back information to the scientists to adapt research results to the farmers' needs. The programme will take a holistic approach, driven by demand, to address constraints along cassava and rice value chains. Through an inclusive strategy, it will strengthen the capacity of producers and processors as well as public and private institutions, service providers, policy-makers and regulators.

Monday, August 20, 2012

An indigenous agribusines success: Shito, a traditional pepper sauce

African entrepreneurs have incredible potential to make African agriculture a dynamic, growth-generating sector that fills a growing market niche and engages the youth. However, small- to medium-scale food producers and processors face enormous challenges in building successful businesses, including access to finance, restrictive policy and legal environments, and a lack of technical and business skills.

Leticia Osafo-Addo, CEO of Samba Foods and recipient of numerous awards for entrepreneurship, shared her incredible story with attendees of the Partnership's 2012 US-Africa Forum in Washington, DC.

Samba Foods, a food processing company 

based in Ghana, was the first to 

commercially produce and sell packaged 

shito pepper sauces.

After returning to my home country of Ghana from Germany, where I had trained as a nurse-anaesthetist and intensive therapist, I set up an out-patient clinic in the village of Dawhenya and began to cultivate peppers on the side. As I considered how to add value to the produce I raised, I had a wonderful idea. Shito, a traditional pepper sauce that is a central part of the diet in Ghana’s coastal regions in Ghana, had become very popular among students in boarding institutions. Yet there was no ready-made shito on Ghanaian market shelves. This was the market niche that I identified and set out to capture.

I first tested the market by supplying a small number of processed shito products to markets in Accra. As my company was the first to produce, package, and distribute shito in commercial quantities, the sales were overwhelming. A new enterprise was born and christened Samba. Samba grew rapidly, and our shito products were soon found in department stores throughout Ghana. Samba shito accompanied the Ghana Armed Forces troops on peace-keeping operations around the world, and small quantities were exported to the U.S. and Europe.

Having achieved this success, it is clear that banks and other traditional finance institutions underestimated the resilience, tenacity, and determination of Samba. It is unfortunate that finance institutions, rather than assisting small enterprises in the identification of suitable solutions to their struggles, too often allow them to fold. SMEs in the agribusiness industry have the potential to lead Ghana’s development agenda through value addition to agricultural raw materials. With adequate support, Samba could become an indigenous agribusiness giant in Ghana and the sub-region—a household name that is recognized around the world and proudly associated with Ghana.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Coherence in Information for Agricultural Research for Development

Franz Martin (FAO) presenting on opening access

to agricultural research outputs CIARD Africa 
Consultations, Accra, Ghana19 - 21 June 2012

10 August 2012. Agricultural researchers in developing countries are keen to communicate their research to non-experts, but often feel hampered by institutional barriers and a lack of support, according to a survey published in the current issue of Agricultural Information Worldwide.

The results are based on responses from 1,500 researchers, the majority working in Africa, Asia and Latin America, and will be presented at the Global Conference on Agricultural Research for Development (GCARD) in Uruguay this October.

Some 80 per cent of respondents in all regions considered "contributing to alleviating hunger and poverty" to be a key driving factor for communication, and there was an overwhelming preference for open access, no- or low-cost routes for research publishing. Yet almost 85 per cent of respondents cited a perceived lack of institutional support and resources as the biggest impediment to communication.

In developing countries, particularly French-speaking ones, traditional channels — including journals, books and conferences — were still the most widely used platforms for disseminating research findings.

However researchers also expressed a desire for training in the use of digital communication platforms and social media, citing a "lack of workplace incentives" as the main reason for the low uptake of digital platforms.

The report was produced by the global agricultural research partnership CGIAR, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the Global Forum on Agricultural Research (GFAR), on behalf of the Coherence in Information for Agricultural Research for Development (CIARD).

The authors say that to improve science communication senior research managers should revise their policies to encourage individuals to change their behaviour.

"There must be enabling frameworks for change; if you don't provide enabling environments, you are not going to change the way researchers share their information," Franz Martin, an FAO staff member and co-author of the study.

Researchers demonstrate control of devastating cassava virus in Africa

August 7, 2012. ST. LOUIS, MO. An international research collaboration recently demonstrated progress in protecting cassava against cassava brown streak disease (CBSD), a serious virus disease, in a confined field trial in Uganda using an RNA interference technology. 

The field trial was planted in November 2010 following approval by the National Biosafety Committee of Uganda. The plants were harvested in November 2011 and results were published in the August 1, 2012 issue of the journal Molecular Plant Pathology . These results point researchers in the right direction as they develop virus-resistant cassava varieties preferred by farmers in Eastern Africa.

Researchers at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center and two partner institutions in Africa, the National Crops Resources Research Institute in Uganda (NaCRRI) and the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI), are working to solve the problem for African farmers through a collaborative project called Virus Resistant Cassava for Africa (VIRCA). The VIRCA project has been developing cassava with enhanced resistance to cassava brown streak disease (CBSD) and cassava mosaic disease (CMD).

China to Build Agricultural Research Facility in Mali

11 July. China plans to build a centre for agricultural research and technological demonstration near Bamako, Mali, to carry out experiments and technical training, and to contribute to the development of sustainable agriculture in the country, according to an agreement between the two governments announced last month .

The centre - to be built this year on a 20 hectare site in Baguinéda in the region of Koulikoro, 40 kilometres from the country's capital, Bamako - will focus on developing rice, maize and horticultural production. It will be built at an estimated cost of 55 million Chinese yuan (around US$8.6 million), with a loan from China.

Speaking at FOCAC, Chinese leader, Hu Jintao, said that that China had built 20 agricultural technology demonstration facilities across the African continent. China "will build more agricultural technology demonstration centres [...] to help African countries increase production capacity," Hu added.
Anastase Hessou Azontondé, head of the soil science, water and environment laboratory at the National Institute of Agricultural Research of Benin (INRAB), said the centre would use Chinese funds to "bring to Mali technologies developed by Chinese talent and experience".

It is part of China's soft power diplomacy and research strategy, according to Azontondé, who said: "The results will be most useful to Africa".

Monday, August 13, 2012

Strategies and Priorities for African Agriculture

July 2012.  International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI). Strategies and Priorities for African Agriculture (406 pages)

In the first decade of the twenty-first century, countries within Sub-Saharan Africa reached milestones that seemed impossible only ten years ago: macroeconomic stability, sustained economic growth, and improved governance.

Continuing this pattern of success will require enhancing the region’s agricultural sector, in which a large proportion of poor people make a living. The authors of Strategies and Priorities for African Agriculture: Economywide Perspectives from Country Studies argue that, although the diversity of the region makes generalization difficult, increasing staple-crop production is more likely to reduce poverty than increasing export-crop production.

This conclusion is based on case studies of ten low-income African countries that reflect varying levels of resource endowments and development stages. The authors also recommend increased, more efficient public investment in agriculture and agricultural markets and propose new directions for future research.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

wiki of the Mauritius Breadfruit Sector Consortium showcased at CTA Web 2.0 Learning Opportunity

27th July 2012. The closing ceremony and award of certificates of the Web 2.0 Learning Opportunity in Mauritius was held at the University of Mauritius. Some 50 participants were trained in 2 batches from 9-13 July and 23-27 July respectively.

Examples of how the workshop participants have started to use web 2.0 tools were presented by Mr. K.Boodhoo, lead trainer of the workshops. He explained to the audience that during the 2 workshops, 50 blogs have been created by participants and some of these blogs were showcased.

The wiki of the Mauritius Breadfruit Sector Consortium was also shown to demonstrate how such a platform (which is a web 2.0 tool) can enable remote collaboration in a multi-stakeholder partnership.

ARD funding opportunities


ASARECA calls for Concept Notes 
The Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in Eastern and Central Africa (ASARECA) has the following announcements for:
Research on Land Grabs and Food Sovereignty in Africa
Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA) invites proposals on the topic of the acquisition of fertile lands in Africa for outsourced food and fuel production, i.e., "land grabbing." Research working groups to address this topic are preferably multi-country, multi-disciplinary, inter-generational, and involving both men and women. The deadline for proposals is 31 August 2012.
Zoonotic Diseases in Sub-Saharan Africa
The U.S. Department of State and the African Biological Safety Association announce the Sub-Saharan Africa Biosafety and Biosecurity Grant Competition. The competition will provide financial assistance for biosafety/biosecurity upgrades at biological labs in Sub-Saharan Africa, with preference given to labs focusing on zoonotic diseases. Up to five recipients will receive grants of US$10 thousand each. The application deadline is 31 August 2012.
Awards for Agricultural Research and Science in Africa
Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM) announces the 2012 competition for the Impact Research and Science in Africa (IMPRESSA) Awards. The competition is open to agricultural researchers and scientists in the 29 RUFORUM member universities. Eligibility extends to individuals and teams. Nominations are due by 29 August 2012.
Call for Proposals "Open Science" 2012
The Agropolis Foundation is a French grant-making organization that supports inter-disciplinary research and higher education in agricultural sciences and sustainable development. Agropolis invites international partners to collaborate with scientists at Agropolis by means of the Foundation's fellowships and grants. The Foundation describes each type of award by purpose, eligibility criteria, level of financial support, and other details. Materials are available in French and English. The deadline for applications is 14 September 2012
The European Commission invites research proposals in the theme of Food, Agriculture and Fisheries, and Biotechnology. The program is open to applicants in the EU, Associated Countries, and International Cooperation Partner Countries (i.e., most developing countries). Following themes are relevant for Africa: KBBE.2013.2.3-02: Network for the transfer of knowledge on traditional foods to SMEs ; KBBE.2013.1.2-02: Legume breeding and management for sustainable agriculture as well as protein supply for food and feed ; KBBE.2013.1.2-04: Control of pests and pathogens affecting fruit crops ; KBBE.2013.1.2-05: Biological control agents in agriculture and forestry for effective pest and pathogen control ; KBBE.2013.1.3-02: Sustainable apiculture and conservation of honey bee genetic diversity. Details about the KBBE 2013 work program, eligibility criteria, etc., are included in the call announcement and its supporting documents. The closing date for proposals is 05 February 2013.

B I O D I V E R S I T Y 

Community Forest Management in Malawi
The EC will make grants to support the "Improved Forest Management for Sustainable Livelihoods Program (IFMSLP)," Phase II, a program of the government of Malawi. The program aims to improve the livelihoods of forest-dependent communities through participatory management of forests in forest reserves and on customary lands. Grants of €300 thousand to €500 thousand will be made to nonprofit organizations in the EU; EU candidate countries; countries of the European Economic Area; ACP countries (including Malawi) and Least-Developed Countries; and international organizations. Reference EuropeAid/133067/M/ACT/MW. The closing date for applications is 06 September 2012.
Fighting Desertification in Africa
L'Agence Inter-établissements de Recherche pour le Développement (AIRD) is partnering with the Pan-African Great Green Wall Agency (APGMV) and Brazil's National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq) to support tripartite research related to desertification in Africa. Themes are food and agriculture; management of natural resources; adaptation to climate change; and others. The geographical scope includes the countries of the African Great Green Wall: Burkina Faso, Chad, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, and Sudan. Proposals are expected to be tripartite to include participation from each of Africa, France, and Brazil. The closing date for proposals is 20 October 2012.
Africa Seed Grants  
Cleveland Metroparks Zoo has grants for wildlife conservation and research. The priority is for projects focusing on wildlife and habitat protection, human-wildlife conflict, sustainable environmental practices, capacity building, and conservation biology. There are no application restrictions by nationality. In both programs, the seed grants range from US$1,000 to US$3,500. The deadline for pre-proposals is 05 November 2012. Link
Round 2 of the CDKN Innovation Fund supports innovative thinking and action on climate-compatible development in the Africa region. CDKN invites innovative ("game changing") project proposals, learning materials, best-practice tool kits, policy briefs, and implementation strategies. Applicants are invited from African government institutions and other African partners. Round 2 will support two awards of up to £100 thousand each. Subsequently, CDKN may provide awards of up to £200 thousand each for implementation. The deadline for applications is 31 August 2012

Sustainable Livestock Production in Ethiopia
Colorado State University manages collaborative research on the relation between livestock and climate change (livestock-climate CRSP), with financial support from the U.S. Agency for International Development. The current call for proposals focuses on sustainable livestock production systems in the Borena Zone of Ethiopia. Eligibility extends to researchers at U.S. universities and their partner organizations in Ethiopia. Grants are up to US$500 thousand for projects of two to three years. The deadline for proposals is 20 August 2012. Note: The program also offers small grants to early-career professionals in East Africa who are engaged in applied research on livestock production in East Africa, with pre-proposals due 20 July 2012

ICTs for Addressing Water-Related Impacts of Climate Change
With funding by Canada's IDRC, the University of Nairobi announces research grants to use information and communication technologies (ICTs) for modeling water resources, weather forecasting, climate monitoring, community preparation for risks, and related topics stemming from climate change. The awards are open to citizens of developing countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America who are graduate-level university students in these regions. The maximum size of support is CA$15,000 for PhD candidates, and CA$7,500 for Masters students. Applications (English, French, or Spanish) are due before 14 September 2012

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

IDB moves to ensure food security in Africa

7 August 2012. The Islamic Development Bank has approved finances worth $ 275 million for a number of agricultural and water projects in some member countries in Africa as part of its efforts to ensure food security and boost development.

Ahmed Mohamed Ali, president of the bank, said: “The amount is allocated exclusively for the development of agriculture, livestock and water supplies in the rural areas of Cameroon, Chad, Uganda, Benin, Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, Mauritania and Togo.
  1. An important intervention of the five-year Special Program for the Development of Africa (SPDA) is in improving crop productivity of small farms in Sub-Saharan Africa, under which IDB provided $ 58.5 million for improvement of crop cultivation in small farms in Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameron, Mali and Niger.
  2. The bank also approved $ 52.4 million for a livestock and fisheries project in the northwestern region of Cameroon. It gave $ 40 million for the rice value chain development project in the plain of Chari-Lagone in Chad.
  3. Other recent IDB financing to support the agriculture sector include: $ 30 million for increased rice production in Uganda, $ 47.2 million for Dhar rural water supply project in Mauritania, $ 21 million for phase two of the integrated rural development project in the District of Kita, $ 2 million for the Millennium Villages Program in Mali and $ 12 million for a rural water supply project in Togo.

Michigan State University to Implement New Feed the Future Agricultural Research Training Program

7 August 2012. America’s Michigan State University has received a $7.3 million grant that will be channelled towards building the capacity of agricultural scientists in Africa as the continent struggles to achieve food security.

The project dubbed Borlaug Higher Education Agricultural Research and Development after Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Norman Borlaug, will begin in Ghana, Uganda, Mali, Mozambique as well as Bangladesh in Asia.

The program funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Bureau for Food Security will strengthen agricultural research institutions and support long-term training of agricultural researchers at the master’s- and doctoral-degree levels.

According to Eric Crawford, professor of agricultural, food and resource economics, the five countries have similar priorities seeking to increase agricultural productivity, reduce trade and transportation barriers, develop sound market-based principles for agriculture, accelerate rural growth and development and improving nutrition.

The project is part of Feed the Future, the US government’s global hunger and food security initiative, which aims at strengthening agricultural research institutions and support long-term training of agricultural researchers at the master’s- and doctoral-degree levels.

“MSU (Michigan State University) has 50-plus years of engagement in Africa, and we are currently managing several Master of Science and Ph.D. training programs whose objectives and program design are similar to those of this initiative. MSU faculty is well versed in planning, designing and managing training and human capacity-building programs, especially in plant breeding, food science and food security, which are key areas of Feed the Future."

The program which will kick off in 2013, will comprise of 30 master’s degree candidates and 10 doctoral degree candidates in its first cohort.

Global Food Security Index

Food security is defined as the state in which people at all times have physical, social, and economic access to sufficient and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs for a healthy and active life. Using this definition adapted from the 1996 World Food Summit, the Global Food Security Index considers the core issues of affordability, availability, and quality across a set of 105 countries. The index is a dynamic quantitative and qualitative scoring model, constructed from 25 unique indicators, that measures these drivers of food security across both developing and developed countries. The overall goal of the study is to assess which countries are most and least vulnerable to food insecurity through the categories of Affordability, Availability, and Quality and Safety.

While food security research is the subject of many organizations worldwide, this effort is distinct for a number of reasons. This index is the first to examine food security comprehensively across the three internationally established dimensions. Moreover, the study looks beyond hunger to the underlying factors affecting food insecurity. To increase the ongoing relevance of the study, the index will employ a quarterly adjustment factor for food price fluctuations to examine the risk countries face throughout the course of the year. Lastly, the EIU has created a number of unique qualitative indicators, many of which relate to government policy, to capture drivers of food security which are not currently measured in any international dataset.


OECD-FAO Agricultural Outlook report

OECD-FAO Agricultural Outlook 2012 | OECD Free preview | Powered by Keepeek Digital Asset Management Solution  

Increased productivity and a more sustainable food system will improve global food security

While markets appear to have entered calmer conditions after record highs last year, food commodity prices are anticipated to remain on a higher plateau over the next decade, underpinned by firm demand but a slowing growth in global production.

» Watch the press conference
» Read a summary of the report in a choice of languages
» Read the complete report online 

The importance of agricultural science and technology in meeting the world's burgeoning demands on food, feed and fuel have been highlighted in a major international report.

The latest OECD-FAO Agricultural Outlook report, released earlier this week, concludes that agricultural production must increase by 60% over the next 40 years to meet the rising global demand for food. This equates to an extra 1 billion tonnes of cereals and 200 million tonnes of meat per year by 2050 compared with 2005/07 levels.

Additional production will also be required to provide feedstock for an expanding biofuel market set to consume an estimated 16% of oilseed output, 14% of cereals and 34% of sugar cane by 2021. But with less than 5% more arable land available to bring into production, and 25% of existing farmland already degraded, the OECD-FAO report concludes that increasing crop productivity on existing farmland will be essential to contain food price rises and reduce food insecurity.

Friday, August 3, 2012

REPORT 2nd European Multi-Stakeholders Consultation

REPORT 2nd European Multi-Stakeholders Consultation on Agricultural Research for Development BRUSSELS (BELGIUM)

3-4 MAY 2012 July 2012, 35 pages 

The findings from the multi-stakeholder consultation will be used to guide the future orientation and activities of PAEPARD. In particular, the recommendations will help to shape the development of the new ‘user-led’ partnership development process. After a short Introduction, the report has two main sections. One is a synthesis of the main points arising from the plenary presentations and group work and includes recommendations for future directions for PAEPARD.

The other section includes a more detailed account of the presentations and discussions in both the plenary sessions and group work. The workshop programme, list of participants, participants’ evaluation of the workshop and selected background documents are included as annexes.

SYNTHESE EN FRANCAIS DU RAPPORT 2nd European Multi-Stakeholders Consultation on Agricultural Research for Development BRUSSELS

4 MAY 2012 Juillet 2012, 4 pages 

Presque 50 participants venant d’Europe et d’Afrique ont participé à une consultation du 3 au 4 mai 2012 à Bruxelles. Il y avait un bon équilibre entre les parties prenantes des secteurs de recherche, éducation, société civile, le secteur privé et la Commission Européenne.

3 thèmes globaux ont été discutés et certaines recommandations ont été formulées ci-dessous.

  1. Modèles de partenariat et évaluation en termes d’impact, couts et durabilité. 
  2. Influence des mécanismes de financement sur des modèles de partenariats 
  3. Leçons pour les activités d'orientation PAEPARD 
  4. Conclusions et prochaines étapes

ASARECA announced Calls for Concept Notes

The Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in Eastern and Central Africa (ASARECA) has the following announcements for Calls for Concept Notes 

  1. CALL Ref: ASARECA-RC09-NRM&B-2012: Title: Linking Integrated Soil Fertility Management gains to agricultural product markets 
  2. CALL REF: ASARECA_RC12_STAPLES-05: Title: Upscaling of new highland maize varieties in Ethiopia 
  3. CALL REF: ASARECA_RC12_LFP-02: Title: Validating Management Practices to control Napier stunt and smut diseases for increased feed availability in small holder systems of Eastern and Central Africa (ECA). (Call For Concepts) 
  4. CALL REF: ASARECA_RC12_LFP-04:Title: Validating the method using rumen liquor from slaughtered cattle as a source of inoculum for in-vitro gas production for forage evaluation 
  5. CALL REF: ASARECA_RC12_LFP-03:Title: Up-scaling environmentally friendly acaricide management for preventing and controlling Tick and Tick –Borne diseases in Eastern and Central Africa 
  6. CALL REF: ASARECA-RC010-NRM-2012: Title: Enhancing adaptive capacity of smallholders through the application of response farming innovations 
  7. CALL REF: ASARECA- RC02-AGROBIO-2012: Title: Validation of Tsol 18 vaccine for control of Taenia Solium cysticercosis in ECA countries 
  8. CALL REF: ASARECA- RC01-AGROBIO-2012: Title: Validation of Taenia Solium cysticercosis pen-side diagnostic kit developed by ASARECA and partner NARS in the ECA 
  9. CALL REF: ASARECA-RC12-PAAP-01: Title: Enhancing adoption of harmonised standards to drive commercialisation of root and tuber crops in eastern and central Africa 
  10. CALL REF: ASARECA-RC12-PAAP-02 : Title: Enhanced adoption of effective policies for increased regional trade in seeds in the ASARECA sub-region 
  11. CALL REF. ASARECA_RC12_STAPLES-01:Title: Upscaling Banana Bacterial Wilt Management Technologies/innovations in Eastern and Central Africa 
  12. CALL REF: ASARECA_RC12_STAPLES-02 : Title: Accelerating the Scaling Up of Innovations/ Technologies for of Quality Potato Seed Production in ECA

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Stage méthodologique d'appui aux innovations en agriculture familiale

31 juillet, 1er et 2 août. Gembloux, Belgique. Dernière phase de la réalisation du "Stage méthodologique d'appui aux innovations en agriculture familiale", co-organisé par GxABT et ADG.

Cette année, le stage a accueilli 15 participants (12 hommes, 3 femmes), tous professionnels dans le domaine du développement rural dans leur pays respectif. Ils proviennent de 8 pays différents : Bénin (4), Burundi, République Démocratique du Congo, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire (2), Niger (2), Cameroun (3) et République de Guinée.

Presentation par Aissata Sidibé MALAM ISSOUFOU (Niger)
Chaque jour, 5 stagiaires ont présenté  leur projet: une demi-heure a été consacrée à la présentation et une demi-heure aux débats avec le panel externe et les autres stagiaires. Voir la liste des presentations.

Tout au long du stage, les participants ont approfondi leur avant projet, selon la méthodologie du cadre logique et la Gestion Axée Résultat, s’appuyant sur de nombreux échanges entre eux et avec les encadrants et valorisant au mieux les réflexions et connaissances développées dans le cadre des cours et activités réalisées.

Un dépliant présentant le stage dans son ensemble et annonçant l'édition 2013 est disponible. L'appel à candidatures sera ouvert en septembre 2012 et ce jusque janvier 2013.