Platform for African – European Partnership in Agricultural Research for Development

Friday, February 27, 2015

International Conference on agricultural innovation systems in West and Central Africa

25-27 February 2015. Saly Senegal, Keur Halim, Mbour, Senegal. This conference provided an opportunity to bring the institutions involved in the implementation of a number of projects and other stakeholders together around agricultural innovation systems in West and Central Africa. the purpose was to assess the successes and weaknesses of the IAR4D approach and to explore together the perspectives and solutions for improvements.

One of the expected results is that the major findings facilitate the implementation of the second Operational Plan (2014-2018) of CORAF/WECARD in West and Central Africa.

In the late 1990s FARA proposed the Integrated Agricultural Research for Development (IAR4D) approach. The distinctive aspect of this approach is the integration of the value chain and the grouping the representatives of its key stakeholders within a platform. So the innovation is the result of the stakeholders’ activities and interactions within an Innovation Platform. In this new paradigm the researcher no longer occupies the central place.
  • In the sub-region IAR4D was demonstrated for the first time by the Kano – Katsina- Maradi (Sub-Saharan Africa Challenge Program) and DONATA projects. CORAF/WECARD adopted it as the basis of its strategic and operational plans. Thus since 2011, as part of a partnership with CSIRO and with the financial support of the Australian Government under the African food Security initiative –AFSI, CORAF/WECARD coordinates and facilitates the implementation of six (06) projects on sustainable intensification of integrated crop-livestock production systems, strengthening seed system and animal health in West and Central Africa. These projects cover 10 countries in the sub-region and have been implemented in conformity with IAR4D principles. Therefore, these projects- are one of the first wide experiences of the application of IAR4D paradigm in the sub-region. 
  • In the same period, another innovation system similar but not identical to IAR4D was promoted in the
    sub-region by the Convergence of Science Initiative (Cos- SIS). The Convergences of Science Strengthening Innovation Systems Programme (COS-SIS) was a 6 year initiative (2008 -2013) funded by DGIS. It is an action research programme involving 9 PhD students and a collaboration between Wageningen UR, The Royal Tropical Institute and Universities in Ghana, Benin and Mali. It is the second phase of similar programme that ran from 2001 to 2005.
  • CSIRO- DFAT Africa Food Security Initiative (2010-2015) – In 2010, CORAF/WECARD issued a competitive call for research projects to be supported by the Australian Government on sustainable intensification of integrated crop-livestock in West and Central Africa. The call was based on the assertion that integration of crops and livestock at the farm and landscape scales can be used for stimulating higher productivity that is also environmentally sustainable. It also recognised the importance of innovation across the value chain based on the principles of IAR4D.

Second Training Workshop on Digital Soil Mapping for Eastern and Southern Africa

23-27 February 2015. Nairobi, Kenya. The African Soil Partnership was launched through workshops held in Accra, Ghana and Nairobi, Kenya in 2013. During these workshops, the representatives of the African countries presented their priorities in terms of actions to promote sustainable soil management. A common gap was identified in terms of improving the availability of updated soil data and information for supporting decision taking in relation to soil management. Capacity development in this area was identified as priority in the region.

To this end, with the support of the European Commission the GSP has made efforts in order to respond to this demand by providing a Capacity Development Programme on digital soil mapping (implemented in Africa during October 2014 and January 2015).

Training material of the first Training Session (October 2014)

Trans African Network Development

3 February 2015. The Horizon2020 infrastructure support project TANDEM (TransAfrican Network Development) has successfully completed the evaluation stage.

The TANDEM project aims to create favorable conditions for WACREN (West and Central African Research and Education Network) to be able to participate in the forthcoming AfricaConnect project extension and to draw maximum benefit from it, and thereby to ensure WACREN’s integration into the global Research and Education networking community.

TANDEM’s long-term goal is to make it possible for researchers and academics to contribute with their peers around the world to the socio-economic development of the West and Central African Region.
TANDEM will include focus on services for user groups, including raising awareness of the benefits of eduroam and identity federations. 

The project will promote and reinforce, by focusing on research topics such as health, food security, the environment, connectivity and the implementation of global e-infrastructure services, the deployment of a Regional Research and Education Network (RREN) and their interconnection with the European Research and Education network (GÉANT). To be more effective towards this goal, TANDEM also includes among its partners DANTE, UBUNTUNET and CLARA, all of which are directly involved in issues related to global interconnections of international networks.

The end-users are:
  • Connectivity services (IP, VPNs, DNS, etc.); 
  • Mobility and authentication services (e.g. eduroam, identity federations, certificates); 
  • Applications which give access to data repositories, data visualisation tools, computing grids, etc.; 
  • Collaboration tools, e.g. web-conferencing, file transfer, user group management tools, meeting management tools, wiki, etc.
Duration : 24 months
Partners : IRD, WACREN, DANTE, RENATER, CIRAD, Sigma Orionis, Brunel University, UbuntuNet Alliance, RedCLARA

Processing Soya goussi in Benin

17 February 2015. ICRA/BoPInnovation Center/2Scale.  the Coopérative de Transformation, d’Approvisionnement et d’Écoulement de Soja (CTAE) is a cooperative of farmers in Benin that produce soya goussi, a by-product of soya that can be consumed in sauce and that people like.

Goussi made from soybean. It tastes almost identical to traditional goussi and is more nutritious, more profitable and far less labor-intensive to produce.

It’s easy to produce, cheap, and full of proteins, but hardly anybody knows about it. Together with the farmers, 2Scale is developing marketing activities to increase the sales. This means creating attractive packaging, promotion messages for radio and print and organizing sessions where people can test the food. 2Scale closely monitors the results of all marketing efforts so that the project can quickly adapt and scale up.

In less than 2 years, soy goussi has become the main source of protein for at least 11,000 families in southern Benin. 2SCALE is supporting a new CTAE pilot program that aims to increase this number to 15,000. Read more on soya goussi in the 2SCALE newsletter (Jan-March 2014).

Another product from a group of farmers is soy cheese. Again, the product is affordable and nutritious, but it doesn’t sell. Talking to the farmers, they all had a different view on the reason why too few cheeses are sold. Some said the taste was bad, others said distribution was the issue, others said the product looked unattractive. To find out the actual reason and increase sales, 2Scale will initiate a market research. 2Scale will interview retailers and consumers to find out which priority to address first. From there we will start educating the farmers on hygiene, create larger distribution networks and what else is needed to improve the production and marketing of the cheese, based on the research outcomes.

Related:To know more about Agri-business clusters (ABCs), you can have a look at the video United through markets: Building capacity for competitive agricultural systems and enterprises in W. Africa: 4 examples of Agri-Business Clusters in Ghana and Togo.

The Crop and Goat Project in Tanzania from a gender perspective

26 February 2015. This paper synthesises ILRI’s experience with the Crop and Goat Project (CGP) in Tanzania from a gender perspective.

Some findings were identified which are worthwhile pursuing in future similar projects. For example, access to and control over assets and the products and proceeds gained from them increased the independence of male and female household members as they can now make decisions with little dependence on resources of others.

The project has also been able to positively improve some of the key domains of gender empowerment, i.e. asset ownership, decisions-making ability and authority, independence, improved sense of worth, willingness and ability to question one’s status and capacity to negotiate relationships and change labour patterns.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Participatory research for social learning and conservation of forest fruit trees

Published on 11 Dec 2014
Bioversity International and Life Trust work with local communities of the beautiful forests of India’s Western Ghats - one of the planet’s major biodiversity spots. Different gender and socio-cultural groups were brought together to exchange their knowledge on native fruit trees. This resulted in the creation of a women’s group to sell new products from local fruits. The film documents the experience of Yenki and Nageveni, members of this women’s group, and Narasimha Hegde, the researcher who led the project in the field.

The short version of the film ‘Climbing to survive’ (5min) is centered around a story of Yenki, the woman who depends on forest resources for her livelihood. There is also a longer version'Participatory Research for Social Learning and Conservation of Forest Fruit Trees' (10 mins) which includes a couple of other interviews highlighting the way in which participatory research on forest resources was conducted and its value for social learning and better quality of data. You can read more about the participatory production of the videos in this post.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Dialogue on food security and Policy Coherence for Development hosted by European Commission

24 February 2015. Brussels. Dialogue on food security and Policy Coherence for Development hosted by European Commission - DG EuropeAid and CONCORD.

DEVCO co-hosted with CONCORD this conference aiming at facilitating a multi-stakeholder dialogue between the EU, civil society, representatives from the EU Member States and the European Parliament on the relations amongst EU policies and programmes and their coherence with food and nutrition security objectives in developing countries.

The conference contributed to build stronger ties between all the stakeholders involved. It was the occasion for civil society and the EU to present their vision on food security challenges and share understanding on key issues. It also explored ways to establish regular occasions for information sharing and exchange among the stakeholders. See: Meeting Agenda

This dialogue was also an opportunity to launch the report: 
  1. Policy Priority 1: Improve smallholder resilience and rural livelihoods
  2. Policy Priority 2: Support effective governance
  3. Policy Priority 3: Support regional agriculture and food and nutrition security policies
  4. Policy Priority 4: Strengthen social protection mechanisms for food and nutrition security, particularly for vulnerable population groups
  5. Policy Priority 5: Enhance nutrition in particular for mothers, infants and children
  6. Policy Priority 6: Enhance coordination between development and humanitarian actors to build resilience and promote sustainable food and nutrition security

High level planning meeting on scaling agricultural Innovations in Africa

Front row from left, Dr Yemi Akinbamijo (ED of FARA), 

Dr. Osman Badiane (IFPRI Africa Regional Director), 

HE Mrs Tumusime Rhoda Peace (Commissioner for rural Economy 

and Agriculture of the Africa Union) Dr. Stefan Schmitz (Deputy 

Director general, Special Unit “One World- No Hunger” BMZ)

and Dr Adugna W. Gemelal. (DDG EIAR, Ethiopia)
23-24 February 2015. Nairobi, Kenya. This 2-day workshop generated the framework for the implementation of the Program of Accompanying Research with Innovation (PARI), that is proposed to be implemented in 12 African countries and supported by the Government of the republic of Germany.

Policy makers, and technocrats from twelve countries in Africa and development partners from Germany discussed ways of scaling agricultural innovations in Africa within the framework of the One World No Hunger initiative spearheaded by the government of Germany in partnership with the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa.

One of the key aims of the meeting was to discuss ways of addressing issues that affects food security, agrarian livelihood as well as sustainable value chain development through scaling of agricultural innovations.

During Germany's G7 Presidency the BMZ will hold the chair of the G7 Food Security Working Group. The BMZ has suggested that the G7 develop an "expanded food security agenda" that goes beyond merely increasing production and promoting investment in agriculture to underline the wide-ranging significance of
food security. Initial ideas are currently being discussed.
23 Feb 2015 :  Interview of CNBC Africa with Yemi Akinbamijo - executive director at the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa. The role of agriculture in a country's economy can never be overstated, yet this vital sector has suffered from a myriad of challenges among them being insufficient budgetary allocation, however the use of technology and innovation remains key in unlocking Africa's potential through scaling of agriculture,

24 Feb 2015 : CNBC Africa continues to put a spotlight at the role of Agriculture in African economies, with special interest in how innovation can help transform the sector. Tumusiime Rhoda Peace, the commissioner for rural economy and agriculture at the African Union sheds more light on this.

Published on 12 Feb 2015
“Within one generation it is realistic to get rid of hunger completely and to reduce malnutrition considerably”, said Stefan Schmitz of BMZ’s ‘One World no Hunger’ initiative. In this interview with the Platform secretariat he emphasised that a world without hunger was indeed realistic and doable -- if only we all focused on it, donors and partner countries together. "That is our goal, and that is the key message,” he said.

28 August 2014. Berlin, Germany. Expert Roundtable and Public Discussion:A Green Revolution for Africa? - How to boost the productivity of African agriculture?

German Development Cooperation intends, according to the new Africa Policy, to contribute to the strengthening of agricultural value chains in Africa.

Which role can the 10 „Green Centres“, to be financed by the BMZ and implemented in cooperation with German Agro Business, play in this regard? How can the planned 10 vocational training centres for rural development contribute towards this end and how will the cooperation with the German private sector look like? 

Initiative Südliches Afrika (INISA) and Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung brought together experts and the interested public in order to enhance the debate on key preconditions and challenges for sustainable development of the agro-sector in Sub-Saharan Africa. 

Panel Discussion How to boost the productivity of African agriculture? 
  • Chair: Prof. Awudu Abdulai , Christian-Albrechts-University, Kiel 
  • Prof. Chinwe Ifejika Speranza, Bonn University 
  • Michael Brander, Senior Policy Expert, Biovision Foundation 
  • Dr. Susanne Neubert, SLE, Humboldt University, Berlin 
  • Prof. Keijiro Otsuka, National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies, Tokyo 
  • Dr. Aggrey Agumya, Technical Advisor to the Executive Director, Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) 
  • Dr. Stefan Schmitz, Head of Division, Special Initiative “For a world without hunger”, Germ


Africa Fertilizer 2015 conference

Prof. Mkandawire on the East and Southern Africa platform 
that is planned for October 2015 in Lusaka, Zambia.
18-20 February 2015. Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Africa Fertilizer 2015 conference. Over 350 delegates from
55 countries attended the conference. The conference received the highest ever number of attending delegates from Africa - including 10 delegates from Ghana, 20 from Ethiopia and 25 from Kenya.

Key speakers at the 2015 conference included:
  • H.E. Tefera Derbew, the Minister of Agriculture for Ethiopia updated the audience on the development strategies for 2015 
  • Khalid Bomba, CEO at the Agricultural Transformation Agency discussed the need for transforming agriculture in Africa 
  • Bashir Jama, the Soil Health Programme Director at AGRA covered the importance of complete fertilization of smallholder Agriculture in Africa 
  • E.M. Muriuki the Managing Director of MEA Fertilizers provided an update on blended fertilizer production in Kenya 
  • Jean Bakole the Regional Director of Ethiopia from the United Nations Industrial Development Organization discussed available mineral resources in Africa
Télécharger la brochure de présentation de la conférence
Download the 2015 conference brochure

During the conference the’s newly designed and expanded website was launched , addressing sector’s need for fertilizer market information and data in Africa:
  • The expanded site features new content and media including company profiles, product catalogues and business directories.
  • The revamped website equips fertilizer actors with rich resources and market information on fertilizer products, supply and operators, filling a longstanding knowledge gap that has traditionally inhibited Africa’s food security and agricultural development.
Mounir Halim the Business Development Manager at Argus FMB gives an overview of fertilizer development within Africa.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Scaling up Nutrition - Kenya

18 February 2015. Nairobi. Kenya School of Monetary Studies. Biodiversity and locally available foods provide cheap and ready access to key micronutrients to help boost mother and child nutrition, particularly children from 6 to 24 months of age when breast milk alone is insufficient and mothers switch from exclusive breastfeeding to feeding infants with family foods.

This was the message the Biodiversity for Food and Nutrition Initiative (B4FN) through its partner, the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Organization (KALRO), brought to National Nutrition Symposium where the new EU-funded Maternal and Child Malnutrition Program, worth US$ 23 million jointly launched by the Government of Kenya, the European Union and UNICEF in Nairobi, was unveiled.

The Scaling Up Nutrition Movement (SUN) is a growing group of countries (currently 54) who believe in the principle that all people have a right to food and good nutrition. The GEF 'Mainstreaming biodiversity for nutrition and health' initiative is led by Brazil, Kenya, Sri Lanka and Turkey and coordinated by Bioversity International, with implementation support from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and additional support from the CGIAR Research Program on Agriculture for Nutrition and Health.

Titus Mung’ou, Chair of Kenya’s SUN
Civil Society Alliance (CSA)
Kenya’s Civil Society Alliance is part of the Civil Society Network and was set up to ‘Mobilise Civil Societies to Champion Scaling up Nutrition in Kenya.’ The alliance primarily undertakes capacity building of Civil Society Organisations to scale up nutrition, advocacy at national and local level and aims to support the government and, in particular the Ministry of Health, to develop nutrition related policy as well as communication documents.

The Kenya SUN Civil Society Alliance was officially launched on the first ever SUN Global Day of Action on 9th May 2014. On this day, six SUN countries organised specific events, to highlight to their political
leaders the importance of investing in nutrition head of the Nutrition for Growth: Beating Hunger through Business and Science meeting, hosted by the UK, on the 8th June 2013. The launch, alongside the actions of other countries, gave the CSA the platform to discuss the progress Kenya has made on nutrition since it first joined the SUN movement in 2012 and to develop opportunities for civil society to make their voices heard.

The First Lady Margaret Kenyatta has accepted to be the country’s Nutrition Patron. Since 2013, CSA members have been engaging with various SUN networks to position nutrition at the highest level in the government and to establish SUN MSP. The process towards establishing the MSP took another step forward on 23rd January 2015 when, for the first time, all members of the SUN Networks met.

Published on 18 Feb 2015. First Lady Margaret Kenyatta's speech during the National Nutrition Symposium and launch of the GOK-EU-UNICEF Maternal and Child Nutrition Program.

The First Lady welcomed efforts under the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) umbrella to bring together stakeholders from the government ministries, donors, UN agencies, civil society and business organizations and particularly efforts to link nutrition to agriculture through the Nutrition Interagency Coordinating Committee (NICC). 

Dr Victor Wasike, National Project Coordinator for the BFN Initiative in Kenya and who also represents BFN on the NICC, was instrumental in advocating the use of biodiversity in food-based interventions to tackle malnutrition. According to Dr Wasike, participating in committees such as the NICC provides an excellent opportunity to showcase the work that the BFN initiative is undertaking at the county and grassroots level in Busia to promote nutrient-rich biodiversity. It can also help significantly in efforts to mainstream biodiversity into national plans and action and the scaling up of local activities. 
Ms. Kenyatta called for “both national and county governments to allocate enough resources to support the implementation of a national nutrition action plan” and offered support for counties to develop their own nutrition plans under Kenya’s new devolved system.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Highlight on some FP7 Africa Call projects related to Agriculture, water and climate change in Africa

This video gives some background to following FP7 funded projects (FP7Africa Call 2009) which are coming to a completion in 2015 or were completed in 2014:

Friday, February 20, 2015

BIOFACH - World's leading Trade Fair for Organic Food

10-13 February 2015. The 2015 BIOFACH and VIVANESS Congress, which included more than 100 separate discussions, was attended by 7,000 interested listeners and participants. Taking place this year for the first time, the Politics Forum experienced particularly strong interest, drawing more than 1,000 visitors to its events. The discussion on the free trade agreement between the EU and the USA “TTIP - an opportunity or a threat to the organic industry” proved to be especially popular.

In 2014, German households spent 4.8 % more on organic food and drink than in the year before, with sales amounting to just under EUR 8bn according to the German Federation of the Organic Food Industry (BÖLW). The natural cosmetics market has also grown significantly. A general survey conducted by naturkosmetik konzepte, GfK, IRI, IMS Health and BioVista shows that over EUR 1bn were generated from natural cosmetics in 2014, 10 % more than in 2013.

Some African organic agriculture exhibitors:

Dried coconut
WAD (Weija Agricultural Development) was founded in the year 2000 and exports mainly dried and fresh pineapples, dried coconut, dried mangos and dried papaya. WAD African Foods believes in the potential of small farmers in Ghana.

The company’s target is to alleviate poverty in the country and to fight against the dependence of the famers. WAD African Foods supports small-scale farmers improving their standard of living by training them and promoting their products on the European market. The company works with middle-class farmers group in different regions of Ghana. Over 200 farmer families supply WAD with their products which are certified by IMO Switzerland.

NOGAMU/BioAfrican Pavillion
A unique feature of Uganda 's organic agriculture is the high coordination, involvement and commitment from all stakeholders in the organic sector. From public institutions including the ministries of Trade, Agriculture, Uganda Export Promotions Board, Uganda National Bureau of Standards, Uganda Coffee Development Authority, Cotton development Organization, the Presidents office, to private institutions (all under the umbrella of NOGAMU) these include farmers associations, export companies, NGOs, CBOs, private Universities (e.g. Uganda Martyr's University).

Aduna is an Africa-inspired health and beauty brand and social business. Their mission is to create demand for exceptional and underutilised natural ingredients that we source directly from small-scale producers in Africa. Their first two ‘super-ingredients’ baobab and moringa are the best-selling superfoods in leading UK health and beauty retailers including WholeFoods, Planet Organic, Liberty and Selfridges.
Agro Eco-Louis Bolk Institute is an independent organisation specialised in project management, training and advice on organic and sustainable agriculture in the tropics. From their office in Accra (Ghana) they work in various countries of East and West Africa. Central pillars of their work are their systems approach, respect for the integrity of life, and a participatory methodology. Among their international clients are CARE, Progreso and Oxfam Novib.
Set on a fertile, rural 40 hectare plantation in Vivo, deep in the province of Limpopo, South Africa, where conditions are ideal to cultivate aloe plants, Aloway Natural Health Products. (Aloway) is home to the first manufacturing facility of organic Aloe Vera on an industrial scale in South Africa. When cultivation began at Aloway in 2008, it reached out to the local community to source workers for the facility. This has had a positive spin off for the rural people of Vivo, as job creation is desperately needed in these remote areas.

Opportunities for sustainable, green and inclusive agricultural value chains in ACP countries

Opportunities for sustainable, green and inclusive agricultural value chains in ACP countries
By M J Westlake
Based on case studies by V Antwi, R Best, K S Pacific and P Wagubi
CTA/FAO, 2015
98 pages

Available and downloadable from CTA publications website.

19 February 2015. Press release - Wageningen. Smallholders and value chains: a winning formula.
Value chains are crucial to transforming agriculture in developing states. As value chains become more inclusive, small-scale farmers can gain access to previously inaccessible markets, receive important information to improve cultivation techniques or benefit from new sources of financing. The Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) teamed up to investigate 18 value chains in 11 African, Caribbean and Pacific countries. The aim was to identify and describe practices and structures best suited to ensure commercial and environmental sustainability and the inclusion of smallholder farmers.
  • The value chains featured in the book were all set up through private sector initiatives. They revolve around the output of a single crop or livestock product in a single country and, in most cases, involve exporting at least part of the output.
  • Some case studies examine recent developments in long-established value chains, such as cocoa in Cameroon, pineapples in Ghana, sugar in Uganda, tea in Kenya, citrus in Belize and mangoes in Haiti. Others focus on enterprises that were established relatively recently to compete with imports or with existing enterprises. These include eggs in Jamaica, milk in Kenya and cocoa in Grenada. In the Pacific, new value chains are described for taro and papaya, which were set up to take advantage of unexpected markets.
Contract farming arrangements with smallholders is a formula that receives detailed scrutiny, including the case of rubber producers in Liberia, maize farmers in Ghana and hot pepper growers in Jamaica. Also examined is how linking producers to services such as quarantine treatment can help them to export products and how partnerships, for example with NGOs, can help isolated producers to overcome production and processing hurdles and tap new markets.

The studies reveal that the integration of farmers into value chains can have mutually beneficial outcomes for the farmers themselves and for other value chain participants, making a strong case for linkages between input suppliers, producers and players involved in processing and marketing.

Data: the next revolution for agriculture in ACP countries?

18th February 2015. Brussels. ACP Secretariat. CTA Brussels Development Briefing on the subject of “Data: the next revolution for agriculture in ACP countries?”.

The audience of 155 participants included ACP-EU policy makers, regional organizations, representatives of EU Member States, European Commission services, Members of the European Parliament, private sector, civil society groups, European research and development practitioners and international organizations.
The explosion of digital data offers new technological opportunities for enhancing agricultural development; it has also become a key asset for all economies in the world. By looking at significant trends, approaches and experiences in using open data for food and nutrition security, this Briefing shall shed light on the impacts of the global data revolution for agriculture.

The increasing volume of real-time data represents both a challenge and an opportunity for developing countries, and in particular, Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific (ACP). Harnessing the opportunities offered by this new digital landscape of open data systems shall be crucial: to meet acute data gaps throughout the value chain; to collect reliable data and statistics; to accurately plan and influence policies and interventions; to benefit from private-public partnerships, especially in the food industry; to inform global development efforts, donor decisions, and policy.

Poor Numbers is the first analysis of the production and use of African economic development statistics. Morten Jerven's research shows how the statistical capacities of sub-Saharan African economies hav
e fallen into disarray. The numbers substantially misstate the actual state of affairs. As a result, 
  • scarce resources are misapplied. 
  • Development policy does not deliver the benefits expected. 
  • Policymakers' attempts to improve the lot of the citizenry are frustrated. 
  • Donors have no accurate sense of the impact of the aid they supply. 
Jerven's findings from sub-Saharan Africa have far-reaching implications for aid and development policy. As Jerven notes, the current catchphrase in the development community is "evidence-based policy," and scholars are applying increasingly sophisticated econometric methods—but no statistical techniques can substitute for partial and unreliable data.

Open Data and Smallholder Food and Nutritional Security.
Andre Jellema, Wouter Meijninger and Chris Addison.
Alterra.CTA. 2015

CTA shared the findings from a report commissioned from Alterra on open data benefits for smallholder farmers where the authors identified the main potential areas for open data use: Making agriculturally-relevant data accessible to users around the world. The report aimed to answer the following questions: what is the actual impact of the open data movement on the food and nutrition security of smallholders in the developing world? What opportunities does it present, and which remain unfulfilled?

Published on 25 Oct 2014 The 2014 World Food Prize Borlaug Dialogue Dr. David Muth moderated a panel on Precision Agriculture and Big Data, with Dr. Claudia Garcia, Dr. David Gebhardt, John May and Kerry J. Preete.

European Agricultural Research Foresight exercise

18 February 2015. Brussels. DG Research. Around 60 experts participated in the 3rd SCAR Foresight Workshop. (SCAR = Standing Committee on Agricultural Research).

 The 4th SCAR Foresight exercise, launched in spring 2014, explores the interactions between the primary sector and the bioeconomy. With an emphasis on the future, the exercise explores not only what will happen, but also what might happen by developing the paradigm of the bioeconomy, with the fundamental constraint of sustainability. Internal contradictions within sectors, and possible conflicts among sectors, are a major point of interest.

The Foresight exercise aims to proceed in a participative way. For this purpose three interactive Brussels-based workshops were organised with experts, members of the SCAR and its working groups, the European Commission and various stakeholders of the bioeconomy. This third workshop analysed the implications of the various scenarios developed by the foresight expert group:

  1. Scenario A: BIO-MODESTY. The Bio-Modesty future is characterized by a low growth in the demand for biomass for materials and energy.
  2. Scenario B: BIO-SCARCITY. The Bio-Scarcity future is characterized by a high growth demand for biomass for materials and energy, but supply cannot follow demand.
  3. Scenario C: BIO-BOOM. The Bio-Boom future entails high growth both of demand and supply. The same forces as in scenario B may lead to an increase in demand for biomass, but what differentiates this future is that supply follows demand.
19 February 2015. Brussels. DG Research. Joint EIARD-SCAR Strategic Working Group.
  • Contribution to Expert Group of High Level policy Dialogue EU-AU
  • AR – ARD in the CGIAR Strategy and Results Framework In their draft revised framework, CGIAR addresses (a.o.) research for global issues and successful partnerships. This corresponds to ARCH topics in the intersect of AR and ARD. Principles and practices (what and how) of connecting AR and ARD: common agendas, shared measuring activities, mutually reinforcing activities
The Double Pyramid is the model created by BCFN 
to describe the close relationship existing between 
diet and environment: verify the accuracy of your 
dietary habits and calculate their environmental 
impact with the interactive test.

28 January 2015. Brussels. The Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition Foundation (BCFN) presented its new policy paper on Sustainable Diets before the European Parliament. The BCFN paper is the latest in a series of stakeholder efforts calling on the EU institutions to build a more sustainable food system across Europe and globally.

MEP Giovanni La Via, Chair of the Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI), and MEP Paolo De Castro, S&D Coordinator in the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development (AGRI) co-hosted the event “Good for You, Good for the Environment”.

Barbara Buchner, Director of the Climate Policy Initiative and Member of the BCFN Advisory Board, said, 
“We hope that our research can encourage policymakers to include environmental considerations when developing dietary guidelines. Our model shows that foods that should be consumed more frequently for health also have a lower environmental impact.”

Connecting farmers to markets: The P4P story

Connecting farmers to markets: The P4P story. This short book provides an overview of the achievements made, challenges faced and lessons learned.

It highlights the experience of farmers, governments and other partners in the 20 pilot countries. Through their stories, this short book gives voice to many people directly involved in the P4P partnership.

A paper details the wide array of opportunities generated by the P4P approach, along with the correspondingly deep set of challenges addressed: Purchase for Progress: Reflections on the pilot,

The Purchase for Progress (P4P) pilot has allowed WFP to try out new ways of leveraging its purchasing power to support agricultural and market development in developing countries. Over the past five years, the pilot has transformed the lives of hundreds of thousands of farmers, especially women, in 20 developing countries, supporting them to grow more, sell more, and earn more and become more competitive players in their local markets.

P4P links WFP’s demand for staple food commodities (cereals, pulses and blended foods) with the technical expertise of a wide range of partners to support smallholder farmers boost their agricultural production and sell their surplus at a fair price. By providing a market to smallholder farmers and supporting them to improve crop quality and increase their sales to WFP as well as other buyers, the initiative has transformed WFP’s local procurement into a vital tool to address hunger.

Though the five-year P4P pilot period concluded in December 2013, efforts to support smallholders continue as WFP mainstreams key innovations and best practices.

Research workshop: Agriculture and Climate Change

10 - 11 February 2015. Brussels. The European Commission Directorate general for Agriculture and rural development, in collaboration with Directorates in charge of Research and innovation, Climate action and the Joint research Centre organised a research workshop on 'climate-smart agriculture' on . The workshop assembled around 65 participants from the research community, stakeholders' organisations and international institutions and networks.

The objective was to identify research gaps and prioritise research needs regarding agriculture in relation to climate change. The opening session provided the audience with a variety of presentations (see infra). After that, participants worked in parallel sessions on:
  • Carbon cycle,
  • Nitrogen cycle and
  • Water and abiotic stresses.
A full day of intensive discussions brought very useful inputs, including three descriptions of what a climate-smart farm would be from the point of view of carbon, nitrogen or water and abiotic stresses. These inputs will be compiled in a report and will serve the further programming of Horizon 2020.

Presentations from the introductive plenary session are available below:

Setting the scene:

Overview on past agriculture and climate change research activities:
Policy needs:

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Towards an Integrated Market for Seeds and Fertilizers in West Africa

Towards an Integrated Market forSeeds and Fertilizers in West Africa
John C. Keysera , Marjatta Eilittäb , Georges Dimithec , Gbolagade Ayoolad , and Louis Sènee
January, 2015, 50 pages

10 February 2014. Washington – A new World Bank Group (WBG) working paper, Towards an Integrated Market for Seeds and Fertilizers in West Africa, examines the region’s efforts to build integrated regional markets for seed and fertilizer. After extensive consultations, new regional regulations based on advanced international standards for seed and fertilizer have mostly been agreed upon and are already helping to guide quality improvements in some countries.

For farmers in West Africa, the high price of fertilizer and seeds, their limited availability and their poor quality are major barriers to agricultural growth. To increase farmer choice, improve buyer confidence and otherwise make crop industry trade easier, faster and cheaper, West African governments have been working together through the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and other regional bodies for several years to develop harmonized trade rules and quality control procedures.

This working paper is the result of numerous consultations with seed, fertilizer, and regional trade experts in West Africa who generously gave their time for interviews, for sharing data, and for answering questions after the country visits. The work was undertaken as background to a larger World Bank volume on “Regional Food Staples Trade in West Africa” led by Jean-Christophe Maur and Ben Shepherd as part of an agreed joint work program with the ECOWAS and UEMOA Commissions.

This work was funded by the UK Department for International Development under the Support to West Africa Regional Integration Program (SWARIP) window of the Multi-Donor Trust Fund for Trade and Development supported by the governments of the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom

The Rockefeller Foundation's Waste and Spoilage Initiative

13 February 2015. Awareness: A Key to Reducing Post-Harvest Loss in Africa. The Rockefeller Foundation's Waste and Spoilage Initiative  is working to identify opportunities and test key solutions in the supply chain to reduce food loss. 

They have learned that food loss in developing countries adversely affects the livelihoods of smallholder farmers by decreasing saleable harvest, reducing their ability to manage changing market prices and their income.

Besides this knowledge gap, other contributing factors to post-harvest loss are lack of market access, low adoption of technologies, improper drying, use of rudimentary threshing techniques, and lack of cooling systems after harvest and during transportation for goods like fruits and vegetables. These are some of the challenges that this initiative is trying to address.

Key critical factors to scaling up these innovations will be working with aggregated groups of farmers, and ensuring access to ready market for their produce, either through contract farming or direct sourcing. Processing and value addition are also key to reducing post-harvest loss, especially for fruits and vegetables.

In July 2014, the Waste and Spoilage Initiative team held a convening of private sector partners at Bellagio Center.

Various strategies and models are used to counter food loss. Kenya’s Uchumi Supermarket  currently processes overripe fruits from its own shelves before they 'go bad' and sells the juices to its customers. Additionally, it is working with other partners to promote tomato farming in greenhouses among its farmers to stagger tomato production and reduce excess supply from during peak season. This ensures that farmers get a fair price for delivered tomatoes throughout the year.

Published on 11 Sep 2014 Smallholder farmers contribute 90% of food production in Sub-Saharan Africa, but 42% of fruits and vegetables produced by this farmers are lost because of post harvest loss. Post-harvest loss impacts different types of smallholder farmers in different ways.

Introducing new rice technology in Sierra Leone

7 February 2015. The West Africa Agricultural Productivity Programme (WAAPP) is a five year programme aimed at improving agriculture by introducing new technology as well as improving on existing ones. WAAPP-Sierra Leone commenced in 2011 and is due to fold up in June 30, 2016.

The five year project in Sierra Leone targets the two staple foods - rice and cassava. By the end of the project in 2016, five improved agricultural technologies should have been adopted by an expected 120,000 beneficiaries. The improved technology should cover 150,000 hectares countrywide, with a total number of 200,000 beneficiaries.

Concord Times engaged the Project Coordinator, Sulaiman Sesay, on the progress made so far.
"So far the target goals are meant for the completion of the project. Since the adoption of improved technology is highly incumbent on research, we now providing support to research institutions with infrastructure and human capacity building," said Sulaiman Sesay. "We support both long and short term training for scientist both locally and internationally. We are supporting 41 scientists who are pursuing masters and doctorate courses in universities abroad and we are providing short term training for local farmers and extension workers."
In the area of human capacity building, he said the project is providing technical assistance to two big institutes, including the Africa Rice Research Centre in Benin and the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture, as well as provide support to the Rokupr Rice Research Centre in Sierra Leone.

Montpellier Panel report: Conserving, Restoring and Enhancing Africa’s Soils

4 December 2014. Rome. Agriculture for Impact presented the new Montpellier Panel report ‘No Ordinary Matter: Conserving, Restoring and Enhancing Africa’s Soils’ at the International Fund for Agricultural Development - ahead of World Soil Day on the 5th of December.

This report from the Montpellier Panel argues that if left unaddressed, the cycle of poor land management will result in higher barriers to food security, agricultural development for smallholder farmers and wider economic growth for Africa.

The report is a comprehensive analysis of land management in Africa today, and answers a series of critical questions:
  • Are donors and governments neglecting soil health in Africa?
  • What are the key approaches to restoring Africa’s soils?
  • How can improved land management tackle climate change in Africa?
The launch was opened by Kanayo Nwanze, President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development at the United Nations in Rome. Director of Agriculture for Impact, Professor Sir Gordon Conway chaired the panel discussion – comprising David Radcliffe Senior Advsior for Development and Cooperation DG at the European Commission, Camilla Toulmin, Director of the IIED, and Henri Carsalade, Agropolis Foundation – before opening up the conversation to questions from the audience.

The Montpellier Panel report estimates that nearly 180 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa are hurt by land degradation, which costs about $68 billion in economic losses as a result of damaged soils that prevent crop yields.
“The burdens caused by Africa’s damaged soils are disproportionately carried by the continent’s resource-poor farmers,” the chair of the Montpellier Panel, Professor Sir Gordon Conway, said.
“Problems such as fragile land security and limited access to financial resources prompt these farmers to forgo better land management practices that would lead to long-term gains for soil health on the continent, in favour of more affordable or less labor-intensive uses of resources which inevitably exacerbate the issue.”
The Montpellier panel finds that payments for ecosystems services related to sustainable land and watershed management can be part of a suite of needed incentive packages to help combat soil degradation in sub-Saharan Africa. However, famers need more secure land rights and improved education and training, to realise the productive, environmental and social rewards that come from sustainable land management. Furthermore, adequate mechanisms need to be established to ensure that payments reach the participants in a fair and equitable way.

Related: (see video panel at 1:13)
The Evolving Sphere of Food Security Rosamond
L. Naylor Published
By Oxford University Press, 416 pages
September 17, 2014

The Evolving Sphere of Food Security seeks to answer two important questions: How do the priorities and challenges of achieving food security change over time as countries develop economically? And how do the policies used to promote food security in one country affect nutrition, food access, natural resources, and national security in other countries? The volume presents the many faces and facets of food security—their symptoms, their roots, and their possible remedies—through the lens of a multidisciplinary group of scholars.


Friday, February 13, 2015

Managing change in the agri-businesses

Guy Stinglhamber, DG COLEACP with
Roland Waeyaert, DG EXCHANGE VZW
31 January 2015. Brussels, EXCHANGE VZW and COLEACP formalised their collaboration.

Both organisations share the common goal of supporting the private sector in less developed countries through technical assistance designed to support sustainable and competitive businesses.

The values and principles behind the work of EXCHANGE and COLEACP are similar in terms of cost sharing with beneficiaries, demand driven projects, and supporting rather than substituting for local players. The two organisations are also linked by a common field of activity: agriculture (forming 30% of the activities of EXCHANGE).

EXCHANGE VZW offers companies and organisations in the South the opportunity to call on a network of experienced volunteer experts who can conduct short-term technical missions in a range of fields. These include: managing change in businesses, investment, organisation, and development of business plans. The expertise offered is free, though a contribution is requested from the beneficiary to cover accommodation and other local logistical costs.

Companies in the South who are interested in benefiting from the expertise of EXCHANGE can apply via the following online form.

West Africa Networking Forum of ECHO

27-29 January 2015. Ouagadougou.  This ECHO Forum was geared toward enabling networking related to alleviating hunger and poverty by those persons serving Africa's poor. ECHO is a global Christian organization that equips people with agricultural resources and skills to reduce hunger and improve the lives of the poor.

ECHO’s West Africa Impact Center is under
the Direction of Mr. Robert Sanou (left picture).
(at the right: Stan Doerr, CEO ECHO)
Three mornings of plenary sessions featuring knowledgeable and experienced speakers were followed by afternoon workshops and discussion groups led by regional agricultural development workers and experts. Topics addressed included:
  • Foundations for Farming - Theory and practice (extended sessions)
  • Major challenges and solutions in African agriculture
  • Grafting 
  • Food production and nutrition for animals
  • Useful agricultural plants in sub-saharan region
  • Moringa and other life-giving plants