Platform for African – European Partnership in Agricultural Research for Development

Monday, March 30, 2015

Apps4Aflatoxin meeting

23-26 March 2015. Nairobi, Kenya. A small group of actors gathered in Nairobi to work on a proposal on how mobile phone applications (apps) can be used against aflatoxin contamination (awareness raising, linking sms alerts to sensors in storage facilities, etc.). This goes beyond existing Smartphone Apps which offer Cheap Aflatoxin Tests.
  • The invited experts in aflatoxin and its hazards made very good efforts to bring everyone to a competent level of understanding the causes and effects of aflatoxin contamination. By the end of the first day the participants were well conversant with aflatoxin and the thinking behind the write shop.
  • On subsequent days, the group was guided on the expectations of the proposal call and had the benefit of presentations from KALRO (the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation) and the BecA-ILRI hub (the Biosciences eastern and central Africa-International Livestock Research Institute) to bring a practical perspective on how aflatoxin has been handled in Kenya and the wider African region. There were guests from CTA (the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation ACP-EU), AccessAgriculture, FAO and other practitioners in agriculture who shared their insights and thoughts on how technology could be incorporated to facilitate agriculture and aflatoxin management.
  • Dr. Harvey Jagger of ILRI
  • The visits to IHub and the BecA-ILRI hub opened the eyes to how technology has been used to improve agriculture service delivery and widen the scope of knowledge on it. 
  • The visit to IHub was particularly informative as it brought up many useful IT applications like:
  • M-Farm mobileM-Farm gives up-to-date market information, link farmers to buyers through our marketplace and current agri-trends
  • IcowiCow is an Agricultural Information Service with a variety of products available as a subscription service through *285# to help farmers enhance productivity
  • Soko Text: Soko text uses the power of text messaging to aggregate demand for food and unlock wholesale prices for small entrepreneurs in urban slums.
  • Horizon: 5,000 automatic weather stations will be installed at new and existing mobile network sites throughout Africa over the coming years, aiming to increase dissemination of weather information via mobile phones that can reach the continent’s most remote communities.
  • Ensibuuko: Ensibuuko is championing a new model of microfinance by leveraging on innovations in mobile technology to bridge the gap between financial service providers and the rural poor
  • The BecA-ILRI hub is a shared agricultural research and biosciences platform that exists to increase access to affordable, world-class research facilities. Located at and managed by ILRI in Nairobi, Kenya, the BecA-ILRI Hub provides a common biosciences research platform, research-related services and capacity building opportunities to eastern and central Africa and beyond.
Comments of participants:
The writeshop was very useful for me in that it brought experts from various disciplines (Agriculture, Research, ICT, Engineering and Private sector - App developers, Consultants ….). This was a very rare opportunity one could not afford to miss and I think this is what made it possible for everyone to attend despite the short notice and the busy schedules for most of us! Abel Atukwase, Makarere University, Uganda
The visits to IHub and ILRI opened our eyes to how technology has been used to improve agriculture service delivery and widen the scope of knowledge on it. The visit to IHub was to me particularly informative as it brought up many useful IT applications like “M-Farm mobile”, “Soko Text, “Horizon” and “ensibuuko” which have made great strides in improving agricultural effectiveness and which we can refer to in our work, publications and engagements. Peter Githinji Regional Programs Coordinator East Africa Grain Council
Aflatoxin Apps are related to health, the environment (climate change), livestock and agriculture. There is an increased and urgent concern of contaminated food and feed from African Governments, the African Union, Regional bodies, donors, private sector actors, researchers, farmer organisations, mobile phone apps developers. Two years ago IFPRI has published some excellent briefs.

Dr. Charles Ngonge of KALRO
In developing an app to manage aflatoxin contamination, the challenge is to understand the practices especially of smallholder farmers to determine the most beneficial and cost effective entry point. Exploring the triggers and responses across the entire value chain using the intended apps; from varietal selection to harvesting, drying and storage and the impact on controlling aflatoxin level such that the levels are within the limits to meet national/regional and international standards, is interesting research. In the interim, consideration should be given to intensifying the training to support the adoption of good agricultural practices and the requisite equipment for evaluating moisture content and aflatoxin level in the dried product.
  • One of the challenge is to introduce Hazard Analysis of Critical Control Points (HACCP) into the peanut production chain, and maize feed storages. This would require the development of a dedicated mobile phone application (apps). HACCP can identify procedures and practices along the value chain that are likely to expose crops to mycotoxin contamination. Once these have been pinpointed, Critical Control Points (CCPs) can be set up at specific stages of the chain so as to eliminate or reduce the risks. CCPs for peanut production may include checking procedures at various stages, such as seed selection, planting, harvesting, drying, sorting and storage. 
  • Visit of Beca Hub at ILRI
  • The use of wireless sensor networks in storage facilities can help mitigate aflatoxin contamination problems, but also to facilitate research activities in crucial scientific areas such as storage monitoring and energy management. There is a need for technology research and application development in the area of Wireless Sensor Networks for Development: WSN4D. 
Another major challenge is to be able to cluster datasets to provide an evidence base, tools and tailored information for aflatoxin apps and to organize and make available a broad set of data and information tools to inform the development and deployment of the apps, sensors and other tools. 
  • Aflatoxin contamination is a pervasive and dynamic problem, driven by a combination of genetic (host crop, pathogen), environmental (rainfall, relative humidity, pests, temperature,…) and management (tillage, fertilizer, intercropping,…) factors. 
  • In order for interventions and information to be deployed to successfully reduce risk of aflatoxin contamination, and to respond to aflatoxin hotspots when they emerge despite best efforts, the growing body of information needs to be assembled and made available to researchers, policymakers, farmers and other stakeholders. 
  • Some initiatives are creating databases of ongoing projects, however a portal to access the technical data and dynamic maps and predictive models is required to fully empower the research for development community to address this problem in East Africa and beyond.
The issue of aflatoxin is only one example of how the need of farmer organisations and apps developers can be brought together. The facilitation of co-creation is the broader purpose of this partnership.

Published on 29 Mar 2015
Interview with Ms. Mugethi Gitau, Community Manager, iHub | Research | UXLab | Consulting

16/03/2015. With iCow and M-Farm, smartphones reboot African agriculture
26/03/2015. EAX Supports Rwandan Farmers better manage their Post Harvest The processing of the grains this way will address the serious post-harvest challenges that farmers face, particularly higher moisture content which could result in storage losses as well as the farmers’ ability to attract a good price at the point of sale.
11/02/2015. Open data: how mobile phones saved bananas from bacterial wilt in Uganda
Related videos:

Producing clean banana planting material of banana

30 March 2015. A new illustrated guide developed by Bioversity International and partners, summarizes the key practices for producing clean banana planting material of banana with a high-yield potential.

The guide – available in English, French, Spanish and Arabic – also provides useful information to better planning the propagation of planting material for rural development and disaster relief projects. A summarized version of this manual, specifically targeting smallholder producers, is available in the form of illustrated field sheets with photographs. Descriptions and explanations of the different methods can be translated in the local languages or dialects.

The development and production of this guide was supported by the Austrian Development Agency, the Common Fund for Commodities, the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), the CGIAR Research Program on Roots, Tubers and Bananas, and USAID through the TARGET project.

Download the guide here

Rice Science in Africa gets a new Director General

15 March 2015. Cotonou, Benin. Dr. Harold Roy-Macauley, new Director General of AfricaRice, doesn't want to just improve rice science for Africa, he wants to make the continent a world leader in it.

The rice sector in Africa is going to be “evidenced-based and therefore very solid and powerful,” he said. At a time when the developed world agonizes over the value of science, Africa sees an opportunity to grab a lot of market share by using science to improve their food production and become a next exporter, and then the rest of the world can play catch up.

“Rice is global and it is big business,” said Macauley,a Sierra Leonean national, in his first speech to the AfricaRice staff in Cotonou, Benin. “It is the white gold of the future. We at AfricaRice should consider ourselves fortunate to be in big business already”.

Roy-Macauley outlined his first priorities as:
  • Rendering partnerships more efficient around rice science and sector development
  • Strengthening capacity for rice science and sector development
  • Improving access of small-holders rice producers to markets
  • Reintegrating rice science in the policy agenda of countries
  • Increasing investments in rice science and sector development

11th CAADP Partnership Platform

NEPAD and FAO launched the rural youth project
25-26 March 2015. Johannesburg, South Africa. 11th CAADP Partnership Platform. Hundreds of people including farmer organisations, agriculture government officials and African Union representatives gathered in Johannesburg this week for the 11th Partnership Platform (PP) on Africa's policy framework for agricultural transformation - the Comprehensive African Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP).

This is the first Partnership Platform since the Malabo Declaration was agreed by African Union Heads of State and Government in 2014. The Declaration is a set of ambitious concrete goals for agricultural growth and transformation in Africa to be reached by 2025. See concept note

Its theme this year was "Walking the Talk: Delivering on Malabo Commitments on Agriculture for Women Empowerment & Development". The overall objective was to shape how the Malabo ambitions and new specific commitments will be translated into action, results and impact; focusing on the systemic institutional and policy changes that are being targeted to increase the efficiency, effectiveness and sustainability of CAADP efforts.
  1. Sub-theme 1: Walk the Talk: Ending Hunger by 2025
  2. Sub-theme 2: Walk the Talk: Inclusive Agricultural Growth and Transformation
  3. Sub-theme 3: Walk the Talk: Boosting Intra-African Trade
  4. Sub-theme 4: Walk the Talk: Building Resilience to Reduce Vulnerability
  5. Sub-theme 5: Walk the Talk: Mutual Accountability to Actions, Results and Impacts
"Regional Economic Communities (RECs) should have a stronger role in CAADP implementation. RECs are better positioned than continental institutions in helping Member States in their own CAADP processes. And they have another advantage, they can learn from each other on designing and implementing the regional compacts and investment plans that are crucial complements to the national CAADP plans. Capacity strengthening for RECs themselves is key, both to strengthen their national level support and for the implementation of regional CAADP investment plans (including more policy enforcement capacity for regional decisions).Francesco Rampa, Head of the European Centre for Development Policy Management's Food Security programme
Audio Gallery
Walking the Talk 11th CAADP PP (UBC Radio) 26 Mar 2015
11th CAADP PP Keynote Address (UBC Radio) 25 Mar 2015

AgriBusiness Forum 2015

22 - 25 March 2015. Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo. This year, the Forum focused on "Towards Inclusive Growth: A Vision for Africa's Agricultural Transformation”.


Session C – Scientific Research and Innovation:
  • access to best practices for improved yields, irrigation, agricultural inputs - generating stress tolerant crops by overcoming breeding-intractable problems 
  • precision agriculture and farm productivity 
  • crop improvement and value chains challenges: the case of cassava 
  • Monty Jones, Special Adviser to the President of Sierra Leone; President – EMRC Int’l; former Executive Secretary FARA 
  • Jonathan Gressel, Research Fellow, Plant & Environmental Sciences – Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel 
  • John Mususa Ulimwengu, Senior Adviser, Agriculture et rural development – Prime Minister’s Office, and Senior Research Fellow – IFPRI, DR Congo
  • Nzola Mahungu, Plant Breeder and IITA Country Representative
Session E – Inclusive Agribusiness Models and Approaches: Realising Sustainable Benefits Special Session 
  • SNV MODERATOR: Mirjam Steglich, Sector Leader Agriculture SNV, DR Congo 
  • Ranjan Shrestha, Sector Leader/Senior Advisor, Agriculture SNV, Rwanda 
  • Thomas Obiero Were, Country Office, Agriculture Sector Programme SNV, Zambia 
  • Eric Banye, Senior Advisor / Country Sector Leader, Agriculture SNV, Ghana 
  • Sara Mbago-Bhunu, Country Director – SNV, DR Congo 
In the run up of the AgriBusiness Forum 2015, EMRC organized a Pre-Conference Workshop (22 March 2015) on Agricultural Projects: Finance and Investment. The workshop was held in linguistic groups: English, French and Portuguese.

Agrinatura annual meeting 2015

19 - 20 March 2015. Montpellier, France. As a side event of the Climate Smart Agriculture Global Science Conference  held on March 16-18, 2015, Agrinatura organised its annual meeting and General Assembly. The theme was Building capacities to address climate change"
  1. Skills and competences required for agricultural development in a context of climate change 
  2. Potential for mutualisation and joint production of training tools  Download the program 
Members and Partners were invited to share, during these two days, their initiatives and future projects in this domain, and possibly to build the basis of collective actions of our universities, inside Europe itself, but also in cooperation with our partners in the South. Two questions lead to deeper specific discussions:  
  1. The question of the competences and the skills which are associated with addressing climate change as a professional in agriculture. Beyond the technological options that can contribute to adaptation or to mitigation, is there a different way to address development of agriculture in a context of climate change? What are the common skills and the specific ones that specialised post graduate training should address?  
  2. The question of the training tools that are being built to support the development of specialised courses. What are they and how are they built? Is there any option of pooling the existing resources, mutualising their access, especially for the universities in the South? Would there be any advantage in Agrinatura taking an initiative to produce more tools and make them accessible to all?
PAEPARD presentation:

Delegates from the Animal Health Network annual workshop

Other side events
15 March 2015. Annual workshop of the Animal Health & Greenhouse Gas Emissions Intensity NetworkThe Animal health and Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions Intensity Network of the Global Research Alliance on Agricultural Greenhouse Gases aims to bring together researchers from across the world to investigate links and synergies between efforts to reduce animal disease and possible GHG mitigation through disease control.For further information on the Network, please see the report of the first workshop

15 March 2015CSA Alliance Knowledge Action Group. The Knowledge Action Group (KAG) of the ACSA co-led by the FAO and CGIAR/CCAFS organized this workshop in order to secure inputs and organize the work on research priorities for CSA and partnerships to make these priorities possible. The activities identified at the workshop will form inputs into the development of the KAG’s action plan.

15 March 2015Global Research Alliance on Greenhouse Gases (GRA)
The Global Research Alliance on Agricultural Greenhouse Gases brought countries together to find ways to grow more food without growing greenhouse gas emissions.Agenda: download here

17 March 2015. FACCE JPI Governing Board. FACCE JPI is the Joint Research Programming Initiative on Agriculture, Food Security and Climate Change

17 March 2015. CSA and Agroecology Working Group
Meeting of the Technical Advisory Committee of the Project “Knowledge and technical services in the development of “Climate Smart Agriculture” and “Agroecology” approaches”, co-organized by CIRAD and FAO.

17 March 2015. Global Alliance on CSA (GACSA): Presentation GACSA seeks to improve people’s food security and nutrition in the face of climate change.
Details of the meeting to be confirmed.

18 March 2015. The Regional Multidisciplinary Platform “Rural Communities, Environment and Climate in West Africa” (PPR SREC). Presentation of PPR SREC, a cross-disciplinary, regionally integrated multi-stakeholders platform for innovative approaches, education and training in West Africa, in the face of climate change and food security.

19 March 2015. Final meeting of the AnimalChange European project. The large collaborative project AnimalChange funded from the European Union's Seventh Framework Programme for research, technological development and demonstration, will hold its final meeting at Agropolis International to present project results.See programme)

Side-event in Paris
19 March 2015. Gender Seminar and Panel: “Closing the gender gap in farming under climate change: New knowledge for renewed action”

Africa Future Energy Forum

27-28 March 2015. Nairobi, Kenya. Africa Future Energy Forum. Global Energy Initiative and MCI-Middle East this forum. Themed as Unlocking Africa's Energy Potential, the forum brought together major stakeholders to discuss the policy, technology, and financing aspects of unlocking Africa's energy potential. The two-day addressed the following paramount questions:
  • How to meet the energy demand of Africa's growing economies and close the energy access gap?
  • What is the ideal energy mix for Africa's energy future?
  • Can the gap between existing infrastructure and investment required to increase energy accessibility be bridged?
  • Are the African governments ready to provide leadership and governance to bring an energy revolution in Africa?

The forum seeked to demonstrate the growing significance and viability of business and investment in the African energy sector and featured the following issues:
  • Energy security in the changing African energy landscape
  • Building capacity for power sector growth
  • Global fossil fuel industry and oil and gas development in Africa
  • Ensuring clean, safe and affordable energy for all
  • Potential and trends in renewable sector
  • Sharing of best practices, technology, and alignment of energy policies
  • Financing energy systems of Africa
  • Fostering corporate social responsibility and public-private partnerships
  • Promoting role of youth and women in Africa's energy future

Climate Smart Agriculture 2015 Global Science Conference

16 March – 18 March 2015. Montpellier, France. CSA 2015 was the third international conference in a successful series on Climate-smart agriculture (CSA) that was launched by Wageningen University and Research in the Netherlands, in 2011. It then moved to the University of California, Davis, USA in 2013. Over these four years, the concept of climate-smart agriculture has spread worldwide. It is now attracting the attention of many scientists, policy makers, developers, farmers, as well as other stakeholders including the public. There were some 754 participants from 75 countries to attend this conference.
  • The Montpellier Statement is available here 
  • Full program online
  • All abstracts available here
  • Professor Sir Gordon Conway's presentation at CSA2015 "We are all in the same boat: food production and food security under threat by climate change" is available here
According to the FAO, Climate smart agriculture (CSA) is a way to achieve short and long term agricultural development priorities in the face of climate change and serve as an integrator to other development priorities. It seeks to support countries and other actors in securing the necessary policy, technical and financial conditions to enable them to:
  • Ensure sustainable and equitable increases in agricultural productivity and incomes;
  • Improve the resilience of food systems and farming livelihoods; and
  • Contribute to the reduction and/or removal of greenhouse gas emissions associated with agriculture (including the relationship between agriculture and ecosystems), wherever possible.
The 3rd Global Science Conference on Climate-Smart Agriculture will lead to two key international scientific events to be organized in France. The first, "Our Common Future under Climate Change," to be held at UNESCO in Paris from the 7th to 10th, July 2015, will address all aspects of climate change. The second key event is the 2015 Climate Conference (21st session of the Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC), which will be held from November 30th to December 11th at Paris-Le Bourget.

The 3rd global Science Conference on Climate-Smart Agriculture was organized by Cirad, Inra, IRD and Agropolis International in close partnership with CGIAR, the University of Wageningen, the University of California (Davis) and FAO. The conference was financially supported by the French Ministry of Agriculture, Agrifood and Forestry, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Department for International Development, the region of Languedoc-Roussillon, the Montpellier Méditerranée Métropole, LabEx Agro and CeMEB.

Published on 19 Mar 2015 Farming First went behind the scenes at the Third Global Science Conference on Climate Smart Agriculture, to talk to the winners of the Louis Malassis international Scientific Prize, and the inaugural Olam Prize for Innovation in Food Security.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Exhibition stresses consumers’ rights to healthy food

16 March 2015. Seychelles. Members of the public including schoolchildren who are also consumers have received a large amount of information on healthy eating habits, healthy food to prevent obesity, and other health problems. They did so at an exhibition which was put together by the National Consumers’ Forum (Natcof) and its partners to commemorate World Consumer Rights Day on March 15 which this year fell on a Sunday.

The exhibition promoting this year’s theme ‘Consumers’ rights to healthy food’ brought together different partners, namely the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Fisheries and Agriculture, concerned by the increase of health problems caused by unhealthy eating and the amount of unhealthy imported products.

In remarks to officially launch the exhibition, Natcof’s executive chairperson Raymonde Course focused on healthy eating..
“In the world today consumers are facing many problems with their health, and many are being caused by nutrition, consuming food that is not good for our health. Food is one of the first priorities for us humans, for our development. 72% of the products that we consume are imported but we should consume more products that come from our fishermen and farmers. These are food that should be on our table,” Mrs Course pointed out.
For her part Minister Larue reiterated her call that we pay more attention to what we eat.
“We need to focus on the way we eat. Healthy eating should start at a young age and it starts at home. We need to work together and promote good examples on healthy eating habits. We should stop eating fast food, because it is not good for our health. Unhealthy diets are linked to overweight and obesity, high blood pressure and high level of cholesterol. Sometimes when consumers go shopping to buy groceries, they buy products that are not good for their health but these are less expensive. All people are consumers. Contrary to popular belief, healthy foods are not just for people who want to lose weight but also suitable and a better choice of food for everyone” Minister Larue stressed.
At the exhibition many organisations had been invited to promote ‘consumers’ right to healthy food’ and among them was the Seychelles Trading Company (STC) with its healthy organic food that people can purchase at the STC supermarket in Victoria. Many of the foods are sugar-free as well as gluten-free. People with allergies and who cannot tolerate certain food may also take comfort in the fact that safe food is also available. The Seychelles Fishing Authority (SFA) and the Fair Trading Commission (FTC) were also present at the exhibition.

Local farmers also had available on sale in their stalls local fruit and vegetables including cassava biscuits (galet), coconut juice, orange juice, bananas and mangoes.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Guidance for Responsible Agricultural Supply Chains

January 2015. Guidance for Responsible Agricultural Supply Chains. Draft for comment.

As the de‌mand for food increases, agriculture will continue to attract growing investment, particularly in developing countries where investment stocks in agriculture are relatively low.
  • New actors in the sector may be confronted with ethical dilemmas and find it difficult to uphold widely-supported standards of responsible business conduct (RBC), notably in countries with weak governance and insecure land rights.
  • Investors should thus implement due diligence to ensure that their investments are sustainable and bring long-term benefits to home and host countries, especially small-scale farmers and rural communities. 
In this context, the OECD and the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the UN (FAO) are developing due diligence guidance to help enterprises observe existing widely-supported standards for RBC along agricultural supply chains. This guidance will assist the National Contact Points of countries adhering to theOECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprisesto mediate any alleged breaches of the RBC recommendations contained in the Guidelines.


Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Making economic corridors work for the agricultural sector

11 March 2015: FAO has published a report (218 pages)  providing guidance on how economic 'agrocorridors' can draw private capital and large-scale investment to projects that benefit smallholder farmers and increase food security in lower-income countries.

The report, titled ‘Making economic corridors work for the agricultural sector,' contends that such corridors encourage economic sectors, especially agriculture in developing countries, in territories connected by highways, railroads, ports or canals, through the integration of investments, policy frameworks and local institutions. It explains that the potential of these corridors as “engines of broad-based sustainable development” has remained largely untapped, and can be harnessed to achieve smarter planning.

The report details six case studies, including three advanced corridor programmes in Central Asia, the Greater Mekong Subregion in Southeast Asia and Peru, as well as three new projects in Indonesia, Mozambique and Tanzania. It describes how corridors can act as a tool favoring natural resource governance, allowing for better management of environmental risks and practices, such as unsustainable monocropping. To stimulate better governance, corridors depend on coordinated public-private partnerships to link local and central governments.

The nutritional value of forest foods in Cameroon

16 March 2015. A recently published paper documents the nutritional composition and value of foods obtained from forest trees – ‘moabi’ fruits and oil (Baillonella toxisperma), ‘Mvout’ fruits (Trichoscypha abut) and the seeds of ‘ebaye’ (Pentaclethra macrophylla).

Foods gathered from the forest are important sources of nutrients and energy for millions of people in Cameroon, Gabon, Central African Republic, Congo Republic and DR Congo.

Foods from these three species were found to make important contributions to meeting daily nutritional requirements. The seeds of ‘ebaye’ (P. macrophylla) has higher fat content than soybeans. These forest foods also contribute iron, zinc, magnesium and vitamins C and E, complementing staple crops produced in agricultural fields. The authors of the paper call for promoting increased consumption of these foods and broader dissemination of information regarding their nutritional and phytochemical composition.

The research was carried out within the 'Beyond Timber' project, which aims to produce information, tools and guidelines for government agencies and timber producers to safeguard access by local people to non-timber resources, even within timber concessions.

Read the full paper 'Nutrients and bioactive compounds content of Baillonella toxisperma, Trichoscypha abutand Pentaclethra macrophylla from Cameroon'

Food Security Governance; Empowering Communities, Regulating Corporations

Food Security Governance Empowering Communities, Regulating Corporations
Nora McKeon, January 2015. 248 pages

Extract from a review by Ingeborg Gaarde.
In her book, Nora McKeon investigates the dynamics behind the intensified struggles over the agriculture model that should be the basis for the future development path. 
  • On the one hand the author sheds lights on power relations and uncovers the discourses behind paradigms and ’objective myths’ behind corporate globalization dominating the global food system. 
  • On the other hand, the book uncovers how members of the global food sovereignty movement – uniting peasants with artisanal fisher folk, pastoralists, indigenous peoples, urban poor and other concerned citizens – have found new ways to challenge the dominant paradigm. 
In the course of the revelations of the ongoing transformations in the global food system, the author investigates people-driven alternatives that are underway, produced by the social actors that feed most of the world’s population.

What makes this volume particular captivating is that McKeon moves between global and local perspectives in a unique combination of a food regime analysis combined with her personal portrayals of encounters with some of the key actors engaged in the struggle to solve global food problems, in particular small-scale food producers themselves. The author openly states that she has been involved in many of the processes described in the book and her own personal story being engaged in the interface between institutions and civil society makes this volume a fascinating insider's view on some of the bold ongoing transformations and dynamics in the global system today.

Other reviewers:
'Nora McKeon does a superb job at describing how governments have allowed markets and corporations to take control of food systems, and which tools could be used to provide healthier diets, ensure greater resilience, and empower communities.'-- Olivier De Schutter, former UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food

'At such an uncertain time in global food provisioning, Nora McKeon’s book offers an exceptional perspective… a lively account of food system crisis, competing paradigms and new questions of governance in an accessible and forward-looking analysis.' --Philip McMichael, Cornell University, USA

'This book is an overdue account of the fight over reform. It is a fine reminder that food democracy is the key to feeding everyone equitably, healthily, affordably and sustainably.' – Tim Lang, City University, London, UK

'..a wonderfully readable account of the world food crisis, distinguished by its grounded faith in the capacity of organizations – of people and governments – to prevent future hunger.'-- Raj Patel, Research fellow at UCB and author of Stuffed and Starved, and The Value of Nothing

'Nora McKeon understands the Byzantine world of global food politics better than anyone I know …. Everyone fighting for Food Sovereignty has to read this book.' --Pat Mooney, ETC Group

'Brilliant! An eye-opening tour of the march to democratize global food governance... A must-read for all who want to go beyond competing "issues" to governance itself -- and real solutions.' -- Frances Moore Lappé, author of Diet for a Small Planet

‘A must-read for food activists seeking to go beyond slogans, techno-administrative fixes or business as usual into the realm of active, popular democracy.' -- Eric Holt-Giménez, Food First/Institute for Food and Development Policy
Nora McKeon, FAO from Food First on Vimeo.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Advances in climate change adaptation research

10 - 12 March 2015. Nairobi. The AfricaInteract Continental Conference was attended by more than 200 delegates who include senior officials of national governments, representatives of regional economic organizations, researchers, development partners, network partners, and country nodes representing farmers’ organizations, agri-business, development partner agencies and parliamentarians. 

The conference was organized under the auspices of the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) and CORAF/WECARD, with funding from IDRC under the AfricaInteract project.

Scientists who will be attending the Climate Smart Agriculture 2015 Global Science Conference March 16-18, 2015 at Le Corum in Montpellier France, will be better informed of the African perspective for climate smart agriculture.  

During the three-day conference actors in climate change adaptation including research and development experts, discussed key advances in climate change adaptation research by CGIAR, IARCs and the National Agricultural Research Institutes, reviewed climate change related initiatives in the areas of agriculture, health and urban ecosystems. 

The conference shared valuable information and knowledge on climate change adaptation and enhanced understanding of evidence-based CSA policy and programme design. It also reflected on the outcomes of the recently concluded CoP 20 with regards to the case for Africa championed by the African negotiators and deliberate on how informed decision making could contribute towards the development of an effective African Climate Smart alliance.

10 March 2015, CORAF / WECARD officially launched the synthesis of reports on adaptation on climate change in Africa.

The synthesis was launched by, Ms. Cicily Karioki permanent Secretary of the Minister of Agriculture in the presence of the Executive Director of CORAF / WECARD, Dr Paco Sereme during the Opening Ceremony of the continental conference on climate that is holding from 10 to 12 March 2015 in Nairobi Kenya.

The launching of this synthesis report stems from the partnership between CORAF / WECARD and three other regional organizations namely ASARECA (East Africa), the COMIFAC (Central Africa) and FANRPAN (South Africa) as partners in AfricaInteract project, funded by the International Centre for Research and Development (IDRC) with the support of FARA.

Three distinct themes – Urban areas, Agriculture and Health – are covered in the four regions of Africa; Western, Central, South and East Africa. Research results in these different regions show a growing knowledge base designated to adaptation to climate change as well as strengthening research capacity on adaptation in the fields mentioned above. This helped to establish the following four recommendations namely

  • the need to better understand the adaptation actions and their results, 
  • the need to address gaps in policies and increase the adhesion of policies, 
  • the need to make better use of data from this research and finally, 
  • the need to respond to gender-related concerns.

5th International Scientific Conference on Small Ruminant Production

10 - 15 March 2015. Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt. This conference started with a workshop titled "Toward A Developed Sheep. Industry in Egypt" in Cairoon 10 March 2015 and then moved to Sharm El Sheikh.

The workshop focused on events affecting sheep and goat production in Egypt. Participants discussed opportunities and constraints facing small ruminant production and developed guidelines on how to improve the small ruminant industry in Egypt. 

The Egyptian Association For Sheep and Goats is an NGO established in Egypt aiming the development of sheep and goat sector in the country. The Association manage the following activities:
  • Consultation for establishing and developing sheep & goat farms.
  • Preparation of feasibility studies.
  • Advisory on solving problems facing sheep & goats breeders.
  • Integration between sheep & goats owners and producers and implementing cooperative investment
  • Producing extension publication.
  • Executing training programs on small ruminant issues.
  • Establishing animal's shows and sharing in international shows for unique animals.
  • Facilitating genetic improvement among local flocks.
  • Management and supervising investment cooperative projects in areas of sheep & goat production and desert land reclamation.
  • Publishing “ Egyptian journal of sheep & goat sciences”
  • Holding International scientific conferences.
  • Establishing marketing channels for live animals and their products

Saturday, March 14, 2015

3rd UNCCD scientific conference

9-12 March 2015. Cancun, Mexico. 3rd United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) Scientific Conference. The contribution of science, technology, traditional knowledge and practices.

During the opening session of the 3rd United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) Scientific Conference in Cancun, Mexico, this week (9-12 March), Tarja Halonen, UNCCD’s drylands ambassador and former president of Finland, said poverty, climate change and desertification are closely linked in their causes, impacts and solutions.
Increased population growth will set new demands for productive land capacity, and that in 15 years’ time people will need 45 per cent more food, 30 per cent more water and 50 per cent more energy, with almost half of the world’s poorest people inhabiting degraded lands.
How can key vulnerabilities of ecosystems and populations with regard to climate change in the various situations in the world be identified? How can they be characterized?
  • Workshop 1.1: Climate change
  • Workshop 1.2: Environmental and ecological set up
  • Workshop 1.3: Food security, agriculture, pastoralism
  • Workshop 1.4: Socio-economics
  • Workshop 1.5: Integrated methodology and policy making 

How can adaptive capacities be developed or maximized at short, medium and long term? What are the major contributions from traditional and local practices and scientific research? How are they related to specific settings? How can they be generalized so that they can be adapted and applied to broader settings? What are the obstacles to more widespread use?
  • Workshop 2.1: Crops, livestock, genetics and seed systems
  • Workshop 2.2: Agro-ecosystems
  • Workshop 2.3: Soil and water issues
  • Workshop 2.4: Knowledge and knowledge transfer
  • Workshop 2.5: Desertification, land degradation and restoration

How can we best measure the performance of actions to combat land degradation and desertification? How can we cost-effectively evaluate the efficiency of drought-mitigation strategies?
  • Workshop 3.1: Indicators
  • Workshop 3.2: Remote-sensing and mapping
  • Workshop 3.3: Drought, water, hydrology
  • Workshop 3.4: Sustainable land management / Land degradation neutrality
  • Workshop 3.5: Processes of degradation 

Global Forum for Innovation in Agriculture 2015

9 - 11 March 2015. Abu Dhabi - Abu Dhabi - United Arab Emirates. Global Forum for Innovation in Agriculture 2015.

300 scientists and experts from across 71 countries take park in the programAbu Dhabi - H.E. Rashid Mohammed Al Shariqi, Director General of Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority opened the Hosted Scientist Program which brought together some 300 scientists and experts from across 71 countries of the world to explore solutions to tackle the world hunger and under-nutrition caused by the scarcity of resources and climate change.

The Hosted Scientist Program was held on the sidelines of the second edition of Global Forum for Innovations in Agriculture. Focusing on critical issues such as food security, nutrition, climate change, women in agriculture and agri-biodiversity, the Global Forum is a unique platform for agricultural knowledge, innovation and enterprise communities, to work together to share information and ideas, to dialogue, and to build partnerships for action.

The Forum comprised six conferences:
  1. Global Climate-Smart Agriculture Summit (CSA) - The inaugural Global CSA Summit will be launched under the theme “Promoting sustainability & agricultural resilience” and it represent the core of GFIA 2015.
  2. Post harvest waste initiative: from prevention to valorisation - As the reduction of food waste must be part of a portfolio of solutions needed to feed the world more sustainably, GFIA 2015 will include a major focus on the important issues
  3. ICT for sustainable agriculture - This two day conference will focus on how ICT can promote sustainable, climate resilient agriculture and promises exciting solutions for food producers in terms of increasing productivity, improving market access, financing and training. Companies already confirmed to exhibit within the ICT Pavilion include Progis Software,Top-Con, PA Source, TAHA (Mascar, Crushing Tech, Bellon, Ortolon, GIL, SIP), FarmApps,Expressweather, Aeroterrascan, Fieldeye and Dalsem
  4. Edible cities: building resilience with urban agriculture - This conference will focus on the critical need for cities to develop their own sources of food to avoid severe food insecurity associated with water shortages, land degradation and climate change
  5. Forum on non-conventional water use in arid climates - This forum will seek to showcase research and innovations to tackle the issues posed by water scarcity and explore strategies to promoting sustainable solutions in the region and globally.
  6. Aquaculture and indoor agriculture discovery days - A series of workshops aimed at providing farmers and businesspeople in the MENA region with all the information they need about setting up a new food production business
Download the GFIA 2015 show catalogue including the event timetable, conference programmes, innovation and speaker profiles, exhibitor listings and product guide.
GFIA 2015: The Agricultural Revolution Continues from nadine cottman on Vimeo.

Agro-industry Development for Food and Nutritional Security in Southern Africa

9th to 10th March 2015. Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. Ad-hoc Expert Group Meeting. Over 60 experts from southern Africa including agro-industry and agribusiness experts from government institutions, the private sector, SADC institutions, civil society, academia and others development partners participated in this meeting.

This Ad-hoc Expert Group Meeting discussed emerging issues and challenges in strengthening agro-industry for food and nutritional security in the SADC region. An issues paper on Agro-industry development for food and nutritional security in Southern Africa was the major discussion paper.

Other papers addressing specific issues in agro-industry development were presented by other stakeholders. These include,

  • “Agro-industry development in East and Southern Africa: Exploring Regional Value Chains (COMESA)”, 
  • “Agro-industry development: capacity and operational needs for take-off”(UNIDO), 
  • “Agro-industry development: The Experience of the Milling Industry in Zambia” (Zambia Millers Association), 
  • Agribusiness development and participation in regional value chains in Southern Africa and 
  • “Financing agroindustry for food and nutritional security in Southern Africa” (DBSA). 

The two day meeting provided concrete recommendations on how to strengthen the agro-industry sector through among others partnerships, best practices and lessons from other regions.


  • Map the structure and conduct of the sector including performance trends in the SADC sub region; 
  • Identify investment opportunities for the benefit of existing as well as emerging actors within the industry; 
  • Identify constraints that limit agro-processing development in the sub region and analyze short and long term issues that influence the effective establishment and development of agro-processing industries and affect their ability to promote food and nutrition security; 
  • Audit the current policy support mechanisms and their ability to promote an efficient, profitable, competitive, sustainable and inclusive agro-industry which sustains food security and nutrition in the SADC sub region, draw lessons and highlight success stories; 
  • Discuss alternative business models and approaches to agro-industrial development and innovative institutions to support the development of agro-industries with a clear focus on the possible role of governments, the private sector and civil society in the process; and 
  • Recommend strategic directions for strengthening agro-industry development and linkages with food and nutrition security in southern Africa. 

The small and inchoate private sector in many African countries and struggling medium and small scale industries required for the state’s involvement which is key in creating an agricultural entrepreneurial class that would invest in the agri-business.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Combating Poverty through Better Use of Natural Resources

10 March 2015. Joint research project carried out by the IASS and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) in 2012 and 2013

Responsible and pro-poor governance of natural resources is essential. This is particularly true in the context of climate change, because access to and the management of natural resources play a key role in adaptation strategies to climate change. IASS researchers Judith Rosendahl, Matheus Alves Zanella and Jes Weigelt stress this in their new study on Pro-poor Resource Governance under Changing Climates.
  • In close collaboration with local civil society organisations, case studies were prepared in six countries: Bangladesch, Bolivia, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Ecuador and India. 
  • The case studies document and analyse examples of pro-poor governance of natural resources, paying particular attention to the impact of institutional change on livelihoods and the way in which climate change and other change processes increase the vulnerability of smallholders.
  • One of the core results of the study is that climate change makes smallholders more vulnerable. While social factors also play a role here, climate change reinforces vulnerability. Securing community land rights is one crucial element of adaptation strategies. But this must be accompanied by other measures if poverty is to be reduced. All of the case studies underline the importance of political processes for increasing the capacity of smallholder populations to adapt. However, all too often the needs of these populations are ignored in such processes. 
In addition to the English-language version of the study, French- and Spanish-language versions will soon be available. Link: Study „Pro-poor Resource Governments under Changing Climates“.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Grow Markets, Fight Hunger: A Food Security Framework for US-Africa Trade Relations

Grow Markets, Fight Hunger:A Food Security Framework forUS-Africa Trade Relations
By Andrea Durkin March 2015
Copyright © 2015 by The Chicago Council on Global Affairs
22 pages

3 March 2015. A new framework for US-Africa trade relations focused on agriculture and food can advance African food security while positioning US businesses to benefit from Africa’s growing food market, which is expected to reach $1 trillion by 2030.

This report presents evidence that an effort by the United States focused on bolstering regional trade and harmonizing food standards and regulations across countries would drive economic growth while improving the availability and affordability of nutritious foods throughout Africa.

The Council recommends that the U.S. government will build on the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) Forum by creating a U.S.-Africa Food Dialogue to advance regional economic integration; reduce technical regulations and standards barriers to agriculture and food trade; and implement trade facilitation measures.
"African and American farmers and agrifood businesses stand to make big gains if we can increase regional trade in Africa through tackling some of the inconsistencies in standards and regulatory frameworks," said Dan Glickman, former U.S. secretary of agriculture and co chair of the Council's project on global food security. "We need to make more headway in reducing the cost of moving agricultural products and food within and between countries."

Summary of Report Recommendations

New $13.8 million project aims to boost banana production in Uganda and Tanzania

The researchers expect their hybrid 

banana varieties to have a 
30% higher yield and a 
50% higher resistance. 
© Rony Swennen
6 March A five-year project that aims to improve banana farming in Tanzania and Uganda by creating high-yielding and disease-resistant banana hybrids is set to begin trials in June 2015.

The project, which received US$13.8 million funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in October last year, aims to develop banana varieties for smallholder farmers in the two countries where banana is a staple food for millions of people.

The IITA, Bioversity International and the CGIAR Research Program on Roots, Tubers and Bananas are also providing substantial co-financing.

Uganda and Tanzania produce more than 50 per cent of all bananas cultivated in Africa, but achieve only nine per cent of the crop’s potential yield because of pests and diseases, according to the Nigeria-headquartered International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA). The project will be implemented by IITA, with five doctoral and eight master’s students expected to receive research grants.
“Beneficiaries will come from Uganda’s National Agricultural Research Organisation (NARO) and IITA, and most master’s and doctoral students will be selected on a competitive basis,” says Rony Swennen, project leader and head of banana breeding at IITA. The research projects will include pest and disease control, and genetics.
The venture, says Swennen, hopes to boost resistance to common banana pests including banana weevil and nematodes; and diseases such as Black sigatoka also called black leaf streak — and Fusarial wilt disease by up to 50 per cent, while raising yields by 30 per cent higher than the current potential. Swennen adds that in June the plants will be introduced in five field sites for trials and evaluation. The venture will build on 26 already existing hybrid varieties developed earlier jointly by NARO and IITA.

Video Emission du 13 janvier 2014. Dans l’histoire d’ABE, c’est la première fois qu’une émission est consacrée à la banane et c’est aussi la première fois que l’éthique des entreprises est soumise à un véritable test.