Platform for African – European Partnership in Agricultural Research for Development

Friday, August 28, 2015

Les technologies de transformation du soja en lait et afitin au Bénin

28 au 29 août 2015. Benin. Atelier de validation des résultats des études de base relatives aux technologies de transformation du soja en lait et afitin au Bénin.

Dans le cadre de la mise en œuvre du projet ProSAM, une cartographie des acteurs des chaînes de valeur soja, l’identification des technologies de transformation du soja en lait et en afitin et une analyse financière des chaînes de valeur lait et afitin soja ont été réalisées. Un atelier réunissant les différents acteurs intervenants dans la filière soja a été organisé pour la validation des résultats des différentes études suscitées.

 Les participants à cet atelier étaient au nombre d’une trentaine et constituent des représentants des acteurs publics et privés de la filière soja au Bénin. Les membres du consortium Soja du Bénin (CSB) exécutant actuellement le ProSAM sont:
  • Faculté des Sciences Agronomiques (FSA) de l’Université d’Abomey Calavi
  • Institut National des Recherches Agricoles du Bénin (INRAB) ;
  • Association pour le Développement du Soja au Bénin (SOJAGNON ONG) 
  • Fédération des Unions des Producteurs (FUPRO) du Bénin
  • Université de Wageningen (WU) des Pays-Bas et
  • Institut International pour la Recherche Scientifique et Tropicale (IICT) du Portugal.
Cet atelier visait à valider les résultats des études de référence et des technologies de transformation du soja en afitin et en lait.
  • Restituer et valider les résultats de l’étude sur la cartographie des acteurs ; 
  • Restituer et valider les résultats des études technologiques approfondies ; 
  • Restituer et valider les résultats de l’étude de la rentabilité financière des chaînes de valeur lait et afitin ; 
  • Identifier les axes d’amélioration et de promotion de la consommation et de la transformation du soja en lait et en afitin 
  • Réaliser une analyse des FFOM de la filière; 
  • Réaliser la cartographie de la filière soja ; 
  • Réaliser la cartographie des projets intervenants dans la filière.
Published on 4 Sep 2015
Améliorer la chaine alimentaire des dérivés du soja (lait et afintin) pour une meilleure sécurité alimentaire des populations vulnérables, c'est l'objectif du Projet Soja Afintin (ProSAM) financé par l'UE à travers le PAEPARD de FARA. Huit mois après le lancement de ce projet, une visite de terrain dans la commune de Zogbodomey au Bénin a été organisée à l'attention des différents acteurs venus des quatre coins du monde dans le cadre dudit projet. Le présent numéro de Agro Mag renseigne sur la chaine de valeur du soja au Bénin, les raisons justificatives du Projet et les temps forts de la visite de terrain.


Exploring Storage and Drying Solutions for Aflatoxin Prevention

This bag is a triple layer plastic bag introduced 
to West Africa by Purdue University and 
currently manufactured in Kenya by Bell Industries. 
This bag requires placement on a pallet. 
Capacity ranges 90-100kg with costs 
estimated at $2.80 per bag.
14 August 2015. Agrilinks interviewed Sophie Walker, Chief of Party of AflaSTOP project.

Based in Kenya, AflaSTOP is investigating storage devices that will prevent the growth of aflatoxin-producing mold during storage and exploring drying technologies that will help farmers reduce grain moisture from current levels at 15-18 percent to a safer 13.5 percent.

AflaSTOP intends to commercialize the most promising of these technologies in order to scale adoption.
"The goal of my work right now is mass adoption of these storage and drying devices by smallholder farmers, either as an investment on farm or a service that they buy in to. We need to ask ourselves how we can provide the knowledge to private sector companies working in this area so they can drive their supply chains down to small agridealers."
The AflaSTOP: Storage and Drying for Aflatoxin Prevention (AflaSTOP) project is identifying the most promising storage options to arrest the growth of aflatoxin and designing viable drying options that will allow smallholder farmers to dry their grain to safe storage levels.
This bag is produced by GrainPro and imported 
into the country duty free. Current storage 
capacity ranges from 800-1,300 kg. 
They will soon be introducing a 500kg bag. 
The estimated cost for the frame and bulk bag is around $260.
The project works to ensure that businesses operating in Africa are able to provide these devices to smallholder farmers.

Linking scientifically rigorous research with human-centric design and grounded in marketplace realities, the project consists of three core components:
  1. Storage: scientific testing of storage devices in controlled conditions and field testing with smallholder farmers
  2. Drying: research, design, testing, fabrication, and adaptation of potential drying solutions
  3. Metal Silo: The silos are made out of aluminum 
    and produced by local artisans. They are placed 
    on a pallet and size ranges from 200-1,000kg. 
    Estimated cost is $144.
  4. Commercialization strategy development: tailored investigation and validation of the commercial viability of each storage and drying product
AflaSTOP has conducted the largest aflatoxin trial to date of small-scale agricultural grain storage devices (90kg-1,000kg). AflaSTOP’s research shows that until the underlying problem of maize being contaminated in the field is addressed, hermetic storage can be a major contribution to addressing the phenomenal increase in contamination experienced during the storage period due to current storage methods.

As for drying technology, the shallow bed dryer shows the most promise. It is a completely new device that has never gone to market. The basic configuration of this mechanical dryer is a furnace, a heat exchanger and a supply of air (provided by fan). The heat from the furnace moves through the heat exchanger and through the raised bed that contains the grain.

AflaSTOP supports the objectives of the Partnership for Aflatoxin Control in Africa (PACA), which is establishing a comprehensive, Africa-wide approach to aflatoxin control. Cofunding for this project is provided by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and USAID, and the project is jointly implemented by ACDI/VOCA and Agribusiness Systems International (ASI), under the direction of Meridian Institute.

27 July 2015. Mycotoxin Detection Options
We would like to see standardized testing protocols across all of Peanut & Mycotoxin Innovation Lab (PMIL’s) programs and develop an information Booklet and Web-based recommendation app.
Kumar Mallikarjunan is a Professor at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in Blacksburg, VA. He has been involved with the USAID funded peanut projects for almost 20 years – formerly with the Peanut CRSP and now with the Peanut and Mycotoxin Innovation Lab.

27 July 2015. Solar Drying to Control Aflatoxin Contamination in Peanut
Aflatoxin is not something that is well known outside the scientific community. Most families in Ghana do not know much about it. Actually, I hardly hear anything about it in Ghana. Solar drying does not expose the peanuts directly to sunlight and they are not exposed to rain either. The dryer has a collector to capture the heat from the sun and an enclosed structure around the nuts that conducts the heat. Everything is enclosed so there will be no moisture from rain. I want to work to create technology that eliminates aflatoxin and that is affordable and easily transferred to farmers.
Maxwell Lamptey is participating in a short-term training program supported by the Peanut and Mycotoxin Innovation Lab from March to September 2015. He is a senior technical officer working on legumes at the Crops Research Institute (CRI) in Kumasi, Ghana.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

GFAR Constituent Assembly

24-26 August 2015. Bangkok, Thailand. Around 150 GFAR stakeholder representatives took part in the “Renewal & Reform” of GFAR, coming together for its first-ever Constituent Assembly. During three days they met to decide the future role, resourcing and governance of the Global Forum.

The Global Forum was established almost 20 years ago, but agriculture today faces very different and complex new challenges, requiring us all to work together to solve them.
FAO’s Dr Ren Wang, 

who is helping to shape 
the future of GFAR
at the Constituent Assembly
I am optimistic about GFAR’s future – so long as it continues to get its strategy and priorities right, and if it continues to strengthen its competitive advantage; that is, its networks and links with multiple stakeholders. It will be important for GFAR to increase and enhance its representation, particularly of the emerging economies that continue to represent a large proportion of the increased investment in agricultural innovation systems. I hope that is a consideration when it comes to looking at the future governance of the Forum.”
The current “Renewal and Reform” process was triggered by an independent review in 2013,which recommended changes to GFAR’s governance structures in light of its evolving role. Since then, the Strategic Governance Working Group (SGWG) has been leading a strategic reflection on issues raised by the review as they impact on the Global Forum’s governance, including GFAR’s role and purpose, the basis for collective action by stakeholders, new models of governance required and how to resource the actions of the Forum.

These themes were examined and discussed in more depth at the Constituent Assembly, before participants are asked to make decisions related to each. Mark Holderness says that will require exploring some key concepts, to build understanding and mutual commitments around each –essential items in a voluntary movement.

Published on 19 Aug 2015
Interview with Dr. Ruth Onaing'o, GFAR Vice Chair on the upcoming Constituent Assembly to be held on Bangkok, Thailand.

First Climdev-Africa Special Fund Project

3 August 2015. The ClimDev Africa Special Fund (CDSF) launched its first project in Ethiopia on August 3 to help the country cope with, and build resilience to, climate change by enhancing capacity in climate monitoring, data analysis, interpretation, forecasting and dissemination for use in national decision-making.

The project entitled "Strengthening Climate Information and Early Warning Systems for Climate Resilient Development and Adaptation to Climate Change in Ethiopia - (SCI-EWS)" will be implemented over a span of three years at a total cost of EUR 1 million. The project will enhance the capacity of the country's National Meteorology Agency by :
  • promoting strategies that effectively manage risks; 
  • reduce vulnerability; 
  • and maximize opportunities associated with climate variability, change and extreme weather events for different socioeconomic sectors
  • Improved service delivery and cost recovery systems as a result of the project, are expected to generate additional income for the Government to ensure the future sustainability of the system together with the National Meteorological Agency.
This project exemplifies the importance of the ClimDev-Africa Special Fund to help mitigate the challenges associated with gathering and relaying important climate-related information on the continent - a critical step to help countries deal with climate change-related risk. In countries such as Ethiopia, in which climate change is not only recognized as a real threat, but as an opportunity as well, working towards sustainable adaptation and mitigation will help it achieve rapid economic development by promoting safe agricultural investments and boosting industrial growth. Justus Kabyemera, AfDB ClimDev-Africa Special Fund Coordinator

Launched in November 2014, the ClimDev Africa Special Fund (CDSF) is the funding arm of ClimDev Africa, a joint programme between the African Union Commission, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa and the African Development Bank. Housed at the AfDB, it is a demand-led fund that pools resources to finance investment activities on the ground across Africa for the generation and use of climate information for climate-resilient development. Grants are provided to projects in line with the ClimDev-Africa Programme's goal, purpose and results areas and are implemented by national and regional organizations at all levels on the continent.

Related PAEPARD blog post:
EU Grants €8 Million to ClimDev Africa
27 April 2012: A grant agreement was signed by the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), the EU and the African Union (AU) in support of the ClimDev Africa programme, a flagship initiative in the Africa-EU Partnership on Climate Change and Development.

Effective forest and farm producer organizations

Effective forest and farm producer organizations
Sharing stories and experiences
Nick Pasiecznik and Herman Savenije© 2015 ETFRN and Tropenbos International, Wageningen, the Netherlands
September 2015, 213 pages

A new book brings together 30 articles, highlighting examples from more than 30 countries, showing that well-organized groups hold the key to a more sustainable and equitable world. Reporting on issues of inclusiveness, this is also reflected in the authorship, with most of the 80 contributing (co)authors from the Global South, representing NGOs, UN organizations, government bodies and private companies as well as producer organizations, a third of them women.

Farm and forest producer organizations are of critical importance to the sustainable use of our natural resources, now and into the future. So says the growing consensus of global opinion. And they hold the key to overcoming many issues, from poverty and human rights, to environmental degradation and biodiversity conservation.

Producer organizations represent the collective voices of farmers and forest- dependent peoples, indigenous groups and rural communities. They, are the building blocks of local democracy, and provide essential services to members. And when truly inclusive and with the right support, management choices are sustainable and the benefits are equitable.

The result is a compilation of experiences that adds significantly to a growing body of knowledge. Forest and farm producer organizations speak of their achievements and successes – and challenges, some overcome, some not. They share how they have organized themselves, what support they have received, and whether this was for better or for worse. Some benefits were expected, others unexpected. Problems remain, and some were made worse, even with well-meaning intentions of ‘outsiders’.

African cases:
  • Learning lessons slowly: artisanal millers associations in Ghana ; Evans Sampene Mensah and Sam Nketiah
  • From demonstration plot to agribusiness and rural tourism, Cameroon ; Divine Foundjem-Tita, Ann Degrande, Charlie Mbosso and Kuh Emmanuel Lo-ah 
  • Kenyan smallholders improving benefits from milk production ; Maria J. Restrepo, Joseph Ndung’u, Meshack Mwaura, Margareta A. Lelea and Brigitte Kaufmann
  • Public forest agencies and producer organizations in Kenya ; Marco Boscolo, Oscar Simanto, Philip Kisoyan, Jhony Zapata and Duncan MacQueen

The Forest and Farm Facility of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the Government of the Netherlands provided financial support.

9 to 11 June 2015. Nairobi, Kenya. The “African Farm/Family Forestry Producer Organizations Conference" has been organized by the International Family Forestry Alliance (IFFA) in close collaboration with the Forest and Farm Facility, FAO, the Kenya Forest Service, the African Forest Forum, We Effect, FLEGT, the Great Green Wall Initiative, PEFC, the Forest Action Network and the Farm Forestry Smallholder Producers’ Association of Kenya. The conference has produced resolutions which will feed into the XIV World Forestry Congress (7 - 11 September 2015. Durban, South Africa).  
Published on 22 Jul 2015
Training piloted by the Forest Farm Facility (FFF) introducing energy saving (cooking stove) in Gambia prepared by Kumba Gaye, in order to reduce the depending on firewood for cooking.

Wageningen Soil Conference

23 - 27 August 2015. Wageningen, the Netherlands. The second edition of the Wageningen Soil Conference with the theme “Soil Science in a Changing World” attracted around 250 scientists from 28 countries.

Extract form the programme:
  • Bernard Vanlauwe, International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Kenya Pathways towards the sustainable intensification of smallholder farming systems in Sub-Saharan Africa 
  • Deborah Bossio, Soils Research Area Director, CIAT International Center for Tropical Agriculture, Kenya Soil organic matter for climate change mitigation: boon or bane for food security?
  • Richard Kraaijvanger: Evaluating resource use efficiency and stock balances of fertilizer inputs: the effect of soil supply capacity in Tigray (Ethiopia); Richard Kraaijvanger: Four years of farmer experimentation on soil fertility in Tigray, northern Ethiopia: trends in research strategies  
  • Johan Leenaars: Soil information to feed the African soil, crop and people
  • Maria Ruiperez Gonzalez: Digital Mapping of Soil Nutrients for the Republics of Burundi and Rwanda 
  • Takoutsing Bertin Land health surveillance for identifying land constraints and enhancing soil productivity in smallholders’ agriculture in Cameroon  
  • Lieven Claessens The Global Yield Gap Atlas for targeting sustainable intensification options for smallholders in SubSaharan Africa 

2015 World Water Week

23 – 28 August 2015. Stockholm, Sweden. World Water Week in Stockholm is the annual focal point for the globe’s water issues. It is organized by SIWI. This year is the jubilee year for both the Week and the Stockholm Water Prize. The theme is Water for Development. Experts, practitioners, decision-makers, business innovators and young professionals from a range of sectors and countries come to Stockholm to network, exchange ideas, foster new thinking and develop solutions to the most pressing water-related challenges of today.

23/08 Small Farms, Big Opportunities- Pioneering Corporations and Drip Irrigation
Affordable drip irrigation allows smallholders to improve food security, reduce poverty and increase water productivity. Why has business-as-usual failed to bring drip to smallholder farmers? And how are current challenges to scaling-up being overcome?
The FAO is developing a publicly accessible near real time database using satellite data that will allow monitoring of agricultural water productivity.
  • Implementation of concrete examples of water productivity monitoring in Irrigated areas and rainfed maize production, South Africa, Andre Roux, Department of Agriculture South Africa
23/08 Impact of subsidies on efficient water technology uptake within agriculture
  • “The relevance of subsidies to promote efficient irrigation technologies to World Bank Group’s operations. Specific programmatic example of the Sahel Irrigation Initiative.” 
  • Rwanda: “Promotion of efficient irrigation technologies in Rwanda and prospects for scalability in the region” Richard Colback, International Finance Corporation, the World Bank Group
  • Morocco: “The use of subsidies for solar energy and efficient irrigation technologies in Morocco” (based on report by H. Serghini, R. Telleria, A. Singhabhandhu, A. Laamari and A. Aw-Hassan) Aden Aw-Hassan, International Center for Agriculture Research in the Dry Areas
23/08 Towards economically viable and socially just dams in West Africa
Sélingué dam in Mali.

24/08 Water for Food Security and Nutrition.
This event provided an opportunity for participants to be informed about the findings and recommendations from the High Level Panel of Experts for Food Security and Nutrition (HLPE) report: ‘Water for Food Security and Nutrition’. HLPE is the science-policy interface of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS). HLPE reports provide a basis for multi-stakeholder debates in the CFS. Comments to the report will be provided from representatives of: private sector, civil society, CFS member countries, WLE-CGIAR, SIWI, and a perspective on implementation from FAO.

25/08 Africa Focus: Investments in agricultural lands vs water security

26/08 Landscape approaches for sustainable development, water and land resource management
This seminar provided a platform for discussion on how a holistic landscape approach can be taken when managing land AND water resources jointly to support and serve developing communities.
  • Gertrude Ngabirano, Project Manager Kagera River Basin Management Project, Rwanda
  • Anders Malmer, Head of SLU Global, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
  • Sylvester Mpandeli, Agricultural Research Council-Institute for Soil, Climate and Water
27/08 EU Water Initiative Multistakeholder Forum
The EU Water Initiative (EUWI) is working to reinforce political commitment to the water agenda, to create a strong and integrated framework for EU action, and is active in regional components : Africa, Eastern Europe Caucasus and Central Asia (EECCA), Latin America, the Mediterranean and the China-EU Water Platform.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Food Tank Webinar Series: Digital Agriculture with David Bergvinson

25 August 2015. Online Webinar of Food Tank.

More about the speaker:

Dr. David Bergvinson assumed office as Director General of ICRISAT on 1 January 2015. 
  • He is highly committed to demand-driven innovation that recognizes the important role of women and youth to enable inclusive market-oriented development, and in helping improve the lives of the hundreds of millions of impoverished smallholder farmers and their families living in the semi-arid tropics of Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. 
  • Prior to his appointment at ICRISAT, Dr Bergvinson was with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation as Senior Program Officer, Crop Value Chains and Digital Design for Agriculture Development since 2007. 
  • He was responsible in accelerating the development and delivery of farmer-preferred products and services for staple crops in the developing world through formulating strategies, forging partnerships and applying digital technologies.
Published on 26 Aug 2015 
Dr. Bergvinson presented on creating equitable opportunities for smallholder farmers to realize their full potential by leveraging digital technology (mobile, cloud computing, social media, and big data analytics) along the agriculture value chain.

Global Youth Ag-Summit

On August 24-28, 2015, 100 young leaders from around the world gathered at the Global Youth Ag-Summit in Canberra, Australia to discuss ideas, develop a vision and deliver action.

An initiative of Bayer CropScience, the Summit was held in conjunction with Australia’s only national youth agricultural network “Future Famers Network” (FFN) Australia.

Operating since 2002, Future Farmers Network connects and supports young Australians involved in all facets of agriculture and provides members with access to the latest news, events, scholarships, wards and information from across all aspects of the Australian agricultural sector.

Extreme weather and resilience of the global food system

Global Food Security (GFS) SYNTHESIS REPORT, 2015, 20 pages

A Taskforce of academics, industry and policy experts was commissioned to examine the resilience of the global food system to extreme weather.

The report, which was sponsored by Britain’s Global Food Security program and was jointly commissioned by the UK Science and Innovation Network and Foreign and Commonwealth Office, notes that agriculture faces a triple challenge.

  1. The report states that increases in productivity, sustainability and resilience to climate change are required, 
  2. acknowledging that the effort will require significant investment from the public and private sectors, 
  3. as well as new cross-sector collaborations between scientists, agriculture, water and environmental specialists, technology providers, policymakers and civil engineers among others.
From a climatological perspective, two years stand out in recent years for being very high impact: 1988/9 where maize and soybean was seriously affected by drought in the US mid-West, and 2002/3 when rice and wheat were affected in Eastern Europe and Western Asia. Our plausible worst case scenario was built around both these events happening together. Given this potential for a food production shock, we then catalogued how different stakeholders in industry and different countries might respond. From this, we could flesh out a scenario of production shocks and market and policy responses. This was then used to stimulate thinking about how the responses would lead to impacts on people through changing prices and availability of food. Tim Benton, Global Food Security programme

The report is built on three detailed reports

It presents evidence that the global food system is vulnerable to production shocks caused by extreme weather, and that this risk is growing. 

  • Although much more work needs to be done to reduce uncertainty, preliminary analysis of limited existing data suggests that the risk of a 1-in-100 year production shock is likely to increase to 1-in-30 or more by 2040. 
  • Additionally, recent studies suggest that our reliance on increasing volumes of global trade, whilst having many benefits, also creates structural vulnerability via a liability to amplify production shocks in some circumstances. 
Action is therefore needed to improve the resilience of the global food system to weather-related shocks, to mitigate their impact on people. The contents of these reports are based upon workshop discussions held at Willis Tower, Chicago in October 2014 and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, London in February 2015


Innovation platforms to improve smallholder dairying at scale

Innovation platforms to improve smallholder dairying at scale: Experiences from the MilkIT project in India and Tanzania
Duncan, A.J., Teufel, N., Ravichandran, T., Hendrickx, S. and Ballantyne, P.G.
August 2015. ILRI Project Report

In this paper the authors reflect on the potential role of innovation platforms as spaces to identify and spread useful innovations associated with dairy production and feeding. 

They draw examples from MilkIT, a project to promote milk production in India and Tanzania. They first introduce the idea of innovation platforms and show how they can be used to define the key issues quickly. They highlight the various changes in local practices that innovation platforms can stimulate. They then consider how local innovations can move beyond innovation platforms, and classify a series of mechanisms by which this can happen. They outline strategies to ensure that innovation platforms generate wide-scale changes.

Related PAEPARD blogposts:
Jul 09, 2015
The case entitled MilkIT Innovation Platform: Changing Women's Lives – One Cow and One Litre of Milk at a Time
6th All Africa Conference on Animal Agriculture
Nov 03, 2014
Field testing a conceptual framework for innovation platform impact assessment: The Case of MilkIT dairy platforms in Tanga Region, Tanzania - Pham, N.D., Cadilhon, J.J. and Maass, B.L.
Dairy innovation platform experiences from ...
Aug 18, 2014
The Tanga Dairy Platform was founded in December 2008 by a group of dairy enthusiasts and facilitated by the British NGO Research Into Use (RIU). 
May 19, 2011
Tanga Fresh Ltd - Tanzania The project aims to increase the production, collection and supply of milk from smallholder dairy farmers to Tanga Fresh Limited

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Employment and mobility of graduates from African agricultural colleges and universities

17 - 19 August 2015. Accra, Ghana. FARA Secretariat. A three-day workshop on the eCapacities™ facility was held with the main objective of equipping representative staff from the demand-side (of labor markets) partner organizations with the know-how for effective management and administration of the eCapacities™ platform.

The eCapacities™ is a web-based interactive platform to aid strategic human capital formation in agriculture. Further, it has an integrated knowledge portal that provides linked-in information about capacity strengthening initiatives and the people involved. An important component of the eCapacities™ is the African student/graduate tracking feature, which will afford online employment and mobility tracking of graduates from African agricultural colleges and universities. Specifically, the feature will create online profiles, track graduates, provide them with access to job opportunities, access mentor networks and obtain access to other databases and networks. Moreover, the graduate tracking information gathered by eCapacities™ will be of benefit to tertiary agricultural institutes for internal quality assurance, in-house monitoring of students’ academic progress and accreditation by government regulatory agencies in the education sector.

The workshop participants were drawn mainly from Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Uganda and Zambia. The specific organizations in these countries represented in the training include FARA Secretariat, the sub-regional research organizations (ASARECA and CCARDESA), Ministries of Agriculture, national agricultural research organizations, agribusiness agencies, technical training institutes, and National Chambers of Commerce and Industry.

Enhancing food security using PICS bags

24 August 2015. Effective storage of grains such as maize, beans, cowpea, groundnuts and rice has always been a major challenge to smallholder farmers, not only in the country, but the rest of Africa. Grains are mostly destroyed by pests and insects within three months of storage due to the lack of proper storage methods for farmers and food dealers.

It is for this reason that Purdue University in the United States of America must be commended for introducing a new technology called, “Purdue Improved Crop Storage” (PICS) bags to provide a simple, effective low-cost method of reducing post-harvest losses in cereal crops due to insect infestations in West and Central Africa.
  • A PICS bag consists of two layers of polyethylene bags surrounded by a third layer of woven polypropylene. This oxygen-deprived environment proves fatal to insects and pests and therefore prevents them from causing harm to stored grains.
  • PICS technology was developed in the late 1980s by Professor Larry Murdock of Purdue University with support from partners in Cameroon and funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).
  • With further support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the technology was introduced into Africa in 2007 with the focus on the storage of cowpea.
  • This initial phase of the project covered ten countries across West and Central Africa, including Ghana. It was later established that the technology was as effective in controlling pests and insects from other cereal crops as it had been for cowpea.

Improved forages for Africa

20 August 2015. The Genome Analysis Centre (TGAC), with partners in the UK, Colombia and Kenya bring together their leading expertise in forage breeding for animal nutrition, cutting-edge genomics and phenomics technologies to accelerate the improvement of Brachiaria, a vital livestock feed crop in central Africa and Latin America.

This project is in partnership with the Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences (IBERS), UK, the International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), Colombia, and the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), Kenya. These activities are supported by a BBSRC International Partnering Award, which aims to support the development of long-term international collaborations, and funding from the Research Councils UK (RCUK) and British Council’s Newton Fund, which through science and innovation partnerships, promotes the economic development and welfare of poor people in partnering countries.

International expert skill-sets in genomics and bioinformatics enhance the capacity to breed improved forages for Africa. More than 80 per cent of the world’s agricultural land is for grazing to support the ever increasing demand for meat and milk for an expanding and growing urban population while boosting the income of rural families. The scarcity of grass feed is a worrying constraint standing in the way of this livestock productivity.
“Our scientists are working towards a common goal of increasing sustainable agriculture, and collaborations like this allow us to exploit our combined expertise to contribute to the important issue of food security. This project will deepen our interactions with international centres in Africa and Latin America, and improve forage breeding for livestock production.” Project lead, Sarah Ayling, Crop Genomics and Diversity Group Leader at TGAC
Some Brachiaria species have been cultivated as forage grasses, providing nutrition for ruminants
across the globe. As well as nutrition, the grasses have desirable genetic characteristics linked to drought and pest-resistance and adaptation to poor and acidic soils. Over the past 25 years, several African species of Brachiaria have been used commercially as forages in the tropics; the most widely sown forage plant in tropical America.

With its combined high nutritional value and stress resistant properties, the Brachiaria breeding programme at CIAT is crossing different species to produce new varieties with superior traits. A particular Brachiaria species, B. decumbens, grants resistance to aluminium, which has a high concentration in acid soils. Most low-income livestock keepers live in tropical grasslands in countries in central Africa with great grazing potential but are vulnerable due to the growing problem of increasing acid soils and longer extreme weather seasons.

Monday, August 24, 2015

EU-Africa cooperation in science, technology and innovation

Directorate-General for Research and Innovation
July 2015, 60 pages

The projects presented in this publication offer just a few concrete examples – 24 out of 590- of collaborative research platforms and networks in which African scientists, from the North to the South of the continent, cooperated with Europeans. They also show the added value of cooperation in STI as each one of these 24 projects made its own unique and important contribution to the daily lives of Europeans and Africans.

This publication highlights some of many fascinating projects through which the EU and Africa are currently innovating side by side. Each one, an opportunity to learn from one another: paving the way for deeper, mutually beneficial cooperation in the future. The research set out in this booklet is revealing what we can learn from traditional African medicines, how we can collaborate to tap into gamma ray astronomy, how we can harness the desert sun to produce clean energy and even how we can bring Africa’s culinary diversity to European markets.

  • EAU4FOOD Achieving a sustainable future for African farming . Since it began in July 2011, EAU4FOOD has focused on the needs of smallholder farmers. Study sites were purposely selected to represent Southern Africa (Mozambique and South-Africa), Northern Africa (Tunisia), West Africa (Mali) and East Africa (Ethiopia), to provide a baseline of usable data. From this, EAU4FOOD has been able to develop guidelines for achieving irrigated agriculture under a variety of water scarcity conditions. (page 22)
  • In collaboration with partners in Benin, Cameroon, Egypt, Madagascar, Senegal, Ghana and South Africa, the AFTER project (African traditional Food Revisited by Research) developed ways to improve some 10 foods and drinks from Africa, based on local knowledge in these countries. The project designed ways to improve their safety, sensory quality and nutritional content by adapting traditional processing techniques. The researchers also surveyed consumers to assess their potential acceptance in Europe (page 24)
  • In 2009, African and European countries launched the ERAfrica project to develop a more balanced, coordinated way of collaborating on scientific problems. Aſter two years of preparation, the first call was launched to trial priorities, approaches and organisational systems developed using the project’s collaborative ethos. The response was strong: 124 projects applied for funds. A final list of 17 projects was chosen to share €8.29 million of funding. Food security was a clear priority in the list, while health and new energy were also popular topics. Some of the ERAfrica partners are applying for further EU funds to finance the administrative costs linked to a second call in late 2015/early 2016. Angola and Mali have already promised experts to help prepare this call, while the South African and French project members will continue to support the ERAfrica approach financially beyond this call. (page 38)
  • The initiative CAAST-Net Plus and its predecessor CAAST-Net are cultivating new ideas, sharing knowledge and building working relationships to tackle major challenges aff ecting both Africa and Europe, from climate change to health and food security. In the process, they are building an unprecedented environment for the development of science and technology cooperation. African partners in Africa-EU partnerships need to be willing to fund programmes in health, climate change and food and nutrition security, and not only rely on research funding from other regions. Providing recommendations, fostering awareness and enriching policy-making to address these and other challenges will be among the key achievements of CAAST-Net Plus. (page 40)

The modernisation of African farmers’ organisations needs to include the use public-private partnerships

22 June, 2015. Utrecht. Rabobank. Conference "The Future of Farming and Food security in Africa".

Relive this event with 395 participants, with Her Majesty Queen Máxima of The Netherlands, and José Graziano da Silva, director-general of the FAO, Sharon Dijksma, State secretary Agricultural Affairs, a talkshow hosted by Ruerd Ruben and Andrew Makkinga, presentations by Dutch agro businesses.Videos of all the presentation are available on the the conference page.
Farmer organisations play a critical role in ensuring that the complex and dynamic developments that lie ahead “don’t leave smallholder farmers behind, so that they can manage the risks, and opportunities, that come with the future,” says Ishmael Sunga, CEO of the Southern African Confederation of Agricultural Unions (SACAU).

Uploaded on 22 Jun 2015

Published on 22 Jul 2015
Why African Farmers' Organisations need to modernise? Interview to Ishmael Sunga (CEO SACAU) In this conversation between Ishmael Sunga and Francesco Rampa, ECDPM’s Head of the Food Security Programme, at this year’s FoodFIRST conference, the CEO of SACAU explains that the modernisation of African farmers’ organisations needs to include the use public-private partnerships, improvement of logistics, and the use of digital solutions for issues like training, so that it becomes more accessible at a lesser cost.

How can we engage the private sector in African agriculture? – Irene Visser, NABC

"Just with farmers, you are not going to make it", says Irene Visser, Managing Director of the Netherlands-African Business Council (NABC). Interviewed by Francesco Rampa, Head of the Food Security programme at ECDPM during this years FoodFIRST conference, she explained that engaging the private sector in Africa's Agriculture and Food Security requires an approach that takes into consideration the entire value chain, not only farmers - but also producers of equipments, fertilizers, animal feed, etc.

International Conference on Livestock Nutrition

11-12August 2015. Frankfurt, Germany. The Livestock Nutrition-2015 Conference focused on the theme “Determining New Sustainable Feeding Strategies and Nutrient Standards”.

Livestock contributes directly to the livelihoods and food security of almost a billion people and affects the diet and health of many more. Livestock is needed for many reasons which include analyses of the social and economic aspects of the livestock sector; the environmental impacts of livestock such as the production and management of waste, greenhouse gas emissions and livestock-related land-use change; and large-scale public health and epidemiological investigations.

The livestock sector directly influences agricultural sector and therefore it targets a wide range of audience such as Livestock Feed manufacturing industries, RandD scientists in the field of Livestock Science, Veterinarians and Animal Health experts.

The scientific sessions focued on livestock nutrition and health, animal husbandry and modern agriculture, animal diseases, animal feed industries and the products manufactured, environmental impact of meat production and various other aspects directly concerning livestock science.

  • Voluntary intake and palatability indices of pedi goats fed Tanninferous Acacia karroo leaf meal by cafeteria method David Brown, University of Limpopo, South Africa
  • Influence of water deprivation on intake and growth performance of Nguni goats C T Mpendulo, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
  • Comparison of mathematical models described in situ DM Digestion of alfalfa cuts in sheep Evans Obura, Ataturk University, Kenya
  • Alternatives for inhibition of methanogenesis and enhance fermentation of feeds in the rumen Gebrehiwot Tadesse, Mekelle University, Ethiopia
  •  Effects of high fibre and its source on the growth and slaughter performance of pigs fed maize soybean diets fortified with Roxazyme® G2 F Fushai, University of Venda, South Africa

International Conference of Agricultural Economists 2015

9 - 14 August 2015. Milan, Italy. The 29th International Conference of Agricultural Economists 2015 (ICAE) with the theme “Agriculture in an Interconnected World” was intended to capture the widespread adoption of new communication technologies. 

The theme embraced a wide range of interconnections that are contributing to unprecedented changes in global agriculture, such as: 
  • trade policy debates, both when prices are high and when they are low;
  • the collective action problems associated with price volatility;
  • international investment in agricultural land;
  • links between scientific progress and productivity growth in agriculture;
  • climate change and agriculture;
  • competition between agriculture and other users of increasingly scarce water.
  • links between agricultural and energy markets through biofuels and inputs of fuel and fertilizer;
  • links between agriculture and other uses of land;
  • links between agriculture and other sectors as developing countries urbanize and labor moves out of agriculture;
  • the supermarket revolution in developing countries
7 - 8 August 2015. A 2-day pre-ICAE event was organised by the European Commission with the European Association of Agricultural Economists (EAAE) and the International Agricultural Trade Research Consortium (IATRC) at the margins of the EXPO Milan 2015. It gathered more than 30 high level speakers from academia, major international organisations and governments to provide a closer look at the various dimensions of food security. Recent food security scenario analysis set the scene and helped identify the main drivers that will impact food security in coming decades, in particular the role of productivity, technological breakthroughs, policies and other factors also beyond market fundamentals.
Extracts of the program:
13 August 2015. The Impact of Research on EU Agriculture is a 38 months research project implemented between November 2013 and December 2016. IMPRESA organised a symposium on Measuring the value of policy oriented research to discuss themes and issues in agricultural research impact evaluation with contributions from the IMPRESA consortium and its scientific advisory committee members. 
  • Draft of paper - IFPRI Policy Research Summary Summary of Workshop on Best Practice Methods For Assessing The Impact Of Policy Oriented Research, IFPRI headquarters in Washington DC, November 11–12, 2014SUMMARY AND RECOMMENDATIONS FOR THE CGIAR
  • Evaluating the Scientific Quality of Agricultural Research: The Approach of the CGIAR’s Independent Evaluation Arrangement, Chris Gerrard, Independent Evaluation Arrangement of the CGIAR

Agrifi: investment in smallholder agriculture and agribusiness micro/ small/medium enterprises

Agrifi is a new initiative that increases investment in smallholder agriculture and agribusiness micro/ small/medium enterprises (MSMEs) to achieve inclusive and sustainable agricultural growth.

Agrifi will be launched in 2016, together with interested parties and European Financial Institutions.
Neven Mimica, European Commissioner
for International Cooperation and Development
Real or perceived high risks often prevents investments in agriculture from taking place. What we need therefore, is to reduce this risk, and increase available finance. What we are proposing is a twin track: First, reducing risk on the producer side – meaning business and advisory services, skills, technology and innovation. Second – providing greater risk-bearing finance through blending. With these objectives in mind, the EU is preparing a new Agriculture Financing Initiative – to be launched next year. AgriFI is precicely aimed at increasing investment in smallholder agriculture and agribusiness enterprises. Remark by EU Commissioner Mimica at a Side event: Catalysing private sector engagement and resources for development: the EU and African perspective, Addis Ababa
A central feature of Agrifi is that the provision of EU grants will mobilise additional public and private investment. This additional investment is needed to enhance the development impact of investment projects and achieve impact at scale.

  • Agrifi responds to the lack of financing mechanisms adapted to farmers and agri-entrepreneurs, particularly for smallholders and agribusiness MSMEs. 
  • Agrifi will be backed-up by a robust component of technical assistance and value chains analysis capacity, to support decision making on investment, to enhance business development and advisory services for farmers and agri-entrepreneurs and to monitor the actions for accountability purposes. 
  • Agrifi addresses this situation by providing greater risk-bearing capacity through public money, to encourage project promoters and attract private finance to viable investments which would not have happened otherwise. 
  • Agrifi is therefore about addressing a market failure and it finances those actions that have a clear development impact on those who would normally not be reached. This includes smallholders with limited market orientation, vulnerable farmers, women and young farmers and entrepreneurs

Catalysing private engagement and resources for development - the EU’s role
© European Union, 2015
24 pages

In May 2014 the European Commission adopted its Communication on “A Stronger Role of the Private Sector in Achieving Inclusive and Sustainable Growth in Developing Countries”. This sets out the role of the private sector as being at the forefront of international development in its partner countries. It proposes a series of actions in areas where the Commission believes it can add value and effectively complement actions by the EU Member States and other development partners.

15 July 2015. Catalysing private sector engagement and resources for development: the EU and African perspective, Addis Ababa
  • This side event took place on  in the margin of the Third International Conference on Financing for Development (13 – 16 July 2015). It focused on the need to work for the development of the private sector and to engage with the private sector to achieve development goals. 
  • The event looked specifically at the role of blending in particular in the agricultural and energy sectors. 
  • The side event was organised jointly by the European and African Union Commissions and gathered representatives from the UN, AU, EU, EIB, other European Finance institutions as well as European and African private sector. 
  • The event followed up from the 5th EU Africa Business Forum held in 2014 in Brussels.