Platform for African – European Partnership in Agricultural Research for Development

Friday, August 26, 2016

Africa Drought Conference

15 - 19 August 2016. Windhoek, Namibia. Some 400 delegates from across Africa and beyond came together in Windhoek, Namibia for the first African Drought Conference. International and African leaders and experts are set to find solutions to the recurring drought events and their associated impacts.

In the framework of Integrated Drought Management Programme (IDMP) activities, the High-level Meeting on National Drought Policy (HMNDP) provides practical insight into useful, science-based actions to address the key drought issues being considered by governments and the private sector under the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) and the various strategies to cope with drought.

The Ministry of Environment and Tourism in Namibia organized the African Drought Conference in follow up to its role as UNCCD COP11 President and to the outcomes of the high-level meeting on national drought policies (HMNDP) held in Geneva in 2013. The conference focused on identifying the specific needs of African countries in the area of effective drought mitigation, with a view to developing a strategic framework for enhancing resilience to drought events on the African continent.

The overall objective of the Conference was to come up with an overarching strategic framework for Africa that will enhance resilience to the impact of drought events. The work of the Conference was guided by an agenda for action white paper document, which was circulated in advance of the conference. The specific objectives of the conference were to:
  1. Focus regional and international attention on the issue of enhancing resilience to drought events. 
  2. Identify needs and shortcomings as well as good practices in the area of enhancing resilience to drought events. 
  3. Encourage African Countries to develop their short, medium and long term drought mitigation and adaptation measures/interventions and plans. 
  4. Move towards a strategic framework for drought management and enhancing resilience to drought events at the African level. 
  5. Strengthen partnerships and cooperation for enhanced drought resilience

Sixth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD VI)

27 -28 August 2016. Nairobi. The Sixth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD VI) Summit was held at Kenyatta International Convention Center. The decision to host TICAD VI Summit in Africa was reached during the TICAD V Summit in 2013 when it was agreed that the venue of subsequent TICAD Summits be alternated between Japan and Africa. The interval of summit Meetings was also shortened from every 5 years to three (3) years.

Various side events such as seminars/symposiums, exhibitions and business forum ran immediately before and during the TICAD VI Summit (the pre-events ran 22-25/08). Hereafter are the events related to agriculture:

25th August 2016Progress and Way Forward of CARD Initiative 
In 2013, Japan committed to supporting African countries with $32 billion aimed at increasing agricultural production and productivity, especially for rice, and empowering farmers including through the Coalition for African Rice Development (CARD) initiative. Its aim is to double rice production in sub-Saharan Africa between 2008 and 2018 and disseminate the New Rice for Africa (NERICA) a high-yielding hybrid rice. Another example of such cooperation is a closely related five-year $2.5 million project aimed at strengthening agricultural statistics in the CARD countries.
  • H.E. Mr. Willy Bett, Honorable Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, Kenya 
  • Dr. Agnes Kalibata, President/CARD Director, Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) 
  • Dr. Harold Roy-Macauley, Director General, Africa Rice Center 
  • Dr. Chiji Ojukwe, Director for Agriculture and Agroindustry, African Development Bank 
  • Mr. Bukar Tijani, Assistant Director General, Regional Coordinator for Africa, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)
  • Dr. Masa Iwanaga, President, JIRCAS 
  • Prof. Keijiro Otsuka, Professor, Kobe University, Japan 
  • Dr. Yaw Ansu, Chief Economist, African Center for Economic Transformation 
  • Dr. Matthew Morell, Director General, IRRI 
  • Dr. Yemi Akinbamijo, Executive Director, FARA 
  • H.E. Dr. Papa A. Seck, Honorable Minister, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Equipment, Senegal 
  • Mr. Hiroshi Kato, Vice President, JICA
26th August 2016: Japan’s Contribution to Capacity Building of Agriculture researchers in Africa – Achievements of OJCB Programmed in Africa and Best practice in MMUST
26th August 2016: Workshop “Forest and Landscape Restoration for Food Security and Resilience to Climate Change”
26th August 2016: Symposium “Nutrition Improvement learning from Japanese Diet
27th August 2016Action on Nutrition; Launching of IFNA: Initiative for Food and Nutrition Security in Africa
The Initiative for Food and Nutrition Security in Africa (IFNA) is an ambitious initiative that aims to bring African governments together to swiftly implement food and nutrition security policies and programmes. Period 2016 - 2025
In the selected priority countries in Africa, practical and people-centered nutrition-specific and/or nutrition-sensitive field activities, programmes, plans and policies in food, health, education and other sectors are promoted in a well-balanced manner, so as to produce additive and synergistic effects, as well as in alliance with multiple partners. The activities include technical assistance, grants, soft loans, volunteers, support to civil society organizations (CSOs) etc. in addition to various types of policy implementation by the governments of the selected priority countries themselves. In particular, close alignment with the national policy on food and nutrition security and coordination with other local and international actors are essential.
28th August 2016: Global Launch of the Africa Human Development Report 2016: Accelerating Gender Equality and Women's Development in Africa
29th August 2016: Seminar “Development of Food Value Chain in Africa 2016” 

The United Nations University Institute for the Advanced Study of Sustainability (UNU-IAS) launched a new publication on “Socio-ecological Production Landscapes and Seascapes (SEPLS) in Africa”.

Produced in collaboration with the University of Tokyo’s Integrated Research System for Sustainability Science (IR3S/UTIAS), this publication considers common issues relating to the status of, trends in, and threats facing Socio-ecological Production Landscapes and Seascapes (SEPLS) and what needs to be done for their revitalization, conservation and sustainable management. It compiles 12 SEPLS-related case studies from six African countries: Benin, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya and Uganda.

The intended audience for this publication is broad, aimed at anyone interested in sustainable development in Africa and beyond. It will be of particular interest to scholars, policymakers in various government agencies, UN and intergovernmental organizations, natural resource managers, local leaders and practitioners.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

A Passion for Video 25 stories about making, translating, sharing and using videos on farmer innovation

Bentley, J., Boa, E. and Salm, M. 2016. A Passion for Video. 25 stories about making, translating, sharing and using videos on farmer innovation. Access Agriculture, Nairobi and CTA, Wageningen, 56 pp. Download the story book here.

12 August 2016. In November 2015, Jeff Bentley and Eric Boa worked with facilitators from ICRA and CTA in a two-day writeshop with some 40 people from Africa and Asia, helping to turn their experiences with video into short, written stories. The stories are captured in A Passion for Video, which celebrates the creativity of the many organisations involved in making, translating, distributing, and screening videos.

In these stories we learn how to reach far-flung villages in Ghana on a motorized trycicle, how to inspire farmers while picking one’s way through the Egyptian bureaucracy, and how to make a video with colleagues we love and need (even if we have to cut them out of the final video). We also meet many other engaging personalities, including a villager in Benin who has to deal with neighbors who want to borrow his precious DVD of videos.

Development organisations and donors do have a lot to gain by learning from people’s personal struggles to overcome hurdles along the way; a project is not just about achievements, it is also about finding one’s way around obstacles.

Development projects will benefit a lot from more flexibity in project planning and in listening to what people on the ground really experienced. Too much planning stiffles creativity and rigid, number-crunching evaluation kills passion. And in the end, the readers want more stories about how things really went.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

FARA visit to SOJAGNON project

14 - 16 aout 2016. Benin. Dans le cadre de la mise en œuvre du Projet Soja Afitin-Milk (ProSAM),
Compétitif Recherche Funds (CRF-Bénin), les membres du consortium soja du Bénin et les parties prenantes ont reçu le Dr Yemi Akinbamijo, Directeur Exécutif du Forum pour la Recherche Agricole en Afrique (FARA). L’objectif de sa mission était de :
  • visiter les femmes transformatrices du soja en lait et afitin de Zogbodomey ;
  • échanger avec les groupements femmes transformatrices sur leurs implications dans les activités de recherches et de développement 
  • discuter avec les femmes sur la transformation de leurs conditions de vie par l’intervention de
  • apprécier leur implication dans les travaux de recherches et les résultats obtenus

Le lundi 15 aout 2016, le Directeur Exécutif de FARA a été reçu par une dizaine de groupement de femmes transformatrices du soja en différents produits dérivés à l’Union Communale des Producteurs de Zogbodomey. Cette union regroupe plus de 1300 producteurs et transformatrices régulièrement enregistrés et est membre de la Fédération des Unions des Producteurs du Bénin (FUPRO Bénin). L’association SOJAGNON du Bénin, structure coordonnatrice du CRF-Bénin, et ses partenaires tels que la Fédération des Unions des producteurs du Bénin, l’Institut Nationale de Recherche Agricole du Bénin, la Faculté des Sciences Agronomiques de l’Université d’Abomey-Calavi, l’Université de Wageningen au Pays-Bas et l’Université de Lisbonne (ISA-Lisboa) du Portugal, avaient engagés des actions d’amélioration des technologies de transformation du soja en lait et en afitin depuis le
démarrage du projet en octobre 2014.

Le but visé par le projet est d’aider les associations de femmes de cinq municipalités du Bénin à s’approprier les technologies de lait et afitin stabilisé d’une part, de les incuber à devenir les femmes entrepreneurs à travers les business plan bancables d’autre part. A travers le ProSAM, les femmes transformatrices de soja de Zogbodomey ont acquis de l’expertise pour améliorer leurs techniques de production de plusieurs dérivés de soja. Il s’agit de : fromage, farine, gâteaux, brochette et biscuit de soja. 

La collaboration des producteurs, transformatrices du soja avec les institutions de recherches africaines et européennes dans le cadre du PAEPARD a permis de mettre au point plusieurs technologies innovantes dans la transformation du soja en afitin amélioré (exhausteur de gout) et en
lait stabilisé (durée de conservation de 1 jour à 6mois). Tous ces produits innovants ont été présentés au Dr Yemi Akinbamijo, Directeur Exécutif du Forum pour la Recherche Agricole en Afrique (FARA), institution coordonnatrice de PAEPARD sous le financement de l’Union Européenne (UE). 

Un historique a été fait sur les pratiques et technologies anciennement utilisées par les femmes transformatrices de Zogbodomey d’une part et une démonstration avec les équipements et matériels mise au point et les techniques améliorées de transformation du lait et du afitin de soja ont été présentées par Mme Elise SONDJO HOUESSOUKPE, la présidente du groupe des femmes transformatrices de Zogbodomey. Elle a profité de l’occasion pour demander au Directeur Exécutif les appuis complémentaires pour renforcer
leurs unités de production en tant qu’entité agri business formée par Africain Agribusiness Incubation Network (AAIN) sous la facilitation de Benin Agribusiness Incubation Hub (BAIH-Sarl). Toutefois, elle reste consciente que des efforts devront être faits dans leur rang afin de maintenir la confiance des partenaires. Nous sommes de Zogbodomey ; la première lettre de l’appellation de notre commune commence par ‘’Z’’, nous n’allons pas accepter être derniers, nous travaillerons à renverser la tendance pour être la tête, donc leaders dans le sous-secteur de la transformation du soja au bénin.

L’activisme du projet ProSAM avec les partenaires
  • Mr Patrice SEWADE, coordonnateur du CRF Bénin- projet Soja Afitin-Milk (ProSAM) a saisi l’occasion pour exposer et expliquer ses interventions aux cotés des transformatrices du soja,
    partie prenante du projet. A en croire le coordonnateur, le projet travaille à l’amélioration des technologies de stabilisation du lait de soja et sur l’exhausteur de goût (afitin à base du soja). Travaillant dans une bonne synergie avec les six partenaires du projet, il s’est réjoui de ce qu’aujourd’hui, le lait du soja est stabilisé pour une durée de six mois. 
  • Le Coordonateur de l’Association pour le Développement du soja au Bénin (ONG SOJAGNON), n’a pas manqué de saluer l’appui de PAEPARD et ses partenaires, le directeur exécutif de FARA en particulier. Le Dr Yann MADODE, Enseignant-Chercheur à la Faculté des Sciences Agronomiques (FSA) a présenté à l’occasion de la foire d’exposition des produits, le rôle de l’université dans le projet de recherche avec les femmes de Zogbodomey. 
  • Il ressort de son intervention que tout au long du projet, la FSA a travaillé à améliorer les étapes de transformation du soja. L’apport de la FSA vient pour aider à améliorer la technologie de transformation du soja en afitin et mettre au point un autre produit de soja (exhausteur de goût). « Nous sommes à l’étape de bouillon d’assaisonnement acceptable », rassure le représentant de la FSA. Intervenant dans le volet de transformation du soja en lait, l’Institut National des Recherches Agricoles du Bénin (INRAB) s’est dit satisfait des résultats déjà enregistrés. A en croire le chercheur de l’INRAB, Pélagie AGBOBATINKPO VODOUHE, la transformation du soja en lait se fait avec beaucoup de soins en raison de sa destination. 
Nécessité de débouchés, le prochain défi
  • Après une écoute attentive des résultats enregistrés par les femmes transformatrices du soja de Zogbodomey, le directeur exécutif du Forum pour la Recherche Agricole en Afrique (FARA), Dr Yemi Akinbamijo, a exprimé sa satisfaction suite aux avancées enregistrées. Des exposés, il dit avoir retenu que c’est une réussite pour les femmes transformatrices de Zogbodomey. Mais le plus important reste pour lui, la transformation de la vie des femmes. 
  • Un bon positionnement des sous-produits du projet doit être fait sur les marchés, boutiques, supermarchés, restaurants, afin d’intégrer dans le concept des populations la consommation des produits locaux (résultats du projet de recherche) et d’améliorer le revenu des transformatrices. « Il n’est pas concevable que l’on continue de consommer depuis plus de 50 ans du lait récolté il y a 4 ans importé de plus de 6000 km. Le lait produit à Zogbodomey est de même qualité que celui importé de l’Amérique, de l’Asie et de l’Europe ». Le but du projet est de participer à la transformation des acteurs parties prenantes. 
Après la visite de terrain, Dr Yemi Akinbamijo,Directeur Exécutif de FARA a eu une séance d’échange avec les responsables des structures partenaires du projet ProSAM. A cette occasion, les leaders des institutions membres du consortium ont présentés leurs institutions et leurs implications dans la mise en œuvre du CRF-Bénin. 
  • Il a été aussi présenté au Directeur Exécutif de FARA la structure de gouvernance du consortium du Bénin, la gestion administrative et financière de ProSAM et les relations de collaboration entre les partenaires impliqués dans la gestion du projet (chercheurs, non-chercheurs, africains et européens). 
  • Dans sa prise de parole, Dr Yemi Akinbamijo a indiqué qu’il y a de bonnes compétences dans cette équipe du Bénin et que les résultats vus à Zogbodomey et présentés à nouveau par les scientifiques ne devraient pas s’arrêter là. Il devrait se poursuivre pour arriver à la transformation des conditions de vie des acteurs parties prenantes du projet. Les technologies innovantes développées plus la mentalité de création de richesse doivent nous amener à dépasser les résultats inscrits au niveau de PAEPARD pour le projet. 
« Les femmes que j’ai visité hier 15 août 2016 à Zogbodomey ont besoin de notre orientation pour réellement atteindre l’objectif de la transformation de leur vie. Car « Poverty is not our property. We have to help ourselves. Mon conseil pour SOJAGNON est d’évoluer plus vers une plateforme d’innovation avec l’intégration des décideurs politique dans votre groupe. Je salue la gouvernance au niveau de votre projet, félicite les partenaires pour leur engagement, j’encourage les femmes de Zogbodomey, acteurs et parties prenantes du projet et je remercie Mr Patrice SEWADE et son équipe pour l’accueil réservé, la mobilisation des partenaires pour la réussite de ma visite du projet. Nous allons au niveau de FARA, continuer par vous appuyer, vous soutenir et vous accompagner pour atteindre les objectifs du développement. » Dr Y. Akinbamijo 

Monday, August 15, 2016

Aflatoxin within the food value chain in Kenya

15-20 August 2016. Kenya. AFLANET: Aflatoxin Networking on Aflatoxin Reduction in the Food Value Chain. The goal of this project is to establish a long-term network be-tween scientific and development partners in Kenya/East Africa and Germany to address the reduction of aflatoxins in the food value chain. It is funded by German Ministry for Food and Agriculture (BMEL) (Project Duration: 01.07.2016 - 31.07.2017).

Stephen Muchiri, CEO of EAFF
At the beginning of the project a study tour of 5 days to various stakeholders in the agricultural production chain, visits of acreages for maize and visits to research institutions and laboratories was organized. The aim was to evaluate which groups and projects are working on aflatoxin minimization and which parameters of minimization strategies for aflatoxins in maize and dairy products are already established and applied. The purpose is to develop
intense and long-lasting contacts between German and Kenyan actors in the agricultural feed and food sector.

Solutions for a long-term aflatoxin minimization in the diet of the Kenyan people were to be identified by visiting the circumstances in Kenya and a subsequent workshop, and thus to contribute
Charles Nkonge
to secure food and feed. The excursion considered the priority research objectives in this project and established contacts with key actors in the agricultural food
sectors who are convinced of a fruitful future collaboration. By means of these contacts current research issues were gathered dealing with aflatoxin contamination in the food value chain in Kenya.

The following institutions are involved in the Aflanet project:
  • East African Farmers Federation (EAFF)
  • GIZ Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit GmbH
  • International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) together with Biosciences eastern and central Africa (BecA-labs)
  • Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO), visit the research station, labs and field sites
  • Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBs),
  • Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Services (KEPHIS)
  • University of Nairobi (UoN): visit facilities working on aflatoxin
For the last day approx. 10-12 representatives from research institutions, projects, stakeholders of crop production, storage and processing facilities as well as from consumer protection associations were invited to participate in a one-day-conference in order to generate the necessary further research.

Related PAEPARD blogposts:
Aflatoxins in Eastern Africa. This special issue of AJFAND is a contribution to better understanding several aspects of the multi-faceted problem of aflatoxins, focused on East Africa.

Visit to the International Livestock Research Institute (Biosciences eastern and central Africa-ILRI Hub) in Nairobi
16 August 2017. The BecA-CSIRO aflatoxin project (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial
Research Organisation - CSIRO, Australia) has established a lab, procedures and a network of partners that has focused on gathering information on and coming up with a set of interventions to reduce aflatoxin risk. These include sampling/testing procedures (see policy brief), as well as decision support tools for the wider community.
  • BecA’s African National Agricultural Research Institute and university partners who have used the BecA-ILRI Hub aflatoxin lab and generated a broad set of data are involved in data sharing (in addition to the data already generated by the CAAREA project team itself. Over 40 researchers have used the aflatoxin platform to conduct aflatoxin (and mycotoxin research more broadly) research since 2009, forming a broad base of information.
  • The Capacity and Action for Aflatoxin Control in Africa (CAAREA) project was the flagship of Australia’s African Food Security Initiative, bringing Australian funding (approximately $3 million from Australian AID and now the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, from 2011-2015) and scientific expertise to bear on this challenging issue. The project is continuing in another phase, as the Aflatoxin Action Alliance (AAA). 
  • The purpose of the AAA is for researchers, the private and public sector actors, women and men farmers and civil society to collaboratively develop and apply new knowledge and innovations that contribute to reduced exposure to aflatoxin from maize.
  • Scientists from CSIRO are leading the risk mapping and predictive model development, based on field trials and on farm surveys conducted by the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation, the Tanzanian Agricultural Research Institute and Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security, and other CAAREA/AAA project partners.

Visit to the Aflasafe Modular Manufacturing factory at KALRO Katumani.
17 August 2016. Machakos. The Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation has put up a laboratory to conduct research on the mycotoxins in the East Africa region. KALRO constructed a modular (small-scale) plant to manufacture Aflasafe KE01, a biopesticide to control aflatoxin, one of the most prevalent mycotoxin in the region.

The construction of the regional mycotoxin laboratory was supported by the World Bank which rehabilitated an existing building at the Katumani center while the equipment was provided by USAID through the Aflatoxin Policy and Program for East Africa (APPEAR) project, and USDA-ARS. It will be used for surveillance and monitoring of aflatoxin contamination as well as for developing biocontrol agents for aflatoxin management in Kenya and the Eastern African region. The total investment for this laboratory facility amounted to US$170,000.

Aflasafe KE01 was developed in partnership with KALRO, IITA, USDA-ARS, AATF, ACDI/VOCA, and the National Irrigation Board (NIB). These partners are also behind the construction of the modular plant which will cost US$800,000 and produce the biopesticide for the region. Currently the plant will be run by KALRO with technical backstopping
from IITA but it is hoped it will eventually attract the private sector for wide-scale production and distribution of the product.

Presentation of the Afla stop project: Storage and drying for aflatoxin prevention project
17 August 2016. Machakos.

Presentation of the Aflatoxin Test kits
18 August 2016 (Nairobi)

Presentation by and visit to the University of Nairobi
18 August 2016 (Nairobi)

Presentation by the Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (KEPHIS)
18 August 2016. Nairobi. Visit to KEPHIS offices to discuss phytosanitary issues especially in regards to exporting samples to Germany for testing

Visit to the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (Nairobi campus and Bitwa campus)
19 August 2016 (Nairobi) + 22-23 August 2016 (Bitwa)
  • Roundtable discussion with icipe Scientists
  • Push-pull technology project – Prof Zeyaur Khan via video conference link from ITOC, Mbita 
  • Insects for food and feed – Dr Fiaboe Komi
  • Postharvest pests – Dr. Christopher Mutungi
  • Behavioural and Chemical Ecology Unit – Dr Baldwyn Torto
icipe’s multifunctional platform technology known as `push-pull' effectively controls The technology has been adapted to drier areas and climate change through identification and incorporation of drought tolerant companion plants.
stemborer pests and striga weeds while enhancing soil health, leading to improved incomes and gender equity.

icipe’s recent observations indicate significantly reduced attack of maize by ear rots and mycotoxins with the push-pull technology, implying potential contribution of the technology to food safety. This presents an opportunity of managing the killer disease using a simple technology that also addresses a host of other production challenges affecting smallholder farmers. There is thus an urgent need to establish the underlying mechanisms by which the technology controls mycotoxins, principally aflatoxin, and to put in place approaches to ensure exploitation of the benefits of this system. 

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Aflatoxins in Eastern Africa

11 August 2016. This special issue of AJFAND is a contribution to better understanding several aspects of the multi-faceted problem of aflatoxins, focused on East Africa. The objectives of the research reported can be broadly categorized as: 
  1. Understanding the health consequences of aflatoxins 
  2. Characterizing the extent of the problem 
  3. Identifying key elements to underpin the way forward to mitigation In terms of understanding the health consequences, there are still critical knowledge gaps to be addressed. 
Aflatoxins have been recognized as an important food and feed safety issue since the 1960s because of their direct harmful effects on human and animal health, and indirect effects on trade, economies and livelihoods as the result of product rejection. Consumption of high amounts of aflatoxins can result in acute poisoning and death in people and animals. The best-studied human health impact is liver cancer resulting from long-term exposure.
There are 12 peer reviewed scientific articles in this Special Issue. The main corresponding author for the issue is Dr. Johanna Lindahl. We hope the information herein can be shared as widely as possible amongst researchers, policy makers, practitioners and consumers
  1. Assessing the impact of aflatoxin consumption on animal health and productivity. Christine Atherstone et al.  [Uganda]
  2. Aflatoxin exposure among young children in urban low-income areas of Nairobi and association with child growth. Gideon M Kiarie et al. [Kenya]
  3. Aflatoxin B1 occurrence in millet, sorghum and maize from four agro-ecological zones in Kenya. Anima Sirma et al. [Kenya]
  4. Prevalence of aflatoxin in feeds and cow milk from five counties in Kenya. Daniel Senerwa et al. [Kenya]
  5. Survey of informal milk retailers in Nairobi, Kenya and prevalence of aflatoxin M1 in marketed milk. Yumi Kirino et al. [Japan]
  6. Assessment of pre-harvest aflatoxin and fumonisin contamination of maize in Babati District, Tanzania. Chacha Nyangi et al. [Tanzania]
  7. Aflatoxins and fumonisin contamination of marketed maize, maize bran and maize used as animal feed in Northern Tanzania. Chacha Nyangi et al. [Tanzania]
  8. Mapping aflatoxin risk from milk consumption using biophysical and socio-economic data: A case study of Kenya. Pamela Ochungo et al. [Kenya]
  9. Examining environmental drivers of spatial variability in aflatoxin accumulation in Kenyan maize: Potential utility in risk prediction models. Laura Smith et al. [USA]
  10. Kenya dairy farmer perception of moulds and mycotoxins and implications for exposure to aflatoxins: A gendered analysis. Teresa Kiama et al. [Kenya]
  11. A review of agricultural aflatoxin management strategies and emerging innovations in sub-Saharan Africa. Ethel O Monda and AE Alakonya [Kenya]
  12. Potential of lactic acid fermentation in reducing aflatoxin B1 in Tanzania maize-based gruel. Frida Nyamete et al. [Tanzania]

Friday, August 12, 2016

DNA of banana fungus unravelled for more sustainable banana crops

12 August 2016. An international consortium led by scientists from Wageningen UR (University and Research centre) has unravelled the DNA of Pseudocercospora fijiensis, the fungus that causes the much-feared black Sigatoka disease in bananas. The findings provide leads for increasing the sustainability of banana cultivation, for instance through the development of a resistant banana plant. The results were published today in scientific magazine PLoS Genetics.

Black Sigatoka
Banana production is threatened by various fungi. One of them, Pseudocercospora fijiensis (previously known as Mycosphaerella fijiensis), causes the black Sigatoka disease. The fungus is air-borne and occurs worldwide. It affects the leaves of banana plants in small and large-scale plantations, and results in huge yield losses. The disease also reduces the quality of the fruit, causing premature ripening. The bananas can then no longer be exported and growers lose their income. The Cavendish banana, the most commonly grown banana variety worldwide, is especially susceptible to the black Sigatoka fungus.

Spraying against black Sigatoka 50 times a year
Farmers who can afford it financially use crop protection products or fungicides to manage black Sigatoka. The effectiveness of these products often quickly reduces, however, which means that most commercial plantations have to spray increasingly often – over 50 times a year is common practice in many banana producing regions. This has a major impact on the environment of the plantations and costs the banana sector some 400 million dollars a year.

DNA sequence offers possibilities for disease control
Gert Kema, Professor in Tropical Phytopathology at Wageningen University and banana expert, led the research: “Black Sigatoka has a huge social, ecological and economic impact worldwide. Thanks to the sequencing of the DNA of the Pseudocercospora fungus we are now gaining a greater insight into the interaction between the fungus and the banana plant. This provides us with leads for increasing the sustainability of banana cultivation, making it better for the environment, the local population and the economy. For example, the insights offer us opportunities to develop a banana plant that is suitable for production and export, and which is also resistant against black Sigatoka.”

This fresh understanding of the DNA of the black Sigatoka fungus is also providing new information that is useful in the development of more effective and, hopefully, less environmentally unfriendly crop protection products. This could reduce the amount of spraying which, in turn, would improve the quality of life of the people working in the plantations and those who live in the immediate surroundings.

Resistant wild bananas
The research has helped identify the segment of DNA of the fungus that forms the basis for a so-called effector: a substance in the fungus that generates a resistance reaction in the wild banana variety Calcutta 4. This wild banana has a receptor which recognises the fungal substance. In other words, thanks to the receptor the wild banana plant ‘knows’ when it is being attacked and then encapsulates the fungus, preventing the leaves from being colonized further.

Can tomato DNA help banana?
The scientists also discovered that tomato plants recognise the substance of the black Sigatoka fungus via a receptor. The wild Calcutta 4 banana and the tomato apparently resemble each other genetically in this regard. A great deal is already known about the tomato receptor, and the gene for the receptor is also available. It would be relatively simple to build these tomato genes into the DNA of banana in order to develop resistant banana plants.

Financing and partners
Scientists from Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, France, Iran, the Netherlands, Switzerland, the UK and the USA worked together on the above referred article. The DNA of the fungus was sequenced by the United States Department of Energy – Joint Genome Institute and by Syngenta Biotechnology, Inc. The Dutch research was co-financed by the Dioraphte Foundation, while other scientists were financed by the Colombian Administrative department of Science, Technology and Innovation – Colciencias grants no 2213-452-2153 and 2213-569-34854, and by the National University of Colombia in Medellin as well as scholarship 187781 from the National Council of Science and Technology (CONACyT) from Mexico.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Innovative approaches to process local food in Sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia

4 August 2016. The Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) funds research projects with innovative approaches in food processing of German agricultural and food research institutions with partners in Sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia. BLE is the funding manager.

BMEL launched a call for proposals. The full title of the call is: “Innovative approaches to process local food in Sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia, which contribute to improved nutrition, as well as qualitative and quantitative reduction of losses”. The German title is: "Innovative Ansätze zur Verarbeitung lokaler Lebensmittel in Subsahara-Afrika und Südostasien, die zu einer verbesserten Ernährung beitragen sowie qualitative und quantitative Verluste reduzieren"
  1. The concept note should be submitted by 1 December 2016.
  2. In the first step, consortia must submit a short project proposal in English and a consortium agreement signed by all the project partners
  3. The call documents in German are the legally binding documents.
  4. Institutes outside of Germany are not eligible for DIRECT funding, thus non-German institutes cannot apply individually. But, German research institute(s) have to work closely together with institutes in the target region and are authorized to forward grants to their non-German partners. Therefore the German institute(s) will submit the short proposal as coordinator of international consortia.
  5. International Agricultural Research Centers (CGIAR) and the Association of International Research and Development Centers for Agriculture (AIRCA) are not eligible for funding.
Documents and Links

3rd All Africa Horticultural Congress

7 - 12 August 2016. This Congress was hosted by the Nigerian Society for Horticultural Sciences and took place under the aegis of the International Society for Horticultural Science (ISHS).

The third AAHC follows the first and second held earlier in Kenya and South Africa, respectively. It is designed to cater to the diverse needs of the science, industry/business and capacity building sectors of the horticulture industry. There’s something for you during this congress whether you are a hobby horticulturist or a professional, so you cannot afford to miss it. Students are welcome too. It will feature symposia, an exhibition, field trips, brokerage of new business partnerships, a photo competition, and social events; all carefully put together to express the various perspectives of the theme ‘Horticulture for improved livelihoods’.

PAEPARD made a presentation related to the Importance of partnership platforms to meet the needs of horticultural enterprises: Lessons learned from international to national scales.

PROPAC attended the Side Event 3 organised by FAO on Urban Horticulture (see also below: related PAEPARD blog post)

Senegal will be hosting the 4th ALL AFRICA HORTICULTURE CONGRESS - 2020

Video coverage: 

Related PAEPARD blogpost: 
© FAO 2012, 116 pages.

This report draws the attention of policymakers to urban and peri-urban horticulture, and how it can help to grow greener cities in Africa. Production of fruit and vegetables in and around urban areas has a clear comparative advantage over rural and other sources in supplying urban residents with fresh, nutritious – but highly perishable – produce all year round. It generates local employment, reduces food transport costs and pollution, creates urban green belts, and recycles urban waste as a productive resource.

The Horticulture Innovation Lab is offering a grant up to $750,000 over three years to support a research project in integrated animal-horticulture systems. Sept. 19 is the deadline for brief concept notes, submitted by U.S. university researchers. Read the whole article about this 

The research should be focused on the needs of smallholder farmers in developing countries that are part of Feed the Future, with priority given to Cambodia, Nepal and Rwanda. Understanding the socioeconomic feasibility and trade-offs involved in mixed crop-livestock farming systems — ones that specifically incorporate fruit and vegetable crops — is the focus of this new call for concept notes. Read the whole article for additional details.

  • DEVELOPMENT COMPETITION: OFF-GRID REFRIGERATION The Global LEAP Awards is seeking information and feedback to shape its upcoming Off-Grid Refrigeration Competition, which will begin in September:
  • GRANT: DRIED APRICOTS HANDLING, MARKETING Sept. 12 is the deadline to apply for a $300,000 grant from the Horticulture Innovation Lab focused on the needs of growers in Burkina Faso:
  • GRANT: TOMATO POSTHARVEST RESEARCH Sept. 12 is also the deadline for proposals from U.S. researchers focused on the needs of growers in Burkina Faso, for up to $300,000 from the Horticulture Innovation Lab:
  • University of California, Davis, with funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development as part of Feed the Future, the U.S. government’s global hunger and food security initiative.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Standards and Trade Development Facility (STDF)

The Standards and Trade Development Facility (STDF), is a global partnership of FAO, OIE, WHO, WTO and World Bank, to help developing countries implement international standards, meet sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) import requirements of trading partners and gain/maintain market access. The STDF acts as a knowledge hub and funding mechanism for project development and implementation. The STDF's mandate is to:
  1. increase awareness, mobilize resources, strengthen collaboration, identify and disseminate good practice; and 
  2. provide support and funding for the development and implementation of projects that promote compliance with international SPS requirements.
Over 150 projects have been supported since the inception of the STDF. Detailed Information on the work of the Facility is available on the STDF website.

The 2015 STDF Annual Report provides a good overview of recent activities and projects and the results achieved ).
  • STDF seminar on electronic SPS certification, took place on 28 June 2016, including presentations, etc.
  • STDF/UNIDO info session (June 2016) that built capacity in Sri Lanka to export cinnamon
  • STDF work on trade facilitation and enhancing SPS border management, including a short film (2015) highlighting good practices in Peru, Colombia and Chile. The film is extensively used as training material by organizations like World Bank and the WCO in large trade facilitation projects:
  • In May 2016 STDF also released a short video at the World Cocoa Conference highlighting how in the global cocoa value chain SPS capacity helps to make sure that cocoa plants are free from pests and diseases and that chocolate is safe for consumers. The film (as well as other STDF films) is also available on YouTube, and also increasingly being used as training material. 

STDF also worked extensively on topics like:
STDF funded a number of projects in West Africa to control fruit fly (which are currently undergoing an ex post impact evaluation). STDF also funded the development of a regional action plan to control FF in West Africa and STDF organized, together with the EC, ECOWAS and the World Bank, a conference in Bamako in 2009 where the plan was adopted. This plan is now at the heart of the project that is currently being funded by the EC and implemented by ECOWAS, with support from the French Development Agency. A film developed by the STDF in 2010 ("Trading Safely") includes a case story on FF control and papaya exports from Belize to the United States.

The next STDF Working Group (convening the aforementioned STDF partner organizations, bilateral donors, SPS experts from developing countries and a range of other relevant organizations) will be held in October 2016, on the margins of the next WTO SPS Committee meeting. Members will discuss - amongst others - an application from AU-IAPSC to organize a meeting with key stakeholders in Africa and discuss opportunities to establish a pan-African approach to control FF.

Rural youth in dryland areas: their realities and aspirations

Published on 15 July 2016. In 2015-2016, a team of researchers conducted in-depth interviews with over 100 young men and women living in the rural dryland area of Midelt, Morocco. The goal was to obtain youth perspectives on the realities, challenges and aspirations of life in drylands and opportunities for making a living off agriculture. In this video, Hamid and Hafida share their story.

This research was conducted under the framework of the CGIAR Research Program on Dryland Systems and funded by the CGIAR Fund Donors, coordinated by Young Professionals for Agricultural Development (YPARD) and the research carried out by Bern University of Applied Sciences; School of Agricultural, Forest and Food Sciences (HAFL).