Platform for African – European Partnership in Agricultural Research for Development

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Agrinatura GA meeting 2017

26-28 April 2017. Uppsala. Sweden. The Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) and AGRINATURA team organised the AGRINATURA Annual General Assembly Meetings and workshop on“Mutual prosperity why North and South need each other”.

Agrinatura brings its collective resources to work in partnership with international collaborators. It seeks to nurture scientific excellence through joint research, educational and training programmes and projects and advocates for greater support for agricultural research and educational programmes that contribute to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals and the new agenda of Sustainable Development Goals. See Agenda Agrinatura GA Meeting (PDF).

Extracts of the rogramme :

26 April 2017. News about Ongoing Projects:

Value Chains Analysis for Development (VCA4D) 

PAEPARD - Lessons Learnt and Innovation 

MSc. Food Security and CLimate Change (FSCC) 

Global Support Facility (GSF) for the National Information Platforms for Nutrition (NIPN) 
no PPT available

Capacity Development for Agriculture Innovation Systems (CDAIS)

Brief News on a projects in preparation:
Participatory and Integrative Support for Agricultural Initiative (PISAI)

Support of International Platform Merging Labour and Education (SIMPLE)

27 April 2017. Workshop with Agrinatura members and invited speakers: “Mutual prosperity - why North and South need each other”

Session I: partnerships toward mutual prosperity (see the PPTs in hyperlinks)
  • Introduction - Setting the Scene: Linley Chiwona Karltun (Moderator), Board Member, Association of African Agricultural Professionals in the Diaspora (AAAPD) 
  • Welcome and Opening: Ylva Hillbur, Pro Vice-Chancellor, International Relations, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) 
  • Transformation through Agenda 2030: Cecilia Nordin van Gansberghe, former Swedish ambassador to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, FAO
  • Higher Agricultural Education in Africa:Opportunities for North-South: Moses Osiru, Deputy Executive Secretary, Secretariat for the Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM)  
  • Collaboration Exploring and Caring for the Diversity of Agriculture Intensification Pathways: Learnings for Europe and for Africa from the ProIntensAfrica Project: Philippe Petithuguenin, Deputy Director for Research and Strategy, French Agricultural Research Centre for International Development (CIRAD), European Partner of PROIntensAfrica

  • The Role of Universities for Translating Science intoActionUlf Magnusson, Programme Director, Agriculture for Food Security 2030 (AgriFoSe2030), Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU)  
  • Youth perspectives: the importance of partnershipsbetween North and South: Rahel Wyss, Representative at Young Professionals for Agricultural Development (YPARD) 
Session II: mutual prosperity; why the south and north need each other 

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Microbes, New Weapon Against Agricultural Pests in Africa

10 April 2017. BULAWAYO, Zimbabwe,  (IPS) - Microscopic soil organisms could be an environmentally friendly way to control crop pests and diseases and even protect agriculture against the impacts of climate change.

Researchers at Auburn University have worked on beneficial soil bacteria/microbes, specifically plant growth-promoting rhizobacteria (PGPR). The soil dwelling bacteria that colonize plant roots have beneficial effects of increasing plant growth and enhancing the ability of plants to fight off herbivorous insect pests such as the beet armyworm-Spodoptera exigua and the fall armyworm Spodoptera frugiperda to which they have a direct toxic effect.
“Research from our labs at Auburn University has shown a great potential in microbes for helping fight pests- and we have done some research on fall army worm that are pests in turf grass,” Dr. Esther Ngumbi, a post-doctoral researcher in the Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology at the Auburn University in Alabama, United States.
First reported in Sao Tome and Principe in January 2016, the crop-eating pest has affected thousands of hectares of crops in Namibia, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe to date. The pest which is difficult to control with one type of pesticide can cause extensive crop damage of up to 73 percent in the field. It also attacks non-cereal crops including potato, groundnut, spinach, tomato, cabbage, soybeans, cotton and tobacco.
Poor identification of the pest delayed response to the outbreak in November 2016 because the pest has never been encountered before in Southern Africa. Everyone was classifying it [FAW] as a stalk borer or the American bollworm but they were all wrong. This new pest has now been identified as the fall armyworm and people started extensively using pesticides – some of them not yet registered.  
Chemicals are a quick fix and short-term solution to insect pest control and also kill the predators of the pests. This affects the environment and also birds who feed on caterpillars making it important to focus more on alternative ways through biological solutions such as Integrated Pest Management, crop diversification and  intercropping.  Dr. Christian Thierfelder, Senior Cropping Systems Agronomist at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), Southern Africa Regional Office,

2017 round of Gender in Agribusiness Investments in Africa (GAIA) competition

3-5 April 2017. ACCRA, Ghana. With support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the African Women in Agricultural Research and Development (AWARD) project, through the U.S. government’s Feed the Future Initiative launched its 2017 round of Gender in Agribusiness Investments in Africa (GAIA) competition.

The competition entailed a rigorous selection process that saw over 200 applications. The selected 31 winners from 18 countries gathered in Accra to strengthen their business skills and pitch ideas to investors. A group of agribusiness entrepreneurs from across West and North Africa participated in an intensive entrepreneurship program, and then on April 5 these entrepreneurs presented their research and innovations to potential investors. In attendance were USAID/Ghana Mission Director, Andrew Karas and AWARD Director, Dr. Wanjiru Kamau-Rutenberg.

The 2017 round of GAIA competitions was funded by the African Development Bank (AfDB) as part of its High Five strategy, which includes Feed Africa, an initiative to transform Africa’s agricultural sector for enhanced and inclusive economic growth.
“GAIA addresses the need for inclusive innovation systems in agricultural research and development by ensuring the visibility, commercialization and scaling up of gender responsive agricultural innovations.” Dr. Basil Jones, AfDB’s Gender Policy and Program Coordinator 
1 April 2017. Ghana has entered into agreements with two foreign investment companies in the agricultural sector. The two agricultural organizations; African Agribusiness Incubators Network and the African Women in Agricultural Research and Development have signed an MOU to intensify women’s participation in Agriculture in Ghana. According to the two institutions, talks have begun with the Ministries of Trade as well as Employment and Labour Relations to best implement their agenda of including more women in the agricultural sector.

The Potential of Biotechnology to Address Food Security in Africa

6 April 2017. Washington. The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) hosted a live webcast discussing the future of African food security.

Following the presentation, the Director of the CSIS Global Food Security Project, Kimberly Flowers, moderated a panel discussion between Ambassador Patricia Haslach of the U.S. Department of State, Modesta Nnedinso Abugu of the Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology in Africa, and Hans Dreyer of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization.

Watch parties are being held around the world at U.S. Embassies in Kenya, Ethiopia, and Nigeria.

The Cultivate Africa’s Future (CultiAF) Expanding Business Opportunities for African Youth in Agricultural Value Chains

Fish processor explaining benefits of CultIAF technologies
12 April 2017 Ivy Nyambe Inonge, 35, is the treasurer of Mbeta Island Integrated Fish Farm in Senanga district. Her group won the first prize in Zambia under the Cultivate Africa’s Future (CultiAF) Expanding Business Opportunities for African Youth in Agricultural Value Chains in Southern Africa. She is excited at the prospect of what 5,000 dollars can do for her group, and ultimately, the whole community of Mbeta Island.

By research and business grants, Inonge refers to a symbiotic relationship between the CultiAF research project focusing on post-harvest processing of fish to reduce losses and its complimenting agribusiness component seeking to generate and test novel, creative and bold business models in the fish value chain. According to the group’s winning proposal, they want to turn the 60,000 fingering capacity Malengaula lagoon on the island into a fish pond, and integrate it with livestock and vegetable production. The idea is to have an uninterrupted source of income, which is not the case at the moment due to a number of reasons.

The two projects are jointly funded by Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and the Australian Centre for International Agriculture Research (ACIAR) and implemented by the Department of Fisheries and the Africa Entrepreneurship Hub (AEH), respectively. 
The CultiAF Expanding Agribusiness value chains in Southern Africa main objective is to increase youth participation in the Agribusiness value chain through creative ideas. The idea is to develop ways that will help youth get attracted into agriculture and stop seeing it as a profession for the retired.”Dr. Jonathan Tambatamba, Coordinator of the project. 

Irish agri firms to move into African market

16 April 2017. In November 2017 IrishFarm will be taking a group of Irish farm equipment and agtech specialists on a market study tour to South Africa, providing an ideal opportunity to get a feel for the market, meet potential partners and showcase their products. South Africa is the largest animal-feed producer on the continent, and there's an ongoing opportunity to supply supplements to feed manufacturers, although this will mean taking market share from existing players.

The visit will also take in Kenya, where agriculture accounts for 20pc of GDP, and tea and horticultural products are the country's largest exports. Irish animal-health company Cross Vetpharm has operations in Kenya, and those active elsewhere in East Africa include MagGrow, a start-up commercialising eco-efficient spraying technology; Hermitage Genetics, which specialises in pig breeding, and milking parlour specialist DairyMaster. There's no doubt that other Irish firms selling to the agricultural sector could also look to Africa.

Regional Consultation workshop on rolling-out the Science Agenda for Agriculture in Africa (S3A)

The Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) organised 3 Regional Consultation workshops on rolling-out the Science Agenda for Agriculture in Africa (S3A). 
  1. 10-12 April 2017. Lilongwe, Malawi. In collaboration with the Centre for Coordination of Agricultural Research and Development for Southern Africa (CCARDESA) and the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development of the Government of Malawi, FARA organised a  consultation for Southern African countries.
  2. 19-21 April 2017. Kigali,  Regional consultative workshop on rolling-out the Science Agenda for Agriculture in Africa (S3A) for East and Central Africa Region
  3.  9 – 12 May, 2017. Accra, Ghana. Regional consultative workshop Central, West and North Africa.
The Science Agenda for Agriculture in Africa (S3A) outlines the guiding principles to help Africa take charge of the science to transform its agriculture. It refers to the science, technology, extension, innovations, policy and social learning Africa needs to apply to meet its evolving agricultural development goals. The S3A is based on the recognition of the game-changing potential of science for the continent’s agricultural transformation agenda encapsulated in the CAADP. The empirical evidence show that a deeper application of Science in Agriculture will improve productivity, food security, employment and resilient livelihoods.

During the consultation in Kigali Raymond Jatta, the Programme Coordinator for Science Agenda Mainstreaming at FARA, said that science and research as well as technology in agriculture have faced funding constraints, yet agriculture is major source of income for the majority of Africans and a key contributor to the continent's economy.

The Chairman of the Board of Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in Eastern and Central Africa (ASARECA), Ambrose Agona, called for governments' commitments to a conducive environment for innovation, multiplication, commercialisation and dissemination of technologies. Agona, who is also the Director General for Uganda's National Agricultural Research Organisation (NARO), said that when it comes to research, there is need for investments, and government commitment to finance research in a more predictable manner.

Aflasafe plant in Kenya ready to begin production by June 2017

Panellists speaking during the First All Africa Post-Harvest
Congress held in Nairobi, Kenya from March 28 to 31, 2017.
Photo taken on March 30 by Justus Wanzala.
Since October 2016, IITA has been pioneering the Aflasafe Technology Transfer and Commercialisation Project (ATTC), which works with private companies or government entities to ensure Aflasafe products reach millions of farmers.

Njeri Okoni, who is involved with the Aflasafe project at IITA, told IDN that the project is targeting 11 countries – Nigeria, Kenya, Senegal, The Gambia, Zambia, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Mozambique, Tanzania, Malawi and Uganda – but that resource constraints had limited the spread of the programme to more countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. “We have limited resources but had to start somewhere. If we obtain access to more resources, we will expand to other countries.”

Okoni said that in Kenya, where Aflasafe is being used on maize, plans are under way to also include groundnuts and sorghum crops, while the Kenya Agricultural Research Organisation (KALRO) is setting up and Aflasafe factory to manufacture it locally. She noted that Kenya’s Ministry of Agriculture has purchased Aflasafe and is making it available to vulnerable farmers in areas with high aflatoxin prevalence.

In partnership with KALRO and other stakeholders, Okoni said the project has seen 120 extension officers in Kenya trained as part of a training of trainer’s initiative, who in turn have trained more than 8,400 farmers and monitored the issuance and application of 82.5 metric tonnes of Aflasafe by these farmers.

She added that in order to make Aflasafe available to all farmers, IITA is working with KALRO to ensure that the organisation’s Aflasafe plant is fully equipped and ready to begin production by June 2017. “Two metric tonnes of Aflasafe have already been produced from a successful test run of the installed equipment,” she said.

Despite the breakthroughs, however, Okoni explained that implementation of the ATTC project in Kenya has faced challenges. For example, the drought that affected Kenya from late 2016 to early this year led to postponing use of Aflasafe until the next sowing season, while lack of adherence by users of the product to instructions on correct use has often affected product efficacy.

Another limitation, she said, has been improper timing of the stage of application of Aflasafe. “We are aware that adhering to such strict timelines by farmers may be difficult. Hence through continuous training and reminders plus monitoring by the extension team, the farmers should be able to get it right, as has been the case in other countries,” she says.

Okoni also explained that because sorghum is a key raw material in Aflasafe production, the cost of sorghum has an effect on the price of Aflasafe. “We are keen to support our local partner KALRO to establish adequate sorghum production measures. This includes working with select growers to ensure adequate supply and a favourable price,” she said.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Making mycotoxin analysis environmentally friendlier

5 April 2017. The JRC—Joint Research Centre, in its role as European Union Reference Laboratory (EURL) for Mycotoxins developed a quick method of analysis for multiple mycotoxins. This work aims to facilitate compliance testing in the EU Member States and to support the EU National Reference Laboratories (NRLs) on mycotoxins.

A method is presented which aims at making mycotoxin analysis environmentally friendlier through replacing acetonitrile by ethyl acetate and reducing chemical waste production by analyzing four mycotoxins together, forgoing sample extract clean-up, and minimizing solvent consumption.

It is the role of the EURL for Mycotoxins to develop and validate state-of-the-art and fit-for-the-purpose analytical approaches for official food control. Therefore, the JRC developed a "greener" and quick method of analysis for four mycotoxins (DON, HT-2, T-2 and ZON) in cereals. The fitness-for-purpose was proven through a successful collaborative study. This method of analysis became recently a European Standard (European Committee for Standardization, CEN EN 16877).

The comprehensiveness and flexibility of the developed extraction approach was also used for a very quick screening and semi-quantitative flow-injection mass spectrometry assay for aflatoxin B1 in whole-kernel maize.

Michigan State University researchers have shown that sunflower 
seeds are frequently contaminated with a toxin produced 
by molds and pose an increased health risk in many l
ow-income countries worldwide.

Credit: Courtesy of MSUcaption
Read more in: A. Breidbach "A greener, quick and comprehensive extraction approach for LC-MS of multiple mycotoxins", Toxins 91 (2017) 1-14, doi:10.3390/toxins9030091, 14 pages.

18 April 2017. Sunflower Seeds Identified as Source of Potent Liver Carcinogen
Michigan State University researchers have shown that sunflower seeds are frequently contaminated with a toxin produced by molds and pose an increased health risk in many low-income countries worldwide.

Smallholder farmers in Tanzania grow sunflowers for the seeds, which are sold to local millers who press the seeds for oil and sell it to local consumers for cooking. The remaining cakes are used as animal feed.
Aflatoxin in animal feedstuffs has been a growing concern in the dairy industry due to the prevalence of aflatoxin M1 (hydroxylated form of AFB1) in dairy products from animals consuming AFB1-contaminated feed. Researchers in Kenya found 72% of 439 cow-milk samples they collected from urban Kenya contaminated with aflatoxin M1. Researchers in Tanzania also found aflatoxin M1 contamination in fresh cow milk retailed in Dar es Salaam and in Singida. Although aflatoxin M1 is less carcinogenic than aflatoxin B1, it also has demonstrated toxicological effects, and infants weaned on contaminated milk may be at high risk of exposure to aflatoxin M1 and its associated carcinogenic actions.
In the current issue of PLoS ONE, the team of scientists documented frequent occurrence of aflatoxin (a toxin produced by Aspergillus molds that commonly infect corn, peanuts, pistachios and almonds) in sunflower seeds and their products. This is one of the first studies to associate aflatoxin contamination with sunflower seeds.

The study was conducted in Tanzania, but the problem is by no means isolated there. Chronic exposure to aflatoxin causes an estimated 25,000-155,000 deaths worldwide each year, from corn and peanuts alone. Since it is one of the most potent liver carcinogens known, the research to detect and limit its presence in sunflower seeds and their products could help save lives and reduce liver disease in areas where sunflowers and their byproducts are consumed, said Gale Strasburg, MSU food science and human nutrition professor and one of the study's co-authors.
"These high aflatoxin levels, in a commodity frequently consumed by the Tanzanian population, indicate that local authorities must implement interventions to prevent and control aflatoxin contamination along the sunflower commodity value chain, to enhance food and feed safety in Tanzania," he said. "Follow-up research is needed to determine intake rates of sunflower seed products in humans and animals, to inform exposure assessments and to better understand the role of sunflower seeds and cakes as a dietary aflatoxin source."
Read more in: Mmongoyo, J. A., Wu, F., Linz, J. E., Nair, M. G., Mugula, J. K., Tempelman, R. J., & Strasburg, G. M. (2017). Aflatoxin levels in sunflower seeds and cakes collected from micro- and small-scale sunflower oil processors in Tanzania. Plos One, 12(4). doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0175801

African Agripreneurs Youth Forum

25 - 26 April 2017. Ibadan, Nigeria. The AYA Forum is being organised by the African Development Bank (AfDB), in collaboration with CTA, the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and the African Agribusiness Incubation Network (AAIN). About 250 young agripreneurs from across Africa, as well as institutional and business partners, are expected to attend.

Experiences of African Youth Agripreneurs
  • Mercy Wakawa, Groundnut Oil, Nigeria 
  • Gael Murara, CEO, GroceWheels, Rwanda 
  • Joyce Kyalema, Josmak Int’l Ltd, Uganda 
  • Noel Mulinganya, Cassava Flour, DRC
Unique Perspectives and Successes of Youth Agripreneurship
  • Emna Ben Mustapha, Aquaspir, Tunisia 
  • Kimani Muturi, MD, Afribanana, Uganda 
  • Awa Caba, CEO Sooretul, Senegal 
  • Beauty Manake, MD, Kunga Farms, Botswana 
  • Evelyn Ohanwusi, IITA Agripreneur
Innovative Finance that Works for Youth in Agribusiness
  • Anna Samake, Senior Partner, AHL Venture 
  • John Magnay, Agric. Specialist, Opportunity Bank 
  • Mamadou Toure, CEO, Ubuntu Capital 
  • Godfrey Mwindaare, Director, Acumen Capital
23 and 24 April 2017. As a pre-event to the AYA Forum, CTA will run, on, a workshop entitled Accelerating Youth Agriculture Entrepreneurship Using ICTs. This workshop is designed for partners including development organisations, venture capitalists, young start-up companies, farmer organisations and representatives of national entrepreneurship programmes.

The workshop will review the results of CTA's AgriHack Talent initiatives, and consider how to scale up this kind of business promotion. It will also discuss proposals for supporting youth agribusinesses via stronger ICT business services, and look at technical partnership and funding opportunities.

Find out more

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Aflatoxin B1 levels in groundnut products from local markets in Zambia

Aflatoxin B1 levels in groundnut products from local markets in Zambia
Samuel M. C. Njoroge; Limbikani Matumba*; Kennedy Kanenga; Moses Siambi and Farid Waliyar and Joseph Maruwo1; Norah Machinjiri; Emmanuel S. Monyo
Society for Mycotoxin Research and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017, 7 pages

(*Dr. Limbikani Matumba is associated to the research project supported by PAEPARD: Stemming Aflatoxin pre- and post-harvest waste in the groundnut value chain (GnVC) in Malawi and Zambia to improve food and nutrition security in the smallholder farming families.)

This is the first published report on aflatoxin contamination in groundnut grain and milled powder sold in the Zambian market. The findings clearly show that mitigation efforts are needed to reduce the risks to aflatoxin exposure. The overall contamination levels of groundnut products with were found to be alarmingly high in all years and locations. Therefore, solutions are needed to reduce
aflatoxin levels in under-regulated markets.

Several studies have documented aflatoxin contamination of groundnut kernels in different markets across Africa, but none have compared contamination in groundnut kernels to milled groundnut powder. (...) Compared to groundnut kernels, milled groundnut powder obscures visual indicators of aflatoxin contamination in groundnuts such as moldiness, discoloration, insect damage or kernel damage.

Considering that in Zambia, and across sub-Saharan Africa, milled groundnut powder is often blended with cereals for making porridge, or added to leafy green vegetable preparations—locally called ‘nsinjiro’, or used as an ingredient for complementary food for AIDS patients, the incidence of aflatoxins in milled groundnut powder is of public health interest. Specifically, early exposure to aflatoxin could exacerbate the incidence of stunting among children, which is estimated to affect 48% of children in Zambia and to compromise the health of AIDS patients by further depressing immunity and negatively affecting nutritional status .

Based on our results, interventions are needed to reduce aflatoxin levels, which would lead to minimize consumer dietary exposure and prevent disease. (...) However, manual sorting would only work for grain compared to milled powder, and also that it also depends on the availability of viable alternative uses for the sorted out grain, and importantly, it depends on the availability of food.

Keeping mycotoxins away from the food: Does the existence of regulationshave any impact in Africa?
Limbikani Matumba, Christof Van Poucke, Emmanuel Njumbe Ediage and Sarah De
Saeger. P
ublished Taylor and Francis. Pages 1584-1592  Online: 21 April 2015. 7 pages

Following the discovery of aflatoxins in the early 1960s, there have been many studies leading to the uncovering of many mycotoxins and the understanding of associated health effects in animals and humans. Consequently, there has been a global increase in the number of countries with mycotoxin regulations in foods. However, many African countries have only regulations for aflatoxins (or a few other mycotoxins) in specific foods, or no regulations at all.

This paper critically reviews the challenges thwarting the establishment of mycotoxin regulations and their impacts on human dietary mycotoxin exposure in Africa. Mycotoxin regulatory limits for different countries are compared with mycotoxin tolerable daily intakes established by international food safety bodies taking into account consumption patterns. The agrarian setup, food insecurity, and mycotoxin analytical challenges in African countries are discussed; and more feasible mycotoxin dietary exposure reduction strategies are proposed.

Effectiveness of hand sorting, flotation/washing, dehulling and combinations thereof on the decontamination of mycotoxin-contaminated white maize
Limbikani Matumba, Christof Van Poucke, Emmanuel Njumbe Ediage, Bart Jacobs andSarah De Saeger.
Published Taylor and Francis. Pages 960-969 | posted online: 18 Mar 2015, Published online: 14 Apr 2015, 9 pages

Results from this experiment indicated that hand sorting had the greatest effect on mycotoxin removal, while flotation yielded the least effect. In particular hand sorting left < 6% of aflatoxin B1 and < 5% of fumonisin B1. Based on these results, hand sorting of maize grains is being recommended as a last line of defence against mycotoxin exposure among subsistence consumers.

Towards effective soybean seed systems in Benin

Towards effective soybean seed systems in Benin: Current situation and prospects for production and delivery of good quality seed
Mathieu Anatole Tele Ayenan, Patrice Lagnon Sèwadé and Sègbégnon Martin Agboton
Journal of Crop Improvement Published online: 20 April 2017, 22 pages

Facilitating farmers’ access to quality seed requires proper understanding of the functioning of seed systems. This study aimed at analyzing soybean seed systems in Benin to pave the way for strengthening this sector.

The research approach consisted of desk research, focus group discussions, individual interviews and validation workshop with stakeholders involved in soybean seed systems.

The findings revealed that despite the existence of an institutional and organizational framework, the formal soybean seed system is not at all functioning.
  • Farmers mainly relied on informal seed system through self-saved seed and seed purchase in the markets. 
  • There is an emerging soybean seed system led by NGOs and farmers’ organizations. 
  • Current soybean seed systems are ineffective in timely supplying desired soybean varieties to farmers. 
Creation of enabling environment to attract private investment and develop local seed businesses is proposed along with new organizational arrangements among stakeholders.

In the short term, priority should be given to introduction of new varieties along with implementation of participatory varietal selection to raise farmers’ awareness about the use of improved varieties and good quality seed. Concomitantly, training of farmers in seed production and managerial skills have been suggested to strengthen the informal system and gradually integrate both formal and informal systems in the mid-term. In the long term, individual or farmers’ cooperative involved in the seed business are expected to emerge as local private seed enterprises and develop a vertical integration with other farmers. Other private operators can also integrate and operate within the system.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

MYTOX-SOUTH: Partnership to improve food security & food safety in developing countries

14 April 2017. The University of Ghent announced the approval of the International Thematic Network on Partnership to improve food security and food safety in developing countries: mitigation of mycotoxins -MYTOX-SOUTH.

MYTOX-SOUTH is a partnership to improve food security & food safety through mitigation of mycotoxins at global level with the following long term goals:
  1. BUILDING HUMAN CAPACITY. MYTOX-SOUTH will start by training, student/staff exchange programs and Joint PhDs which can contribute to an increased capacity of partners in the South and the identification of new research areas to reduce mycotoxin risks, to transfer knowledge on several detection techniques, to ameliorate pre- and post-harvest practices by using mycotoxin binders, biological control agents and other intervention techniques, to assess the risks when consumers are exposed to mycotoxins, et cetera
  2. BRIDGING THE GAP. For two decades focus has been set towards the problem of aflatoxins, however there has not been paid enough attention to the coordination of local (African) research capacity. Development actors are getting mobilized to tackle the problem, but bridging research and development in this field is challenging. Mycotoxin contamination of food and feed requires a development and research policy which translates research outcomes into practical ways which can bridge the gap between (1) research and the development of more safe food and feed, and (2) different actors including farmer organizations, NGO’s such as Mycotoxicology Associations, the private sector and policy makers.
  3. CREATING A SUSTAINABLE NETWORK, MYTOX-SOUTH will contribute to the coordination of research actors in order to focus skills and resources, and to improve the communication between research and non-research actors. As a solid consortium, MYTOX-SOUTH seeks for international funding opportunities to further enhance its capacity to deal with mycotoxins and the related food safety and food security challenges. By involving the Northern partners as CAS China, BioIntellipro LLC, the World Food Preservation Centre® LLC, USDA and PAEPARD a world-wide visibility will be achieved.
This international network is a worldwide expansion of the association research platform (AOP) 'Mycotoxins and Toxigenic Moulds' (MYTOX), founded at UGent in 2007. MYTOX is a well-structured multidisciplinary research group that strives to solve mycotoxin problems, and is able to provide the most adequate strategies and solutions for different stakeholders.
  • MYTOX-SOUTH will broaden and consolidate the scientific network between South and North partners around the theme of mycotoxins and toxicogenic moulds with the ultimate goal of strengthening the capacity of the Southern partners, making collaborations and research output more sustainable. 
  • MYTOX-SOUTH is structured to bring together researchers with complementary expertise in different areas of the mycotoxin issue and includes 13 UGent ZAP/postdocs (active MYTOX members) and 12 professorial/post-doc research partners from different African countries/ universities, all of them are currently involved in collaborative work with UGent. In addition, 3 South-partners, namely Prof. dr. Martin Kimanya (2008), Dr. Limbikani Matumba (2014) and Dr. Happy Magoha (2014) obtained their PhD-degree at Ghent University, which demonstrates the top-level quality of the South partners. 
  • Additionally, the consortium includes 5 non-UGent Northern partners who have proven track record in food safety & food security issues in developing countries, and who already initiated collaboration with MYTOX. Moreover, the Chinese partner is included as part of the established collaboration ‘Ghent University-Shanghai Jiao Tong University – Chinese Academy of Sciences (Shanghai Institutes of Biological Sciences) - Joint Laboratory on Mycotoxin Research’. 
  • While the current focus is mainly on Sub-Saharan Africa, where the food security & safety issue is the most pronounced, the consortium can be later extended to other Southern countries/partners (including South-East Asia and South America).
International partners:
  1. Okoth, Sheila,University of Nairobi, Kenya
  2. Woldegiorgis, Ashagrie Zewdu, Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia
  3. Njobeh, Patrick Berka, University of Johannesburg, South Africa
  4. Obadina, Adewale Olusegun, Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, Nigeria
  5. Nyanga, Loveness Kuziwa, University of Zimbabwe
  6. Matumba , Limbikani, Lilongwe University of Agricultural Natural Resources, Malawi
  7. Atanda, Olusegun, McPherson University, Nigeria
  8. Magoha, Happy, Partnership for Aflatoxin Control – PACA, Ethiopia
  9. Rose, Lindy J., Stellenbosch University,  South Africa
  10. Kimanya, Martin, Nelson Mandela African Institution of Science and Technology, Arusha, Tanzania
  11. Makun, Hussaini Anthony, Department of Biochemistry, Federal University of Technology, Nigeria
  12. Echodu, Richard, Faculty of Science, Gulu University, Uganda
  13. Wu, Aibo, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shanghai Institutes of Biological Sciences, Institute of Nutritional Sciences, China
  14. Wilson, Charles L., World Food Preservation Center, USA
  15. Cotty, Peter, U.S. Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service; School of Plant Sciences, The University of Arizona, USA
  16. Lo, Y. Martin, Biointellipro, USA
  17. PAEPARD, Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA)

11-14 September 2017. Ghent, Belgium. 1st MYCOKEY International Conference on Global Mycotoxin Reduction in the Food and Feed Chain.
On 9 December 2016 the Symposium of the Ghent Africa Platform – GAPSYM10 took place. A specific session was dedicated to mycotoxins as an important food safety issue in Africa. More detailed information can be found via the following link.

Thursday, April 20, 2017


29 March 2017. The South African Weather Service (SAWS) has developed and released a new CLIMATE CHANGE REFERENCE ATLAS for South Africa. This forms part of our World Meteorological Month celebrations as well as the organisation’s vision to create a WeatherSMART nation.

The Climate Change Reference Atlas provides an accessible climate basis for national and local scale climate change impacts, adaptation and response planning and addresses general assumptions about climate change in a localised, scientific manner.

With climate change becoming a greater reality, National Government, provinces, municipalities and even Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) are increasingly involved instrategic initiatives to adapt and respond to the risks posed by global warming. General assumptions about global warming are frequently made - for example, it is generally assumed that global warming will lead to an increase in heat waves, floods and dry periods, regardless of the area of interest. These assumptions originate from a generalisation of scientific findings, which are published in sophisticated scientific papers and technical reports, and which are not always addressed to the general public. In reality, projected climate responses to global warming differ from location to location, and changes in the level of confidence in these projections between different geographical locations and climate variables occur.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

2017 Water for Food Global Conference

10-12 April 2017. Nebraska, USA. University of Nebraska. The 2017 Water for Food Global Conference was held in partnership with the U.S.
Department of Agriculture and the National Drought Mitigation Center. This Conference welcomed a record 100 speakers and global experts to share ideas and help find solutions to the world’s pressing water and food security needs.

The 2017 Water for Food Global Conference is a North American Regional Event for the 8th World Water Forum, the world’s largest water-related forum organized by the World Water Council (WWC), an international organization that brings together all those interested in the theme of water. The World Water Council produces the forum every three years together with the respective host country and city. The 2018 forum will be held in Brasilia, Brazil.

One of the sessions was "Upscaling Solutions: Expanding access to irrigation for smallholders in sub­-Saharan Africa." This session explored how public and private sector investors can support smallholder-irrigated agriculture in sub-Saharan Africa to achieve greater yield gains and improve livelihoods.

The session outcome included a whitepaper synthesis of the case studies, panelist and participant input, which will serve as a basis for support to smallholder irrigated agriculture initiatives, further study and incorporation in major events such as Africa Water Week, 2017 World Water Week in Stockholm and the 2018 World Water Forum in Brasilia, Brazil.

Introduction: Timothy Williams, Director for Africa, International Water Management Institute; Accra; Ghana

Case Study Presenters and Roundtable Leaders:
  • Ayembilla Joseph Anyagbilla, Human Development Coordinator, Catholic Diocese of Navrongo-Bolgatanga; Ghana
  • Richard D. Berkland, Vice President of Market Development, Global Irrigation Division, Valmont Industries, Inc.; Omaha, Nebraska
  • Martin Fisher, Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer, KickStart International; San Francisco, California
  • Meredith Giordano, Principal Researcher and U.S. Representative for the International Water Management Institute; Washington, D.C.
  • Sithembile Ndema Mwamakamba, Climate Smart Agriculture Program Manager; Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN); Johannesburg, South Africa
  • Francois Onimus, Senior Water Resources Specialist, World Bank; Washington, D.C.
  • Timothy Prewitt, Chief Executive Officer, iDE; Denver, Colorado

One case study was from International Development Enterprise (iDE), a global effort that spans
offices in 14 countries, encompassing 4 social enterprises, employing nearly 1,000 people directly, and indirectly enabling many more through our market-based approaches in agriculture, water, sanitation and hygiene, and finance.
"We did this study, in part, because of on what I read in a pre-study about six years ago, that said, for a farmer to buy irrigation equipment, the most expensive part is research and learning about the product because it takes so much time for the farmer to get out there and learn about it because it's not in their backyard, because in many cases they don't have multiple examples of irrigation available to them."
Listen to Prewitt's case study presentation here: Tim Prewitt Case Study

In an interview following his presentation, Prewitt reinforced the mission behind iDE and how he believes the company has the ability to directly drive global solutions for producers all over the world.
"The planet today is faced with tremendous growth and tremendous stress on its food resource, and we're only able to feed this people in America right now because technology has allowed yields to increase every year in this country," he said. "There are huge areas of the globe where farmers are only getting a quarter of the yields we are, and it's all a matter of getting modern technology to them."
Listen to Jamie's full interview with Tim here: Interview with Tim Prewitt, iDE

Another session was about : Lessons Learned in Water and Food Security in Ethiopia 

This session will examined the Ethiopia’s humanitarian crisis in light of the significant international assistance it has received to address water and food insecurity. 

  • What lessons have been learned after decades of interventions across a wide variety of sectors, including agriculture, food security and water policy? 
  • What projects and interventions have been most successful and why? 
  • Given that more than 10 million people in Ethiopia have been affected by acute food insecurity conditions and below-average rainfall, exacerbating political tensions, what can international actors do to prevent violence and enhance food and water security? 
Panelists drew attention to the challenges of incorporating local lessons and local voices.

Moderator: Roberto Lenton, Professor, Biological Systems Engineering, University of Nebraska–
Lincoln; Daugherty Water for Food Global Institute Distinguished Fellow

  • Peter McCornick, Executive Director, Daugherty Water for Food Global Institute; Lincoln, Nebraska
  • Patrice McMahon, Daugherty Water for Food Global Institute Faculty Fellow; Associate Professor, Department of Political Science, University of Nebraska–Lincoln
  • Tsegaye Tadesse, Daugherty Water for Food Global Institute Faculty Fellow; Associate Professor, Climatologist and Remote Sensing Expert, National Drought Mitigation Center, University of Nebraska–Lincoln
  • Nicole Wall, Research Specialist, National Drought Mitigation Center, University of Nebraska–Lincoln
  • Timothy Williams, Director for Africa, International Water Management Institute; Accra; Ghana
Plenary Speaker: Sithembile Mwamakamba, Climate Smart Agriculture Program Manager; Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN) ; Johannesburg, South Africa.

  • The FANRPAN CSA programme currently covers the following countries: Angola, Botswana, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. 
  • The CSA programme engages small-scale farmers in 16 African countries, targeting women farmers, given their critical roles in agriculture and food security in Africa. Special emphasis is put on vulnerable, poor households that are vulnerable to food insecurity under a changing climate.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Mekelle University's 1st Conference on Women in Science

10-12 April 2017. Mekelle. First International Conference on Women in Science, Innovation and Development. This 3-day conference celebrated the capacities and achievements of Ethiopian women in Ethiopia and abroad, ranging from women innovators in agriculture to leading women politicians. Among the participants was a high number of female students and staff from Mekelle and numerous other universities in Ethiopia and Sudan, who are now newly or more strongly linked for future collaboration in promoting gender equality in science, innovation and development.

First plenary session on Women in Science and Innovation
Dr. Judith Francis (Senior Program Coordinator, CTA
and executive secretary of EFARD
Dr. Ann Waters Bayer (Rural Development:
Royal Tropical Institute (KIT)
Dr. Wanjiru KamauRutenberg (Director of African Women
in Agricultural Research and Development/AWARD),
Dr. Aster Gebrekirstos (ICRAF),
and Prof. Fetien Abay (Vice President for Research
and Community Services: Mekelle University)
All the keynote speakers were women and almost all the presentations by young scientists were women. The large organising team consisted of both female and male staff of the university. Most of the booths at the marketplace for exhibits of innovation and enterprise in Tigray Region of Ethiopia were "manned" by women.

The conference was held in the new Mitiku Haile Hall, named after the founding President of Mekelle University and the co-coordinator of the ISWC work in Ethiopia, which started the university's collaboration with female farmers innovating in Tigray Region. Mitiku chaired the first day of the conference.

Two members of the Prolinnova International Support Team were invited to join the conference - Chesha Wettasinha, who is currently coordinating a study of gender issues in local innovation and farmer-led participatory innovation development within the Prolinnova network, and myself, who gave a presentation on "Women in transdisciplinary research: interacting with citizen's science and innovation".

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Fairtrade Producer Networks join forces with Access Agriculture

10 April 2017. Press release AccessAgriculture. More than one and a half million farmers that benefit from better market prices through the Fairtrade scheme may soon benefit from broader livelihood support. Through a strategic partnership, Access Agriculture and Fairtrade will jointly explore opportunities to strengthen the knowledge and livelihood options of Fairtrade producers and workers.

Fairtrade is a global movement that addresses the injustices of conventional trade. The Fairtrade Premium paid to Fairtrade producers is invested in social, environmental and educational projects decided upon by the communities themselves.

Most Fairtrade products are still sold on international markets, but a growing middle class in developing countries has opened opportunities for regional and domestic markets.
“We have to ensure that farmers’ income not only depends on one or two commodities, such as coffee or tea. Diversifying their sources of income is crucial to the long-term sustainability of farming. I believe that the many videos on the Access Agriculture portal will prove crucial to further empower farmers and encourage new rural enterprises to flourish.” Dr. Nyagoy Nyong'o, Executive Director of Fairtrade Africa, the largest of the three producer networks.
While the quality videos hosted on the Access Agriculture platform encourage South-South learning among farmers, further sharing of experiences will be nurtured through the social learning platforms managed by the respective producer networks themselves.

Fairtrade Africa, the Latin American and Caribbean Fairtrade Producers (CLAC Fairtrade), and the Fairtrade Network of Asia & Pacific Producers (Fairtrade NAPP) support 1.7 million farmers grouped into more than 1,200 farmer organisations.

Since 2012, videos hosted on Access Agriculture website have been used in various ways and for various purposes by over a thousand NGOs, development agencies, farmer organisations, universities, national research and extension staff, as well as radio journalists and TV broadcasters.

Beyond their training aspect, the videos have inspired users like Phillip Chinkhokwe of Farm Radio Trust, in various ways. In an article entitled "Videos on the radio'', Phillip shared his experience of farmer-to-farmer videos.

Farm Radio Trust helps broadcasters to design and produce radio broadcasts that meet farmers' needs.

Through the project, Scaling up Radio and ICT in Enhancing Extension Delivery (SRIEED), funded by the government of Flanders, Farm Radio Trust turned existing radio-listening clubs into video-viewing clubs and information hubs, where farmers can meet regularly to discuss and share ideas about farming.

Please find Phillip's full story in chapter 24 of the book "A passion for video" that you can download the chapter directly by clicking here
But making new content is difficult and takes time. In 2015, Farm Radio Trust saw an opportunity to raise awareness on farmer-to-farmer videos from Access Agriculture.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Outcome of the online consultation of USAID, Aligning Research Investments to the Global Food Security Strategy

18-20 April 2017. Aligning Research Investments to the Global Food Security Strategy (GFSS): A Three-Day AgExchange on Nutrition, Resilience and Agriculture-Led Economic Growth

Over 400 development and research professionals in more than 30 countries followed and/or contributed to the discussion on research investments in resilience, nutrition, and agriculture-led economic growth. A team of experts is currently carefully reviewing each and every comment to inform the drafting of the GFSS research strategy.

For key takeaways and reflections from BIFAD and USAID, it is recommend that you check out the recording of the closing webinar (a transcript is also available). In addition, all of the discussion threads and related resources are archived on Agrilinks.


Extracts: Transcripts of Closing Webinar (29 pages)
Gates Foundation’s Ag Development Leader
I really did not hear discussion on what we could call the traditional ag productivity research agenda, how we protect past productivity gains, the changes we need to make in research on genetic gains going forward, and that surprised me a lot.
We need more research to increase the efficiency and the impact of that traditional productivity agenda. And so things like yes, segmentation, contextualization and much better targeting. Who are we actually trying to improve productivity for? What do they need? What do they want? So we can get sharper in terms of our methodology development and our product development in the uptake.

More work on economics. There were some important commentaries in the context of scaling up and scaling out. We need economic analyses so that we can really understand the cost effectiveness of different alternative products and actions across the portfolio. More market research, more agenda research. So there was a real strong call for research that is enabling beyond that traditional productivity agenda.
The real discussion that just kept coming back and back to me is what I would probably call our collective struggle with compartmentalization. So the compartmentalization between social and natural sciences, although people did point out that’s getting better. Between ag and health sciences and professionals. Between the public and private sector across the interface of research and scaling and utilization and analogy just pointed out, too, research and development. So a real call, in a sense, that we shift much more intentionally from compartmentalization to integration and convergence.
The other shift that I heard people calling for was a shift in how we frame our research agendas, specifically the need to look from much more from the demand side instead of our historical focus on production and supply-side research. And those calls manifested, for example, in suggestions from much more of a market-driven approach and for a move from our historic commodity-framed research agenda to more of a consumer demand set of research agendas. (Pamela Anderson : page 16-17)
Prioritization of investment is critical to ensure resources are focused on the most important areas of research. As we examine the range of research opportunities to contribute to the goals of the GlobalFood Security Strategy (GFSS), USAID is looking into criteria to inform our investments.

Background: The 2011 Research Strategy for Feed the Future emerged from an extensive analysis of the geographic distribution of child undernutrition and poverty, and farming systems in these areas. Through consultations with multiple stakeholders and literature reviews, we identified biophysical, social, and policy constraints in major agroecosystems that research could address to advance the goals of inclusive and sustainable agriculture-led economic growth and nutrition. We used the following key criteria to guide the selection of research priorities:
  • Potential impact (such as value of production, numbers of consumers and producers, income gains, nutrition gains), scalability, and spillover across wide areas 
  • Relevance to poverty, women and children and reduced vulnerability objectives 
  • Likelihood of success: Technical merit, clear pathways for deployment/adoption 
  • Cost/Benefit: Estimated cost to develop technology vs. potential returns in terms of impacts 
  • Economic sustainability for producers/adopters 
  • Natural resources sustainability: water, soil, ecosystem and climate change 
  • Institutional sustainability/impact on capacity: engagement of national and regional partners 
  • Time Frame: timeline, milestones 
  • Risks: potential impacts on vulnerable groups, environment or breakdown in key pathways 
From this overlay of criteria, constraints and research opportunities together, three general categories of priorities emerged: Advancing the Productivity Frontier, Transforming Key Production Systems, and Enhancing Nutrition and Food Safety.

USAID and its partners intend to use your contributions to this AgExchange to inform research programming. This is a critical opportunity to shape the future of food security research.


Thursday, April 6, 2017

CultiAF entrepreneurship and innovation training

21-24 February 2017. Lilongwe, Malawi. This CultiAF entrepreneurship and innovation training is supported by two international institutions, the Australian Centre for International Agriculture Research and International Development Research Centre, to the tune of CAD 464,200 (about US$348,101).

Youth in agriculture face limited access to natural and financial resources, inadequate opportunities for upward mobility skills and experience to run successful business. This necessitated call of interest from youths on fish value chain to generate and test novel, creative and bold models that increase the participation of youth in fish industry in Malawi and Zambia and maize post-harvest agribusiness sector in Zimbabwe.

The selected awardees that have received grants were trained in assessing agri-business environment, identification of viable opportunities, target market segments for selected fish. They were also mentored in developing a portfolio of youth managed business and high growth firms and linking them to business development services,” said Loreto Lekhoaba, an agri-business consultant with the African Technology Development Forum Entrepreneurship Hub of Zambia and specialises in innovation, entrepreneurship and business development.
  • One of the youth groups, the Youth Action in Agriculture Development (YAAD), is based at Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources. Priscilla Nsandu, a member of the group says their fish sausage enterprise will require them to procure equipment such as mixers, grinders, casing and packaging devices. YAAD is of the view that the presence of the food science department within the campus will help them raise the bar in terms of standards, nutrient identification but also quality before marketing.
  • Another enterprise group is Malawi-based M and K Cooling System that are working on refrigeration and cool systems. Its member, Enock Palapandu, who attended the training says they are developing vacuum storage containers in the fish value chain to curb growth of microbial activities from supply sites to markets.

Congress of the International Federation of Ag Journalists (IFAJ)

2 - 8 April  2017. Gauteng- and the Western Cape. South Africa. IFAJ 2017 World Congress South Africa. Hosted by a different member guild each year, this congress brings together some 200 IFAJ members from all over the world for an immersive few days in a country’s agriculture.

Delegates return home with a remarkable insight into different agricultural industries and practices, providing valuable opportunities to report, compare and contrast, improve knowledge and build networks. It’s also an important business event for IFAJ; it’s here that both the Executive and Delegate Assemblies meet, and strategy debated and decided.


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