Platform for African – European Partnership in Agricultural Research for Development

Thursday, August 31, 2017

How farmer videos trigger social learning to enhance innovation

31 August 2017. Information and Communication Technology (ICT) tools such as videos promoted to enhance farmer access to information to influence change in farming practices need to be situated in social learning processes. Farmers learn and innovate through social learning characterized by exchanges amongst farmers to contextualize knowledge and adapt technologies for relevance.

This study assessed how a video-mediated extension approach (VMEA) triggers social learning to enhance innovation among rice farmers in Uganda using experiences of a Non-Government Organization, Sasakawa Global 2000 (SG 2000). A cross-sectional study was conducted among 100 farmers subjected to VMEA by SC 2000 in Kamwenge district. Semi-structured interviews, focus group discussions (FGDs), field observations and key informant interviews were used to collect the quantitative and qualitative data. Quantitative data were analyzed using Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) while thematic analysis was applied to the qualitative data.

Results indicate that inherently, videos trigger conversational exchange between farmers including those who do not watch the videos. These interactions enable collective reflection, evaluation and validation of knowledge, which in turn motivate experimentation. In this study, videos significantly enhanced awareness, knowledge acquisition, uptake of technologies and innovation among rice farmers. However, the potential of videos in influencing farmer knowledge and behavioral change can be further exploited if the users can produce contextualized videos of farmer practices and innovations for dissemination. Among other things, effective use of videos in extension requires excellent skills in facilitating social learning processes; and video documentation of farmer practices and innovations to aid scaling up and deepening learning.

For more details, please find the full publication at How farmer videos trigger social learning to enhance innovation among smallholder rice farmers in Uganda

You can find other publications that you may find of interest on the subject of using videos in agricultural extension at Publications.

Engaging African youth in agribusiness

30 August 2017Webinar: Engaging African youth in agribusiness in a changing climate. Host: CGIAR. This webinar was a culmination of a month long online discussion organized by the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), CGIAR Research Program on Livestock, the Climate Smart Agriculture Youth Network (CSAYN), AgriProFocus, and ICCO Cooperation. 

The webinar focused on the following questions:
  1. What examples of innovative youth-led agribusinesses exist in Africa and what challenges do they face in a changing climate? 
  2. What career and business opportunities does CSA offer to youth in Africa? 
  3. What policies and programmes should governments put in place to facilitate the involvement of youth in agribusiness in a changing climate? 
  4. What approaches and opportunities exist for scaling up the adoption of innovative youth climate-smart agri-businesses opportunities across Africa?
Video recording forthcoming

Making ICTs work for farmers

30 August 2017Beyond the hype: Mobile phones and the web to improve agricultural value chains summarises the lessons learned from seven projects, offering key recommendations for future ICT4Ag projects, such as CTA's Market-led, User-owned ICT4Ag Enabled Information Services (MUIIS) project.

The brief highlights the importance of understanding users' needs by interacting with potential clients before designing an app and then pilot-testing it to fine tune the services provided.

Details of the final outputs of the seven projects are provided in separate briefs.

  1. Where, exactly, is your farm? Syecomp's eFARMS farm-mapping service in Ghana describes Ghanian private-sector company Syecomp's efforts to scale-out its mapping services using geospatial technology to smallholder farmers across Ghana. 
  2. Water next Tuesday: eLEAF's irrigation-advice service in the Gezira Scheme in Sudan explains the progress of Netherlands-based technology company eLEAF in scaling up its satellite-based information services in South Sudan to provide farmers with targeted extension services.
  3. The work of RONGEAD – a French international network system – to collect cashew market prices from across Ivory Coast and send the information to cashew growers via text, is detailed in Cashew on your phone: N'kalô: RONGEAD's market-advice app in West Africa
  4. Whilst the impact of a mobile application targeting small-scale fisheries in the Caribbean, mFisheries, is summarised in An app for fishers: The University of the West Indies' multifunctional mFisheries app
  5. The key lessons and achievements of harnessing digital media to improve monitoring and implementation of agricultural policies, Yam Pukri – a NGO based in Burkina Faso –are outlined in Buy Burkinabè! Yam Pukri's Agripol advocacy platform in Burkina Faso.
  6. Learning to pay by phone: MOBIS, Ensibuuko's mobile-money app in Uganda and 
  7. Advice on beans: Farmerline's Mergdata farm-advice service in Ghana ICTs describe the impact of Ensibuuko, provider of the mobile banking app MOBIS and Farmerline, which offers farmers market and weather information and advice via their mobile phones in Ghana.

Effective Data communication using data visualisations

24 August 2017. GODAN/CTA Webinar. Data visualisation has been around at least since the 18th century and recently the increase of a number of easy-to-use tools have made the creation of different types of data visualisations, including infographics, available to a large segment of the population. Visualizations can help reveal important trends in agriculture and nutrition to support many objectives including advocacy and training.

This part 1 of the Data Visualisation series featured Studio Lakmoes, a Dutch company which works to turn complex data into compelling visualisations that tell stories. CTA presented how they are using infographics in their Data4Agriculture unit. The objectives of the webinar were:
  • Provide an understanding of infographics as a form of data communication;
  • Explain the process of creating a good infographic;
  • Demonstrate some visualisation software;
  • Share ideas on how infographics are being applied for open data for agriculture and nutrition.

  1. Piktochart Piktochart is a web-based tool that has six decent free themes (and a whole bunch more for the paid version) for creating simple visualizations. You can drag and drop different shapes and images, and there is quite a bit of customization available. You can also add simple line, bar, and pie charts using data from CSV (or manual entry). You can export to PNG and JPG in either print or web quality. Note that with the free version, you get a small Piktochart watermark on the bottom of the PNG / JPG downloads.
  2. has some simple free tools worth mentioning, many of which integrate with social networks to analyze Twitter and Facebook data. You can create fun Venn diagrams, Twitter account show-downs, visuals that analyze hash tags, and a few others, but there's almost no customization available. However, they offer a marketplace where you can get connected with visual designers and motion graphics artists who specialize in infographics. The site itself also has a ton of great info graphics to inspire you or your designers. There is some serious data visualization eye candy in there, people.
  3. Google charts: Google Charts provides a perfect way to visualize data on your website. From simple line charts to complex hierarchical tree maps, the chart gallery provides a large number of ready-to-use chart types.
  4. Create and share visual ideas
  5. Infogram: Infographics Create stunning infographics that boost visitor engagement and traffic on your website or blog.
  6. See also: 10 Tools for Creating Infographics and Visualizations

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Effective land governance and management in Africa

15-17 August 2017. Pretoria. This Conference brought together civil society organizations, grassroots leaders, policy makers, parliamentarians, government officials, practitioners, academics and land sector specialists.

With an overarching goal of developing greater understanding of the importance of tenure security and land, it built broader capacities around policy-making and implementation strategies relevant to Africa. 
  • The conference explored policy-making approaches with country case studies which have particular resonance with policy makers and members of the Pan-African Parliament to ensure best practices, including principles of participation, evidence, and data driven approaches. 
  • It was designed to present opportunities for the sharing of experiences of implementation of land governance methodologies and approaches to surface best practices through open discussion and platforms to explore and discuss land governance approaches.
  • It explored the continuum of land rights, fit for purpose, flexible land tenure policy approaches as well as GLTN land tools and strategies, in particular, the Social Tenure Domain Model and Gender Evaluation Criteria.

ECDPM's Sustainable Food Systems for Sustainable Development

13 July 2017. SASS is a consortium project between ECDPM and four Italian universities (UNIPV, UNICATT, UNIMIB & UNISG), funded by the Italian Ministry of Research, running for a two-year period (2017-2018).

The SASS project should contribute to the needed shift to more Sustainable Food Systems (SFS), based on multidisciplinary research, dialogue and partnership-building activities, more specifically about the opportunity to combine the so-called “neglected and underutilised species” (NUS) that are “short”, informal value chains, less served by infrastructure and international support, with the “long”, formal value chains (widely supported internationally), with the objective of commercial production.

4p1000 initiative: sustainably manage soil for carbon sequestration.

Alain Vidal, CGIAR System Organization & Stéphane Le Foll,
former French Minister of Agriculture, Agribusiness and Forestry
and Vice-President of 4p1000 initiative,
sign the agreement between 4p1000 and CGIAR
at Agropolis International in Montpellier, France.
29 June 2017. Montpellier. Launched during COP21 under the leadership of the French Government, the global 4p1000 initiative is currently rallying effort to sustainably manage soil for carbon sequestration.

The 4p1000 secretariat is now hosted by the CGIAR System Organization. The initiative provides a multi-stakeholder platform to facilitate partnerships, bringing together more than 250 contributors in both the public and private sectors under the framework of the Lima-Paris Action Agenda (LPAA) of the UNFCCC. The initiative will promote research-based solutions along four pillars:
  • a multi-stakeholder platform to facilitate partnerships
  • a tool to assess projects based on a set of references and indicators
  • an international research program exploring the potential of soil carbon sequestration, innovative soil practices, the required enabling environment, and the monitoring, reporting and verification of solutions
  • a digital resources center on carbon in soils
23/08/2017. CGIAR gets serious about soil carbon as home of 4p1000 initiative

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

West Africa capacity building workshop for plant breeders.

26 August 2017. Accra,- The West Africa Centre for Crop Improvement (WACCI), University of Ghana, as part of its efforts to address food insecurity in West Africa, has held a two-day capacity building workshop for plant breeders.

The workshop, dubbed: "Demand Led Variety Design (DLVD)," which is run biannually at the Centre, was attended by 25 WACCI-trained plant breeders from the West African sub-region.

The participants were from Ghana, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, and Senegal.

The objective was to equip the plant breeders with the knowledge and skills for engaging stakeholders in plant variety design to increase adoption rates of improved varieties in Africa.

Topics taught included Principles of DVLD, Visioning and foresight for setting breeding goals, Understanding clients, New variety design and product profiling, Variety development strategy and stage plan, Monitoring, evaluation and learning, and Making use of investments in new variety development.

16 August 2017. Accra. More than half of the food crops produced in Ghana do not make it to the final consumer due to Post-Harvest Loss (PHL), the Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana (PFAG) has said.

The Programme Coordinator of the PFAG , Ms Victoria Adongo said - in an interview during a National Policy Dialogue on PHL and Food Nutrition Security  - the above figures indicated that significant volumes of food, especially grains were lost after harvest, thereby aggravating hunger and resulting in expensive inputs which is being subsidised by government being wasted.

Under the auspices of the Netherlands Development Organisation’s (SNV) Voice for Change Partnership (V4CP), the PFAG is embarking on activities aimed at informing and influencing policy by using concrete evidence and demands from grassroots to call for effective implementation, increase public investment and improvement of accountability mechanisms on PHL sustainable nutrition.

The dialogue among others sought to generate ideas on tackling PHL and sustainable nutrition that will serve as input into the medium and long-term plans of the nation’s development agenda.

Botswana home to new USAID Southern Africa Trade and Investment Hub

23 August 2017. US Ambassador to Botswana Earl Miller will preside over the official opening ceremony of the new Botswana office of the USAID (US Agency for International Development) Southern Africa Trade and Investment Hub. The key objectives of the USAID Southern Africa Trade and Investment Hub are to increase international competitiveness, intra-regional trade and food security in Southern Africa.

Despite major gains in trade and market expansion, however, countries in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) still face significant obstacles to sustained economic growth. Many member states lack the physical infrastructure along with trade and investment policies to capitalise upon these trade agreements. In addition, cumbersome export/import procedures, high transportation costs, and preferential trade regimes all hinder investment and reduce productivity while negatively affecting the region’s economy, food security, livelihoods, and public health.

The Southern Africa Trade and Investment Hub, funded by USAID, will work to address these barriers and support Southern Africa to create a well-integrated regional economy that delivers tangible economic benefits and improved food security for the people of the region through increased global competitiveness, trade, and investment.

The USAID Southern Africa Trade and Investment Hub is the fourth generation of USAID projects focused on these goals.

The previous version of the Southern Africa Trade Hub made many contributions on behalf of the US Government to develop growth sectors including agribusiness, food processing, textiles and apparel, and infrastructure in Botswana and the entire SADC region.

Sustainable Development Goals Center for Africa meeting

28-29 August 2017. Kigali, Rwanda. This two day meeting brought together a cross section of local and international policy makers, academicians, business leaders and civil society from all over Africa and was is organised by the Sustainable Development Goals Center for Africa and the Stockholm Resilience Center (SRC).
“We are beginning to demand quality and safety of what we grow and eat from production to consumption, if we do that, then we have contributed to conservation. In the face of climate change, drought, floods, emergency of pests and diseases is going to be prevalent. Every country that is growing cereals is being faced with most of these
Prof Johan Rockström from Stockholm Resilience
challenges. These challenges will require close partnerships in scientific research, disease resistance and farming systems that conserve the soil stability. (...) 
To mitigate effects of climate change, Africa will for instance need to invest in modern technology that enhances efficient and sustainable use of surface and underground water for agriculture.” Dr Mark Cyubahiro Director General, Rwanda Agricultural Board (RAB) See left picture
Though Africa was responsible for 85 percent farming, it was still the biggest importer of food at $37 billion per year. (...) Of all freshwater species in Africa, 21 per cent were recorded as threatened – 45 per cent of freshwater fish and 58 per cent of freshwater plant species are over-harvested while African birds have declined over the past 25 years. Dr Belay Begashaw Director General of the SDGC/A 

World Water Week Stockholm

28 August - 1 September 2017. Stockholm. The World Water Week 2017 programme consists of
more than 200 sessions of different formats and covering a range of subjects. During the 90-minute convenor events, the most relevant topics on this year’s theme “Water and Waste: Reduce and reuse” will be discussed. Topics that will be addressed include: the implementation and monitoring of the SDGs, sanitation and health linked to wastewater, financing, integrated urban water management, food related to nutrition, water in relation to conflict and fragile states and much more.

Extracts of the agenda: (with a focus on agriculture and Africa)
Driving the transformational agenda towards WASH delivery in Ghana:
Minister for Sanitation and Water Resources, Joseph Kofi Adda

28 August. How can Ghana strive to best achieve its ambitious agenda on sustainable water and basic sanitation for all by 2025? And transform capital Accra into the cleanest city in Africa to boot. Ghana’s first ever Minister for Sanitation and Water Resources has the answers.

28 August. Marks & Spencer / World Wide Fund for Nature / EDEK

28 August. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
A Global Framework for Action in a changing Climate was officially launched during the COP22 of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Marrakesh, Morocco, in November 2016. The Global Framework has been proposed to respond to the increasingly urgent issues of water scarcity. it seeks to catalyse international cooperation on water scarcity in agriculture in the context of climate change and growing competition for water resources. It is a call for partners from different sectors and backgrounds to join a concerted effort.

Prof Bahri of AfDB Group : wastewater reuse potential
includes ability to irrigate 40 million ha
Harnessing opportunities for the safe reuse of wastewater in agriculture
29 August. Stockholm International Water Institute / Robert B. Daugherty Water for Food Global Institute at the University of Nebraska / International Water Management Institute / Stockholm Environment Institute
The objective of the seminar is to discuss opportunities and limits for the safe reuse of wastewater and in agriculture.
A key motivation for increasing wastewater reuse in agriculture is reduced costs, since this waste contains nutrients useful as agricultural fertilizer, along with enough water to irrigate part of all the irrigated farmland in the world. Wastewater reuse also reduces nutrient leaching to lakes, rivers, and groundwater. But how do we harness these opportunities and tap into this largely unused resource from a planning, policy, livelihoods and financial point of view? And what are the pitfalls that should be avoided to ensure safe and sustainable wastewater reuse?

The AgWater Challenge: Corporate Progress and Learnings
Ceres / World Wide Fund for Nature
29 August. Ceres and WWF launched the “AgWater Challenge” in 2016 to influence and recognize corporate water-related commitments among food and beverage sector companies and their supply chains.

The “Challenge” provides unique incentives for companies to develop time-bound, measurable
Workers in the #agri-food sector often get neglected
in the  anti microbial resistance #AMR debate -Peter Hurst,
expert on occupational health & safety. #WWWeek

commitments that address agricultural supply chain impacts, protect freshwater, and reduce runoff and provides companies with technical assistance from leading NGOs resulting in more meaningful goals and commitments.

Last year, the Challenge recognized seven major companies – Diageo, Hain Celestial, Hormel Foods, General Mills, Kellogg, PepsiCo, and WhiteWave Foods – as AgWater Stewards. Together, the companies shared their leadership stories and released (in total) 18 new commitments to improve water efficiency, create water stewardship policies, and develop time-bound roadmaps for agricultural water stewardship.

30 August. CGIAR Research Program on Water, Land and Ecosystems / Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network / International Union for Conservation of Nature / The Australian National University
This session considered new ways of working with irrigation communities in Africa to intensify sustainable agricultural production profitably by using water more efficiently, reducing waste of land and nutrients and facilitating socially-inclusive investment. The audience and panelists discussed the scalability of recent experiences of innovation platforms in smallholder irrigation and new business models to achieve development goals. The session shared experience from three major programs, providing guidance on how to transform smallholder irrigated agriculture in Africa and double yield with half the water by facilitating the right feedback mechanisms to develop adaptive systems. We will show how such transformation can open new opportunities to make investment in growth corridors inclusive and green and enhance the Sustainable Development Goals.

29 August. African Ministers' Council On Water and African Union Commission / African Union Commission
This session explored the implementation of new game-changing technologies, innovative institutional frameworks and well-designed business models for more effective wastewater management and improved water quality. The session Objectives were to showcase existing technologies for waste water management, Identify ways of scaling up such innovations and increased adoption, Explore innovative approaches to water quality monitoring.

AFRICA Focus - Waste to benefits: From policy to action
30 August. African Ministers' Council On Water / African Union Commission
To actualize the potentials of turning waste to benefits, the need to create the right policy environment and move from policy to effective implementation becomes acute. The High Level Ministerial Panel will focus on policy options on enabling factors to support the adoption and implementation of innovative wastewater management. To set the scene and context, the High Level Panel will be preceded by a key presentation to drive policy dialogue involving AMCOW Ministers and experts.

30 August. Safe Water Network Ghana
Ghana’s Minister of Sanitation and Water Resources, Joseph Kofi Adda, will present his perspective on how SWEs and the Trust enable reaching his country’s water supply targets.

Building Africa’s Leadership in Sanitation:
31 August. USAID, Gates Foundation/IHE-Delft, AMCOW Innovations
The purpose of this event is to update participants on sanitation leadership activities, encourage greater collaboration and innovation and identify gaps in sanitation capacity building

Liquid manure and pesticides: Water quality challenges of agriculture
31 August. Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources, Germany
Pollution of industrial agriculture is often diffuse and hard to control. This makes the proper management a major challenge, even in countries with highly regulated agricultural systems. The event shows global trends of agricultural groundwater contamination and presents case studies of sound regulation and cooperative solutions with industrial agriculture.
Suggested reading:
25 August 2017. African smallholders can double their yields with half the water

In a special series on small-scale communal irrigation in South-Eastern Africa published earlier this year, farming systems experts are calling for donors to avoid failures of the past by developing a viable, sustainable and inclusive business model for small-scale public irrigation schemes in Sub-Saharan Africa. This work is led by the Australian National University including partners like International Crops Research Institute for Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) in Zimbabwe. It was funded by the Australian Center for International Agricultural Research and the Water, Lands and Ecosystems CGIAR research programme.

Andre Van Rooyen, one of the co-authors, from ICRISAT Zimbabwe, explains the complexity of efficiently running a small scale irrigation scheme in Southern Africa. “To make these irrigation schemes more profitable and sustainable for the farming community, irrigation users should be able to experiment with different crops, watering regimes and markets. You also need to find the right farmer-centered governance so that maintenance runs smoothly, and everybody agree collectively to contribute his or her share of costs, responsibilities and benefits. This is easier said than done as you have many different actors each with their own interests and perspectives.”

Monday, August 28, 2017

AgDevCo Invests in Ugandan Maize and Cassava Miller

21 August 2017. AgDevCo, a social impact agribusiness investor, announces a $450,000 debt investment into a Ugandan milling business, Talian Company Limited. Talian Company is a family-run milling business producing quality maize and cassava flour for regional food exports and for industrial use. The investment enables Talian to scale up its operations and tap into the growing regional food markets and the premium industrial starch flour supply markets in East Africa.

This investment will strengthen the commercial cassava value-chain in Uganda where over 40% of production is now marketed commercially, following a revival in cassava production amongst small scale farmers in the country after years of neglect and disease challenges. Talian intends to grow into a significant player in the maize and cassava flour supply markets in East and Central Africa, in turn providing a market for grain and cassava farmers in Northern Uganda.
"For three years now, we have struggled to access sufficient working capital from the traditional financing system. The funding from AgDevCo opens the door for Talian to start fulfilling its potential to be a strong player in the local and regional industrial and food markets. We are delighted to work with an investor who understands the needs of SME businesses in Uganda."

First reality TV show on agriculture in Nigeria by September

21 August 2017. The Corporate Farmers International Limited (CFIL) and International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA), in partnership with the Tony Elumelu Foundation, have unveiled plans to launch the first Agric reality show in Nigeria by September.

This show which will feature 20 contestants, aims to showcase the agricultural potential of young Nigerians. According to Akin Alabi, a Co-Founder of CFIL, the TV reality show also aims to address perception problems in Africa’s
agribusiness sector.
“This show will showcase the talents of Nigerian youths to the government in terms of agricultural potential, as it works to diversify the economy. We decided to partner with Tony Elumelu Foundation because we want to create a standard with entrepreneurs in the agribusiness sector so as to push youths to believe that they can develop the African economy. The programme will run for four weeks at IITA premises in Ibadan and the contestants will be engaged in several activities and training,’ 

Friday, August 25, 2017

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) for Agriculture

CTA has selected the companies/organisations selected for the cost-sharing initiative for the set-up of Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) services for agriculture in six ACP countries:

Company / organisation

Aerialdrones Technologies Ltd
ATMANCorp Nigeria Ltd
CharisUAS Ltd
Espace Géomatique sarl
Burkina Faso
Coming soon
iDrone Services Ltd
Institut Agricole d'Obala (IAO)
Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA)

The eligible countries included Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Nigeria, Rwanda, Zambia and Jamaica. The deadline for submission of expressions of interest was 6 August 2017.

Drone governance: a scan of policies, laws and regulations governing the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in 79 countries
A study assessed the existence of policies, rules and regulations governing the use of ‘unmanned aerial vehicles’ (UAVs) – or drones – in all 79 African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group countries. The results are quite telling: as of April 2016, 73% of ACP countries did not have any rules or regulations in place; 19% had some regulations in place; and 8% were in the process of formulating them.

The data gathered in the course of the study have been published on a site hosted by The Swiss Foundation for Mine Action (FSD) and are accessible at CTA hopes that this database will help to increase awareness of the rules and regulations surrounding UAV use, promote their responsible use and help to fully realise their potential in the management of crops, fisheries and other resources.

Second phase of the Cultivate Africa’s Future Fund

ACIAR CEO Andrew Campbell with IDRC 
President Jean Lebel at the investment 
announcement in Kenya.
30 June 2017. Nairobi. A new AUS $25 million investment will support greater food security and improve nutrition throughout Eastern and Southern Africa, the partners behind the investment – Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR).

The investment represents the second phase of the Cultivate Africa’s Future Fund, a joint IDRC-ACIAR partnership aimed at transforming African agriculture and improving the lives of millions of smallholder producers and consumers across the continent.

The phase two investment was announced by IDRC President Jean Lebel and ACIAR CEO Andrew Campbell. The fund leverages Australian and Canadian science and technology expertise with African leadership and innovation to benefit smallholder farmers who grow most of Africa’s food.

The Cultivate Africa’s Future Fund first launched in 2013. During its first phase, CAD$15 million was invested to support eight innovative and results-driven research projects in Zambia, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Kenya, and Uganda. Projects addressed issues surrounding post-harvest losses, lack of / access to adequate nutrition, and empowering women and youth through participation in agribusiness.

 To date, the Cultivate Africa’s Future Fund has developed 24 innovations, currently used by over 25,000 smallholder producers in five countries. Among these innovations: insectbased livestock feed that has reduced the cost of poultry and fish production; precooked beans that reduce cooking time from three hours to 15 minutes; and solar tent fish driers that have reduced post-harvest loss of fish by over 60%.

Reducing maize-based aflatoxin contamination and exposure in Zimbabwe
This project seeks to investigate innovative post-harvest solutions to reduce aflatoxin contamination in grain.
Region(s): Zimbabwe
Total Funding: CA$ 2,055,600.00

Expanding Business Opportunities for African Youth in Agricultural Value Chains in Southern Africa (CultiAF)
This project will develop and test novel, creative, and bold business models that increase the participation of youth in fish and maize post-harvest value chains in Malawi, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
Region(s): Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe
Total Funding: CA$ 464,200.00

Communicating Science for Impact: Radio for Reaching Farmers with Research Results (CultiAF)
Radio is an effective medium to deliver information that will influence small-scale farmers in sub-Saharan Africa to adopt agricultural technologies.
Region(s): Kenya, Uganda
Total Funding: CA$ 543,005.00

Expanding Business Opportunities for Youth in the Fish and Poultry Sectors in Kenya (CultiAF)
This project will build skills and knowledge among young people in Kenya to develop innovative business models that increase their participation in the fisheries and poultry sub-sectors.
Region(s): Kenya
Total Funding: CA$ 427,200.00

USAID "Use of research to develop agric" in Ghana

15 August 2017. A summit to discuss the effective use of research and data to facilitate private investment in agriculture was held in Accra. The summit was organised by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through the US government’s ‘Feed the Future Initiative.’

It was intended to encourage evidence-based policy initiatives to boost agricultural productivity in Ghana. It was also to explore how proposed policies could improve food security and increase private sector investment in Ghana’s agricultural sector. As part of the summit, nine research findings and recommendations carried out by Ghanaian researchers on agriculture were presented.
There is the need for development partners to synchronise their measurement and indicators of food security outcomes. Some food security indicators were explicitly incorporated into intervention designs while bearing in mind the potential need for counterfactuals. Open data or information policies should be given practical meaning in development-oriented interventions. Michael O. Adu University of Cape Coast , Cape Coast · Department of Crop Science Soil Science, Agronomy, Agricultural Plant Science
Research should also adopt the demand-driven approach to vigorously look into [rice] production, farmer innovation systems, improve upon it and make it available to farmers for adaptation.

'Lost city' used 500 years of soil erosion to benefit crop farming

21 August 2017. Engaruka, Tanzania. Researchers at the University of York working on a 700-year old abandoned agricultural site in Tanzania have shown that soil erosion benefited farming practices for some 500 years.

The study, published in Quaternary Research, shows that historical practices of capturing soils that were eroded from the hillside could be valuable to modern day farming techniques.

Research demonstrated that sophisticated irrigation systems and terraces at the site of Engaruka were not built to prevent soil erosion, as originally thought, but were instead built to capture eroded sediments to feed the arid landscape below.

Engaruka first came under the spotlight in 1935 and was thought, at the time, to be a 'lost city' of up to 40,000 inhabitants. It has since been recognised as the remains of the largest abandoned system of irrigated agricultural fields and terraces in sub-Saharan Africa.

Covering 20km2, the site was mysteriously abandoned 200 years ago, which some experts believe was due to climate change or deforestation reducing the water supply to the fields.

How can climate-smart agriculture and rural development foster resilience?

23 August, 2017. Stockholm Sweden. Climate-smart agriculture with its focus on sustainable resource management and rural development are frequently mentioned among the solutions for creating prosperous societies. However, how exactly do we apply and combine these tools? These are the questions which were discussed at a seminar, jointly organized by IFAD , the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and SIANI.

The seminar included a speech by Gilbert Huongbo, President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development, IFAD.

Welcoming remarks: Ulrika Modéer, State Secretary to the Minister for International Development Cooperation
Keynote speech: Gilbert Houngbo, President International Fund for Agricultural Development, IFAD.
  • Ola Möller, Senior Policy Specialist, Agriculture and Food Security Policy Support Unit, Sida;
  • Ylva Hillbur, Vice Chancellor for International Relations, Swedish University for Agricultural Sciences, SLU;
  • Kathrine Löfberg, Chairman of Board, Löfbergs Lila AB;
  • Lennart Ackzell, International Secretary, Swedish Farmers Federation, LRF;
  • Atakilte Beyene, Senior Researcher, Nordic Africa Institute, NAI.

Agricolleges International (ACI)

14 August 2017. The aim of Agricolleges International (ACI), is to educate new young learners and up-skill those already involved in the industry. We are bringing this vision to life through the use of technology that will enable substantial improvements to the delivery of more relevant, up to date and accessible agricultural course content. The delivery of the coursework will be via smartphones and other devices with access to the internet, providing an exciting blended and shared-learning opportunity.
Through Desire2Learn’s (D2L) Brightspace platform, it is building the technical platform for their Learning Management System (LMS), which will include advanced tools and functionality to enable a full suite of online learning opportunities. Mumbai based innovations and education consultancy, Consilience, will design and build the courses offered on the Brightspace learning platform. 

One app, for example, makes use of artificial intelligence to evaluate the speed at which each student is able to study and learn and adjust the delivery and speed at which the coursework is taught. This leads to improved pass rates through a better understanding of the material. Other tools exist to provide web-based career guidance, where various skill sets are matched to suitable career prospects while yet others will be able to assess what field of the agri-industry a student would be best suited to.

Critical for an online learning system is the ability for students to go to a Wi-Fi hot spot, download the next set of coursework and then return home where they can continue studying at their own speed.

So, for the first time, it has become a reality that the teaching of the Agriculture Sciences can be scaled to include huge numbers of students. The platform offers them a more affordable, flexible, top-class learning platform, without the high cost of attending a formal, traditional bricks-and-mortar learning institution and without all the associated travel and boarding costs.

Related PAEPARD blogpost:New e-learning institution to help create Africa's next generation of farmers
29 May 2017. Agricolleges International is a new, modern, cloud-based e-learning institution that is using Desire2Learn’s (D2L)

Thursday, August 24, 2017

New factories in Nigeria transform cassava peels into livestock feed

23 August 2017. ILRI News. In collaboration with the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), the global non-governmental organization Synergos and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) are implementing this innovative processing technology for converting fresh peels into high-quality cassava peel mash for use as livestock feed.

Synergos and IFAD obtained technical support from ILRI Nigeria’s scientific team to train people in cassava processing procedures and to set up cassava processing factories in the country. In Jul 2017, representatives from these three organizations paid visits to two IFAD-Value Chain Development Programme (VCDP) cassava processing sites in Nigeria, one in Niger State (Lokogoma, Wushishi local government area) and the other in Benue State (Idogodo, Okpokwu local government area). The cassava peel factories, which were set up by IFAD-VCDP, are to be jointly owned by 10 producer organizations and 4 women processing groups.

In addition to Synergos, ILRI and IFAD-VCDP staff, Soko-nya-nyio Lokogoma women processors
and Lokogoma and Idogodo community members took an active part in these visits and the discussions that ensued. The following were among the topics they discussed.
  • Current uses of cassava peel in the Lokogoma community
  • Source of raw materials for production of cassava peel animal feed
  • How innovations in processing cassava peels for animal feed have impacted the livelihoods of women and farmers
  • The viability and potential of utilizing cassava peel waste for livestock feed
  • Possible markets for cassava-peel animal feeds in Niger State
Development of this cassava-peel-for-livestock-feed project is highly promising and its progress is being closely followed by crop and livestock specialists alike as well as by donor organizations, such as the United States Agency for International Development, which is also supporting this cassava processing potential.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Priorities for a future research agenda on soil carbon and climate change

19 June 2017. 30 CGIAR scientists, representing seven CGIAR Centers and six CGIAR Research Programs (CRPs), exchanged recent research findings and identified priorities for a future research agenda on soil carbon and climate change. The meeting was hosted by the CGIAR Research Programs (CRPs) on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), Water, Land and Ecosystems (WLE) and Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA).

The presentations and the ensuing discussion indicated that the effects of improved technologies or practices on soil carbon sequestration are often lower than expected.
Results from a study by CIMMYT of 125 households in southern Africa showed no evidence for soil carbon gains from conservation agriculture. Similarly, a synthesis of work in the Indo-Gangetic Plains and Sub-Saharan Africa showed only modest increases.
Future research priorities on soil carbon and climate change identified by the group can be grouped into five general themes:
  • Quantifying soil carbon sequestration potential,
  • Understanding soil carbon processes,
  • Evaluating the impact of land use and new technical practices,
  • Methods for improved assessment, and
  • Policy and action.
The scientists will take steps to support coordination of this research across CRPs in ways that make use of our extensive network of field sites and large knowledge base on sustainable agricultural practices, while also recognizing the broader ecosystem functions of soil carbon and seeking to improve understanding of the benefits and trade-offs of soil carbon sequestration. 

This will include developing a program of work that reflects different strategies for soil carbon management—such as (1) conserving land (including peat, wetlands, grasslands and forest), (2) rehabilitating or restoring land, or (3) sustainably intensifying agricultural land use—and the best practices with the highest potential impact under each strategy. The group will meet again later in 2017.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Rural transformation, cereals and youth in Africa: What role for international agricultural research?

Published August 18, 2017
Rural transformation, cereals and youth in Africa: What role for international agricultural research?
10 pages

Young people are increasingly linked to targeted agriculture and food security interventions. In Africa, the argument is that the combination of agricultural value chains, technology and entrepreneurship will unlock a sweet spot for youth employment. This article examines this argument from a rural transformations perspective. 
Agricultural research organizations have been prompted to take steps to engage with youth. For instance, the CGIAR (, a global agricultural research partnership, includes reference to youth in its latest Strategic Research Framework (CGIAR Consortium Office, 2015), and in 2015, it required all proposals for the new round of CGIAR Research Programmes (CRPs) to articulate how they propose to engage youth.
A framework is proposed with which to analyse young people’s economic room to manoeuvre in different rural contexts and the differential abilities of young people to exploit associated opportunities. Using cereal agri-food systems as an example, the article identifies two new research areas that address important knowledge gaps: how young rural people in Africa engage with these systems and what pathways they use to become engaged. To address these questions, we propose an analytical framework built around key contextual factors that constrain or enable young people’s economic activity. By pursuing the proposed research agenda, international agricultural research could make important contributions to both agricultural policy debates and development-oriented interventions.

The existing policy narratives and programme approaches linking youth, agricultural development and food security are problematic

  1. First, they frame issues such as limited access to land and credit as youth-specific, ignoring the structural nature of these constraints; that is, in most situations, these issues affect other social groups as well as youth. They also conflate situations where young people may be systematically discriminated against in their access to productive resources, with circumstances in which young people, by virtue of being young, are more likely to have fewer assets, less status and less access to resources than older people. 
  2. Second, they assume that the opportunity to engage with value chains is open to all young people independent of the rural environment in which they live and their individual circumstances. 
  3. Third, they accept a broad conception of entrepreneurship, to the point where any income generating activity is seen as reflecting entrepreneurial behaviour. 
  4. Fourth, they rely on essentialist thinking, suggesting that all young people share particular characteristics, such as being ‘innovative’ of having a particular mindset. 
  5. Finally, they tend to conceive of young people as isolated economic agents, ignoring the fact that their economic activity is deeply embedded in and dependent on networks of family and social relations.
Studies of different young people who have successfully navigated the barriers to their establishment as commercial cereal farmers or in associated economic activities would be particularly valuable. A focus on middle countryside areas characterized by agricultural intensification and commercialization will be most valuable. (...) Using comparable research frameworks across different thematic and geographical settings, the CGIAR’s portfolio of CRPs would be well positioned to generate meaningful and scalable insights. (page 8)

There is a need to step back from the premise that research needs to explain whether, or how, rural young people can be enticed into agriculture. Projected rural population increases and the need for economically viable farm sizes capable of producing surpluses for rapidly growing urban centres suggest neither a countryside devoid of youth nor the need for a massive effort to retain rural youth in agriculture. (page 8)

Finally, we caution against attempts to introduce ‘youth mainstreaming’ in international agricultural research. The experience with gender mainstreaming in international development has been mixed, and an insistence on youth mainstreaming may reduce the intellectual agenda to concerns with age-disaggregated data and formulaic ‘youth participation’. (page 8)

Internet of Things (IoT) for Agriculture Webinar Series

22 August 2017. Internet of Things (IoT) - networks of objects that communicate with other objects through Internet - holds potential to transform today's agriculture by enabling more precise resources management through low-cost sensors and generating large amount of data for effective decision-making. While the IoT for agriculture has so far been visible mostly in developed countries, it holds prospects of benefiting the farmers in developing regions due to the combination of three contributing factors:
  1. rapid decline in sensor costs, 
  2. increasing penetration of smart phones, 
  3. and expansion of global mobile broadband coverage. 
Once the appropriate enabling conditions are in place, IoT solutions can be realized through various technology applications such as satellite-based remote sensing, on-ground wireless sensors network, and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) like drones.

Against this backdrop, the World Bank's Agriculture Global Practice, with financial support by the Korea-World Bank Partnership Facility (KWPF), and in collaboration with USAID and Feed the Future, the U.S. Government's global hunger and food security initiative, organizes a webinar series on Internet of Things (IoT) for Agriculture to highlight the innovation, business models, and demonstration of results on the ground for applying IoT in Agriculture.

Each webinar is a live event, held every other Tuesday starting in June 20th, and lasts approximately 45 minutes (30 minute presentation, 15 minute Q&A session). All webinars are recorded and uploaded online.

8 August 2017. "ThirdEye: Flying Sensors to Support Farmers' Decision Making"

Watch the webinar recording here

The Third Eye project supports farmers in Mozambique with their decision making in farm and crop management by setting up a network of Flying Sensors operators. These operators are equipped with Flying Sensors and tools to analyse the obtained imagery. This project is unique as it is a first trial in a developing country to supply information on a regular base using Flying Sensors. At the end of the project (2017) it is foreseen that 8000 farmers will use our services, farmers’ yield will be increased by at least 10%, and farmers have improved their irrigation practices.
Published on 6 Jun 2017
Mapping smallholder farmers’ fields with a unique network of Flying Sensor operators in Mozambique. Part of the Securing Water for Food program, funded by USAID, Sida and the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

22 August 2017Webinar HelloTractor

Rapid urbanization, aging farm populations, and depleting rural labor resources pose serious threats to our global food security. As rural labor resources come under continued pressure, tractors are the answer. When available, tractors can work 40x faster and be significantly less expensive than off-farm labor. Most farmers, however, can't afford to own their own tractors and most tractor service providers operate well below their potential. Hello Tractor has developed a solution to address these problems.

The company has developed a low-cost monitoring device that when placed on a tractor provides the owner with powerful software and analytics tools to ensure tractors are both profitable and properly cared for. The software connects tractor owners to farmers in need of tractor services - just like Uber for tractors. Hello Tractor also works with financial institutions and technicians to ensure tractor owners have the financing and spare parts needed to grow and protect their fleet. All of this work is being done to ensure that smallholder farmers have the resources they need to adapt and thrive in a rapidly changing global agricultural market.

Watch the webinar recording here

Upcoming Webinars:
September 5th
Eruvaka Technologies develops connected devices and mobile-based decision tools for affordable monitoring and automation of aquaculture farms. It has developed a solar-powered product that integrates sensors, mobile connectivity and decision-making tools to monitor aquatic farms. The product allows shrimp and fish farmers to monitor their ponds and remotely control automated equipment such as aerators and feeders.

September 19th
Stellapps leverages IoT, big data, cloud, mobility and data analytics to India's dairy sector by improving agri-supply chain parameters, including milk production, milk procurement, cold chain, animal insurance and farmer payments. The SmartMoo IoT router and in-premise IoT Controller acquire data via sensors that are embedded in Milking Systems, Animal Wearables, Milk Chilling Equipment & Milk Procurement Peripherals, and transmit the same to the SmartMoo Big Data Cloud Service Delivery Platform where the SmartMoo™ suite of applications analyze and crunch the received data before disseminating the Analytics & Data Science outcome to various stakeholders over low-end and smart mobile devices.

October 3rd
Flybird Farm Innovations is India-based social impact agriculture start-up focused on improvising the farmer livelihood, improving crop yield and production, saving water and electric power, and integrating affordable technologies for farmers through innovative solutions. Satish KS, Founder and CEO of Flybird, will introduce Flybird's work in precision farming using sensors and wireless/3G phone for smart irrigation and fertigation applications.