Platform for African – European Partnership in Agricultural Research for Development

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Scientific innovation for a sustainable development of African agriculture

30 - 31 August 2018. Gent-Zwijnaarde, Belgium. IPBO conference 2018: “Scientific innovation for a sustainable development of African agriculture”
In Africa, more than 60% of the people living in rural areas depend on agriculture and food accounts up to two thirds of the households budgets. However, the agricultural productivity often remains far below international standards. Compared to the yields obtained in the US, Europe or Asia, the yield per hectare for many important crops such as maize, bananas, cassava, sweet potato and sorghum is much lower in most African countries.
The low productivity is related to different factors such as pests, pathogens, diseases, drought, lack of irrigation, low soil fertility, the high cost of inputs, low levels of mechanization and sub-optimal post-harvest management.

Many research initiatives all over the world are working on solutions to increase yield productivity in Africa. This research is currently performed on different crops and in different fields of expertise. Because of a high specialization of research domains, projects and scientists would benefit form increased inter-connection and increased impact of the research and obtained results and to encourage future collaborations.

The aim of the conference was to unite several stakeholders (breeders, policymakers and researchers) from Ghent/Belgium/Europe with African
partners to discuss about their research and obtained results and to encourage future collaborations.

  • Patrick Van Damme, Ghent Africa Platform, Belgium “The Africa Platform of Ghent University Association: more than 10 years of building academic collaboration with Africa”
  • Denis Kyetere, AATF, Kenya “The role and contribution of plant breeding and plant biotechnology to sustainable agriculture in Africa.”
  • Yves Van de Peer, Plant Systems Biology, VIB-UGent, Belgium “The African Orphan Crops consortium” 
  • Habtu Shumoy Abraha, UGent, Belgium “Compositional and nutritional properties of Tef and Tef-based food products” 
  • Leena Tripathi, IITA, Kenya “Genetic improvement of bananas with enhanced resistance to pathogens and pests” 
  • Jill Cairns, CIMMYT, Zimbabwe “Increasing genetic gain in maize breeding pipelines in eastern and southern Africa” 
  • Rose Wangari, Kenya Agricultural Livestock and Research Organization, Kenya “Yield stability and farmer preference of Cowpea (Vigna unguiculata, L.) lines in different agro-ecological zones of Eastern Kenya”
  • Steven Runo, Kenyatta University, Kenya “Exploiting host resistance to manage the parasitic plant Striga” 
  • Victoria Bulegeya, Ilonga Agriculture Research Institute, Tanzania “Selection for coupling phase recombination between potyvirus resistance and white endosperm color in maize preferred by farmers in Sub Saharan Africa” 
  • Zerihun Tadele (see picture), University of Bern, Switzerland “Lodging and drought resistant Tef” 
  • Ndiko Ludidi, University of Western Cape, South Africa “Comparative proteomics: a tool for understanding drought tolerance in African grain crops” 
  • Ronica Mukaro, Crop breeding institute, Zimbabwe “Identification of stable and high yielding
    heat tolerant maize hybrids and associated secondary traits”
  • Sarah De Saeger  (see picture), UGent, Belgium “Mycotoxin reduction in the food and feed chain: challenges and perspectives in a changing world” 
  • Sheila Okoth  (see picture), University of Nairobi, Kenya “Aflatoxin human exposure and Aspergillus flavus variability in 2 diverse environments in Kenya”
  • Olufisayo Adeyinka Onawumi, Forestry research institute of Nigeria, Nigeria “Optimal combination of organic and inorganic fertilizers for maize yield in the Forest Savannah transition zone of Ghana”
  • Robert Mwanga, CIP, Uganda “Orange-fleshed sweetpotato” 
  • Jerome Kubiriba, NARO, Uganda “Biotechnology will boost banana industry to impact Uganda’s development”
  • Jeremy Ouédraogo, NEPAD-ABNE, Senegal The role of scientific research and innovation in the implementation of a sustainable intensified African agriculture

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Global Landscapes Forum

29-30 August 2018. Nairobi, Kenya. Global Landscapes Forum.

Every year, Africa loses an estimated 2.8 million hectares of forest, with deforestation and land degradation seriously affecting its environment and people. The 2018 GLF Nairobi will help build and align international, national and private sector support for forest and landscape restoration, and will pave the way for turning this support into action. By bringing together actors from all backgrounds and sectors, the conference will spark a global conversation around Africa’s landscapes.

The GLF Nairobi 2018 showcased and explored success stories and challenges across the continent
and will foster political and community commitment to implement the AFR100 Initiative: restoring 100 million hectares of degraded landscapes across Africa by 2030.

“We need to use this momentum to draw together political support, financial muscle and the entrepreneurship of the private sector, and massively scale up restoration from promising pilot initiatives to an area of many million hectares,” says a new report by the Global Partnership for Forest and Landscape Restoration (GPFLR), an alliance of nearly 30 governments
and international organizations and non-governmental organizations.

#AFR100 side event at #GLFNairobi2018
 talking about @GlobalLF 
The document, launched ahead of the 2018 Global Landscapes Forum (GLF) Africa conference in Nairobi, explores how the various actors can best collaborate to reach the Bonn Challenge, which calls for the restoration of 150 million hectares of land by 2020 and 350 million by 2030 –- an area almost the size of India.

Another report which was presented is The current state of Eastern Africa’s forests  (8 pages) A summary. Esther Mwangi, Paolo Cerutti, Charles Doumenge and Robert Nasi

Eliminating Deforestation from the Cocoa Supply Chain (English) 

This report examines the cocoa supply chain, its associated deforestation, and the role and limitations of certification schemes to reduce deforestation. The deforestation-related commitments from cocoa companies are analyzed across the value chain by looking at commitment types, implementation, and the enabling environment.

These findings are compared with lessons from palm oil as it has the most similarities to cocoa due to its large contingent of smallholder producers and limitations that exacerbate deforestation. Finally, a vision for zero-deforestation cocoa with key principles and strategies is described.

This work is meant to inform industry, governments, and development partners to be effective actors in a zero-deforestation cocoa future.

South Africa cooling project to reduce harvest loss

29 August 2018. Dearman launches South Africa cooling project to reduce harvest loss

Clean cold experts at Dearman have launched a new project aiming to reduce wasted harvest in South Africa. The project is backed by grant funds from the Department for International Development (DFID). Food waste in South Africa is estimated to be worth £4.7 billion annually, half of which occurs in the fruit and vegetable sector. Low farmer income makes access to cooling technology difficult.

Dearman’s 24-month project seeks to develop a mobile pre-cooling system, using the company’s groundbreaking liquid nitrogen engine. Pre-cooling rapidly reduces the temperature of produce immediately after harvest, to ensure minimal post-harvest food loss.

Working with local partners Transfrig, the cold chain operator, and Harvest Fresh, a family-owned food producer based in the Gauteng province, Dearman will develop a mobile, off-grid, zero-emissions system that allows small farmers to access affordable pre-cooling.

The fruit and vegetables pre-cooling market is estimated to be worth £730 million across Africa. Dearman’s project seeks to deliver a successful technology demonstration, including a six-month field trial, and set out a viable route for wider commercial deployment of the pre-cooling system.

The company estimates that deploying just 250 Dearman pre-coolers in South Africa would be enough to process the 350,000 tonnes of fruit and vegetable wasted during post-harvest handling and storage. Additional impacts would include saving 328 million cubic metres of water and 29,000 hectares of land also currently wasted, as well as boosting farmer incomes by 12%.
“We’re very excited to be launching our new project in South Africa. Small farmers in the country want an affordable pre-cooling system, but one that does the job cleanly. The zero-emission system we are developing can offer a real alternative to polluting, expensive diesel systems and help to reduce post-harvest food loss.” Dr Daniel Fennell, Dearman’s Head of New Applications

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

BIO Africa Convention 2018

27-29 August 2018. Durban (ICC), South Africa. BIO Africa Convention 2018The inaugural BIO Africa Convention is an international event organised by AfricaBio, a biotechnology stakeholder association in partnership with IPASA (Innovative Pharmeceutical Association of South Africa and TIA (Technology Innovation Agency) and endorsed by the South African Department of Science and Technology, Health.

Organised under the theme Africa: Open for Business- Together building the Bio-Economy”, BIO Africa Convention”. BIO Africa Convention, aims to attract international investors and facilitate business networks and the collaboration of minds amongst industry, academia, regulatory authorities and future industry leaders.

Excellence Through Stewardship WorkshopThe goal of workshop was to address responsible management of biotechnology derived plant products to raise awareness and understanding of stewardship. 

The session included an introduction to stewardship, insights about the state of stewardship across Africa, critical control point analysis regarding Confined Field Trials, Seed Production and Product Launch and instruction on Insect Resistance Management stewardship. We encourage members of organizations working with biotechnology derived plant products as well as regulators, stakeholders and value chain members to attend.

INTER-MINISTERIAL PANEL: Inspiring Investor Confidence in African Biotech Through Policy
Country policies can be a major deterrent in attracting investments. The panel was composed of senior government officials from different companies, and regulatory authorities and international speakers to discuss creating an environment conducive for international investors to deploy funds into African enterprises. This will also focus on policy requirements to inspire global investment in the African biotech.
  • Mrs Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane, MP, Minister of Science and Technology, South Africa
  • Honourable Dr Elioda Tumwesigye, Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, Uganda
  • Professor John Ouma-Mugabe, Professor of Science and Innovation Policy, Graduate School of Technology Management, University of Pretoria
  • Ms Shannon te Roller, CEO, MundiPharma Pharmaceuticals
  • Dr Siyabulela Ntutela, CEO, AfricaBio
Public Sector Efforts in Developing Plant Biotech for AfricaA large number of AgBiotech products in commercial space are driven by major corporates, mainly due to the cost of bringing products into market. This has created the impression that there is little or no effort given by public sector institutions into bringing new AgBiotech products. 

The panel discussed a number of efforts supported by public sector institutions locally and internationally, that are close to commercialisation in the sector. The panel put emphasis on the need for research and development driven by public institutions in supporting the development of new products towards the growth of the AgBiotech in Africa.
  • Dr John McMurdy, Head: Regulatory, CropLife International, USA
  • Mr Onyekachi Francis Nwankwo, Programme Officer: West Africa, Nigeria
  • Dr Shadrack Moephuli, CEO, Agricultural Research Council, South Africa
  • Mr Ben Durhan, Chief Director: Bio-Innovation, Department of Science & Technologies, South Africa
  • Facilitator: Dr Mathoto Thaoge, Head of Department: Food Biotech, Tshwane University of Technology
Market Access in Agriculture – Challenges and OpportunitiesThis session focused on the role of the private sector in boosting sector development. The discussion highlighted the challenges, risks and potential approaches to providing market information, consumer education and continuous development of markets, and impact on technological developments in agriculture.
  • Mr Wandile Sihlobo, Head: Economic & Agribusiness Intelligence, Agbiz, South Africa
  • Ms Jolene Dawson, Global Agriculture Lead: Development Partnerships, Accenture Strategy, South Africa
  • Ms Fannie Gondwe, Executive Director, Perisha Agro and Packaging Enterprise, Malawi 
  • Dr Klaus Fellman, Head: Market Acceptance Seeds EMEA, Bayer AG, Germany
  • Facilitator: Professor Victor Mmbengwa, National Agricultural Marketing Council
New Plant Breeding Techno for Food SecurityThe panel presented the global regulations and technologies of new breeding technologies.
  • Dr Hennie Groenewald, CEO, BiosafetySA, South Africa 
  • Mr Kulani Machaba, Regulatory Manager: Africa, Corteva Agriscience, South Africa 
  • Dr Magdeleen Cilliers, Policy and Research Officer, SANSOR, South Africa
  • Dr Michael Bairu, Senior Research Scientist, Agriculture Research Council, South Africa
  • Facilitator: Dr John McMurdy, Head: Regulatory, CropLife International, USA
IP and Plant Variety ProtectionA number of public-private partnerships (PPPs) have been formed at the global, regional and national level, delivering valuable new crops such as Water Efficient Maize for Africa and the Africa Biofortified Sorghum aimed at addressing food security and deficiencies of micronutrients in Africa. 

Developing new conventional and biotech seeds is becoming increasingly challenging. The process is becoming longer and costly, and innovators are using Plant Variety Protection (PVP) rights to ensure their investment is protected. Without IP, these inventions would not be developed and the necessary new high-quality crops would not be available to farmers and consumers in Africa. 

On the other hand, PVP rights are pro breeder and views African farmers’ practices of free sharing and exchange of seeds to be in conflict with breeders’ rights. This session the panel discussed the relationship between IPR instruments and food security in Africa. It shared how this relationship impacts on agricultural innovation, food security and access to food in Africa. 
  • Mr Gert Heyns, Director, SACTA, South Africa
  • Mr Tejan Alhaji-Cole, Director: Legal Affairs, AATF, Sierra Leone
  • Mr Tyron Grant, Partner, Spoor and Fisher, South Africa
  • Facilitator: Dr Bongani Maseko, General Manager: AgBiotech, AfricaBio, South Africa

World Food Alliance – Nutri-genomics: An Initiative to Mitigate Diet-Related Health ConditionsThe challenges of diet related conditions are a global issue and require an integrated approach that leverages the power of innovation from crop genetics, through improved processing to validation of efficacy in the end user. The World Food Alliance is uniquely positioned to bring together innovators who have embraced the mission of ‘Foods for Health’. Founding countries, Canada, Australia and South Africa, will discuss the benefits and practical implementation of this initiatives.

  • Dr Simon Potter, Director of Manitoba, Genome Prairie, Canada
  • Dr Sita Ram Ghimire, Principal Scientist, Biosciences Eastern and Central Africa (BecA) Hub, Kenya
  • Dr Bongani Ndimba, Director, Agriculture Research Council, South Africa
  • Professor Sagadevan Mundree, Director, Queensland University of Technology, Australia
  • Facilitator: Mario Pennisi, CEO, Life Sciences Queensland, Australia
Barriers to Biotech for Food Security in Africa
The panel discussed the economic, political and legislative hurdles that limit biotechnology in Africa.
  • Mr Joseph Opoku, Broadcast & Online Journalist, Multimedia Group Limited, Ghana
  • Mr Motlatsi Musi, Independent Farmer, South Africa
  • Mr Motlatjo Makaepea, Chief Director, Gauteng Department of Agriculture & Rural Development, South Africa
  • Ms Nancy Muchiri, Senior Manager: Communications and Partnerships, African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF), Kenya
  • Facilitator: Mr Peter Haas, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Trade Policy and Negotiations, US Department of State; Office of Ag Policy, USA
Excellence Through Stewardship
Excellence Through Stewardship® (ETS) is an industry organization that promotes the adoption of stewardship best practices for agricultural biotechnology. During this session ETS will explain the importance of stewardship, the benefits of the ETS Stewardship program and insights about the state of stewardship across Africa. In addition, Dr. Walter Alhassan will discuss his experience running the Strengthening Capacity for Safe Biotechnology Management in Sub-Saharan Africa (SABIMA) project.
  • Dr Bongani Maseko, General Manager: AgBiotech, AfricaBio, South Africa
  • Dr Chris Holdgreve, Executive Director, Excellence Through Stewardship, USA
  • Facilitator: Professor Walter Alhassan, Agricultural Consultant and CEO, Biotechnology and Stewardship for Sustainable Agriculture in West Africa (BSSA), Ghana
Multi-Stakeholder Partnerships for Sustainable Agriculture and Intensification and Rural Economic Growth
This session will explore strategies for establishing novel and dynamic partnerships that seek to boost rural economic growth and address Africa’s food security and agricultural challenges such as soil erosion, slowing irrigation, post-harvest losses and malnutrition.
  • Professor David Katerere, SYNBIA Project, Tshwane University of Technology, South Africa
  • Dr. Fatunbi Oluwole, Lead Specialist for Innovation System and Partnership,Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA), Ghana
  • Dr Laila Lokosang, CAADP Advisor (Food and Nutrition Security), Department of Rural Economy and Agriculture, African Union Commission, Ethiopia
  • Mr Willem Botes, Senior Lecturer & Research Leader, National Wheat Breeding Platform, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa
  • Ms Anneline Morgan, Senior Technical Advisor, STI, SADC, Botswana
  • Facilitator: Mr Ben Durhan, Chief Director: Bio-Innovation, Department of Science & Technologies, South Africa
South Africa’s Minister of Science and Technology
@mmKubayiNgubane giving the keynote address.
HIGH LEVEL PANELS: Biosafety – Growing AgBiotech in Africa 
Despite the potential, there is a number of structural blockages within the continent that prevent it from reaching this potential. Some of these challenges that affect the growth of biotech in the continent include the absence of functional biosafety regulatory systems in many African countries. This remains a barrier for making decisions for conducting closed field trials and ultimately utilizing new technologies developed through genetic modification. This high-level panel will explore the different prospects and benefits of having functional biosafety regulations in the continent.

  • Mr Peter Haas, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Trade Policy and Negotiations, US Department of State; Office of Ag Policy, USA 
  • Dr Julian Jaftha, Chair, Executive Council on GMO Act, DAFF, South Africa 
  • Dr Bongani Nkhabindze, BioSafety Registrar, Swaziland Environment Authority Dr Hennie Groenewald, CEO, BioSafety SA, South Africa 
  • Mrs Alsacia Atanasio Nhacumbe, National Director, Biotechnology and Bioscience Centre, Mozambique 
  • Facilitator: Professor Sagadevan Mundree, Director, Queensland University of Technology, Australia 
Novel Biotech Products in The Pipeline – AgBiotech in Horizon 
  • Dr Ashwell Ndhlala, Agricultural Research Council, South Africa 
  • Professor Wilberforce Tushemereirwe, Director, National Agricultural Research Laboraties, Uganda 
  • Facilitator: Dr Hennie Groenewald, CEO, BioSafety SA, South Africa 
Agricultural Innovation and Inclusive Value Chain Development 
This discussion will unpack key challenges facing agriculture and health by employing agricultural innovation for the development and deployment of enhanced crops that assist in alleviating diet-related micronutrient deficiencies and provide health benefits. 
  • Dr. Motseki Hlatshwayo, Technical Advisor – Fisheries, Food Agriculture and Natural Resources, SADC Secretariat 
  • Professor Emmanual Kaunda, Project Leader: Insects for Feed and Food, Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Lilongwe, Malawi 
  • Dr Phiyani Lebea, Chief Scientific Officer, TokaBio, South Africa 
  • Facilitator: Dr Ereck Chakauya, CSIR, Department of Science and Technology, South Africa

Pan African Conference for the African Youth in Livestock, Fisheries and Aquaculture Incubators Network (AYL-FAIN)

25 to 27 July 2018. Cairo, Arab Republic of Egypt. The African Union Inter-African Bureau for Animal Resources organized the Pan African Conference for the African Youth in Livestock, Fisheries and Aquaculture Incubators Network (AYL-FAIN).

The Conference was attended by 70 youth from 44 African Union member states from Eastern, Central, Southern, Western and Northern Africa. The countries present at the conference were (Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central Africa Republic, Chad, Cote d’ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Mali, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sao Tome, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, South Sudan, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe). There were also representatives from The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Trust Africa, International Business Driving Licence (IBDL).
Prior to the conference, an incubation management Training of Trainers programme was facilitated by the African Agribusiness Incubators Network (AAIN) from 23rd to 24th July 2018 as part of the partnership arrangement between AU-IBAR and AAIN.

The objectives of the conference were to adopt operating procedures including statutes of AYL-FAIN, develop regional business plans and elect regional, continental executives and to launch AYL-FAIN.

His Excellency Prof Dr. Ezz El Din Abostate, Minister of Agriculture and Land Reclamation for
Egypt opened the conference and also launched the following networks/associations:
  • Association of Veterinary Education Establishments (2A2E-V)
  • Association of African Veterinary Statutory Bodies (2AVSB)
  • African youth in livestock, fisheries and aquaculture incubation network (AYL-FAIN)
  • African women in animal resources farming and agribusiness network (AWARFA-N)
The Director of AU-IBAR, Prof Ahmed Elsawalhy (see picture) also read a statement on behalf of the Commissioner of Rural Economy and Agriculture, Her Excellency Josefa Sacko.

The Conference Elected 13 Continental AYL-FAIN Executive Board Members of 8 elected executive members [President, Mr. Jean Baptiste Hategimana (see picture) (Rwanda), Vice President, Mr. Divine Ntiokam (see video) (Cameroon).

It developed 5 business plans that will be finalized and used as the blue print for incubation activities in the respective regions and agreed to profile and establish a database for Youth agribusinesses in animal resources to support incubation activities across the continent.


  • “Strengthening Business Support Services for Agribusiness Partnerships” is the second in a series of 2SCALE thematic papers.
  • The Netherlands-funded 2SCALE program is an incubator for inclusive agribusiness that aims to improve rural livelihoods and food and nutrition security across nine sub-Saharan countries. 2SCALE offers a range of support services to private partners – companies and farmer groups – enabling them to produce, transform, and supply quality food products to local, national, and regional end-user markets, including base-of-thepyramid (low-income) consumers. 


29 August 2018. Webinar: Technologies and techniques for combating Fall Armyworm

27-29 August 2018. Durban (ICC), South Africa. BIO Africa Convention 2018
29-30 August 2018. Nairobi, Kenya. Global Landscapes Forum: Nairobi

30 - 31 August 2018. Gent-Zwijnaarde, Belgium. IPBO conference 2018: “Scientific innovation for a sustainable development of African agriculture”.

30-31 August 2018. Wageningen. The Netherlands. Towards Zero Hunger: Partnerships for Impact
5 – 6 September 2018. University of Hohenheim, Stuttgart, Germany. Congress FOOD2030 Towards Sustainable Food Systems
5 – 8 September 2018. Kigali, Rwanda. African Green Revolution Forum - AGRF 2018

11-12 September 2018. 1st West African Regional Workshop On Oxidative Stress And Immunohistochemistry Techniques – Theory and Practice

12 September 2018. Londen. Transforming Africa's Agriculture Value Chains Through Mechanization

12 September 2018Webinar: the Feed the Future Learning Agenda
17-19 September 2018. Gent, Belgium. Tropen Tag Ghent 2018. Annual interdisciplinary conference on Research in tropical and subtropical agriculture, Natural Resource Management and Rural Development. Conference theme: Global food security and food safety: The role of universities.

17-21 September 2018. West and Central Africa Post-Harvest Congress and Exhibition (WCAPHCE)
19-21 September 2018. Uppsala, Sweden. Engaging Africa Diaspora in Knowledge Transfer through Networking.

19 September 2018. Brussels. Brussels Briefing n. 52 on "Food safety: a critical part of the food system in Africa"

20-21 September, 2018, Nairobi-Kenya. 1st Africa Environment Partnership Platform (AEPP)

20-21 September, 2018. Johannesburg, South Africa. Africa Property Investment Summit
24 – 26 September 2018. Al-Azhar International Conference Centre, Cairo, Egypt. DATAD-R VIII workshop for Librarians, library IT support staff of University libraries and others. Register at or email Edith Laari at
24-26 September 2018. Cape Town, South Africa. Africa Fertilizer Agribusiness Conference.
24-26 September 2018. Khartoum Sudan. 1 Inter-Regional Smart Agriculture Forum (ISAF)

24 - 26 September 2018. Al-Azhar International Conference Centre, Egypt. DATAD-R VIII workshop. ‘’The workshop is to strengthen the capacity of African University Libraries to manage and disseminate the research output from their faculty and students widely for greater impact.  It will afford an opportunity for participants to share their experience and learn about new trends in electronic content management.’’

25 September 2018. Webinar. Purdue Scale-up. A conference focusing on effective approaches to scaling up agricultural technologies and innovations in the developing world.

25 September 2018. AFAAS Webinar Series Scaling up proven technologies and practices of postharvest management in Africa The inscription link will be communicated a week before the webinar. Save the date!
  • 1st slot: 11:00 to 13:00 Hrs East African Time, 08:00 to 10:00 West African; 10.00 to 12.00 South African/Central European time;
  • 2nd slot: 16:00 to 18:00 Hrs East African Time, 13:00 to 15:00 West African; 15:00 to 17:00 South African/Central European time
25-26 September 2018. Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. CGIAR Gender Annual Scientific Conference
25-27 September 2018.  Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana, USA. Innovations in Agriculture: Scaling Up Conference.

28 September 2018. Brussels. Mobilising private-sector investment to mitigate climate change in Africa

1-2 October 2018. Maritim Hotel, Cologne (Germany): Revolution in Food and Biomass Production; High-tech strategy for a sustainable biomass supply. The “Future Protein Award” is given out to companies presenting the best concepts for a future-proof protein supply, derived from algae, bacteria, cell-cultured meat, insects, new crops or even from CO2 and solar energy.

2-4 October 2018 Dakar, Senegal. Third PACA Partnership Platform Meeting. Theme: “Scaling-up Country-led Approaches for Sustainable Aflatoxin Mitigation in Africa ”

3-4 October 2018. Ottawa, Canada. Towards a Food Secure Future. This event will be live streamed and posted on IDRC's YouTube channel and GAC's YouTube channel and Facebook page.
1-5 October 2018. Addis, Ethiopia. The 8th Africa Nutritional Epidemiology Conference
3-4 October 2018. University of Ghana, Accra, Ghana. WACCI International Conference on Food and Nutrition Security in Africa.
4-5 October 2018. Harare, Zimbabwe. Bindura University 1st International Conference on Food Security and Climate

5 October 2018. Brussels. The global Diaspora week. Session3 : Diaspora innovations for agricultural productivity and sustainability
4-7 October 2018. Jahorina, Bosnia and Herzegovina. AGROSYM 2018.
7-11 October 2018 in Berlin, Germany. IWCSPP 2018 - 12th International Working Conference for Stored Product Protection.

8-10 October 2018. Max Rubner Conference 2018Fungi and Mycotoxins in Foods
9-12 October 2018. Johannesburg, South Africa. Second African Congress on Conservation Agriculture
10-12 October 2018. Stellenbosch, South Africa. Science Forum 2018 (SF18)
16 October 2018. Brussels Begium. World Food Day at the European Parliament. On the occasion of World Food Day 2018,FAO and the European Commission will organize an event hosted by the MEP Mr. Paolo De Castro at the European Parliament. The registration link will be provided early September. This event will consist of a two-hour debate preceded by a networking lunch. It will provide feedback and build on the findings of the recent 2nd FOOD 2030 High Level Event that took place in Plovdiv under the auspices of the Bulgarian Presidency from 14-15 June 2018.

16 - 17 October 2018. Nairobi. Nutrition Africa Investor Forum. The Forum is being organised by The Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) in partnership with Royal DSM and the SUN Business Network.
24 - 26 October 2018. Johannesburg, South Africa. "4 PER 1000"Africasymposium on soils for food security

24-25 October 2018. Accra, Ghana. 2018 GLOBELICS International Conference.
7 - 9 November 2018.  Esterhazy Palace, Eisenstadt, Austria. 6th International Conference on Organic Agriculture Sciences (ICOAS)
19-23 November, 2018. Abuja, Nigeria. IFDC workshop: Bringing Balanced Fertilizers to Smallholder Farmers in Africa

20 - 22 November 2018. Maputo. FANRPAN High-level Policy Dialogue. Transforming agriculture in Africa.

22-23 November 2018. Vienna. Austria. "People’s food - people’s health: Towards healthy and sustainable European Food Systems"
21-23 November 2018. Rome. FAO International Symposium on Agricultural Innovation for Family Farmers

22-23 November 2018. Salvador, Bahia/Brazil. 6th Brazil Africa Forum. Youth Empowerment: Transformation to Achieve Sustainable Transformation
26 - 30 novembre 2018. Dakar, Senegal. International workshop on the dairy value chain in Africa

28-30 November 2018 Bangkok, Thailand. Accelerating the End of Hunger and Malnutrition.  An IFPRI-FAO global event.

30 November- 4 December 2018: Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. APIMONDIA SYMPOSIUM 2018; Role of Bees in Food Production.

2-7 December. 2018. Khartoum, Sudan. Young Scientists Conference. Genomics and Human Health in Africa

10-12 December 2018. Center of Congress Rennes, France. DIVERSIFOOD Final Congress ‘Cultivating Diversity and Food Quality’

10-12 January 2019International Conference on Aquatic Resource and Aquaculture for Sustainable Development, ICAR-AQUAS-2019.

4-8 February 2019. Worcester, SOUTH AFRICA. Workshop on Bioinformatics and Wheat Genomics II

12-14 February, 2019 Arusha, Tanzania. ECHO East Africa Biannual Symposium on Sustainable Agriculture and Appropriate Technologies

27/02-01/03/2019.  Stuttgart, Germany. Hidden Hunger Congress 2019

25-29 March 2019Washington, DC, USA, at World Bank headquarters. 20th Annual Conference on Land and Poverty.

30 April - 3 May 2019. Kampala, Uganda ICT4D Conference

13-14 May 2019. Gemboux, Belgium. CDAIS global conference. Present the results of the Capacity Development for Agricultural Innovation Systems (CDAIS) project but also listen to others who did the same initiative.

Monday, August 27, 2018

A better measure of research from the global south

4 July 2018. Opinion. Nature Magazine. A better measure of research from the global southFunders Jean Lebel and Robert McLean describe a new tool for judging the value and validity of science that attempts to improve lives.
  • Does the current evaluation approach scrutinize and give equal recognition to the local researcher who focuses on specifics and the researcher who generalizes from afar? 
  • Does the current approach acknowledge that incentives are different for local and foreign researchers, and that those incentives affect research decisions? 
  • Are we adequately measuring and rewarding research that is locally grounded and globally relevant? 
The answer to all of these questions is no.
With the support and leadership of partners across the global south, the IDRC decided to try something different. The result is a practical tool that is called Research Quality Plus (RQ+)

Ofir, Z., T. Schwandt, D. Colleen, and R. McLean (2016). RQ+ Research Quality Plus. A Holistic Approach to Evaluating Research. Ottawa: International Development Research Centre (IDRC).
  • The tool recognizes that scientific merit is necessary, but not sufficient. 
  • It acknowledges the crucial role of stakeholders and users in determining whether research is salient and legitimate. 
  • It focuses attention on how well scientists position their research for use, given the mounting understanding that uptake and influence begins during the research process, not only afterwards.
IDRC has developed a flexible and holistic approach for evaluating the quality of research for development: Research Quality Plus (RQ+). This approach embraces a broad definition of research quality that includes scientific rigor but also recognizes other critical dimensions. RQ+ takes contextual factors into consideration, includes customizable assessment rubrics, and promotes the use of empirical evidence to inform expert evaluations of research quality.

The RQ+ approach can support planning, management, and learning processes of a research project, program, or grant portfolio. Read more here, in brief: Research Quality Plus. Also available in Spanish.

A full introduction to RQ+ is provided in the IDRC position paper:

Research Quality Plus: A Holistic Approach to Evaluating Research

by Zenda Ofir, Thomas Schwandt, Colleen Duggan, and Robert McLean (IDRC, 2016)  
Extracts of the article:
Peer review is by definition an opinion. Ways of measuring citations — both scholarly and social — tell us about the popularity of published research. They don’t speak directly to its rigour, originality or usefulness. Such metrics tell us little or nothing about how to improve science and its stewardship. This is a challenge for researchers the world over.
The challenge is compounded for researchers in countries in the global south. For instance, the pressure to publish in high-impact journals is a steeper barrier because those journals are predominantly in English and biased towards publishing data from the United States and Western Europe 6. With the exception of an emerging body of Chinese journals, local-language publications are broadly deemed lower tier — even those published in European-origin languages such as Spanish, Portuguese or French. 
The metrics problem is further amplified for researchers who work on local challenges. Climate adaptation research is a case in point. Countries in the global south are on the front lines of global warming, where context-appropriate adaptation strategies are crucial. These depend on highly localized data on complex factors such as weather patterns, biodiversity, community perspectives and political appetite. These data can be collected, curated, analysed and published by local researchers. In some cases, it is crucial that the work is done by them. They speak the necessary languages, understand customs and culture, are respected and trusted in communities and can thus access the traditional knowledge required to interpret historical change. This work helps to craft adaptations that make a real difference to people’s lives. But it is also fundamental to high-level meta-research and analysis that is conducted later, far from the affected areas 7.
The IDRC worked with an independent specialist to conduct a statistical meta-analysis using blinded data (see ref. 9 for a review). It aggregated results from our 7 independent evaluations of 170 components from 130 discretely funded research projects in natural and social science, undertaken in Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Caribbean and the Middle East10

This revealed three things.

1. Southern-only research is high quality. 
  • Research housed wholly in the global south proved scientifically robust, legitimate, important and well-positioned for use. 
  • Researchers in the region scored well across each of these criteria (higher, on average, than the northern and north–south-partnered research in our sample). In other words, those most closely linked to a particular problem seem to be well placed to develop a solution. (See Figure S3 in Supplementary Information.)
  • This finding challenges assumptions that researchers in the north automatically strengthen the capacity of partners in the south 11
  • There are many positive reasons to support north–south research partnerships, but the data suggest that we must be strategic to optimize their impact.
2. Capacity strengthening and excellence go hand in hand. 
  • Too many funders assume that research efforts in which teams receive training and skills development inevitably produce poor-quality research. 
  • The meta-analysis found no such trade-off. In fact, we found a significant positive correlation between scientific rigour and capacity strengthening.
  • This suggests that research requiring a focus on capacity strengthening need not be avoided out of a desire for excellence. Indeed, it implies that the two can go hand in hand.
3. Research can be both rigorous and useful. 
  • In the fast-paced world of policy and practice, findings need to get to the right people at the right time, and in ways that they can use (see ‘Co-producing climate adaptations in Peru’). We often hear of tension between sample saturation or trial recruitment and the decision-making cycle of policymakers or industry implementers. 
  • Happily, the meta-analysis found a strong positive correlation between how rigorous research is and how well it is positioned for use.
  • This finding builds the case for investing in scientific integrity, in even the most applied and translational programmes.

Co-producing climate adaptations in Peru. The project mapped hotspots across the region that were susceptible to climate change, and convened discussions with farmers and fishers about how they could adapt schedules and techniques to minimize its impact. The team did not rush to publish the research in top-tier Western journals, partly because of the English-language barrier but largely because of the urgency of the problem. The research outputs needed to be immediately understandable and usable, so the team rapidly published its findings in working papers and reports (many of which were collected in a Spanish-language book). These were immediately accessible to those in local government who needed the evidence to steer the response. As such, predominant metrics do not capture the value of this work.
Some caution:
RQ+ costs more and takes longer than asking two or three peers to offer their opinions. The hunch is that it takes almost twice as much time and money, largely because it requires empirical data collection by the evaluators. For us, that is time and money well spent: the results help us to hone our approach to funding and engagement.

IDRC is planning another retrospective assessment in 2020. It is already looking at ways it can use RQ+ for grant selection, monitoring the progress of individual projects, and communicating the IDRC organizational objectives to funding partners and applicants.

IDRC encourages other funders and institutions to improve their evaluations in three ways:
  1. consider research in context; 
  2. accept a multidimensional view of quality; 
  3. and be systematic and empirical about evidence collection and appraisal. 
"It’s time science turned its greatest strengths on itself — experiment, appraise, debate and then improve."
Measuring research impact in Australia (2018, 7 pages)
Andrew Gunn University of Leeds, United Kingdom and  Michael Mintrom Monash University

This paper reviews the policy journey of research impact in Australia from the proposed, but never implemented, Research Quality Framework (RQF) to the National Innovation and Science Agenda (NISA). The analysis highlights the controversial nature of research impact assessment and the political and methodological challenges that have accompanied its implementation.