Platform for African – European Partnership in Agricultural Research for Development

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Knowledge gaps about sustainability of pastoralism and rangelands

11-15 March 2019. Nairobi. Fourth biennial United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA).

The assembly focused on innovative solutions for environmental challenges and sustainable consumption and production

Increasing numbers of consumers are aware of the importance of their consumption choices and care about environmental issues. For some, sustainable consumption means to purchase less, to select environmentally friendly products that are the result of fair trade or to share purchased goods. However, many do not translate their concerns into action as, for example, the purchase-decision making process is far more complicated and relies on social, political, economic and psychological factors, as well as on the price of the product. For people who want to pursue more sustainable living, in many cases, better options are not available, affordable, or effective.

Innovative Solutions for Sustainable Consumption
The multi-stakeholder dialogue provided an opportunity to discuss how public policy could enable innovative solutions and products can be designed, produced and offered to achieve more sustainable lifestyles and consumption patterns. It looked at “push factors” (i.e. policy requirements for businesses or incentives for consumers and businesses) and a “pull factor” (i.e. change in culture and consumer demands) to achieve sustainable consumption and production.
  • Leyla Acaroglu,  As designer, social scientist, and sustainability expert, she is internationally
    recognized as a leader in tools for the circular economy and the use of disruptive design across sustainability and educational initiatives.
  • Khawla Al-Muhannadi (see picture) was born and lives in Bahrain. Her research interests are primarily environmental in subject areas related to ethics and education amongst others. 
  • Joao Campari is Global Leader of the Food Practice at WWF International, supporting the WWF network to enhance the sustainability of the global food system, including responsible production, sustainable diets, and the reduction of food waste and post-harvest loss. 
  • Von Hernandez Global Coordinator, Break Free from Plastic Movement is a leading and multi-awarded Filipino.  Before taking on this latest assignment, Von was Global Development Director of Greenpeace International.
  • Lena Pripp Kovac is the Head of Sustainability at Inter IKEA Group – covering the IKEA product and food range, supply, production and franchising. 
  • Desta Mebratu African Transformative Leapfrogging Advisory Services (ATLAS). He is currently an Extraordinary Associate Professor at Centre for Complex Systems in Transition, Stellenbosch University
  • Solitaire Townsend is co-founder of Futerra. She advises governments, charities and brands including Danone, Lancôme and Vodafone on imagining a better future, and making it happen.

Organiser: Business and Industry Major Group
This roundtable discussion brought together key stakeholders from the private and public sector to share best practices and lessons learned on the ways in which businesses are integrating sustainable production and consumption into their core business strategies and exchange views on the policy frameworks and incentives needed to facilitate the transition.
  • Asa Ekhdal, World Steel Association 
  • Brian Lindsay, Dairy Sustainability Framework

  • Ben Wilde, CleanChain 
  • Luciano Loman, Metos Brazil 
  • Benson Kamu, Climate Smart Agriculture 
  • Erica Lo Buglio, Zelian/VinylPlus 
  • Moderator: Amy Galland, Empower Venture Partners
Polly Ericksen, Sustainable Livestock Systems
program leader at ILRI (second left),
in a panel discussion at UNEA4
(photo credit: ILRI/Sarah Kasyoka).
Knowledge gaps about sustainability of pastoralism and rangelands
The UN Environment Assembly (UNEA) adopted a resolution to strengthen global efforts to conserve and sustainably use rangelands and to protect the way of life of millions of pastoralists whose social, cultural and economic livelihoods depend upon their continued use of rangelands. Also included is acknowledgement of ongoing efforts for a UN-designated international year of Rangelands and Pastoralists.

This resolution on sustainable rangelands and pastoralism at UNEA is a result of ongoing efforts by the Rangelands Initiative and partners to build momentum for the declaration of an International Year of Rangelands and Pastoralists.
  • A dedicated year would open up opportunities to promote understanding of the complexities of rangelands at multiple levels. 
  • The call for the International Year has been made by Mongolia, a country where 70 percent of its landmass is made up of rangelands and pastoralism is a primary way of life.
A ministerial breakfast meeting was organised to support the adoption of an International Year of Rangelands and Pastoralists (IYRP). This meeting was organized by the ILRI-coordinated global component of the International Land Coalition (ILC) Rangelands Initiative and the International Support Group of the IYRP. Speaking at the event were a number of policymakers and ministers from countries as diverse as Sudan, Mongolia and Kenya, as well as leading pastoralist scholars.

The meeting highlighted several key messages:
  • the global significance of rangelands and pastoralists, and their contribution to sustainable development;
  • the importance of an International Year of Rangelands and Pastoralists (IYRP) for Mongolia and other countries where pastoralism is key;
  • the significant gaps in data on rangelands and pastoralism that remain—and the importance of filling these;
  • the need for governments and the United Nations to address the challenges facing rangelands and pastoralists including gaps in data, and the importance of drawing attention to these.
Gap analysis report on rangelands and pastoralism
The meeting provided a platform for the launch of the UN-led gap analysis report: A case of benign neglect: Knowledge gaps about sustainability of pastoralism and rangelands
Johnsen, K.I., M. Niamir-Fuller, A. Bensada, and A. Waters-Bayer
UN Environment and GRID-Arendal, 2019, 78 pages
Musonda Mumba, chief of Terrestrial
Ecosystem Unit, UN Environment presented the report
  • The report is a direct response to the call from a previous UNEA resolution in 2016 for a gap analysis of environmental and socioeconomic information and the provision of technical support for promoting pastoralism and rangelands. 
  • The gap analysis - in support of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development -  focused on such issues as the accessibility and availability of data on pastoralism and rangelands and the types of technical support for pastoralism provided by various organizations and governments. 
  • The report confirms that there are significant gaps in knowledge and data on pastoralism and rangelands globally.
  • There is a need for UN agencies, international organizations and others to commit to filling in fundamental gaps on data on rangelands and pastoralists, in order to pave the way for the development of appropriate policies and programs.
  • Several of the policymakers and scholars at the meeting emphasized the lack of adequate data and highlighted the crucial need for a gap analysis to address this challenge. 
  • One participant noted, for example, that there hadn’t been an adequate census of animals and livestock keepers in Nigeria for 30 years. 
Securing land tenure rights and access to resources whilst ensuring the sustainable development of rangelands for traditional pastoral systems are key focus areas for the Rangelands Initiative of the International Land Coalition (ILC).

Land and Water Days in the NENA Region 2019 (1)

31 March - 4 April 2019. Cairo. Land and Water Days in the NENA Region 2019
It is five years since the first Near East and North Africa Land and Water Days took place in Amman, Jordan, 15-18 December 2013. At this event, FAO and its partners established the Water Scarcity Initiative along with its Regional Collaborative Strategy and Partnership.

The Near East and North Africa Land and Water Days will review the progress made in addressing water scarcity in the region, foster exchange of knowledge and experience among countries and partners and chart the way forward taking into account the lessons learned.

Thematic areas:
  1. Pathways to sustainable scarce-water-resources management
  2. Halting land degradation
  3. Land and Water Governance to achieve the SDGs in fragile systems
  4. Impacts of climate change on regional development and prospects for increased resilience
  5. Outlook and prospects: scaling-up investments in water for agriculture

31 March. Plenary Session 1: Water Scarcity 

See Live Stream

The Water Scarcity Initiative (WSI), launched in 2013, is a comprehensive approach led by FAO to facilitate sustainable management of water resources in the Near East and North Africa (NENA) Region, which is designed to better implement efforts in member countries by broadly demonstrating, communicating and transferring successes that may solve water scarcity problems in WSI-countries. WSI accomplishments reveal that remote sensing, geographic information systems (GIS) and modelling are skill sets possessed by national programs that can be in part attributed to the WSI.
These decision-support tools are designed to simplify and optimize a complex set of options. Capacity development is key so that decision-makers can understand and trust the advice they get from staff.
  • Moderator: Pasquale Steduto, FAO Deputy Director Land and Water Division
  • Abdessalam Ould Ahmed, Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative of the FAO - The Water Scarcity Initiative: Achievements and Prospects
  • Don Blackmore Chair of eWater Ltd, former Chair of the International Water Management Institute IWMI board and former Chief Executive of the Murray Darling
    Commission, Australia - The Australian Water Reform Journey 
  • Ali Subah Secretary General, Ministry of Water and Irrigation (MoWI), Jordan - The Jordanian Water Reform Journey 
  • TBC - The Moroccan Water Reform Journey 
Future efforts should emphasize building up of human resources capacity in partner countries and FAO so that the big advances can be shared and scaled out. Having the Ministries of Agriculture and Ministries of Water Resources to plan together for investment projects at the end of the Land and Water Days (LWDs) is a significant step forward. Two good examples from Egypt are abstracted in the paper for the reader to see how research moves through appropriate steps to policy formulation and scaling out: i.e., (a) the modernization of irrigation and (b) the mechanized raised bed technology.
  • Ms Eman Sayed Head of the Planning Sector, Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation, Egypt 
  • Mr Aly AbouSabaa  (see picture and videos) Director General, ICARDA 
  • Ms Roula Majdalani Director, Sustainable Development Policies Division, ESCWA 
  • M Elias Fereres Senior Scientist, University of Cordoba, Spain

31 March. Launch of Soil Policy Brief

Presentation of the publication “The holistic role of soil in the Near East and North Africa Region” 
The priorities of the Near East and North Africa Soil Partnership (NENA) are:
  • Promote the Sustainable Soil Management at all the levels in all land use types; restoration/rehabilitation of degraded soils.
  • Enhance the soil information by using state of the art methods of Digital Soil Mapping and advocating for having National Soil Information Systems.
  • Encourage the investment on the promotion of Sustainable Soil Management.
The secretariat of the NENA Soil Partnership is hosted by the Ministry of Agriculture, Amman, Jordan.

SSM in NENA Region : Challenges and Perspectives
  • Moderator Mr. Maki Abdourahman, FAO-SNE
  • Ms. Iman Sahib Salman, NENA Soil Partnership Chair
  • Jacques Wery ICARDA 
  • Dr. Saéb Khresat - ITPS Member 
  • Attia Rafla Tunisia 
  • Elmobarak or Ghanma Sudan or Palestine  

1 April: Monitoring and assessment of climate change in the NENA and
understanding its impact on land and water resources, agriculture and ecosystems 

See Live Stream

  • Session chair: Jacques Wery  (see picture) ICARDA, Roula Majdalani - ESCWA, Hussein El Atfy - AWC
  • Dr. Wadid Erian - AWC/AGIR: Regional and Local Assessments of CC Impacts of water sector in the NENA. 
  • Mr. Tarek Sadek and Ms. Marlene Ann Tomaszkiewicz - ESCWA/FAO: anchoring the science-policy interface in the RICCAR Regional Knowledge Hub (RKH) 
  • Dr. Ajit Govind  (see picture) ICARDA: Climate Change in the NENA and its implications on agriculture and rangelands.  
  • Dr. Ihab Jnad - ACSAD: Integrated assessments of climate change in selected agricultural sectors of NENA. 

2 April: Technical Session: Land Degradation (LS) Monitoring across scales 

See Live Stream

  • Chair and Rapporteur: Stefan Strohmeier  (see picture) - ICARDA, Mekki Omer - ARC/FAO, Ihab Jomaa - LARI Lebanon
  • Raed Bani Hani - Jordan MoE: Jordan’s LDN scope, targets and commitments
  • Fawad Raza - WFP: Assessment of Ecological Degradation of Land: A methodology to support WFP’s Integrated Context Analysis
  • Mira Haddad (see picture) ICARDA: Community participatory watershed restoration and monitoring

3 April: Technical Session:  Water Scarcity from options to actions what does it takes?: Collective intelligence, information and research

  • Session chair: Atef Swelam  - ICARDA, Nina (IOM)
  • Awni Kloub, Ministry of Water Resources, Jordan: Smart applications to manage water resources in light of the scarcity of water in Jordan
  • Olga Aymerich Iraq mission - IOM - Assessing Displacement Risk related to water crisis in Southern and Central Iraq
  • Chandrashekhar Biradar - ICARDA : Big Data and Big picture in water management
  • Jippe Hoogeveen - FAO : Monitoring land and water productivity by remote sensing
  • Nina Stuurman, IOMDiscussant
  • Rachid Moussadek (Morocco) - Discussant
  • Dr Mohamed Rami (Egypt) - Discussant
  • Dr Bezaiet Dessalegn - ICARDADiscussant
The aim of Land and Water Days is to increase awareness of the role of sustainable land and water management in improving local livelihoods.
  • FAO organizes Land and Water Days in coordination with IFAD and the WFP
  • Land and Water Days are opportunities for exchanging innovative approaches and lessons learned on sustainable land, soil and water management among practitioners, country representatives and other stakeholders and for promoting the uptake of best practices.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

VI Global conference on family farming

25-29 March 2019. Bilbao, Spain. The General Assembly of the United Nations adopted the Decade of Family Farming 2019-2028 on 20 December 2017 in order to improve the position of family farmers in all five (5) continents.

The VI Global Conference on Family Farming is a preparatory event of the launching of the Decade, to be held in Rome weeks later. Both occasions are part of a process to build a solid, multi-stakeholder and participatory Agenda for the Decade of Family Farming.


The objectives of the VI Global Conference are as follows:
  • Contribute to design the official Decade Agenda for the national, regional and global levels by developing quality inputs for the Action Plan of the Decade of Family Farming.
  • Facilitate dialogue, new partnerships and the involvement of new actors in the Decade (governments, farmers organizations, international organizations, rural associations, cooperatives, research centers, other CSOs, etc), to promote the implementation of the above mentioned Agenda.
  • Raise awareness on the fundamental importance of Family Farming for humanity and promote the Decade of Family Farming as a key tool for the SDGs fulfilment.
  • Encourage the development and implementation of public policies in favor of Family Farming that contribute to the achievement of the Decade’s agenda within the SDG framework.
  • Enhance mechanisms and platforms for policy dialogue, particularly the National Committees for Family Farming.
  • Strengthen Family Farming organizations through exchanges of knowledge, information and experience. 
Extracts of the programme:
  • Iñigo Urkullu - President of the Basque Country Government.
  • José María Zeberio - President of WRF.
  • Josefa Leonel Sacko (see picture) – Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture of the African Union (AU) Commission.
    "The African Union bets for development on agriculture and family farmers being the future of Africa the responsibility of African governments and people, whilst others may come to support"
  • Mario Arvelo - President of the UN Committee on World Food Security (CFS).
  • Renato Alvarado Rivera - Minister of Agriculture and Livestock of Costa Rica (TBC).
  • Fernando Miranda - Secretary General of Agriculture and Food from the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food of Spain.
  • Leonard Mizzi (see picture) – Head of Unit C1, DG DEVCO, European Commission.
    “Job creation is key and we need to find new and smart ways to engage“ 

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Fara Calls on Egypt’s Ambassador to Ghana

Executives of the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA), the apex organ of the African Union Commission, responsible for coordinating agricultural research for development in Africa, led by its Executive Director, Dr. Yemi Akinbamijo, paid a courtesy call on the Egyptian Ambassador to Ghana, H.E. Emad Magdy Hanna in Accra.

The delegation which was also made up of Dr. Aggrey Agumya, Director of Stakeholder Engagements and Communication and Mr. Christoph Essikpe, Communications Specialist for FARA, briefed His Excellency the Ambassador on the activities of FARA since the signing of its Headquarters Agreement with the Ghanaian government in 2002. The Executive Director of FARA also used the opportunity to announce the impending 8th Africa Agriculture Science Week (AASW8), scheduled for October 28 to 30, 2019 in Cairo, Egypt and to seek the embassy’s assistance to facilitate movement of FARA staff and participants from Ghana to the event.

Commenting on the role of FARA as a champion of scaling science, technology and innovation to improve the development outcomes and impact of African agriculture, notably food security, incomes and jobs, His Excellency Emad Magdy Hanna underscored the need for regional integration to enhance intra-African trade in agricultural products and services, “we need technology as well as integration to push the African agricultural agenda forward” he said.

Briefing the Ambassador on the preparations that have so far gone into organizing the AASW8, Dr. Akinbamijo highlighted the opportunity open to Egypt to leverage the hosting of the science week, to strengthen research and business connections with the rest of the continent.
His Excellency Emad on his part pledged the support of the embassy towards facilitating the movement of FARA staff in connection with the Science Week to be held in Cairo.

The theme for the 8th African Agriculture Science Week is Innovations, Institutions and People. The AASW8 and FARA General Assembly meeting is the principal forum for all stakeholders in African agriculture Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) to reflect on their achievements and craft strategies and actions aimed at enhancing the contribution of agriculture STI towards accelerating the continent’s economic and social transformation. This event is organized every three years. The last such event, the 7th AASW and FARA GA, was held in Kigali, Rwanda in June 2016.

Source: 8th African Agriculture Science Week

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

FARA Calls for Stronger Alignment of Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Programs to the Science Agenda for Agriculture in Africa (S3A)

Geneva: 21st March 2019

With the launch of the Africa Continental Free Area (AfCFTA) negotiations, the African Union (AU) has demonstrated commitment to the creation of a levelled playing field for food businesses and promoting consumer protection, animal health and welfare. These can be achieved through the implementation of Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) programs in Africa in line with the World Trade Organization (WTO) SPS Agreement. The WTO SPS Agreement enjoins governments to base their SPS measures on international standards, guidelines, and recommendations developed by international standard setting organizations (FAO, WHO and Codex Alimentarius Commission (Codex). As the apex body for Agricultural Research in Africa and the technical arm of the African Union Commission on matters concerning Agricultural Research and Development, the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) called for stronger alignment to the Science Agenda for Agriculture (S3A) in implementing SPS programs in Africa.  The call was made by the Executive Director of FARA, Dr. Yemi Akinbamijo, who was represented by Dr. Abdulrazak Ibrahim, Capacity Development Officer at FARA, during a consultative meeting of the Africa Continental SPS Committee on 20th March 2019 in Geneva, Switzerland. The SPS Committee guides the coordination and   implementation of SPS matters at the continental level with the task of promoting and mainstreaming of SPS issues (food safety, plant and animal health) into the implementation of the Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development Program (CAADP) and other agriculture, trade-related, health and environmental initiatives and frameworks.

Sharing FARA’s experience at the meeting, Dr. Ibrahim, indicated that in practical terms, mainstreaming SPS into CAADP further underscores the need for deepening the application of science in Africa’s agricultural landscape. This is encapsulated in the 4th pillar of the S3A, which deals with responses to mega trends and challenges for agriculture in Africa and in the cross-cutting area of foresight. FARA called upon the committee to take advantage of the forth-coming 8th African Agriculture Science Week (AASW8) and the FARA General Assembly (GA), scheduled to take place between 28thOctober -1st November 2019 in Cairo Egypt. Briefing Prof. Ahmed El-Sawalhy, Head of AU Inter-African Phytosanitary Council and Prof. Abd El-Fatta Mabrouk Amer, Senior Scientific Secretary, Entomology in the AU Inter-African Phytosanitary Council, Dr Ibrahim made the case for stronger collaboration with FARA in taking the discussion and foresight analysis on new threats to African agro-ecological space, including the threat posed by Xylella fastidiosa, a notch higher.

As countries are preparing to develop tailor made investment proposals for the implementation of S3A, the endorsement of AfCFTA would require strong technical framework as represented by the S3A to effectively mainstream SPS measures in developing their National Agricultural Investment Plans (NAIP).  FARA expressed commitment in providing the technical support and creating the science-policy nexus necessary for informed decision making, to allow for coherent and harmonized SPS strategy in tandem with the AfCFTA.

For more information visit or email Dr. Aggrey Agumya, Mr. Christoph Essikpe

Africa Climate Week

18-22 March 2019. Accra, Ghana. Africa Climate Week. the Africa Climate Week (ACW) 2019 was convene in the lead-up to the UN Secretary-General’s Climate Summit in September 2019, bringing together diverse actors from the public and private sectors.

Participants will focused on how engagement between Parties and non-Party stakeholders can be further strengthened in key sectors for Africa, including energy, agriculture and human settlements. The event showcased the role of future carbon markets to enhance climate action towards the goal of sustainable development, and seek to facilitate implementation of countries’ nationally determined contributions (NDCs) under the Paris Agreement on climate change and SDG 13 (climate action), among other Goals.

Extract of the programme:

18/03 Stepping Up Action to Build Climate Resilient Agriculture and Food Systems in Africa 
The purpose of the event is to identify the opportunities for increased ambition in building climate resilient agriculture and food systems in Africa that can be advanced: locally; at the UNSG’s 2019 Climate Summit; and, at COP25.

The event consisted of opening and closing plenaries with six parallel sessions:
  1. Farmers’ Climate Resilient Practices: Taking action to reduce climate risks at farm and ecosystem levels. 
  2. Climate Resilient Ambition Powered by Nature: Building the case for nature based solutions (NBS) in Africa’s agriculture and food system 
  3. Colliding Climate and Conflict Risks in Fragile and Vulnerable Contexts: Building resilience from an integrated approach in the most vulnerable places. 
  4. Scaling up Private Sector Investment to Build Resilience in Agriculture: Showcasing climate actions from businesses, insurers and government on microcredit, risk transfer, food value chain for climate resilient agriculture and food sectors 
  5. Large Scale Restoration and Agroforestry, Lessons from Africa: Learning from Ghana Cocoa and Forest Initiative from, Great Green Wall Initiative and AFR100 - African Restoration Initiative. 
  6. Early Warning- Early Action and Forecast Based Financing: Implementing Early Warning-
    early Action and Forecast Based Financing approaches 
20/03 Side event Agriculture and Climate Change in the COMESA Region: Strengthening resilience and building synergies between adaptation and mitigation
Organizers: Common Market for East and Southern Africa (COMESA) and Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN)

This side event explored the technologies, practices, planning, policies and investment options available for transforming landscapes and food systems, focusing on synergies between adaptation and mitigation in COMESA member States. 

  • Mclay Kanyangarara, COMESA Climate Advisor 
  • Irene Annor-Frempong, Divisional Manager and Strategic Priority Leader, FARA
  • Abebe Haile-Gabriel, Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for Africa, FAO 
  • Stephen Muwaya, Program Coordinator, Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries, Uganda 
  • Tammy Muzi Dlamini, Agri Business Manager at National Marketing Board (NAMBoard), Eswatini.

The Africa Climate Week is part of Regional Climate Weeks that are held annually in Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) and Asia-Pacific. Regional Climate Weeks are organized by the Nairobi Framework Partnership (NFP), which supports developing countries in preparing and implementing their NDCs.

The events’ global partners are the UNFCCC, Word Bank, UN Development Programme (UNDP), UN Environment Programme (UNEP), UNEP Partnership with the Technical University of Denmark (UNEP-DTU Partnership), Climate Technology Centre and Network (CTCN) and International Emissions Trading Association (IETA). Regional partners include the African Development Bank (AfDB) in Africa, Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) in LAC and Asian Development Bank (ADB) and UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) in Asia-Pacific.

Monday, March 25, 2019

Farmer Market Schools Master training

Operational Manual, Farmer Marketing Schools. A facilitator’s guide (ADRA 2019)  (ADRA 2017, revised version 2019, 52 pages)
  • It is a comprehensive training manual that sets out the FMS objectives, provides a detailed description of the content of FMS facilitators training, and an operationalized step-by-step practical guide for setting up FMS
  • Facilitator training comprises four stages: (i) preparatory activities; (ii) theoretical understanding of a market value chain (covering six technical themes); (iii) a practical interactive module where participants, through discovery learning, learn about the market; and (iv) monitoring learning loops.
To be engaged with the market requires much more than just removing the middleman, actually not necessarily a good idea, because the middleman has a function in the value chain by bringing goods from A to B, without which the chain would not function. The farmer needs market skills, must be market ready, before s/he can maneuver and benefit from what the market offers. These skills can be learned, and with those skills the farmer can start treating farming as a business.

This operational manual for Master training of FMS facilitators is a guide in how a smallholder farmer in Africa can learn to acquire such market skills and become market ready – or with another term – market or economic literate. We call this a Farmer Market School to distinguish it from the two models with related names – Farmer Field Schools and Farmer Business Schools.

FMS emphasizes the individual's capacity to analyze market opportunities and enhances individual agency to act on this analysis. The FMS concept does not (i) prescribe how farmers should organize collective marketing, (ii) provide a solution for how farmers could access finance for investing in agricultural production, processing and marketing, or (iii) provide a strategy for scaling up. 

 After completing FMS, the individual student decides how to collaborate within the FMS group and disseminate their enhanced market knowledge within their parent organizations and the wider local community. 
The FMS approach to facilitation draws on principles of adult and non-formal education (taking point of departure in farmers existing experience of the market and creating an inviting space that allows farmers to articulate their own experience-based knowledge). The FMS approach exposes farmers to the experiential learning cycle by guiding them to explore the value chains on their own. Through this actual practical interaction with lower value chain buyers farmers gain technical knowledge about how markets function.
19 March 2019. ADRA (Denmark Adventist Development and Relief Agency), a global humanitarian organization working to alleviate poverty, successfully undertook the first-ever Farmer Market Schools Master training in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The event brought together participants from eight countries, including representatives of NGOs, Ministries of Agriculture and FAO.

The master trainers’ course in Ethiopia aimed to further disseminate the FMS approach after ADRA implemented pilot activities in Malawi and Zimbabwe in 2016-17.
  • The Farmer Market School builds on similar principles and discovery learning as used in Farmer Field Schools (FFS). 
  • In a FMS, smallholder farmers gain knowledge and skills on how to explore markets, what the market can offer and how to develop market decisions. 
  • FMS however differs from Farmer Business Schools in its pedagogic approach, as FBS are based on a theoretical and individual approach, emphasizing less on practical and collective experiences.
  • The duration of Master Training was two weeks. A total of 19 men and 2 women participated from 7 different countries: Ethiopia (6), Sudan (6), Uganda (2) Malawi (4), Zimbabwe (1), Eritrea (2) and Kenya (1). These included a smallholder, extension workers, project managers, and FFS trainers with experience within agriculture at different levels and broad knowledge of production, administration, field-schools, VSLAs (Village Savings and Loans Association), ASC (Action for Social Change), etc.
An evaluation of the two pilot projects in 2018 (September 2018, 22 pages) identified many positive findings. Farmers had responded very well to the challenge of researching the market for their products, many had established new business relations with value chain actors and started to bulk for collective marketing. 

The evaluation report recommended that to enhance capacity on FMS, a three-level Training of Trainers system is effective. Training master trainers is the first step. They then will train farmer representatives in Farmer Market Schools, and these representatives will train the other members of the groups they belong to.

On the demand side, the number of supermarkets and volume of demand for horticulture products is significant higher in Zimbabwe than in Malawi. In addition, the agricultural market infrastructure is considerably more elaborate in Zimbabwe. (page 6)

Implementation of FMS was done very differently in Malawi and Zimbabwe, which has had clear consequences for scaling up and impact. In Malawi implementation was done as a blueprint project with little consideration for experimenting with new ways for overcoming challenges. Both Ministry, ADRA and farmers themselves seemed path dependent and unwilling to divert from plans without permission. (page 7)

ADRA offices in Malawi and Zimbabwe are project-financed and are as such neither used to, nor administratively equipped for, piloting a new concept such as FMS. A project implementation mode focusing on outcome was chosen, rather than an experimental mode focusing on learning in order to further develop the FMS concept. (page 10)

Upcoming event:
The next FMS master training is to be held in June 2019 in Zambia.

Introducingthe farm business schoolA training package, FAO 2015, 575 pages
The farm business school was inspired by the FAO experience with Farmer Field Schools (FFS) and uses an experiential learning framework. It focuses on content by providing practical exercises to facilitate learning of specific knowledge and skills – exercises can be organized into unique learning programmes. It involves facilitated farmer learning led by a trained facilitator. It is designed around a selected farm enterprise that can be produced locally. It covers the production cycle from planning to marketing. And learning is linked to real farm settings to reinforce learning and to deliver more immediate impact.

International Day of Forests 2019: ‘Forests and Education'

21 March 2019. The UN General Assembly proclaimed 21 March the International Day of Forests in 2012. The Day celebrates and raises awareness of the importance of all types of forests.

On each International Day of Forests, countries are encouraged to undertake local, national and international efforts to organize activities involving forests and trees, such as tree planting campaigns. The theme for each International Day of Forests is chosen by the Collaborative Partnership on Forests (CPF), whose members agreed in 2017 that the Day’s theme would provide an opportunity to highlight specific forest contributions to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development by considering topics of the annual sessions of the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF).

In a press article release of 11/02 the NASA claimed that the Earth is greener today than 20 years ago thanks to China and India.

The world is literally a greener place than it was 20 years ago, and data from NASA satellites has revealed a counter intuitive source for much of this new foliage: China and India. A new study shows that the two emerging countries with the world’s biggest populations are leading the increase in greening on land. The effect stems mainly from ambitious tree planting programs in China and intensive agriculture in both countries.

Scientists of ICRAF (the World Agroforestry Center) and ICARDA (International Center for Agricultural Research in Dry Areas) are now questioning this happy news story. 
Most of the area under Green-up is associated with unsustainable increase in cropping intensification in the last 10-15 years, and most of that intensification is attributed to increased use of water and agro-chemicals. One can clearly associate increased cropping intensification and ground water depletion in India.  We did some quick check with high resolution time series analysis. It reveals that the majority of the green up is coming from the multiple cropping in the last 15 years, unfortunately at-large not from the tree cover. This is the area where there is huge potential and opportunity for tree based production systems in India (and elsewhere) to sustain that green up and further increase with increasing multi-purpose tree species in farmlands and reduced use of water and chemicals while meeting the food, nutrition, water, and ecosystems security. Chandrashekhar Biradar, Head, Geoinformatics Unit, Principal Scientist (Agro-ecosystems) ICARDA Cairo
Tor-Gunnar Vågen is Senior Scientist and head of the GeoScience lab at the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF): The use of “harvested area” is confusing as this refers to multiple cropping (intensification) in India and China: 
“... is largely because of the increase in harvested area through multiple cropping, which results in the observed greening trends. Agricultural intensification in China and India is being facilitated by heavy fertilizer use and surface- and/or groundwater irrigation—the two currently rank at the top for the amount of fertilizer use. Harvested land area at the global scale grew approximately four times faster than the cropland area since 2000 in large part due to these practices in China, India and Brazil"

Sunday, March 24, 2019

International Forum on Water Scarcity in Agriculture

19 - 22 March 2019. Praia, Cabo Verde. International Forum on Water Scarcity in Agriculture. The objective of the forum was to identify concrete - practical, innovative and collaborative - solutions to address water scarcity in agriculture in a changing climate.

With a focus on Cabo Verde, Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and West African countries, the forum is expected to illustrate how water scarcity in agriculture can be addressed and turned into an opportunity for sustainable development, food and nutrition security.
As the availability of freshwater decreases due to population growth, urbanization and changing living standards-we see an increase in agricultural, industrial and energy requirements. This struggle for balance is our greatest challenge.

Dry areas tend to become drier; droughts tend to become more frequent and severe; and

coastal areas more affected by, among other things, seawater intrusion due to rising sea level. Agriculture is by far the most affected sector in periods of drought leading to crop losses and reduced production. Such losses hit farmers and the rural population hardest, especially for smallholders who run over 80 percent of the world's farms on areas smaller than two hectares." FAO Deputy Director-General for Climate and Natural Resources Maria Helena Semedo (see picture).
She argued that, according to recent studies, droughts affected more than a billion people worldwide in a ten-year period, underlining that water scarcity and droughts, sea level rises, desertification, and ecosystem loss are strong social stressors that also contribute to forced migration.

47 countries adopted the Praia Commitments
at the 1st #WASAG Intl Forum
Extract of the programme
  • Technical session - Drought preparedness
  • Technical session - Water and nutrition
  • Technical session - Sustainable agriculture water use
  • Technical session - Saline agriculture
  • Technical session - Financing mechanisms for sustainable management of water resources
  • Technical session - Water and migration

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Political Economy of the Wheat Sector in Morocco: Seed Systems, Varietal Adoption, and Impacts

Bishaw, Z., Yigezu, Y. A., Niane, A., Telleria, R. J., Najjar, D. (eds). 2019.
Political Economy of the Wheat Sector in Morocco: Seed Systems, Varietal Adoption, and Impacts
International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas, Beirut, Lebanon. 300 pp.

This book, documents the studies conducted on the wheat sector in general. It also documents the wheat seed system, its adoption and impacts in Morocco, through support provided by the CGIAR Research Program (CRP) on Wheat and the European Union-International Fund for Agricultural Development (EU-IFAD) Project.

The experiences documented in this book are expected to inform stakeholders – including policy makers, researchers, farmers, private and public commercial farms, and development partners – about the status, challenges, and opportunities in the wheat sector in Morocco.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Launch of the United Nations World Water Development Report

WWAP (UNESCO World Water Assessment Programme). 2019. The United Nations World Water Development Report 2019: Leaving No One Behind. Paris, UNESCO. 202 pages

19 March 2019. Geneva. Launch of the United Nations World Water Development Report (WWDR) - the flagship publication of UN-Water on the state of global freshwater resources.


UN World Water Development Report 2019: Leaving No One Behind
You can download the report when you click on the download icon (right upper on your screen of the online versions:

English | Français | Español (pdf)
Executive Summary
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Italiano | Português | ภาษาไทย | Deutsch | Korean (pdf)
Main messages
English (pdf)
Facts and Figures
English | Français | Español (pdf)
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Media corner | Global launch | Regional launches

Improved water resources management and access to safe water and sanitation for all is essential for eradicating poverty, building peaceful and prosperous societies, and ensuring that ‘no one is left behind’ on the road towards sustainable development.
  • In an increasingly globalized world, the impacts of water-related decisions cross borders and affect everyone. 
  • Extreme events, environmental degradation, population growth, rapid urbanization, unsustainable and inequitable consumption patterns, conflicts and social unrest, and unprecedented migratory flows are among the interconnected pressures faced by humanity, often hitting those in vulnerable situations the hardest through their impacts on water.
  • Addressing the inequalities faced by disadvantaged groups requires tailored solutions that take account of the day-to-day realities of people and communities in vulnerable situations. 
  • Properly designed and adequately implemented policies, efficient and appropriate use of financial resources, as well as evidence-based knowledge on water resources and water-related issues are also vital to eliminating inequalities in access to safe drinking water and sanitation.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Key findings of the the Malabo-Montpellier Panel reports for AfDB

18 March 2019. Abidjan. The Malabo Montpellier Panel: High Level Policy Innovation through evidence and dialogue in agriculture

This event co-organised by the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the Malabo Montpellier Panel in Abidjan, Côte d'ivoire, covered the thematic areas covered under the Panel’s first three reports and bring together members of the Panel to present the key findings and recommendations, and to exchange with the experts at the AfDB.

They also discussed the way forward regarding the appropriation of the outcome of the reports by policy makers and planners in order to inform policy reforms and investments to be supported by the Bank and other Development Partners. 

Particularly, the discussion focused on the communication approach followed by the Panel so far and identifies possible improvement if necessary. Finally, during the event some insights on priority topics for future reports by the Panel were discussed.

Since January 2017, the Malabo Montpellier Panel has published three reports.
  1. Nourished: How Africa Can Build a Future Free from Hunger and Malnutrition (September 2017); 
  2. Mechanized: Transforming Africa’s agriculture value chains (July 2018); 
  3. and Water-Wise: Smart Irrigation Strategies for Africa (December 2018). 
The thematic areas covered under these reports tie in closely with the AfDB’s Hi 5 Agenda.

The International Africa Development Forum for South-South cooperation

14 March 2019. Casablanca Morocco. 6th edition of the International Africa Development Forum under the theme « When East meets West », organized by the Attijariwafa bank group and under the impetus of its reference shareholder, the Pan-African Private Investment Fund Al Mada, was opened today

Launched in 2010, and taking place annually since 2015, the Africa Development Forum has established itself as the reference platform for dialogue, investment promotion and intra-African trade. From one edition to the next, the Forum has provided many opportunities for exchanges and investments between economic operators on the continent and its partners. Since its creation, the Forum has brought together more than 7,500 operators from 36 countries and generated more than 17,000 business meetings. This edition is also marked by the presence of many ministers from several countries of the Continent.
« While the global economy experienced a period of expansion in 2018, the world seems to have once again entered a period of slowdown and increasing uncertainty. Indeed, the escalation of trade tensions, the questions surrounding growth in Asia and Brexit, seem to be at the origin of international institutions’ downward revisions of the rates of economic growth and global trade. This has been accompanied by high volatility in oil and commodity prices since August 2018, driven in particular by geopolitical tensions, as well as by tighter financial conditions in emerging countries. This combination of opportunities and threats facing our continent underscores more than ever the need for structural reforms and enhanced economic integration in order to further unleash the energies that create wealth and value ». M. Mohamed El Kettani, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Attijariwafa bank group

The Africa Development Club, which constitutes an extension of the Forum, also provides its services to its 3,000 members all year long. Such services include business meetings, sectoral missions, networking platforms and access to information in all the countries where Attijariwafa bank is established and beyond.

  1. discussion on concrete issues involving high level experts, 
  2. business meetings connecting African companies 
  3. Investment Marketplace

The « Investment Marketplace » featured Sierra Leone as a guest of honor, and 7 other African countries : Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mali and Rwanda presented their national development plans as well as investment opportunities in key high growth sectors in order to achieve their development goals. More than 4,000 B to B meetings have been scheduled confirming the interest of operators in this event.

Distinguished economic experts and political leaders examined the rationale behind intra-regional integration in terms of value creation and opportunities through plenaries, panels and awards :

  1. Plenary 1 : « Accelerate economic regional integration »
  2. Plenary 2 : « The positive impact, guarantor of solidarity and responsible growth »
  3. Panel 1 « Stand up for African Women Entrepreneurs », addressed the challenges faced by African women entrepreneurs in order to federate everyone’s energy and support women’s entrepreneurship. « Stand up for African Women Entrepreneurs » is supporting African women’s commitment and their determination to actively contribute to the development of the African continent. 
  4. Panel 2 : « Digital, a lever of growth in Africa : contribution of young African start-ups ».
  5. Award 1 : « South-South Cooperation Awards Ceremony » companies committed to development of Intra-African trade and investments 
  6. Award 2 : « Young Entrepreneur Awards Ceremony »  young entrepreneurs and project leaders at the African level.

33 artists featured young emerging talent from the Continent and the diaspora, as well as well-established artists. In partnership with the Arkane Association, « Travel Weast » offers a number of perspectives on themes such as the strong commitment of women, environmental issues and access to energy, immigration and globalization. 

Sunday, March 17, 2019

5th General Assembly of the Arab Water Council

16-17 March 2019. Cairo, Egypt.  5th General Assembly of the Arab Water Council . During this triennial event, more than 400 members and experts representing 25 countries and several regional and international organizations gathered to get acquainted with the Council achievements since the last meeting of the GA in February 2016, and discussed the way forward by approving the Council’s future Work Plan for the next term 2019-2021, and to elect its Board of Governors for the forthcoming mandate until 2021.
The water problems are numerous, especially in the Arab region, given the growing population growth, the Arab region is an arid region and there is an increasing impact of climate change on food safety. Arab countries import more than 50% of their food from abroad. The water situation in the region is critical and requires measures, partnerships and non-traditional solutions to address these challenges. It is time for the Arabs to accept these challenges. Ahmed Aboul Gheit Secretary General of the Arab League
"Water is the basis of life and the nerve of civilization It must be recognized that the Arab countries are facing great challenges in providing water to industry, consumption, food and energy security, problems of change of rainy weather. The whole world is looking at the Arab Water Council and its research to leverage its expertise in order to achieve a comprehensive Arab cooperation in order to overcome all the difficulties encountered by the action. common water in the Arab world face these challenges. In order to achieve economic and political stability, to the extent permitted by the capabilities of the Arab States." Mr. Saifuddin Hamad former Sudanese Minister of Irrigation
The technical activities included:

Launching of the SDG-Climate Nexus Facility
Under the framework of the League of Arab States Climate Risk Nexus Initiative (LAS- CRNI) and the Arab Water Security Strategy (2010-2030) towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the 2030 Agenda in the Arab region, the Arab Water Council (AWC), along with LAS and UN Partners convened the “Official Launching Ceremony of the SDG-Climate Nexus Facility.”

The Facility adapts a multi-phased program that aims at bringing together partners from regional organizations, governments, UN, private finance sector, civil society and academia, to undertake a series of national and regional activities - using a nexus approach - to support bottom-up local actions under SDG13 and the Paris Agreement on climate change to bring about clear co-benefits for core-related SDGs.

Technical Session on “The Arab Water Council Program to Support the Regional Endeavor for Expanding the Use of Non-Conventional Water Resources”
The future of the “Arab Water Security” will largely depend on the development of the non-conventional water resources (NCWR)(desalinated water, treated drainage and wastewater, brackish groundwater, etc...), which offers great potential. NCWR utilization is multi-faceted regarding the knowledge, expertise, consideration for the technical, socio-economic, cultural and environmental aspects and the special governance structure. 

The session presented “Case Studies” from the Arab Countries. The session shared knowledge and  information about recent developments and innovation in policies, institutions, technologies, applications and management of non-conventional water in different uses. It also explored and the way forward towards sustainable expansion of non-conventional water resources. This will bridge the gap between the available water resources and the increasing demand on water for achieving the prospective development in the Arab region. 

Technical Session on “Indicators of State of the Water Report and Sustainable Development in the Arab Region” 
With the aim of developing a consolidated database for water resources management, AWC – jointly with the Center for Environment and Development for the Arab Region and Europe (CEDARE), under the umbrella of the Arab Water Ministerial Council of the League of Arab States – has taken the lead in preparing and publishing on regular basis a series of “State of the Water Reports in the Arab Region” to present the country level water resources assessment on the Arab scale, together with the methodology applied. 

The series of reports represents a unique initiative by the Water Sector in the Arab Region on the road to the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, to monitor progress and achievement. The Session will shed the light on the updated information concerning the status of water strategic policy and service-related indicators in the Arab region. The collection and validation of the data associated with the selected indicators were obtained through selected focal points and experts from the Arab countries.

Extract of the programme:

Arab State of the Water and Sustainable Development Goals Indicators
The session discussed the Sustainable Development Goal 6 on “Clean Water and Sanitation” (SDG6) and its associated targets as well as the 2015 baseline for the indicators to measure the progress made in achieving these targets.
  • Prof. Khaled M. AbuZeid, Regional Director for Water Resources, CEDARE. Overview on “3rd Arab State of the Water Report 2015”
  • Eng. Belkassem Dhimi, Representative of the Kingdom of Morocco to the Board of Governors of the Arab Water Council.
  • Dr. Mohammed Elmulla, Director Water Resources Management Department and Representive of United Arab of Emirates to the Board of Governors of the Arab Water Council.
  • H.E. Eng. Ali Subah, Secretary-General, Ministry of Water & Irrigation and Representive of Kingdom of Jordan to the Board of Governors of the Arab Water Council.
  • Ms. Rana Abu AlSoud, Acting Director General for Organizational Affairs and Head of Gender Unit and Representive of Palestine to the Board of Governors of the Arab Water Council.
Use of Advanced Technology and Remote Sensing Techniques in Water Resources Management for Sustainable Agriculture
the main objective of the session is to bring together new science and policy knowledge to support decision-makers as they further develop their strategic plans by highlighting recent research advances in conceptual thinking and regional modeling and by sharing experiences and success stories on the use of latest Remote Sensing (RS) technologies in water and agriculture management.
  • Mr. Liping Jiang, Sr. Water Resources Specialist, World Bank. “China’s Experience on ET Management”
  • Dr. Talal Darwish, National Council for Scientific Research, National Center for Remote Sensing (CNRS), Lebanon. “Research Priorities and Activities of the National Center for Remote Sensing-CNRS in Agriculture”
  • Dr. Chandrashekhar Biradar, International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA). “Geo-Big Data and Digital Augmentation for Sustainable Agroecosystems”.

  • Dr. Bassam Abdellatif, National Authority for Remote Sensing and Space Sciences (NARSS). “NARSS Use of Remote Sensing in Integrated Water Resources Management in Egypt
Main Results of the IHP Program on Groundwater and Arid Zones and Program Activities to Achieve SDG 6
The UNESCO International Hydrological Programme (UNESCO-IHP) is the only UN programme with a dedicated focus on aquifers and groundwater resources.

Expanding the Use of Non-Conventional Water Resources
The latest in the use of non-conventional water resources both at the regional and country levels.
  • Dr. Eman El-Sayed, MWRI, Egypt.“Non-Conventional Water Resources in Egypt”.
  • Prof. Walid Abderrahman, KSA. “Advanced Governance Frameworks for Successful PPP and Large-Scale Reuse of Treated Industrial Effluents in Saudi Arabia ”. 
  • Prof. Mohamed Dawoud and Dr. Osama Sallam, UAE“UAE experience in Scaling-up Development and Use of Non-Conventional Water Resources”.
  • Prof. Khaled M. AbuZeid, CEDARE. A 2030 Strategic Vision for Wastewater Reuse in Egypt”. 
Signing Ceremony of the SDG-Climate Facility
“SDG Climate Facility”, funded by Sida and implemented by UNDP, was signed between UNDP and LAS, AWC and UN Partners to support climate action at regional and country levels and to build resilience of climate-vulnerable communities across the region. 

From right to left: 
Mahmoud A. Abu-Zeid - President Arab Water Council
Ahmed Aboul Gheit - Secretary General of the Arab League
Aly Abousabaa - Director General ICARDA
Under this agreement, partners will work towards enhancing the capacity of regional and national institutions to effectively align with SDGs and integrate climate change considerations into implementation of programs and policies.

The issue of water is at the heart of the challenges of the Arab world and ICARDA’s mandate
Signing by ICARDA of the MoU with the

the Arab Water Council

The Arab Water Council (AWC) aims at initiating and strengthening regional and international cooperation and partnerships to tackle water-related challenges. 

Hence, a closer collaboration with ICARDA in areas of joint and mutual interest was obvious. The two partners agreed to cooperate in resource mobilization and fundraising activities including proposal writing. The proposed cooperation under the Memorandum of Understanding is non-exclusive and shall have an initial term of five years.

Joint project development can cover a variety of activities such as:
  • reducing evaporation losses from open reservoirs and Ponds in Arab Region; 
  • sea water level rise and changes in cropping system; 
  • eco physiological strategies to reduce water consumption in agriculture; 
  • soil fertility and quality management; soil salinity mapping, monitoring and control; 
  • assessment of surface-groundwater interactions quantity-quality relationships for sustainable use; water treatment in groundwater-based agriculture; 
  • monitoring and modeling of the water cycle under a changing climate at multiple scales; 
  • studying water balance components at plot, watershed and basin scales; long term hydrological modeling under climate change and socioeconomic scenarios; 
  • impart capacity on hydrological/ecohydrological modeling and spatio-temporal data analysis of hydrological data.