Platform for African – European Partnership in Agricultural Research for Development

Friday, May 31, 2019

FARA Research Reports (NEW)

Study of Mechanized Agricultural Services Needs in theRural Communities of Béréba and Koumbia in the Cotton-Growing Region of Western Burkina Faso
Although predominantly an agricultural country (40% of GDP), Burkina Faso continues to import cereals to feed its population. Farmers in Burkina Faso still use rudimentary tools to produce in unpredictable climatic conditions. Late rains, shorter seasons, and farm labour shortage are all challenges that are difficult to overcome through draught power and manual work.

And yet, the population engaged in agriculture in Burkina Faso consists largely of smallholder producers (75%). As a result, only 25% of farmers are deemed to have the means to acquire a tractor to mechanize farming operations in order to modernize the agricultural sector and address the issues of productivity and labour shortage, as well as the need to plough at the right time to keep up with the crop calendar.

Seventy-five per cent of producers are assumed to be unable to afford a tractor to deal with the numerous challenges mentioned above. The aim of the study of the needs for mechanized agricultural services in the cotton-growing area of western Burkina Faso was to analyse the need and demand for mechanization services in order to put forward appropriate solutions that address the concerns of most agricultural producers.

The study shows that demand for tractor services was quite low (30%). The main crops of the area were maize, cotton, sorghum and millet respectively. Sixty-five per cent of total demand was met. Prices for services varied between 15,000 and 30,000, whereas willingness to pay was between 10,000 and 17,500. This translates into a sharp imbalance between supply and demand for mechanized agricultural services.

Download publication: FARA Africa 

Since 2015, the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA), in partnership with German Government represented by the “Centre for Development Research” (ZEF), University of Bonn, under the “One World No Hunger” initiative has undertaken to implement the “Programme of Accompanying Research for Agricultural Innovation (PARI)” in twelve African countries, including Burkina Faso.

  • PARI believes that research and innovation initiatives in African agriculture have been successful, considering the concept of Integrated Agricultural Research for development (IAR4D) promoted by FARA. 
  • PARI supports agricultural research in scaling up agricultural innovations in Africa and thus contributes to the development of the agriculture sector. PARI is jointly implemented with Green Innovation Centres and soil protection and rehabilitation projects under the “One World No Hunger” initiative. 
  • It is within this overall framework of implementation of the activities of the said partnership that INERA is empowered in Burkina Faso to contribute to the achievement of a number of objectives, including, for 2017, conducting a study of the socio-economic impact of the Banfora milk innovation platform (IP) on stakeholders of the value chain and determining future investment needs for greater impact and sustainability.
This study complements the in-depth 2016 milk-IP case study, which contributed to the capitalization of IP knowledge and experiences across the country.

  • The results show that the milk collection system works relatively well and ensures supply of 2,100 litres and 700 litres of milk per day in times of high and low production respectively on the entire network of collection points to three fast growing mini-dairies. 
  • IP gives member breeders an additional monetary gain of CFAF 20,500/year compared to non-IP members. However, production is negatively impacted by IP membership because cows are stabled while complementation is still low. 
  • The establishment of a mechanism to allow access to food concentrates (molasses, cottonseed seeds and cottonseed cake, corn bran, etc.) represents a major lever for improving milk production in the dry season. Further, the development of fodder production with quality species adapted to the area would also be a major asset to be explored by IP to develop milk production. 
  • Rations must be developed to allow farmers to participate with an assurance of profitability. One of the challenges to be addressed is improving the detection rate of zoonosis (tuberculosis and brucellosis) among milking cows to protect consumers.
Download publication: FARA Africa

The harnessed culture introduced in Togo since the German colonial period increased with the Project of Support to Animal Traction (PROTA) and the establishment of Agricultural Equipment Production Unit (UPROMA) in the year1980.

  • Despite a lack of interest in the use of this technology in the year 2012 in certain regions of Togo, the technology has truly taken root in the savannah region which still accounts for about 89% of the national team. 
  • Thanks to the training courses administered by the CARTO center and the follow-up of trainees, animal traction has led to changes in respect of the cropping pattern, the practice of sowing on-line, the use of improved seeds, chemical fertilizers, and phytosanitary products. 
  • The practice of harnessed cultivation led to an increase in the size of cultivated areas, a modification of offshore banking: how to legally open an offshore bank account the types of speculation practiced and provided additional income. 
This technology, however, faces natural, technical and financial difficulties that limit its adoption. To ensure the development of this technology, strategies leading to the reduction of factors limiting the development of harnessed culture in Togo have been adopted. This involves:

  1. the creation of new training centers and the revitalization of the former training centers in harnessed culture, 
  2. the creation of breeding centers for draft oxen and the supply of veterinary products for the health monitoring of animals. 
  3. Research into the use of donkeys in animal traction and the transport of crops is a path to explore.
Download publication: FARA Africa 

Peanut is a legume that comes into the diet of men in various forms. In the 1960’s, India, China and West Africa were the only three continents that produced the most peanuts with each continent producing about 35%, 19% and 18% of the total amount respectively, representing a total of 72% of the world production. Most peanuts are produced by small scale farmers.

Togo’s production of peanuts is indicated to range from 12,000 tons in 1961 to 9,000 tons in 1962 (LABROUSSE & GODRON, 1965). This variation in national production is still observed today, from 25,972 tons in 2001, to 38,244 tons in 2004, to 26919 tons in 2006, and to 47,369 tons in 2012 (DSID, 2012).

There is often a deficit in peanut consumption in southern Togo. In the southern parts of the country, most crops are used for consumption as fresh peanuts. Peanut production in the Northern regions however produces more peanuts thereby reducing the deficit recorded in the southern sector (Ministry of Rural Development, 2000).

Download publication: FARA Africa

Announcement: Global Forum on Innovations for Marginal Environments

20-21 November 2019. Dubai, UAE. The Global Forum on Innovations for Marginal Environments is organized in view of enormous impact of soil and water salinization and climate change on ecosystems, agricultural productivity, livelihoods and food security worldwide. It is important to clearly map the marginal areas already afflicted by salinity, poor quality water, very high temperature posing risks on a global scale and develop and implement the adaptation and mitigation strategies with robust policy support to effectively and efficiently address the adverse effects.

Themes and Priorities: The forum will be structured around the following themes:
  • Analysis and assessment of environmental, social and economic impact of abiotic stresses in marginal environments;
  • Current best practices for adaptation to and mitigation of salinity, drought and heat, and poor quality water in marginal environments;
  • Solutions to increase utility of salt-affected soil and water resources in food, feed and biofuel production;
  • Policies and strategies to promote and encourage adoption of best practices, suitable approaches, technologies and crops among farmers and other natural resource users.
  • Salinity management and innovative monitoring technologies;
  • Sustainable use of natural resources from field to watershed level;
  • Climate change downscaling and forecasting;
  • Harnessing crop diversity involving conventional and non-conventional breeding approaches;
  • Novel biotechnological tools and applications;
  • Fodder insecurity and alternate land uses;
  • Aquaculture production systems for saline areas;
  • Precision agriculture;
  • Gender equality and socio-economic studies for different regions;
  • Policies defining ecological/environmental services.
  • Inernational Center for Biosaline Agriculture
  • Ministry of State for Food Security, UAE
  • Islamic Development Bank
  • Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi
  • Khalifa International Award for Date Palm and Agricultural Innovation
15-07-2019: Abstract submission closes


Catalyzing Biofortified Food Systems

Catalyzing Biofortified Food Systems (50 PAGES), highlights accomplishments in developing and disseminating these nutritious crops globally as the biofortification movement gained more momentum.

Biofortification’s global reach 
  • HarvestPlus facilitated the release of 28 new varieties of biofortified crops in 2018, bringing the total since 2004 to 211 varieties in 30 countries. (See which crops are available where on our latest crop map).
  • Zinc maize was released in Colombia, Guatemala and Nicaragua. Niger saw the first release of iron pearl millet in Africa, and Indonesia, a country with high levels of stunting, will now benefit from the release of zinc rice.
  • A new partnership between HarvestPlus and the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition will spur private sector engagement to reach hundreds of millions more consumers with biofortified foods.
Key studies on the evidence base for biofortification.
  • Daily consumption of iron-biofortified pearl millet improved cognitive performance in adolescent schoolchildren.
  • Regularly consuming foods prepared with zinc-enriched wheat reduced illness vulnerable young children and mothers in India.
  • Another study affirmed the importance of crop biofortification, projecting that billions will remain vulnerable to the health effects of micronutrient deficiencies for decades to come.
Support for biofortification among policymakers and advocates.
  • By the end of 2018, 21 countries around the world had included biofortification in their national agricultural and/or nutrition strategies. For example, India prioritized nutrition in breeding by officially setting minimum standard levels of iron and zinc for the release of pearl millet cultivars.
  • The African Development Bank (AfDB) committed to prioritizing biofortification and other nutrition-smart investments to help Africans reach their cognitive potential.
  • HarvestPlus Founder and CEO Howarth Bouis was inducted into African Leaders for Nutrition, a high-level forum initiated by the AfDB and the African Union to strengthen commitments to ending malnutrition.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

The Conservation Agriculture for North Africa (CANA) project

Oussama El Gharras and Mohammed El Mourid,
both involved in the CANA project,
at ICARDA's Rabat headquarters last month.
29 May 2019. An Australian-funded project in north Africa is showing the benefits of CA apply

The Conservation Agriculture for North Africa (CANA) project operates across three north African nations, Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia, in three distinct climate zones, sub-humid coastal regions of Tunisia, semi-arid high plains in Algeria, with annual rainfall of around 350mm and in central Morocco in the Chaouia area in a low to medium rainfall environment with annual rainfall of 350mm.

Farm sizes can vary from 15 hectares down to just a hectare or two, meaning big machinery is not practical, but modified zero till planters designed by Australian machinery manufacturer John Shearer for the small paddocks being planted are working effectively.
equally to farmers running plots of land a fraction of the size of the average Aussie holding.
"You've got reduced sowing costs, lower erosion and the ability to sow in a more timely manner and better water use efficiency. Along with that, the move to no-till had allowed local North African farmers to better monitor their fertiliser and seed usage. 
Farmers in the areas covered by the CANA project historically were heavy cultivators and used a weedy fallow, where the paddock is worked, then left with the weeds that come up, which are then cut for fodder. This form of break is inefficient, inevitably to lower soil fertility and higher weed burdens when it came to be cropped once again.  
There is a historic cultural attachment to cultivation, it is something that has been done for millennia, so it has not been easy convincing farmers to go down another path."
"We've come up with specific manuals for things like weed identification and mixing up chemicals that are accessible for those with limited literacy," Mohammed El Mourid (see picture), regional co-ordinator for North Africa for ICARDA
Suitable equipment
The custom-designed minimum till planter
designed for small scale farmers in North Africa
The CANA team, together with John Shearer, came up with a solution, with Shearer designers developing a small scale zero till planter of a suitable scale for local farmers and their machinery. It has first been trialled and tested in the field and now there are local manufacturers producing the seeders.
"The idea is to mix up wheat, which is the staple crop throughout the region, with legumes. In Tunisia, which is a little wetter, that option has been faba beans, in Morocco and Algeria we've worked with chickpeas and lentils. Fodder mixes are also used in the rotation, to provide valuable animal feed and also to allow farmers to stop weed seed set. Having the rotations is important to get weed numbers down, to put back nitrogen into the soil and a disease break" Oussama El Gharras (see picture), of the Moroccan National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA)
The CANA project is funded by the Australian Centre for International Agriculture Research (ACIAR), while the University of South Australia and Rural Solutions SA are partners.

Launch of Nutrition Connect

29 May 2019. Launch of Nutrition Connect:

Nutrition Connect, an initiative from GAIN, is focused on harnessing public private engagement to drive investment, action and impact to make nutritious and safe foods the norm.

Nutrition Connect is an open access resource which aims to bring together the knowledge we already have around public private engagement, stimulate the development of new knowledge, and generate dialogue and partnerships.

In this video, Lawrence Haddad, Executive Director, Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition, tells more about Nutrition Connect.

 Mr Ciarán Cannon, T.D., Minister of State for the Diaspora and International Development speaks to why Nutrition Connect is an important part of Ireland's international development strategy.

Nutritious Food Foresight: Twelve ways to invest in good food in emerging markets 
Hansen, A.R., Keenan, C., and Sidhu, G.
Global Knowledge Initiative and Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) May 2019, 55 pages
This report sheds light on twelve specific innovations which we judge can reduce the price of nutritious food, address food safety issues, and increase shelf life, in low and middle-income country settings. In all cases, the primary beneficiaries of the deployment of these innovations would be the poor (or at a minimum, those on modest incomes). All twelve innovations are ready to be deployed at scale within the next five years. The report provides numerous concrete examples of how each concept has already been implemented in a relevant setting. 

Equally importantly, given the accelerated rate of innovation development, the report is intended to provide a methodology for screening and prioritising innovations. This methodology is available for others to use, perhaps looking at other important characteristics such as potential for gender transformation or mitigation of the effects of climate change.

The panel prioritized their top 12 innovations within the four “Delphi Directives,” which include:
  1. starting with native, sustainable, and nutritious foods
  2. investing in food processing closer to the point of production in order to reduce losses and retain nutrients; 
  3. making food markets more traceable and transparent to stabilize demand, improve safety, and reduce price fluctuation; 
  4. and using cold storage and transportation to help perishable food last longer—especially for rural populations, mothers, adolescent girls, and children.
Everything was about calories and making sure there was enough. Now, it is making sure that people have access to nutritious food. It’s about pointing out the importance to invest in the infrastructure and the supply chains in developing countries because we will benefit from that as well.” 
"By adopting new strategies in renewable energy and transportation, there can be practical options to improve access to nutritious food that may provide better returns on investments. I believe this will only happen if each of the innovations has a business model. We see 
more and more entrepreneurs who are mission driven and want to do good, instead of a non-profit project that ends after it has been implemented.” Dr. Simone Frey, founder of Nutrition-Hub and Future of Nutrition,
To unlock change, the authors of this report call for collaboration:
Civil society, development organizations, financial institutions, governments, businesses, and consumers - all have a role to play to unleash the potential of these innovations to achieve a tipping point toward scale. Going forward, mobilizing the champions of change and enabling meaningful opportunities for collaboration and continued learning will be the key to move the global community from innovation to impact.

See also:
Food Tank: New Study Highlights Importance of Investing in Emerging Food Markets

The Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) offers a new, first-of-its-kind executive short course, Together for nutrition, which focuses on public-private engagements to improve the consumption of nutritious food. The course will bring together 30 participants with an equal number coming from the public and private sectors.

Changing Access to Nutritious Diets in Africa and South Asia (CANDASA)

29 May 2019.  IFPRI Policy Seminar. Changing Access to Nutritious Diets in Africa and South Asia (CANDASA) has been using new food price indexes that account for food substitutions to meet nutritional needs to evaluate food systems all over the world, including in Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Malawi, and Tanzania.

This seminar presented the outcomes of CANDASA’s work to date, with a panel discussion featuring field researchers from each country to discuss the local and global implications of their results.

Changing Access to Nutritious Diets in Africa and South Asia (CANDASA) is an $800,000 investment over 2.5 years (December 2017 – June 2020), jointly funded by the UK Department for International Development and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, implemented by the Friedman School of Nutrition at Tufts University with the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and other research partners in India, Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Ghana, Malawi and Tanzania.
  • The project’s objective is to answer the following questions:
  • How do prices and availability of nutritious foods vary over time and space, relative to wages and other earnings among those most at risk of malnutrition?
  • When and where does investment in rural infrastructure and electrification, interacting with local agroecology and farming systems, improve and stabilize access to healthy diets?
  • Does the variation we see in price and availability of nutrient-rich foods have significant associations with nutrition outcomes, particularly stunting and women’s nutrition?
CANDASA is the first large, multi-country study of spatial and temporal variation in the affordability of nutritious foods and its relationship to nutrition outcomes. Our results will directly inform policies and programs in our target countries, and also provide generalizable results to guide nutrition-smart investments elsewhere. The work builds directly on a Tufts-led project called Indicators of Affordability of Nutritious Diets in Africa (IANDA) funded by the UK Department for International Development from 2015 to 2017, and Advancing Research in Agriculture-Nutrition Actions (ARENA) at IFPRI funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation from 2014 through 2020.

21 May 2019Webinar. Food-Based Dietary Guidelines in Ethiopia and 90 other countries.

24-29 June 2019. Hyderabad, India. The 2019 ANH Academy Week The ANH Academy Week is a series of annual events that bring together the community of researchers and users of research (practitioners and policymakers) working at the intersection of agriculture, nutrition and health. The objectives of the ANH Academy Week series is to foster knowledge exchange, innovation and learning around ANH research.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Diversifying Food Systems

14 May 2019. The SCAR Food Systems Strategic Working Group (SCAR FS SWG) has organised two workshops bringing together di­fferent stakeholders with representatives of JPIs: FACCE, HDHL and OCEANS, SUSFOOD2, researchers, policy makers and external experts working in this area.

The third and final workshop was dedicated to the presentation of policy recommendations on how to promote diversity in food systems at national, regional and European level.
  • The current food production system is facing a decrease in the diversity of crops and animal breeds, which undermines the ability of agriculture to adapt to climate change and to cope with pests and diseases. 
  • In parallel to the threat to agrobiodiversity, there is a trend towards the homogenisation of diets (greater intake of calories, too much animal proteins, and ultra-formulated foods that are high in sugar, salt and fat) and an increase in diet-related health problems. 
  • Diversity through the food systems approach could be considered as a driver for change by improving direct interactions between food producers and consumers, increasing the quality of diet for a better health, or fostering local processors, etc. 
  • Therefore, the initiatives to diversify food systems should take into account the impact in terms of sustainability and healthy diet. All stakeholders along the food chain must to be involved.
Gaps in current knowledge:
  1. Optimal levels of diversity in diet for better nutrition and health 
  2. Compatibility between healthy diets and locally and seasonal food productions
Extract of the programme  Programme_20190514_en.pdf + Flyer

Diversity and food consumption - Marie Plessz, INRA + Eric Verger, IRD

Presentation of recommendations on how to increase diversity in food systems Minna Huttunen, co-chair of SCAR FS SWG

Systemic Innovation to leverage impacts in dryland agri-food systems of Central Asia

28 May 2019. Moscow. Fourth Annual International Conference on Agriculture, Food Security and Nutrition in Eurasia.

Extract of the programme: see  Full Agenda (280.95 KB)

Session 4: Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Security in Eurasia: Challenges, Policy Issues, and Empirical Evidence
  • Moderator: Dr. Roman Romashkin, ECFS at Lomonosov Moscow State University, Moscow, Russian Federation
  • Making Institutions work for rural revitalization: Implications for Central Asia, Dr. Katrina Kosec, IFPRI, Washington, DC, USA
  • Social cohesion through community-based development in Kyrgyzstan, Dr. Damir Esenaliev, International Security and Development Center GmbH, Berlin, Germany 
  • Nutrition Sensitive Agriculture: Evidence from Tajikistan, Dr. Hiroyuki Takeshima, IFPRI, Washington, DC, USA
  • Climate smart technologies in agriculture: Evidence from Kazakhstan, Mr. Kairat Nazhmidenov and Mr. Yerlan Syzdykov, FAO Kazakhstan Country Office, Astana, Kazakhstan
  • Systemic Innovation to leverage impacts in dryland agri-food systems of Central Asia, Prof. Jacques Wery, ICARDA, Cairo, Egypt, Dr. Ram Sharma and Dr. Akmal Akramkhanov, ICARDA-CAC, Tashkent, Uzbekistan

Saving Syria's Seed Bank In Lebanon

Published on 28 May 2019. Aljazeera. Life After Conflict: Healing the Environmental Wounds of War

ICARDA's seed bank, where seeds are saved from a bank in Aleppo, Syria, is helping scientists develop new pest and weather resistant crops.

Crop diversity, which is so essential for food security, has declined by three quarters since the 1900s. The world's insurance policy is a network of 1,750 seed banks which safeguard plant biodiversity and can be turned to in times of crisis. But conflict can make even the seed banks themselves vulnerable.
"It became impossible to access the gene bank in October 2015 because we were banned from accessing the centre by the armed group controlling the area. They stole the vehicles, they stole a lot of equipment ... nothing was left in the headquarters except the building and the gene bank." Ali Shehadeh (see picture) Syrian seed conservationist 
Aljazeera interviewed the team of scientists who have fled the horrors of the Syrian war and are rebuilding the ICARDA seed bank in the heart of the fertile crescent where agriculture began.

28 May 2019. Food Tank, How a Syrian Genebank Secured Over 100,000 Seeds During Wartime, Maybe Saving the future of wheat
Article by Alexandra Talty, A freelance journalist and writer based in Batroun, Lebanon.

Dr. Ali Shehadeh never meant to be a hero. But when conflict erupted in Syria in 2012, threatening the work of the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas or ICARDA, Shehadeh took matters into his own hands.

Called a “legume maniac” by his colleagues while studying for his doctorate in Birmingham, England decades earlier, Shehadeh was one of 90 senior staff working in Tal Hadya, Syria, at ICARDA’s flagship mission. The genebank, established there in 1983, is part of an international consortium of genebanks around the world that aim to secure wild and cultivated varieties of nearly every seed in the world.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

52nd Greater Horn of Africa climate outlook forum

27 to 28 May 2019. Addis Ababa. The IGAD Climate Prediction and Applications Centre (ICPAC), in collaboration with the National Meteorological Agency of Ethiopia and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), organized the Fifty Second Greater Horn of Africa Climate Outlook (GHACOF 52), 

The forum brought together climate scientists, researchers, users from key socio-economic sectors, governmental and non-governmental organizations, development partners, decision makers, and civil society stakeholders among others. 

Several user specific workshops were organized during the forum, including some covering agriculture and food security, livestock, water resources, energy, health, and disaster risk management. The forum was preceded by a capacity building training workshop for climate experts from the NMHSs of the ICPAC Member States at ICPAC, Nairobi, Kenya from 20 to 25 May 2019.
Review lessons/experiences from the use of the products provided during GHACOF 51.
Follow up on the implementation of proposed mitigation measures proposed in GHACOF 51.
Develop a consensus regional climate outlook for the June to September 2019 season.
Formulate mitigation strategies for key socio-economic sectors in the GHA region based on the seasonal forecast.
Provide a regional interaction platform for decision makers, climate scientists, research scientists as well as users of climate information.
Stakeholders and partners
The key stakeholders include the National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHSs), namely: Institut Géographique du Burundi, Agence National de la Météorologie de Djibouti, Eritrea Meteorological Service, National Meteorological Services Agency of Ethiopia, Kenya Meteorological Department, Rwanda Meteorological Agency, Somalia Meteorological Service, South Sudan Meteorological Service, Sudan Meteorological Authority, Tanzania Meteorological Agency, Uganda National Meteorological Authority, and international partner organizations such as WMO, African Development Bank, WMO Global Producing Centres of long-range forecasts and World Bank, among others.

2019 Agropolis Louis Malassis International Prize for Food and Agriculture

24 May 2019. Professor Baldwyn Torto, Principal Scientist and Head, Behavioural and Chemical 2019 Agropolis Louis Malassis International Prize for Food and Agriculture, under the Outstanding Career in Agricultural Development category

Created in 2009, this highly prestigious Prize recognises exemplary achievements by scientists, while also inspiring young, promising researchers to work towards excellent science in the service of society. Specifically, the Career in Agricultural Development category is conferred to remarkable professionals in the field of agriculture and food research, innovation, capacity building, development or policy.
Ecology (BCEU), at the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (icipe), Kenya, has been awarded the

Prof. Torto has been recognised for his outstanding contributions to the understanding of how pests and beneficial organisms in agriculture use chemistry for their ecology, and application of this knowledge for crop protection to ensure food security in Africa within the framework of ‘One Health’ (agriculture, environment and human health. The Prize also recognises Prof. Torto’s immense contribution, in collaboration with various partners, to the training of the next generation of scientists in Africa.

The Think20 and Cooperation with Africa

26-27 May 2019. Tokyo. The Think20 (T20), the research and policy advice network of the Group 20 (G20), convened at the of T20 Summit in Tokyo and issued the T20 Japan Communique detailing innovative policy recommendations for consideration during the G20 Leaders’ summit in Osaka.

Task Force 5: Cooperation with Africa
6 policy briefs were released.

Two policy briefs related to agriculture in Africa were discussed:
Kenya Minister Amina Mohamed,
discusses Multilateralism and Trade
  1. Linking Smallholder Production with Value-Added Food Markets (10 pages)
  2. Sustainable Prevention of Food Crises in Sub-Saharan Africa (10 pages)
Lead Co-Chairs
  • Ryosuke Nakata, JICA Research Institute
  • Kapil Kapoor, African Development Bank (AfDB)
  • Elizabeth Sidiropoulos, South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA)
  • Rob Floyd, African Center for Economic Transformation (ACET)
  • Witness Simbanegavi, AERC
  • William Davis, ECA
  • Gamal Ibrahim, ECA
  • Belay Begashaw, SDGs Center for Africa (SDGCA)
  • Yamauchi Futoshi, IFPRI
  • Julia Leininger, German Development Institute (DIE)
  • Nara Monkam, African Tax Administration Forum (ATAF)
Ryosuke Nakata, Lead Co-Chair of the T20 Task Force on Cooperation with Africa, describes how the G20 can help to take African development to the next level in the changing global environment.
  • Africa can take advantage of new trends such as the development of value chains in agriculture and industry, and the leapfrogging impact of innovative technologies. 
  • The private sector’s role is undoubtedly essential in many areas. 
  • The Africa Task Force promotes the African Union’s Agenda 2063 and sustainable development across the African continent by tackling the various policy issues including fiscal and debt sustainability, the G20 Compact with Africa (CwA), industrial development, agricultural development, food security, governance, and taxation.

Belay Begashaw presenting TF5
policy briefs on Agriculture.
Demographic pressures and climate change in Africa are rendering subsistence farming an unviable livelihood strategy for smallholder farmers. However, urbanization and economic growth are creating new markets for fresh and processed foods in the region.

To enter this market, African smallholders need to adopt new production strategies that will increase income and make farming more appealing to the next generation. The G20 can encourage this transition by supporting the growth of a rural-based food processing sector, the reorientation of smallholder agriculture to commercialization, and the development of infrastructure to link farmers to markets.

"Interventions should prioritize SMEs over large agroprocessors, since SMEs have greater potential to become an important source of off-farm employment to rural inhabitants". (page 5)

"With the expertise and experience amassed in the food processing industry of some of its members, the G20 can support the integration of the Africa’s agricultural production into global and domestic agro-food value chains by actively promoting the rural-based private food processing sector."  (page 5)

"The G20 can encourage partnerships between African agroprocessors and buyers in the G20 to develop regulatory institutions that ensure the safety and quality of food without being a prohibitive barrier to entry for SMEs". 

"G20 member nations must look closely at their own trade practices, especially subsidies and non-tariff barriers that are inconsistent with WTO regulations, and re-evaluate them in light of stated intentions to promote smallholder farmers’ participation in global value chains." (page 6)

"Since the cost of establishing infrastructure for food processing is prohibitive in some instances, especially in low-income settings, one strategy that has been developed to reduce the user costs of infrastructure is the development of agroprocessing industrial parks. This strategy is currently in development in Ethiopia, and is being scaled up to service 17 regions throughout the country." (page 8)

Highlight: Smallholder Horticulture Empowerment and Promotion (SHEP) This approach was born through the technical cooperation project between Kenya and Japan. This approach addresses the motivation of farmers, and ensures their success in farming as a business. JICA is now promoting SHEP Approach all over Africa and in other areas.

Food crises and distress migration will continue to plague the African continent in the decades ahead unless massive investments are made to make the region’s agriculture and food systems more resilient. The G20 should support and invigorate region-wide efforts to:
  1. massively expand irrigation systems for smallholder farms to boost agricultural productivity and enhance resilience against the impacts of climate change, 
  2. achieve a “big push” in infrastructure, technology and finance to develop robust agri-food systems, and 
  3. enact concerted reforms of agricultural price and trade policies to strengthen trade integration, diversify domestic food supplies, and enhance country-level capacity to adjust to food shortages.
This policy brief  for the G20’s think tank platform, the T20, suggests that massive investments in expanding irrigation in Africa’s arid and semi-arid areas, and in improving weak and missing links in food systems, could provide the key to building resilience to future food crises. Such investments would provide Africa’s poor and agrarian populations with opportunities to break away from poverty and tap the economic potential of the world’s growing demand for food.

The brief was prepared by experts from IFPRI, FAO, and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). They provided three concrete recommendations for the G20 in three priority areas of action:
  • Investing in irrigation. Studies by IFPRI have shown the enormous potential of small-scale schemes to increase irrigation in Africa South of the Sahara by up to 30 million hectares. This would extend the growing season and provide year-round incomes for poor farming households and smallholders. The surplus production would result in rapid growth of the agriculture sector and help transform African economies. The brief proposes that the G20 and the African Union call on multilateral financial institutions, such as the World Bank and the African Development Bank, to set up financing schemes to help governments, farmers, and farmer organizations with the necessary funding.
  • Investing in strengthened agro-food value chain links. The policy brief encourages the G20 to foster international collaboration and strengthen financing mechanisms to facilitate a “big investment push” in Africa’s food value chains. To reap the benefits of agricultural productivity growth from irrigation investments, better supply chains will be needed for farmers to bring their increased production to market. This will require investments to improve market infrastructure and other innovations such as temperature-controlled storage and transportation and food processing capacity. Longer growing seasons and more surplus production would enable a growing number of small firms to produce processed versions of local staples. Such growth would in turn promote increasing demand, driven by income growth and urbanization, for processed, perishable, and higher value foods—transforming African food systems. Such investments could also leverage large-scale job creation along food supply chains and reduce the pressures that lead to migration.
  • Realigning agricultural incentives and trade policies. Producer prices are set below the world average in many African countries, depressing farmers’ incomes. Some African countries also prioritize domestic food self-sufficiency and government-managed trade, both of which can result in domestic price instability in the event of weather shocks and related climate impacts. When such disasters strike, increasing imports will not be enough to offset reduced food supply. The policy brief recommends that the G20 should collaborate with the African Union to coordinate reforms of domestic agricultural support measures and limit existing food trade restrictions. The Continental Free Trade Area in Africa could also help countries diversify their food supplies, ensuring that neighboring countries make food supplies available when needed to decrease Africa’s exposure to shocks to its largely rain-fed agriculture.
The Rise of a Middle Class in East and Southern Africa: Implications for Food System Transformation
"High processed perishable shows the greatest change, rising from 14 to 18 per cent even in the low‐growth scenario and up to 29 per cent in the high‐growth scenario. Overall, high processed rises in every scenario, while low processed changes little".

"Import shares in urban areas do not rise with income, meaning that the urban middle class imports no more, as a share of their consumption, than the urban poor. This pattern of steady net import shares across income classes among urban consumers is driven by substitution away from (imported) wheat and rice towards meat and other products (as predicted by Bennett's law) that have lower import shares."

"In light of slow agricultural productivity growth on the continent. Productivity at farm and post‐farm levels will have to increase dramatically to avoid an import surge. (...) Any surge would not be the ‘fault’ of the African middle class but of general factors shared by all the consumer classes."

"The continuing rise of the urban middle class will not bias the growth path toward more imports. Part of the reason for this is that the middle class's penchant for perishables is met in its great majority by local supply."

Monday, May 27, 2019

An old/new business opportunity for Africa: durum wheat

24 May 2019. Durum wheat is an important food crop in the world and an endemic species of sub-Saharan Africa (SSA).

A new publication (May 2019, 20 pages) convincingly demonstrates the potential of releasing durum wheat varieties adapted to all growing conditions of SSA, from the oases of the Sahara to the highlands of Ethiopia - is substantial.

Related: 25/07 New breeding techniques can boost food security in Africa, report finds

In the highlands of Ethiopia and the oases of the Sahara this crop has been cultivated for thousands of years. Today, smallholder farmers still grow it on marginal lands to assure production for their own consumption. However, durum wheat is no longer just a staple crop for food security but has become a major cash crop.

In fact, the pasta, burghul and couscous industry currently purchase durum grain at prices 10 to 20% higher than that of bread wheat. Africa as a whole imports over €4 billion per year of durum grain to provide the raw material for its food industry. Hence, African farmers could obtain a substantial share of this large market by turning their production to this crop.
  • The durum breeding program of Ethiopia reveals a steep acceleration in variety release and adoption over the last decade. 
  • The variety release for Mauritania and Senegal shows how modern breeding methods could be used to deliver grain yields above 3 t ha−1 in seasons of just 92 days of length and in daytime temperatures always above 32 ◦C.
Filippo Bassi,
at Terbol Station, Lebanon
"We have actually two projects on pre-breeding with the Crop Trust. The first one started 4 years ago under the leadership of the University of Nottingham, Prof Ian King. The team has been able to generate several hundreds of new crosses between Crop wild relatives (CWR) and new ICARDA and CIMMYT durum elite material. This year we are conducting a multi-locations test and we worked with our partners from North Africa and India to select the best one to start yield testing next year." 
"The durum program of ICARDA is already strongly based on Crop wild relatives (CWR)-derived germplasm, with more than 60% of all our elites obtained that way. We are beating the commercial cultivars by 10-20% yield in developing countries, and even went as far as surpassing the best commercial varieties in Europe and Australia."  
"A participatory approach, that uses the farmers themselves to guide the breeding decisions helps hugely in achieving success. A simple example was for an advanced line that I really liked: the yield was very high, the grains very big, and it had very good disease resistance. Still, when I showed it to farmers they did not like it. The main reason was that it was too short, and they could not get enough straw to feed their livestock. This is but an example on how incorporating farmers’ opinions save me from investing a lot of efforts in releasing and promoting a variety that would have never made it to cultivation". Filippo Bassi (see picture), Senior Scientist - Durum Breeder, Breeding programs (Wheat Barley Legumes) ICARDA
Challenges and promises
New breeding technologies offer great promise for expanding the area of durum wheat production in SSA. However this remains primarily dependent on the market ability to purchase these grains at a higher price to stimulate farmer adoption.

Because of its industrial nature, durum wheat has often been disregarded by SSA policy makers in favour of bread wheat as a more direct “food security” approach. Considering that the most cultivated durum varieties are more than 30 years old, there is a significant genetic yield gap that could be filled through the release and commercialization of more modern varieties.
Durum Wheat Processing Machine

A significant effort has been made to expand the production of improved durum wheat cultivars to supply raw materials to the food industries.  The pasta producers used to rely on massive importation of durum wheat grains, which was not a sustainable long-term business strategy due to high and volatile costs. Further, the purchase of foreign grains competed with other national priorities for the use of governmental hard currency stocks.

Recent investments in the pasta industry are proving extremely promising in Ethiopia thanks to new food habits of the growing urban populations, which are looking for fast and tasty foods, while still cheap and nutritious. The Ethiopian Millers Association has eagerly explored the possibility to procure the needed raw material directly from local farmers to reduce production costs and increase competitiveness against foreign pasta imports. Unfortunately, the local production did not guarantee sufficient rheological grain quality to satisfy the industrial needs. In fact, grain of tetraploid landraces does not meet industrial standards in terms of colour or protein quality.

Hence, specific incentives needed to be provided to farmers to obtain industrial-grade harvests. The scope of the Ethiopian-Italian cooperation project for the Agricultural Value Chain in Oromia (AVCPO) was to re-direct some of the already existing bread wheat production system of the Bale zone toward the more lucrative farming of durum wheat for the industry.

The process acted on the key elements required by the pasta industry to stabilize and self-sustain the value chain:
  • competitive price, 
  • high rheological quality for conversion into pasta, 
  • easy and timely delivery, 
  • consistent stock of grains and predictable increases over years
West African countries have the potential to convert their off-season of their 7.2 million ha of rice fields into durum wheat cultivation, instead of having an unproductive winter fallow. New, super-early and heat tolerant varieties have been developed, tested and confirmed along the Senegal River and their seed is readily available through the CGIAR WHEAT program. Their cultivation could turn an annual import market of 185 million worth of grain and almost 200 million worth of pasta into a national income to improve industrialization, create jobs and reduce poverty in rural areas.

Southern and Central African countries cultivate 1.6 million ha of rice and 0.65 million ha of wheat. Unfortunately, data on wheat cultivation in Central Africa are few and unsubstantial. Among Southern African countries, durum wheat is cultivated on just 26,500 ha, mostly in South Africa and Zimbabwe. A recent study on wheat suitability in SSA using geospatial analysis revealed that Angola, Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe are the countries with the largest potential extension of suitable land for establishing wheat production. The suitable mega environments identified were highlands with high rainfall and frequent diseases and drought prone rainfall with cold winter months.

Wheat cultivation in oasis in Mauritania.
(a) Holes in the mud for the planting of durum wheat
as the water retreats;
(b) Gradient on plant maturity caused by
 the difference in planting time
following the retreat of the water
The Sahara oases are unique environments that remained impervious to modernization. Durum wheat cultivation in the oases dates to the initial trade routes between the Nile Valley and West Africa. Several traditional dishes are made from this crop and its straw is very important as feed for the small ruminants and camels. The introduction of modern agronomy and irrigation practices, in integration with targeted breeding efforts could deliver true game changers. 

Alternatively, the reduced available land surface could be used as an advantage to generate very exclusive durum products. In fact, the ‘rarity’ could be exploited through well integrated value chains to deliver products at elevated prices on the occidental markets, as is already the case for the oases dates. Considering that oases produce less than 5% of their needs in cereals and the rest is purchased from neighboring towns, the possibility of generating larger incomes would be a suitable strategy to tackle famine.

South-South Collaboration to Expand Durum Wheat Cultivation in Africa
Urbanization has shifted the food habits of many countries and pasta has gained steadily in appreciation by African consumers. Great traditional and modern knowledge for cultivation and production of this crop exist already in North Africa and Ethiopia. Breeding programs for this crop have been successful in targeting the harsh drought conditions of North Africa and the disease pressure in Ethiopia. 

In order to expand the production of this crop to non-traditional territories, the expertise gathered there could be transferred to SSA in the form of novel and adapted varieties. 
  • Egyptian breeders could help in delivering varieties targeted to the hot and irrigated areas of mega-environment type ME1, such as West Africa and Sudan. 
  • The other North African countries could target ME4A, with low rainfall and cold winters, as well as help in the further development of the Saharan oases. 
Altogether, this envisioned South-South collaboration could ensure that varieties developed in traditional durum growing areas such as North Africa and Ethiopia, would adapt to the conditions of the southern partners. Harvests could then be sold to those African countries with strong pasta industries and the finished semolina products would be sold all over Africa. This integrated value chain would ensure a steep increase in monetary circulation and an overall reduction in the poverty of Africa.

Using non-GM molecular breeding techniques, ICARDA’s scientists developed a set of durum wheat varieties that can withstand up to 40°C heat along the Senegal River basin. The project was supported by the Swedish Research Council. If scaled up, the technology offers potential to fight hunger and help farmers adapt to rising temperatures.

Learn about how the 2017 Olam Food Prize winner is re-imagining agriculture through the development of a super heat tolerant wheat in the Senegal Basin. As part of its 25th Anniversary celebrations in 2014, Olam launched the Olam Prize for Innovation in Food Security in partnership with the international scientific organisation, Agropolis Fondation.

Agricultural Value Chains Project in Oromia (AVCPO)

Friday, May 24, 2019

4TH World Congress on agroforestry

20-24 May 2019. Montpellier, France. 4TH WORLD CONGRESS ON AGROFORESTRY

► Twitter :
► Facebook :
► LinkedIn :

This international event was organized in Europe for the first time, by CIRAD and INRA, in partnership with World Agroforestry, Agropolis International and Montpellier University of Excellence.

The 4th World Agroforestry Congress bridged the gap between agroforestry science and its practical implementation worldwide. Over 1,200 attendees from all over the world presentied new research and sharing ideas for implementation of this agricultural technique that is good for food security, biodiversity, the climate, and more.

One topic gaining extra attention at this Congress was the involvement of the private sector in boosting agroforestry’s implementation worldwide, because it can be quite profitable to do so while also supporting people and planet. 

Agroforestry combines trees alongside shrubs, crops and livestock in systems that produce food, support biodiversity, build soil horizons and water tables, and sequester carbon from the atmosphere.

1,200 plus attendees streamed into workshops and swirled among some 600+ posters hanging in the halls which outline new agroforestry research, underpinning the notion of agroforestry seeming a rather academic topic, yet this group is exploring many angles to advance this climate- and biodiversity-positive agricultural practice.
“There are journalists here from 30+ media outlets from many countries here, and French TV produced four stories about it last week. Also, we had 1,850 people attending the public event on Sunday we organized with the French Association for Agroforestry. These facts are proof that the Congress is bridging the gap between science, society and policy, which is the event’s goal.” Emmanuel Torquebiau, Congress organizer and senior scientist CIRAD 

Because agroforestry is seen as a solution for this issue while boosting food security levels and biodiversity in the agricultural landscape due to its incorporation of useful trees and shrubs with annual crops, Mongabay has been producing a series highlighting its global implementation for the last year.

Extract of the programme:
Plenary session 2: Agroforestry and climate change
  • Cheikh Mbow, Executive Director of START-International → Download abstract
  • Seydou Kaboré, Manager of the Guié Agroforestry farm, Burkina Faso → Download abstract in French ; → Download abstract in English
  • Margaret Muchanga, Farmer, Kenya
  • Chad Frischmann, Vice President and; Research Director, Drawdown
  • Sarah Magida Toumi, Tunisian Entrepreneur, Desertification and Tree planting
    Video witness @3:35:00
    "Acacias for All" is the name of a Tunesian Social Enterprise started by Sarah and Khalil Toumi in 2012. Its aim is to encourage farmers to plant Acacias (lat: Acacia Senegal) against desertifacation of their land and in order to give them a new source of income: the arabic gum harvested from the trees.

    "70 % of the European consumers want to make ethical food purchases"
    "We need communicators and the media to be intrested in what we do about agro forestry and allow all the agro-forestry projects to develop. If you don't know that those projects exist they can not develop. And we remain in a vicious cirle"

    "Today we have already planned 500,000 trees (acacia, muringa, 
    Citrus sinensis {=orange tree - ear de fleur d'oranger/orange flower water)" 

Plenary Session 3: Agroforestry, Food security and Nutrition
  • H.E Dr.Eyasu Abraha Alle, State Minister of Agriculture and Natural Resource of Ethiopia
  • Saul Morris, Director of Programme Services, Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) → Download abstract
  • Andrew Campbell, Chief Executive Officer, Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research → Download abstract
  • Catherine Muthuri, World Agroforestry
  • Kami Melvani, Charles Darwin University
  • Rowan Reid, Farmer, Author of “Heartwood: the art and science of growing trees for profit” → Download abstract
  • Gary S. May, Chancellor, University of California Davis
  • Patrick Caron, Chairperson, High Level Panel of Experts of the UN Committee on world Food Security, Vice President, University of Montpellier

Plenary Session 6: A road map for agroforestry
  • Roger Leakey, International Tree Foundation, UK → Download abstract

    "We need to challenge donors, development agencies and agribusiness and emphasize that the so-called "Inevitable Trade-offs" are not acceptable in modern agriculture and that agro-forestry can deliver sustainanle intensification without those Trade-offs"

    "Trade-Ons instead of Trade-offs"

    "One type of research we need most is impact assessment"
"We don't need more research but more agro-forestors"
"Research needs to catch up on innovation on the ground by farmers"

"Reading is not believing but seeing is believing"
"Research needs to be presented in a pallatable form where  farmers can see it, touch it, belief it".
  • Gilles Delaunay, Farmer, France
  • Emmanuel Petel and José Ruiz Espi, European Commission, DG Agriculture and Rural Development → Download abstract
  • Tony Rinaudo, Laureate of the Right Livelihood Award (video presented by Dennis Garrity)
  • Fergus Sinclair, World Agroforestry / School of Natural Sciences, Bangor University, Wales, UK → Download abstract

    "We are currently embedding research in development practices"