Platform for African – European Partnership in Agricultural Research for Development

Monday, July 29, 2019

Big data for agriculture

Big data for agriculture
FAO/ITU, 83 pages

According to Forbes, we generate almost 2.5 quintillion bytes of data every day. The next generation of agriculture heavily depends on data. The ability to capture, sort, analyze and extract actionable intelligence from large data sets to reveal patterns (human, climate, market) and related trends is an important emerging field.

The increase in the use of Internet of Things (IoT) devices would only add to this data deluge. The Economist rightly called data as the world’s most valuable resource , while some calling data the new oil . Agriculture would be one of the major users of IoTs. How can individuals, organizations and governments build capacities and processes in place to take advantage of this huge influx of data. This coupled with existing data streams (weather, satellite imagery, markets etc.,) would create an ecosystem which if managed efficiently would provide rich dividents especially in the agriculture sector where the right information at the right time will make a great influence in the livelihoods of people involved in agriculture and allied activities.

This publication looks at how various initiatives are leveraging data, related to agriculture value chains, to influence decision making and efficient service delivery together with addressing key building blocks such as interoperability, data sharing, data security and the necessary policies and regulations that are needed to be implemented to sustain the data ecosystem.

Case studies
  1. Big data ecosystem for disaster resilience 
  2. Olam Farmer Information System (OFIS): improving smallholder productivity and livelihoods
  3. Mobile solutions, technical assistance and research (mSTAR) project 
  4. Leveraging satellite data and artificial intelligence to drive financial inclusion for smallholder farmers 
  5. Delivering remote flood analytics as a scalable service 
  6. AtSource – Connecting customers to the source of supply 
  7. WAGRI – the agricultural big data platform

Rethinking technological change in smallholder agriculture

"Rethinking technological change in smallholder agriculture" 
Outlook on Agriculture, by Dominic Glover, James Sumberg, Giel Ton, Jens Andersson and Lone Badstue.

The concept of technology adoption (along with its companions, diffusion and scaling) is commonly used to design development interventions, to frame impact evaluations and to inform decision-making about new investments in development-oriented agricultural research. 

However, adoption simplifies and mischaracterises what happens during processes of technological change. In all but the very simplest cases, it is likely to be inadequate to capture the complex reconfiguration of social and technical components of a technological practice or system. 
  • The authors review the insights of a large and expanding literature, from various disciplines, which has deepened understanding of technological change as an intricate and complex sociotechnical reconfiguration, situated in time and space.
  • They explain the problems arising from the inappropriate use of adoption as a framing concept and propose an alternative conceptual framework for understanding and evaluating technological change. The new approach breaks down technology change programmes into four aspects: propositions, encounters, dispositions and responses.
  • The authors begin to sketch out how this new framework could be operationalised.

The Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Forum 2019

26-27 July 2019. LAGOS, Nigeria. At the recently 5th edition of the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) Entrepreneurship Forum - themed ‘Empowering African Entrepreneurs,’, five African Presidents and thousands of young African entrepreneurs converged at the most influential gathering in the African entrepreneurship ecosystem. Job creation and youth empowerment were the key themes tackled at the Forum.

More than 60 global speakers from the public and private sectors across three continents participated in interactive masterclasses, plenary sessions and debates geared towards generating ideas and defining concrete steps Africa must take to empower its youth and accelerate the continent's development. Guests interacted directly with young budding entrepreneurs from across the 20 African UBA-present countries who exhibited their innovative products and solutions at the UBA Marketplace, powered by Africa's global bank, United Bank for Africa (UBA).

Extracts of the programme:

The Presidential Debate, which formed the highlight of the two-day event, focused on charting the way forward towards the eradication of poverty in Africathrough job creation. The public sector leaders on the panel included

  • H.E. Paul Kagame, President, Republic of Rwanda; 
  • H.E. Macky Sall, President, Republic of Senegal; 
  • H.E. Félix Tshisekedi, President, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC); 
  • H.E. (Prof.) Yemi Osinbajo (SAN), Vice President, Federal Republic of Nigeria; and 
  • Hon (Dr.) Ruhakana Rugunda, Prime Minister, Republic of Uganda, representing the President of Uganda, H.E. Yoweri Museveni.

First plenary: Tackling challenges and seizing opportunities. - see transcript
  • Moderator Jennifer Blanke, the vice president, Agriculture, Human and Social Development, African Development Bank.
  • Papa Sarr, Minister and Presidential Delegate for Entrepreneurship in Senegal, 
  • Mohammed Yahya, UNDP Africa Regional Programme Coordinator, 
  • Marie Francoise Marie-Nelly, a former World Bank country director in Nigeria. Ms Marie-Nelly is currently the country director, Maghreb and Malta, Middle East and North Africa, World Bank.
  • Olusegun Awolowo, CEO, Nigerian Export Promotion Council,

Leveraging the Agriculture Value Chain

Intervention of Mr. Gilles Patrick A. Viwanou Gnassounou, from Togo - Assistant Secretary General, African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP)

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Farmers taking the lead - Thirty years of farmer field schools

23 July 2019. FAO. 2019. Farmers taking the lead - Thirty years of farmer field schools. Rome. 72 pages.

This brochure captures the major developments of the farmer field school over 30 years, highlighting innovations in different regions and contexts. A vast number of additional stories and experiences exist, some of which can be accessed at the global FFS platform website. 

This document summarizes key messages on FFS and provides insights for new directions: how communities of smallholder farmers can address contemporary challenges in the agricultural sector to provide food and other services in a sustainable and equitable manner.

Highlights of thirty years of farmer field schools
  1. The early years: Rice, IPM and FFS
  2. Expansion of farmer field schools for IPM across Asia
  3. FFS in Asia
  4. FFS in Africa
  5. FFS in Latin America
  6. FFS in the Near East and North Africa

Thursday, July 25, 2019

CCARDESA Gets New Board of Directors

Outgoing Board of Directors
The Centre for Coordination of Agricultural Research and Development for Southern Africa (CCARDESA) has constituted a new board of directors as part of its governance restructuring process.
CCARDESA was established by SADC Member States to coordinate the implementation of agricultural research and development (R&D) in the SADC region. As one of the sub-regional organisations under the FARA umbrella, its the goal is to sustainably reduce food insecurity and poverty in the region as captured in SADC’s Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP), the Dar es Salaam declaration on food security, and the Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development Programme (CAADP), developed by the African Union’s New Partnership for Africa’s Development (AU-NEPAD). It operates within the framework of CAADP Pillar 4 which has the objective of enhancing the livelihoods of African farmers and pastoralists.
As a one of its constituent Sub-regional organizations, CCARDESA has leveraged continuous support from the Forum for Agriculturalresearch in Africa (FARA), in the area of institutional governance. In recent times, FARA has contributed to the restructuring of the CCARDESA Board of Directors, which is currently in a transition stage.

The Old Yields to New
Dr. Catherine Mungoma
The incumbent board of directors of CCARDESA is in the process of being replaced by a new one. In this transition phase, about seven members of the current Board, including the chairperson, Dr. Catherine Mungoma, who has been rendering commendable service to the southern African entity since 2017, will be replaced by a new one. Dr. Castro Camadara takes over from Dr. Mungoma as the new board chairperson.

Dr. Camadara started his work in academia and research at the Agostinho Neto University, for some 14 years in - Angola; where he was Professor and Vice-Rector of the University Centre of Huambo and coordinated the CGIAR-SADC led National Grain Legume Programme. He was a member and founder of the 1st National Research Council of Angola and also worked as Advisor to the Minister of Agriculture for more than a year. He is a founding member of ADRA (an Angolan NGO on Rural Development and Environment). He worked as freelance consultant for a while, doing consultancy work for EU, World Bank, INGOs, Government, among others, before joining FAO.

Dr. Castro Camadara 
Dr. Castro Camadara was with the FAO for more than seventeen years as FAO Representative in various countries managing multidisciplinary teams and large country and regional portfolios covering Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries, Forestry, Environment and Rural Development in general .One of his postings with FAO was in Addis Ababa-Ethiopia where besides being Sub-regional Coordinator for Eastern Africa, in charge of Coordinating 8 Countries, he also represented FAO at the African Union and UNECA. He is presently back in Angola and involved in consultancy and agribusiness. 

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Wheat experts call for global unity to avert future hunger crises

21 - 26 July 2019. Saskatoon, Canada. The first meeting of its kind, the 1st International Wheat Conference includes a balanced program encompassing six areas of wheat research: 1) Wheat Diversity, Evolution, and Genetic Resources; 2) Structural and Functional Genomics of Wheat and Wheat Relatives; 3) Wheat Improvement: Breeding, Physiology, and Enabling Technologies; 4) Wheat Production Systems: Environment, Sustainability, and Management; 5) Protecting Yield: Resistance to Biotic and Abiotic Stresses; and 6) Wheat Uses: Functionality, Nutrition, Safety and Human Health.

Some 900 delegates from 55 countries attended the first international Wheat Congres. The program consisted of joint plenary sessions and concurrent sessions, with over 100 invited speakers presenting. All plenary sessions were streamed live on the web and social media platforms (Facebook and Twitter).

Watch the opening ceremony and Monday plenary sessions here!

Keynote speaker: @37:30 
Timothy D. Searchinger, Senior Fellow, World Resources Institute

The six areas of wheat research featured in the program are: 
  1. Wheat Diversity, Evolution, and Genetic Resources
  2. Structural and Functional Genomics of Wheat and Wheat Relatives
  3. Wheat Improvement: Breeding, Physiology, and Enabling Technologies
  4. Wheat Production Systems: Environment, Sustainability, and Management
  5. Protecting Yield: Resistance to Biotic and Abiotic Stresses
  6. Wheat Uses: Functionality, Nutrition, Safety and Human Health
A top priority of the IWC is to promote participation from all wheat growing areas of the world. A portion of each registration fee will be used to sponsor scientists from developing nations by reimbursing them for registration and travel costs. Young scientists and students are encouraged to present their research as either an oral presentation or poster. Several student awards will be presented at the closing ceremony.
ICARDA scientists speaking and presenting research at the congress:
  • Miguel Sanchez Garcia, Associate Scientist - Facultative Winter Wheat Breeding, Morocco office
  • Amit Gautam, Consultant - Research Associate- Breeding programs (Wheat Barley Legumes), India office
  • Filippo Bassi, Senior Scientist - Durum Breeder, Morocco office
  • Michael Baum, BCI Program and Morocco Platform Director, Morocco office
  • Wuletaw Tadesse Degu, Principal Scientist - Spring Bread Wheat Breeder, Morocco office
  • Samira El-Hanafi, Senior Research Assistant - Spring Bread Wheat Breeding, Morocco office
  • Adil El-Baouchi, Senior Research Assistant - Cereal and Legume Quality Testing, Morocco office
CIMMYT scientists speaking and presenting research at the congress:
  • Martin Kropff, Director General of the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) “Harnessing the power of partnerships for global wheat research and food security” 
  • Matthew Reynolds, Crop Physiologist, CIMMYT  “The Heat and Drought Wheat Improvement Consortium (HeDWIC)”
  • Karim Ammar, Principal Scientist, CIMMYT “Diversification of durum wheat industrial end-uses through the genetic modification of its glutenin composition and grain texture”
  • Zhonghu He, Distinguished Scientist and CIMMYT Country Liaison Officer for China “Molecular marker development and application for improving qualities in bread wheat” 
  • Gemma Molero (see picture), Wheat Physiologist, CIMMYT “Evidence for the value of
    synthetic, landrace and introgression to improve adaptation to heat stress”
  • Francisco Pinto, Remote Sensing Specialist, CIMMYT “UAV-based high-throughput phenotyping for wheat breeding and physiological pre-breeding”
  • Alexey Morgounov, Leader of the International Winter Wheat Improvement Program and CIMMYT Country Representative for Turkey “Dynamics of spring wheat yields in North America and Eurasia 1981-2015: Effect of environments, climate change and germplasm adaptation”
  • Hans Braun, Director of CIMMYT’s Global Wheat Program and the CGIAR Research Program on Wheat “Bridging the Yield Gap”  
  •  Carolina Saint Pierre, Genetic Resources Phenotyping Coordinator, CIMMYT “Global network of precision field-based wheat phenotyping platforms” 
Ronnie Coffman, right, plant breeder and vice chair
of the Borlaug Global Rust Initiative based at Cornell,
and Maricelis Acevedo, plant pathologist and associate
director for science for the Delivering Genetic
Gain in Wheat project, examine wheat
varieties in Ethiopia for stem and yellow rust.

A patchwork of legal restrictions threatens humanity’s ability to feed a growing global population.

That jeopardizes decades of hard-won food security gains, according to Ronnie Coffman, international professor of plant breeding and director of International Programs in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (IP-CALS).
“It takes an international community of scientists and genetic resources to fight pathogens like stem rust that do not respect international boundaries,” he said. “Stringent regulations and country-specific control are stifling the germplasm exchanges critical to agriculture and horticulture.”
As one part of its efforts to reduce the world’s vulnerability to wheat diseases, the Cornell-led Delivering Genetic Gain in Wheat project – funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development – collects samples of plant pathogens such as stem rust and yellow rust from 40 countries and analyzes them in biosafety testing labs in Minnesota, Denmark, Canada, Turkey, Ethiopia, Kenya and India.

If a heat-wave like the one recorded these days was to occur 1 month earlier, at the end of May, when the Northern European wheats are in full bloom, it could cause up to 50 percent yield loses, a devastating blow to the European agriculture and food sectors that could cost billions of Euros.
CGIAR centers like ICARDA and CIMMYT have worked in close collaboration with European Universities and advanced research institutions for a long time to develop and adapt the most novel technologies for pre-breeding. It might also be advantageous for European private sector companies to start taking advantage of CGIAR stress-tolerant wheat varieties and develop a system similar to CAIGE used by Australian breeders. By taking advantage of similar environments in Morocco and Mediterranean environments in Europe, European breeders can select the promising germplasm of tomorrow and provide the continent’s agricultural sector with a practical defense against future heat-waves.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Ghana to host the Secretariat of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA)

7 July 2019.Niamey. 12th AU Extraordinary Summit.  Ghana has been chosen by the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union (AU) to host the Secretariat of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). Ghana beat off competition from Egypt, Eswatini, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar and Senegal.

The core mandate of the Secretariat will be to implement the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement, which has since been ratified by 25 member states.

With the AfCFTA now the world’s largest free trade area since the formation of the World Trade Organisation, it will cover a market of 1.2 billion people, with a combined gross domestic product (GDP) of $2.5 trillion, across the fifty-four (54) Member States of the African Union that have signed up to the Agreement.

Ghana is ready to donate US$10 million to the African Union to support the operationalisation of the Secretariat. President Akufo-Addo also called on pan-African institutions such as the UN Economic Commission for Africa, the African Development Bank, the African Export-Import Bank and other key stakeholders, including friends of Africa, to provide such support as they can towards the establishment of the Secretariat.

Monday, July 22, 2019

Agroecological and other innovative approaches

  • Chaired by Ambassador Mario Arvelo, Chairperson of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS). 
  • opening address by FAO’s Agriculture and Consumer Protection Department (AG) Assistant Director-General, Bukar Tijani.
  • Introduction to the HLPE Report Patrick Caron, HLPE Steering Committee Chair 
  • Presentation of the content and conclusions of the HLPE Report Main findings – Fergus Sinclair, HLPE Project Team Leader
HLPE. 2019. Agroecological and other innovative approaches for sustainable agriculture and food systems thatenhance food security and nutrition. A report by the High Level Panel of Experts on Food Security and Nutrition of the Committee on World Food Security, Rome. 163 pages
  • In this report, the HLPE explores the nature and potential contributions of agroecological and other innovative approaches to formulating transitions towards sustainable food systems (SFSs) that enhance FSN. 
  • The HLPE adopts a dynamic, multiscale perspective, focusing on the concepts of transition and transformation. 
  • Many transitions need to occur in particular production systems and across the food value chain to achieve major transformation of whole food systems. 
  • Both incremental transitions at small scales and structural changes to institutions and norms at larger scales need to take place in a coordinated and integrated way in order to achieve the desired transformation of the global food system.
States and IGOs, in collaboration with academic institutions, civil society and the private sector should: 
  1. increase investments in public and private research and development, and in national and international research systems to support programmes in agroecological and other innovative approaches, including to improve technologies; 
  2. develop and support transdisciplinary research conducted through innovation platforms that foster co-learning between practitioners and researchers, and horizontal dissemination of experience among practitioners (e.g. farmer-to-farmer networks, communities of practice and agroecological lighthouses)
24 July 2019. Evaluating the Multidimensional Performance of Agroecology
A tool has been developed to support agroecological transitions, at different scales and in different locations, through informed policy-making processes. 
  • It consolidates information on the impact of agroecological approaches, and aims to produce evidence on the performance of agroecological systems across the environmental, social and cultural, economic, health and nutrition, and governance dimensions of sustainability. 
  • It is complemented by a guidance framework for reviewing policy options for agroecology and to assist policymakers in assessing the multi-dimensional impacts of agroecological production systems.

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Tracking progress on food and agriculture-related SDG indicators

18 July 2019, Rome - The world is off-track to meet most of the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) targets linked to hunger, food security and nutrition, according to a FAO report.
"The report paints a grim picture. Four years into the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, regression is the norm when it comes to ending hunger and rendering agriculture and the management of natural resources - be that on land or in our oceans - sustainable," said Pietro Gennari, FAO Chief Statistician.
"Being off-track when it comes to reaching core pillars of the SDGs unquestionably puts at risk the achievement of the entire 2030 Agenda, and makes our overarching goal of ensuring an economically, socially and environmentally sustainable future for our planet and for present and future generations less attainable," said FAO Deputy Director-General for Climate and Natural Resources Maria Helena Semedo.
In the first report of its kind, FAO analysed, in a visual way, major global trends and data from up to 234 countries and territories on 18 indicators of four SDGs (2, 6, 14 and 15) under the UN agency's custodianship.

The report puts forward a number of recommendations aimed at reversing these worsening trends.
  1. First, many of the problems mentioned above would probably be less acute if there was sufficient investment in the agricultural sector (including fishery and forestry). However, the report finds that public expenditure in agriculture has been declining with respect to its contribution to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). In particular, the Sub-Saharan African region and Oceania (excluding Australia and New Zealand) registered the lowest relative values of public investment in agriculture.
  2. Promoting productivity growth and strengthening the resilience and adaptive capacity of small-scale food producers is also critical to reversing the trend of rising hunger and reducing the number of people living in extreme poverty, the report stresses.
  3. Price anomalies contributed to undermining people's access to food and nutritional status in many developing countries. These could be addressed by improving information on prices and on food supply and demand of basic food stuffs, allowing markets to function more efficiently.
  4. Improvements in water productivity and irrigation in agriculture and reduced losses in municipal distribution networks, industrial and energy cooling processes are among the main issues to be tackled when it comes to water stress.
  5. Finally, all countries need to urgently implement transformational changes in fishery management and governance. This would also have a positive economic impact: overall, rebuilding overfished stocks could increase annual fishery production by 16.5 million tonnes and annual revenues from fishing by $32 billion.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Appointment of Interim Chairperson of FARA

Accra, Ghana 11 July 2019 
The Board of Directors and Management of the Forum forAgricultural Research in Africa (FARA) announce the appointment of Dr. Alioune Fall as the new Chairperson ad interim of FARA, effective July 2, 2019. Dr. Fall was elected the Vice-Chairperson of FARA for a three-year term by the General Assembly of FARA at its 7th sitting in Kigali, Rwanda on 16th June 2016.  He succeeds Dr. Ephraim Amiani Mukisira (MBS, OGW).  The Board and Management of FARA gratefully acknowledge Dr. Mukisira’s inspirational and steadying leadership.  He skillfully steered the organisation through its most testing period.

Dr. Alioune Fall is currently the Director General of Senegal’s national Institute for Agricultural Research (ISRA).  He holds a Master of Science (MSc) degree in Agriculture from the Sam Houston State University, Texas, United States, and a Doctorate degree (PhD) in Agricultural Engineering from Michigan State University, United States. His specializations are in Technology and Agricultural Innovation Management Systems (modeling, artificial intelligence); Agricultural Research Management; Research Evaluation; Post-harvest Technology and Mechanization.

Dr. Fall’s career in research spans three and a half decades. He joined ISRA in 1984 as a researcher and rose quickly to become Regional Coordinator of Farm Mechanization and Post-harvest Technology projects.  Upon completion of his PhD, he was appointed National Coordinator of the Post-harvest Technology programme.

Between 2000 and 2008, Dr. Fall was the Director of the Agricultural Research Centre of Saint-Louis. In 2002, he became the National Coordinator of the CORAF Research Hub on Irrigation Systems. During that period, he was actively involved in the harmonization of the rating systems and evaluation of researchers and university lecturers, for the entry of ISRA into the African and Malagasy Council for Higher Education (CAMES). He also participated in negotiations with the Government of Senegal on the regulations to make ISRA more effective. He was instrumental in the establishment of a consultation platform for Presidents of Universities and Directors of Research Institutes in West Africa to break down silos at national and international levels. He chaired this platform from 2014 to 2016.

Dr Fall served as the Scientific Director of ISRA from 2008 to 2013 when he was appointed the Director General. He served as the Chairperson of CORAF’s Board of Directors from 2014 to 2018. He has been a member of the CIRAD Scientific Council since August 2016 and was appointed Chairperson of the Council by Decree of the French Minister of Agriculture in February 2018. In 2017, he was elected Chairperson of the Korea-Africa Food and Agriculture Cooperation Initiative (KAFACI) which brings together 23 African countries in bilateral cooperation with South Korea.
In 2009, he was elected President of the Senegalese Association of Agricultural Engineers. Dr. Fall was made Knight of the Order of Agricultural Merit of France in 2017. He was also awarded Knight of the National Order of the Lion (Senegal) in 2018.  He is the author and co-author of several publications in the fields of agriculture and agribusiness.

Please join us in welcoming Dr. Fall as he takes up this challenging task at a very important phase of the organization’s lifecycle.

Sourced from: FARA Africa 

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World.

15 July 2019.  New York. A special side event at the meeting of the high-level political forum on sustainable development in 2019 convened under the auspices of the Economic and Social Council launched The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2019 report, presenting the latest estimates for food insecurity, hunger and malnutrition at global and regional levels.

The report’s findings are an important yardstick to measure the world’s progress towards achieving Sustainable Development Goal 2 Zero Hungry by 2030. The event was co-organized by FAO, IFAD, WFP, WHO and UNICEF.
The report: what’s new?
  • First-time release of the estimates and related findings of the new indicator, the prevalence of food insecurity at moderate and severe levels. Going beyond hunger, this indicator captures more moderate constraints on food access that likely affect the quality of the diet
  • Greater focus on overweight and obesity, including child overweight and adult obesity, to better understand the different dimensions of these big nutrition challenges of our times. 
  • In-depth themed analysis on the impacts of economic slowdowns and downturns on food security and nutrition that unpacks how these impacts are shaped by the root causes of hunger and malnutrition: poverty, inequality and marginalization.
An estimated 820 million people did not have enough to eat in 2018, up from 811 million in the previous year, which is the third year of increase in a row. This underscores the immense challenge of achieving the Sustainable Development Goal of Zero Hunger by 2030, says a new edition of the annual The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World report.

The pace of progress in halving the number of children who are stunted and in reducing the number of babies born with low birth weight is too slow, which also puts the SDG 2 nutrition targets further out of reach, according to the report.

Slow progress in Africa and Asia
The situation is most alarming in Africa, as the region has the highest rates of hunger in the world and which are continuing to slowly but steadily rise in almost all subregions.
  • In Eastern Africa in particular, close to a third of the population (30.8 percent) is undernourished. In addition to climate and conflict, economic slowdowns and downturns are driving the rise. Since 2011, almost half the countries where rising hunger occurred due to economic slowdowns or stagnation were in Africa.
  • The largest number of undernourished people (more than 500 million) live in Asia, mostly in southern Asian countries. Together, Africa and Asia bear the greatest share of all forms of malnutrition, accounting for more than nine out of ten of all stunted children and over nine out of ten of all wasted children worldwide. In southern Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, one child in three is stunted.
  • In addition to the challenges of stunting and wasting, Asia and Africa are also home to nearly three-quarters of all overweight children worldwide, largely driven by consumption of unhealthy diets.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Donor-private sector partnerships (DPPs)

8 July 2019. An Oxfam International Briefing Paper, Faith is not enough: ensuring that aid donor-private sector partnerships contribute to sustainable development assesses donor-private sector partnerships (DPPs) of key donors (USA, France and the EU, pages 26-33) based on a framework with 6 components:
  1. Demonstration of sustainable development objectives;
  2. Demonstration of additionality;
  3. Adherence to aid and development effectiveness principles;
  4. Respecting mandatory and voluntary standards for private sector operations;
  5. Demonstration of due diligence and risk management;
  6. Provision of sound monitoring and evaluation processes.
Although the main focus is not on agricultural partnerships, four agricultural partnerships were assessed (Netherlands' project for roses in Ethiopia, the IDH Cocoa Programme, Tim Horton's Coffee Partnership in Brazil, Guatemala, Honduras and Colombia, and Turning avacado waste into green energy, pages 41-43). The briefing also includes a short review of the agricultural partnerships in a textbox (p. 33):
An Oxfam assessment of DPPs in agriculture found all of the partnerships focus primarily on commercializing value chains to promote food security or support private sector development and growth. The review questioned the extent to which these DPPs define their development objectives in terms of final impacts on poverty reduction, food security, inequality, gender equality and environmental sustainability. All programmes and partnerships looked at the number of jobs created, number of farmers taking credit and so forth (quantitative data), without however looking sufficiently at impacts on poverty, gender or inequality (qualitative data). The most commercially viable small-holders were more likely to attract investment than those operating on the margins, who are unlikely to attract private investors, even with ODA or other public de-risking. These marginalized small-holders, more often women than men, are likely to be left further behind, potentially increasing income and gender inequality.
The paper was written by former Oxfam International Policy Advisor Hilary Jeune, and draws on research carried out for Oxfam in 2016 and 2017 by Shannon Kindornay and Claire Godfrey.

Expert Talk Inclusive transformation of rural Africa

11 July 2019. GIZ Eschborn + Bonn. Key recommendations of the EU Task Force Rural Africa

To strengthen the EU’s partnership with Africa, President Jean-Claude Juncker announced in his 2018 State of the Union speech a new ‘Africa-Europe Alliance for Sustainable Investment and Jobs’. To operationalize the suggested actions of this alliance a group of African and European experts - the Task Force Rural Africa (TFRA) – was tasked to propose concrete solutions for a positive rural transformation and an inclusive and sustainable agriculture and agri-food sector.

In March 2019, the Task Force published its landmark report, an agri-food and rural agenda for the new ‘Africa-Europe Alliance’, which proposes four strategic areas of action: job creation, climate action, sustainable transformation of African agriculture and development of the African food industry and markets.

This event discussed the key recommendations of the report with the German TFRA members Prof. Christine Wieck and Albert Engel and reflect on the opportunities for German development cooperation in the implementation of the proposed actions.
  • Marc Nolting, Head of Unit Fundamentals for a Rural Future and Nutrition, Welcome and introductory remarks
  • Tobias Gerster, Head of Department Cross regional & Horn of Africa, GIZ
TFRA expert presentations
  • Insights on the proposed Africa-Europe Agenda for inclusive rural transformation - Albert Engel, member of the Task Force Rural Africa, Head of Evaluation Unit
  • Insights on Agricultural Trade & Finance - Christine Wieck, member of the Task Force Rural Africa, Head of Department Agricultural and Food Policy at the Hohenheim University
Discussion: Relevance of the report - why it is important for our work
  • Inge Baumgarten, Head of GIZ Liaison Office to the African Union, OE 1700 
  • Uli Sabel-Koschella, Head of Unit Agricultural Supply Chains, OE 1720
  • Christel Weller-Molongua, Head of Division Rural Development and Agriculture, G500
More information

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Gates on CGIAR, feeding our future

9 July 2019. By Bill Gates. Never heard of CGIAR? You’re not alone. It’s an organization that defies easy brand recognition. For starters, its name is often mistaken for “cigar,” suggesting a link to the tobacco industry. And it doesn’t help that CGIAR is not a single organization, but a network of 15 independent research centers, most referred to by their own confusing acronyms.

The list includes CIFOR, ICARDA, CIAT, ICRISAT, IFPRI, IITA, ILRI, CIMMYT, CIP, IRRI, IWMI, and ICRAF, leaving the uninitiated feeling as if they’ve fallen into a bowl of alphabet soup.

A great example of a CGIAR innovation helping smallholder farmers adapt to climate change is its drought-tolerant maize program. More than 200 million households in sub-Saharan Africa depend on maize for their livelihoods. Maize productivity in Africa is already the lowest in the world. And as weather patterns have become more erratic, farmers are at greater risk of having smaller maize harvests, and sometimes no harvest at all.

In response to this challenge, CGIAR’s International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center or CIMMYT, with funding from our foundation, USAID and the Howard Buffett Foundation, developed more than 150 new maize varieties that could withstand drought conditions. Each variety is adapted to grow in specific regions of Africa. At first, many smallholder farmers were afraid of trying new crop varieties instead of more commonly planted ones. But as CIMMYT worked with local farmers and seed dealers to share the benefits of these new varieties, more and more farmers adopted drought tolerant maize. The results have been life changing for many farming families.

3 July 2019. News release from ICARDA. The heat-wave in Europe poses a significant threat to wheat production across the continent. If a heat-wave like the one recorded these days was to occur 1 month earlier, at the end of May, when the Northern European wheats are in full bloom, it could cause up to 50 percent yield loses, a devastating blow to the European agriculture and food sectors that could cost billions of Euros.

Monday, July 8, 2019

Agriculture Nutrition and Health Academy Week

24 - 29 June 2019. Hyderabad, India. 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.

The ANH Academy Week consists of two interlinked components:
  1. Learning Labs - a series of training sessions in interdisciplinary agriculture, nutrition and health research;
  2. Research Conference - an abstract-driven symposium featuring oral presentations, poster sessions and keynotes speeches, as well as plenary round tables, side events and working group discussions.
The ANH Academy builds on the successful legacy of five agri-health research conferences organised in London by the Leverhulme Centre for Integrative Research on Agriculture and Health (LCIRAH); as well as ongoing events and activities coordinated under the CGIAR Research Program on Agriculture for Nutrition and Health (A4NH), which is led by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).

The first ANH Academy Week took place in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in June 2016. (Read more and access resources).

Extracts of the programme:
Agri-food Tools for Research
A new modelling tool – Agri-food - for supporting nutrition-sensitive agriculture decision-making has been developed. It applies Multi Criteria Decision Analysis to compare a range of food combinations that could be promoted for consumption and/or production within nutrition or agriculture programmes. 

The tool compares the consequences of promoting these different food combinations across a range of agricultural, gender, gender, nutrition, environmental and economic indicators that are chosen and ranked by stakeholders . 

The analysis identifies options likely to have the most favourable impact across indicators, taking stakeholder priorities into account. Risks that may need to be considered when planning a programme are also identified.

System Dynamics in Researching Markets for Nutrition
System dynamics provides a powerful set of intuitive visually-based modelling tools to capture complex agriculture-nutrition linkages with associated ‘what-if’ scenarios. This lab presented the concepts, terms and rationale of systems dynamics at an introductory level; enabling the participants to develop systems communication tools like “causal-loop” and “stock and flow” diagrams. Inspired by a practical example from the Market Intervention for Nutritional Improvement (MINI) project (BMFG and UK DfID), the second half of the session guided the participants through the construction and simulation of a simple systems model using the online platform ‘InsightMaker’.

Impact of input subsidies on household food availability in rural Zambia: A gendered perspective
To enhance household food security in rural Zambia, it is more beneficial to target households with female primary decision makers. Even better, it is imperative to empower women to participate in agricultural decision-making.

Impact of women’s empowerment policies on nutrition outcomes in Kenya 

The paper provides evidence supporting the importance of achievement and access to opportunities for women on the nutritional status of the mothers and their children. The study also shows the benefit of reducing the gender gap and empowering women for improving the nutritional status of households. The paper reflects on the circumstances under which women’s empowerment policies can deliver on nutrition outcomes.

Understanding empowerment among informal milk traders in peri-urban Nairobi: Informing
an adaptation of the project-level Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index
Examples of the adaptations are including specific assets needed by milk vendors (including licenses), changing questions about productive decisions to focus on those related to the milk business, and adding a module on entrepreneurial psychology.

Implementation of healthy food environment policies in Ghana: Gaps and priorities to prevent nutrition-related non-communicable diseases 
The first such NCD (non-communicable diseases) policy appraisal in West Africa, this study identified important gaps in implementation of key policies to promote healthy FE (food environments), compared with international best practices. These findings support current calls to improve the FE, but also asserts the feasibility of deploying the Food-EPI (Healthy Food-Environment Policy Index ) methodology in Africa.

Does Malawi’s Farm Input Subsidy Programme (FISP) improve dietary diversity? 
The quantitative and qualitative analyses from our surveys, key informant interviews, and focus group discussions suggest no impact of the FISP on food choices and dietary diversity in any significant way. The interviews and focus group discussions raise several issues relating to policy implementation that may help explain this lack of impact.

Has the provision of legume seeds subsidies affected dietary diversity? Evidence from Malawi’s
Farm Input Subsidy Programme (FISP)
Farming systems in Malawi dominated by maize production are supported with government input subsidies, which translates into consumption of calorie-dense foods associated with nutrient deficiencies. Since 2009, legumes are subsidized to diversify production and consumption of foods available.

Sustainability of community-level approaches to nutrition-sensitive
agriculture: A case study from Cote d’Ivoire
Gardening was found more sustainable than poultry rearing due to building on an activity with which women had expertise and saw as within their domain. In contrast, poultry rearing was poorly suited to collective production due to limited knowledge and mortality problems. Moreover, the lucrative nature of poultry production made it prone to capture by men at women’s expense; this was exacerbated by low literacy that made it difficult for women to manage an enterprise without male support.

Livestock ownership, not maize production, is associated with maternal anemia in malaria endemic rural low-income settings in Ethiopia
Livestock ownership, particularly chicken domestication in the household, was associated with higher mean hemoglobin concentration. Furthermore, maize cultivation could also potentially aggravate malaria transmission, particularly if malaria prevention activities are weak.

Biomarkers of aflatoxin exposure, diet, climate and children’s growth in rural Ethiopia
There has been growing recognition that aflatoxins are associated with impaired linear growth of children. To date, the relationship between aflatoxin (AF) biomarkers in serum and child growth in Ethiopia has not been investigated. We assessed children’s exposure to AF in pre-harvest and post-harvest seasons using serum biomarkers and tested the association of their exposure with the linear growth. Further, the importance of diet is recognized (maize is more prone to aflatoxins than other cereals) as is that of climate, as fungi thrive better under humid and high-temperature conditions.

Seasonality of serum aflatoxin levels (AFB1) in pregnancy and early childhood in a longitudinal cohort study in Banke, Nepal

This study indicates a high occurrence of aflatoxin exposure during pregnancy and in the first year of life in infants from this region of Nepal. Further, seasonality has a significant relationship with higher levels being observed in the winter months in both mothers and infants. We postulate that the level of exposure and its relationship with health outcomes may be modulated by seasonality. This relationship needs to be considered in any analysis to ascertain the role of aflatoxin in modulating health outcomes such as linear growth and/or in strategies aiming to mitigate aflatoxin in the food system.

Smartphone based point-of-use determination of aflatoxin in peanuts to ensure safety

Food Away from Home in Nigeria: Consumption, Drivers and Nutritional Implications of Within-Day Meals
Advancing consumption of FAFH may mean less availability of iron and calcium for households. Taking breakfast or lunch AFH seems to hold little consequence for daily calories, proteins and fat consumed by households while side-dishes and dinner AFH may trigger nontrivial divergence.

Food-based recommendations to improve dietary adequacy of women living in pastoral and
agro-pastoral zones of Turkana, Kenya 
Many developing countries are yet to develop food-based dietary guidelines that can be adopted at local or national level. More research aimed at understanding dietary patterns of different population groups is required to facilitate development of feasible FBRs.

Friday, July 5, 2019

The Seventh All Africa Conference on Animal Agriculture (7th AACAA) - Jul 29 - Aug 2, 2019

July 5, 2019; Accra, Ghana:
The All Africa Conference on Animal Agriculture (AACAA) is the main mechanism through which the AASAP objective is met – i.e. providing a forum for stakeholders – professionals and other practitioners – to get together and share views on issues germane to animal agriculture. The AACAA is held every four years. The theme of each such conference is chosen based on felt needs at the time. The theme of the 7th AACAA – to be held in Ghana from, July 29 – August 2, 2019 – is: Innovations to Harness the Potential of African Animal Agriculture in a Globalizing World. The key words in this theme are secure future, innovations and globalizing world.

The All Africa Society for Animal Production (AASAP) is an association of individuals, groups and institutions which have interest in the art, science and practice of animal sciences relevant for animal agriculture. These include animal nutrition and feeding, genetics and breeding, health, welfare, and other aspects of husbandry. The AASAP is a member of the World Association of Animal Production (with its secretariat in Rome). The main objective of AASAP is to facilitate the use of technical, policy and institutional innovations to address current and emerging challenges of African animal agriculture through engagement of communities of practitioners in Africa and beyond.

Agriculture in Africa generally, and animal agriculture specifically, is at crossroads. There are persistent food shortages arising from rapidly increasing human population, amidst the inability of the continent to significantly increase productivity. This is being compounded by a host of other trends: globalization, agricultural policy and associated impacts particularly on small producers with limited abilities to compete in input and output markets, urbanization and the ageing farming community, climate change and its complex relationships with crop and animal agriculture, and low investments in agriculture.

With a focus on animal agriculture (including aquaculture), the 7th AACAA will provide an opportunity for research and development stakeholders of animal agriculture in Africa to discuss the current as well as emerging opportunities and challenges arising from these major trends and suggest potential actions to harness the opportunities and to address them.  The conference will also examine how the continent’s animal agriculture can increase its private sector engagement – through public-private sector partnerships. In this context, the conference will examine ways to leverage private sector investments through strategic national, bilateral and multilateral financing of livestock and fisheries/aquaculture research and development that also targets youth and women – whose engagement represents one of the major unexploited opportunities for the continent.

African Union to launch operational phase of the AfCFTA at Summit in Niger

“It goes without saying that the most emblematic of the flagship projects of Agenda 2063 is the African Continental Free Trade Area, AfCFTA. The AfCFTA has the ambition…… in the final analysis, to establish a continental market. The idea goes back to 1963, with the establishment of an African Economic Community.”– African Union Commission (AUC) Chairperson Mr Moussa Faki Mahamat, speaking at the official opening ceremony of the 35th Ordinary Session of the Executive Council in Niamey’’.

Niamey, Niger 4 July 2019- The African Union will launch the operational phase of the AfCFTA on the 7th of this month in Niamey, at an Extraordinary Summit of Heads of State and Government. Mr Moussa Faki Mahamat Chairperson of the AUC hailed the upcoming launch as a “remarkable” and “historic” achievement. The launch will be part of a series of statutory and technical meetings were held in the Nigerien capital from the 4th to the 8th, which also includes the 8 July first coordination meeting between the AU and the Regional Economic Communities (RECs).
The launch of the AfCFTA follows the coming into force of the trade area on the 30th of May, after the deposit of the required minimum of 22 ratifications by member states of the AU. Since then three more instruments of ratification have been deposited, bringing the total number of countries that have ratified the AfCFTA to 25.

With the launch of the operational phase from July 2019, traders across Africa will be able to make use of preferential trading arrangements offered by the AfCFTA, with the understanding that the trade transactions are among the Member States that have deposited the instruments of ratification and those that conform to the provisions on rules of origin governing trade in the AfCFTA.”
It is also expected that at the launch, to be held at Heads of State and Government level, “The Assembly will decide on the location of the Secretariat of the AfCFTA which will have the principal function of implementing the agreement. Seven member states Egypt, Eswatini, Ethiopia, Kenya, Ghana, Madagascar and Senegal have submitted bids to host the secretariat.
During his opening remarks, Mr. Mahamat also reiterated the commitment of the AUC to work in close cooperation with the Permanent Representatives Committee, to strengthen the implementation of programmes, and to take immediate measures to ensure the recommendations of the internal and external auditors are implemented and enforced.

On a broader level, the African Union meeting in Niamey is considering other issues under the institutional reform programme that will allow the Union to achieve the vision and goals of its Agenda 2063 development framework. In its two-day session from 4th to 5th July, the Executive Council will consider and adopt the African Union’s budget for 2020 and the legal instruments pertaining to the African Union Development Agency (formerly known as NEPAD), as well as reviewed the proposed new organisational structure of the AU Commission which is to be finalised by February 2020.

The Council will elect four board members of the African Union Advisory Board on Corruption (AUABC) and prepare the draft agenda and decisions for the 12th Extraordinary Assembly that will launch the AfCFTA. Additionally, it will discuss the scale of contributions to the AU Peace Fund. The Chairperson of the Commission announced that US$120 million out of the expected US$400 million for the Peace Fund has so far been received, and he expressed the Commission’s appreciation to member states for their contributions.

The Executive Council will also review the preparations for the 1st mid-year coordination meeting between the African Union and the Regional Economic Communities (RECs). In line with the Institutional Reforms agenda which recommended the rationalisation of the number of meetings held by the AU, a decision was made to have one summit per year, and a coordination meeting mid-year, instead of the previous two summits per year, in order to ensure the efficient implementation of AU summit outcomes and decisions. As this will be the first such meeting, discussions will centre on the drafting of the rules of procedure, drafting proposals on the division of labour between the AU, RECs and member states, and revision of the protocol on relations between the AU and the RECs.
Today’s opening ceremony was presided over by Mr Sameh Shoukry, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Arab Republic of Egypt in his role as the Chairperson of the Executive Council, and was addressed by Niger’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Cooperation, African Integration and Nigeriens Abroad, Mr Kalla Ankourao. Their statements are available at

For additional information on the meeting: Mrs Wynne Musabayana, Head of Communication; African Union Commission; E-mail:
For interviews: Mr. Molalet Tsedeke; Directorate of Information and Communication; AU Commission; Tel: 0911- 630631; Email: