Platform for African – European Partnership in Agricultural Research for Development

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Realizing the potential of digital development: The case of agricultural advice

Raissa Fabregas, Michael Kremer, Frank Schilbach (December 2019Realizing the potential of digital development: The case of agricultural advice

Meta-analyses suggest that the transmission of agricultural information through mobile technologies in sub-Saharan Africa and India increased yields by 4% and the odds of adoption of recommended agrochemical inputs by 22%.

The delivery of market information can have additional system-wide impacts, reducing price dispersion and lowering transaction costs. Given the low and rapidly declining cost of information transmission, benefits likely exceed costs by an order of magnitude. Even basic phones and inexpensive text and voice messages can influence farmer behavior. Smartphones with GPS systems create the potential for larger gains through the transmission of more sophisticated media, such as videos, and for locally customized information on soil characteristics, weather, and pest outbreaks, delivered at the appropriate time during the agricultural season.

Messages could be customized on the basis of farmer characteristics, such as education or financial circumstances. Experimentation, machine learning, and two-way communication with and between farmers could facilitate improvements of information and other services over time. Advances from behavioral science can improve information transmission and address behavioral barriers to the adoption of improved agricultural techniques. Mobile phone–based systems could increase the productivity and accountability of in-person extension agents and enhance supply chain functionality. Realizing the potential of digital agriculture will require an interdisciplinary effort to develop and rigorously test a variety of approaches, incorporating insights from behavioral science, agriculture, economics, and data science.
As smartphone use continues to expand, farmers will increasingly have the means to watch videos demonstrating new agricultural techniques or take pictures of pests affecting their crops and either request automatic identification and recommendations or raise questions with agronomists (30). Smartphones may also provide farmers access to interventions and apps that can enhance psychological well-being (31). Increased aspirations, grit, and improved mental health may boost farmer income by increasing investment and facilitating learning among farmers (3234).

Business models and key success drivers of agtech start-ups

This interpretative phenomenological research focuses on youth-led companies offering digital services to the agrifood sector in West Africa (analyses are relevant for Africa as a whole). Research questions were to understand the business models adopted by these start-ups; how their business models and business model innovation lead to business success; other key drivers that can support the achievement of success.

Besides desk research insights, and experts views, the research focuses on twelve start-ups (anonymised) offering services to agro-food customers and the value chain, using tools including mobile phones, drones, e-commerce platforms from seven countries, selected following a non-probability, purposive sampling technique, from finalists and winners of international competitions. They deploy different business models, serving business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-customers (B2C) clients. Business and policy issues they face have been discussed and analysed in details as well as strategies they are using in their pathways to success.

Recommendations to young start-ups and stakeholders interested in supporting them have been included.

Download a free copy on this page.

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

World Youth Forum

13-16 December 2019. Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt. A session of the third World Youth Forum (WYF) ‘Food Security in Africa: How do we achieve the second of the sustainable development goals (SDGs)’ discussed food security as a cornerstone for sustainable economic growth. The session shed light on nutritional behaviour, on obstacles hindering the achievement of food security, on nutrition improvement, reinforcement of sustainable agriculture, and the impact of conflicts, climate change and water scarcity on food security.
was entitled

Extract of the programme

15/12 Panel Discussion: Food Security in Africa: How Do We Achieve the 2nd Goal of the Sustainable Development Goals 
During the session, David Beasley, Executive Director of United Nations World Food Programme, highlighted the damage from human conflicts, climate change and terrorism in contributing to global hunger. 
“The number of chronically hungry people worldwide hit 821 million in 2018, up from 777 million three years earlier. The countries that suffer most from the risk of famine are Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen, as well as Nigeria’s northeast region. These countries and regions have been overwhelmed by conflict for years, forcing tens of millions to flee their homes. Disruption of lives impedes the production of food, thus causing famine and hunger.”
Director-General of the FAO, Xu Donyo said that hunger rates all over the globe were increasing due to undernourishment and absence of food security in Africa and the Middle East. 
"There are 1.6 billion young people in Africa who were under the age of 35. Those young people represented 85% of the continent's population meaning that Africa’s future was filled with opportunities for young adults who could work and produce food. Health rates are deteriorating among children and young people, due to the difficulties faced by families of the African continent. Several countries in the region were concerned about the health of young people but the countries where problems and conflicts were widespread, such as Syria and Somalia, did not care about their young people."
The Minister of Youth and Sports of Rwanda, Rose Mary Mobizi, said that countries must provide serious care as to how to maintain a balanced consumption of lunch, noting that food security is the most important security there is. 
"In order to achieve food security, we need to empower women, who constitute more than half of African society. In many African countries, there are many women who take over the management of the family, therefore we must provide them with the environment necessary to achieve food security. Rwanda seeks to support youth and provides special programmes for their participation in achieving food security in Rwanda and to support their working in agriculture. With “Every 1% increase in hunger there is a nearly 2% increase in migration.”
Ms. Laura Tabet (picture), Co-Founder and Project Manager at “Nawaya” Egypt, introduced the concept of ‘innovation desert’, as a way to make agriculture attractive to youth.

Jasmine Crowe is a docu-series producer and entrepreneur whose projects addressing hunger and poverty, and access to quality education have positively impacted vulnerable communities in more than 20 U.S. cities, the United Kingdom, and Haiti. Specifically, the Sunday Soul Homeless feeding initiative has successfully fed more than 50,000 and led to the founding of social technology enterprise Goodr in 2016. Under Jasmine’s leadership, Goodr has redirected more than 100,000 pounds of excess prepared foods — in addition to fresh fruits, vegetables, and other supplies — to communities in need since 2016.

13/12.Workshop International Food Security: Youth’s Initiatives for Action 
On December 13th the World Youth Forum’s (WYF) pre-forum workshops which were held before the forum’s official inauguration on December 14th, discussed several topics. Young people from different countries and backgrounds participated. Among these were ‘International Food Security: Youth’s Initiative for Action’, which discussed the right of all people at all times and in any place to have the right to physical, social, and economic access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food.

Session of the Union for the Mediterranean - Employment and youth in the Mediterranean region,  business development and entrepreneurial skills.
16 December 2019, Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt. The first Model UfM, which took place at the third edition of the World Youth Forum, engaged over 90 young people of 43 different nationalities from around the globe, allowing them to exchange views and recommend initiatives to decision-makers and influential figures. The event was attended by a wide range of participants that debated key topics for their generation around the globe namely employment and climate change, in a simulation of UfM Ministerial Conferences.

The topics covered during the forum are considered transversal in all of UfM’s endeavours, as Youth in the MENA region has reached 60% of the population, and the Mediterranean region is warming at an alarming rate of 20% faster than the global average, as presented recently in the first-ever scientific report on the impact of climate and environmental change in the Mediterranean region. The UfM collaborated with the World Youth Forum, and interacted with key actors on youth, with the aim of promoting the role of young people in societies in the Euro-Mediterranean region, as well as to complement the ongoing process to develop the UfM Youth Strategy.
  • In their Declaration on Environment and Climate Change, the youth delegates voiced the need of better regional cooperation and integration to tackle climate change by providing opportunities for the development of a circular economic model as well as blue and green financing. In line with this, they called for better training for the younger generations that will take into account the constraints imposed by climate change for the region. Fostering innovation and building a regional partnership to develop agriculture in order to mitigate climate change was another priority put forward as well as concrete proposals to better manage recycling and plastic reduction.
  • In the Declaration on Employment and Labour, youth delegates stressed the urgent need to create jobs for women and youth, foster entrepreneurship and develop cross-border projects in the Mediterranean, in order to equip youth with the future skills that will be required in the time of technological innovation and a rapidly changing job market. They called for more resources to develop and support start-ups and to help young entrepreneurs to get their businesses off the ground.

Netflix-inspired tools can reap rewards for farmers

8 December 2019. Precision Agriculture for Development (PAD) co-founder and board member, Michael Kremer, is a 2019 Nobel Laureate for Economic Sciences.

In announcing the award, the Nobel Committee stated that Michael Kremer and his co-laureates Esther Duflo and Abhijit Banerjee have “considerably improved our ability to fight global poverty. In just two decades, their new experiment-based approach has transformed development economics, which is now a flourishing field of research”.

Michael Kremer delivered his Prize Lecture on Sunday 8 December 2019, at the Aula Magna, Stockholm University. He was introduced by Professor Torsten Persson, member of the Economic Sciences Prize Committee.

Scientific Background on the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel 2019 UNDERSTANDING DEVELOPMENT AND POVERTY ALLEVIATION (45 pages)

"Social scientists have an important role to play for scaling up innovations"

"The Nobel prize will contribute to a 50 million USD fund to benefit strong researchers and institutions in the developing countries on the Experimental Approach to advance science and inform policies to address poverty and develop and scale innovative solutions 
to address human needs"

"We need also innovation in the Funding institutions"

The video starts @ Kremers' mentioning Development Innovation Ventures (DIV)


Precision Agriculture for Development
Precision Agriculture for Development (PAD) is a global non-profit organization that harnesses technology, data science and behavioral economics to provide targeted information to empower farmers in developing countries to improve their lives.
  • Listen in to the  CEO, Owen Barder, and co-founder, Michael Kremer, discuss PAD’s use of mobile technology to empower smallholder farmers with actionable information on the BBC’s Digital Planet program.
Development Innovation Ventures (DIV) is USAID’s open innovation program that tests and scales creative solutions to any global development challenge: by investing in breakthrough innovations driven by rigorous evidence.
  • SPOUTS of Water: Affordable, Locally-Manufactured Ceramic Water Filters - South Sudan, Uganda $150,000 Funds Raised
    SPOUTS of Water has been producing and distributing over 45,000 ceramic water filters to Uganda and South Sudan since February 2015. The factory in Uganda is currently producing around 2,000 filters each month under full operations. With financial support, it hopes to increase production and sales to over 3,000 filters each month.
  • One Acre Fund Financing and Services for Smallholder Farmers. One Acre Fund is a social enterprise that supplies financing and training to help smallholders grow their way out of hunger and build lasting pathways to prosperity. They offer a complete bundle of services, using a market-based model that helps One Acre remain financially sustainable and expand to reach more and more farmers every year.
  • myAgro: Mobile Layaway for Smallholder Farmers. myAgro's mobile layaway platform enables smallholder farmers to save for seed and fertilizer purchases during the planting season when they have the greatest need for cash. When a farmer buys a myAgro card, a text message with the card’s code and amount is sent to myAgro’s database, and myAgro allocates the amount to the farmer’s account.
  • Essmart (India) has reached over 60,000 rural customers through the commercialization of life-changing technologies. By visiting a local village retail shop, rural households learn about new products that address many of their needs. By purchasing one of these products, they are able to reap that product’s benefits. For example, customers that purchase a solar lantern are able to generate significant cost savings on kerosene, which often account for up to 30% of their monthly income. Customers that purchase a water filter are able to reduce their chances of waterborne illnesses, therefore improving their health and reducing the cost of medical care. Customers that purchase an improved biomass cookstove are able to reduce their fuel consumption and breath easier when cooking.
12 December 2019. (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - What does online streaming giant Netflix have in common with smallholder farmers? Both can benefit from sharing data, according to one of this year's Nobel prize winners.

Much as entertainment service Netflix bases recommendations on what viewers have watched, mobile phone-based tools could be used to mine information from some of the world's poorest farmers in return for customised advice.
"The growth in mobile phone use means such crowd-sourced information could be easily distributed, helping small farmers improve yields. Some of the real gains from this will come from customisation. If you can customise information so farmers are getting information on the weather for their particular local area, for the crops they grow, if there's an outbreak of a pest ... you can start to see some of the potential.Michael Kremer, co-winner of the 2019 Nobel in economic sciences.
A rush of innovation aimed at helping the smallholder farmers who provide most of the world's food has seen the development of a range of phone-based agricultural advice tools by governments, companies, and non-profit organisations.

Farmers who use the services see their yields raise by an average of about 4% - and technology developments will make them even more effective, predicted Kremer and two co-authors in a research paper published in the journal Science on Thursday.

The services could also offer a chance to gather information for far-flung and disparate smallholders which highlight shared issues or opportunities, they said, and allow the tools' creators to hone their advice in response. Farmers could be incentivised by the offer of advice tailored to the information they send, said the paper.
"A farmer who reports a bug attacking their crops could be used to warn other farmers and create a map of the infestation. The spread of digital advice tools is growing rapidly and could have a real impact on small farmers. There's two billion people who live in households engaged in smallholder farming – almost a third of humanity and two thirds of the world's poor. Right now, the number of people who are reached is a small fraction of the potential. There is a lot of interest and a lot of growth in this area because more and more of the farmers have phones and more and more will have smartphones over time."
Further readings:
  • Raissa Fabregas, Michael Kremer, Frank Schilbach (December 2019) Realizing the potential of digital development: The case of agricultural advice
  • Banerjee, AV, E Duflo and M Kremer (2016), ‘The influence of randomized controlled trials on development economics research and on development policy’, in The State of Economics, The State of the World, conference at the World Bank.
  • Banerjee and Duflo (2011)  Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way to Fight Global Poverty
  • Duflo, Esther, Michael Kremer and Jonathan Robinson. (2011). “Nudging Farmers to Use Fertilizer: Theory and Experimental Evidence from Kenya.” American Economic Review 101(6): 2350-2390
  • Duflo, Esther, Michael Kremer and Jonathan Robinson. (2008). “How High Are Rates of Return to Fertilizer? Evidence from Field Experiments in Kenya.” American Economic Review 98(2): 482-488. 
Further presentations

After a short introduction, the lecture begins at 1:45. Field experiments and the practice of policy.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Cassava post-harvest technology

12 December 2019. The Natural Resources Institute (NRI) of the University of Greenwich hasdevice developed by a Nigerian on the transformation of the cassava value chain development and other crops in Africa. The technology, ‘flash dryer’ dries agricultural products such as yam, cassava, potato and other granulated food commodities for elongated shelf life.
recognized a local technological

Mr Idowu Adeoya of Nobex Technical Company Limited, who came up with the innovation, specialises in equipment for drying and roasting root and tuber crops.
“CAVA and CAVA2 really exposed us to international markets. We had not exported any equipment before CAVA,”
The project that propped up the improvement of the design by Nobex Technologies was an initiative of Cassava: Adding Value for Africa (CAVA), facilitated by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and executed through multiple partnerships.

 The device has been successfully exported to Benin, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Liberia, Malawi, Sierra Leone, Tanzania and Uganda, and Mr Adeoya attributed this success to the achievements of CAVA and CAVA2.

Sunday, December 15, 2019

The contrıbutıon of agroecologıcal approaches to realızıng clımate resılıent agrıculture

15 December 2019. Cairo, Egypt. Video interview with John D. Liu, Ecosystems Ambassador, Commonland Foundation.

After 15 years as a Television Producer and Cameraman for CBS News, RAI and ZDF John began to study ecology. In the mid-1990’s he began a participatory process with a number of media and broadcasting colleagues in Beijing.  In 2013 he received the Communications Award from the Society for Ecological Restoration (SER), “Green Gold” a film about his work produced by the VPRO won a Prix Italia award. “Hope in a Changing Climate” was named the best ecosystem film by the International Wildlife Film Festival and won several other honors.

He answers following questions:
  1. How important is ecological literacy compared to scientific knowledge on climate impact?
  2. What is needed for participatory research?
  3. What do you think about the Green deal launched by the European Commission?
  4. Can the young generation break with the path of their parents?
  5. How can agro-ecological restoration camps be supported?
  6. Agro-ecological restauration requires far more institutional collaboration?
"Ecological restoration is based on biodiversity, biomass and accumulated organic matter"

Related: Documentary of 2009: Hope in a Changing Climate. Begin of 2020 a follow up documentary will be broadcasted by the BBC - 10 years later 2019

Related: Sinclair, F., Wezel, A., Mbow, C., Chomba, S., Robiglio, V., and Harrison, R. 2019.  The contrıbutıon of agroecologıcal approaches to realızıng clımate resılıent agrıculture. 2019 Global Commission on Adaptation.Rotterdam and Washington, DC. 46 pages

This paper is part of a series of background papers commissioned by the Global Commission on Adaptation to inform its 2019 flagship report. This paper reflects the views of the authors, and not necessarily those of the Global Commission on Adaptation.

This background paper focuses on the role that agroecological approaches can play in making food systems more agile in adapting to climate change as planetary boundaries are reached and exceeded, with a focus on the field and the farm scales, but recognizing key interactions with the landscape and food system scales. It highlights how agroecological practices on farms can enable adaptation, and what is required to scale these up to levels capable of reconciling the UN Sustainable Development Goal 2 (SDG 2), to end hunger, with SDG 15, to do so while enhancing rather than further depleting natural capital.

Environmental and societal drivers have led to an increasing moralization of debates around food. On the one hand, this creates an imperative for policy makers to act and, on the other hand, makes it more difficult for policy to be based on evidence, as opposed to evaluation of competing convictions. Agroecological principles that underpin food system transitions include both normative elements (e.g., they should be equitable) and causative elements (e.g., more diverse farming systems are more resilient). It is necessary to clarify, on the one hand, the normative assertions that should underpin the transition to more resilient farming and, on the other, the causative mechanisms that can bring it about. This background paper explores these issues, highlighting scalable practices that enhance adaptive capacity of farms and the methods required for their successful scaling.

Finance to adapt: Making climate funding work for agriculture at the local level, ECDPM, September 2019The Green Climate Fund stands at a crucial point with the beginning of its second resource mobilisation: it must evaluate its progress in delivering adaptation and mitigation finance, and it should increase funding for agriculture.

1st Annual Conference of the Private Sector Development Research Network

12-13 December 2019. The first Annual Conference of the Private Sector Development Research
Network focuses on inclusive firms and markets and considers questions around characteristics of inclusive business, ways to measure impact, and ways to support inclusion by a range of actors.

This conference offered an opportunity to bring together staff of Development Finance Institutions (DFIs) and donor agencies involved in private sector development, with academics who study private firms and markets from the fields of economics (such as industrial organization, international trade and investment), finance, business and development studies.

Extract of the programme

Value Chains/Productivity/Growth 
  • Leonardo Iacovone and David McKenzie: Shortening Supply Chains: Experimental Evidence from Fruit and Vegetable Vendors in Bogota 
  • Elvis Avenyo, Maty Konte, and Pierre Mohnen: The employment impact of product innovations in sub Saharan Africa: Firm-level evidence 
  • Yanni Chen and Niraj H. Shah: Evaluating Impact of DFI Private Sector Investments Challenges and Opportunities (Global Agriculture and Food Security Program) 
Case studies/Selected topics on inclusion
  • Sarah Cummings, Bénédicte Gastineau, and Anastasia Seferiadis: Can We Measure Female Social Entrepreneurship?

Soy thresher fabrication workshop

18-25 November 2019. Wolkite, Ethiopia. Wolkite Polytechnic School. The Soybean Innovation Lab Mechanization Team trained 26 local equipment manufacturers and educators in thresher fabrication. The training was organized by the Ethiopian Emerging Technology Center (EETC), a division of the Ethiopian Biotechnology Institute (EBTI), under the leadership of Eyobel Gsenbet.

EETC is a federal agency mandated to research, adopt and transfer appropriate technological solutions to address and enhance the socio-economic development of the country. Their work includes research and development of technologies in manufacturing, electronics, nanotechnology, automation, and robotics. They have identified manufacturing in agricultural tools, such as crop threshers, as a vital technology for the development of the Ethiopian economy.
The thresher fabrication workshop was supported by the Feed the Future Ethiopia Value Chain Activity. Habtamu Tsegaye, Crop Value Chain Advisor for the organization, worked closely with EBTI to recruit participants including vocational skills educators, fabrication trainers, agriculture technology developers, and small and medium-sized technology manufacturing businesses. 

On the final day of the workshop, the Feed the Future Ethiopia Value Chain Activity and EBTI held a seminar involving all participants and interested parties including funders, local NGOs, USAID, media, Government of Ethiopia officials, agro-businesses, and farmer groups. The seminar provided a platform to inform the public of the capacity of Ethiopian businesses to provide thresher fabrication services. The SIL multi-crop thresher can process many crops including soybean, maize, millet, sorghum, rice, wheat, barley, beans, cowpeas, and pigeon peas.

Additional support for the fabrication training workshop came from the US-based ADM Cares, a philanthropic arm of ADM, which seeks to improve food security by reducing post-harvest loss globally. ADM Cares is partnering with the Soybean Innovation Lab to bring improved post-harvest technologies to multiple African countries.

Eating Tomorrow: Agribusiness, Family Farmers, and the Battle for the Future of Food

A major new book that shows the world already has the tools to feed itself, without expanding industrial agriculture or adopting genetically modified seeds, from the Small Planet Institute expert

Few challenges are more daunting than feeding a global population projected to reach 9.7 billion in 2050—at a time when climate change is making it increasingly difficult to successfully grow crops. In response, corporate and philanthropic leaders have called for major investments in industrial agriculture, including genetically modified seed technologies.

Reporting from Africa, Mexico, India, and the United States, Timothy A. Wise’s Eating Tomorrow discovers how in country after country agribusiness and its well-heeled philanthropic promoters have hijacked food policies to feed corporate interests.

Most of the world, Wise reveals, is fed by hundreds of millions of small-scale farmers, people with few resources and simple tools but a keen understanding of what and how to grow food. These same farmers—who already grow more than 70 percent of the food eaten in developing countries—can show the way forward as the world warms and population increases. Wise takes readers to remote villages to see how farmers are rebuilding soils with ecologically sound practices and nourishing a diversity of native crops without chemicals or imported seeds. They are growing more and healthier food; in the process, they are not just victims in the climate drama but protagonists who have much to teach us all.

13 December 2019. Big Ag and the Small-Scale African Farmer

“A big transition should be focused on soil. Focus on feeding the soil. This should be not a green revolution, but a brown revolution. That would be a climate adaptation and mitigation impact.”

High levels of mycotoxins in corn silage across the United States

Results from the 2019 Alltech Harvest Analysis
indicate high levels of mycotoxins in corn silage
across the United States. Photos courtesy of Alltech.
11 December 2019. The past year has presented some challenging weather in the United States, particularly in the Midwest with heavy rain, which has resulted in delayed and/or prevented planting in many areas. Extreme weather conditions and moisture levels can reduce yields and induce plant stress, and they can also lead to future issues for the crop, according to Alltech’s 2019 harvest analysis.

Some of the issues can include molds and mycotoxins. Increased moisture can allow Fusarium molds to flourish, producing a variety of mycotoxins that include deoxynivalenol (DON), fusaric acid, T-2, HT-2 and zearalenone (ZEN).

Mycotoxins are a concern for livestock producers, as they influence feed quality and animal safety. They are produced by certain species of molds and can have toxic properties that impact animal health and performance.

Mycotoxins are seldom found in isolation, and when multiple mycotoxins are consumed, they may have additive interactions that increase the overall risk to performance and health. As a result, an animal may have a stronger response than what would be expected if it was only experiencing a single mycotoxin challenge.

13 December 2019. Koppert Biological Systems (K) has won the tender to distribute Aflasafe- a chemical that is used to suppress aflatoxin in grains. The firm, headquartered in Netherlands with a subsidiary in Kenya, won the tender through competitive bidding conducted by Kenya Agricultural Livestock and Research Organisation (Kalro).

It is the first firm to win this tender following the official launch of the Aflasafe manufacturing plant in Machakos.
“We have won the tender and we will be charged with the responsibility of distributing Aflasafe across the country,” said Mr Charles Macharia, General Manager Koppert Biological Systems (Kenya).

@KoppertKenya was represented at the ongoing #Aflasafe4Africa Conference in Arusha, Tanzania. 
@MachaGituku was part of the panel "Scaling Innovations with Economic & Social Impact".

Thursday, December 12, 2019

15th RUFORUM Annual General Meeting (AGM)

2-6 December 2019. The 15th Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM) was held at the University of Cape Coast (UCC) in Ghana . It was the first AGM to be hosted in West Africa following RUFORUM’s strategic geographical expansion in 2014 to include Universities in Benin, Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, Liberia, Mali, Nigeria, Togo, Sierra Leone and Senegal. 

The 15th AGM ran under the theme: Delivering on Africa’s Universities Agenda for Higher Agricultural Education, Science, Technology and Innovation (AHESTI): What will it take?

The AGM is one of the key activities under Knowledge Hub programmatic pillar of the RUFORUM Vision 2030 strategy, which is also meant to be a vehicle for facilitating universities, stakeholders and key partners to synthesize emerging lessons and best practices, and to document and disseminate information, knowledge and innovations. The theme for this 15th AGM is “Delivering on Africa’s Universities Agenda for Higher Agricultural Education, Science, Technology and Innovation (AHESTI): What will it take?”. As such, the 15th AGM will highlight and deliberate on key developments within the network whilst exploring what it takes to deliver on the transformation of Africa through strengthening Agricultural Higher Education, Science, Technology and Innovation. 

The discussion focused on, but not limited to, the following specific objectives:
  1. Examine key issues in regards to Africa’s Universities Agenda for AHESTI
  2. Review and approve minutes of the 14th RUFORUM Annual General Meeting, held on 22 October 2018, at the University of Nairobi towers, Chandaria auditorium.
  3. Receive and approve reports for the Activity Year July 2018 – June 2019 and Annual Work plan and Budget for the Activity Year July 2019 – June 2020
  4. Provide a platform for networking opportunities and facilitate exchange of experiences, lessons and good practices with particular interest for the West African universities (an exhibition display by all West African universities)- making it a West African affairs
  5. Provide opportunity for scientists, researchers and students to present their work
  6. Advocate for policy engagement/ renewing/strengthening partnerships
  7. Recognize the contributions of the Government of Ghana to RUFORUM

Related: 25/11 Agricultural universities need greater investment – RUFORUM

South-South Cooperation, innovative partnerships for tackling food insecurity

25 November, Kampala, Uganda - Through South-South Cooperation, countries across the global South are successfully exchanging technical expertise and building innovative partnerships, which if strengthened, can continue to play a crucial role in the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.

This was the message a three-day event marking the 10th Anniversary of the FAO-China South-South Cooperation Programme and Triangular Cooperation.

Supported by China, the programme has benefited more than 70,000 people directly in 12 developing countries in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia. The theme of the 10th Anniversary event is "Inspiration, Inclusion and Innovation" as the programme reflects on its achievements and looks to the future.
"The success of the FAO-China South-South Cooperation Programme is not limited to technical transfer, capacity building and engagement of rural working women and youth through working together hand in hand," "What is even more noteworthy is its catalytic impact - inspiring other countries to join hands with FAO in the fight against food insecurity and malnutrition as well as poverty."Abebe Haile-Gabriel, FAO's Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for Africa.

European Green Deal: COP25 Press conference

12 December 2019. Becoming the world’s first climate-neutral continent by 2050 is the greatest European Green Deal, the most ambitious package of measures that should enable European citizens and businesses to benefit from sustainable green transition. Measures accompanied with an initial roadmap of key policies range from ambitiously cutting emissions, to investing in cutting-edge research and innovation, to preserving Europe’s natural environment.
challenge and opportunity of our times. To achieve this, the European Commission presented the

Supported by investments in green technologies, sustainable solutions and new businesses, the Green Deal can be a new EU growth strategy. Involvement and commitment of the public and of all stakeholders is crucial to its success.

Above all, the European Green Deal sets a path for a transition that is just and socially fair. It is designed in such a way as to leave no individual or region behind in the great transformation ahead.

European Commission video recordings:

Related: CGIAR COP25 side events
See all recorded side events @ COP25
Related: TIME's 2019 Person of the Year

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Africa-Europe cookbook

Africa-Europe cookbook
A selection of recipes from the two continents

Those who have had the privilege of travelling to our two continents have been struck by the vast diversity that can be observed in the culture and ways of living within Africa and Europe.This diversity is a source of richness. Without it, as human beings our lives would be significantly limited, less meaningful. Those who are engaged daily in the relationship between Africa and Europe see diversity as an attraction, not a challenge. It is our profound belief that diversity is something to celebrate and to build on, and it drives our commitment to this relationship.Culture in general and food in particular are essential elements of this diversity. When we travel, whether for leisure or business, most of us are keen to experience the local food and restaurants. 

If we did not it would almost feel as if our visit never happened.Food also has a unique ability to connect people, to make them feel closer. Complex negotiations and business deals always include a meal. It is on these occasions that trust, friendship and understanding are established. This applies also in our day to day work with our African friends and colleagues from the African Union. A relationship, to be sustainable and productive, requires enjoyment and appreciation of each other’s culture including food.This is the reason for this cookbook. This volume is a celebration of what unites all of us, from Lapland to Cape Agulhas: the necessity and the pleasure of food. Food as an expression of our cultural identities and as the epicentre of our social lives.To prepare this cookbook we have reached out to AU and EU Commissioners, AU and EU Member State Ambassadors and other colleagues involved in building the Europe-Africa relationship, based both in Addis Ababa and across Africa.

Side Events COP25 related to agriculture

CCAFS’ Deissy Martínez Barón @ #COP25: I
n order to #TransformFoodSystems we need to:
reroute our farming practices
+ de-risk farming & value chains
+ reduce emissions through diets & value chains
+ realing policies, finance & innovation.
2nd to the 13th of December. Madrid. Over 25,000 representatives from 200 countries converged in
the Climate Summit from the  to reach agreements and commitments between nations to fight against the effects of climate change.

For more information about the conference, visit the COP25 official webiste.

During COP25, CCAFS co-hosted and participated in over 15 side-events and activities.

Extracts of the programme


4 December. Raising ambition for climate action in agriculture: Agro-ecology and other place-based actions' potential

Organisers: FAO; Biovision Foundation for Ecological Development; CGIAR

This side-event drew out the questions of "the why and the how" to operate towards a transformational change of our food systems to more sustainable and resilient ones. The "why" focused on the scientific basis for a transformation in our food systems and outline options available to drive change. Thereafter, the side-event focus on the “how”, show-casing evidence, initiatives and highlighting challenges to scale-up available options.

It launched important findings and initiatives: 
  • Welcome by Juan Lucas Restrepo, Director General, Bioversity International
  • Ishmael Sunga, Chief Executive Officer, Southern African Confederation of Agricultural Unions (SACAU)
  • Dhanush Dinesh, Global Policy Engagement Manager, CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS)
  • Rachael McDonnell, Strategic Program Director, Water, Climate Change and Resilience, International Water Management Institute (IWMI)
  • Janie Rioux, Senior Agriculture and Food Security Specialist, Green Climate Fund (GCF)
  • Angela Falconer, Associate Director, Climate Policy Initiative (CPI)
  • Jamison Ervin, Manager, Nature for Development Global Programme, UNDP
  • Bruce Campbell, Program Director, CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) See @ 1:11 in the Skype webcast

    To achieve the SDGs, we have to reach half a billion farmers. How can we do this in Sub-Saharan Africa? A pitch at #COP25 @FANRPAN event from @bcampbell_CGIAR begins w/ 1. markets for climate resilient practices, 2. cool jobs 4 youth, 3. advisories bundled with insurance.
If you missed the event you can view the webcast here.

5 December. Action for Adaptation: How We Manage Water for Climate Change Resilience

Organisers: Co-organised by IWMI and the World Water Council (WWC).

This event responsed to the water background paper of the Global Commission on Adaptation report. IWMI and WWC brought together experts to further catalyze actions by highlighting how smarter water management can deliver critical adaptation solutions. For more information, please see the event page.

5 December. Advancing Climate Actions on Resilient and Sustainable Agri-Food Chains

Organisers: Leads: Global Resilience Partnership and FAO with A2R - Full concept note is available here.Supporting Organisations: Alliance for a Green Revolution (AGRA), Business for Social Responsibility (BSR), CGIAR Climate Change and Food Security Research Programme (CCAFS), Earth Security Group, EAT Forum, Food and Land Use Coalition (FOLU), Global Commission on Adaptation (GCA), Huairou Commission, International Centre for Climate Change and Development (ICCCAD), ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability, iDE, International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI), Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI), United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRRR), Scaling up Nutrition (SUN) Movement, World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), and World Bank.

This roundtable will addressed the UNCAS Call for Action on Adaptation and Resilience and The Nature-Based Solutions for Climate Manifesto and the implementation of the number of specific initiatives on food and agriculture. The purpose is to increase the ambition for climate action in agriculture and food value chains to deliver inclusive, resilient and sustainable systems. The discussion focused on the following 3 questions:
  1. How are new and existing initiatives taking transformative action at scale to deliver resilient and sustainable agriculture food chains?
  2. How are climate actions on building resilient and sustainable agriculture food value chains benefiting all in the system (from farm to fork) – especially smallholder farmers, communities and SMES in countries (LDCs and SIDS) most impacted by climate change?
  3. What are the main challenges and opportunities to implement and track climate actions on building resilient and sustainable agriculture food chains to scale?
As a cross-cutting element, this Roundtable focused on how to engage marginalised groups including women, youth, indigenous people and people living with disabilities thereby achieve inclusion and equitable outcomes.



6 December Stepping Up Engagement Efforts in Sub-Saharan Africa to Catalyse Investments in Climate Action 

Organisers: The side event was convened by the Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN) in partnership with the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) Secretariat, the Centre for Coordination of Agricultural Research and Development for Southern Africa (CCARDESA), the SADC/GIZ Adaptation to Climate Change in Rural Areas in Southern Africa (ACCRA) Programme, the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), the Initiative for the Adaptation of African Agriculture (AAA), CARE International and the World Bank.

The event showcased how farmers and key stakeholders in SADC experience climate change and have developed solutions that are ready to scale out through a theatre performance. Experience from Sub-Saharan Africa shows that participatory theatre enables community participation in developing CSA solutions, and can inform investment decisions. 

Drawing on the latest scientific evidence in investment prioritization, the performance wqw followed by a SADC-oriented panel discussion with key players in CSA investment planning in Africa, including the AAA initiative, CCAFS, CARE International, FANRPAN, ACCRA and the World Bank, to discuss which and how investments in CSA can be scaled. It will bring together senior officials from the member states, international and intergovernmental organizations, and academia.

  • Mr. Harsen Nyambe - Head, Environment, Climate Change, Water and Land Management, African Union Commission
  • Mr Jahan Chowdhury - Country Engagement Director NDC Partnership
  • Ms Abir Lemseffer, Executive Director - Adaptation for African Agriculture Initiative
  • Dr Evan Girvetz, Africa Team Leader - International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT)
  • H.E Sindiso Ngwenya - Former Secretary-General of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA)

6 December. Building a research-for-development partnership for thriving drylands in a changing climate

Organisers: The side event was led by ICARDA with the support of the Indian National Council for Climate Change Sustainable Development and Public Leadership (NCCSD) NCCSD.
  • Dr. Vinay Nangia coordinates ICARDA’s research team on soil, water, and agronomy and chaired the event. Dr. Nangia presented the DryArc Initiative which is a joint CGIAR initiative in the making and involves eight CGIAR centers, national partners, advanced research institutions and farming communities from the dryland countries stretching from China to Morocco.
  • Other presenters included Drs. Kirit Shelat and V. Sadamate of NCCSD who presented on the Indian farmers’ prospective on climate-smart agriculture interventions and the Indian Government’s efforts in trying to double the farmers’ income by 2022.
  • Dr. Eve Crowley, FAO Deputy Regional Representative for South America and the Caribbean region represented the FAO Global Alliance for Climate-Smart Agriculture (GACSA) and the Office of South-South Cooperation (OSS). She informed audience of the projected changes in the climate in the dry areas, significance of the dry areas for the global agriculture and the efforts FAO is making in helping develop solutions by providing scientific leadership and financing for research.
  • Dr. Yaosheng Wang of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS) made a
    presentation on behalf of CAAS Vice President Prof. Xurong Mei elaborating on the Chinese Government’s efforts in meeting the SDG goals and investing in dryland agriculture research. He informed audience that China has met the SDG goal on zero hunger and expects to meet the goal of zero poverty in coming years. He announced the plan for an international dryland agriculture conference in Beijing in October, 2020.
  • Dr. Rajendra Shende, Chairman, TERRE Policy Center is a former director of UNEP having spent over two decades working there. He presented on the food-energy-water (FEW) nexus and the transformative innovation in dryland management through agro-hydro-voltaic interventions.
  • Dr. Rachael McDonnell is Strategic Program Director on water, climate change and resilience at the International Water Management Institute (IWMI), based at Rome. Dr. McDonnell made a presentation on the approaches to smart agricultural water management in the dry areas
  • Dr. Susanta Kundu, Chief Operating Officer of the Excel Innovation Center at Mumbai presented the work of the private sector in the dry areas of India on adapting to climate change and associated problems.

9 December The European Union press conference

The EU Pavilion hosted a broad set of side events to stimulate debate on key thematic areas, engage observers and facilitate dialogue with party delegates and other participants.
An inaugural report on the State of Climate Services
highlights progress, opportunities and challenges
in rolling out climate services such as seasonal forecasts,
drought advisories and fire danger indices.
The report focuses on agriculture and food security,
one of countries’ top climate change adaptation priorities
and given that progress towards tackling
global hunger has recently been reversed.

10 December. Building climate resilience in the most vulnerable countries - The Global Climate Change Alliance Plus (GCCA+) 

The Global Climate Change Alliance Plus (GCCA+) is a European Union flagship initiative helping the world’s most vulnerable countries to address climate change.Since the GCCA was established in 2007 it focused on building climate resilience in Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and Small Island Developing States (SIDS). It expanded in 2015 to include middle-income countries and the new lens of Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). So far it has funded over 70 projects of national, regional and worldwide scope in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and the Pacific.

11 December. The EU’s external cooperation post-2020: boosting ambitious and coherent climate action

Organisers: DG DEVCO and German Development Institute (DIE); IDDRI (Institut du Développement Durable et des Relations Internationales)

More than ever the EU is expected to exert strong leadership on climate action. This event highlights key opportunities for the EU to enhance climate ambition through development cooperation.
  1. The first session will present key features of EU external cooperation for 2021-2027. Highlighting the links between climate and development policies, it will show how EU external cooperation can support the implementation of NDCs in partner countries.
  2. The second session will further specify the climate-development linkages in view of scientific evidence and explore how development cooperation may boost climate ambition in practice, drawing on examples from land use, agriculture and energy with a regional focus on Africa.

  • Carla Montesi (Director for Planet and Prosperity, Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development, European Commission); 
  • Dr. Heike Henn (Commissioner for Climate Policy and Climate Financing, Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, Germany) ; 
  • Representative of the ACP Group of States (tbc); 
  • Dr. Zinta Zommers ( Program Officer, United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, Lead Author of IPCC Special Report on Climate Change and Land) ; 
  • Dr. Jonathan Mockshell (Agricultural Economist, International Centre for Tropical Agriculture, CIAT); 
  • Gabriela Iacobuta (Researcher, German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik, DIE)
11-12 December. the European Commission will hold a Citizens’ Dialogue on the European Green Deal in Madrid, inviting young people to share their views and discuss how the EU can help fight climate change. Please note that places are limited.

11 December. Soil for Food Security and Climate

On the sidelines of COP25, the 4 per 1000 Initiative "" organizes, with the support of the Spanish Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, are organizing the 3rd "4 per 1000 Initiative Day". This day, which is now annual and is being organized in conjunction with the UNFCCC COP, will bring together the 5th meeting of the Consortium of Members and the 4th meeting of the Forum of Partners.

At the event, Liesl Wiese-Rozanova, Soil Carbon Consultant with the CCAFS Flagship on Low Emissions Development, will present the findings from her study on soil organic carbon in the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).

The international initiative "4 per 1000", launched by France on 1 December 2015 at the COP 21, consists of federating all voluntary stakeholders of the public and private sectors (national governments, local and regional governments, companies, trade organisations, NGOs, research facilities, etc.) under the framework of the Lima-Paris Action Plan (LPAP). The Executive Secretariat of the "4 per 1000" initiative is hosted by the CGIAR System Organization, an international organization based in Montpellier.

11 December. A science-policy interface on risks of climate and environmental change in the Mediterranean region

Organisers: Secretariat of the Union for the Mediterranean; European Commission (Climate Action); Ministry of Agriculture; Rural Development and Environment of Cyprus
During this side-event the current state and risks related to climate and environmental change the Mediterranean will be discussed by scientists and decision-makers. An open and independent international network of Mediterranean Experts on Climate and environmental Change (MedECC) has been launched to gather, update and consolidate the best scientific knowledge on these issues and render it accessible to policy-makers and key stakeholders. The dialogue between scientists and decision-makers is facilitated by the Secretariat of the Union for the Mediterranean.

Complementary to this approach, the Cyprus Climate Change Initiative aims at the development of a Regional Action Plan to address the specific needs and challenges countries are facing in the Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East (EMME) region, to address and ameliorate the impact of climate change and advance mitigation actions in accordance with the Paris Agreement.

  • Constantinos Kadis; Minister of Agriculture; Rural Development and Environment; Cyprus 
  • Abdalah Mokssit; Secretary; Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change - TBC

13 December. Challenges and solutions for agricultural adaptation planning in Sub-Saharan Africa 

Organisers: Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK); Southern African Science Centre for Climate Change and Adaptive Land Management (SASSCAL)

In Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), smallholder farmers produce the majority of food but their food security is highly vulnerable to climate change. In this region, more than 650 million people work in the agricultural sector and will likely be affected by unfavorable cropping conditions. To enhance resilience against climate change perils, science-informed adaptation planning and capacity building for an effective and tailor-made NDC and NAP implementation is crucial. 

However, this implementation is often limited because of unavailable information about climate change impacts and near-future weather risks. While capacity building has the potential to strengthen the local knowledge and enables informed long-term decision making, early warning systems can reduce short-term risks for investments in adaptation measures. Thus the combination of capacity building and early warning systems can support a successful implementation of adaptation measures in SSA. 

  • Jane Olwoch (SASSCAL)
  • Christoph Gornott (Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research - PIK)
  • Shakwanaande Natai (Tanzanian Ministry of Agriculture)
  • Savadogo Moumini (WASCAL)
  • Till Below (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit – GIZ)
  • Jorg Helmschrot (SASSCAL), 
  • Gernot Laganda (World Food Programme – WFP)
  • Kira Vinke (PIK)

Related: ECDPM BRIEFING NOTES (SERIES) - Boosting EU climate finance: Mitigate more without neglecting adaptation in poorer countries

As the 25th Conference of the Parties (COP25) in Madrid calls for the full operationalisation of the Paris Agreement, Europe is committing to green its policies both within and beyond the European Union (EU). Boosting green finance will be critical.

European top financial institutions such as the European Central Bank (ECB), the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), which are in a position to advance the European agenda, are joining the battle to curb climate change. This decision follows calls for a Climate Bank at the European level and the recommendation by the High-Level Group of Wise Persons that the EU should adopt a common approach to its external financial architecture and establish a single entity, the so-called European Climate and Sustainable Development Bank.

EU efforts to boost its climate action and finance should encompass not only the vital mitigation endeavour, but also greater attention to climate adaptation, as a means to foster climate justice and to achieve the SDGs also in low-income countries, and in Africa in particular. The new European Green Deal will have to live up to this challenge.

Related: Aligning Development Co-operation and Climate Action - The Only Way Forward

Climate change is altering the ecological and social systems that underpin human well-being and economic activity, and developing countries are particularly vulnerable to its impact on the growth and sustainable development prospects of every sector and community. Being part of the solution requires all providers of development co-operation to align their activities with the objectives of the Paris Agreement. However many still lack the mandates, resources, incentives and strategies to do so. 

This report outlines how providers can make changes at home, in developing countries and in the international development co-operation system, to help create low-emissions, climate-resilient economies, and how they can avoid supporting activities that lock the world into an unsustainable future.