Platform for African – European Partnership in Agricultural Research for Development

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Why increasing the role of renewable energy mini grids is essential to transforming agricultural productivity and food security in Africa

31 March 2020. This webinar explored opportunities for synergies between the expansion of mini-grids and strengthening Africa’s agricultural value chains.

The Malabo Montpellier Panel’s 2019 report Energized focuses on what six African countries – Ethiopia, Ghana, Morocco, Senegal, South Africa, and Zambia – have done successfully in terms of institutional and policy innovation for energy expansion in support of agriculture and rural areas. Drawing on his experience, Professor Nuhu Hatibu will discuss in this webinar the experience
of Tanzania, Uganda and Rwanda in connecting rural areas to energy.
  • Dr. Ousmane Badiane, Malabo Montpellier Panel Co-Chair
  • Dr Roberto Ridolfi, Assistant-Director-General for Programme Support and Technical Cooperation at FAO
  • Prof. Nuhu Hatibu, Regional Head (Tanzania, Uganda, and Rwanda), Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa - AGRA
  • Mr. William Brent, Chief Communications Officer, Power for All
This webinar explored opportunities for synergies between the expansion of mini-grids and strengthening Africa’s agricultural value chains.
Download the report "Energized: Policy innovations to power the transformation of Africa’s agriculture and food system" (76 pages) 

Linking decentralized renewables and agriculture can provide mutually beneficial outcomes across the energy-food nexus. In particular, renewable energy-powered technologies ranging from cold storage to solar pumps can accelerate agricultural growth and reduce food waste, without which food import dependency in Sub-Saharan Africa will triple between now and 2025, reaching over $110 billion.

Leveraging complementary investments in agriculture and electricity access can yield double dividends in terms of poverty alleviation. Aligning mini grid investments with agricultural development targets can maximize joint benefits from the expansion of rural electricity access and the increase in value-added along the agricultural value chains, both of which are directly linked to improved quality of life in rural communities.

CO-ORGANIZER: Power for All
Power for All is a global network of 250 organizations campaigning to end energy poverty faster by accelerating the deployment of decentralized renewable energy (DRE) solutions such as solar for home and business, mini-grids and income-generating appliances. It is committed to delivering within 10 years, access to energy for the 85 percent of the 1.1 billion people without reliable power that live in rural areas. Power for All’s mission is to accelerate this market transformation by working with public and private sectors.


How learning from the youth doubled the rice production of a 63-year old farmer

Students become the teachers. How learning from the youth doubled the rice production of a 63-year old farmer
“I’ve been a farmer all my life. I had not received any training in agriculture and only used my local knowledge. A few months ago, I was approached by some members of Tupendane Youth Group in our village, who had just come back from a training programme in rice farming. They went around the village inviting people to go and learn from their experimental plots. At first I was not interested, but with their insistence, I decided to pay a visit to the training plots”  Yohana Zablon (63), a smallholder farmer from Njage Village in Morogoro, Tanzania.
The Tupendane Youth Group had been introduced to the Junior Farmer Field and Life Schools
(JFFLS) and received special training in System of Rice Intensification (SRI), a farming methodology that aims to increase yield while using less water, smaller farming areas and reduced seed inputs. The training, conducted by FAO in collaboration with Tanzania’s Ministry of Agriculture, equipped the young farmers with skills and knowledge, which they disseminated to the rest of their community through SRI demonstration plots.

Zablon was eventually convinced of this new way of farming by the youth and the level of competence they demonstrated. He enrolled in a training on SRI methods provided by the student farmers.

“The young people taught me how to select the best seeds, how to establish a good nursery and about the best time for sowing. They also taught me how to space the seedlings for good results,” Zablon discloses, adding: “This is all new to me! You know, such young minds are still active and productive. So I listen to them.”

To read the full article, check the FAO story here

Monday, March 30, 2020

WEBINAR: How African Businesses Can Survive COVID-19

26 March 2020. Even before cases of COVID-19 were reported on the continent, Africa had already faced negative impacts on its economy from reduced demand for raw materials from China, its biggest trading partner. The continent’s reliance on Chinese exports has sent the price of commodities skyrocketing. With the new travel restrictions, closure of businesses as well as the onset of extreme lockdown measures we can only predict that the situation will worsen.

But what does this mean for businesses on the continent? What can they do to soften the impact of this pandemic?

Tune into an exclusive webinar with Murega Mungai, Trading Desk Manager, for tips on how to survive the economic impact of COVID-19.

Exploring the Impact of COVID-19 on Livelihoods in Africa: Part 1 – The Effect on Remittances

25 March 2020. This webinar, the first of a 3-part series looking at the impact of COVID-19, was focused on the impact on remittances in Africa and potential responses from governments, development partners and the private sector, and globally to understand how fast countries typically take to recover after a crisis or disaster.

The webinar was moderated by Cenfri technical director and insight2impact programme lead Hennie Bester and featured the following panellists: Leon Isaacs, CEO of Development Markets Associates Global; Olayinka David-West, Academic Director at Lagos Business School; Barry Cooper, Technical Director at Cenfri; and Nikki Kettles, Head of SADC FI Programme at FinMark Trust.

Personal remittances account for around $84 billion of the capital flows to Sun-Saharan Africa in 2018. On average this contributes to 3% of Africa’s GDP, however, for some countries it is more, such as 23% for Lesotho, 10% for Egypt and 6% for Zimbabwe. Around 60% of the remittances are spent on consumption, food and basic living expenses. A drop in remittances will have a disproportionate impact.

The biggest single country where remittances are sent from is the USA who sent $2.6 billion, and the majority (88%) of the $9.5 billion from Europe comes from UK, Germany, France, Spain, and Italy. All these countries are on lock down or restrictions. These restrictions will mean migrants are unable to work or are working under stressful conditions as many work in industries such as health, retail and transport.

Remittance flows have already dropped around 40% as a result of covid-19. Factors affecting this may include migrants having insufficient funds, unavailability of services to cash in or cash out – many remittances cash based at both entry and exit and in some locations agents are closed or working in uncertain conditions. Although the mechanism for sending the funds has moved digitally, the in and out process is still highly cash driven.

Remittances flows need to be safe guarded in order to sustain a recovery for the developing world. Some of the short to medium term suggestions made by the panel to facilitate this include:
  • Declaring remittances services as essential in both sending and receiving countries in order to allow them to continue working during lock downs and restrictions
  • Fully utilise risk-based approaches (e.g. tiered KYC) to facilitate the opening of accounts and pressure to be placed on FSPs to implement them
  • Pay migrants digitally which helps encourage sending of remittances to become digital
  • Extend the digital payment ecosystem in receiving countries to avoid full cash out
  • Relax regulation to digital cross-border transaction providers so they are able to facilitate risk-appropriate digital cross-border transactions
More information about part 2 and 3 of this webinar series will follow shortly.

Making Finance Work for Africa (MFW4A), DMA Global and the International Organisation for Migration(IOM) hosted a webinar on February 2020. The session allowed financial sector specialists to explore how African countries can identify opportunities to harness diaspora capital as a viable source of productive investment. Building on the "Toolkit for Understanding Diaspora Investment in Africa", the webinar discussed a series of steps that governments can take to assess the viability of diaspora investing back home and to determine the best approach for attracting this investment.

Proudly Agripreneurs / Ils l'ont fait

Grandval, Fanny. 2020. Proudly Agripreneurs! Learning from 24 young African business leaders. CTA: Wageningen, The Netherlands

This booklet highlights key elements of the publication Ils l’ont fait ! published by CTA in collaboration with MediaProd from Burkina Faso, which outlines the achievements of 24 entrepreneurs that have been featured by Agribusiness TV. CTA wants to reveal the impacts these agripreneurs have had, and encourage other young people to take inspiration, so they too can better invest their efforts in agriculture. The booklet introduces the 24 young entrepreneurs and explains how they are addressing the key youth agripreneurship challenges they are facing.


Grandval, Fanny. 2019. Ils l'ont fait: Être jeune et entreprendre dans le secteur agricole. Wageningen (Pays-Bas): CTA.

Avec plus d’un milliard d’habitants, l’Afrique est l’une des régions les plus jeunes et dynamiques au monde. Le continent africain compte 60 % de jeunes de moins de 35 ans et 420 millions ont entre 15 à 35 ans, un chiffre qui devrait doubler d’ici à 2040. L’objectif de cette publication est de valoriser les réalisations de 24 entrepreneurs promus par Agribusiness TV afin de présenter un éventail aussi riche que représentatif de la diversité des initiatives. 

Nous souhaitons également en montrer les impacts et encourager d’autres jeunes à s’inspirer des modèles proposés pour mieux s’investir dans l’agriculture. Au-delà de la présentation des entrepreneurs, de leur parcours atypique, chaque histoire traite à sa manière de questions aussi diverses et cruciales que l'accès au financement, l'impact des actions menées, les relations entamées avec d'autres jeunes et l'utilisation des technologies numériques dans l'agripreneuriat.

COVID-19: Food supply chains under strain, what to do?

26 March 2020. As the novel coronavirus Covid-19 continues to spread, putting enormous strains on the public health systems around the world, questions have been raised about its potential impact on food supply, food demand as well as on the global economy as a whole.

Maximo Torero, FAO chief economist, describes the impact of COVID-19 on food security and nutrition, identifying policy actions to look at in order to keep the food supply chain alive.

Friday, March 27, 2020

Podcast on poverty alleviation in cocoa, coffee and tea supply chains

26 March 2020. Yuca Waarts, senior researcher, sustainable value chain development, Wageningen University talks with Ian Welsh about the challenges developing living incomes for smallholder farmers and plantation workers.

She points out that the interventions that can make a difference for coffee, tea and cocoa production aren’t necessarily the same, with many factors impacting income levels, and argues that for many smallholders finding a way out of poverty is impossible with ever-smaller farm sizes. However, business can still help.

FARADataInformS News Update: Understanding Africa’s Agriculture Research Priorities

The current global economic crisis, rising food prices and the threat of climate change have reinforced the urgency to find lasting solutions to Africa’s agricultural challenges. Despite unprecedented agricultural productivity growth in recent years, many African countries still lag behind the rest of the developing nations. Moreover, the growth has been unequal, such that smaller countries, continue to face food insecurity and nutrition challenges, often relying on expensive food imports. This is despite the fact that these countries are rich in natural resources and cheaply export agricultural produce like coffee, cocoa and cotton.

For the sustainable growth and development of the agricultural sector in Africa, it is imperative to understand what Africa’s needs and priorities are. Misguided and uninformed investments in the agricultural sector, has often led to losses and mismanagement of resources, leaving Africa poor and the most food insecure continent with the highest cases of malnutrition.
The potential, opportunities and strengths of Africa’s agriculture has been the center of numerous conferences aimed at ensuring investments are made at the right priorities.

One such forum was the first Sub-regional dissemination meeting towards decision-makers and research and innovation funders organized by the Long-term Europe-Africa Research and Innovation Partnership for Food and Nutrition Security and Sustainable Agriculture (LEAP4FNSSA) in Nairobi Kenya. The forum brought together researchers, cooperation agencies, research institutions, private sector players and research funding agencies to discuss priorities to enhance food and nutrition security, sustainable agriculture and creating a favorable entrepreneurial environment for young people and women.

Disruptive technologies in agricultural value chains: insights from East Africa

Global food demand is expected to increase by somewhere between 59% and 98% by 2050 as the world population reaches an estimated 9.7 billion. Food production is especially critical in Africa, where over 70% of the population rely on agriculture for their livelihoods.

Against a backdrop of the rapid dwindling of agricultural productivity, the exclusion of women from the work force and the threat of climate change, an increase in the use of agricultural technologies – AgriTech – could help reduce livelihood loss and support inclusive economic transformation.

This working paper (56 pages) explores the implications of the digitalisation of agriculture, with a focus on East Africa. It addresses the following key questions:
  • What is AgriTech?
  • What prevents adoption of AgriTech?
  • What does disruption mean within AgriTech?
  • What are the pathways through which AgriTech may disrupt livelihoods and support transformation?

How will COVID-19 affect Africa’s food systems?

How will people in urban areas access food if
open-air markets are banned? What will happen
Credit: C.Schubert
25 March 2020. African Arguments. by WILLIAM MOSELEY

Food supplies shouldn’t be too badly affected, but social restrictions will make it hard for many to buy and access food. - extracts of the article

Will COVID-19 directly affect food supplies?
  • There’s no particular reason to expect Africa’s food supplies to be significantly affected as a direct result of the pandemic.
  • If food security does become a concern, governments and donors may suspend their drive to integrate small-scale farmers into global supply chains and prioritise the provision of local markets instead.
  • In some rural areas, foraging and wild food collection is an important source of dietary diversity. While some people have suggested that certain wild species (e.g. bats and pangolins) were the source of COVID-19, it is important not to demonise foraged foods and consider the broader structural forces that have led to habitat destruction and more frequent interactions between humans and wildlife.
Will it affect Africa’s food producers?
  • This may be more of a concern, though it is difficult to predict exactly what effects will be seen.
  • Women are also often responsible for the care of children, the sick and elderly. This means they could have increased exposure to COVID-19 with knock-on implications for food production, food preparation and child nutrition.
  • It is also the case that farmers tend to be older than average. Africa has a youthful population, but young people tend to be less interested in agriculture and more likely to migrate to urban areas. This leaves a slightly older farming population that could be more vulnerable to the coronavirus. This will be particularly true of people whose immune systems are compromised by HIV/AIDS.
What about people’s ability to buy food?
  • This may be a more immediate concern and will depend somewhat on the kinds of policies and restrictions governments put in place.
  • Many people in urban areas already face poverty and struggle to get food. Under COVID-19, these difficulties will increase. The very poorest often depend on casual labour in the informal sector to get by, jobs that will not be possible under conditions of a lockdown or enforced social distancing.
What needs to be done?
  • When it comes to maintaining food systems during the pandemic, Africa may have some advantages over other parts of the world such as its relatively younger workforce and more robust urban and small-scale agriculture. 
  • Nonetheless, it will certainly face significant challenges in the coming months that will require thoughtful attention from policymakers.  

FARADataInformS Trending News: EU paves the way for a stronger, more ambitious partnership with Africa

The European Commission and the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy today proposed the basis for a new strategy with Africa. 

The communication sets out proposals to intensify cooperation through partnerships in five key areas: green transition; digital transformation; sustainable growth and jobs; peace and governance; and migration and mobility. Based on this document, Europe will engage discussions with African partners towards a new joint strategy to be endorsed at the European Union – African Union Summit in October 2020. 

European Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen, said: “Today’s Strategy with Africa is the roadmap to move forward and bring our partnership to the next level. Africa is the European Union’s natural partner and neighbour. Together we can build a more prosperous, more peaceful and more sustainable future for all.”

High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission for a stronger Europe in the World, Josep Borrell, said: “A part of Europe’s future is at stake in Africa. To face our common challenges, we need a strong Africa, and Africa needs a strong Europe. There is everything to gain from reinforcing our already very strong partnership in areas such as peace and stability, poverty and inequalities, terrorism and extremism. Both our continents need each other to strengthen themselves, to strengthen each other, and to achieve a common ambition: a better world based on a rules-based international order.”

The European Commissioner for International Partnerships, Jutta Urpilainen, commented: “With the proposed five partnerships, built around our shared interests and values, Africa and Europe will together lead on the green and digital transformation, as well as promote sustainable investment and jobs. My key priority now is to ensure that the Strategy with Africa is owned by the youth and women, as it responds to their aspirations.”

The renewed cooperation on the partnerships around the five areas proposed today will build on an ongoing dialogue with African partners, which will be taken forward ahead of the next EU-AU Summit in Brussels in October 2020 in view of defining joint strategic priorities for the years to come.

The COVID-19 pandemic is disrupting people’s food environments: a resource list on Food Systems and Nutrition responses

Contributing to the coronavirus pandemic response, the UNSCN has compiled a list of available resources and key readings with a focus on nutrition and food systems. This list will be continually updated and expanded as more resources become available.


Articles and blog posts providing insights into nutrition and food systems in the response to COVID-19
Relevant discussion groups and CoPs
  • Food for the Cities - Join the community to get in touch with a large group of practitioners, researchers, professors, urban and rural community leaders, technicians and professionals in diverse agency settings sharing ways in which communities, cities and national governments are organizing to address enormous economic and social transformations (in the food system) as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic.

LIvestock DIsease Surveillance Knowledge Integration in Nigeria

5 March 2020. Abuja, Nigeria. The LIDISKI project (LIvestock DIsease Surveillance Knowledge Integration in Nigeria) was launched at a kick-off meeting.

The EU, through the DeSIRA (Development-Smart Innovation through Research in Agriculture) initiative launched by the European Commission Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development (DG DEVCO), recently granted funding for a project called LIDISKI (LIvestock DIsease Surveillance Knowledge Integration). 

The project, led by CIRAD, aims to use knowledge gathered from players in the animal health sector to build tools and expertise for use in establishing sustainable surveillance and control strategies against livestock diseases. Those players will include community animal health workers, veterinary services, the National Veterinary Research Institute, field veterinarians, herders, poultry farmers and private livestock businesses.

The project focuses on two of the main animal diseases affecting farms in Nigeria: peste des petits ruminants (PPR) and Newcastle disease (ND). PPR is estimated to cause between $1.4 and $2.1 billion worth of damage in Nigeria every year, while Newcastle disease is highly virulent and can wipe out whole flocks of chickens.

Eradicating peste des petits ruminants is an ambitious objective that is nevertheless looking increasingly realistic, notably thanks to a targeted vaccination strategy centring on production systems that act as a virus reservoir. This was the conclusion drawn by a scientific study published in the journal PNAS (August 2018). The study was initiated by CIRAD and conducted by the Royal Veterinary College (RVC, University of London), in collaboration with Ethiopian and European partners.
Project operations will centre on four main activities:
  • Capacity building, to improve the ability of animal health players in Nigeria to monitor and control PPR and ND. This means training people to recognize disease symptoms and collect and store the necessary samples and data. It will also involve increasing vaccine production and improving delivery.
  • Involving field players in vaccination and disease reporting, through communication and awareness campaigns.
  • Understanding the situation. Socioeconomic and epidemiological surveys will be conducted, focusing on PPR and ND distribution and impact, perception of disease and vaccination cost-benefits, gender-specific issues, and the impact of climatic events on livelihoods.
  • Developing a toolkit for use in scaling up surveillance and control efforts across Nigeria.
CIRAD is involved in ten projects under the EU DeSIRA programme, ie almost half the projects chosen following the programme's first call for proposals. It is coordinating four to be conducted in several West African countries, starting in in 2020 and due to run for four to five years:
  • BIOSTAR, which aims to develop sustainable bioenergies for small and medium-sized agrifood firms, using crop residues or processing waste, in Burkina Faso, Senegal and Ivory Coast;
  • COCOA4FUTURE, which aims to make cocoa farms in Ivory Coast and Ghana less vulnerable, while preserving the environment and identifying levers for socioeconomic sustainability;
  • FAIR, on agroecological intensification to boost the resilience of farmers in the Sahel (Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, Senegal);
  • and LIDISKI, on the surveillance and control of peste des petits ruminants and Newcastle disease through smart technology development, in rural zones exposed to food insecurity in Nigeria.
The projects have been granted a total of 30 million euros of funding: from the EU, via the DeSIRA programme, and from the Agence française du développement (5 million), specifically for the BIOSTAR, COCOA4FUTURE and FAIR projects.

The other six DeSIRA projects in which CIRAD is involved as of 2020 under the first call are:
  • ABEE, on building varietal breeding capacity and networks for crops resilient to climate change in the Sahel;
  • ACCEPT, on access to agro-pastoral resources against a backdrop of mobility and climate change, for livestock production in Chad;
  • CASSECS, on carbon capture and greenhouse gas emissions in agro-silvo-pastoral ecosystems in Burkina Faso, Senegal and Niger;
  • CLIMALOCA, on developing innovations for cocoa smallholders in Colombia, Ecuador and Peru, to reduce cadmium levels in cocoa;
  • ZIMBABWE, on improving the livestock sector in terms of both animal health and livestock production in Zimbabwe;
  • Innovation transfers to boost the productivity, profitability and sustainability of agrifood systems in Malawi.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

CGIAR launches COVID-19 response

25 March 2020. CGIAR, as the world’s largest public research network on food systems, provides evidence to help understand and address threats to food and nutrition security from the COVID-19 pandemic, such as:
  • The food system has been significantly affected, and these impacts will grow if processing enterprises cannot restart production in a near future;
  • Production of staple food crops such as wheat, rice, and vegetables will be affected if the outbreak continues into critical planting periods;
  • Domestic and international trade disruptions may trigger food price panics;
  • Restrictions on mobility may lead to labor shortages.
CGIAR will make available its latest research and analysis on COVID-19 to support authorities and the public in making informed decisions during the current crisis. In the research and news featured below, CGIAR scientists provide evidence-based advice and recommendations on:
  • Introducing enabling policies for spring planting and increasing support for production entities;
  • Ensuring the smooth flow of trade and making full use of the international market as a vital tool to secure food supply and demand;
  • Ensuring smooth logistical operations of regional agricultural and food supply chains;
  • Monitoring food prices and strengthening market supervision;
  • Protecting vulnerable groups and providing employment services to migrant workers;
  • Regulating wild food markets to curb the source of the disease;
  • Measuring impact on small and medium-sized businesses;
  • Analyzing how much global poverty will increase because of COVID-19.
Throughout the CGIAR System, researchers are providing evidence-based advice and recommendations on a number of aspects, including ensuring the smooth flow of trade and making full use of the international market as a vital tool to secure food supply and demand; food prices and strengthening market supervision; wild food market regulations to curb the source of the disease; and much more.

The response also includes all of the the latest COVID-19 news, research and analysis from across the CGIAR System.

Read more about the CGIAR response here:

Big Farms Make Big Flu

Big Farms Make Big Flu: Dispatches on Influenza, Agribusiness, and the Nature of Science
Rob Wallace, 400 pages, June 30, 2016

Thanks to breakthroughs in production and food science, agribusiness has been able to devise new ways to grow more food and get it more places more quickly. There is no shortage of news items on hundreds of thousands of hybrid poultry – each animal genetically identical to the next – packed together in megabarns, grown out in a matter of months, then slaughtered, processed and shipped to the other side of the globe. 

Less well known are the deadly pathogens mutating in, and emerging out of, these specialized agro-environments. In fact, many of the most dangerous new diseases in humans can be traced back to such food systems, among them Campylobacter, Nipah virus, Q fever, hepatitis E, and a variety of novel influenza variants.

Agribusiness has known for decades that packing thousands of birds or livestock together results in a monoculture that selects for such disease. But market economics doesn't punish the companies for growing Big Flu – it punishes animals, the environment, consumers, and contract farmers. Alongside growing profits, diseases are permitted to emerge, evolve, and spread with little check. “That is,” writes evolutionary biologist Rob Wallace, “it pays to produce a pathogen that could kill a billion people.”

In Big Farms Make Big Flu, a collection of dispatches by turns harrowing and thought-provoking, Wallace tracks the ways influenza and other pathogens emerge from an agriculture controlled by multinational corporations. Wallace details, with a precise and radical wit, the latest in the science of agricultural epidemiology, while at the same time juxtaposing ghastly phenomena such as attempts at producing featherless chickens, microbial time travel, and neoliberal Ebola. Wallace also offers sensible alternatives to lethal agribusiness. Some, such as farming cooperatives, integrated pathogen management, and mixed crop-livestock systems, are already in practice off the agribusiness grid.

While many books cover facets of food or outbreaks, Wallace's collection appears the first to explore infectious disease, agriculture, economics and the nature of science together. Big Farms Make Big Flu integrates the political economies of disease and science to derive a new understanding of the evolution of infections. Highly capitalized agriculture may be farming pathogens as much as chickens or corn.

New Release: The Status of ICT Infrastructure, Innovative Environment and ICT4AG Services in Agriculture, Food and Nutrition in Kenya

This report provides an assessment of the ICT infrastructure, the enabling regulatory framework and the state of deployment of ICT services in agriculture by various service providers in Kenya. On infrastructure, Kenya is served by the East African Submarine Cable System (EASSy), the East African Marine System (TEAMS), the Lower Indian Ocean Network 2 (Lion II) and Seacom cables. The cables provide high speed internet connectivity ranging from 193 to 2,840 gigabytes per second (GBPS) and comprises a bundle of glass threads each of which is capable of transmitting messages modulated into light waves. On land, the country is served by six major terrestrial broadband providers, namely: Safaricom, Liquid Telecoms, Internet Services (IS), Telkom Kenya, Jamii Telecom and Wananchi Online. Safaricom has the highest coverage and is closely followed by Liquid Telcoms and Telkom. In addition, Kenya has a National Optic Fibre Backbone Initiative (NOFBI) which is a joint venture between Kenya and Chinese governments, with the aim of connecting all national and county government agencies.  There are five major operators, Safaricom PLC, with a market share of 64.2%, followed by Airtel, with a 22.3%, Telkom Kenya Limited, Finserve Africa Limited and Mobile Pay Limited at 9.0%, 4.2% and 0.2%, respectively. A report released by the International Data Corporation (IDC) indicated that as at 2017, Kenya mobile subscription surpassed 40 million, with 90.4% mobile penetration of the adult population. Despite this impressive mobile penetration, internet penetration was less than 10%. Conversely, there is a big disparity in regional access to computers in Kenya, with Nairobi residents having the highest access, while North Eastern, Western and Coast have the least access. These ICT end user devices and their applications are mostly driven by off-grid and on-grid electric power; users’ habits, preferences and trends are the key drivers in the choice of use, with SMS, email, social media, browsing and direct call being the major uses. 

The journey of Kenya’s ICT sector liberalization had several setbacks owing to the stringent conditions set by the regulator; but through advocacy and legislation, the sector was liberalized. Within a short period, the government has become a key facilitator and advocate of the use of ICT through creation of a state department of ICT and the rolling out of various initiatives, such as e-government, Konza city NOFBI, and open data. Improvements in the regulatory framework, capacity building of the young generation, establishment of the various incubation hubs, such as i-hub, Nailab, and others have led to the emergence and development of useful ICT systems, such as mobile applications and prototypes. However, to sustain the gains made in the ICT environment, the current support provided by the government to the ICT sector will need to be doubled. Moreover, for seamless operations, the array of players that include network operators, software developers, content providers, device manufacturers, government agencies and users have to work closely together. It is also apparent that sectors such as agriculture, health and manufacturing need to grow to the same level as the financial sector. This will only be possible if the requisite enabling environment is developed and maintained.  Various ICT4Ag service providers have been active in the Kenya mobile application (M-apps) environment. A total of 68 service providers were identified and analysed to understand how they work. The providers were grouped into seven clusters; the information-providing cluster had the highest number of m-apps, which implied the need to remove the information asymmetries in the agricultural sector, particularly in the rural areas.

New Release: Enhancing Youth Employment Opportunities in Rural Economies in Ethiopia

This report aims to examine the youth employment conditions in rural Ethiopia and to assess the performance of the rural youth employment creation initiatives. The reports also address untapped youth employment opportunities and the reasons as to why they remain untapped in rural areas. We conducted key informant interviews and collected primary data from 626 respondents living in rural areas of the two most populous regions in Ethiopia. Two-third of the respondents were beneficiaries of government youth employment initiates while the rest of them were the youth registered as unemployed. The beneficiaries were primarily selected from the Youth Revolving Fund program, a government youth employment creation initiative that provides fund and capacity building training's for the youth to create self-employed jobs. The results show that 54% of the non-beneficiary youth never had jobs. Around 85% of female and 97% of male beneficiary respondents received fund and established self-employment businesses using the fund. They earned income that was higher than the average salary in many industries in Ethiopia. Youth working alone received more than double per capita fund than the per capita fund that the youth working in groups received. Respondents noted that it took them, on average, around five months to receive the fund after they submitted their application for the fund. Regarding untapped and under-tapped employment opportunities, around 64% of the youth identified at least one untapped opportunity for employment, and cited credit inaccessibility, unfavorable government regulations, lack of skilled labor and lack of complementary investments as the main factors for the untapped opportunities to remain untapped. Containing these problems could boost rural youth employment and reduces the excess rural to urban migration.

Source from: FARAAFRICA

New Release: Socioeconomic Perspectives of Jain Irrigation Project in Kibwezi, Kenya

Poverty reduction is an overriding goal for most countries in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) where majority of the poor live in rural areas mostly depending on rain-fed agriculture for their livelihoods. On the other hand, small-scale irrigation provides a large potential for achieving the region’s overarching goals of food security and poverty reduction. This study was therefore designed to evaluate the socioeconomic impacts of the Jain Drip Irrigation Project in Kibwezi, which was implemented to address food security and income generation. The specific objectives of the study were to: collect and review all the available data on the overall performance of the project, particularly on the agricultural, social, institutional and commercial aspects; carry out economic and social analysis on the performance of the project; evaluate the impact of the project, especially to determine its contribution towards the standard of living, income generation, employment creation and the potential to reduce rural to urban migration and dependence on drought relief; and document lessons learnt about what has made the project achieve or not achieve stipulated project objectives.  In the short term, the Jain drip irrigation project brought immediate benefits, which included increased crop and livestock production for food and sale, translating to increased income and employment, especially for the youth and women. 

The cyclic annual dependence on relief food was eliminated, especially when implementation of the project was at its peak. The outcome from the project implementation was improved livelihoods in terms of improved health, better security and housing, as well as improved family relationships.  However, the benefits from the Jain drip irrigation project were short-lived because there was minimum involvement of beneficiaries’ right from the start of the project. The users were not sensitized or trained on the use of water (a public good) and there were no management and leadership structures in place to manage the project. This resulted in what is termed as the “Tragedy of the Commons” (where the public good-water- is used by all but the benefits are entirely private), where users were maximizing gains, resulting in mismanagement.  Politicians also interfered with the project by pitting the users against one another, thus not allowing project design rules to be followed; an institutional failure. This resulted in farmers in Kwa Kyai (the water source) not willing to share the water with Kake and Masimbani by closing the water valves. There was also no maintenance of the drip lines, to the extent that there were leakages resulting in water losses. Drip lines were then vandalized and used for unintended purposes. Other partners who would have built capacity among the end users of the irrigation project were also not involved. 

The failure of the Jain irrigation project brought about animosity in the community because of the conflicts that resulted from its mismanagement. After the project ended, the once improved livelihoods that came with the Jain Drip Irrigation Project deteriorated; food insecurity set in, incomes reduced, unemployment increased, thus prompting men to leave home to seek employment elsewhere; exacerbating rural-urban migration.  Despite the failure of the irrigation project, the users learnt the importance of collective action, good governance and management of a public good to make it beneficial to every stakeholder, and for sustainability. According to the farmers who attended the Focus Group Discussions (FGDs), the project implementers should have managed the project for at least one year before handing it over to the local communities. 

It was recommended that the National and County governments should revisit the issue of irrigation in Kibwezi, with a view to more efficiently using the available water for irrigation and serving more farmers. It is also important that such effort should sufficiently involve the local community, particularly those in Kwa Kyai who are currently benefiting from the water under flood irrigation. A committee to manage the water use should then be put in place where all benefiting communities are represented with an overseer from the government. The beneficiaries should also be sufficiently trained both on water management and production of crops under irrigation. Other relevant government ministries, such as Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries and Office of the President should be involved.

Pioneering direct farmer support in Guinea

24 March 2020. The National Programme to SupportAgricultural Value Chain Actors (Programme
national d’appui aux acteurs des filières agricoles [PNAAFA]) opened in May 2011. It offered funding, capacity-building, technical support and a partnership platform to farmers through the CNOP-G, to enable them to implement their own development and build up selected value chains.

This innovation was made possible because Guinea has an exceptionally strong and dynamic national farmers’ organization, recognized as something of a model in subSaharan Africa.

The major innovation of this programme was related to the fact that the Professional agricultural organisations (PAOs) were the main entry point and the direct implementing body of activities. The programme, however, was hampered by their lack of experience.
  • Technical innovation such as the use of solar pumping in irrigation schemes had a positive impact in reducing drudgery. It also reduced pollution by offering alternatives to motor pumps. 
  • The input supply mechanism, including the distribution of improved seeds, was another innovation that allowed each PAO to set up a system that would help identify the needs in inputs of individual producers. 
  • However, the terms and conditions for granting these inputs were apparently not well clarified to producers, reason that led to low reimbursements with an average of 51 per cent only.

National Programme to SupportAgricultural Value Chain Actors(PNAAFA)
Total cost: US$45.7 million IFAD loan: US$13.3 million IFAD grants: US$17.8 million
Cofinancing: OPEC Fund for International Development (US$10.0 million)
Duration: 2009 to December 2019
Directly benefiting: 66,000 households
Follow up: Agri Farm Guinea IFAD

The activities of the project were structured along three components: 

  1. Support to farmers’ organizations (74 per cent of the total cost). It aimed at institutionally strengthening the Professional Agricultural Organizations (PAOs, federations and unions) and supporting their economic activities that contributed to the development of the targeted value chains; 
  2. Institutional and financial support (11 per cent of the total cost). It aimed at providing institutional support to the main technical services at the regional and national levels involved in the implementation of PNAAFA. It also aimed at supporting the development of specific financial services and consolidating the FSAs; 
  3. Programme coordination and knowledge management (15 per cent of the total cost).

4 March 2020. The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) announced support for a new project in Guinea-Bissau to reduce poverty, increase productivity and incomes, improve food and nutrition security and build the resilience of at least 287,000 small-scale farmers in the face of climate change.

To help the country to address these issues, the financing agreement for the Agricultural Diversification, Integrated Markets, Nutrition and Climate Resilience Project (REDE) was signed by correspondence by Gilbert F. Houngbo, President of IFAD, and Geraldo João Martins, Minister of Finance of the Republic of Guinea-Bissau.

Monday, March 23, 2020

Preventing a food security crisis amidst the coronavirus pandemic

The novel coronavirus is still spreading and it is difficult to say when it would be contained. So to ensure food security for all, we need to take urgent actions at the global and country levels.

Fan Shenggen. chair professor at Beijing-based China Agricultural University and former director-general of Washington-headquartered International Food Policy Research Institute, suggests following actions:
  1. There is a need to closely monitor food prices and markets. Transparent dissemination of information will strengthen government management over the food market, prevent people from panicking, and guide farmers to make rational production decisions. And to nip market speculation over supply in the bud, the government should strengthen market regulation.
  2. It is necessary to ensure international and national agricultural and food supply chains function normally. E-commerce companies have come up with an in-app feature for contactless delivery, allowing the couriers to leave a parcel at a convenient spot for the customers to pick up, which rules out person-to-person interaction.
  3. Social safety nets are needed to protect those who are the worst affected and most vulnerable. These safety nets, which could be in the form of cash or in-kind transfers (context-specificity is important here), should be accompanied by intervention by health and nutrition officials, because investing in the health and nutrition of vulnerable populations could lower the mortality rate of diseases such as COVID-19 — as nutritional level and mortality rates are intricately linked. Social safety nets are also crucial in the post-epidemic period to drive "reconstruction" efforts.
  4. More investment is needed to build an even more resilient food system. Such investment must come from national governments as well as the international community, as enhancing the capacity of developing countries to prevent or contain a food security crisis is a collective effort. In today’s highly interconnected world, contagious diseases such as SARS, Ebola, avian flu and COVID-19 could easily travel across borders.
  5. There is also a need to build safeguards for the prevention and control of zoonotic diseases. The international community needs to do more to prevent future outbreaks of zoonotic diseases such as Ebola, SARS and avian flu, including regulating meat, seafood and wildlife markets. Many zoonotic diseases originate in wildlife — HIV, Ebola, MERS, SARS, and possibly COVID-19 too, all originated in wildlife and jumped to humans.
  6. Moreover, it is important to ensure the smooth flow of global trade and make full use of the international market as a vital tool to secure food supply. And global institutions such as the World Trade Organization, FAO, World Bank and the International Monetary Fund must ask countries to not use COVID-19 as an excuse to issue trade protectionist policies.
Source: 06/03/2020 Preventing global food security crisis under COVID-19 emergency. By Fan Shenggen.

Further reading:

Spotlight on the Coronavirus Outbreak
IFPRI is curating a series of analyses from IFPRI researchers and guest contributors on the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on national and global food and nutrition security, poverty, and development. The webpage will continue to be updated with new analyses in the coming weeks and months. (Visit Spotlight

What will agricultural extension look like in 10-20 years?

4-5 March 2020. This knowledge event was co-organized by the Feed the Future Developing Local Extension Capacity Project, AgReach initiative (University of Illinois), the CGIAR Research Program on Policies, Institutions, and Markets (PIM), and the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)

The event explored the question: “What will agricultural extension look like in 10-20 years?” It included a combination of presentations, panel discussions, lightning talks, and posters to discuss:
  • what will and won’t change
  • what the extension ecosystem and the future extension worker will look like in the future
  • what we are already learning that relates to that future, and what we could be doing to enable that future
See program of the event with links to the presentations. Poster session materials are available here.

Engaging Youth in Extension and Advisory Services
  • Suresh Babu, IFPRI: Can promoting youth entrepreneurship help with extension innovation? Lessons from Bangladesh, India and Nigeria (presentation)
  • Raphael Rurangwa, Developing Local Extension Capacity (DLEC): Youth engagement in private sector extension and advisory services: Experiences from Rwanda and Uganda (presentation)
  • Patrice Djamen, DLEC: Why and how of fostering youth engagement in providing agricultural extension services (presentation)
  • Peter Saling, Winrock International: AVENIR: Youth catalysts for agricultural modernization in Guinea (presentation)
  • Chair: Jane Lowicki-Zucca, USAID

Systems Approach to Strengthening Extension
  • Clodina Chowa, AgReach: Assessing the functionality of the District Agricultural Extension Services System (DAESS) stakeholder platforms: The case of Malawi (presentation)
  • Kinfe Asayehegn, Hawassa University: Alternative approach for demand driven agricultural extension services: What the current challenges tell us about the future of extension in Ethiopia (presentation)
  • Margaret Najjingo Mangheni, Makerere University: Analysis of Uganda’s 5-10-year agricultural development strategy context: Implications for agricultural extension and advisory services functions, opportunities and challenges (presentation)
  • Paul McNamara, AgReach: Does Strengthening Extension at the Meso Level Improve Quality at the Village Level? Evidence from the USAID Strengthening Agricultural and Nutrition Extension (SANE) Activity (presentation)
  • Chair: Austen Moore, Catholic Relief Services

Digital Extension presentations