Friday, 30 November 2007

Saving Africa’s soils: science and technology for improved soil management in Africa

Soil fertility degradation has been described as the single most important constraint to food security in sub-Saharan Africa.

A paper published by the World Agroforestry Centre, entitled Combatting soil fertility degradation in Sub-Saharan Africa examines the scientific and technological requirements for redressing these failures and for scaling up the widespread adoption of the use of soil management practices to conquer both the yield gap and environmental damage. The paper discusses the state of soil fertility in Sub-Saharan Africa and its relationship with declining crop yields.

Authors: M., J. Swift; K., D. Shepherd; International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAD); NEPAD; Tropical Soil Biology and Fertility Institute of the International Centre for Tropical Agriculture, Kenya

Thursday, 29 November 2007

Dr. Mark Holderness appointed as GFAR Executive Secretary

Dr. Mark Holderness has been appointed as new Executive Secretary of the Global Forum on Agricultural Research (GFAR).Dr. Holderness began his working career in Papua New Guinea and has worked in science related to international agricultural development for 20 years. A Council Member of several scientific societies, he is now also a Board Member of the World Vegetable Centre. Originally a plant pathologist, his interests cover a wide range of scientific areas and are particularly concerned with knowledge and innovation flows between science and society and their implications for institutional structures and rural development. He plays a leading role in the International Assessment of the Role of Agricultural Knowledge Science and Technology in Development. He has recently served as Director of Agriculture and is currently Director of Membership and Partnerships for CAB International.

Tuesday, 27 November 2007

Human Development Report 2007/2008: Fighting climate change: Human solidarity in a divided world

The latest global Report on the theme of climate change has been launched on 27 November 2007.

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Human Development Report 2007/2008, which this year focuses on fighting climate change: human solidarity in a divided world, will be launched in more than 100 countries, with the main launch hosted by President Lula da Silva in Brasilia, Brazil, on 27 November. The information contained in the Report was under embargo until 27 November, 13:00 hours, European Time.

The UN Development Programme (UNDP) report coincides with next week's key UN climate negotiations in Indonesia. The two-week gathering on the island of Bali is set to debate what shape the global agreement to curb greenhouse gas emissions should take after 2012, which is when the current Kyoto Protocol ends.

The lead author of the report - Fighting Climate Change: Human Solidarity in a Divided World - is Kevin Watkins. He said he hoped the report would act as an incentive for the conference's delegates.
"We are issuing a call to action, not providing a counsel of despair. Working together with resolve, we can win the battle against climate change."
Kevin Watkins is Director of the UN Development Report of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). He served for 13 years with Oxfam UK, most recently as Head of Research. He also managed Oxfam‘s campaigns on education and fair trade. He is a Senior Research Fellow at Oxford University’s Global Economic Governance Programme, board member of the Centre for Global Development, UNICEF’s Innocenti Centre, and the Journal of International Development.

The Human Development Report 2007/2008 shows that climate change is not just a future scenario. Increased exposure to droughts, floods and storms is already destroying opportunity and reinforcing inequality. Meanwhile, there is now overwhelming scientific evidence that the world is moving towards the point at which irreversible ecological catastrophe becomes unavoidable. Business-as-usual climate change points in a clear direction: unprecedented reversal in human development in our lifetime, and acute risks for our children and their grandchildren.

As the Human Development Report 2007/2008 argues, climate change poses challenges at many levels. In a divided but ecologically interdependent world, it challenges all people to reflect upon how we manage the environment of the one thing that we share in common: planet Earth. It challenges us to reflect on social justice and human rights across countries and generations. It challenges political leaders and people in rich nations to acknowledge their historic responsibility for the problem, and to initiate deep and early cuts in greenhouse gas emissions. Above all, it challenges the entire human community to undertake prompt and strong collective action based on shared values and a shared vision.

See also: Early lessons from implementation of climate change adaptation projects in South-Eastern Africa: workshop report (SouthSouthNorth; Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation; International Institute for Environment and Development)

World AgInfo Workshop in Zambia.

WorldgInfo working group at Zambia Workshop.
(Stephen, Sophia, Kelvin, Peter, Philip, Dady, and Thane)

A team of experts working on the World Ag Info Project hosted a 6 day workshop in Livingstone, Zambia, from Sunday 11th to Friday 16th November, 2007.
This workshop is a follow-up to an earlier one in Ithaca, New-york in the USA September 30th to October 3rd, 2007. The purpose of the Zambia workshop was to identify possible transformative approaches, both technological and non-technological, to the creation and distribution of agricultural information identified by the Ithaca workshop.

The 40 participants were program evaluation specialists, communication specialists, instructional design specialists, representatives of NGOs working at grassroots level, entrepreneurs, representatives of volunteer organizations, wiki specialists, instructional technology specialists from India and Africa, collaborative web site developers, organizational specialists, and agriculture content specialists. Also included were individuals that specialize in technology for information dissemination specifically adapted for developing countries and rural populations.

See also:

Zambia Workshop Information: Cornell University wiki

Publications of Department of Agricultural Economics, Michigan University

“New Agriculture” & Implications for Information Development and Diffusion: Perspectives from Zambia. Jones Govereh and Mike Weber. FSRP/MSU Zambia. World AgInfo Workshop. November 11, 2007.

Pathways out of poverty in the new agriculture in the new agriculture. John Staatz and Niama Nango Dembélé. Cornell International Workshops on Agricultural Education and Information Systems Workshop II: Pathways Out of Poverty. Livingstone, Zambia. November 11-16, 2007.

eLearning Africa 2008
The 3rd International Conference on ICT for Development, Education and Training will take place in Accra, Ghana from May 28 to 30th 2008.

Stakes and Perspectives for Biofuels in Africa

FARA is participating to an international conference organized by the International Institute for Water and Environmental Engineering and CIRAD, Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso from 27 November 2007 to 29 November 2007.

The talks bring together more than 300 specialists from Africa, Europe and the Americas to evaluate Africa's potential to produce biofuels -- whilst assessing the environmental, economic and social impacts of biofuel production.

Participants examine the impact of growing biofuel crops on water, soil and food production on a continent already buckling under shortages of locally-produced food and escalating prices of imported substitutes.

"The aim is in fact to draw up biomass use strategies that respect the environment and food crop production systems in each African country," said the organisers in a statement.

The conference is organised by the International Institute for Water and Environmental Engineering and CIRAD, the French agricultural research centre international development.

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA) and the government of Burkina Faso are co-organisers.

A few African countries have in recent years begun to experiment with biofuel production to supplement fossil fuels, but some experts have raised concern at the increasing conversion of arable land to biofuels crops at the expense of food production.

See also:

  • Les experts s'accordent sur un équivalent du GIEC en biodiversité
  • A research project to help deliver sustainable and affordable energy to the poor in Africa and Asia has been launched 28/11 by the African Centre for Technology Studies (ACTS) and collaborating partners. Funded by DFID to the tune of nearly £4 million and led by the ACTS, the Policy Innovation Systems for Clean Energy Security (PISCES) project aims to produce policy-relevant information and approaches that can be applied by governments in developing the role of bioenergy in delivering energy access for the poor.
  • Zimbabwe: Country Pioneers Commercial Biodiesel Processing
  • Biofuels: What a Biopact between North and South could achieveEnergy Policy, Volume 35, Issue 7, July 2007, Pages 3550-3570 John A. Mathews View Abstract
Similar events:
Expert Consultation on Biofuels on 27 – 29 August 2007.

Biofuels Africa 2007
Bryanston, South Africa 10 - 13 September 2007

Biofuelsmarket Africa
Cape Town, South Africa 5-7 November 2007

International Biofuels Conference, New Delhi
7-8 February 2008

Monday, 26 November 2007

Annual meeting of American Society of Agronomy (ASA), Crop Science Society of America (CSSA), and Soil Science Society of America (SSSA)

FARA presented a paper on “Expectations and emerging issues in agricultural research and development for SSA” at the annual meeting of American Society of Agronomy (ASA), Crop Science Society of America (CSSA), and Soil Science Society of America (SSSA).

ASA Centennial Celebration: A Century of Integrating Crops, Soils, and Environment 4-8 November 2007 New Orleans, USA brought together 3,500+ people from 50+ countries representing academia, government and private industry, including a large contingent of undergraduate and graduate students.

The ASA-CSSA-SSSA annual meeting had a sub programme on innovation platforms for technology adoption (IPTAs).

A Society-wide symposium was focused on The African Green Revolution
“The African Green Revolution Moves Forward,” by Pedro Sanchez, Columbia University
  • “The Economics of the African Green Revolution,” by Jeffrey Sachs, The Earth Institute
  • “Improving Access to Inputs by Smallholder Maize Farmers: Experience from Malawi,” by Patrick Kabambe, Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security
  • “The Millennium Villages,” by Amadou Niang, MDG Center
  • “How Well Can Tropical Africa Adapt to Climate Change?” by Philip Thornton, International Livestock Research Institute
  • “The African Green Revolution Alliance,” by Akin Adesina, Rockefeller Foundation
The annual meeting edition (64 p.) is available from CSA News ( This is the official monthly magazine for members of the American Society of Agronomy (ASA), Crop Science Society of America (CSSA), and Soil Science Society of America (SSSA).

3-day symposium on Climate-Proofing Innovation for Poverty Reduction and Food Security

Director General of the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) Dr.William Dar (C) listens to questions during a press conference along with Co-Chair of the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate change Dr.Martin Parry (L), and Chair of the ICRISAT Governing Board Dr.Simon Best (R) in Hyderabad, on Thursday 22/11/07 during the International Symposium on climate change.

As part of the 35th Anniversary celebrations, the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), organised a 3-day symposium on Climate-Proofing Innovation for Poverty Reduction and Food Security: 22-24 November 2007, HYDERABAD, India. Experts from 15 international agricultural research institutions attended the three-day Hyderabad conference in the run-up to the Bali summit, demanding action by governments before it is too late.

The symposium was inaugurated by Dr Martin Parry, Co-Chair of the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with former US vice president Al Gore.

Dr Parry also presented the 35th Anniversary Commemorative Awards. The Most Distinguished Research Partner Award was presented to Dr Mangala Rai, Director General, ICAR.The Outstanding Research Partner Awards were presented to Dr Raj Paroda, Executive Secretary, APAARI; Dr Seyfu Ketema, Executive Director, ASARECA; Dr Paco Sereme, Executive Secretary, CORAF/ WECARD; and Dr Monty Jones, Executive Director, FARA.

According to the crop research institute, one billion of the world's poorest are vulnerable to the impact of climate change on agriculture - from desertification and land degradation to loss of biodiversity and water scarcity.

"Climate change will generally reduce production potential and increase the risk of hunger. Where crops are grown near their maximum temperature tolerance and where dry land, non-irrigated agriculture predominates, the challenge of climate change could be overwhelming, especially on subsistence farmers" said Martin Parry

Warning that the world was rapidly nearing its tolerance threshold for rising temperatures: "The challenge will no longer be producing the maximum amounts of food but to meet the increasing variability of climate from time to time. Researchers will have to concentrate on "drought-proofing" crops and developing heat-resistant varieties to cope with the problems". (Sri Lanka Sunday Times on line)

See also:

Climate change could decrease rice yields: Hindu Business Line

Agrarian crisis looming as climate changes: China Economic Net

ICRISAT to reorient strategy: The Hindu

Scientists warn of agrarian crisis from climate change: e-news + The Daily Star

Climate change to cause agrarian crisis: The Manila Times

Crop research 'must switch to climate adaptation' SciDevNet + AllAfrica

World faces agricultural crisis, scientists warn Business Report

Friday, 23 November 2007

The African Food System and its Interactions with Health and Nutrition

Sub-Saharan Africa is facing some of the highest mortality rates in the world as a result of disease and starvation, which is why on Nov. 15 Cornell hosted a conference on the African food system, health and nutrition, bringing together researchers and policy analysts to address the issues.

It was preceded on Nov. 13 by a twin event, co-sponsored by Cornell, at the United Nations in New York City. It was one of five events on Africa that Cornell and the United Nations University have jointly planned for 2007-08.
"Universities have a significant ability to address global inequalities, and
they will make their greatest contributions by focusing on the development of
human capacity,"
said Cornell President David Skorton, addressing the New York
City group.
The Cornell campus event, "African Food System and Its Interaction with Health and Nutrition Symposium," examined why Africa is lagging in efforts to achieve the U.N.'s 1990 Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to halve the number of people in the world living with hunger and extreme poverty by 2015. More Africans suffer from these problems today than when the MDG period began in 1990, and the trend continues to worsen, conference organizers stressed.
Read more

FAO-WHO PROFEL Workshop, Yaounde, Cameroon.

INSTITUT DE RECHERCHE AGRICOLE POUR LE DEVELOPPEMENT (IRAD, Yaoundé – Cameroun) a acceuilli du 23 au 25 octobre 2007 un Atelier International sur la promotion des fruits et des légumes dans les pays francophones d’Afrique Sub-saharienne (PROFEL), HOTEL MONT FEBE, Yaoundé-Cameroun.

Il est maintenant reconnu qu'une consommation élevée des fruits et des légumes peut aider à prévenir plusieurs maladies non transmissibles telles que les maladies cardiovasculaires, le diabète de type 2 et certains cancers. Le rapport 2002 de l'OMS a identifié la basse consommation de fruits et légumes comme un facteur de risque principal. En conséquence, des actions ont été initiées pour favoriser la consommation de fruits et légumes.

L'atelier de Yaoundé a rassemblé plus de 50 experts des domaines de la santé, de la nutrition, de l'agriculture et de l'horticulture, principalement des pays en voie de développement, qui ont élaboré un cadre d’intervention pour promouvoir la production et la consommation des fruits et légumes au niveau national.

Vingt pays francophones d’Afrique sub-saharienne et Océan Indien étaient représentés : Bénin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroun, Congo, RCA, République Démocratique du Congo, Côte d'Ivoire, Comores, Gabon, Guinée, Madagascar, Mali, Ile Maurice, Mauritanie, Niger, Rwanda, Sénégal, Tchad, Togo. Afin que les trois composantes essentielles - santé, horticulture, éducation - soient également présentes, la délégation de chaque pays comportait un représentant du secteur de la Santé, un représentant du secteur de l’Horticulture et un représentant du secteur de l’Education.

En outre, ont participé des membres des institutions organisatrices et invitées : IRAD, FAO, OMS, CIRAD, INRA, IRD, CTA, ISHS.

The man who fed the world: more on Norman Borlaug

Who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970?

Who? Norman Borlaug, 94, is the father of the "Green Revolution", the dramatic improvement in agricultural productivity that swept the globe in the 1960s.
He is the subject of an admiring biography by Leon Hesser, a former State Department official who first met Mr. Borlaug 40 years ago in Pakistan, where they worked together to boost that country's grain production.

"The Man Who Fed the World" describes, in a workmanlike way, how a poor Iowa farm boy trained in forestry and plant pathology came to be one of humanity's greatest benefactors.

More information on the website dedicated to Norman Borlaug...

New Chair EIARD

Jonathan Wadsworth has been elected by EIARD Members (European Forum on Agricultural Research for Development) as their new Chair during the Annual Meeting in Firenze on November 12th and 13th.

Jonathan Wadsworth is also Senior Rural Livelihoods Adviser at the Central Research Department fo Department for International Development (DFID-UK).

Africa needs more cash to fight climate change

FARA participated at the International solidarity conference on climate change pacts and advanced climate change strategies for the African and Mediterranean regions TUNIS, 18 - 20 November 2007.

This conference of scientists, researchers and regional bodies from Africa and Mediterranean countries called in a so-called Tunis Declaration for donors to make it easier for African countries to access financing for climate change preparedness.

The latest report by the U.N. climate panel says that between 75 and 250 million people in Africa are projected to face increased water stress by 2020.

In some African countries, it says yields from rain-fed farming could be cut by up to 50 percent by 2020. Africa is expected to be hit hardest by global warming blamed on carbon dioxide emissions from industry, transport and modern lifestyles in rich countries.It is also the continent least ready to cope with the droughts, floods and extreme weather predicted by scientists.

Experts say big developing countries, such as China and India, have won far more funds than Africa from rich nations to help cut greenhouse gases, for instance by investing in wind farms, hydropower dams or in cleaning up industrial emissions.
Read more on Reuters.

See also :
a) Climate Ark Climate Change and Global Warming Portal

b) Summary for Policymakers of the Synthesis Report of the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report
DRAFT COPY 16 NOVEMBER 2007 (23 p.)

c) The 2831st Council meeting on General Affairs and External Relations held in Brussels on 19-20 November 2007 adopted conclusions on a communication from the Commission on the building of a "global climate change alliance" between the European Union and poor developing countries most vulnerable to climate change, in particular the least developed countries and small island developing states.

d) "Fighting climate change can't be the frosting on the cake of development, it needs to be baked into the recipe," said World Bank President Robert Zoellick in the European Parliament on 20th November.

Thursday, 22 November 2007

Are GM crops the solution to Africa's food dilemma?

Published in: Legalbrief Environmental
Date: Mon 19 November 2007

There are many examples of non-GM technologies have the potential to revolutionize agriculture more cheaply than does GM yet they have not had the
regard paid to them that they deserve.

There has been a confusion that GM and biotechnology are the same thing whereas in fact GM removes genes from one species and, using a far from exact technology, inserts these genes into other species. However biotechnology is the much broader science of the knowledge of the genome and this enables the understanding of the function of particular genes to be put to use in assisting conventional breeding techniques to produce results rapidly and consistently. There are also considerable benefits in that environmentalists who oppose GM crops are often supportive of MAS since there is no crossing of the species barrier and this means that the widespread international opposition to GM food crops is not likely to be evident in the commercialization of MAS food crops.

Another non-GM biotechnology which has produced wonderful results is the ‘embryo rescue plant breeding technique’ which has been used to produce Nerica rice which combines the high yield of Asian rice with the ability to withstand weeds of African rice and so produces a variety ideal for West African climatic conditions. Read more.

Participants of the 6th meeting of the Advisory Committee on Science & Technology (S&T) for ACP Agricultural and Rural Development from November 12 – 16, 2007 at the Technical Centre for Agricultural and rural Co-operation (CTA) Headquarters in Wageningen, The Netherlands visit the Laboratory of Plant Research International, Plant Sciences Group, Wageningen UR. The genetic research is focused on the tomato and the potato.

The State of Food and Agriculture 2007

Paying farmers for environmental services
FAO annual Report. SOFA 2007. 15 November 2007
This year’s edition of The State of Food and Agriculture 2007 concludes that carefully targeted payments to farmers could be a promising approach to protect the environment and to address growing concerns about climate change, biodiversity loss and water supply.

The State of Food and Agriculture 2007 explores the potential for agriculture to provide enhanced levels of environmental services alongside the production of food and fibre.
Demand for environmental services from agriculture – including climate change mitigation, improved watershed management and biodiversity preservation – will increase in the future, but better incentives to farmers are needed if agriculture is to meet this demand.
As one among several other possible policy tools, payments to farmers for environmental services hold promise as a flexible approach to enhancing farmer incentives to sustain and improve the ecosystems. Nevertheless, challenges must be overcome if the potential of this approach is to be realized, especially in developing countries.
Download the full SOFA 2007 publication
Next year: November 2008: Bioenergy: Can it fuel a rural renaissance?

Forum of the WorldFish center - Using ICT in Fisheries & Aquaculture programmes

Looking at fishery data from the past few decades, scientists found that increased mortality due to overfishing had favoured fish that matured smaller and earlier, yet also carried far fewer eggs at their first reproduction. Older data showed that a typical cod caught in Norway might have taken ten years to mature, while the same fish now would only take six years or even less, said Dieckmann.

"The question is not whether such evolution will occur, but how fast fishing practices bring about evolutionary changes and what the consequences will be," scientists wrote in their comment in Science, warning that such evolution may even be irreversible. Read more on Reuters.

From 24th November to 7th December 2007, the WorldFish center is holding an e-consultation on “Using ICT in Fisheries & Aquaculture programmes” at

All e-Agriculture Community members are invited to participate. The WorldFish Center is a non-profit organization that focuses on alleviating poverty and hunger by improving fisheries and aquaculture. WorldFish is one of 15 international research centres supported by the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR).

In 2006 the FAO commissioned a study into the application of information and communication technology (ICT) in small-scale fisheries. The research found that the full range of ICT tools, from specialist fishing technologies to media technologies and general purpose ICTs, are being used across the different fisheries value chains (marine, inland and aquaculture). A database of 54 Case Studies was developed for the research and a summary of the findings is presented on the site to support this discussion.

The Policy Brief provides more detailed case studies and recommendations.

The discussion is also intended to inform the upcoming Global Knowledge II (GK3) conference in Kuala Lumpur (11-13/12/2007). Organised by the Global Knowledge Partnership, GK3 focuses on the uses of ICT in Development (ICT4D).

“GK3 will bring together over 2,000 visionaries, international leaders, practitioners and policy-makers to engage on the theme: Emerging People, Emerging Markets, Emerging Technologies.”

FAO is organising a key workshop on e-agriculture where WorldFish will be raising questions from the discussion, as well as the findings from the FAO research.

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

How effective is the World Bank's assistance on agriculture in Africa?

The World Bank Independent Evaluation Group (IEG) has released a report on World Bank assistance to agriculture in Sub-Saharan Africa. (October 2007, 204 p.)

This study assesses the development effectiveness of World Bank assistance in addressing constraints to agricultural development in Africa over the period of fiscal years 1991–2006.

In order to effectively support the implementation of the Africa Action Plan and its appropriate focus on agricultural development as a key priority, the study recommends that the Bank:

  • focus attention on achieving improvements in agricultural productivity

  • increase the quantity and quality of analytical work and ensure that policy advice and lending are grounded in its findings, and rebuild its technical skills

  • establish clear benchmarks for measuring progress

Future of Fish Farming in Africa

An FAO paper about Fish farming was presented during a high level meeting on the THE ROLE OF AQUACULTURE IN SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT (Rome, 17-24 November 2007).

The FAO paper notes that not only does aquaculture help reduce hunger and malnutrition by providing food rich in protein, fatty acids, vitamins and minerals, it also significantly improves food security by creating jobs and raising incomes.

One worrying exception to the aquaculture boom is Africa, the only world region where per capita consumption of fish has dropped and whose share of global aquaculture production is less than one percent. "Africa has the full resource potential for aquaculture growth," FAO's paper said, and should be a "priority region" for aid aimed at promoting aquaculture development.

See also the FAO Aquaculture website

Commonwealth Business Forum

FARA is participating to the Commonwealth Business Forum: 20-22 November 2007 in Kampala, Uganda.
  • The Forum promotes practices and policies for the enhancement of global trade and investment. It provides new opportunities for business networking and partnerships, drawing on the Commonwealth’s comparative advantage in areas such as services, information and communications technology, banking and financial services, manufacturing, agriculture, and natural resources.
  • The Forum is aimed at global business leaders, particularly from the Commonwealth, Africa, Asia, and Europe. Speakers and panellists include Heads of Government, Ministers of Finance, Trade and Development, Chairmen and Chief Executives of business, and other industry leaders.
  • The Forum focuses on new opportunities for investment partnerships across different regions within the Commonwealth and internationally.

The Forum has an impressive list of speakers:

HE Yoweri Museveni,President of Uganda
HE Armandao Guebuza,President, Mozambique
HE Paul Kagame,President of Rwanda
HE Levy Mwanawasa, President, Zambia
Rt Hon Donald McKinnon, Commonwealth Secretary General
His Highness the Aga Khan,Aga Khan Development Network
Alexander Cummings, President and Chief Operating Officer,Africa Coca Cola
Bryan Sanderson,Fmr. Chairman,Standard Chartered
Cyril Ramaphosa,Exec Chairman,Shanduka Group & Chairman MTN
Donald Kaberuka,President, African Development Bank
Prof. Firmino Mucavele,Chief Executive,NEPAD
Gary Hoffman,Vice Chairman,Barclays Bank Plc
Harish Manwani,President Asia Africa,Unilever
James Smith,Chairman Shell UK
Jeremy Pike,CEO,BAT
Maria Ramos,Chief Executive Transnet
Dr Monty Jones,2004 World Food Prize Laureate
Nick Blazquez,Managing Director, Diageo Africa
Peter Kieran,President,CPCS Transcom,Canada
Rahul Bajaj, Chairman,Bajaj Auto Ltd
Dr Saad Al-Baarak,Group CEO,MTC,Kuwait
Sada Cumber,Chairman & CEO,SozoTek Inc,USA
Dr Supachai Panitchpakdi,UNCATD Secretary General
Mr N Chandrasekaran,[Chief Operating Officer, TCS]

Thursday, 15 November 2007

ICT & media in the CTA strategic plan 2007-2010

Dr. Hansjorg Neun, Director of the Technical Centre for agricultural and rural cooperation (CTA)

Dr. Neun explains why CTA and media are important for agricultural research in Africa and why the CTA strategic plan of 2007-2010 is putting a particular stress on the global ICT revolution.

Global Horticulture Initiative

Interview with Remi KAHANE, Executive Secretary, Global Horticulture Initiative, Arusha Tanzania

Dr. KAHANE explains how horticulture has been neglected by the international development community and why it is important that experts in horticulture all over the African contintent should network. He sees in horticulture (fruits and vegetables) a major contribution to an improved health condition in Africa. This is urgent because Africa is facing new deseases like diabetes and obesitas.

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

The creation and distribution of agricultural information

FARA is participating to a workshop on Delivery Systems in distribution of agricultural information: November 11-16, 2007 Livingstone, Zambia. The purpose of this second workshop is to identify possible transformative approaches, both technological and non-technological, to the creation and distribution of agricultural information identified by the first session.

The 40 participants are program evaluation specialists, communication specialists, instructional design specialists, representatives of NGOs working at grassroots level, entrepreneurs, representatives of volunteer organizations, wiki specialists, instructional technology specialists from India and Africa, collaborative web site developers, organizational specialists, and agriculture content specialists.

Tuesday, 13 November 2007

2007 NASULGC Annual Meeting

More than 1,330 people registered for the 2007 Annual Meeting of NASULGC (NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF STATE UNIVERSITIES AND LAND-GRANT COLLEGES) making it the largest meeting in NASULGC's history. The annual meeting takes place at the Hilton in New York November 11-13, 2007 .

NASULGC is bringing public university leaders together with vendors showcasing their products and services. The Higher Educational Expo features consulting services, cutting-edge technology, innovative programs, and resources vital to the higher education community.

Updates from the 2007 Annual Meeting at LIVE!

Monday, 12 November 2007

6th Meeting of the Advisory Committee on Science and Technology for ACP Agricultural & Rural Development

The Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation ACP-EU (CTA) hosts from 12 - 16 November, 2007 the 6th Meeting of the Advisory Committee on S&T around the theme of “Advancing the ST&I Policy Dialogue: Increasing Performance and Impact” (CTA Headquarters Wageningen, The Netherlands).
CTA’s S&T Strategies programme was launched in 2003. Since then the Advisory Committee has met annually to deliberate on relevant ST&I issues, assess their implications and define ST&I strategies for improving the performance of ACP agriculture. Inter and intra ACP and ACP-EU ST&I collaboration have expanded. Africa and the Caribbean have published regional and national ST&I policy documents and the Pacific is mobilizing resources to do the same. Over 600 ACP nationals have been trained to understand, analyze and strengthen the Agricultural, Science, Technology and Innovation (ASTI system) and about 700 ACP experts have participated in intra and inter regional ACP and ACP-EU ST&I policy dialogues on a range of emerging and critical issues.
Expected Outcomes 6th AC:

  • Increased awareness and consensus building on relevant ST&I developments and the related policy implications and strategies identified for improving ACP agricultural performance.

  • Improved monitoring and evaluation of the performance of ACP ASTI systems.

  • Renewed mandate for the CTA S&T Strategies Programme including the Advisory Committee and redesigned web portal.

Interview with Marco M. Aleman, Deputy Director, Devision of Public Policy for Development, World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) -Geneva

Mr. Aleman discusses how to protect Indegenous Knowledge (IK) and the use of patents related to agricultural research.

Interview with Lalao RAKOTOMALALA (Madagascar), Deputy Director Intellectual Property and New Technologies Division, WIPO, Geneva, Switzerland

Ms RAKOTOMALALA explains why it is important that african scientists know more about intellectual property rights. She refers to the Forth International Forum on Creativity and invention: A better future for humanity in the 21st Century, which was held in Costa Rica. This conference focused on Science, Research and Intellectual Property Rights.

Presentation by Christian Hoste (ERA-ARD)

A strategic vision for European ARD in 2025 and beyond

Plant metabolomics: which genes are responsible for
the decaying of fruits and vegetables?

Tour of Wageningen UR Library and Information Centre

Tour of Wageningen UR Library and Information Centre

The first private sector interim Steering Committee Meeting

FARA hosts on Monday 12th November and Tuesday 13th November at Golden Turlip Hotel- Accra the first Private sector interim steering Committee Meeting.

The private sector agribusiness forum organized a side event and also held several consultative meetings in June 2007 at the FARA General Assembly. At the June meeting an interim steering committee was nominated with the mandate of developing the goals, objectives and a work plan in preparation for the official launch in 18 months. The ISC therefore proposed the present meeting for its membership to chart the way forward for the forum.

The meeting hence is expected to among other things lead to:
  • Development and approval of an action plan for the forum.
  • Laying formal structures for the private sector forum.
  • Formation of a formal forum for networking, partnership and collaboration between the public and private sector agribusiness in Africa and the whole world.
  • Discussing and approval of the code of conduct for the membership.
  • Kick off the membership drive from national level all the way to regional level.

Thursday, 8 November 2007

A community of practice around the challenges of pro-poor science and technology for agricultural research and development

Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex, 12-14 December 2007

The Future Agricultures Consortium in association with the STEPS Centre at Sussex are hosting an international workshop, ‘Farmer First Revisited', at IDS from 12-14 December 2007 to coincide with the 20th anniversary of the original ‘Farmer First' event.

The December 2007 workshop at IDS will be organised around three inter-related themes:
1. Agricultural innovation systems – putting farmers first?
2. Organising agricultural research and development for the 21st century
3. Methodological innovation, personal and organisational change

Expected Outputs and Outcomes: Towards a ‘Pro-Poor Innovation Alliance’

The full workshop outputs, including presentations, papers and proceedings, will be posted on a dedicated web page for the event. In addition, a book will follow in 2008, offering (highly edited) highlights of papers and plenary discussions.

In bringing together a diverse range of participants the aim of this ‘Farmer First Revisited’ event will not only be to spark critical reflection and debate, but also to build a community of practice around the challenges of pro-poor science and technology for agricultural research and development. Such a network – which we have provisionally labelled the ‘Pro-Poor Innovation Alliance’ – can potentially develop as an important player in emerging global initiatives in the field of agricultural research and development, whether in the context of the follow up to the International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD), the implementation of the science and technology strategies of the African Union’s NEPAD CAADP agenda or the Gates/Rockefeller Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA).

Wednesday, 7 November 2007

Climate change and Africa

Focus on Africa and Network Africa reports
Climate change season on the BBC World Service

Africa is, on average, 0.5C warmer than it was a century ago, but the latest research suggests that some places are more than 3C warmer than just 20 years ago. Food production in countries in the Horn and the Sahel regions is always at the mercy of the climate and the rising temperatures are putting these arid areas in an even more precarious position.

There is plenty of agreement on the fact that global warming and greenhouse emissions are caused by the rich industrial nations - but Africa is bearing the brunt of the problem.

You can listen to a number of reports:

The over-exploitation of Sierra Leone's natural resources
Climate threat

Disappearing Lake Chad
Saving Lake Chad

In Senegal a violent storm 20 years ago meant some fishing villages had to relocate
A coastal idyll

Cape Town has become the country's first city to approve a strategy to tackle climate change.
Constructing an anti-emissions strategy

Simple ways of protecting Tanzania's greenery; from tree-planting initiatives to new and sustainable approaches to brick-making.
Making choices for trees

A project set up by The Greenbelt Movement that will see two million trees planted in the central highlands of Kenya
Carbon off-setting in practice

Tuesday, 6 November 2007

The spirits of FARA (last posting)

Dr. Monty JONES
"In academic and professional circles,
the top should be your limit"

Ralph von KAUFMANN
"No country has ever developed,
ahead of its universities"

Ama Kesewa OFORI
"Do every act of your life,
as if it were your last"

Christiana Arwema AYINE
"Wisdom is found,
in those who take advise"

Christabel ESSEL
"Don't insult the crocodile,
until you cross the water"

Dr. Adewale ADEKUNLE
"Poverty is terrible,
but a way out is possible"

Lillian EYISON
"Beyond the sky is the limit"

"Information is worthless
if it cannot catalyze innovation and entrepreneurship"

Monday, 5 November 2007

SSA CP Research Design Workshop

The SSA CP Research Design Workshop is held at the FARA secretariat 05-08 November 2007
The PCU worked with a group of scientists including the Project Coordinators from the Kano-Katsina-Maradi (KKM) and Zimbabwe-Mozambique-Malawi (ZMM) Pilot Learning Sites, and Dr. Aliou Diagne who is the Impact Assessment Specialist from WARDA, to refine the quantitative aspects of the methodological manual and ensure that it meets the residual concerns of the Science Council.

It is hoped that the product from this meeting will finally meet all concerns of the Science Council on the work plan of the SSA CP and clear the way for project implementation.

Saturday, 3 November 2007

The World Food Prize Youth program

Students from more than 140 high schools in Iowa and beyond have participated in World Food Prize Foundation youth programs. Each October during the Norman E. Borlaug International Symposium, the Youth Institute provides students the opportunity to interact with Nobel and World Food Prize Laureates and offers exposure to an array of experts, facilities and organizations relating to nutrition and food security.

Each participating high school designates a student and faculty member to attend the Institute, which takes place in Des Moines during a three-day period that includes the Laureate Award Ceremony and International Symposium. Student and faculty teams prepare discussion papers, which are presented by the students during a day-long seminar before a panel of World Food Prize Council of Advisors and Laureates - individuals who are acknowledged leaders in a broad range of food and agricultural disciplines. Development of the papers can be a project of a single student, a group of students, or an entire class. Faculty members serve as advisors. The papers are published in the Youth Institute Proceedings.

Biofuels Primer: Biofuels are liquid or gaseous fuels derived from biomass, which can be identified generally as organic matter; for the purposes of fuel, organic matter is plant material or animal waste. While biofuels include compounds and elements such as methanol, methane, and hydrogen, the two fuels primarily in commercial production are ethanol and biodiesel. Ethanol is a liquid fuel generated from converting the carbohydrate portion of biomass into sugar and then fermenting the sugar, while biodiesel is produced through the transesterfication of organically-derived oils or fats.

Food Security Primer: Food security is when people do not live in hunger or fear of starvation. Food insecurity exists when people are undernourished as a result of the physical unavailability of food, their lack of social or economic access to adequate food, and/or inadequate food utilization. World-wide around 852 million people are without enough food to eat on a regular basis and another 2 billion face intermittent food insecurity. There are 22 countries, 16 of which are in Africa, in which the undernourishment prevalence rate is over 35%.

Increased agricultural productivity enables farmers to grow more food, which translates into better diets and, under market conditions that offer a level playing field, into higher farm incomes. With more money, farmers are more likely to diversify production and grow higher-value crops, benefiting not only themselves but the economy as a whole.

Biofuels and Biofoods: The Global Implications of Emerging Technologies

The 2007 Norman E. Borlaug International Symposium, held in Des Moines October 17-19, 2007, focused on: "Biofuels and Biofoods: The Global Implications of Emerging Technologies."

The 2007 "Borlaug Dialogue" gathered more than 700 leading policymakers, industry executives, and agricultural and food science experts from over 60 countries, who explored the international impact that biorenewable energy will have in the coming decades, including such topics as:
  • the implications of biorenewable energy in the context of climate change, declining water resources, and sustainable agriculture
  • the linkages between biofuels and biotechnology
  • the particular promises and challenges that biofuels pose for developing countries.

Speakers from Africa:

H.E. Lulama Xingwana, South Africa Minister of Agriculture and Land Affairs, Republic of South Africa. As Minister of Agriculture and Land Affairs, Minister Xingwana has worked extensively to promote and further the Strategy for Biofuels in South Africa.

H.E. Ibrahim Mayaki, Niger Executive Director, The Hub for Rural Development in West and Central AfricaFormer Prime Minister, Niger. Since its inception in 2004, Dr. Ibrahim Assane Mayaki has served as Executive Director of the Hub for Rural Development in West and Central Africa, which works to promote coherence in rural development programs worldwide.

Dr. Monty Jones participated at the 2007 "Borlaug dialogue" Biofuel Symposium as he was laureate of the World Food Prize in 2004

Dr. Jones meets some of the students at the Borlaug dialogue

It is possible to hear the audio from each portion of the 2007 World Food Prize International Symposium and to download the speaker's PowerPoint presentation. But note: these files are very large and downloading on a dial-up connection is not advised.