Friday, 19 December 2008

Inventory on innovative farmer advisory services or systems,

FARA has produced an inventory on innovative farmer advisory services or systems, currently in design, in existence or recently completed in Africa. The discussions started with this RAILS dgroup but has expanded through various consultations with relevant service providers or organizations.

Entries include projects using ICT solutions or implementing ICT-based activities, institutions/groups providing services using ICTs as well as ICT solutions software providers, both at the national and regional level. While many of the entries are projects with a definitive beginning and end date providing one or two services, others are national or regional information systems providing many agricultural services using ICTs.

The compilation of this inventory involved participation from many individuals/organizations. FARA would like to acknowledge the input from the RAILS e-discussion groups [Regional Agricultural Information and Learning Systems] and the Knowledge Management for Development [KM4Dev] e-discussion group who alerted us to projects that could be used in the inventory.

FARA attempted to contact each organization to receive the most up to date information on the project. We are grateful to every organization that responded and provided current information on the status of their project. Invaluable contributions came from the International Institute for Communications and Development (IICD) and The Technical Centre for Agriculture and Rural Development (CTA) who provided information about the many ICT projects they are involved in. Special thanks to the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), who are working on a study entitled, ICTs and small-scale agriculture in Africa: a scoping study and were able to provide a lot of valuable information about a number of ICT projects in Africa and shared their database with FARA.

You can download this report on:

Training in WEB2.0 of Rwandan NARI at FARA

Below is an interview with Claudine Umukazi who followed during 2 weeks (8 - 19 December 2008) a training at FARA/NSF2 on the use of WEB2.0 tools which could be useful for her Institution: The Institut Scientifique de Recherches Agronomiques of Rwanda (ISAR). This training allowed her to create a ISAR Blog which you can find on

Currently, FARA is using several Web2.0 tools to which NARI trainees can be expose to, such as;
• FARA Website
• FARA Secretariat Blog (Including Vlogging)
• Vlogging: video blogging using Movie Maker
• Blip-tv for the posting of video interview (and conversion to flash)
• MailChimp for the FARA Bulletin
• Dgroups for RAILS, SCARDA, FARA stakeholder consultation
• igoogle to manage newfeeds
• Website Watcher 4.41 for monitoring changes in agriculture related websites
• Tagging
• A common google agenda
• Zoho for travel management
• TurboDemo as screen recording software for the production of small mpeg files
• CGIAR ICT-KM toolkit:

7th Meeting of the CTA Advisory Committee on Science and Technology for ACP Agricultural & Rural Development

Wageningen, The Netherlands, 10 - 14 November, 2008. The overall objective of the meeting was to strengthen inter and intra-regional ACP and ACP/EU ST&I collaboration for directing the ST&I policy agenda to enhance agricultural performance in the ACP Group of States. More specifically:
  • To discuss the relevance and implications for building the critical mass of scientists in the ACP region and elaborate strategies for ensuring that this critical mass can impact positively on ACP agricultural and rural development;
  • To strengthen collaboration and elaborate plans for enhancing linkages between the activities of the Advisory Committee within the framework of the wider ACP/EU development agenda using existing instruments to influence the ACP science, technology and innovation policy and development agenda;
  • To identify strategies and priority actions for improving the outreach and impact of science, technology and innovation on ACP agricultural and rural development through enhanced networking and partnerships among the Advisory Committee members, CTA and ACP/EU partners.

During the closing remark the FARA representative Ralph von Kaufmann said:

The fact that after 7 years the AC is still vibrant and evolving is a great tribute to CTA and to all the AC members. I feel privileged to be a member of such a group. Thanks to everyone at CTA.If we can claim to be having impact we can only do so because of the determination, enthusiasm, originality and humour of one person. A person instilled with discipline and dedication to duty. If you look back in the minutes you will find that she has in past years been referred to as a Sergeant Major because when she asks you to do something - you do it, and, as she reminded us this morning, you do not waist her time in doing it. I should have guessed that her father was a policeman. He must have been a proud father and he would have been especially proud of the way in which his daughter managed this particular meeting without faltering for a moment. I ask you to join me in conveying our condolences to Judith’s mother, her son Jeremy, and all her family and as always in thanking her for the tremendous contribution she has made to establishing and sustaining this unique committee.

The Africa - US Higher Education Initiative

Higher Education for Development (HED) has launched an open competition for 20 capacity-building partnership awards of $50,000 each to be funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). Applications must be received by Feb. 2, 2009. The award competition is open to all types of U.S. higher education institutions to collaborate with African institutions.

The competition grew out of a broad, collaborative effort between a number of higher education associations and other organizations involved in the Africa-U.S. Higher Education Initiative. The Initiative supports improved instruction and problem-solving capacities of African higher education institutions, so they can address regional and national economic development priorities.

Hereunder follows an interview on 21st of November with Anne-Calire Hervy. She is the Congressional Hunger fellow: Partnership to cut Hunger and Poverty in Africa and the Chief Operating Officer: Africa-US higher Education Initiative.

Promoting Organic Farming in Africa for Niche Markets

FARA MEETING WITH AGRO ECO 18 NOVEMBER, 2008 Bo van Elzakker (BO) Director, Agro Eco Netherlands answers following questions:What is the experience with organic export crops?What are the major constraints?How can Africa be competitive?Which crops from Africa have a particular niche?Which African crops have been most successful on European markets?Will organic markets continue to grow?

The ELDIS service for searching resources on African agricultural research

Eldis is one of a family of knowledge services from the Institute of Development Studies, Sussex.
Eldis is core funded by Sida, Norad, SDC and DFID.

The aim of Eldis is to:
  • support the documentation, exchange and use of evidence-based development knowledge
  • communicate this knowledge effectively through a range of appropriately designed services, using the Internet (web and email) as the main communication medium for delivery
  • reach audiences of researchers, development practitioners and policy formers at national and international levels
  • play a role in the processes of evidence-based policy formation
  • provide this information and services free of charge at point of use

What does Eldis offer?

  • 26,000 full text documents free to downloadWe maintain an ever-growing collection of editorially selected and abstracted full-text, online documents selected by our editors from more than 7,500 different publishers. All documents are available free of charge
  • Eldis resource guides Our 24 subject-focused guides offer quick access to key documents, organisations, research themes, discussions and other key resources
  • Eldis country profiles Quick access to our database arranged by country, plus quick links to country briefing services on other websites
  • Eldis email newsletters Our email news services bring the latest research to your mail-box on 35 topics
  • Eldis newsfeeds Add an Eldis RSS newsfeed to your website or newsreader for the latest information on 25 topics
  • News, events and jobs Our selection of recent development news, announcements, email newsletters and job adverts

Hereunder follows a FARA video interview with the Kenyan Fatema Rajabali of the ELDIS service of the Institute of Development Studies, Sussex

Fatema Rajabali explains how the ELDIS service can be useful for African agricultural research actors. The interview focused on resources on Climate Adaptation following a two-day workshop in Brighton (28-29 October 2008) between the AfricaAdapt project, the Linking Climate Adaptation (LCA)/Eldis-proejct from IDS; the WeAdapt -project from the SEI; and the Adaptation Learning Mechanism (ALM) from UNDP.

She answers the question if African authors should not be more prominent on the web with their research findings on agricultural research in Africa.

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

SCARDA Agricultural Research Management (ARM) Course in Kumasi

SCARDA ARM course particiants in Kumasi

1st December to 6th December 2008. SCARDA Agricultural Research Management (ARM) Course

Participants: JOBE Babou, Gambie / JOBE Lamin, Gambie / MBOGE Hassan, Gambie / DRAMMEH Sait, Gambie / JALLOW Sulayman, Gambie / Lassine DIARRA, Mali / KOURIBA Aly, Mali / NDIAYE Ibrahima, Mali / HAMADOUN Abdoulaye, Mali / KODIO Amadou, Mali / NGNING Sophie Yandé, Senegal / MABANZA Joseph, Congo Brazza / BANDTABA Pierre, Congo Brazza / NZILA Jean de Dieu, Congo Brazza MBEMBA-MAKIZA André, Congo Brazza / BANI Grégoire, Congo Brazza / WINDAPO Oladapo, Nigeria / OLADUNNI Olauemi Ajayi, Nigeria / LY Samba , Senegal

The main objective of the course, in relation to learning outcomes follow up assignments and institutional change management for agricultural research, was to increase institutional and managerial capabilities to develop and deliver relevant agricultural research in African NARS. The course content was developed in such a way as to foster and support methods of delivery that are interactive, participatory and responsive/flexible, using case studies, mock scenarios, role plays, etc….

Interview with Jean Rostand (CORAF's Head of Finance) at the Change Management training workshop in Kumasi.

Monday, 15 December 2008

Improving knowledge management, agricultural education and learning through collaboration and partnerships

4-5 December 2008. Maputo, Mozambique. FARA participated in the workshop to discuss priorities and develop an agenda for action through global collaboration in improving agricultural knowledge management, education and learning. The outcomes of this meeting will feed into a planned high level conference on improving investment in agricultural research and innovation in 2009 being organized jointly by GFAR, FAO, IFAD and the CGIAR. Read more

FARA and the SROs at the CGIAR annual general meeting

30 November - 5 December 2008. The Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) held its Annual General Meeting (AGM08) in Maputo, Mozambique, from December 1 to 5, 2008. AGM08 brought together over 700 of the world’s leading food and environmental scientists and civil society to strengthen and expand partnerships that stimulate economic growth in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Through dialogue and the sharing of experiences, participants explored how agricultural research, science and technology, and food policy initiatives can better improve the lives and livelihoods of poor people, and launch new initiatives that bring the benefits of modern science quicker and faster to poor farmers.

Speaking at the annual meeting of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) in Maputo, the experts on global agriculture warned that cuts in funding for research or programs for implementing new discoveries would be catastrophic for millions of smallholder farmers and their families throughout Africa and much of Latin America and Asia.

"Our researchers have proven in the past that just small amounts of funding can boost crop yields, defeat devastating pests, and ultimately lift farmers and their families out of poverty – allowing them to earn enough money to send their children to school," said Katherine Sierra, CGIAR chair, who opened the four-day meeting.

The FARA delegation was headed by the FARA Chairman (Denis Kyetere) and Executive Director (Monty Jones) participated in several side-events, exhibition and discussions at the CGIAR annual general meeting.

Experts: Targeted agricultural investments will yield high results, slash poverty in Africa CGIAR press release, 1 December 2008

A triple-A approach to make research available and useful

30 November 2008. Maputo, Mozambique. Organized by CGIAR, FARA and DFID aimed to convince research oriented organizations cannot be satisfied just knowing they have produced high quality science. It is essential that the outputs of research are communicated and put to use, in the village, on the ground, in the lab or across the negotiating table.

Research-oriented organizations cannot be satisfied just knowing they have produced high quality science. It is essential that the outputs of research are communicated and put to use, in the village, on the ground, in the lab, or across the negotiating table. The session started from the premise that research outputs can – and must - be much more open and accessible. For this
  • We need to give priority to the ‘accessibility’ as well as to the ‘quality’ of research outputs.
  • We need a better overview of the various research products and the ways and means we can make them accessible.
  • We can use a ‘triple A’ policy and action checklist to maximize both the accessibility of these outputs and the chances that they will be applied and put to use.
  • We need to build communication partnerships with ‘adaptive and delivery’ agents that will take and apply knowledge from research, reinforcing their capacities as required.
The session drew on expertise from three partners – the CGIAR ICT-KM Program, FARA, and the DFID/R4D project led by CABI.

How accessible is your agricultural information? 02 January 2009

AAA framework concept to measure the Accessibility. Availability, and Applicability of CGIAR Research. (PDF document)
The ICT‐KM Triple‐A approach provides an opportunity to ensure that research outputs can be measured uniformly according to their availability, accessibility and applicability. The ICTKM Program play a catalytic role in adding value to CGIAR research outputs, putting the Triple‐A approach into force widely, rapidly and effectively through:
  • promoting discussion and agreement on Triple‐A vision for the CGIAR
  • advocating Triple‐A thinking to measure research performance,
  • guiding and helping scientists in adopting Triple‐A thinking,
  • establishing complete scientific information repositories,
  • leveraging CGIAR publishing muscle,
  • making CGIAR knowledge visible through partners.

Africa Caucus Meeting

30 November 2008. Maputo, Mozambique. FARA organized a forum on how African agricultural research community is 'collaborating for change'. Speakers shared their perspective on how they are contributing to the positive changes in African ARD. The keynote paper was delivered by Dr. Jones.

FARA invited lead advocates of positive change in African ARD. Discussions were led by an opening presentation by the FARA Secretariat Executive Director on how FARA is collaborating with various stakeholders to catalyze change in African agriculture. The SRO representatives on the other hand, responded by providing insights and comments on the various ARD initiatives and strategies in their regions and Africa in general.

CORAF representative and Board member Paco SEREME

Further interventions were made by international institutions such as the CGIAR, COL and EIARD, as well as regional and global fora, specifically EFARD and GFAR. Regional civil society representatives in particular, farmer organizations and agribusiness sector made pertinent interventions. They gave their perceptions on how these changes if any, can further contribute to increasing their knowledge and capacities. Various agricultural research and development stakeholder groups participated and contributed to the discussions and outcomes.

Expert Workshop on Biofuels and Land Use Change

20-21 November 2008. Sao Paulo, Brazil. The workshop was organized by the Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels and brought together biofuel and land-use modelers, agricultural economists, policy analysts and specialists from related disciplines to develop an international discussion concerning the linkages among local drivers of land-use change, global economic trends and biofuels production.
FARA participated in the workshop and presented the West African case study of Land Use Changes and biofuels expansion: “Farmers’ Strategies and Land Use Change in the Perspective of Biofuels Development in West Africa”.

Final Report
Minutes from break-out sessions

WAAPP Regional Steering Committee Meeting

12-14 November 2008. Dakar, Senegal. The meeting of the West Africa Agricultural Productivity Program steering committee elaborated on the rules and procedures for the functioning of the Regional Steering Committee (RSC) and discussed the M&E indicators of the project and their follow-ups, the work plan, annual budget and procurement plan for 2009 and issues relating to communication between CORAF/WECARD and its constituents.

Meeting of the IAFP and International Workshop on Methodological Innovations in Impact Assessment of Agricultural Research

10-14 November 2008. Brasilia, Brazil.
The CGIAR Impact Assessment Focal Point (IAFP) meeting provided an opportunity for FARA to test its research design of the Sub-Saharan Africa Challenge Program (SSA CP) on a wider forum. The meeting was organized by the Standing Panel for Impact Assessment (SPIA) of the CGIAR. The theme of the meeting was “Defining and Refining Good Practice in Ex‐post Impact Assessment”.

Feedback was provided on recently concluded studies which included policy oriented research impact assessment, South Asia impact assessment and strategic guidelines for impact assessment. Centers of the CGIAR made presentations on their ex-post impact assessment studies (epIA). Presentations were also made on the following: gaps in the ex-post impact assessment conducted by the CGIAR; donor demand for epIA and their expectations; impact indicators 3A and 3B in the Performance Measurement System; the SPIA-led Social and Environmental Indicators Study and clarifying the purpose and exploring new approaches in epIA.

The International Workshop on Methodological Innovations in Impact Assessment of Agricultural Researchers featured a total of 30 papers from scientists drawn from all over the world (Asia, Latin America, Brazil, Africa, USA, Australia, Europe and the CGIAR). The papers covered various aspects of impact assessment from methodology to praxis for straight commodity studies, natural resource management, climate change, policy and other social issues.

IAFP meeting agenda

The Arab League and African Union High Level Experts’ Meeting on Agricultural Development and Food Security

9-11 November 2008. Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. FARA participated in the meeting to develop a joint action plan (JAP) and an implementation and follow-up mechanism to be presented for consideration and approval by the Ministers of Agriculture of the League of Arab States and the Executive Council of the African Union and subsequently be submitted for consideration and endorsement by the relevant African and Arab legislative authorities.

Draft report of the meeting

Stakeholder Consultation on Regional Policies and Markets

29-31 October. Accra, Ghana. This three-day workshop was organised by FARA to determine the content, strategic approach and implementation framework for NSF3 (networking support function 3). The objective was to assess and determine key issues and interventions of FARA’s comparative advantage in facilitating and coordinating initiatives and activities on regional policies and markets that would enhance broad-based improvements in agricultural productivity, competitiveness and markets in Africa.

The consultation brought together 20 participants from 10 countries (Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania and Uganda) representing FARA stakeholder institutions and collaborators (SROs and NARS); regional policy institutions and their networks; and Universities. A participatory approach was adopted in which opportunities were created for participants to share experiences, capture lessons from the experiences and to use the outcomes to determine the key issues and interventions that NSF3 should focus on.

RIU Board Meeting

28 October 2008. Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Dr. Jones participated in the RIU Board meeting which focussed on a country innovation coalition and the barriers to its success.

Web-Based Resource to Facilitate Integration of Climate Change Adaptation into Development Planning and Assistance

28-29 October 2008. Brighton, UK. The motivation for this two-day workshop came from the OECD-commissioned Recommendations for a Web-Based Resource to Facilitate Integration of Climate Change Adaptation into Development Planning and Assistance.

Among the concluding recommendations of the above mentioned report the authors stated that “in order to reduce overlaps, redundancies and confusion between the three sites, the managers/institutions responsible for LCA, ALM and WeAdapt should be supported in their efforts to coordinate content and navigation” (p. 28). In the spirit of this recommendation, representatives from each of these web resources, as well as a small number of other active contributors to research and knowledge sharing on climate change adaptation met at the Institute of Development Studies (Brighton, UK) to explore ways of building stronger and more mutually-supportive coordination between their services.

Below is an interview with Mary O'Neill, Communications Officer of the Climate Change Adaptation in Africa (CCAA) program International Development Research Centre (IDRC)

Web platforms for sharing knowledge
The Internet plays a vital role in facilitating global exchange to build knowledge on adaptation. Key resources that can help CCAA partners and others contribute to the growing field of adaptation include:

The Linking Climate Adaptation (LCA) Network. This Eldis-hosted community links over 900 practitioners, stakeholders, researchers and policy-makers around the globe. To learn more and access summaries of recent publications, visit

WeAdapt is an online platform that offers a range of innovative tools to help users access, share and synthesis knowledge on adaptation. WikiAdapt allows multiple contributors to co-create new knowledge products through a layered process of online drafting and editing. To access existing articles and a wiki tutorial, visit:

Adaptation Learning Mechanism (ALM) from UNDP.
Below is an interview with Jennifer Baumwoll of UNDP

Maximizing the Impact of Agricultural Research in Africa: A Workshop on Research Communication

21-22 October 2008. Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The event was organized by the Global Development Network (GDN) in partnership with the Overseas Development Institute (ODI), the World Bank Institute (WBI), and the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), with support from the Information and Communications Technology – Knowledge Management (ICT-KM) program of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR).

The objectives of the meeting were to examine past efforts at partnerships, peer learning and experience sharing and to explore the causes of success and failure; to develop the capacity of staff in improving the impact of the research being produced by their research institutes and universities, and to examine how this has been done by their peers as well as to facilitate the sharing of knowledge among key research institutes and to discuss ideas on how to strengthen this exchange.

The workshop accommodated about 50 participants from major research institutes, universities, networks and media in Anglophone Africa focusing on agricultural research and policy analysis. The workshop was a two-day interactive learning event that was comprised of knowledge and experience sharing, group discussions and exercises, developing a learning community and other activities so that participants were able to initiate the drafting of their institution's communication strategy.

Read more about the conference

Regional Launching of WAAPP Meeting

22-24 October 2008. Abuja, Nigeria. The West African Agricultural Productivity Program (WAAPP) meeting officially launched the WAAPP at the regional level in Abuja. It showed progress from Ghana, Senegal and Mali, the first three countries who have received funding from the International Development Association (IDA) of the World Bank through the program.

The aim of the meeting was to monitor progress of the program at the subregional and national level and discuss regional coordination and project management in relation to World Bank rules and policies.

The objective of the West Africa Agricultural Productivity Program (WAAPP) Support Project is to generate and disseminate improved technologies in the participating countries' top priority areas that are aligned with the region's top priorities, as identified by Central Africa Counsel for Agricultural Research (CORAF).


Read more about the West African Agricultural Productivity Program

Opening partnership with the Carribean countries

FARA participated in the AGRA board meeting and gave, through its Executive Director, a keynote address in the Jamaican National Council for Scientific Research Jamaican at the occasion of the Jamaica National Science Day. A TV and several radio interviews were held to talk about the success of NERICA and how the world food prize recognized this work. FARA background was also provided highlighting current activities and programs.

Formulation of the National Policy, Strategy and Programmes for Agricultural Development in Sierra Leone

13-16 October 2008. Freetown, Sierra Leone. The objectives of this meeting were to develop the framework for the formulation of the National policy, Strategy and Programmes for Agricultural Development in Sierra Leone and to draw up Action plans for the formulation process and align the policy, strategy and programmes with CAADP.

The meeting was opened by Alhaji Alpha Kanu, Minister of Presidential & Public Affairs who represented the President of Sierra Leone, Dr. Ernest Bai-Koroma. He emphasized the importance of Agriculture as an engine to drive their Government’s agenda.

Presentations were made on each of the pillars of the CAADP and the alignment of the National Sustainable Agricultural Development Plan with the CAADP. The presentations were followed by plenary/group sessions and participants were divided and allocated into groups. The group sessions proved to be an important opportunity and forum for exchanging ideas, consultations, experience and information sharing between the representative stakeholders to map a way forward to an increased agricultural productivity in Sierra Leone.

e-Agriculture at MobileActive 08

13-15 October 2008. Johannesburg, South Africa. Participants explored how mobile phones are used to advance civil society work, assessed the current state of knowledge in the use and effectiveness of mobile technology to advance social action, and investigated trends, needs and investment opportunities.

It was an opportunity for actors who deal with mobile phone communication in the sector of agriculture to meet.

Interview with Francois Stepman, communication officer of FARA by Pete Cranston.

Francois Stepman explains what the challenges are of upscaling innovative farmer advisory services

Mobiles max Mexican coffee industry Digital ICS mobile phone software for collecting survey data for agricultural collectives is helping coffee growers in Mexico.

Yael Schwartzman tells about the package and process of collecting and analysing data from coffee farmers to improve their produce.

Mobile phones in rural development and agriculture

Ugo Vallauri, David Newman and Jonathan Campaigne discuss small farm productivity issues which are key to economic growth and poverty reduction. They discuss how farmers are not effectively linked to the larger industry and therefore how mobiles phones can be used to help with this area. Farmers use these phones which allow people to enter markets and improve access to partners thereby improving their likelihoods and food security.

Freedomfone's fresh Mobile's answer to radio is the Freedomfone.

Brenda Burell explains how Freedomfone gives users access to dial-up information and services over their mobile. Dubbed 'dial-up radio', the service will be invaluable in societies where many people own cellphones but draconian governments have restricted access to newspapers and the airwaves. The project is run by Kubatana out of Zimbabwe with funding from US based Knight Foundation.

MobileActive website

Related blogpost

Why it local content creation by farmers so important Interview during the MobileActive 2008 World Summit (Johannesburg, South Africa) with Mary NAKIRYA, Program coordinator BROSDI, Busoga Open Source & Development Initiative, ICT enabled rural development. CELAC - Uganda. FARA blog

Mobile phone conferencing among farmers Interview during the MobileActive 2008 World Summit (Johannesburg, South Africa) with Mary NAKIRYA, Program coordinator BROSDI, Busoga Open Source & Development Initiative, ICT enabled rural development. CELAC – Uganda. FARA blog

First East and Central African Workshop and Business to Business Meeting

13 October 2008. Nairobi, Kenya. The meeting was organized by the Pan African Agribusiness Consortium (PanAAC) in conjunction with ASARECA and NEPAD. The theme was "Pro poor Agribusiness Growth: mainstreaming micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in African agribusiness". FARA gave a presentation on "Mainstreaming the private sector in African agriculture".


Read more about the Pan African Agribusiness Consortium

FARA at the Science Festival in Italy

12 October 2008. Bergamo, Italy. The Executive Director of FARA, Dr. Jones, gave a talk at a science festival in Italy. He spoke on the subject of using science to fight hunger, disease and poverty in Africa in order to stimulate and inspire young students and raise the profile of African agriculture. The talk and the discussion that followed was attended by about 400 students, academics and a cross section of the local press. Some of the issues raised include GMO access and use and Europe’s policy on GMO technology, upland/lowland NERICA technology and NERICA's potential impact.

FARA visit to the World Food Law Institute

9-10 October 2008. Washington D.C, U.S.A. The World Food Law Institute Symposium

The Executive Director, Dr. Jones participated in the World Food Law Institute Symposium with a lecture entitled “From Research to Knowledge of Farmers”. He addressed issues such as the efforts being made by Africa to turn around its fortunes in the agriculture sector and, the benefits of empowering farmers with knowledge that will enable them to contribute to agricultural innovation. He also detailed the steps being taken to reform African ARD.
The various speakers shared experiences on the role of the smallholder farmer on agricultural productivity for development. Speeches were also delivered by Dr. Namanga Ngongi the President of AGRA, Ambassador Hawa Ndilowe the Malawian Ambassador to the United States and Dr. Sakeel Bhatti – Secretary of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food & Agriculture.

A panel discussion on the challenges and opportunities for smallholder farmers in Africa was also organised. The panel was made up of representatives from the FAO, WFP and techno serve. WFP has developed an initiative called “Purchases for Progress” which is aimed at helping smallholder farmers and is supported by the Gates and Buffet Foundations. Under this initiative WFP will revise its tendering processes and contracts to enable small holder farmers participate more. It will also engage in forward purchasing which can be used as collateral at banks, and will also promote more direct local purchasing. To make the desired impact it will tap into existing structures e.g. cooperatives. Currently the initiative is being implemented in 21 pilot countries and is expected to purchase produce worth US$50m from 17 African countries.

Discussions with Dr. Connie Veillette. On the work of FARA Dr. Jones gave an overview into the rational for the establishment of FARA, its mandate under CAADP Pillar IV, FAAP and the five Networking Support Functions. He mentioned that capacity strengthening is a cross cutting theme across the four CAADP Pillars and at FARA NSF4 takes care of issues related to capacity strengthening. Two projects have been developed under this NSF5 i.e. SCARDA and BASIC. FARA is working with existing structures such as ANAFE, RUFORUM, NASULGC etc.

Conference of Northern States Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines, and Agriculture (CONSCCIMA)

6-8 October 2008. Abuja, Nigeria. The conference was organized by CONSCCIMA with the general theme of transforming the potential of Northern Nigeria into wealth. For the section of the conference devoted to agriculture, the Executive Director of FARA was invited to present a paper which was entitled "Using Innovation Systems Approach to turning the Agricultural Potential of Northern Nigeria into Wealth".


The North Economic Summit., 15 Oct. 2008

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Using ICT to reduce transaction costs in agriculture through better communication

This paper on Using ICT to reduce transaction costs in agriculture through better communication: A case-study from Sri Lanka considers the specific role of information and communication technologies [ICT] in reducing transaction costs in agriculture by enabling timely and affordable communication. Segmenting transaction costs in to several components, the paper isolates the costs associated with information search as the specific costs that could be influenced through ICT.

Analyzing the findings of a case study among a group of smallholder vegetable farmers in Sri Lanka the paper identifies the specific information needs of these farmers along the agriculture value chain starting with the decision on the crop to be planted and ending with the sale of produce at the wholesale market and measures the information search costs associated with this group of farmers.

The paper concludes by indicating the possibility of dramatic reductions of transaction costs with the use of ICT to reduce information search costs to enable greater farmer participation in commercial agriculture as opposed to subsistence farming that continue to force so many farmers in developing countries in to poverty.

Harsha de Silva and Dimuthu Ratnadiwakara, 2008, 20 pages. This work was carried out with the aid of a grant from the International Development Research Centre, Ottawa, Canada

Friday, 14 November 2008

Why is local content creation by farmers so important?

Interview during the MobileActive 2008 World Summit (Johannesburg, South Africa) with Mary NAKIRYA, Program coordinator BROSDI, Busoga Open Source & Development Initiative, ICT enabled rural development. CELAC - Uganda.

Mary explains how the project Collecting & Exchange of Local Agricultural Content (CELAC) enables farmers to voice record their own innovative techniques and how they disseminate their experiences with radio/CD players during group sessions.

Mobile phone conferencing among farmers

Interview with Mary Nyakira of BROSDI/CELAC Uganda during the MobileActive 2008 conference in Johannesburg South Africa.

Mary explains how the mobile phone conferencing works and how farmers are enjoying it. It contributes to a particular form of democracy and transparancy.

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

The advantages of a voice QAS system over text based (sms) systems

Interview with Gopal Gobiratnam of OneWorld about the success of LifeLines India: the audio based Questions and Answers System (QAS).

Gopal explains what the advantages are of a voice system over text based (sms) systems and the difference between India and Africa.

Monday, 20 October 2008

Role of the National Information Point to promote FP7 in Africa

Sanaa ZEBAKH (Point d'Information National sur les programmes de recherche europeens - Maroc) says: "The role of NIPs is not to create illusions but about contributing to European research knowledge and about excellence". In Morocco light information products have been developed with a focus on themes which Moroccan researchers may find interesting.

Morocco has been relatively successful in participating in FP6 & FP7 calls because of the long history of scientific collaboration between Europe and Morocco. The contribution of the National Information Point to this is more difficult to evaluate. Some 30 information sessions have been organised for FP7 call all over the country and Morocco has now focal points in every university. But despite the information dissemination the success rate for the first FP7 call has been low: on the 45 submitted proposals only 2 were selected under the Food, Agriculture and Fisheries and Biotechnologies (FAFB) call 2007. Under the first call of FP7 all programmes 206 Moroccan institutions have participated and submitted 156 projects of which 22 projects were selected by the Europeen Commission.

A new strategy of the Moroccan National Information Point is to work with a restricted group of scientists whose potential is real instead of wanting to reach as much as possible researhers. But it is difficult to judge who is part of the top of Moroccan research. The biggest bonus for Morocco from FP1 to FP6 participation is to have seen 130 research institutes collaborate in 98 EU funded projects with an average of 3 to 4 researchers per research project.

What is Europe looking for in Africa through FP7-FAFB?

Dr. Habiba Hassan-Wassef has been wondering why Europe has a renewed interest for joint research in the field of agriculture and nutrition in Africa (Framework Programme 7 Theme 2: Food, Agriculture, Fisheries and Bio-technologies).

She takes as example a recent call by the European Commission for proposals from the South-Mediterranean Area about research on African traditional technology about the use of food resources, the management of natural resources, the use of African traditional food processing technologies in order to benefit the European food industry.

She questions the principle of mutual benefit and wants to secure Africa's interest and intellectual property rights. She believes though that FP7 is a genuine change compared to the past. But she fears African scientists do not know all their rights while FP7 provides for it. Collaboration between North African researchers and Sub-Saharan researchers could be improved and accelerated. FARA, NEPAD and the different Sub-regional organisations have a role to play in this.

Does African agricultural research fit into FP7?

Dr. Habiba Hassan-Wassef (Egypt) sees a misunderstanding in the fact that many researchers in Africa perceive the Frame Work Programme 7 of the European Commission first of all as a source of money forgetting it is about science and knowledge based economy. But few realise what this means. It is about generating new knowledge to serve the bio-economy and not research for research or research for development.

There is a need to look at research with a different perspective which is bringing innovation to European research. Therefore it is important to follow developments at the European and World research front. FP7 is not a lottery. It is important to understand how the evaluators of proposals think. Dr. Hassan-Wassef answers the question of which the biggest difficulties are for African researchers to participate in FP7 research projects.

Friday, 10 October 2008

EU-FP7: Kick off meeting and training of Biocircle Third Countries Information Points

Biocircle organised a training session in Brussels (to which FARA participated) from 7th till 8th of October 2008: Kick off Meeting and Traning Course.

The Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) marks a new beginning for the international cooperation aspect of EU research and represents a crucial instrument for implementing
S&T agreements between the EU and Third Countries. Under FP7, international
cooperation is recognized as a strategic element throughout all research activities,
including Food, Agriculture, Fisheries and Biotechnology (FAFB).

BIONET is a two year project to reinforce the network of National Contact Points (NCP) for the Seventh Framework programme under Theme 2 “Food, Agriculture and Fisheries, and Biotechnology”.

The specific objective of BIO CIRCLE is to extend the network of National Contact
Points (NCP) for the FP7 theme “Food, Agriculture and Fisheries and Biotechnology”
(FAFB) to National Information Points (NIP) from major Third Country partners in two
years. The extension of the NCP (National Contact Point) network to NIPs (National Information Points) in Third Countries (of which FARA for sub-saharan Africa) is quintessential in reaching the FP7 policy objectives :
  • It will be a determining factor in forging strategic partnerships with Third
    Countries and engaging the best Third Country scientists to work in and with
  • It will facilitate access for European researchers to research environments
    outside Europe and thereby help promote synergies on a global scale.
  • It will help to better define specific problems that Third Countries face or that
    have a global character, so that bilateral research can work on the basis of
    mutual interest and mutual benefit.


3rd Call of the FP7 Theme - Food, Agriculture and Fisheries, and BiotechnologyFP7 is the short name for the Seventh Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development. This is the EU's main instrument for funding research in Europe, which runs from 2007 to 2013. The 3rd Call of the FP7 Theme - Food Agriculture, Fisheries and Biotechnology was published on 3 September, 2008. It contains a number of research topics which are directly related to Agricultural Research for Development and the MDGs, with a special emphasis on Africa. The deadline for submission is 15 January 2009. More information: Food, Agriculture and Fisheries, and Biotechnology Calls: FP7-KBBE-2009-3Work Programme 2009, Cooperation Theme 2. Food, Agriculture And Fisheries, and Biotechnology

U.S.-AFRICA Infrastructure conference

As developed markets worldwide face economic slowdowns, Africa continues to produce above average growth and is seeing increasingly higher levels of investment in infrastructure development.

The Corporate Council on Africa (CCA), in conjunction with its corporate and government partners, held its 2008 U.S. – Africa Infrastructure Conference: Connecting the Continent: October 6-8 in Washington, DC. It attracted more than 400 leaders from the private and public sectors in the U.S. and Africa, with specific interests in infrastructure-related industry investments.

The two-day conference, kicked off with a reception to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of African Affairs. Sessions featured specific areas of growth and development within infrastructure led by leaders and experts from both the public and private sectors. Central themes included investment opportunities in energy, power, transportation, infrastructure construction, ICT, as well as safety, security, and social responsibility in Africa. Of particular interest is the coming presidential election in the United States and the implications it might have on U.S. policy in Africa.

For more information on the 2008 U.S.-Africa Infrastructure Conference click here or visit Established in 1993, The Corporate Council on Africa is a nonpartisan 501 (c) (3) membership organization of nearly 200 U.S. companies dedicated to strengthening the commercial relationship between the U.S. and Africa. CCA members represent nearly 85 percent of total U.S. private sector investments in Africa.

International Banana Conference 2008

5 - 9 October. Mombasa, Kenya. Conference organised by the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture ( IITA), Bio Diversity, the Forum for Agricultural Research ( FARA), the International Society for Horticultural Science ( ISHS) and the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI).

The four-day international conference brought together growers, scientists, entrepreneurs and policy makers from around the world to organise the launch of an ambitious 10-year effort aimed at transforming what is now largely a subsistence crop into a major cash-earner for African’s poor rural farmers. The researchers discussing numerous ways of production and earning power of a crop which currently feeds more than 100 million Africans but whose potential is yet to be tapped. The project is sponsored by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation among others.

Researcher pushes for modern ways of growing bananas Business Daily Africa - 8 okt 2008

How biotechnology is being kept out of Africa

In Starved for Science, Paarlsberg's prose is as hard-hitting as the title suggests. His argument is essentially this: science can save Africa's smallholder farmers, so chemical fertilisers and genetically modified organisms (GMOs) should be welcomed with open arms, and the necessary research funding provided without delay.

It is no surprise that chemical fertiliser tops Paarlberg's shopping list for Africa's poor farmers. But there is no mention of how to cope with skyrocketing prices - driven by global oil price surges - which threaten to lock farmers into a system of fertiliser-dependency at a time when it is fast becoming unaffordable.
Paarlberg makes constant reference to the much-famed Green Revolution in Asia as a showpiece for the power of science in agricultural reform. But again, critics will claim that it is not an easily-replicable model and may be unsustainable in the longer term. In Africa itself, Bt cotton has been one of the most widely-documented GMO catastrophes on record. Surely it is no wonder governments are sceptical.

Starved for Science adds to the growing body of work on the biotechnology debate, summarising clearly and fervently the arguments in favour of a more "scientific" approach.
Robert Paarlberg is the Betty F. Johnson Professor of Political Science at Wellesley College

Published by Harvard University Press. Foreword by Norman Borlaug and Jimmy Carter.

The role of the private sector in stimulating innovation, generating employment and contributing to the development of African agriculture

This second edition of Business for Development takes a look at the role of the private sector in stimulating innovation, generating employment and contributing to the development of African agriculture and the wider economy.

The authors investigate how African agriculture can become more market-orientated, the importance of agro-food industries, and the action some governments are taking to transform their economies through commercial agriculture. This accessible publications reviews issues, such as "aid-for-trade" and the puzzle of why Africa's share in world agricultural trade is falling. Case studies from Ghana, Mali, Senegal, Tanzania and Zambia show the successes and failures of government intervention and NGO programmes in fostering agricultural development. This a must read for governments, the NGO community and members of the private sector.

OECD Development Centre. Published by OECD Publishing Website May 2008. The international launch of this publication was on 26 May in Tokyo. The report was also presented on in Yokohama in occasion of TICAD IV.
OECD Development Centre and African Development Bank Gather Policy Makers in Tanzania for Debate on African Agriculture 3rd July 2008 Dar Es Salaam,Tanzania

Climate Change and Agriculture in Africa

Climate Change and Agriculture in Africa Impact Assessment and Adaptation Strategies.
Ariel Dinar, Rashid Hassan, Robert Mendelsohn and James Benhin and others. April 2008

'This is a well researched, thorough and impressive work on climate change and agriculture in Africa. I recommend it to students, researchers and practitioners working on climate change issues' Jabavu Clifford Nkomo, senior programme specialist, IDRC

This landmark book encompasses a comprehensive assessment of the potential economic impacts of future climate change, and the value of adaptation measures in Africa for different zones, regions, countries and farm types. Researchers developed and applied multiple analytical procedures to assess quantitatively how climate affects current agricultural systems in Africa, enabling them to predict how these systems may be affected in the future by climate change under various global warming scenarios, and suggesting what role adaptation could play. The study is the first to combine spatially referenced household survey data with climatic data at both national and international levels.

It provides vital knowledge about the impacts of climate change on Africa, serving as a guide to policy intervention strategies and investment in adaptation measures. It makes a major contribution to the analysis of climate change impacts and developing adaptation strategies, especially in the highly vulnerable farming communities in the developing world. Published with CEEPA and supported by the World Bank.

EarthScan UK

Thursday, 2 October 2008

CELAC: e-agriculture in Uganda

An eight minute Business Africa/CTA video production documenting actual cases on the use of Web 2.0 applications in the development sector, specifically among farmers in Africa. A particular example is Uganda.

ENGLISH VIDEO Agriculture and New Technologies - Web 2.0 in Uganda - Web2forDev

FRENCH VIDEO: Agriculture et Nouvelles Technologies - Web 2.0 en Afrique

Collecting and Exchanging of Local Agriculture Content (CELAC) is a project of BROSDI (Busoga Rural Open Source and Development Initiative) aiming at use of ICT methods and knowledge sharing to enhance poverty reduction and food security. CELAC operates in all the four regions in Uganda. The CELAC Project seeks to collect and exchange this local agricultural content that works from the farmers.

Selection for the Women and Young Professionals in Science Competitions

CTA in collaboration with the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA), the Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM), the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) and the African Technology Policy Studies Network (ATPS) received 248 abstracts in response to the two science competitions that were launched in July 2008: Women and Young Professionals in Science Competitions.

The competitions seek to identify and recognize women and young professionals in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) and the Diaspora who are engaged in innovative and pioneering research and development and communicating the outputs (knowledge, technologies, approaches) for enhancing agricultural performance in SSA.

The entrants came from 34 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, Egypt and Germany. The partners received 133 abstracts from women in science and 115 abstracts from young professionals. The expert group reviewed at FARA in Accra 1st to 3rd October the submissions and selected the top 40, who will be invited to present their full papers for final judging at the Ministerial Forum on Higher Education. Initially this was schedulded to take place in Lusaka, Zambia from 27 – 31 October 2008. but now this is postponed till February 2009 -place and date to be confirmed.

Hereunder an interview with Judith Francis of CTA on 03/10 who explains how the selection went and why it is important to give visibility to research of African Young porfessionals and Women in agriculture.

Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Strenghtening the capacities on biotechnology: Syngenta-FARA collaboration

Both FARA and the Syngenta Foundation recognised that harnessing the potential of biotechnology requires adequate understanding of the technology, its acceptance and appropriate application by African countries. It was recognised at the consultations that well-reasoned and carefully articulated awareness raising and advocacy was required to enable parties to engage in meaningful dialogue on the issues to allow the safe application of modern biotechnology. Also technology developers in modern biotechnology are reluctant to transfer proprietary technologies to Africa for the benefit of small holder resource poor farmers due to liability and redress problems that could arise due to the poor stewardship of these transferred technologies.

Oumar Niangado and Vivienne Anthony from Syngenta Foundation with prof. Walter Alhassan, Sidi Sanyang, Irene Frempong, Samira Hotobah During, Solomon Bangali and Odularu Gbadebo

There are many actors on the biotechnology/biosafety capacity building scene in Africa at both country and regional levels. Syngenta Foundation will therefore assist FARA to undertake a study to determine its role in bioskills and biosafety support in Africa. It will also support a background study to enable the development by FARA of an effective support to awareness creation initiatives and to institute stewardship training of technology recipients.

Dr. Oumar Niangado of Syngenta Fondation explains what the big challenges are for bio-technology from Africas perspective. It is essential that Africans themselves make an informed decision about the use of genetically modified crops especially taking into account the need to increase production. He answers the question whether the problem is mainly political or a problem of capacities. He finally expresses his satisfaction about the consultation with FARA.

Platform for African-European Partnerships for Agricultural Research for Development

A two days workshop was held in Accra 30th of September - 1st of October, preceeded by the PAEPARD Steering Committee meeting on 29th September to further develop the Platform for African-European Partnerships for Agricultural Research for Development (PAEPARD) proposal.

PAEPARD I was implemented in partnership between FARA (the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa) and EFARD (the European Forum for Agricultural Research for Development), through ECART (the European Consortium for Agricultural Research in the Tropics) and NATURA (the Network of European Agricultural - Tropically and sub-tropically oriented – Universities and scientific complexes). PAEPARD I made good progress in identifying constraints to increase African-European research collaboration through consultations, and in developing an “Information and communication strategy for promoting partnerships of ARD stakeholders from Europe and Africa”, which will feed into PAEPARD II.

The workshop produced a revised project document for PAEPARD II. Below is an overview of the the participants (excluding FARA staff members).

Catherine Guichard
Delegate General COLEACP
Rungis, France

Judith Francis
Senior program Coordinator, S&T Strategies CTA
Wageningen, the Netherlands

Francis Hale
Communications Consultant FANRPAN
South Africa

Ndao Babaccar
Appui Technique ROPPA
Reseau des Organisations Paysanes et des Producteurs Agricoles
Christian Hoste
Paris, France
Jacky Ganry
Charge Cooperation Internationale Hort
Montpellier, France

Stephen Muchiri
Chief Executive EAFF
Nairobi, Kenya
Achancho Valantine
Sub- Director MINADER
Yaounde, Cameroon

Marek Poznanski
Delegate General CONCORD
European Food Security Collective
Brussels, Belgium

Mohammed El Nahraway
Director General
Agricultural Research Center
Marcel Nwalozie
Director of programs CORAF
Dakar Senegal

Prof. Anne Sorensen
Chief Coorinator, DDRN
University of Copenhagen

Jon Daane
Director ICRA
International centre for Development Oriented Research in Agriculture
Wageningen / The Netherlands

Jean- Luc Bosio
International Direction Program Officer
Montpellier, France

Babara Adolph
Triple Line Consulting Limited
London, UK