Friday, 20 June 2008

Enhancing Organic Agriculture Research in Africa

The International Society of Organic Argicultural Research organised in Modena, Italy, June 17 and 18, 2008.

The congres allowed researchers and other organic stakeholders to update their knowledge on specific areas of expertise and to identify bottlenecks and research needs.
  • Discussion on the importance of collective marketing actions in organic farming
  • Identification of differences among different market environments and continents
  • Overview on the state-of-the-art on factors limiting / enabling (organic) farmers to pool ideas, experiences and capital
  • Outline on possible support strategies
  • Identification of further research need
African Speakers
During the workshop the book was presented: ‘Research in Organic Agriculture in the Tropics and Subtropics’.

FANRPAN Board and Partners meeting

The ongoing food crisis presents an opportune moment for Southern Africa to review its policies and put in place long term strategies that will make the region food secure.
The Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN) is convening a Board and Partners meeting to update its current and potential partners on its programmes. The one-day stakeholder meeting will be held on Friday the 20th of June 2008.

The meeting will be attended by FANRPAN's Board of Governors, coordinators of our programmes, members of the Diplomatic Corps, representatives from UN agencies, donors and technical partners. The meeting will take the form of short plenary presentations with more time devoted to programme souk- exhibitions.

Mobile payments improve farmers' transactions in Kenya

This video is an advertisement for the use of mobile payments. It was presented during the "Partnership Forum for Making Finance Work for Africa" in Accra on June 17 2008.

International Conference on Climate Change and Economic Development

AERC will convene an International Conference on Climate Change and Economic Development as part of its 20th Anniversary activities. For presentation at the conference, papers are invited in the following areas:

1. Climate Change , Poverty, Income Distribution and Labour Market Issues
2. Climate Change, Macroeconomic Policies, Investment and Growth
3. Climate Change, Finance and Resource Mobilization
4. Climate Change, Trade and Regional Integration
5. Political Economy and Sectoral Issues in Climate Change and Economic Development

Papers will ultimately be published as the proceedings of the conference. The papers should be in English and should not exceed 15,000 words in length. Anyone with relevant experience and credentials in the topic area is invited to submit their work. Papers should be submitted to ON OR BEFORE 15 AUGUST 2008.

Thursday, 19 June 2008

EMRC AgriBusiness Forum

18-20 June. Rome, Italy. AgriBusiness 2008 aims at contributing to the growth & wealth of Africa by a further development of its agro-food industry, with the expertise, experience and involvement of knowledgeable individuals and institutions. FARA will be part of a group discussing research and innovation for a sustainable growth in agriculture: best practices and experiences learnt.

Forum's Objectives:
  • Contribute to a better understanding of Africa’s needs in terms of producing food for its population
  • Examine the role of Africa’s & Europe’s private sectors in accelerating Africa’s agro-industrial development
  • Showcase successful PPP practices (private-public partnership) that contribute to a sustainable growth
  • Strengthening the linkages alongside the supply chain in the agro-food Industry
  • Matching the demands from Africa with worldwide offers
  • Create better environment conditions to transfer successful experiences

Reference: Preliminary Programme

About EMRC

Established in 1992 in Brussels, Belgium, EMRC is an international association composed of a vast network of entrepreneurs, financiers, consultants and officials coming from some 100 countries. EMRC’s core activity is the organisation of business events, economic missions and targeted business-development services. These activities are focused on supporting new global trends to achieve sustainability in Africa’s private sector.

Charcoal and Communities in Africa

16-18 June. Maputo, Mozambique. A conference was organised under an IFAD funded project, implemented by the International Network for Bamboo and Rattan (INBAR), under the framework of the Global NonTimber Forest Products (NTFP) Partnership.

The Global Non-Timber Forest Products (NTFP) Partnership aims to link global, regional, and national organizations currently engaged in research and development activities concerning the systematic conservation and management of NTFPs in four regions: Africa, East and Southeast Asia, Latin America, and South Asia.

The objectives of the conference were
  • To understand the severity of dependence on wood for energy needs in Africa and globally
  • To better understand charcoal flows, specifically
  • To understand the trends in deforestation due to charcoal production
  • To identify areas suitable for charcoal production not currently utilized
  • To find effective and alternative sources of charcoal production, in order to curb deforestation and global warming, including the promotion of bamboo for bio-energy
  • To propose possible policy interventions that can be carried out in order to secure the supply of charcoal to the low-income population and to mitigate adverse effects of charcoal production
  • To explore the potential and facilitate technology transfer and adaptation
  • To establish a network and create a community of practice
  • To develop project concept notes
  • To raise awareness and create interest among the donor community

Click here for the agenda of the Charcoal and Communities Conference, Maputo, 16 - 18 June.

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

Distance education course on Agro-Forestry for francophone Africa

La Faculté de foresterie (FdeF) of the Universite de Moncton, Campus d'Edmundston, Nouveau-Brunswick in Canada offers a distance learningprogramme on agroforestry.
Le programme de baccalauréat en sciences forestières de cinq ans permet aux étudiants et étudiantes d'acquérir des connaissances sur les aspects environnementaux, biologiques, socio-économiques et technologiques reliés à la foresterie. Il vise aussi à leur inculquer une vision de l'aménagement intégré des ressources. Il est également offert en régime coopératif, agréé nationalement.
Hereafter follows an interview with Virginie Levasseur of the Universite de Moncton, Nouveau-Brunswick

Professor Virginie Levasseur explained at the e-Learning Africa 2008 conference in Accra 29/05 why the online course is important for francophone Africa and how the University of Moncton is trying to identify a number of training centres in West Africa specialised in distance learning which could relay this distance course in Agro-Forestry for African development and Agro-Forestry experts.

Content management for African biological farming

The INFONET-BioVision Information Platform aims to strengthen sustainable development of farmers and rural communities in Africa by making information on key topics available through an internet platform and other creative solutions and dissemination strategies.

The information platform is used as a resource pool for disseminating information inside and outside the internet through active cooperation with partner organizations and local farmer- and women's groups and with information and communication technologies (ICTs).

The core concept of Infonet-BioVision is the database with its processed information and pre-defined structure which facilitates the rapid and easy incorporation of new data. As the needs of users with varying levels of knowledge and experience ought to be catered for, the platform around the database is conceived in such a way that the users can access its content through different entry points. These include databases on sustainable pest and crop management, animal, human and environment as well as training modules in these areas. Furthermore, it will be possible for the users to send feedback information to the project team-members regarding their experiences.

Hereafter follows an interview with a representative of AVALLAIN/Enhancing education who made a presentation during the e-Learning Africa 2008 conference on 30/05/2008

He explains how on the platform you can find local relevant and effective information with contributions of farmer groups, local experts and international scientists on:
  • organic agriculture and crop husbandry for food security
  • effective ecological prevention and control of plant-, human- and animal targeting pests and diseases
  • simple and environmentally safe technologies and approaches to improve your life and generate income while at the same time protecting the environment and the natural resources

The African Enterprise Challenge Fund and rural media support

More than 250 senior level financial sector champions, from over 30 countries, have met at the "Partnership Forum for Making Finance Work for Africa" in Accra from June 17 to 18.

At the partnership forum, leaders of African and international financial institutions, government officials, central bankers, prominent researchers and international experts discussed the priorities for developing African financial sectors.

The Partnership for Making Finance Work for Africa was supported by a broad range of development partners, and financial stakeholders and was welcomed by the G8 in the 2007 Heiligendamm Declaration.

Hugh Scott, Chief Executive Officer of the African Enterprise Challenge Fund (AECF) presented at the conference the African Enterprise Challenge Fund.

Hugh Scott, Chief Executive Officer of the African Enterprise Challenge Fund (AECF) explains what this new funding opportunity is about and how it can support innovative initiatives from the private sector in rural credit, agri-business and rural media (information dissemination to farmers).

Africa: Making Finance Work for Country/Continent, Jun 17, 2008
Africa: Renowned Financial Experts Descend On, Jun 16, 2008
Africa Unlocks Financial PerformanceModern Ghana, Jun 18, 2008
Ghana / AfDB, GTZ and the World Bank partnership Forum in Ghana
Related blogpost
The African Enterprise Challenge Fund and rual med...

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

ACP-EU Agricultural Commodities Kick-Off Workshop

Regional Consultative Workshops for Southern Africa: Tanzania 17/06/08 to 20/06/08

The EU-funded (€ 45M) “All ACP Agricultural Commodities Programme” (AAACP) became operational in September 2007 following a long gestation period.The overall objective of this EU-funded programme is to improve incomes and livelihoods for ACP producers of traditional and other agricultural commodities, and to reduce income vulnerability at both producer and macro levels.
  • Supporting the participatory formulation and implementation of commodity chain strategies in Commodity Dependent Developing Countries (CDDCs)
  • Encouraging sustainable corporate practices and investments for sustainable commodity production
  • Advancing efforts to develop regional markets, policies and services in support of commodity sectors
  • Supporting CDDCs in their diversification efforts
  • Extending access to market-based commodity risk management instruments
  • Maximising opportunities for CDDCs in the multilateral trading system, and
  • Developing multi-donor cooperation and coordination in support of commodity strategies.
AAACP Newletter February 2008

Lifelines India

Lifelines was launched in October 2006 through a partnership between Cisco, British Telecom, and OneWorld. The goal of Lifelines is to help rural farmers in India improve their efficiency and earning potential by providing critical and timely answers to agricultural and veterinary questions. Roughly 65 percent of workers in India are farmers, so crop failures or cattle illnesses can be catastrophic for individuals and the economy.

In India, where farmers have limited access to timely sources of information and are often illiterate, the telephone is the most powerful medium for information delivery. As a result, Lifelines comprises a phone-based information system that enables farmers to call the service line, submit their queries, and call back after 24 hours to hear responses provided by specialists from the Indian Society of Agribusiness Professionals.

The Lifelines service blends a Cisco Unified Messaging platform with an online application that is used to forward queries to experts or pull answers from an FAQ database of approximately 40,000 items. Farmers pay a small fee of 5 Rupees (approximately 12 cents) to help sustain the cost of the service as it moves toward self-sufficiency.

Lifelines, which was initially launched in 85 villages, is now used by approximately 40,000 farmers in 700 villages, and handles an average of 300 calls per day. An independent study of farmers in three villages who use the Lifelines service showed an increase in product quality and productivity, resulting in 25 to 150 percent profit growth.

Callers are greeted with the service name; “Soochna Se Samadahan” (Information is Solution) and prompted to record their query on an automated voicemail system. The farmer is given a reference number (query-id) by the system and told when to call back for an answer.

The query is processed by a OneWorld sponsored knowledge worker in a central office who first searches the voice database of frequently asked questions. A database of over 88,000 ‘frequently asked questions’ has been built, enabling knowledge workers to provide a very timely response to repeat queries.

If a solution is on the database the knowledge worker attaches the voice response for the farmer to access as soon as the following day. If the issue is new, before recording the reply the knowledge worker seeks advice from a specialist from the Indian Society of Agribusiness Professionals (ISAP).

The two calls – one to record the query and the second to retrieve the answer – cost the farmer just five Rupees, around six pence. This small charge serves a dual purpose. Firstly, the farmers value and respect the information they get because it is not totally free. Secondly, it enables us to create a sustainable business model.
Cisco Public Information. Corporate Social Responsibility © June 2008 Cisco Systems, Inc.
OneWorld South Asia Lifelines India to empower farmers with information
BT Lifelines India V1 Pdf file, 4 pages
Making E-Agriculture Work through Public Private Partnership in Asia Final report On-line Discussion March 10-28, 2008

Monday, 16 June 2008

Africa Enterprise Challenge Fund

A US$50m fund for innovative business ideas has been launched in Accra on 12/06. The fund, Africa Enterprise Challenge Fund (AECF), is a private sector fund, backed by some of the biggest names in development finance and hosted by the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA). The African Development Bank (ADB), the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP), the UK Department for International Development (DFID), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), and the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs (NMFA) were the initial funders of the AECF.

Chief Executive Officer of AECF, Hugh Scott

The business ideas AECF is expected to consider include agri-business, rural financial services and rural media information and other services. The fund will run two competitions per year for 6 years starting in mid-2008. The AECF has an agreed sum of money (currently US$7.5m) available (in the form of grants and non-recourse loans) for each round of its competition for which private companies are invited to submit proposals for funding. It will focus initially on 13 countries (Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, Ghana, Nigeria, Mali, Burkina Faso, South Africa, Mozambique, Malawi and Zambia) operating from three regional hubs (Nairobi, Accra and Johannesburg).
The AECF, will provide grants or non-recourse loans up to a maximum of US$1.5m per company (the average grant/loan size will be US$750,000) to the most innovative proposals that are adjudged to have the greatest impact on the largest number of rural poor people.
  • It focuses exclusively on supporting the private sector
  • It provides an open and transparent “competition” for donor funds
  • It is based in, and run from, Africa.
  • It is focused on funding practical projects that are both commercially viable and will have a broad developmental impact on the rural poor
  • It is structured and governed along private sector principles with strong and sustained business engagement to ensure a flexible, responsive, results-orientated approach that the private sector can understand
  • It leverages private sector and donor money to help fund successful projects and enterprises
  • It is able to support cross-border, regional and pan-continental projects, as well as national ones.
In Ghana, the fund is managed by KPMG Development Services Limited. The AECF is an AGRA initiative that supports AGRA’s mission. A successful applicant is expected to contribute a minimum of 50 percent of the total cost of the project. The deadline for application is June 30, this year, while funding approval for successful applications will be granted within a maximum of 90 days from the closing date for applications.

Modern Africa 13/06 $50m Cash For Private Sector

Thursday, 12 June 2008

Knowledge-based food democracy, the way out of the African food crisis: realising the potential of the NARS, SROs and FARA

A paper Knowledge-based food democracy, the way out of the African food crisis: realising the potential of the NARS, SROs and FARA was drafted by FARA as a lot is being spent on yet another World Food Summit: this time, to consider what should be done about the global food crisis. [hereunder some extracts]

It is possible that delegates now have a better sense of urgency because the unprecedented rapid rise in food prices has caught everybody’s attention. In developing countries 100 million people are threatened with hunger but the crisis is no longer ‘somebody else’s problem’ even for citizens of the wealthiest countries, who are grappling with inflation in their cost of living. (...)

To have a lasting impact the proposed remedies must be developed and owned by those who are expected to implement them. This is not an easy task because there are many actors involved in Africa’s agricultural development: farmers and their associations, government ministries, cooperatives, international centres, non-governmental organisations, and private businesses, to name just a few. (...)

To cope with this a structured evidence-based approach is needed which links the producers to the consumers into which other actors can fit efficiently and effectively. Fortunately, there are models of success, such as smallholder dairying in Kenya, which can be up-scaled.However, the responses to today’s crisis cannot rely on what was done in the past. Firstly, because the sum of past successes did not change the livelihoods of the majority and secondly, the circumstances in which they succeeded no longer exist and the rate of change is accelerating. Radical innovations in agricultural production and marketing are needed, which are adapted to the prevailing socio-economic and environmental circumstances, and which above all are owned by those expected to implement them. (...)

Africa has not been standing idly by letting the food crisis unfold. It has been engaged in difficult wide ranging institutional restructuring involving farsighted reforms. Within the limits imposed by huge demands on limited budgets, African governments are increasing their investment in agricultural research, development and capacity strengthening. However, to avoid a continent wide calamity Africa also needs the support of its development partners to facilitate the engagement of all stakeholders in true knowledge-based food democracy in line with their commitment to increased better harmonised and better quality development assistance.

Knowledge-based food democracy, the way out of the African food crisis: realising the potential of the NARS, SROs and FARA May 2008 6 pages Download as PDF file

DANIDA's note on the causes and consequences of the rapidly increasing international food prices

Commissioned by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Danemark, the Institute of Food and Resource Economics, University of Copenhagen, has elaborated “A note on the causes and consequences of the rapidly increasing international food prices”.

The report will contribute to the Ministry’s general assessment of the global food situation – and to the debate on the key issues to be addressed in a development context. May 2008 36 pages.

To summarize, there are different stories behind the large increases in world prices for maize, wheat and rice. [extracts]
  1. Developments in the maize market are largely driven by the long term structural shifts in global food demand towards a greater dietary content of meat and dairy and, more recently, rapid growth in the biofuel industry using maize as a feedstock.
  2. The current high wheat prices are mainly caused by three consecutive years of weather-induced harvest shortfalls in some of the most important exporting regions, Australia, Europe and North America, at a time where wheat stocks are historically low.
  3. Finally, the soaring price of rice is primarily a product of hoarding by some of the most important actors in the international rice markets, which have imposed severe export restrictions in attempts to secure rice supplies.

Within the developing countries the rising food prices lead to redistriubtion as some households benefit from the higher prices while others are hurt by them. At the most general level the income for net producers of food will increase while net consumers will experience a tighter consumption budget. Using this broad distinction between net producers and consumers one must expect poverty to increase in urban areas while it may decrease in rural areas. The latter depends, in part, on the distribution of land, though, because landless poor in the rural areas will only benefit if the price increases spill-over on the wages for unskilled labor.

Moving beyond these general statements is difficult because the distribution of urban and rural poor varies greatly across countries and, furthermore, there is large variation in the types of food commodities produced across countries. This report can be downloaded here

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

Interactive voice service systems for farmers should be rolled out over the whole continent

Interview with Stephen Muchiri, Chief Executive Officer, Eastern Africa Farmers Federation (EAFF).

The Eastern African Farmers Federation was formed in 2001 and its chapter registered in member counties. EAFF is a non-political, non-profit and a democratic apex organization of all Framers of Eastern Africa. Its role is to voice legitimate concerns and interests of farmers of the region with the aim of enhancing regional cohesiveness and social-economic status of the farmers.

A regional farmers congress is organised by EAFF constitution biannually. The Congress gathers about 150 people drawn from: national member platforms in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and DR Congo; governments and regional economic communities (RECs); farmers networks from ACP; development partners; NGOs and larger civil Society; EAFF networks and alliances.

Stephen Muchiri comments NAFIS: the National Farmers Information Service which was launched as a pilot project begin of May 2008 and links this to the Accra workshop of AFAAS/FARA & Neuchatel Initiative. The National Farmers Information Service (NAFIS)enables farmers and other interested parties to receive timely agriculture information through their mobile phones in national language (Kiswahili to start with).

Stephen Muchiri explains what NAFIS is about. He often sees problems of sustainability in similar projects but farmers should not be left hungry for information.

The NAFIS project ties very well under the CAADP process [Comprehensive African Agricultural Development Programme] especially pillar IV [dissemination of research information and technologies]. NAFIS should be outscaled at the benefit of farmers. EAFF [Eastern Africa Farmers Federation ] will be monitoring how the NAFIS programme is implemented and rolled out. He answers following questions:
  1. What are the conditions for a continental roll out?
  2. Does an interactive voice service system reach better illiterate farmers?
  3. Are you hopefull that this NAFIS experience can be out scaled to many African countries?
  4. Which expertise is needed for such a roll out?
Related FARA blogposts:
The future of Agricultural Advisory Services (AAS)
African languages technology offers new opportunities
Kenya launches interactive voice service system an...

Predatory intellectual property claims on plant materials

A nearly 8-year effort to redress a notorious act of biopiracy finally achieved its objective on April 29, 2008, when the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) announced it was definitively rejecting all patent claims for a yellow-seeded variety of common bean named ‘Enola’.

The International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), which has a world mandate for common bean improvement within the CGIAR, took up a legal challenge to the patent in late 2000. The Center’s efforts to reverse the patent have received significant coverage in the international media and helped arouse concern worldwide about predatory intellectual property claims on plant materials originating in the developing world.

The importance of eliminating such abuses seems especially obvious in the face of today’s global food price crisis. More than ever, developing countries must have free access to plant genetic resources that are vital for bolstering food security and adapting agriculture to the impacts of climate change.

CGIAR story of the Month June 2008: Fighting for Fair Use of Plant Genetic Resources
The FARA bi-monthly Bulletin of April-May has as theme IPR and agricultural research in Africa

DFID increases funding to international agricultural research

06 Jun 2008 At the recent World Food Summit in Rome, Douglas Alexander, Secretary of State for International Development, announced that DFID will provide £150 million to support international agricultural research over the next five years. £130 million of this is allocated to the Consultative Group for International Agricultural research (CGIAR) and the balance to other international agricultural research organisations which complement the work of the CGIAR.

This major increase in funding to the CGIAR is because the “CGIAR is delivering good research.” It is also dependent upon “significant reform in the CGIAR.” The increase in funding will enable the CGIAR and other international agricultural research organisations to undertake research to:
  • Produce new varieties of staple crops and livestock (including adaptation to climate change);
  • Create new income opportunities for communities from high value commodities (fruits, vegetables, fisheries and forest products);
  • Conserve crop and animal biodiversity for future use;
  • Develop improved practices and policies for the sustainable management of water, land and forestry resources; and,
  • Inform global and national agricultural and food policies (including policies on markets and trade).
This support for international agricultural research is part of the £400m DFID has already announced for agricultural research under DFID’s new five year Research Strategy.

DFID increases funding to international agricultural research
CGIAR receives £130 million for agricultural research

G 77 + China meeting in Yamoussoukro

Delegations from 130 member countries of the Group of 77 plus China are taking part in Yamoussoukro in the four-day meeting of the Group of 77 + China meeting, 11-14/06 which for the first time is being held in a sub-Saharan African country.

The meeting is being held at the Fondation Félix Houphouet-Boigny pour la recherche de la paix
The meeting is notably expected to review the implementation of the platform for the development of the South, which was recommended by the 2nd South-South Summit and the operationalization of the Development Fund of the South and Humanitarian Assistance.

President Gbagbo has blamed the current food crisis facing developing countries on the limitations of a skewed economic model dating back to the 19th century, saying that it had created a culture of "dependence on industrialized nations."
"The current food crisis shows clearly... the limitations of certain economic orientations dating back to the 19th century. An economic model that has notably created a situation whereby developing nations depend on the industrialized ones," said President Gbagbo. In order to overcome the current situation, the head of state called on the United Nations to put in place a "fund for the stabilization of staple foods," before adding that the G77 should also move forward and create the "Southern Fund for Development and Humanitarian Assistance" as agreed during a 2005 summit.

Boosting the West Africa region’s rice production

9-12 June 2008, Cotonou - FAO and the Benin-based Africa Rice Center (WARDA) host a workshop to explore ways of significantly boosting the West Africa region’s rice production, to help local farmers benefit from high prices and wean those countries off of international rice imports.

The workshop in Benin is also organized in partnership with the International Center for Soil Fertility and Agricultural Development and the non-governmental organization Catholic Relief Services. AGRA is also participating.
ARI cold store in Cotonou, Benin

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

The future of Agricultural Advisory Services (AAS) in Sub-Saharan Africa,

Meeting of FARA – AFAAS - Neuchâtel Initiative, Accra, 9 – 11/06/2008.

The general objectives of the meeting were:
  • to identify and prioritize issues, ideas and activities for collaboration
  • to determine thematic scope of the consultation
  • to develop a list of selected AAS stakeholders, key informants, networks and processes (meetings, events) for later consultation activities in different African countries
  • to develop a joint agenda for the consultation process
  • To check the results of the discussions (identified issues and developed ideas) with a broader range of actors from within Ghana.

Interview with Silim NAHDY of the African Forum for Agricultural Advisory Services (AFAAS).

He explains why it is imperative that advisory services get more support. The Neuchâtel Initiative (a group of donors who support extension services in Africa), AFAAS and FARA are joining efforts. This will to collaborate came before the present food crisis but is now even more urgent. The major challenge is to elaborate a common framework for working together in relation to the country chapters.

Interview with Dr. Desire Porquet - Ivory Coast - ANOPACI & ROPPA, Farmers organisation.

He explains why the concept of leadership is important for farmer organisations. The biggest challenge is to face bureaucracy of research institutes and have a close follow up of the farmer to continue to motivate him at the field level.


Dr. M. Silim Nahdy, Chair AFAAS ICC/ Executive Director, NAADS-Uganda, Kampala/Uganda
Mr. Max Olupot, Coordination Assistant , African Forum for Agricultural Advisory Services (AFAAS), Kampala/Uganda
Mr. Stephen Muchiri, CEO, Eastern Africa Farmers Federation (EAFF), Nairobi/Kenya
Mr. Benito Odala Eliasi, Capacity Building Advisor, Southern African Confederation of Agricultural Unions (SACAU), Pretoria/South Africa
Mr. Désiré Porquet, 1er Vice-Président, Réseau des Organisations Paysannes et ROPPA, Abidjan/Côte d’Ivoire
Mr. Guy Gustave Ewole Medjeme, Chargé de Programme, PROPAC, Yaoundé/Cameroon
Prof. Richard Mkandawire, Agricultural Advisor, New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), Johannesburg/South Africa
Mr. Daniel Roduner, Consultant – Trainer – Facilitator , AGRIDEA , Switzerland
Dr. Agnes Gerold, Consultant, GTZ/Neuchâtel Initiative, Frankfurt/Germany
Ms. Sanne Chipeta, Senior International Adviser, Danish Agricultural Advisory Service (DAAS), Aarhus/Denmark
Mr. Martin Bwalya, Sustainable Land Management Specialist, New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), Johannesburg/South Africa
Mr. Felix Hammond, Municipal Director of Agriculture, Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA), Accra/Ghana
Mr. John Nortey, Senior Agric. Economist, Ministry of Food and Agriculture – Statistical, Research & Information Directorate (MOFA(SRID)), Tema/Ghana
Mr. Theophilus Osei Owusu, Metropolitan Director, Tema, Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA), Accra/Ghana
Mr. Mawuli Asigbee, Ag Manager, Fairtrade Fruits Project, CARE International (CARE GoG), Accra/Ghana
Mr. Gabriel Owusu, Senior Agricultural Officer, Ministry of Food and Agriculture; Directorate of Agricultural Extension Services (MOFA-DAES), Accra/Ghana
Ms. Lydia Sasu, Executive Director, National Coordinator, Women leader, Development Action Association, Farmers Organisation Network in Ghana, Accra/Ghana
Mrs. Prospera Anku-Okrah, Assistant Agricultural Officer, Ministry of Food and Agriculture – Directorate of Agricultural Extension Services, Accra/Ghana
Mr. Charles Ofori Addo, Development manager, Technoserve, Accra/Ghana
Dr. Emmanuel Dormon, Assistant Director, Ministry of Food and Agriculture – Directorate of Agricultural Extension Services, Accra/Ghana
Nii Quaye-Kumah, Director, Ministry of Food and Agriculture – District Agricultural Development Unit, Dangme West District, Dodowa, Accra/Ghana
Mr. Felix Kenyah, Assistant Director, Ministry of Food and Agriculture , Accra/Ghana
Dr. Jean-Claude Legoupil, French Technical Assistant, FARA, Accra/Ghana
Dr. Aggrey Agumya, SSA CP Programme Officer, FARA, Accra/Ghana
Dr. Wale Adekunle, Director NSF5 and SSA CP Coordinator, FARA, Accra/Ghana
Dr. Gloria Essilfie, SSA CP Resource Person, FARA, Accra/Ghana
Dr. Sidi Sanyang, Director- Regional Policy and Markets, FARA, Accra/Ghana
Mr. Dady Demby, RAILS Programme Officer , FARA, Accra/Ghana


African Forum for Agricultural Advisory Services : blogpost of 15/01/2008
Demand Driven Agricultural Advisory Services : blogpost of 10/01/2008

Outsourcing agricultural advisory services: enhancing rural innovation in Sub-Saharan Africa
Posted: 16 Jul 2008 03:15 AM CDT
2008/07 - Royal Tropical Institute (KIT) [Bulletin, 380]

First West & Central African Agricultural Scientific Week

FARA is participating at the CORAF/WECARD First West & Central African Agricultural Scientific Week & eighth General Assembly: Producers & Users at the centre of research. June 9-13, Yaounde, Cameroon. The objective of the meeting is to provide a forum where CORAF/WECARD's constituents can meet to review progress since the 7 th biennial General Assembly in April 2006 and, based on lessons learnt since then, determine the West and Central African agenda for agricultural research for development for the next biennium.
Kanayo Nwanze, Vice-President,
International Fund for Agricultural Development.

The Nigerian born IFAD vice president Kanayo Felix Nwanze delivered a keynote address during the general assembly on "Producers and end-users of agricultural research and development". Kanayo Felix Nwanze, is on a five-day visit to Cameroon. The vice president was accompanied by the Director for the West and Central Africa Division, Mohamed Beavogui, and the country programme manager for Cameroon Abdoul Barry.

Africa: Atlas of Our Changing Environment.

One of the major highlights of the 12th Session of AMCEN is the launch of "Africa: Atlas of our changing environment". The Atlas is the first major publication to depict rapid environmental change in Africa's countries using satellite imagery, and is a resource for remedial action at all levels.
Charles Sebukeera, UNEP,
during his presentation on Africa:
Atlas of Our Changing Environment

The Atlas, compiled on behalf of the ministers by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), underlines how development choices, population growth, climate change and, in some cases, conflicts are shaping and impacting the natural and nature-based assets of the region.

The nearly 400-page long publication was launched on Tuesday 10/06 by President Thabo Mbeki of the Republic of South Africa who is hosting the AMCEN meeting in Johannesburg. Africa: Atlas of Our Changing Environment features over 300 satellite images taken in every country in Africa in over 100 locations. The 'before' and 'after' photographs, some of which span a 35-year period, offer striking snapshots of local environmental transformation across the continent. In addition to well-publicized changes, such as Mount Kilimanjaro's shrinking glaciers, the drying up of Lake Chad and falling water levels in Lake Victoria, the Atlas presents, for the first time, satellite images of new or lesser known environmental changes and challenges.

The Atlas, compiled in cooperation with researchers and organizations in Africa and elsewhere, offers a sobering assessment of thirty-six years of environmental change, including: 'The swell of grey-coloured cities over a once-green countryside; protected areas shrinking as farms encroach upon their boundaries; the tracks of road networks through forests; pollutants that drift over borders of neighboring countries; the erosion of deltas; refugee settlements scattered across the continent causing further pressure on the environment; and shrinking mountain glaciers'.

The satellite images also highlight positive signs of management that is protecting against and even reversing environmental degradation, say the authors.

The U.N. Environment Programme (UNEP) believes that the growing environmental degradation of Africa is perhaps most starkly reflected in satellite images beamed from the skies. So, the Nairobi-based U.N. agency introduced previously another atlas in August 2006 which had as title: "Africa's Lakes: Atlas of our Changing Environment",

Picture of forest in West of Ghana:a comparison between 1973 and 2002: 30 years later...

Expert Group Meeting of the Twelfth Session of the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment

South Africa hosted the 12th session of the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN), 7-12 June 2008 and will also be taking the helm of AMCEN for the next two years. The official opening ceremony for AMCEN took place on 10 June 2008 to which FARA participating.

View of the Sandton Convention Centre,
venue of AMCEN-12
The first Extraordinary Meeting of the Contracting Parties to the Convention for Cooperation in the Protection and Development of the Marine and Coastal Environment of the West and Central African Region will also run parallel to AMCEN from 9-10 June 2008.
Another Associated meeting is the Special Conference of Parties of the Abidjan Convention COP 9, on 9 -10 June 2008.

The Expert Group met in plenary to hear presentations and discuss a number of items, including: a report by the AMCEN Secretariat; implementation of the Action Plan for the Environment Initiative of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD); reports from the African Union Commission (AUC) and NEPAD; AMCEN’s draft indicative work programme for the biennium 2009-2010; and the forthcoming launch of Africa: Atlas of Our Changing Environment.
Participants during Working Group I (WGI): Climate Change

The Expert Group then convened in three working groups to prepare draft decisions for the ministerial segment on climate change, AMCEN’s Work Programme for the 2009-2010 Biennium, and policy-related matters. It forwarded to the ministerial segment the draft Johannesburg Declaration on the Environment for Development (the Johannesburg declaration), the draft indicative work programme for the biennium 2009-2010, and draft decisions on the following matters:
  • implementation of the Action Plan of the Environment Initiative of NEPAD; status and use of the general trust fund; chemicals management;
  • environmental education;
  • Africa Environment Day;
  • the Africa Environment Outlook process and the Africa Environment Information Network;
  • Africa’s preparations for developing a common negotiating position on a comprehensive international climate change regime beyond 2012;
  • and the comprehensive framework of African climate change programmes, containing an indicative list of Africa’s climate change decisions and an indicative conceptual outline of a comprehensive framework for African climate change programmes.
UNEP Resources

IISD RS Resources

Monday, 9 June 2008

Export strategies using Intellectual Property applied to Sub-Saharan export products

Export strategies using Intellectual Property (IP) can involve literally millions of producers and show a new and exciting direction for success.

Light Years IP, with support from the UK Department for International Development, has conducted a scoping study on the range and scale of opportunies. This study explores some of the possibilities for large-scale opportunities to increase export income and improve the security of that income for millions all over sub-Saharan Africa.

The 14 product sectors selected for this study have potential for increasing export income from $1.1 billion per annum, to between $2.5 billion and $3.5 billion per annum. The study estimates that IP based strategies can similarly be applied to Sub-Saharan export products, now earning around $9 billion per annum, which would increase export income to between $20 billion and $27 billion per annum.

The findings of the study have been published in a report which can be here: Distinctive_values_in_African_exports.pdf

Related: Policy brief of Light Years IP about

Food Insecurity: A Perfect Storm

The global food crisis can be solved, and at the same time African countries can prosper, if the world invests in Africa's agricultural sector. That's the assessment of experts meeting this week in South Africa for the World Economic Forum in the panel "Food Insecurity: A Perfect Storm". More than 800 participants from 50 countries are participating in the forum that runs through Friday. The discussion on food insecurity took place concurrently with the United Nations food summit in Rome. The debate in Cape Town focused on medium- and long-term solutions to the problem.

Dr. Monty Jones directs Ghana's Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa. To him, the recent rise in food prices is more than a humanitarian crisis. He says it's a business opportunity.
"We all believe that agriculture is the backbone for economic growth in Africa," said Jones. "And I think that Africa should turn around this as an opportunity to increase its food production. And, I believe that we are getting ready for that." He emphasized "empowering smallholders to make sure they can access information and outside inputs and have their voices heard. If that happens, I foresee a considerable increase in production"

Dr. Jones was speaking at a debate on how Africa should respond to the growing problem of food insecurity. Panelists agreed that African farmers have been neglected. As a result, they grow less per acre than anywhere else in the world.

Experts predict the current food crisis will force leaders to provide farmers with better education, affordable fertilizer, high-yield varieties of seeds, and improved irrigation.
Press Release I Session Summary I Photos I Watch the session

Voice of America 05/06
ChinaView 05/06 World Economic Forum calls for support for smallholders to address food crisis
Tehran Times 08/06 World Bank says food crisis can be opportunity for Africa

Fourteenth edition of the Agricultural Outlook

This is the fourteenth edition of the Agricultural Outlook and the fourth time it has been prepared jointly by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

This edition covers the outlook for commodity markets during the 2008 to 2017 period, and brings together the commodity, policy and country expertise of both Organisations. The report analyses world market trends for the main agricultural products, as well as biofuels. It provides an assessment of agricultural market prospects for production, consumption, trade, stocks and prices of the included commodities.

In total, the projections encompass 39 countries and 19 regions. The projections are based on specific assumptions regarding global macroeconomic conditions; population growth; national agricultural, biofuel and trade policies; production technologies; and normal weather conditions. The Agricultural Outlook provides a picture of how agricultural markets could evolve in the coming decade given the underlying assumptions.

The release of the joint 2008 OECD-FAO Agricultural Outlook, during a news conference on 29/05 with participation of Jacques Diouf, Food and Agriculture Organization Director-General, and the OECD Secretary-General. Paris, France, can [easily] be viewed in a low bandwidth video of one hour!

MSc in Climate Change and International Development

The MSc in Climate Change and International Development, the first degree programme of its kind (University of East Anglia Norwich UK), will address aspects of the policy process, and include units on dimensions of climate change (CC) and development:

International policy frameworks on climate change; Adaptation and Mitigation choices and pathways; Adaptation and National Responses; Linking CC mitigation and development (CDM and beyond); The carbon trade: markets and development; CC and poverty reduction, trade-offs and synergies; Local responses to extreme events and disasters; adaptation and mitigation impacts in Africa; Sectoral responses (e.g. Managing coastal / water resources).

Forum on biofuels for development in Africa at the World Bioenergy 2008

1200 delegates from some 60 countries took part in the World Bioenergy 27-29 May 2008 at Elmia in Jönköping, Sweden. Exhibiting companies numbered 200, of which half came from outside Sweden. The trade fair was visited by 5564 people.

Sub-Saharan African has the greatest bioenergy potential of any world region but at present this potential is vastly under-utilised. At World Bioenergy in Jönköping, Sweden the Stockholm Environment Institute organised a forum on biofuels for development in Africa.

An expert panel with several African and international analysts and partnership/project developers addressed the key issues through short presentations followed by a panel discussion and an open discussion with the audience.
  • Addressing the African Biofuel Debate: Bothwell Batidzirai, Chinhoyi University, Zambia
  • Bringing a Swedish Product to an African Market: The Role of Partnership and International Cooperation for Developing a Locally Owned Ethanol Stove Business in Ethiopia ; Milkyas Debebe, Gaia Association, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
  • A biofuels prenuptial: Questions for Southern policy makers before marriage ; Margaret Matinga, University of Twente, Netherlands
  • Development and Implementation of Biomass Energy Pilot Activities in Uganda ; Sunil Dhingra, Fellow at The Energy Resources Institute (TERI), Delhi, India
  • Bioenergy investment in Africa: Michael Nilsson, Chairman, Biomassive, Sweden
  • Common challenges to sustainable rural biogas programmes in China and Africa ; Lailai Li, SEI
Biomass energy currently forms 70 to 90 per cent of the total final energy supply in sub-Saharan Africa. But there is one major problem, as Sunil Dhingra of the Energy Resources Institute (TERI) in Delhi, India explained:

Sunil Dhingra,
Fellow at the Energy Resources Institute
(TERI) Delhi, India
“This biomass is now being used in a very inefficient and traditional way. There is great development potential in Africa for biomass but the real challenge in working in these countries is the lack of access to modern biomass technology.”

India and Uganda collaborate on biomass technology
North-south-south forum on biofuels for development in Africa: The role of regional policies and public-private partnerships

Friday, 6 June 2008

GlobalHort just released its second newsletter

GlobalHort just released its second newsletter. GlobalHort acts as a global facility for coordinated horticultural research that provides solutions towards increasing health, productivity and safety in sustainable environments, to uplift the quality of life of the poorest populations in the world. It contributes to improve interest, support and resources to the horticultural sector, public and private, from donors, research and development agencies, and decision makers.
Some African Topics:

The role of private foundations and emerging donors in the agricultural and rural development sector

CTA in partnership with the European Commission-DG Development and EuropeAid, the EU Presidency, the ACP Secretariat, Euforic and Concord (European platform of development NGOs) organizes bimonthly Development Briefings in Brussels to raise awareness on key rural development issues with the ambassadors of the Africa, Caribbean and Pacific States (ACP) and EU policy-makers.

The next Brussels Development Briefing will be held on 2nd July and will discuss the issue of "New Players, New Drivers in Development", looking more specifically at the agricultural and rural development sector in the context of ACP countries, the role of private foundations (Bill Gates, Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, Rockefeller Foundation etc) and the role of emerging donors (China, India, Brazil, Japan) in ACP countries.

The discussions will fit into the coming Third High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness to be held in Accra on 2-4 September 2008.

Knowledge Management and Sustainable Development in the 21st Century

World Sustainable Development Outlook 2007
Knowledge Management and Sustainable Development in the 21st Century. Edited by Allam Ahmed, University of Sussex, UK

Most of the technological innovations in ICTs are Western-designed and fail to address the needs of the most disadvantaged. The interest of industrialised countries in the use of ICTs in DCs has largely been more concerned with the profitability of their own business enterprises than with any broader goals concerning the development of the host countries. DCs face the challenge of either becoming an integral part of the knowledge-based global economy or the very real danger of finding themselves on the wrong side of the digital divide. Successful management in the new millennium requires developing new methods and approaches to meet the challenges and opportunities of this information revolution while at the same time fostering sustainable development.
Extracts from the table of content:
In search of African Tigers: Repositioning African universities for challenges of research and development, wealth creation and sustainable development Michael J. Emeji, Rivers State University of Science and Technology, Nigeria Read abstract
Cybernating academe: centralisation of science assessment as hegemony - an African alternative Williams E. Nwagwu, University of Ibadan, Nigeria. Read abstract

A longitudinal study of farmers and trainers capturing climate information for sustainable development D.A. George, University of Queensland, Australia, J.F. Clewett, Agroclim Australia, A.K.S. Huda, University of Western Sydney, Australia, C.J. Birch and A.H. Wright, University of Queensland, Australia, W.R. Allen, AgForce Queensland, Australia, and Q. Pa Read abstract
Women, sustainable community development and human resource development: The Sub-Saharan African context Peter Cunningham and Kristine Sydhagen, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, South Africa Read abstract

Thursday, 5 June 2008

Kenya: New Rice Breed in Trial Phase

A breed of rice has been introduced in two North Rift districts to boost food security.
The trials of New Rice for Africa (Nerica) were done in 2004 and seems to be doing well, according to two organisations.

The variety, a mixture of Asian and native west African was introduced to Keiyo and Marakwet districts by Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica) and Community Agricultural Development Project for Semi-Arid Lands (Cadsal).

According to the Cadsal project manager for Keiyo and Marakwet districts Mr David Mutisya, the trials were in the last phase. The rice matures in a period of about four months and does well in highlands, medium and lowland areas. It was first tried in Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (Kari) farm in Kibos, Kisumu, in 2003. It has also been grown in Matuga, Mwea, Bungoma, Busia, Juja, Kabete, Kwale and Kerio Valley areas.

Reference: The Nation (Nairobi) 03/06

African edition of the World Economic Forum

The African edition of the World Economic Forum (04/06-06/06) is being held in a idyllic South African tourism resort against the backdrop of mounting problems threatening the continent's recent trend of economic growth. This year's edition has attracted about 850 participants among them political leaders, captains of industry, top journalists and civil society. They are expected to tackle issues as varied as the business environment, political leadership, international relations and food security in at least 50 sessions.

Food security, geopolitical instability, economic shocks and climate change are among top risks facing Africa, according to a new report released (20 pages) at the World Economic Forum on Africa.

Co-author Irene Casanova is a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Risk Program. She says the report cites four risk areas: Food and Fresh water Security, Geopolitical Instability, Economic Shocks and Climate Change.

“In 43 Africa countries there are food deficiencies. Inflation does not help. Population keeps on growing. And even if agricultural productivity has improved, it needs to increase even further. These combined with social conflict and so on -- actually it makes the situation at risk,” she says.

One solution, she says, would be to expand Africa’s Green Revolution to go beyond technology and reform government enterprises to improve agricultural productivity and bring economic stability.

Website of the World Economic Forum on Africa
Voice of America New Report Cities Risk Factors to African Economic Growth and Development
Interview I Press release I Report I Global Risk Network

Solutions to the crisis of rising food prices

As the "Conference on World Food Security: Challenges of Climate Change and Bioenergy" unfolds in Rome, many international organizations mandated to offer solutions to the crisis of rising food prices have stepped forward. The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), together with World Bank and other institutions put together steps to alleviate the problem that includes the need to:
  • expand emergency aid and social protection for the poor
  • calm the markets with sound trade, reserve, and regulatory policies
  • change the biofuel policies that spur high food prices, and
  • invest much more in agriculture, especially to benefit the small farms of the developing world

Detailed actions plans have been put forward by IFPRI, the World Bank, and others.

Reference: IFPRI PRESS STATEMENT June 3, 2008 From Intentions to Implementation