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

Friday, 26 September 2008

Sub-Regional Capacity-Building Workshop on Biodiversity - CENTRAL AFRICA

22 to 25 September. Limbé, Cameroon. The purpose of the workshop was to strengthen national capacity for the development, implementation, review and updating of national biodiversity strategies and action plans, and for biodiversity mainstreaming into relevant sectors, through the exchange of experiences and training on the use of relevant tools and mechanisms.
It provided an opportunity for Parties to identify ways and means to overcome obstacles associated with the implementation of national biodiversity strategies and action plans, as well as inform the ongoing review of implementation of goals 2 and 3 of the Strategic Plan of the Convention.

Annual meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative

25-26 September. NEW YORK. Global warming and poverty are intertwined because the world's poorest people are the ones hardest hit by changes in the climate, and solutions for both problems need to be found, panelists said Thursday at the second day of an annual conference spearheaded by former President Bill Clinton.

The conference opened Wednesday and included former Vice President Al Gore, Bono, Bill Gates and Lance Armstrong. Celebrities including Muhammad Ali were in the audience. Speakers Thursday included actress Drew Barrymore and musician Wyclef Jean, who announced a program to provide school food and health care programs to millions of children in more than 30 countries.

CGI, now in its fourth year, draws world leaders, celebrities, activists and scholars for three days of discussions about pressing global problems. It coincides with the General Assembly meeting taking place on the other side of town at the United Nations.


Sustainable Sanitation in Africa Conference

24-27 September. Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. “Pathways towards Sustainable Sanitation in Africa”.

A three day event, the conference will bring together the community of practice that has coalesced around the NETSSAF consortium, in conjunction with other decision makers, sanitation professionals, scientists and practitioners. Findings, future trends and evaluations will be presented on the unifying theme of large scale sustainable approaches to sanitation in rural and peri-urban areas.

Organisée par le Centre Régional pour l’Eau Potable et l’Assainissement à faible coût (CREPA) et ses 18 autres partenaires du projet NETSSAF, la conférence de Ouagadougou est un cadre de d’échange et de partage d’information qui réunira environ 200 participants venant de 32 pays d’Afrique, d’Europe et d’Asie, et comprenant des décideurs et des chercheurs, des officiels du Burkina et d’Organisations Internationales, des ONGs reconnues et des Institutions donatrices. Elle permettra d’échanger sur des résultats de recherche et de discuter sur les orientations futures relatives aux approches durables d’assainissement à grande échelle en zone rurale et périurbaine en Afrique.


1st All Africa Biotech Conference

22 –26 September. Nairobi, Kenya. The first All Africa Congress on Biotechnology kicked off on Monday 22nd September 2008, at the Grand Palace Conference Centre in the capital city of the Republic of Kenya, Nairobi.

The first of its kind, the African Forum on Biotechnology, is being held under the theme: “Harnessing the potential of biotechnology for food security and socio-Economic Development in Africa”. It was jointly organised by the African Union and the Kenyan Government, including several other partners in the presence of government officials of AU Member States, scientists, researchers, journalists specialised in the domain, civil society, agricultural organisations within the African continent as well as representatives of regions that are technically advanced in the area of biotechnology worldwide.

The opening session of the All African Congress on Biotechnology was marked by the speech of the Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture of the African Union, Mrs. Rhoda Peace Tumusiime, that highlighted the position and action of the African Union in Biotechnology and food security. According to the Commissioner’s speech, the African Union is seeking lasting solutions to resolve the problem of food security.

Other activities on the agenda of the Congress include thematic workshops that will hold up to 26 September 2008. One of the workshops will be on communication. It will focus on the role of the media in covering events related to biotechnology.

African Biotechnology Stakeholders Forum
African Union / The First Ever All African Congress on ...Organisation de la Presse Africaine Sep 24

International Conference on Natural Resource Management, Climate Change and Economic Development in Africa

September 15-17, Nairobi .The African Economic Research Consortium (AERC) organized an International Conference on Natural Resource Management, Climate Change and Economic Development in Africa as part of its 20th Anniversary.

The intention of the conference was to bring together a significant body of information to illuminate the physical, socioeconomic and global impacts of climate change and resource management, and related policy issues.

Kenyan Environment Minister John Michuki opened the conference at the Intercontinental Hotel. The minister urged the AERC to think seriously about incorporating agricultural and natural resource management issues into its programme.

AERC’s long-term ambition focuses on a paradigm shift at the national level, so that Africa’s poor can become less vulnerable to drought-related food shortages and globalization on the whole. It is anticipated that through AERC’s broad research and policy network, the research papers and dissemination efforts will bring these issues to the fore so as to raise African policy makers’ awareness and enable them to take a proactive stance on behalf of their countries and nationals.

AERC 20th Anniversary Conference
Bussiness Daily Africa 15/09 Minister blames pollution on politics


A thematic conference on Climate Change in Africa took place in Nairobi 18 september. The conference on the challenge of Climate Chance in Africa was the fourth of five thematic conferences organised by the Africa Commission in 2008. The objective of the conference is to secure a string of recommendations that will be used in the further work of the Africa Commission, and to ensure African and civil society ownership to the process.

The Commission consists of international members drawn from Heads of States and Governments, politicians, experts, business people and representatives from both international and regional organizations and the academic world. The majority are from Africa. The Danish Prime Minister, Mr. Anders Fogh Rasmussen, is chairman of the Commission.

The more than 80 participants in Nairobi represented a broad range of actors from government institutions, civil society and the private sector. The list included environmental and resource specialists, NGO's, environmental economists, business associations and officials from relevant ministries.

The following themes were used as inspiration and guide for the working group discussions: 1. Water resources 2. Food security and agricultural productivity 3. Adaptation to climate change in urban areas 4. Economic development and clean energy 5. Avoiding deforestation

See: Africa Commission


Sixth biennial scientific conference of the University of Nairobi’s College of Agriculture and Veterinary Sciences.

See: Daily Nation Kenya 15/09 Experts in bid to solve food crisis

Thursday, 25 September 2008

LifeLines India: Success stories of farmers

LifeLines, a technology-based helpline service, is helping initiate a small revolution-of-sorts in the lives of rural communities in India by enabling them with access to critical knowledge and livelihood information just on the dial of a phone.

An initiative of the OneWorld International Foundation, in collaboration with British Telecom and Cisco, the Lifelines service, was introduced as a digital inclusion initiative to help developing-world communities bridge the digital divide and better their livelihood and income opportunities.

The service is based on the premise of leveraging ICTs a mix of internet and telephone technologies - to enable the provision of essential information, advice and guidance to remote and rural communities in India through the medium of voice and in the local language.

Innovation Africa: enriching farmers’ livelihoods

This book covers new conceptual and methodological developments in agricultural innovation systems, and showcases recent on-the-ground experiences in and lessons from related research and development in different contexts in Africa. 

The contributions show how innovation is the outcome of social learning through interaction of individuals and organisations in both creating and applying knowledge. The book brings examples of how space and incentives have been created to promote collaboration between farmers, research, extension and the private sector to develop better technologies and institutional arrangements that can alleviate poverty. In 25 broadranging chapters, the book reflects cutting-edge thinking and practice in catalysing and supporting innovation processes in agriculture and management of natural resources.  

'Innovation by, with and for farmers in Africa is one of the major contemporary challenges of development. This book will be essential reading for anyone interested in these issues.' Professor Ian Scoones, Institute of Development Studies at the University of Sussex, UK

Innovation Africa Enriching Farmers' Livelihoods (October 2008, 384 pages)
Pascal C. Sanginga, Ann Waters-Bayer, Susan Kaaria, Jemimah Njuki and Chesha Wettasinha 

Information service for rural farmers in India among the 008 Tech Awards Laureates

The Tech Awards, presented by Applied Materials (Nasdaq:AMAT), and a signature program of The Tech Museum of Innovation, announced 9th of September the 2008 Tech Awards Laureates, 25 global innovators who are applying technology to benefit humanity and spark global change. This esteemed group of Laureates was selected from hundreds of nominations representing 68 countries.

In addition to the 25 Laureates being honored, Professor Muhammad Yunus, pioneer of microcredit and founder of Grameen Bank, will receive the 2008 James C. Morgan Global Humanitarian Award, honoring individuals whose broad vision and leadership are helping to address humanitys greatest challenges.

Established in 2001, The Tech Awards recognize 25 Laureates in five universal categories: education, equality, environment, economic development and health. These Laureates have developed new technological solutions or innovative ways to use existing technologies to significantly improve the lives of people around the world. One Laureate in each category will receive a $50,000 cash prize during the annual Awards Gala on November 12.

This year, the 2008 Laureates represent the truly global vision of the program, spanning countries such as Senegal, Peru, Hungary, Canada, Namibia, Germany, Egypt, India, United Kingdom, Laos and the United States. Their work impacts people in many more countries worldwide.

Below are some of the 2008 Laureates and a brief description of the winning projects.

  • Lifelines, OneWorld South Asia: Lifelines is a telephone-based information service for rural farmers in India that uses a Cisco Unified Messaging platform incorporating Interactive Voice Response functionality, integrated with a Customer Relationship Management application and information database. http://uk.oneworld.net/article/archive/9790
  • Solar Electric Light Fund: Washington D.C.-based Solar Electric Light Fund developed a solar power drip irrigation system to help farmers in rural Benin, West Africa, cultivate their crops. The technology eliminates the need for fossil fuels and battery use currently used in irrigation methods in developing countries. http://www.self.org/
  • Biomass Energy Project, Cheetah Conservation Fund: Namibia-based Cheetah Conservation Funds Bush Project is a biomass processing plant that uses a high-pressure extrusion process to convert invasive bush into a clean and economically viable alternative to existing products such as firewood, coal, lump charcoal and charcoal briquettes used for cooking fuel and barbecues. http://www.cheetah.org/
  • Adaptive Multimedia Information System (AMIS), DAISY Consortium: DAISY Consortium provides open source software to read text to impaired people in 20 languages using AMIS software, which implements synthetic speech to make text and multi-media information available to people who have visual impairments, cognitive or learning disabilities such as dyslexia, and people who are unable to hold a keyboard or printed publication. http://www.daisy.org/

  • Key Features of the LifeLines Agriculture service:
    Expert advice on integrated pest management (IPM) methods has helped farmers to improve their input efficiency. Solutions are made available to farmers within 24 hours. Information available on more than 50 different fields of agriculture and allied activities covering a complete chain of information from production to consumption, including information on:
    • Farm inputs like seeds, fertilizers, pesticides
    • Funding schemes
    • Government schemes on loans and subsidies
    • Banking and insurance
    • Market prices
    • Region specific market information
    • Agriculture news
    • Organic farming

    The types of queries addressed till date include some of the following:

    • Insect, pest and disease management
    • Market information and commodity prices
    • New varieties of crops
    • Government schemes for crop insurance and loans
    • Watershed management and micro-irrigation
    • Seeds and fertilizers


    African crop yields benefit from 'pinch' of fertiliser

    A technique using small amounts of fertiliser, pioneered by African agricultural scientists, is boosting crop yields in degraded soils.

    According to the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), 25,000 farm families in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger have significantly improved yields of sorghum, maize and millet by adding just a ''three-finger pinch'' (six grams) of fertiliser when planting seeds or within three weeks of sowing.

    This revitalises areas suffering degraded soil and empowers farmers in areas where fertiliser is difficult to obtain or too expensive, says Ramadjita Tabo, ICRISAT's assistant director for West and Central Africa.


    A new private equity fund plans to invest in agricultural processing in Africa

    A new private equity fund plans to invest in agricultural processing in Africa to cash in on booming food prices with backing from a foundation linked to the world's biggest cereal maker, Kellogg Co.

    Agri-Vie is initially focusing on South Africa and neighboring states; on Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda in East Africa; and Ghana and Nigeria in West Africa -- although the fund hopes to move into French-speaking Africa later. Potential projects in West Africa included the tropical crop cassava, grown for its energy-rich roots and protein-rich leaves, and pineapple juice manufacturing. 

    Agri-Vie has raised around half its target capital of $100 million, and hopes to announce its first investments in the coming months. The fund has a projected 10-year lifespan. Agri-Vie's investors include state-owned entities like South Africa's Development Bank of Southern Africa and Industrial Development Corp, and private entities like the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, started in 1930 by the breakfast cereal pioneer.


    Africa Carbon Forum

    The potential for renewable energy development in Africa is experiencing an increase in attention lately as investors and world leaders seek a new clean energy frontier.

    The continent could become a gold mine for renewable energy due to abundant solar and wind resources. But roadblocks to clean energy worldwide are amplified throughout the troubled regions of Africa - financial resources are thin and infrastructure is often unreliable.

    Meeting at the Africa Carbon Forum in Senegal's capital Dakar 3 - 5 September, United Nations officials, World Bank specialists, and business leaders exchanged strategies for "Clean Development Mechanism" (CDM) projects on the continent - greenhouse gas-reducing initiatives that industrialized countries can support as a way to compensate for their excess emissions. A theme throughout the meetings was the possibility of future CDM projects under a successor agreement to the Kyoto Protocol, especially if the United States joins the market. 

    WorldWatchInstitute 12/09 African Renewable Energy Gains Attention

    Creating a World That Can Feed Itself

    Here's a 36-minute video on YouTube recorded on 17th September featuring an unusual forum with Monsanto CEO Hugh Grant, talking with "In Defense of Food" author Michael Pollan and Google.org's head of global development, Sonal Shah, on the topic of "Creating a World That Can Feed Itself." (Larry Brilliant, executive director of Google.org, moderated the panel, telling the Google audience that he and Grant became friends when both visited the Doomsday seed vault in Norway.)


    If a green revolution was possible in Asia then why not in Africa?
    With these words Akin Adesina (AGRA) took the floor and challenged participants during the first panel of the Brussels briefing of 2nd July on “New drivers, new players in ACP rural development”Is a green revolution in Africa possible?

    While new technologies and crop varieties can help, they cannot alone offer a solution. Africa faces additional challenges to improve agricultural production: farmers’ access to new technologies is limited; markets are poorly developed, soils are drained of nutrients and fertilizer use is low. To address these challenges, the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa - AGRA - intervenes with a number of programmes, which Mr. Adesina presented, including improving seed systems, soil health and market access as well as policy advocacy.

    On top of these, locally based and consistent policies are of central importance. Mr. Adesina argued that World Bank structural adjustment programmes of the 1980s were disastrous for African agriculture and he urged that it was time to end the “Washington Consensus” and adopt a real “African Consensus” for policy development. He reminded participants of African success stories past and present; arguing that if “maize revolutions” have been possible in countries like Zimbabwe, Zambia and Malawi, then productivity growth is possible. He concluded that all actors, public and private, need to ensure that institutions, infrastructures, markets, and technology are working together for a green revolution in Africa.

    Wednesday, 24 September 2008

    Sustainable Agriculture for Develoment Market

    September 24-26. Development Marketplace is a competitive grant program administered by the World Bank and supported by various partners that identifies and funds innovative, early-stage projects with high potential for development impact. This year's Global Competition is focused on sustainable agriculture for development. At the Marketplace event, 100 finalists from 42 different countries will share their innovative ideas with the general public and the jury, which will select grantees to receive up to USD200,000.

    Immediately following the Development Marketplace awards ceremony on September 26th, the Agriculture and Rural Development Department will host Cultivating Innovation: A Response to the Food Price Crisis, a policy dialogue with policy makers and practitioners to explore possibilities for innovation in the food price crisis response. This full day program will provide an interactive forum for exchange and networking among high-level policy makers, World Bank staff, and the Global Development Marketplace finalists.

    DM2008 - Assessement of Proposals

    One of the selected projects is Dial-up Radio: Agricultural Information on Demand
    COUNTRY: Zimbabwe
    ORGANIZATION: Kubatana Trust of Zimbabwe
    FUNDING REQUEST: $193,400

    This project will develop a series of short segment audio programs that will provide small-scale farmers telephone access to relevant information through an automated voice system. This “dial-up” radio system will be an information hub featuring a regularly updated, diverse menu of pre-recorded agricultural content in Shona, Ndebele and English. Moreover, these flexible audio magazines will enable farmers to leave messages and ask questions thereby creating two-way communication with other farmers, suppliers, consumers, transport networks, support services and agricultural extension workers.

    See also:
    Kubatana - Join the NGO Network Alliance Project affordable technology to communicate with one another. Freedom Fone leverages the fastest growing tool for personal access to information 24/7 – the mobile phone – & marries it with citizen radio programming
    Interactive Voice Response (IVR) MobileActive.org
    Dialup Radio is a tool that distributes human rights and independent media via telephone.

    For the full list see DMO8 Event Guide (PDF document)
    WB press release June 23, Global DM2008: 100 Innovative Ideas to Make Sustainable Agriculture Work for Developement

    Tuesday, 23 September 2008

    General Assembly’s high-level meeting on Africa’s development needs

    World leaders meeting at the United Nations on 22nd of September have underscored the urgency of finding solutions to the major challenges facing Africa, and have recommitted themselves to a global partnership to help the continent halve poverty, illiteracy and other socio-economic ills by 2015.

    UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon addresses the opening of the high-level meeting on Africa's Development Needs during the 63rd session of the UN General Assembly at the UN headquarters in New York, the United States, Sept. 22, 2008.

    A new report by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, released ahead of this meeting, showed that while most of Africa’s economies are now growing more rapidly than they did a decade ago, the continent remains “off track” in its quest to achieve the MDGs.

    A side event (High Level Panel) "A Response to the World Food Crisis: Smallholder Agriculture, Food Security and Rural Development in Africa" focused on the global food crisis and was held at United Nations Headquarters in New York on the sidelines of the General Assembly’s high-level meeting on Africa’s development needs. The Secretary-General noted:

    “The Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme drawn up by the African Union has many good proposals. If the Programme is implemented now, Africa will move from food scarcity to food exporter in a few years' time. Given that the majority of Africans live in rural areas where small farmers are the main food producers, it is vital to address the difficulties they face in production. Increasing investments in agriculture and the rural economy is a necessary first step. Investing more will help small farmers adopt new technologies and modern farming methods. It will help provide agricultural extension services, more storage facilities, better roads access to markets”

    The High Level Panel was organized by FAO, IFAD and WFP, in partnership with UNDP, UN-NGLS, the Earth Institute of Columbia University and the Republic of Malawi. The speakers included H. E. Mr. Bingu Wa Mutharika President of Malawi, Mr. Ban Ki Moon, UN Secretary General, Dr. Jacques Diouf, Director General of FAO, Prof. Jeffrey Sachs of the Earth Institute at Columbia University and Ms. Elisabeth Atangana, President of the Sub-regional Platform of Peasant Organizations of Central Africa (PROPAC). Other participants will included the Heads of UNDP, IFAD and WFP.

    Extract from the Side Event Draft Concept Note
    Global climate change deepens the challenges inherent in enhancing African agricultural productivity and food security. CAADP’s emphasis on empowering producers through improved agricultural education, research, technological dissemination and adoption is made even more urgent by the pressure of global warming. All efforts to enhance rural development in Africa must take explicit account of climate change. As called for under the MDG Africa Steering Group’s recommendations, investments in agricultural research need to be significantly scaled up in a manner consistent with the CAADP, in particular its Pillar IV, the Framework for African Agricultural Productivity (FAAP), and channeled through the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA), sub-regional organizations, centres belonging to the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) and governments.

    UN Newscenter 22/09 Investing in Africa’s farmers crucial part of global response to food crisis
    ReliefWeb 23/09 Secretary-General, addressing side event on food security in ...
    ChinaView 23/09 UN chief urges more investment in Africa to tackle food crisis

    Opportunities for radio based Agricultural interventions

    Agricultural radio programmes in Kenya were predominantly ad hoc in their choice of topics, lacking in practical detail and dominated by the adverts of their sponsors.

    More farmer-friendly content emerged in 2006 when a partnership between donor organisations (DFID) and Fit Resources, a non-profit company offering business development services, saw the launch of Mali Shambani, or "Wealth in the Farm".

    Farming advice on the radio can help regions with no extension infrastructre.

    Surveys indicate this is now one of the most populat radio programmes in Kenya, with 80 per cent of listeners claiming they learned something new from it, and 50 per cent saying that they have put something from the programme into practice.

    Aired for one hour each Monday on KBC, the programme targets farmers and others in the agriculture sector, providing information on farming techniques, inputs, quality standards, weather and seasonal issues, market prices and trends, business tips, landuse, and financing opportunities. Each edition also features a question-and-answer section, where listeners call or send text messages and can interact live with an expert panel. A single programme attracts as many as 200 SMS messages from Kenyans and from listeners as far afield as Uganda and Tanzania.

    New Agriculturalist Found in translation: farm radio goes local

    Approaches with a potential for raising agricultural productivity in Africa

    Achieving an African green revolution will be harder and more complex than the green revolution in Asia and a one-size-fits-all approach will not work. Technology alone will also not provide the answers. In the 2008/4 edition of the New Agriculturist, (July 2008) a selection of approaches with a potential for raising agricultural productivity in Africa are reviewed.

    Going against the grain: Malawi's fertiliser subsidy
    Two years of good weather, combined with a government subsidy scheme on maize seed and fertiliser, have produced record harvests in Malawi. However, with the rising cost of fertiliser, does it still represent Malawi's best solution to food insecurity

    Bahati Tweve: The honest 'middleman' brokering deals
    The First Mile Project in rural Tanzania has promoted the use of 'spies', mobile phones and the internet to help farmers gain better access to market

    Reaping what you sow: developing a seed industry in Africa
    A programme that provides Business Development services to seed companies in East and Southern Africa is helping to transform Africa's growing seed industry.

    Found in translation: farm radio goes local
    A pioneeering agricultural radio programme in Kenya has led to local radio stations broadcasting their own versions in vernacular languages, including Kikuyu, Kikamba and Kalenjin. Farmers now have regular and reliable sources of information on the key activities in the relevant regions, such as fruit farming, dairying, fishing or maize production.

    No till and raised beds boost yields
    On Lesotho's highly eroded plateau, no-tillage conservation agriculture techniques are raising farm productivity. Last year, despite the worst drought in three decades, farmers were able to sell surplus grain to the World Food Programme.

    Gender revolution: a prerequisite for change
    Women produce 80 per cent of the food in Africa yet own only one per cent of the land. According to Kofi Annan, "a green revolution in Africa will happen only if there is also a gender revolution".

    Sorghum beer: a sustaining brew
    In Sierra Leone, a public-private partnership - which started as a social experiment - has resulted in a sustainable business buying sorghum from local farmers to use in brewing beer

    Thursday, 18 September 2008

    Approval of the MTP of the Sub-Saharan Africa Challenge Program (Ssa Cp)

    The Science Council of the CGIAR approved the MTP of the SSA CP program. At this occasion there was on 15/09 a “Cake cutting ceremony at FARA”.
    The SSA-CP MTP offers a good overview of the changes made as a result of the external review and the SC’s previous MTPs commentaries. The Program has responded seriously and positively to all previous assessments. The SSA CP was set in motion in January 2005. It has undergone several design changes since then. There are three major research questions which the CP has now embraced to try to produce empirical evidence for IAR4D. The SC is pleased to see that this MTP includes a thorough discussion of significant research activities. In addition, capacity building, which is a key in any IAR4D project, has now been made more explicit by the creation of a post-doc program. Also, SROs are now more involved in the implementation of the Pilot Learning Sites (PLS).

    Tuesday, 16 September 2008

    Visit to FARA of a delegation of the International Foundation of Science

    Dr. Michael STAHL, director of the International Foundation for Science, explains how IFS provides some 300 grants per year. But the main activity of IFS has become to train scientists in how to write a good research proposal and how to communicate their research findings through a good publication

    Professor Yola Verhasselt, Member of the Board Trustees of the International Foundation for Science, explains how young African researchers need to be trained in writing for international scientific journals. For her there is no ambiguity between reaching those international standards and the need to use research findings for vulgarisation. But researchers need to have specific financial means to be able to disseminate their research findings.

    IFS is a research council with international operations and the mission is to build the scientific capacity of developing countries in sciences related to the sustainable management of biological and water resources.

    IFS Announcement:

    Proposal Writing Workshop on Underutilized Crops
    Workshop: Nairobi, Kenya 24th - 29th Nov, 2008


    • AuthorAID is a new and FREE international research community. AuthorAID is a pioneering program based at the International Network for the Availability of Scientific Publications (INASP). It is supported by the Swedish International Development Corporation Agency (Sida) and the UK Department for International Development (DFID). This new web site has been developed in conjunction with the Institute of Learning and Research Technology at the University of Bristol UK. AuthorAID helps researchers in developing countries to publish and otherwise communicate their work. It also serves as a wider global forum to discuss and disseminate research. Example of their activities Scientific Writing Training Course, Zambia 25-29 Aug 08
    • Maximizing the Impact of Agricultural Research in Africa 21st-22nd October, 2008 Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Workshop on Research Communication

    Monday, 15 September 2008

    Satellite Broadcasting for Agricultural Information

    Interview with Karen Hackshaw Programme Coordinator Institutional Publications - Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Co-operation. Karen explains how this satellite broadcasting works to disseminate agricultural information from CTA (of which Spore). CTA has been training some 100 participants over the past 3 years who train a minimum of another 3 persons.

    • 2005 – Mali and Zambia
    • 2006 – Fiji
    • 2007 – Senegal and Kenya
    • 2008 – Ghana for Anglophone Africa especially the Anglophone countries in West Africa

    Saturday, 6 September 2008

    A role for FARA-CGIAR collaboration in the sector of inter african fish trade

    Dr. Simon Heck, Senior Policy Adviser, WorldFish Center expains how the need for research in the sector of fisheries has moved beyond fish biologists to incorporate many other disciplines like economists. Too much attention went to understanding African fish markets for export to Europe. He thinks that there is a specific role for FARA-CGIAR collaboration to understand and stimulate inter african fish trade

    Friday, 5 September 2008

    Accra High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness

    Ministers from over 100 countries, and members of development agencies, donor organisations and civil society gathered for the Third High-Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in Accra Sep. 2-4. The Accra Forum was set to review progress in implementation of the 2005 Paris Declaration on aid effectiveness, and to agree a new agenda to increase effectiveness of global development efforts.

    CTA Accra training on digital satellite users

    Since 2002, the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) has partnered with First Voice International (FVI) to provide information on agricultural and rural development to rural communities in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific (ACP).

    CTA has held workshops to train users in Zambia and Mali in 2005; in Fiji, in 2006; in Senegal, in 2007 and most recently in Accra 01/09-05/09/2008. The end result of these workshops is the creation of a community of digital satellite users, who are equally skilled in downloading information from the satellite as well as uploading information arising out of their activities.

    CTA collaborates on this with First Voice International (FVI). FVI has the unique ability to get vital information to potentially over one billion people who normally miss out: The most poor, illiterate and remote in Africa and Asia Pacific, those who live in places where Internet is unreliable or costs too much, where you still don't find phones, or where electricity, infrastructure or financial resources are limited.


    Thursday, 4 September 2008

    Mutual willingness to engage between CGIAR and FARA

    Dr. Olanrewaju Smith of the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT, Niamey, Niger) gives a first overview of a number of outcomes of the CGIAR - FARA consultation which took place at FARA Accra between 1st and 4th of September 2008.

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

    Dr. Mucemi - CEO of Teknobyte Kenya, explains how Interactive Voice Servce for farmers are an integral part of a comprehensive farmer information system, which he call the farmer information matrix. He also elaborates on the advantages of working with big telecom companies to offer this kind of service.

    Targetting science journalists and farmers at icipe

    Professor Christian Borgemeister, Director General of the African Insect Science for Food and Health - icipe Nairobi/Kenya - explains the communication strategy of icipe. icipe wants to make sure its research findings reach high quality research journals but also the farmer in f.i East Kivu in the DRC. He answers the question on how to deal with the multitude of agricultural information providers.

    Tuesday, 2 September 2008

    CGIAR / FARA Consultation

    Dr Monty Jones - Executive Director FARA - and Dr. Kwesi Atta-Krah - Deputy Director General, Bioversity - adressing the participants. Dr. Adewale Adekunle facilitating the meeting

    September 2-4, 2008. A CGIAR / FARA Consultation towards Partnerships and Coordinated Implementation of the Pillar IV of CAADP is held in Accra. The goal is to harmonize CGIAR and FARA research initiatives in Africa, with special emphasis on those involving collective action, with a view to strengthen partnerships and links with the overall CAADP and FAAP agendas of Africa.

    This consultation is not intended to cover the overall operation of CGIAR and FARA in the continent. The focus is on collective action initiatives requiring strategic partnerships between the CGIAR and FARA, and which have capacity for contributing towards the CAAPD agenda. Specific research agendas of individual CG centres or bilateral research partnerships between particular Centres and FARA are not necessarily covered in this consultation.

    Participants form CGIAR:

    Dr. Jojo B. Forson, Regional Director, Sub-Saharan Africa, Bioversity International
    Dr. Lawrence Narteh, Coordinator WARDA/Regional Plan WCA

    Dr. Ponniah Anandajayase, ILRI

    Dr. Paula Bramel, Deputy Director General, Research for Development, IITA

    Dr. Boubacar Barry, Senior Researcher (IWMI)

    Dr. Ravi Prabhu, Coordinator CGIAR Regional Plan for Collective Action in Eastern & Southern Africa

    Dr. Kwesi Atta-Krah, Deputy Director General, Bioversity

    Dr. Enrica Porcari, Chief Information OfficerLeader, ICT-KM Program, CGIAR-Bioversity

    Dr. Robin Buruchara, Coordinator Pan-African Bean Research Institute (PABRA)
    Dr. Simon Heck, Senior Policy Adviser, WorldFish Center

    Dr. Ola Smith, ICRISAT

    Dr. Cyrus Ndiritus, CPWF