Thursday, 31 January 2008

Scholarships and other Opportunities

Every year, the Generation Challenge Programme (GCP) of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) offers fellowships to developing country crop science researchers. See: the 2008 GCP fellowships
Generation Challenge Programme (GCP) of the Consultative Group on Internacional Agricultural Research (CGIAR) c/o CIMMYT, México

IFAR annually provides grants to professionals from national agricultural research systems in developing countries (NARS). Applicants should be in the early to middle stages of their careers and undertake research in partnership with a CGIAR Centre to support sustainable development of agriculture in developing countries. See further details
Applications must be submitted by 26 February 2008.

Galillee College, Israel is offering three programmes at the International Agricultural Training Centre (IATC) from 27 March-14th April 2008 in Water Management and Crop Production, Dairy farming and in Agribusiness, Marketing and Export Management. Tuition scholarships are available to eligible African applicants

EU-funded masters degrees in Sustainable Tropical Forestry and Sustainable Forestry and Nature Management. Funding is available for 40-60 non-EU students to take this course (course fees and living allowance paid).

The 2008 Global Development Marketplace competition (DM2008) seeks proposals from all development innovators—civil society groups, social entrepreneurs, private foundations, government agencies, academia and the private—on the theme of Sustainable Agriculture for Development. This competitition offers a unique opportunity to turn your innovative idea for sustainable agriculture in developing countries into reality. If selected, your idea could receive up to US$200,000 in grant funding for implementation over two years.

A call for applications is expected soon for the Women in Science and the Young Professionals in Science competitions being supported by CTA, FARA, RUFORUM and AYFST. These competitions will be available to both individuals and groups and, in addition to prizes, are designed to provide mentoring, greater exposure and recognition.

Rice and videotapes

Paul Van Mele from the Africa Rice Center (WARDA) recently drew attention to the use of video to communicate science with farmers.

Commenting on a DFID research consultation, he recommended that DFID support "multi-actor communication teams in producing regionally relevant and locally appropriate learning tools/programs."

In an article in the International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability, he describes how the 'Zooming-in Zooming-out' approach helps extension service providers create regionally relevant learning materials that are locally appropriate.

For an overview of the videos or click on the following links to view the video on YouTube:

Cashing In with Parboiled Rice
Improving Rice Quality
Spotted Seeds Means Diseased Seeds
Seed Sorting by Flotation
Well Dried Seed is Good Seed
Rice Seed Preservation Technique

To obtain copies of the videos in either mpeg or VCD format please contact: Paul Van Mele.

WARDA and its partners also established links with rural radios to enhance farmer-to-farmer extension. Farmers involved in PLAR or video-supported learning sessions gave testimonies to rural radios. Also, local innovations were turned into radio scripts and hosted on the website of the Developing Country Farm Radio Network. Currently over 300 rural radios in 38 SSA countries receive their quarterly newsletter, including the scripts.

Related:
FAO and YouTube

IRRI video channel on YouTube

ICRISAT video channel on YouTube

Accessing rural information by voice

First scientific meeting of the Global Cassava



First Scientific meeting of the Global Cassava Partnership - GCP-I, in Ghent, Belgium July 21-25, 2008.

The Global Cassava Partnership (GCP) was formed unanimously in 2003 by 45 institutions throughout the world, under the umbrella of the Global Cassava Development Strategy (GCDS) of IFAD/FAO.

GCP is the organization dealing with the international cassava research and development community (R&D) and is now assuming the traditional roles of the former CBN. GCP is, first and foremost, the focal advocacy platform for global cassava issues, and it leverages cassava R&D through:

  • Facilitating discourse amongst key cassava stakeholders - farmers, end-users, researchers, and donor agencies;
  • Organizing scientific and technical meetings;
  • Collective seeking of funding opportunities;
  • Catalyzing the overcome of major bottlenecks such as cassava genomics…

More information on Casavanet: Casavanet wish to bring as much information as possible together in once place and to make this accessible to a worldwide audience of laypersons and specialists. The goal is to provide an interactive portal for knowledge concerning cassava, thereby improving access and links to information which can increase the understanding of the crop. Casavanet's ultimate aim is that facilitating access and exchange of information will contribute to the well-being of cassava farmers throughout the tropics.

Related:

Non-food uses of Cassava

Cassava is multifaceted crop that is finding many industrial applications, worldwide. Some of the current applications include; adhesives, corrugated boards, gums, wallpaper, foundry, well drilling, paper industry, textile industry, wood furniture, particle board, biofuels, alcohol products, dusting powders, drugs, plastics, packaging, stain remover, concrete stabilizer and moisture sequester. Key words: cassava, multifaceted crop, industrial applications, non-food uses

The climate challenge and ACP responses

On 13 February, CTA, Euforic, and other partners will hold the fourth in the series of Brussels Development Briefings.

The briefing will host two panels:
  • Panel 1 - Climate change and Development - Overview of some key and emerging issues;
  • Panel 2 – Impacts of climate change on rural development.Speakers include the EC, ODI, ACP Secretariat, ENDA, Development Commmittee of the European Paliament, Concord, African farmers organisations (SACAU), the Joint ACP-EU Parliamentary Assembly.
A more detailed programme will be available soon.

Climate change and agriculture was also the topic of a CTA-Euforic side session at the EU Development Days.Earlier Brussels Briefings looked at 'Aid for Trade', 'Advancing African Agriculture' and 'Challenges to rural development in ACP countries.'

See also Euforic news on rural development and climate change.

Thursday, 24 January 2008

DFID Research Strategy Consultation and Agricultural Research in Africa

FARA has provided in November 2007 a contribution to the consultation on DFID's new research strategy, with responses to questions on research opportunities for sustainable agriculture, the importance of education and training, and how new technologies can be used by developing countries. Read more.

The global consultations organised as part of DFID’s research strategy for 2008-2013
including agricultural research in Africa are now available on line. A number of opportunities and constraints have been identified as well as following research priorities for Ethiopia, South Africa, Nigeria, Uganda and China (related to Africa).

ETHIOPIA:
DFID Research Strategy (2008 - 2013). Consultation - Africa. Country Report for Ethiopia
2007 CABI Africa, Nairobi, Kenya, 64 pp. View PDF 414.7 kbs
See: p. 13 - 16

  • Agriculture Livestock (breed, feed, health);
  • high value cash crops, and crop diseases and pests;
  • optimum crop-livestock integration; v
  • alidation and integration of indigenous knowledge;
  • post-harvest technologies;
  • marketing research; biotechnology;
  • irrigation, soil and water conservation;
  • strengthening linkage between relevant actors, and communication of available research findings.
SOUTH AFRICA
DFID Research Strategy (2008-2013). Consultations in South Africa
2007 Ainslie, A.; Asma Hassan Khanya-African Institute for Community-Driven Development (Khanya-aicdd), Bloemfontein, South Africa, 52 pp.
View PDF
235.8 kbs
See p. 14 - 21

  • Assessment of the impact of changes in global and national agriculture over the past 2 decades on small producers
  • Rural production systems (to involve multidisciplinary teams)
  • Improvements in agricultural production
  • Improvements in water security
  • Innovations in water harvesting
  • Development of an agricultural research agenda
NIGERIA
DFID Research Strategy (2008 - 2013). Consultation - Africa. Country Report for Nigeria.
2007 CAPPS 43 pp.
View PDF
348.6 kbs
see p.10 - 14

  • Addressing pressing threats to farming such as those posed by erosion, desertification and flooding, as well as HIV/AIDs and climate change
  • Increasing agricultural productivity
  • Creating an enabling environment for productive farming
  • Making research work for farmers
UGANDA
DFID Research Strategy (2008 - 2013). Consultation - Africa. Country Report for Uganda
2007 People Innovations and Change in Organisations (PICO), Uganda, 83 pp.
View PDF
837.6 kbs
p. 23 - 28

  • Improvements in post-harvest handling to reduces losses (estimated at 30% of production) and adding value to agricultural products
  • Markets and market access
  • Development of sustainable production systems for crops and livestock
  • Development of technologies, such as biotechnology, for increased production and productivity
  • Study of the inter-relationships between agriculture and other disciplines such as health and environment
  • Generation of evidence needed for policy formulation to support agricultural financing and attract investment in agriculture
  • Methods of increasing the uptake and utilization of agricultural research products
  • Knowledge management systems for agricultural development
  • Doing agricultural research for impact
CHINA
China: development research priorities. Report on consultations for DFID’s global research strategy 2008-2013
2007 Institute of Development Studies , Brighton, UK, 27 pp. View PDF 147.7 kbs
p.16 - 17

  • Joint work with the Chinese on agriculture in Africa
  • Documentation of research and other activities concerning agriculture in Africa which have been supported by China
  • Sharing of agricultural innovations and approaches between practitioners and researchers in China and Africa
  • Need to explore linkage of Chinese research with major international initiatives on African Agriculture

Action plans for the implementation of RAILS

24-25 January 2008. CORAF/WECARD held a workshop in Cotonou, Benin to plan the implementation of the Regional Agricultural Information and Learning Systems (RAILS) of FARA at the CORAF/WECARD region. The meeting gathered the key actors and partners from CORAF/WECARD national partners not just from research but also from universities and the civil society organizations. Discussions focused on developing the action plans for the subregion based on West and Central African countries needs and requirements.

African Climate Change Fellowships

A new program of African Climate Change Fellowships is being launched to offer experiential learning, education, research and training opportunities to African professionals, researchers and graduate students that will build their capabilities for advancing and applying knowledge for climate change adaptation in Africa. Participating Fellows will receive small grants to undertake Policy Fellowships, Doctoral Research Fellowships, Post-Doctoral Fellowships and Teaching Fellowships. The Fellowship grants will enable Fellows to visit other institutions for 2 to 12 months to learn what others are doing to manage climate risks and adapt to climate change, how they assess and prioritize climate risks, current practices for designing and implementing adaptation projects, and approaches for integrating adaptation with program planning and policy; to undertake research that supports adaptation decision making; and to develop and implement curricula for integrating climate change and climate change adaptation into graduate level education.

The African Climate Change Fellowship Program is coordinated by the global change SysTem for Analysis, Research and Training (START), the Institute of Resource Assessment (IRA) at the University of Dar es Salaam, and the African Academy of Sciences (AAS). The International Development Research Centre (IDRC) provides financial support for the Fellowship program under its Climate Change Adaptation in Africa program

Related:
Environmental change in Africa - call for proposals 2008PACOM, the Pan-African Committee for START, calls for research proposals related to environmental change from African research community. Priority will be assigned to proposals that focus on the following three themes: Climate Variability & Climate Change; Impacts/ Adaptations/Vulnerability to Climate Change; Land Use Change/ Ecosystems/ Biogeochemical Change/ Biodiversity.

Wednesday, 23 January 2008

Biofuel – the burning issues

The FARA bulletin of December-January 2008 - which will be shortly available on the FARA website - is dedicated to the issue of Biofuels.

The development of biofuel has been hailed as a sustainable way to combat dependency on declining oil reserves, but a new study suggests there are substantial obstacles to large-scale deployment of biofuels. It is still an open question whether biofuel can meet a significant proportion of the world’s energy needs, say John Fike and co-authors in a paper in CAB Reviews. There are numerous practical questions about biomass systems, from feedstocks to logistics to pretreatment/process technologies, to be addressed. While policies aimed at reducing carbon emissions may support biofuel, other environmental impacts are also of concern, say Fike and his colleagues at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.

The cost of hauling the feedstock to the refinery is a key issue, and so a high proportion of farms within a given radius of the refinery would have to commit to producing the feedstock, as a need to transport the feedstock over long distances would make bioenergy production uneconomic. The distance of the refineries from the energy user is also an important factor. There are many logistic and socio-economic issues that will need to be resolved along with the purely technical issues, say the Virginia Tech team.

References:
Challenges for deploying dedicated, large-scale, bioenergy systems in the USA by John Fike, David Parrish, Jeffrey Alwang and John Cundiff appears in CAB Reviews: Perspectives in Agriculture, Veterinary Science, Nutrition and Natural Resources2, December 2007, No. 064, 28 pp.

Biofuels - our future in the balance? interview with Trevor Nicholls, CEO CABI (Commonwealth Agricultural Bureau International - UK).

Posting of 11/01/2008 on the CABI blog

The power of digital story telling

The act of telling a story is a deceptively simple and familiar process, a way to evoke powerful emotions and insights. By contrast, working with stories in organisational settings – to aid reflection, build communities, transfer practical learning or capitalize experiences – is more complicated.

A Guide STORY GUIDE Building Bridges Using Narrative Techniques was designed by the Thematic Service Knowledge and Research of the Swiss Development Co-operation (SDC) to be both thought provoking and of some practical use to SDC and its collaborators and partners. The materials contained in the guide should help develop competence and confidence as tellers or facilitators of telling and may also support the development of more complex methodologies and programmes involving knowledge sharing, change and communication. In it you will find:

  • Tips, templates and tools to help you find,
    share and capitalize experience.
  • Reflections on the practical and the emotional
    aspects of story telling.
  • Consideration of the challenges and risks in
    institutionalising these approaches.
  • Illustrations from SDC’s experience so far of
    putting stories to work.

Story Guide: Building bridges using narrative techniques

Download (PDF, 827 KB) : [de] [en] [fr] [es]

A workshop in Kampala 14/01-17/01/2008 organised by Bellanet Africa under its Harambee program gave the opportunity to the participants to be trained in digital story telling during a 1 day training (!) using Movie maker. Hereunder one of the movies produced by Reseau Sida Afrique on the use of mobile telephone. The story is in French but undertitled in English.

video

Related:

Insights into Participatory Video: A handbook for the field
Indigenous knowledge and local initiatives are usually documented and disseminated by outsiders, who make their own interpretations in the process. Participatory Video (PV) provides an opportunity for rural people to document their own knowledge and experiences and to express their wants and hopes from their own perspectives.
www.insightshare.org

Tuesday, 22 January 2008

The Business Role in Achieving a Green Revolution for Africa

The Business Alliance Against Chronic Hunger (BAACH) launches a new report on “The Business Role in Achieving a Green Revolution for Africa” for discussion at the 2008 World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 23-27 January, Davos, Switzerland

(BAACH) was formed in 2006 by a group of CEOs and public leaders who outlined an action plan for business to help reduce hunger. Since then the Alliance has launched pilot work in Kenya, and is working with a broad array of global and regional companies and partners to promote business models that contribute to sustainable food production and raise incomes in poor regions. The Alliance is a cross-industry, multi-stakeholder initiative championed by the Consumer Industry Partnership community of the World Economic Forum.

Report (PDF 2.2 KB)

Introduction 5
The Need and Opportunity for a “Uniquely African” Green Revolution 6
Harnessing Private Sector Capabilities to Drive the Green Revolution Forward 7
The Business Alliance Against Chronic Hunger: A New Approach 9
The Alliance’s 2007 Pilot Initiatives in Kenya 13
Integrating Alliance Work into a Broader Regional Development Strategy 17
Scaling Effective Business Models 18
The Way Forward 22
Appendix: The Business Alliance Approach - A Guide for Partners 23

The Economic Community of West African States and agriculture


The 33rd Ordinary Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) ended Friday 18th January in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso with the adoption of a regional Poverty Reduction Strategy (PRS).

Summit participants also discussed agricultural productivity and management in the region and endorsed a five-year action plan for the development of bio-technology and bio-safety, and their deployment in improving agricultural productivity, improving the competitiveness of regional agriculture and ensuring the sustainable management of the region’s genetic resources.

Heads of State and Government also called for the improved management of the region’s water resources so that it can be used further as a tool for improved agricultural production and in the fight against desertification.

Water for food, water for life


The International Water Management Institute had 500 scientists examine the water we use for agriculture.

Their report took five years to complete. It found that we will not have enough water to supply global demand for food during the next few decades unless urgent and substantial reforms in water and agriculture are undertaken. Climate change will create this situation more quickly and make it worse. The latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report says that if global average temperature rises by 3C, hundreds of millions of people will be exposed to increased water stress. It provides the wake-up call we all need to start acting on water.

Comprehensive Assessment of Water Management in Agriculture. 2007. Water for Food, Water for Life: A Comprehensive Assessment of Water Management in Agriculture. London: Earthscan, and Colombo: International Water Management Institute.

By Africa, For Africa: Creating Wealth Through Investing in Agriculture.



Upcoming congress scheduled for Uganda next September 2008. Organized by the World Agricultural Forum, the congress aims at bringing together agricultural companies, African government leaders and non-profit organizations to discuss ways of improving crop yields and increasing profits.

Monday, 14 January 2008

African Forum for Agricultural Advisory Services



A round table discussion between FARA (the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa) and AFAAS (African Forum for Agricultural Advisory Services) was held in FARA Secretariat, Accra, Ghana, on 10 and 11 January 2008.


The objectives of the meeting were to arrive at a consensus on (a) how FARA, AFAAS and other continental bodies that contribute to FAAP relate to each other, (b) what the contribution of AFAAS to FAAP should be, and appropriate institutional arrangements for this, and (c) currrent strategic orientation of AFAAS.


The FTC (Framework for Technical Cooperation), an instrument supporting the FAAP, funded this meeting, and offered ongoing support to AFAAS start-up through targeted activities and interventions that can facilitate the inception phase of AFAAS.

Thursday, 10 January 2008

Measures of impact of science and technology in India: agriculture and rural development


The report Measures of impact of science and technology in India: agriculture and rural development explores the impact of public research on the agriculture and rural sector in India.

The report argues that if technology is going to reduce poverty and hunger, it must be based on the principle of social inclusion. The report highlights the impact of agriculture research in India derived from public funds. Key achievements include:

  • foodgrain production increased from about 45 million tonnes in 1951–52 to over 200 million tonnes at the beginning of this century
  • productivity of major cereals increased from 700 kg per hectare in 1961–62 to over 1700 kg per hectare by 2001–02
  • groundwater irrigation has played the lead role in bringing more area under irrigation, thanks to technological advances
  • science and technology coupled with social engineering have helped to promote conservation, restoration and commercial forestry and the regeneration of coastal mangrove wetlands
  • significant progress has been made in the development of affordable drugs for the control of malaria, tuberculosis, leprosy, cholera and other diseases
  • rural drinking water supply has been made nearly universal through the design of simple water pumps and the application of remote sensing and hard rock drilling techniques
  • rural energy systems have gained enormously from scientific work related to the harnessing of biogas, biomass, solar and wind and other forms of renewable energy

The report concludes that the progress in production with regard to crops, milk, eggs and fish, improvement in health status, and growth in access to electric power and drinking water for India’s rural population over the post-Independence period is the result of the proactive role played by the state in promoting research and development. This research has contributed the technologies crucial for a breakthrough in production and promotion of people’s access to basic facilities. Full text of document / Publisher details

Climate Change Redrawing World Economy

Environmental challenges and innovations are dramatically changing the global economy, according to a report released by the environmental research group Worldwatch Institute on Wednesday 9th of January. Much of the 278-page report focuses on the need for further economic change to better reflect the costs of climate change and the benefits of technologies and business practices that combat it.

State of the World 2008 cites two major economic modeling studies that find that the damage from global climate change could equal as much as 8 percent of global economic output by the end of this century. Citing World Bank data, the report also notes that some 39 countries experienced a decline of 5 percent or more in wealth when accounting measures also included factors such as unsustainable forest harvesting, depletion of non-renewable resources, and damage from carbon emissions. For 10 countries, the decline ranged from 25 to 60 percent.

To avoid economic collapse at the global level, the State of the World authors call for major reforms of government policy to steer investment away from destructive activities such as the extraction of fossil fuels and toward a new generation of environmentally sustainable industries. Specific recommendations include making prices tell the ecological truth by reducing subsidies and adopting environmental taxes.
“We have the tools today to steer the global economy onto a sustainable path,”
say project co-directors Gardner and Prugh. “The task now is to bring them
together and scale them up so that they become the norm across today’s
economies.”
The report urges a full assessment and valuation of the services that nature provides free of charge to the human economy and describes several efforts to create markets to protect biodiversity. The report cites a recent assessment that found green accounting programs in place in at least 50 countries and identified 20 other countries that were planning to initiate such programs.

See also: Greenteck Media: Climate Change Redrawing World Economy, Worldwatch Says

Tuesday, 8 January 2008

Call for papers for the Food Agriculture and Nutrition Division/Special Libraries Association 2008

The Contributed Papers Committee of the Food Agriculture and Nutrition Division (FAN) of the Special Libraries Association invites submissions for its session at the 2008 SLA Annual Conference to be held in Seattle, Monday, June 16, 2008, 1:30 p.m. - 3:00 p.m.
The theme of the contributed papers session is: Increasing access to Agriculture, Food and Life Sciences Information. Papers should discuss original research, innovative projects, or other professional activities of interest relevant to the theme.
Presenters do not need to be a member of FAN or of SLA to submit a proposal for consideration.
Presentations are 20 minutes followed by a 5 minute question and answer period.
An LCD projector will be provided.

Deadline: January 31, 2008.
Notification of Acceptance: February 15, 2008
Submitting a proposal indicates a commitment to attend the conference as a presenter at this session.
To Submit a Proposal:

Proposals may be submitted by e-mail, mail, or fax and must include the following:
Author's name
Author's Affiliation
Full mailing address
E-Mail address
Phone and fax numbers
Presentation title
Abstract (at least 300-500 words clearly describing the paper to be presented)

Proposals and questions should be directed to:
Anita Ezzo
Food Science & Technology Librarian
100 Library
Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI 48824-1048
Phone: (517) 432-6123, ext 131
Fax: (517) 432-8050
E-mail: ezzoa@msu.edu
or
Luti Salisbury
Librarian/University Professor
University of Arkansas Libraries
365 N. McIllroy Avenue
Fayetteville, AR 72701-4002
E-mail: lsalisbu@uark.edu
Ph: 479-575-8418
Toll Free: 866-818-8115
Fax: 479-575-4592

Monday, 7 January 2008

Demand Driven Agricultural Advisory Services

The Neuchâtel Initiative (NI) is an informal platform of experts for rural and agricultural advisory services that had been established 13 years ago. In this forum, major bilateral and multilateral donor organisations of the North are affiliated; additionally several resource organisations and universities are participating during annual meetings. The initiative is informal in the sense that it works without a permanent secretariat. It meets once a year on a voluntary basis in different locations. Due to the expertise and the quality of NI products (common frameworks), the initiative is leading in policy dialogue on agricultural and rural advisory services. It publishes harmonised common frameworks on policies, implementation and monitoring of agricultural advisory services for development assistance as joint products. These common frameworks are covering various topics of extension (which can be downloaded from the NI website http://www.neuchatelinitiative.net/) and are used as internationally recognised reference documents for the implementation of extension programs and the harmonisation between different stakeholders (e.g. donors) in the development of agricultural services.

With the financial support of CTA, following booklets were re-printed (1,500 copies of each booklet):

¨ Common Framework on Agricultural Extension

¨ Note de cadrage conjointe sur la vulgarisation agricole

¨ Common Framework on Financing Agricultural and Rural Extension

¨ Note de cadrage sur le financement du conseil agricole et rural

¨ Demand Driven Agricultural Advisory Services (DDAAS)

¨ Services des conseils agricoles pilotés par la demande

The translation of the DDAAS into French (Services des conseils agricoles pilotés par la demande) was offered by CIRAD. GTZ translated the same document into Spanish and financed its editing and printing.

Coping with water scarcity in developing countries

Resource Notification: FAO E-Conference Summary -- FAO (1/4/2008)

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has released a summary document of its March 5 - April 1, 2007 e-mail conference on "Coping with water scarcity in developing countries: What role for agricultural biotechnologies". The main topic discussed during the conference was the application of biotechnology for the development of crops with improved drought resistance or water use efficiency. Most discussion on this topic was dedicated to marker-assisted selection and genetic modification. The two other main issues discussed were how to deliver real solutions to farmers and the role of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR). Seventy-eight emails were contributed during the four-week e-mail conference. These were from 50 people living in 24 different countries. Approximately 70 percent of the messages were from individuals working at universities and at national or international research organizations. The 11-page summary document is available on line

Related:

Syngenta announces Water Optimization Technology

Thursday, 3 January 2008

New impetus to China-Africa agricultural cooperation

Agricultural cooperation between China and Africa, which dates back to 40 years ago, has seen further development in 2007 with the impetus given by the China- Africa Cooperation Forum Beijing Summit held in November last year.

The Beijing summit has indeed given priority to the Sino- African cooperation in the agricultural sector which, according to Chinese and African leaders, has great potential given the strong complementarities between China and Africa in the agricultural field.Since the mid-1990s, China, through its policy of reform and opening up, has encouraged agricultural firms to "go outside the country" and participate in international competitions in order to accelerate the process of restructuring the Chinese agricultural sector. Many agricultural enterprises, which emerged through the provision of soft loans and favourable policies, have taken charge of various farming projects across the African continent.Suddenly, farms are springing up like mushrooms all over the continent, especially in countries such as Zambia, Gabon, Tanzania, Guinea, Ghana, Niger and Cameroon, where the Chinese companies were very active. --> More information

Second African Sub-Regional Forum on ICT Best Practices

The second African Sub-Regional Forum on ICT Best Practices, dedicated to the whole of East and Southern Africa, will be held in Tanzania in April 2008.

This Second Forum is an initiative of Microsoft, organised in partnership with the Government of Tanzania. The Forum also presents a unique opportunity for meetings between international financial institutions, international governmental organisations, representatives from government and civil society, as well as the private sector.

The first ICT Best Practices Forum, held in Burkina Faso in June 2007, drew over 350 delegates from across West and Central Africa, including representatives from 60 countries. The success of the first event underscored the importance of platforms such as these and the second ICT Best Practices Forum aims to build on the success of the first Forum for West and Central Africa. The ICT Best Practices Forums serve as a practical way for high level officials from different regions in Africa to share their own specific experiences and demonstrate practical examples of successful technology solutions in their respective countries.-->More information

Africa: 2008 promises good returns for farmers


Last year, the WorldWatch Institute made the counterintuitive and controversial suggestion that high prices for agricultural commodities, partly boosted by biofuels, will benefit the world's poorest because the vast majority of them are farmers. Writing for the Nairobi based Business Daily, Dominique Patton hints at the same possibility, but stresses the benefits of high farm commodity prices will mainly trickle down to 'investor interests'.

References:

Business Daily: Africa: 2008 Promises Good Returns for Farmers - January 1, 2008.

Agriculture Resources

Agriculture Resources (AgricultureResources.info) is a Subject Tracer™ Information Blog developed and created by the Virtual Private Library™. It is designed to bring together the latest resources and sources on an ongoing basis from the Internet for agriculture resources.
-->More info

Seminar on Space Technology and Applications for Sustainable Development

The Inter Islamic Network on Space Sciences & Technology (ISNET) in collaboration with Pakistan Space & Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (SUPARCO) and OIC Standing Committee on Scientific and Technological Cooperation (COMSTECH), with the co-sponsorship of Islamic Development Bank (IDB) is organising a Seminar on Space Technology and Applications for Sustainable Development in Dakar 4-6/03/2008.

The 3-day Seminar will provide a forum where representatives of OIC countries with diverse ethnic, social and cultural backgrounds will share their development experiences and the crucial role of space technology in sustainable development. Practical examples of projects undertaken in one country will benefit other OIC countries with possible chances of joint projects for sustainable development in fields like natural resources management, environment, tele-education, tele-medicine, agriculture, forestry and costal resources. --> More information

CGIAR-supported research aimed at confronting the disastrous impacts of global climate change.


During the 13 th UN Climate Change Conference in Bali, Indonesia, CGIAR Chair Katherine Sierra, speaking at a press briefing on December 8, announced a new strategic initiative for stepping up CGIAR-supported research aimed at confronting the disastrous impacts of global climate change.

Under this new initiative, the CGIAR is calling on the international community to boost investment in research that is vital for enabling rural people to cope with the rising threat. In 2006, the CGIAR’s combined expenditures on research related to climate change amounted to nearly US$70 million, or 15 percent of its total budget of $470 million. But now, under a policy formulated during the CGIAR’s 2008 Annual General Meeting, held at Beijing in early December, it is seeking to at least double that amount.

In support of Sierra’s call for a major increase in research investment, the Alliance of the Centers, together with the CGIAR and Science Council Secretariats, prepared an overview of the CGIAR’s current work related to climate change. As the overview document points out, all 15 CGIAR Centers have assigned climate change a central place in their research efforts, and some have set up programs dealing exclusively with this theme. Through these efforts, the Centers have built strong capabilities and comparative advantages in three main areas:

  • Gauging the vulnerability of agriculture, natural resources and rural communities
  • Breeding crops for stress tolerance, while developing better practices for sustainable crop and environmental management
  • Supporting the development of policies that are conducive to sustainable agricultural growth

As a result, the Centers are now poised to expand current research and undertake new collaborative efforts that are fundamental for enabling developing country agriculture to adapt to and mitigate the expected impacts. --> More information

Strengthening Agricultural Education and Training in Sub-Saharan Africa from an Innovation Systems Perspective

The Discussion Paper No. 736 of IFPRI (December 2007) examines the role of postsecondary agricultural education and training (AET) in Sub-Saharan Africa in the context of the region's agricultural innovation systems.

Specifically, the paper looks at how AET in Sub-Saharan Africa can contribute to agricultural development by strengthening innovative capabilities, or the ability to introduce new products and processes that are socially or economically relevant to smallholder farmers and other agents in the agricultural sector.
--> More information

Grant for Agricultural research institutions in Uganda

Under-funding has often stood in the way of Agricultural research institutions in Africa. According to studies carried out in Uganda, the low productivity observed in Ugandan agriculture today is not only a consequence of a lack of relevant agricultural technologies, but also a lack of adequate interface between research, extension and farmers themselves.

A new grant, worked between Uganda and World Bank hopes to revamp farming. The World Bank has partnered with the Uganda government to offer a grant of USD 840, 000 to Agricultural research institutions in the country. According to Dr. Emily Twinamasiko, the Director of the National Agricultural Research Organisation (NARO), both the public and private research institutions would benefit from the competitive grant. --> More information