Thursday, 24 July 2008

Cocoa research in Ghana

This site launched in Accra on 2nd of July 2008 aims to centralise cocoa research in Ghana by providing cocoa researchers with the opportunity to present various published and non-published research findings to the global cocoa community. The motivation behind “Cocoa Research Ghana” was to provide cocoa enthusiasts with a one-stop-shop to past and current cocoa research completed in Ghana. Users can in a matter of seconds, search every cocoa research article originating in Ghana since 1938.

The current postings are about the following literature types: Journals (including The Cocoa Growers’ Bulletin), Theses, Project Reports, Conference Proceedings, Workshop Proceedings, Presentations, Posters, Photographs (Specific to Cocoa), Research Newspapers and Flyers specifically related to cocoa research.

EU special facility for rapid response to soaring food prices

The European commission proposed the establishment of a special "facility for rapid response to soaring food prices in developing countries", operating throughout the rest of 2008 and 2009.
The new money would come on top of existing development funds, coming from unused money left over from the European Union's agricultural budget.

The aim is not to provide money so that poor people can afford to buy what they need to eat, but instead to give credit and other monies to farmers to help them produce more food and in so doing, bring prices down.

Countries most in need would be able to access the fund - to be administered via international and regional organisations, including the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, the World Bank and Unicef - which would allow for the purchase of farming inputs such as fertilisers and seeds, although this could be done via credit mechanisms, rather than grants, as well as "safety net measures" for boost productive farming capacity.

First Common Framework on Agricultural Extension for the Neuchatel Initiative

The first Common Framework on Agricultural Extension (June 2008, 44 p.) for the Neuchatel Initiative suggests a new pluralistic approach to extension delivery, which breaks away from earlier focus on technology transfer. This includes an increased emphasis on private suppliers of services and a change of attitude towards agricultural producers, who are seen as clients capable of demanding the services they need, rather than being mere beneficiaries.

This common framework provides policy guidelines on how best to support development of demand driven agricultural advisory services and also on the appropriate roles of the different actors.

Agricultural advisory services are defined as services that make new knowledgeavailable to farmers and assist the farmers to develop their farming and management skills.

The services may include:
  • Dissemination of information
  • Training and advice of groups of farmers or individual farmers
  • Testing new technologies on-farm
  • Development and dissemination of farm management tools

“Smart” fertiliser subsidy programmes in Africa

A study which was carried out for the Regional Strategic Agricultural Knowledge Support System (Re-SAKSS) for Southern Africa, based at International Water Management Institute, Pretoria, South Africa. argues that several points should be considered before implementing fertiliser subsidies.

These include:
  • they may not be the best option; for example, subsidies targeted to particular crops such as maize may reduce output of other food crops such as cassava, therefore reducing the net food supply response
  • fertiliser subsidies have a questionable recordas a tool for increasing overall agricultural productivity, especially for small, poor farmers
  • low or no fertiliser use by many smallholders is explained not just by credit constraints that limit acquisition, but also by the risk of crop failure, with resulting financial losses and consumption shortfalls. The lack of insurance causes inefficiency in production choices, therefore, recent trials of weather-indexed insurance are a promising potential solution for the risk problem
Drawing on experiences of Zambia and Malawi, the authors suggest several practical guidelines for how to maximize the effectiveness of fertiliser subsidies in meeting important national objectives such as improved national food security, alleviation of hunger, and equity.

June 30, 2008
Fertilizer Subsidies and Sustainable Agricultural Growth in Africa: Current Issues and Empirical Evidence from Malawi, Zambia, and Kenya Isaac Minde, T.S. Jayne, Joshua Ariga, Jones Govereh, and Eric Crawford - 26 pages

Farmer organisations and financial institutions

Farmer organisations and farmers often encounter difficulties accessing finance, both for their own needs and for those of their members. To overcome them, they adopt different strategies, including the creation of alliances with financial institutions.

What are the advantages of this approach? What are the risks? SOS Faim Zoom Microfinance attempt to answer these questions using four different cases: two in Senegal, one in Mali and one in Latin America.

SOS Faim Zoom Microfinance Jul 17 Alliance farmer organisations - financial institutions ; 8 pages.

WFP and the impact of high food prices

Earlier this year, the International Development Committee (IDC), which is a cross-party committee of members of the British parliament, announced that it was going to launch an inquiry into the work of WFP and the impact of high food prices. The IDC has a mandate to look into the work of any humanitarian agency that receives funding from the British government and to pass judgement on whether those funds are being used to the best effect.

WFP cooperated with the committee inquiry, hosting committee members in Ghana, where they visited one of WFP's Humanitarian Response Depots, facilitating a trip to London by the ED who gave public testimony on WFP's behalf, and hosting a committee visit to Rome to meet a number of people at headquarters.

The results were published in the UK on 23/07 and have given a very positive assessment of WFP's work -- particularly in the context of the challenges presented by high food prices. Alongside the general global issues that are addressed, there are sections that address the particular issues that WFP faces in places like Darfur, Zimbabwe, and Somalia - where the committee raises the issue of the lack of naval escorts.

The World Food Programme and Global Food Security. HC 493-I, Tenth Report of Session 2007-08 - Volume I: Report, Together with Formal Minutes . Author: House of Commons - International Development Committee. Publisher: TSO (The Stationery Office)

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

The Price of Food: Hunger or Hope for Africa?

16 July Portcullis House, Westminster - London. The world food crisis threatens to destroy years, if not decades, of economic progress, and may push millions back into abject poverty, stated Kofi Annan recently. But others see the crisis as an opportunity to reform global agriculture and increase longer-term productivity in Africa.

A discussion organised by the the Africa All Party Parliamentary Group, the Royal African Society and the International Institute for Environment and Development looked at the implications of the food crisis for Africa – both the opportunities and the threats – as well as possible interventions and the possibility of a Green Revolution for Africa. It also critically assessed the role of bioenergy in the current crisis and in the future of sustainable agricultural production in Africa.


  • Dr Monty JonesExecutive Director, Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa
  • Dr Camilla ToulminDirector, International Institute for Environment and Development
  • Professor Lawrence Haddad Director, Institute of Development Studies
  • ChairHugh Bayley MPChair, Africa All Party Parliamentary Group

Reference: Events Royal African Society

New book on WTO Negotiations on Agriculture and Developing Countries

For more than six years the trade talks of the World Trade Organization (WTO) have been stalled, mainly on account of differences in countries' levels of ambition for reducing support to and protection of agriculture.

The expiration of the U.S. president's trade negotiating authority on June 30, 2007, raised the prospect of longer delay. More recently, however, the unprecedented food crisis may have created an environment for reducing the divergences in countries' negotiating positions, and efforts for agreement have intensified at Geneva.

To aid developing-country negotiators, the book WTO Negotiations on Agriculture and Developing Countries (published for IFPRI by the Johns Hopkins University Press and Oxford University Press-India) offers the first authoritative analysis of the rules and modalities on which governments of developing countries can rely and suggests a negotiating strategy for developing countries.

Anwarul Hoda and Ashok Gulati WTO Negotiations on Agriculture and Developing Countries 320 pages / 2007 Published by Johns Hopkins University Press
IFPRI Issue Brief, June 2008. (PDF 290K)

Reuters 20/07 Trade powers tackle agric issue ahead of WTO talks

The challenge of regional agricultural research networks in Africa

The challenge of regional agricultural research networks is to determine both regional and national research priorities with the highest potential rates of economic return. Methodology to assess regional research priorities is a critical input into this process, particularly when it comes to weighing likely complementarities among individual research programs, thus maximizing impact across countries at the regional level.

A recent IFPRI research paper (July 2008) presents such an approach using spatial analysis and the Dynamic Research Evaluation for Management (Dream) modeling software, which was developed by the International Food Policy Research Institute to assess potential economic returns to agricultural R&D and guide resource allocation decisions. Dream is applied to the East and Central African region to estimate potential economic and technological spillovers from country- and regional-level R&D investments for select commodities based on future projections of supply and demand, trade flows between countries and world markets, and shared agroecologies and farming systems.

The results of the study indicate significant potential for agricultural technology spillovers within the region. Countries will therefore reap greater economic benefits in their search for technology solutions if they pool their resources and pursue regional initiatives for the common good.


FANRPAN convenes climate change meeting for senior policy makers

23 June 2008. The Food Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN) and the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) have hosted a meeting which has brought together policy makers and scientists to network in developing adaptation strategies to ensure regional food security in the light of adverse weather changes. More than 40 delegates from 12 countries are attending the meeting with the theme, "Strategies for Adapting to Climate Change in Rural Sub-Saharan Africa: Targeting the Most Vulnerable".
FANRPAN Director for Research, Dr. Douglas Merrey, said his organization is well placed to act as a broker between scientists, doing research on climate change and adaptation to climate change, and policy makers to make critical decisions, some of which have irreversible effects if they are uninformed.
"Our main focus is on the policy implications of climate change, that is to say, what policy support will be needed to enable Southern African food systems to adapt to climate change in terms of rainfall and temperature," said Dr. Merrey.
FANRPAN's interest in climate change policy extends beyond specific projects in the region to researchers and representatives of civil society who need to know what is required of policy.

Friday, 18 July 2008

Development through dialogue

This report (KIT Working Paper I1, 2008, 65 p.) covers a research study of Dgroups which took place from September 2006 to July 2007. Dgroups is a number of things at the same time. It is:
  • a web-based technical platform which supports and provides for the creation and use of discrete e-mail based discussion lists and web workspaces that are used to support knowledge networking by people and institutions working in development
  • the plural name for these online networks, individually known as a dgroup
  • partnership of development organizations who share a commitment to collaboration in development and who are developing a common vision of the need for such a platform and such online groups
The study examines whether and how dgroups can facilitate:
  • the spread of information and knowledge among the actors (individual and institutional) working in the thematic areas of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)
  • learning processes (individual, social, and organizational learning) in the diverse institutions working in areas related to the MDGs
  • the bridging of the multitude of ‘knowledge divides’ in development between the North and South, and South-South; between different sorts of institutions (multilateral, bilateral, NGOs, universities, ministries) and professional groups (practitioners, researchers and policymakers); and in terms of language

Strengthen agricultural science, technology and innovation (ASTI) systems

15 – 17 July Wageningen – The Netherlands. FARA Participated in an Expert Consultation meeting- in which the CTA with ACP, EU and international partners build capacity to understand, analyze and strengthen agricultural science, technology and innovation (ASTI) systems.

This research project aims to build ACP capacity to better understand the strengths and weaknesses of the local science, technology and innovation system in the agricultural sector. The results of the study should provide information on the nature of the system as well as alternative approaches that might be considered, with regard to complementary policies, programmes and support organizations that could contribute to strengthening the agricultural science, technology and innovation (ASTI) system, especially with regard to the sub-sector, commodity or products which are the focus of the analysis.

It should also provide one set of inputs into future policies governing agriculture and science, technology and innovation and should demonstrate to all stakeholders the need to focus science and technology developments on the agricultural sector and more specifically as they relate to agricultural trade, competitiveness and food security within the context of broader development goals.

Towards a global forest partnership

The International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) announced on 9 July 2008 the publication of the final report on the World Bank’s proposal for a Global Forest Partnership : ‘Towards a global forest partnership…consultation, assessment and recommendations’.

It is an emerging initiative that could pave the way for fundamental change in the way forests are managed, boosting efforts to fight both poverty and climate change. The World Bank-nurtured idea is of a global forest partnership that links local and global processes and promotes decision-making on the international stage that reflects the view and needs of local stakeholders such as forest dwellers.

IIED consulted widely on the bank’s idea. More than 600 forest experts responded to IIED’s survey or participated in focus groups in Brazil, China, Ghana, Guyana, India, Russia and Mozambique, as well as at international meetings.

The Gfp final report warns that the bank will have to heed the advice of hundreds of experts IIED consulted if it is to make a real breakthrough in tackling the problems of past decades and the weaknesses of typical international forest programmes.

The report identifies key features of the consultation that would make it a truly progressive global partnership and a new way for international forestry to work by:
  • Focusing on empowering primary ‘stakeholders’ such as forest dwellers so that their rights, knowledge and needs are centre-stage.
  • Greatly improving flows of finance to activities that support local needs alongside global public goods such as carbon storage.
  • Interacting effectively with other sectors such as water and agriculture, where the underlying causes of forest problems – and the seeds of sustainable solutions – are often lodged.

Scenario Planning for Biodiversity Conservation in Africa

On 15 May 2008, the Africa Biodiversity Collaborative Group (ABCG) organized a meeting on “Scenario Planning for Biodiversity Conservation in Africa: Mapping Future Trends and Interventions in the Next Ten Years”. The day-long meeting in Washington, DC, was supported through the Biodiversity Analysis and Technical Support (BATS)1 for USAID/Africa program. More than 45 people participated.

The basic question to be answered by the scenario planning process was: “What are the priority interventions for biodiversity conservation in Africa over the next ten years?”

The meeting sought to:

  • review the USAID BATS report by Chemonics International that looked at 30 years of USAID support for biodiversity in Africa;
  • identify the drivers of past, present, and future change; and
  • map trends.

This DC Meeting will be followed by an African Validation Workshop (summer 2008) where African conservation leaders with review the USAID BATS report and products of this mapping meeting, validate them, and on the basis of these discussions articulate scenarios. Participants will apply their expertise to narrate alternative futures for biodiversity in Africa, including interventions for biodiversity conservation appropriate for USAID and other stakeholders over the next ten years.

The Africa Biodiversity Collaborative Group (ABCG) is an initiative of eight U.S.-based international conservation non-governmental organizations (NGOs) with field programs in Africa. ABCG explores emerging conservation issues, shares lessons learned, and seeks opportunities for collaboration. Featured themes:

Visit the Miombo Woodlands in Malawi without leaving your desk

Visit Malawi without leaving your desk. This short video demonstrates the use of GoogleEarth to visualize geospatial data regarding the Miombo Woodlands in Malawi.

Thursday, 17 July 2008

International Policy Dialogue, "Agriculture, Development, and the Poor: Challenges, Stakes, Opportunities

Hereafter follow a number of videos of statements made during the conference on "Agriculture, Development, and the Poor: Challenges, Stakes, Opportunities" May 14, 2008, an International Policy Dialogue held at the Royal Museum for Central Africa in Tervuren, Belgium.

Statement of Joachim von Braun IFPRI

Statement of Mark Rosegrant, IFPRI

Statement of Klaus Rudischhauser, European Commission

Statement of Michel Griffon, CIRAD

Statement of Matthias Giegerich, GTZ

Statement of Jerzy Bogdan Plewa, European Commission

International meeting on African Green Revolution

01-02/07. Nairobi. Representatives from 15 African countries, as well as others from Europe, the United States and Asia, participated in a two-day meeting convened by the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA).

The meeting addressed policies in four critical areas: seed and fertilizer markets; finance and risk management; product markets, strategic grain reserves and regional trade; and land tenure and other social issues. It also discussed how to build the capacity of African policy analysts and institutions that will support evidence-based policy development.

Dr Praghu Pingali, head of agricultural policy and statistics at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, said African governments do not have adequate data and statistics that can inform policy making on small-scale agriculture. Africa lacks the capacity to assess the impact of policies on agricultural productivity, food security, rural employment and rural income.

Participants recommended a range of possible policy responses, noting that one-size-fits-all policies will not work, and emphasising the need to recognise the diversity of African countries and agricultural systems. Among the recommendations were policies that:
  • Specifically and intentionally benefit small-scale farmers;
  • Support market development, including the rapid scaling-up of networks of rural input shops known as "agro-dealers," who are able to get seeds, fertilizers and other farm inputs to remote rural areas;
  • Increase farmers' and agro-dealers' access to affordable credit and loans;
  • Promote "smart" subsidies that enable poor smallholder farmers to access high quality seeds and fertilizers and other farm inputs;
  • Ensure that governments invest in public goods such as rural roads, irrigation, electricity, agricultural research and improved extension services;
  • Secure the land-tenure rights of small-holder farmers, especially women who generally have more limited rights to land ownership;
  • Stabilise food prices for farmers and consumers;
  • And risk-mitigation policies, such as weather-indexed crop insurance -- particularly important given projected negative impacts of climate change on African agriculture.

Participants also recommended that African countries and regions establish policy centres of excellence that would develop increased capacity in data collection, statistics and analysis, in close collaboration with African governments. Such centres would provide African countries with sound policy frameworks and build trust in policy formulation.


Arid Lands Information Network

James Nguo explains how young people play a critical role in supporting the dissemination and generation of agricultural information in East Africa.

The secret of success in the ALIN approach is to gain the trust of grassroots communities with whom ALIN works.

African agriculture experts discuss agriculture trade

Experts in agriculture from within and outside Africa met in Lusaka from 30/06 to 04/07 discuss issues and options in strengthening trade in agricultural inputs in Africa. The workshop was organized by the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and the International Fertilizer Development Center.

The Workshop on Strengthening Trade in Agricultural Inputs at the Regional Level in Africa addressed the agricultural productivity and food insecurity challenges facing the region. The optimum and sustainable use of fertilizer and improved seed are some of the best strategies for addressing these challenges. COMESA agricultural programs are framed within the "AU-NEPAD" framework for the comprehensive Africa agriculture development program (CAADP).

To date COMESA has made major inroads in the implementation of both the Abuja Declaration and CAADP pillar . The sustainable adoption of improved seed and fertilizer by farmers is underpinned by viable national and regional agricultural systems.

Chana View 05/07 African agriculture experts discuss agriculture trade
e-COMESA Strengthening Trade in Agricultural Inputs in Africa: Issues and Options
IFDC's Training Calendar for 2008

Sequencing the cocoa genome

The United States Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS), Mars, Incorporated, and IBM are combining their scientific resources to sequence and analyze the entire cocoa genome.

Sequencing the cocoa genome is a significant scientific step that will allow more directed breeding of cocoa plants and perhaps even enhance the quality of cocoa, the key ingredient in chocolate.

The collaboration will enable farmers to plant better quality cocoa and, more importantly, help create healthier, stronger cocoa crops with higher yields, pest and disease resistance, and increased water and nutrient use efficiency. These crops will help protect an important social, economic and environmental driver in Africa, where 70 percent of the world's cocoa is produced. Additionally, the research results will be freely available to anyone through the Public Intellectual Property Resource for Agriculture (PIPRA), which supports agricultural innovation for both humanitarian and small-scale commercial purposes.

Washington Post 26/06 Unwrapping the Chocolate Genome

Wireless sensor networks to collect data on soil characteristics

Microsoft added an award for Rural Innovation for the first time to its Imagine Cup competition this year, and it attracted a number of projects aimed at solving problems faced by people in developing nations.

A finalist in the Rural Innovation category has developed a novel way to help farmers in India determine the nutrients in their soil and figure out which crops would be best planted there. The conventional approach to farming is to assume all the fields in an area are the same, so one-size-fits all crop management systems are used. But the reality is that fields can vary considerably, and without the right data, a lot of resources can be wasted, said team Novices@Work.

They invented a system they call Kalpvriksha, which uses wireless sensor networks to collect data on soil characteristics such as moisture, pH, ambient light and temperature. The system then takes this and other information into account to help farmers make decisions on how best to water crops, what kinds of fertilizer to use, and more. The result is more, healthier crops.

"Our technology is specifically aimed at bettering the standards of living of grass-root workers," said Krunal Dedhia, a member of Novices@Work. "It addresses the problem of low productivity and salination of land due to excessive use of fertilizers. These problems are all a culmination of lack of awareness amongst people."

Novices@Work, a team of finalists for the Imagine Cup Rural Innovation Award from India. They developed a site-specific crop-management system for farmers called Kalpvriksha.

Novices@Work has deployed the system in a small field in India, but it will take time to obtain results. They hope to expand the system throughout India and beyond with the help of grassroots organizations.

Video: Kalpvriksha Demo

Networld 08/07/2008 Microsoft Imagine Cup attracts projects aimed at poor
Unlimited Potential World Updates 30/06 Adressing food shortages in India

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

2008 US-AFRICA Agribusiness Forum

25-27 June. Leaders in agribusiness industry discussed the increasing business case for investing in agriculture & food production in Africa at the 2008 US-AFRICA Agribusiness Forum in Chicago. [Chicago is regarded as the world’s grain centre, with its commodity exchange being the largest in the world]

Record high food prices calls attention to the role of the private sector in improving food security around the world. An increased emphasis on agricultural inputs and farming technology can contribute greatly to increased production capacity across Africa.

The Forum brought together the U.S. and African public and private sectors to discuss the minimization of investment risk and identify projects and mechanisms to expand their investment portfolio through agribusiness.

Highlights of the Forum included industry-specific sessions, panels to address cross-cutting issues, such as finance product innovation, pharmaceutical and biofuel industry growth, carbon trading, production technology, and certification; as well as networking opportunities. Industry experts shared best practices and the latest trends in the field.

  • DON CRANE, senior development advisor at IFDC (an international center for soil fertility and agricultural development), and MONTY JONES, executive director at the FORUM FOR AGRICULTURAL RESEARCH IN AFRICA (FARA) were panelists on the ―Food Security Driven by Agricultural Inputs and Farming Technology‖ workshop.
  • IFDC and FARA were joined by other industry experts to the best practices of the private and public sector in addressing the issue of food security through increased investment in Africa’s agricultural security sector. IFDC projects cover specialties from agribusiness to engineering and technology development, from management information systems to plant nutrient management, policy reform, and market development.


Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Climate change will have strong impact on fisheries

10 July 2008, Rome - Temperature and other variations resulting from climate change will have a strong impact on fisheries and aquaculture, with significant food security consequences for certain populations, FAO said this week.

The UN food agency’s note of caution came at the start of a four day scientific symposium on climate change and marine fisheries being held at its Rome headquarters (8-11 July 2008). The event, which involves over 200 experts and policymakers from around the globe, aims to paint a fuller picture of the challenges that climate change poses to marine fisheries and the millions of people who depend on them for food and income.

Environmental Newsservice Warmer Oceans Hold Fewer Fish, UN Warns
GIS Portal Streamlines Aquaculture and Fisheries in Africa
FAO used ESRI's GIS technology to create GISFish, a one-stop Internet site for GIS-based resources for aquaculture and inland fisheries in developing countries.

International Conference Responsibility to the Future

FARA participated at the International Conference Responsibility to the Future: Business, Peace, Sustainability at Mumbai, India, 26-28 June 2008 organized by the Strategic Foresight Group (SFG). The Strategic Foresight Group is a think tank launched in 2002 by the Mumbai, India-based International Centre for Peace Initiatives (ICPI).
The conference focused on three streams of future economy for innovative problem-solving initiatives: (1) Innovation in knowledge economy - education, media, ICT technologies for peace (2) Environmental challenges for peace (3) Responsible Investments.
With a view to respond to emerging challenges in the context of these three streams, the conference (1) launched practical collaborative initiatives where India plays an important partnership role and (2) identified an agenda for further research and multi-stakeholder dialogues at the global level.
During the Leaders Dialogue on Responsibility to the Future a strategic conversation was conducted by Ms Maria Cattaui, Co-chair and former Secretary General of the International Chamber of Commerce with:

• Prof Lou Marinoff, Founding President, American Philosophical Practitioners Association
• Dr Michael Nobel, Chairman, Nobel Charitable Trusts
Dr Monty Jones, World Food Prize Laureate and inventor of new rice for Africa
• Dr Poul Engberg-Pedersen, Director-General, Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation

The Fifth Pan-Commonwealth Forum on Open Learning

13 to 17 July London, United Kingdom. The University of London and the Commonwealth of Learning hosted the fifth Pan-Commonwealth Forum on Open Learning (PCF5). The conference brought together practitioners, researchers and policymakers, allowing them to share their experiences and expertise. No fewer than 700 delegates, including heads of key parastatals of the Federal Ministry of Education, attended the biennial meeting, organised by the Commonwealth of Learning (COL).

The conference theme is "Access to Learning for Development" with a focus on children and young people, health, livelihoods, governance, conflict and social justice. The Forum is bringing together more than 700 delegates from over 70 different countries.

PCF5 aims to facilitate a dialogue that goes beyond coming together for five days in London. To help with this task, an online discussion forum on Googlegroups has been launched. You can read past contributions and subscribe to the mailing list by accessing the PCF5 Googlegroups site.
WikEducator offers PDFs of most Forum papers and will also host session reports. Furthermore, around 50 contributors have posted ideas, abstracts or paper drafts as Wiki content. You can visit the PCF5 Wiki site by going to

Overview of the (African) Papers on PCF5 Theme "Livelihoods" related to agriculture:
  • Climate change and water issues: Tech‐MODE tools for strengthening community responses in Kenya - N. Kahiu, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, Kenya S. Lim, Environmental consultant, United Kingdom S. Makhanu, Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology, Kenya E. Nyukuri, African Centre for Technology and Science, Kenya J. van Mossel, Environmental consultant, Canada
  • Blended learning approaches in agriculture and natural resources management - Jan Beniest World Agroforestry Centre
  • Enhancing the common information space for Open and Distance Learning and animal and fisheries production - Dr Ajit Maru, National Agriculture Research Systems (NARS) Programmer, Global Forum on Agricultural Research (GFAR) Secretariat, F.A.O., Rome, Italy
  • New approaches to strengthening human and institutional capacity for improving rural livelihoods in Africa - Ralph Von Kaufmann - Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA)
  • Radio and the pedagogy of intellectual engagement among cattle farmers -
    Haaveshe Nekongo‐Nielsen University of Namibia
  • South‐South‐South collaboration: using Dgroups to develop ICT policy for Open and Distance Learning - Nancy George
  • Instructional media development for non‐formal distance learning: factors affecting the adoption of farming messages by poor rural men and women farmers - Mary Wamuyu Ngechu University of Nairobi
  • A radio scriptwriting competition: training African radio broadcasters to create and exchange programmes on climate change adaptation for farmers - Kevin Perkins Developing Countries Farm Radio Network
  • Using Information and Communication Technology (ICT) to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the Uganda international agricultural systems - Moses Tenywa Makerere University
  • Experiences in implementing the Strengthening Agricultural and Environmental Capacities through Distance Education (SAEC‐DE) project - Moses Tenywa Makerere University
  • Promoting access to agricultural information by women farmers: using information and communication technology in a livelihood project - Collins Kwabena
    Osei Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology
  • Entrepreneural fingerling production for Lake Victoria fisheries - Jennipher
    Kere, Women in Fishing Industry Programme (WIFIP), Education and Development

The role of CAADP in Africa's Green revolution

Brussels, le 2 juillet 2008. Amadou Allahouri Diallo, NEPAD, a pris la parole lors du Briefing « Nouveaux moteurs, nouveaux acteurs dans le développement rural ACP » pour présenter le programme CAADP visant le renforcement de la qualité de l'aide et de l'efficacité dans l'agriculture africaine. Ses principes de base sont, parmi d'autres : le dialogue, la reddition de comptes, le partenariat et l'appropriation. Il est essentiel que tous les bailleurs de fonds reconnaissent la valeur du CAADP en tant que cadre d'harmonisation de leur action et de contribution à la révolution verte de l'Afrique.

Reinventing extension services based on mobile phone and database monitoring

Producers and Businesses in the agricultural sector need a lot more than just prices. They need to know who’s buying, who’s transporting, where to access credit, where to store, what the weather will be like, what the trends suggest... Tradenet provides such type of information service.

TradeNet has 3 Core Characteristics:

  • Market Intelligence
  • Business Monitoring
  • Profiles & Advertising
TradeNet is a media channel that allows anyone anywhere to affordably share market information via mobiles. By tracking activities and profiles, the service becomes a crucial profiling and business monitoring tool, as well as an advertising medium. By focussing on profiling, TradeNet is able to offer a unique service that can minimize risk in transactions, offer some brokerage services, and provide a revenue stream by permitting advertising and data‐mining.

TradeNet has a unique network of enumerators who collect data from the field and make it instantly available... And because businesses use TradeNet as a tool, there is plenty of content submitted by the ‘users’ themselves.

Country Operators run TradeNet as a franchisebusiness. They get business models, deployment strategies, marketing documents, contracts, annual workshops etc. (In return for a 10% payment to TradeNet intl.). In Africa the targetted countries are: Ghana, Ivory Coast, Mali, Benin, Togo, Burkina Faso, Nigeria, Cameroon, Mozambique, Tanzania, Uganda, Madagascar. Projected countries in the near future are Kenya and Sudan.

Business Model: Countries can customize TradeNet to deploy how they want. A budget of $3m is anticipated per country. With 50% in grant funding, a country can be profitable in year 4, and make a return of 53%, attracting the private sector to run and operate the business, and remain profitable.

Roll-out strategy: 200.000 subscribers per country after 5 or 6 years

Video clip about Tradenet on CNN’s Inside Africa (broadcasted a few months ago).

TradeNet began development in 2005, but officially launched in 2007. TradeNet’s BusyLab has spent three years building an openAPIstructure which allows any entrepreneur to leverage their network of users and mobile operators and get a service launched quickly. To date, most licensees have been donor projects. TradeNet projects 25 countries by 2011.


Monday, 14 July 2008

Higher education in sustainable development

Ethiopia hosted a conference on 8 July to reflect on EDULINK projects' contribution to social and economic development in African, Caribbean and Pacific States.

Participants debated key challenges for Higher Education in achieving Millennium Development Goals, particularly the role of cooperation, lifelong learning and teacher education in promoting sustainable development.

The conference brought together representatives from Higher Education Institutions that are funded under EDULINK’s 1st Call for Proposals. In addition, several recognised Higher Education experts were invited. Representatives of Higher Education Institutions in ACP States and in Europe, as well as higher education/development associations and NGO’s were also welcome to participate.

EDULINK Stakeholder Conference in Ethiopia: higher education in sustainable development.
AllAfrica 10/07 Ethiopia: Workshop Highlights Role of Higher Institutions As Centers for New Scientific Ideas

G-8 vows to support Africa over food crisis

Hokaiddo Japan 7th July. Leaders of the Group of Eight nations vowed to help Africa overcome the food crisis with better agricultural productivity as they started their summit in northern Japan, taking up the challenges of drawing up initiatives to tackle climate change, food security and fuel price rises.

The G-8 was told by the heads of seven key African countries to honor past aid commitments as well as exercise leadership in supporting the poor nations most severely affected by the food and oil price surges, including helping them become self-sufficient in their food supplies.

The African leaders from Algeria, Ethiopia, Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, and the African Union Commission, the United Nations and the World Bank called on the leading economic powers to fulfill their commitments on African development, including those made in previous summits, and to press forward with the early conclusion of the Doha Round of trade liberalization negotiations under the World Trade Organization to enable better market access for African agricultural products.

The G-8 leaders issued a special statement on the food security issue, stipulating their support to help double Africa's food production and the establishment of food stockpiles in member nations to enable swift provision of aid in emergencies.

Venue for Group of eight Hokkaido Toyako summit meeting at Windsor Hotel Toya in Toyako, northern Japan

Hereunder are some extracts:

  • reverse the overall decline of aid and investment in the agricultural sector, and to achieve significant increases in support of developing country initiatives, including – in Africa – through full and effective implementation of the Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development Programme (CAADP);
  • support CAADP’s goal of 6.2% annual growth in agricultural productivity, and work toward the goal of doubling production of key food staples in African countries meeting CAADP criteria in five to ten years in a sustainable manner, with particular emphases on fostering smallholder agriculture and inclusive rural growth;
  • promote agricultural research and development, and the training of a new generation of developing country scientists and experts focusing on the dissemination of improved, locally adapted and sustainable farming technologies, in particular via the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), and through partnerships such as the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA);
  • accelerate research and development and increase access to new agricultural technologies to boost agricultural production; we will promote science-based risk analysis including on the contribution of seed varieties developed through biotechnology;
  • support country-led development strategies in adapting to the impact of climate change, combating desertification, and promoting conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity, while intensifying our efforts to address climate change;
  • ensure the compatibility of policies for the sustainable production and use of biofuels with food security and accelerate development and commercialization of sustainable second-generation biofuels from non-food plant materials and inedible biomass; in this regard, we will work together with other relevant stakeholders to develop science-based benchmarks and indicators for biofuel production and use.

Reference: G8 Leaders Statement on Global Food Security

Gender Equality Mainstreaming Validation Workshop

9th July. A validation workshop was held at FARA about the Gender Assessment exercise at the FARA secretariat. The general objective of the workshop was twofold:

  • To share findings of the Gender Assessment exercise at the FARA secretariat.
  • To validate findings and recommendations related to priorities for action in gender mainstreaming in FARA.
Within the context of the Gender Equality and African Regional Institution Project (GEARI) an inception mission was carried out from August 31th to September 12th 2007. The purpose of the inception mission was to initiate GEARI Project activities and also to establish the most appropriate participatory approaches and mechanisms for ensuring that benefits from the project’s activities are institutionalized and sustained in FARA.

The International Gender Team worked with FARA in setting up a Gender Working Group (GWG) and gathered - with the GWG - initial information about FARA’s structure, style, system, staff, policies, programs and internal and external communication to gain a clear understanding of its nature and scope in order to select the most appropriate approaches for gender mainstreaming in the institution according to the context and the reality of the organization.
Helene Lagace and Dzodzi Tsikata, gender consultants

What does Gender Mainstreaming really mean?
The DFID-funded Siyanda website highlights resources on gender mainstreaming in research

Meeting Information and Knowledge Needs of Farmers in Africa through e-Agriculture

14-16 July 2008. The Zambia Library Association hosted the XVIII Standing Conference of Eastern, Central and Southern Africa Library and Information Associations (SCECSAL) in Lusaka, Zambia , under the theme - Libraries and Information Services Towards the Attainment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

One seminar examined the emerging field of e-agriculture, and participants shared information and reviewed specific cases of e-agriculture initiatives in Africa and their impact on sharing, managing and delivery of agricultural information and knowledge services to rural-based farmers and communities to help them improve the quantity and quality of their agricultural production.
  • FAO’s Virtual Extension and Research Communication Network (VERCON) initiative, Justin CHISENGA, Information Management Specialist, FAO, Accra
  • Applications of ICTs in Managing, Sharing and Delivery of Agriculture Information – Case of ZARI Davy Simumba, Senior Analyst, Zambia Agriculture Research Institute, Chilanga, Zambia
  • Improving Access to published scholarly literature in Africa: AGORA, HINARI, OARE and TEEAL programs – Gracian CHIMWAZA, Director, ITOCA, Centurion, South Africa
  • Using ICTs for Managing Network Genebanks: The Case of SADC Plant Genetic Resources Centre -Barnabas W. KAPANGE, SADC-PGRC, Lusaka, Zambia
  • Benefiting from convergence: Increasing Importance of ICT in the Delivery of Information to Farmers - Clemence R. NAMPONYA, Director, Library and Information Services, University of the Free State, South Africa
  • Telecommunications Evolution, ICT Sector Policies and Regulatory Governance - Role in
    Agriculture, Chabuka Jerome KAWESHA, Regulatory Affairs Manager, Celtel Zambia Plc, Lusaka, Zambia
  • FarmPrices Initiative, Coillard HAMUSIMBI, Zambia National Farmers Union, Lusaka, Zambia
  • Meeting the Challenges of Rural Development through ICTs, Joseph SEKIKU, FADECO, Tanzania
  • The e-Agriculture Initiative: Sharing of Innovative Experiences - Justin CHISENGA, Information
    Management Specialist, FAO, Accra, Ghana

Friday, 11 July 2008

Knowledge sharing network on climate change adaptation in Africa

Dr. Tom Mitchell (centre) of IDS

The Core Group (CG) of organisations, charged with developing a knowledge sharing network on climate change adaptation in Africa, met in Tunis between the 1st – 4th July 2008.

The meeting was hosted by the Observatoire du Sahara et du Sahel (OSS), whose representatives joined the CG members (ICPAC, FARA, ENDA and IDS) in deciding on the governance of the CG, a series of strategies for developing the Network, a communications protocol and a work plan.

The meeting was also attended by Dr. Innocent Butare on behalf of IDRC, the donor to this project. The project is governed by a Core Group (CG) of organisations. In July 2008, this includes FARA, ENDA-TM, ICPAC and IDS, with IDS assuming project management responsibilities. See meeting agenda

Wageningen International is also involved in some activities about climate change adaptation in Africa. In partnership with ASARECA and IUCN a scoping workshop was held in Nairobi in mid June. See: scoping workshop

World Bank's Climate Change Consultation. The global consultations website is featured on the homepage of the World Bank's website, and is also directly accessible. The deadline for submitting comments was July 7, 2008.

World Bank 05/06 Climate Change: Likely Impacts on African Crops, Livestock & Farm Types

SADC Agricultural Information Management System

FARA participated at the at the SADC AIMS Consultation meeting - Johannesburg - 25-27 June 2008.

The SADC Secretariat’ Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources (FANR) Directorate was directed by the SADC Council of Ministers to rationalize in-house the information systems in order to improve efficiency and effectiveness in the delivery of services to the SADC community. These information systems comprise a Geographic Information System (GIS), Numerical data, and Directories, all these being accessed through a Graphical User Interface Managed by a Content Management System.

The overall discussion was on how to incorporate and link the various existing information systems and network into one integrated SADC FANR system called the SADC Agricultural Information Management System (AIMS), and how to get the member States involved in this system.

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Writeshop on Voice services for farmers

Isaac Mulagoli Programme Coordinator NALEP
Writeshop 24-25/06 Ministery of Agriculture, Kenya.
FARA is helping Technobyte Kenya to secure funding with the Africa Enterprise Challenge Fund (AECF)

  • The project under AECF funding will develop comprehensive language technology tools and resources to improve the versatility and user-friendliness of the National Farmers Information Service (NAFIS).
  • These tools are text-to-speech systems (TTS) for Kiswahili, Kenyan English and one other local language.
  • Technobyte will also develop Automatic Speech Recognition systems (ASR) for Kiswahili and Kenyan English. The language resources to be developed are a multilingual agricultural terminology bank and easily-navigable agricultural content.
  • In addition, Technobyte will develop an expert system to enhance NAFIS with an intelligent interface with the aim of making NAFIS user-driven and hence more responsive to farmers' queries.


Conference on Revitalizing African Agriculture

FARA participated at a two-day conference 25/26 June on revitalizing African agriculture which was held in Tunis with policymakers and agriculture experts from the Bank's regional member countries and representatives of other development agencies in attendance. Held on the theme: "Revitalizing African Agriculture: Its Implication for Addressing the Food Crisis", the conference reviewed partner countries' experiences in addressing the current food crisis.

Representatives from NEPAD, AfDB, CIDA, China Exim Bank, DANIDA, EU, FAO, IFPRI, IFAD, USAID, WB, CIDA, IFAD, WFP, IsDB, IFDC, JICA, WARDA, Nigeria, Cote d’ Ivoire, Gabon, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, Benin, Togo, Ghana, Gambia, Guinea Bissau, Cape Verde, Mauritania, Malawi, Tanzania, Madagascar, Seychelles, Eritrea, Comoros, Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco and Algeria shared information on how various institutions are dealing with the food crisis in the short-term and medium to long term

They discussed the enhancement of donor harmonization particularly the issue of division of labour among donors in support of the agriculture sector in Africa.

Opening the event, the Bank Group's Operations and Sector Vice President, Zeinab El-Bakri, said:

"As we come up with recommendations on how to address the food crisis in Africa, we take cognisance of the fact that besides ineffectual policies that I alluded to earlier; there are other impediments that affect not only agricultural development, but overall economic development. These include factors like climate change with its accompanying drought, floods, pests and diseases; the rising fuel prices; poor governance as well as political and civil strife in some parts of the continent. All these are related to the current food crisis and will continue affecting our decision-making process in the foreseeable future"