Monday, 20 October 2008

Role of the National Information Point to promote FP7 in Africa

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Does African agricultural research fit into FP7?

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

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

Friday, 10 October 2008

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

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

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

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

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


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

U.S.-AFRICA Infrastructure conference

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

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

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

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

International Banana Conference 2008

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

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

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

How biotechnology is being kept out of Africa

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Climate Change and Agriculture in Africa

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

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

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

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

EarthScan UK

Thursday, 2 October 2008

CELAC: e-agriculture in Uganda

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

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

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

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

Selection for the Women and Young Professionals in Science Competitions

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

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

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

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