Sunday, 20 December 2009

Announcement: Strengthening resilience through improved climate information

February 15-19, 2010, CCAA will host a first multi-project learning forum in Nairobi, Kenya. The event will bring researchers together with providers and consumers of climate information to evaluate lessons learned and synthesise results from three years of relevant CCAA-supported research. Participation will be by invitation only. For further information contact

news and events bulletin from the Climate Change Adaptation in Africa program.

International Research Initiative on Adaptation to Climate Change The International Development Research Centre, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada are partners in this funding opportunity to support research and networking on the adaptation to climate change in Canada and in low and middle income countries. Deadline: January 7, 2010

Coordination of European agricultural research programmes for mitigation and adaptation actions to climate change

17th December 2009, Brussels . ERA-ARD, SCAR and EIARD, with a special support of CIRAD, the French agricultural research centre for international development, the ERA-ARD Coordinator, co-organise an international conference entitled: « Dialogue between Europe and its Southern partners on agricultural research and climate change ».
This conference aimed at facilitating the identification and initiating coordination of European agricultural research programmes for mitigation and adaptation actions to climate change for mutual benefit of Europe and its Southern partners.
Dr. Sabine Gundel consultant International Institute for Environment and Development IIED presents the first results of the EIARD report : Climate change and ARD policy review: Lessons from Africa (left: Mike Collins, Science Strategy and International Division, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affair ( DEFRA).
The conference focused on three major themes:
  • What are the challenges and why a dialogue between Europe and its Southern partners is necessary?
  • Initial mapping of on-going and planned agricultural research programmes related to climate change in Europe and the Southern regions.
  • Priorities for the future: What are the research priorities and coordination mechanisms to be put in place for reducing the impact of climate change on the agricultural sector?
  • What could be the agenda of a European joint programme initiative in this field?

  • Reference: International Conference ERA-ARD

    Related FARA blog posts:

    Monday, 14 December 2009

    Copenhagen Agriculture and Rural Development Day

    12 December 2009. "Agriculture and Rural Development Day," a day-long event at the University of Copenhagen with more than 300 policy makers, negotiators, rural development practitioners, producers, civil society and leaders from the agricultural and climate change scientific community. The purpose of the event was to assemble a plan for incorporating agriculture into the post-Copenhagen climate agenda.

    The event took place in parallel with the United Nations Climate Change Conference, including the fifteenth session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 15) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the fifth Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (COP/MOP 5), held in Denmark from 7-18 December 2008.

    The Agriculture and Rural Development Day was co-hosted by the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), Climate Change Agriculture and Food Security, the Global Donor Platform for Rural Development, and the Faculty of Life Sciences at the University of Copenhagen. The event was attended by over 350 participants, including representatives from governments, UN and international agencies, business, NGOs, academia and farmers.

    The key objectives of the meeting were to build consensus on ways to fully incorporate agriculture into the post-Copenhagen climate agenda and to discuss strategies and actions needed to address climate change adaptation and mitigation in the agriculture sector. Participants heard two keynote presentations during the opening session in the morning, and also attended four parallel roundtables before lunch. In the afternoon, there was a presentation by the US Secretary of Agriculture, and an “ideas marketplace” to provide an informal opportunity for dialogue and information exchange. The closing plenary was held in the early evening, during which a synthesis from the roundtables and a summary of the day were presented, followed by the premier of the film feature “Hope in Climate Change.”

    The results of the Agriculture and Rural Development Day will be presented, along with outcomes from Forest Day and the FAO Climate Change and Food Security event, at a COP 15 Side Event on Monday afternoon, 14 December, titled: “Beyond Copenhagen: Agriculture and Forestry are Part of the Solution. How can forestry and agriculture help to mitigate climate change and feed 9 billion people by 2050?”

    Hereunder is the speech of Dr Lindiwe Sibanda, CEO of FANRPAN, on agriculture and climate change:

    Lindiwe Sibanda said the session had identified the key elements necessary to inform the negotiators at COP 15 on how agriculture should be addressed. She stressed that food security and climate change are inseparable, and questioned to the best way to communicate the message to ensure that agriculture is a part of the agreement. She identified priorities highlighted in the conference, such as: food provision; addressing overconsumption and waste; the role of women; sustainable land uses; the need to look at biofuels in a pragmatic manner; addressing invasive species; having small farmers and large producers accrue the benefits of the carbon trade; the need for clear communication and clean technologies; literacy; modalities to access financing; and bottom-up approaches. She said that all farmers have a stake in agriculture and climate change and need to speak with one voice, and cautioned against compartmentalizing agriculture.

    Related: Africa Adapt at COP15 / AfricaAdapt à la COP15

    IISD 12/12 Agriculture and Rural Development Day 2009

    US Department of Agriculture 14/12 Vilsack highlights role of agriculture in climate change
    Farmers Guardian 14/12 Copenhagen focus switches to farming
    The Independent (blog) 14/12 Reversing climate change needs help from stewards of the land
    Daily Nation 13/12 Food plan gives lifeline to the hungry
    Reuters 12/12 Farmers must earn carbon market rewards

    High level Stakeholders Meeting of the Rwandan CAADP Post-Compact

    Back row/ from left to right: representatives from World Bank, DfID,
    Ministers from other countries
    Front row/from left to right: USAID country representative, Rhoda Thrimisu Commissioner DREA-AU, President Paul Kagame, WFP, Agnes Kabibata Rwandan Minister of Agriculture, Sheila Sisulu WFP Deputy Executive Director
    December 7 and 8. Kigali. Rwanda’s Ministry of Agriculture has hosted a two-day high-level stakeholder meeting to discuss post-compact implementation of its CAADP Compact in Kigali.

    This Post - CAADP Compact meeting, aimed to review the role of CAADP in stimulating effective and sustainable poverty reduction, economic growth and food security in Africa. The meeting mainly examined the key drivers enshrined in the CAADP priorities and frameworks and how the alignment of the Rwanda Agriculture Investment Plan to CAADP can facilitate and accelerate the achievement of sector targets and Millennium Development Goal I ( MDG I).

    Rwanda presented its Agricultural Investment Plan, which is based on its medium-term strategy; Strategic Plan for Agricultural Transformation, 2009-2012 (PSTA II). This is a comprehensive strategic plan which provides detailed budgets for the priority programs and activities necessary in order for Rwanda to achieve the CAADP target of 6% or higher agricultural sector growth deemed necessary to stimulate the required transformation of Rwanda’s rural areas and significantly reduce poverty levels.

    Dr. Monty Jones and Sheila Sisulu WFP Deputy Executive Director

    This level of growth, if driven by factors that benefits the poorest households, has the potential to reduce poverty by almost 8% per year. While this is not quite sufficient to halve poverty by 2015, it would reduce poverty levels by 40% in the next 6 years.

    In recognition of the central role of Agriculture in its effort to combat poverty and food insecurity, Rwanda was the first country to align itself to the CAADP agenda and to sign the CAADP Compact in 2007. Rwanda has since elaborated her agricultural investment needs and put in place mechanisms to align support and strengthen accountability.

    On the second day, a half day field visit was organized to give delegates the opportunity to experience firsthand, the agricultural landscape in Rwanda through meeting farmers and visiting some interventions that gave them a chance to understand better the implementation challenges, opportunities and success stories of Rwanda in the last couple of years.

    Officiating at the closing ceremony, Prime Minister Bernard Makuza reiterated the need to transform the sector and called upon CAADP countries and development partners to walk the talk by undertaking 'real actions' to ensure food security. He noted that development partners should recommit to support infrastructure development, especially in rural areas, and land consolidation programmes. "Rwanda is committed to the CAADP and we are eager to be the first African country to bring the CAADP programme to its completion," pledged Makuza.

    Partnership to cut hunger and poverty A Concept Note of Rwanda Post CAADP Compact: High level stakeholders meeting
    allAfrica 10/12/2009 States, Partners Agree to Support CAADP

    Tuesday, 8 December 2009

    Announcement: Policy Dialogue on Promoting Access to Regional and International Markets for Agricultural Commodities in Africa

    18 – 20 February 2010. Nairobi, Kenya. A workshop on Policy Dialogue on Promoting Access to Regional and International Markets for Agricultural Commodities in Africaw will be held.

    The workshop is being organized by the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) in collaboration with a number of other partners (TBC).

    The purpose of the Regional Policy Dialogue in Eastern and Southern Africa is to contribute towards peoples’ awareness about policy issues affecting regional and international agricultural trade, promote dialogue among policymakers and key stakeholders on these issues, and to catalyze a consensus-building process toward trade enhancing policies with a view to building up broad-based support for such policies.

    The workshop will provide open space for public discussion on important agricultural trade policy issues such as subsidies, tariff and non-tariff barriers, and food safety and quality assurance.

    The specific objectives are to:
    • Provide space for public discussion of important trade policy issues with a view to building up broad-based support for such policies.
    • Stimulate discussion and dialogue among major stakeholders including policymakers, academics, experts, representatives of regional economic communities, representatives from business community, NGOs and other civil society groups on alternative regional agricultural trade policy issues.
    • Advocate for pragmatic regional agricultural trade policies that promote and facilitate access to regional and international markets.
    • Identify and agree on policy options to respond to the problems of increased subsidies provided by developed countries as well as address issues of SPS requirements.
    • Disseminate the outcomes stemming from the dialogue discussion to a broad spectrum of stakeholders.

    The Role of ICT in Agricultural Value Chains

    7 - 18 December 2009. The e-Agriculture Community is hosting a global online forum about “The Role of ICT in Agricultural Value Chains”. The forum will discuss the key opportunities and challenges of ICT interventions in agricultural value chains with a special focus on the most beneficial interventions in rural areas.

    It is an opportunity for knowledge sharing on good practices, presenting expectations of future challenges and outcomes, and considering the critical role of policy makers, rural service providers, and the agricultural community at large.

    Through the use of experienced facilitators and selected subject matter experts, we will develop focused discussion topics in order to achieve beneficial outcomes from the forum. We look forward to your inputs! The outcomes of this forum will be disseminated through a policy brief written for the e-Agriculture Community and used in upcoming face-to-face meetings.

    Register on the e-Agriculture platform, if you haven’t already done so.

    AfricaAdapt at COP15

    7 - 18 December. Copenhaegen. AfricaAdapt is active at the UN Conference on Climate Change in Copenhagen. Some of the key activities Africa Adapt is involved in are:
    • Supporting African community radio journalists: in partnership with the World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters (AMARC) Africa Adapt brought community radio journalists from Burkina Faso, Mali and Kenya to cover these important negotiations.
    • AfricaAdapt daily reports from COP15: Daily reports and viewpoints from the conference which you can follow on the Africa Adapt Twitter page, YouTube page, or on the AfricaAdapt website.
    • Two AfricaAdapt partner organisations, ENDA-TM and IDS, have stands at COP15. Please feel free to stop by either of these stands to introduce yourself. It would be our pleasure to meet you! We will also be attending various sessions and side events. Visit the AfricaAdapt website for full details on where we’ll be.
    • The second edition of the AfricaAdapt network newsletter is now available. It includes news from the network, profiles of network members and projects, and insights on key issues related to adaptation in Africa. You can download the newsletter here:English (pdf) (French to follow)
    • Joto Afrika Volume 2: Managing Africa’s Water Resources in a Changing Climate
      The 2nd edition of Joto Afrika is now available in print and electronic format. This edition focuses on water resource management and climate change. It includes a feature article on a South African project featured on the AfricaAdapt website, and several other interesting examples of adaptation in the water sector. You can download it here (pdf) (French to follow)
    Related blogpost: 07/12 Nine projects win funds to engage African communities in climate change knowledge sharing

    Related news: The Climate Change Adaptation in Africa (CCAA) research and capacity development program CCAA staff and partners is on the ground in Copenhagen, contributing to events on climate information for Africa’s most vulnerable and on adaptation strategies for farmers and food systems.

    Learn how traditional “rainmakers” of the Nganyi clan in western Kenya are responding to climate change in this video, photo documentary, and project profile.

    Nganyi Indigenous Knowledge Adaptation Project from Will Miller on Vimeo.

    Climate change is real, and it's affecting subsistence farmers worldwide. This project is trying to help people in western Kenya adapt to climate change, using both modern science and the Indigenous Knowledge of the Nganyi "rain-making" family

    Information and communication management and agricultural research for development and innovation

    7 December 2009 - 11 December 2009. Hyderabad, India. APAARI-GFAR-FAO-ICRISAT. The objective of this event is to identify and define concrete areas of action that address emerging challenges, and exploit opportunities for information and communication technologies (ICT) in support of Agricultural Research for Development.

    The outcomes of these action agendas will be linked to major development goals in agriculture, highlighting the specific role/contribution to be made by information and communication management, bringing together all appropriate categories of actors. They will feed into the GCARD2010 process of global consultations.

    Key Questions
    • What new strategies and policies are needed to enhance and sustain adoption of ICM that contributes through ARD and agricultural development, especially of resource poor farmers and other actors in market and value-addition chains?
    • What needs to be done to make content available, accessible, applicable, and appropriated/used effectively by at all levels and among all actors in ARD?
    • How can be ICM capacities in ARD be developed sustainably across all the dimensions of enabling environment, institutions and individuals?
    • How can investments be targeted effectively?

    Agribusiness and innovation systems in Africa

    2 December 2009. World Bank. A new World Bank publication examines how agricultural innovation arises in four African countries - Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda - through the lens of agribusiness, public policies, and specific value chains for food staples, high value products, and livestock.

    The volume is based on qualitative interviews with agribusiness representatives that were designed to shed light on their experiences on public policies that either enhance or impede innovation in Africa's agriculture sector.

    Reference Agribusiness and innovation systems in Africa

    Agricultural innovation in Africa: addressing climate-smart growth

    2 December 2009 Belfer Center. The Belfer Center’s new Agricultural Innovation in Africa project will work to address the dual challenges of climate change and food shortages.

    The project, directed by Harvard Kennedy School’s Professor of the Practice of International Development Calestous Juma, seeks to engage with policy-makers and focus information dissemination on efforts to align science and technology missions and operations with agricultural development goals in Africa's Regional Economic Communities.

    Reference: Agricultural innovation in Africa: addressing climate-smart growth

    ILRI Innovation platforms and networks

    6 December 2009 IAALD. Peter Ballantyne recently interviewed three researchers about their research work on innovation systems:

    Ranjitha Puskur (ILRI) on the DFID-funded Fodder Innovation Project

    What outcomes and changes has she seen? At the farm level, farmers are changing their livestock feeding and management practices; there is an emerging demand for technologies, inputs and services that, ironically, were earlier promoted without success. "Farmers are seeing the need for knowledge and can articulate demands to service providers." She emphasizes that "getting a network of actors isn't an easy process, it takes time". Different organizations with different interests and motives have to be brought around the table to contribute and benefit.
    "It needs great facilitation skills and negotiating skills which are not very often core competences of researchers like us."

    Alan Duncan (ILRI) on the IFAD-funded Fodder Adoption Project. Speaking in the margins of the December 2009 SLP meeting in Addis Ababa, he introduces the IFAD-funded 'Fodder Adoption Project' based at ILRI.

    He outlines the approach followed in the project - trying to strike a balance between the technological and institutional angles. The project helps groups of stakeholders - farmers, private sector, dairy coops, the government - get together in 'innovation platforms' where they can develop joint actions that address livestock fodder problems. Initially the project went with a traditional approach, focusing on technologies. As the process evolved, other issues came in, more actors joined the platforms, and the technologies - growing improved fodder - acted more as a catalyst for people to come together to discuss a wide range of other issues (dairying, health, etc).

    Andre Van Rooyen (ICRISAT) on the “innovation platform” approach he uses to engage with smallholder farmers in Southern Africa.

    Andre Van Rooyen (ICRISAT) outlines why ICRISAT is interested in this project: "Our interest in the slp project is to understand the main drivers behind increased use of crop residues and at what point will farmers begin to buy and sell them." He sees the project playing an important role to hep ICRISAT in Southern Africa position itself to better serve farmer needs in the future.

    Reference: Innovation platforms and networks

    Research Into Use launches RIUtv

    4 December 2009 R4D . As part of its communications strategy, the DFID-funded Research Into Use Programme (RIU) has launched an on-line television channel – RIUtv. One way of sharing research into use lessons is to identify compelling stories and present these in a way that policy makers and practitioners can readily see the benefits.

    The RIUtv network involves sub-contract local cameramen and staff in each of RIU's African Country Programmes to enable them to make their own films. RIU will also place success stories with a wide range of national and international media - print, radio, television and web.

    Andy Hall, Head of the Central Research Team, Research into Use, explains the programmes approach to research.

    RIUtv correspondent, Nik Wood, explains the background to Research into Use, which has launched its own online TV station.

    Patrick Opondo operates as a 3V Vet in the town of Dokolo, Uganda. Here he explains how his business is growing as part of a programme aimed at helping young vets to set up in private business. Patricks work also sees him involved in a project, backed by Research into Use, whereby cattle are sprayed against tsetse flies that spread the deadly sleeping sickness disease.

    Prof John David Kibasa, Dean of the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine at Makerere University in Uganda, explains how the university curriculum has been changed to teach young vets entrepreneurial skills as they prepare to operate in their communities.

    Research Into Use launches RIUtv

    The talking book of Literacy bridge

    4 November 2009.Wageningen, Cliff Schmidt from Literacy Bridge presented the 'talking-book' (aka 'chatterbox'), a device that generated a lot of interest among the participants of the ICT Observatory 2009.

    This device is designed to allow people in remote rural areas to get access to knowledge and improve literacy: basically, all that a computer can do, but without having a display. It can speak multiple languages and can play content on different topics, such as agriculture and health. It also allow recording onto it, so that users can create and document their own knowledge. Last but not least, it allow exchange of digital content when connected with another 'chatterbox'. The content is produced locally. This device is not a prototype but has been deployed on the field for one year now and it is currently produced for sale to governments and NGOs.

    The Talking Book pilot project began in early 2009 and focused on spreading health and agriculture information in a remote village in Ghana in the Upper West Region of Ghana.

    Literacy bridge began by collaborating with local experts in agriculture, health, and education to produce content for Talking Books. Experts included officials from the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Ghana Education Service, and Ghana Health Service. In January, we delivered 21 Talking Books to the small village of Ving Ving. The devices were managed by a group of local leaders who were given two hours of training by a local Literacy Bridge volunteer.

    Results. Six months later, Literacy bridge conducted 25 in-depth interviews to study the impact, usability, usage patterns, and response to various forms of audio content.
    Impact on Learning and Behavior Change. Of the users who were interviewed, 100 percent described learning valuable information from device recordings. Nearly every user had already seen improved results from applying what they had learned.

    Examples of agriculture guidance that resulted in an observed behavior change include:
    • Keep animals in a confined space and use droppings as manure to make soil more fertile.
    • Plant in rows instead of mounds for most efficient use of soil and moisture retention.
    • Use a tie ridge pattern to reduce soil erosion from heavy rains.
    • Clean animal pens everyday to prevent disease.

    Because this pilot was a feasibility study, Literacy Bridge did not take baseline data or compare against a control group. However, many farmers performed their own experiments to test the new guidance, essentially creating their own control group of crops. They used their old methods in some sections and the new methods in others to observe the difference. The pictures to the right show an example where a farmer planted corn using traditional methods in one section (top) and then planted the same crop at the same time using guidance from the Talking Book in an adjacent section (bottom).


    Monday, 7 December 2009

    Nine projects win funds to engage African communities in climate change knowledge sharing

    7 December 2009. Dakar, Accra, Nairobi, Brighton, Copenhaegen. Nine projects win funds to engage African communities in climate change knowledge sharing

    Africa’s poor and vulnerable communities have first hand experience of climate change and are eager to learn more about what they should do to become climate resilient. However, these communities can be isolated from formal exchanges of knowledge on how to build resilience. AfricaAdapt’s new Knowledge Sharing Innovation Fund has been set to reverse this and has just announced the winners of its 2009 call.

    The winners are nine groundbreaking projects led by research groups, community-based organisations, co-operatives and other local institutions in close partnership with poor and hard-to reach communities.. Each project will receive up to US$10,000 and pilot new practical ideas and strategies to promote valuable exchanges across stakeholder groups that have so far been working in isolation. These projects were selected from almost 500 applications from across the continent.

    ‘In Angola, oral testimonies by members of rural communities in isolated parts of the countries will fill a critical gap in meteorological data allowing scientists to produce climate change scenarios urgently needed to help the country to build climate resilient policies’ says Jacqueline Nnam from AfricaAdapt.

    ‘In Ghana, slum dwellers affected by flooding, erosion, and other climate-related impacts will have the opportunity to learn about how to ease the impact of weather related shocks. This project will address their vulnerability to climate change, which currently goes unrecognised by Government’s policies.’

    ‘In Morocco, testimonies from elders on how the climate has changed and of local farmers on how lives in the oasis has changed as a result will help documenting local knowledge on climate adaptation. This initiative will both encourage the sharing of knowledge across generations and revive the collective memory of the community.

    Learn more about the winning projects. Summaries available

    The next generation of mobile phone e‐service delivery

    2 to 4 November 2009. Wageningen. The ACP-EU Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA), together with its partners, held its 2009 meeting of its ICT Observatory on ICTs on the theme of “mobile services” for agricultural and rural development. The next generation of mobile phone e‐service delivery using web technologies can only become a reality if a number of conditions are met :
    • Making usable mobile web browsers;
    • Defining guidelines on how to make usable web content and applications for people without previous computer experience;
    • Defining guidelines on how to identify needs and requirements of communities for ICT based services.
    The meeting gathered some 20 experts around the discussion paper: The potential of mobile devices in wireless environments to provide e-services for positive social and economic change in rural communities. By Pete Cranston.Download in PDF format (35 pages, size: 620 K). An open session at the start of the meeting was addressed by a number of international speakers.

    During the CTA ICT Observatory 2009 Mark Davies from Esoko, in Ghana was interviewed. Esoko is a software platform licensed to facilitate the flow of market information between farmers, governments, researchers and other stakeholders involved in agriculture and rural development. It is used to share information on prices, offers, price of fertilizers etc.

    It is managed by the web, but delivered via mobile phones. Mark underlines the potential positive effects that Market Information Services such as Esoko can bring about, both in agriculture as well as in for other sectors. He then concludes talking about the difficulties he has encountered in this initiative, such as the lack of content available and the lack of right capacities to build and develop such software.

    For Kafui Amenu (One Village Foundation, Ghana) the second day on the Observatory offered great opportunities to discuss business models, how these can be leveraged, and how ICTs can be applied in different situations. He concludes with a note of appreciation for the participatory and interactive approach adopted by the facilitators, which make possible for people to engage at a different level and really think out of the box.

    For Edna Karamagi from Brosdi the first day of the ICT Observatory 2009 offered quite some interesting topics for discussion and ideas. In particular, for Edna the issue of sustainability of ICTs initiatives should be really at the center of the debate. Further, she underlines the importance of the quality of information that is made available through ICTs.

    Jacqueline Nyagahima from Asareca took few minutes of her time to share some ideas with us on ICTs and agricultural research. In her views, research has the role to validate information: the current ICTs however might allow also some information not yet validated to circulate and people might take decisions upon this same information.

    Dorothy Okello presented the work of WOUGNET in Uganda. Her organisation has been using mobile services to enhance the outreach of ICTs, to reach also rural and remote areas. However, there are also some challenges: the costs are still high; access to power and energy is an issue, and innovation in this field is very much needed; there's also a lack of skills in using these technologies; lastly, the policy environment needs to support the development of these services She concludes with some reflections on the day discussions.

    Other presentations:

    CTA ICT Observatory 2009

    AGRA launches micro dosing fertiliser project

    5 december. Ouagadougou. AGRA has initiated an $8.9 million fertilizer project for smallholder farmers in West Africa’s desert margins.

    The funding will be implemented by the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) and national partners. The project will enable 300,000 farm households to tackle the challenges of harsh climate and depleted soils.

    Through the program, farmers will use targeted, minute amounts of fertilizers to increase crop productivity, combined with strengthened farmer organizations, and improved access to credit and to agro-dealer shops. The program aims to sustainably boost farmers’ grain yield by 50% and their income by 30%, the statement said.

    Commenting on the project, Dr Namanga Ngongi, President of AGRA said “dry lands need not be barren lands. We have seen farmers pilot the use of microdosing to nourish their crops and grow their incomes. Our new partnership will scale-up these efforts, to reach hundreds of thousands of farmers.”

    According to the statement, microdosing applies small amounts of fertilizer with the seed rather than spreading it over an entire field. It is affordable and gives plants a quick start by boosting their root growth, which enables the plant to capture the small amounts of water that fall in West Africa’s dry lands.


    AGRA supports West Africa's farmers with $8.9m fertilizer project

    Transformer et promouvoir les produits locaux au Burkina

    27 Novembre au 06 Décembre 2009. OUAGADOUGOU, BURKINA FASO. Le Thème de cette 5ème édition des Journées Agro-Alimentaires (JAAL) appellait à une prise en compte de la contribution du secteur pour garantir la sécurité alimentaire et réduire la vulnérabilité de l'économie du Burkina face aux chocs exogènes.

    Les Journées Agro-Alimentaires sont organisees par la Fédération Nationale des Industries Agro-Alimentaires et de Transformation du Burkina (FIAB) offrent un cadre de promotion des produits alimentaires « made in Africa » , valorisant au mieux les matières premières locales. Elles favorisent la création de réseaux d’échanges Sud-Sud actifs dans le cadre des Politiques Agricoles Communes de l’Afrique de l’Ouest et du Centre.

    • Renforcer la promotion des produits agro-alimentaires locaux
    • Favoriser la concertation et les échanges entre les entreprises du Burkina et celles de la sous région en créant un réseau commercial actif des entrepreneurs de l’Agro-Alimentaire de la Zone UEMOA-CEDEAO-CEMAC
    • Créer un cadre d’échanges entre les professionnels du secteur de l’agro-alimentaire à travers l’organisation d’un salon professionnel de l’agro-alimentaire
    • Renforcer le partenariat avec les pouvoirs publics et les partenaires au développement dans la conception des politiques de développement du secteur de l’agro-industrie
    • Primer l’innovation en matière de transformation des produits locaux

    Thursday, 3 December 2009

    Findings of the Feasibility study for AfricaConnect FEAST

    1 December 2009. A new FEAST PROJECT brochure - A feasibility study on the interconnection of African research and education networks to each other and to global research and education resources via GÉANT - giving an overview of the results and outlook from the project has been published. The brochure provides a summary of the highlights.

    The FEAST project was a one-year feasibility study to prepare a roadmap for the AfricaConnect Initiative, one of the nineteen projects of the EU-Africa Partnership for Science, Information Society & Space (8). FEAST explored the options of deploying sustainable and extensible regional backbone networks in Africa, exclusively dedicated to research and education, to connect National Research and Education Networks (NRENs) to each other, and to global research and education resources via the GÉANT backbone network.

    The FEAST partners announced the publication of the ROADMAP of the work to be carried out and the issues to be dealt with in establishing a sub-Saharan regional research and education network (REN) between the NRENs of the countries identified to be in a position to participate in such a regional network.

    An updated readiness table has been prepared since the publication of the roadmap.
    The countries identified to be in a position to participate in such a regional network are Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda.

    12 – 13 November 2009 Kampala, Uganda Opening New Frontiers for Research and Education Networking in Africa

    Tuesday, 1 December 2009

    ICTs Transforming Agricultural Science and Innovation

    16-20November. CIRAD, Montpellier, France. CTA convened its 8th meeting of Advisory Committee on S&T for ACP Agricultural and Rural Development.

    Investments in physical infrastructure and human resource development must increase if the ACP region is to fully participate in the global knowledge system. There is need to overcome the barriers to making optimum use of science and technological innovations. Over 60 senior officials and scientists from the ACP region and Europe met at CIRAD, Montpellier, France from to deliberate on the future of agriculture and science and the opportunities and challenges for ICTs for improving ACP knowledge systems to enhance agricultural performance.
    The objectives were among others:
    (i) To identify and discuss windows of opportunities within the emerging evolution in the field of ICTs which can support the ACP region in improving the environment for agricultural science and innovation? What are the priorities and options for policy intervention?
    (ii) To identify and discuss investments that are needed in infrastructure to realize the potential of ICTs in transforming agricultural science and innovation for meeting present and future needs.
    Speakers related to ICT:
    • ICT - Its role in Fostering Learning, Knowledge Generation through Research and Dissemination: Current Status, Lessons and Future Implications - Dr Towela Nyirenda-Jere, Programme Manager, NEPAD e-Africa Commission, South Africa
    • ICTs and Agricultural and Rural Development in the ACP Region: Experiences of CTA – Mrs. Oumy Ndiaye, Manager, Communication Services Department, CTA, The Netherlands
    • Opportunities, Priorities and Possible Investments for ICTs in Agricultural and Rural Development: Lessons from India and Finland – Dr. Silvia Galvani, Research Fellow, University of Joensuu, Finland
    • Networking for Improving Data Management, Collaboration and Knowledge Sharing in Agricultural Research: Experiences from CIRAD - Dr. Joel Sor, Head, Department of Information Systems, CIRAD, France
    • SupAgro/ University Cheikh Anta Diop (UCAD) Cooperation: Lessons from a joint North/South University Course using ICT – Dr. Dominique This, Lecturer, Department of Plant Sciences, CIRAD-SupAgro, France
    • Information Technology Initiatives for Improving the Nigerian University System: Prof. Julius Okojie, Executive Secretary, National Universities Commission, Nigeria

    Platform-EIARD workshop, "Enhancing Dialogue, Coordinating Agendas: How can agricultural research better support rural development outcomes?"

    26 November 2009. Eschborn, Germany. The event sought to identify linkages and build synergies between agricultural research for development and the broader agriculture and rural development agenda.


    The 2009 CAADP Africa Forum

    30 November to 4 - December 2009. Nairobi. This is the first in a series of annual events. The forum connects the pan-African CAADP framework to the actual implementation at country level by being a sharing and learning platform on progress (and obstacles) in pro-poor agricultural development between policy makers and practitioners across the continent.

    Under the theme ‘The Bottom of the Pyramid: Agricultural Development for the Vulnerable’, the conference sponsored by the African Union and New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) aim to put the plight of the vulnerable people in the continent at the centre of the attention.

    NEPAD Prof Richard Mkandawire warned that food prices would remain high unless urgent measures are taken to arrest the situation and reiterated the need to support farmers and their organisations to produce more.

    “Even developed countries continue to support their farmers and that is why their producers and consumers have been better protected against the adverse effects of the food crisis,” he argued.

    Prof Mkandawire called on the private sector to match the ‘political will’ shown by the African leaders and develop appropriate technical and financial support required to ensure that the continent’s agriculture agenda is achieved.

    The Kenyan Ministry of Agriculture William Ruto said he will lobby the Treasury next year to increase budgetary allocation to the sector to eight percent of the national budget. Once these funds were made available, they would go a long way in transforming agriculture into a viable sector as well as enhance the country’s food productivity.

    “We want to enhance investment in research, in mechanisation, in acquisition of new technology so that we can produce enough food for the nation,” he said pointing out that this was not only a way of eliminating hunger and poverty but also enhancing the country’s economic growth.

    2009 CAADP Africa Forum Flyer
    Concept Note
    Capital FM Kenya 30/11Kenya seeks 8pc quota for agriculture

    Farm Radio International founder Atkins dies at 92

    Former CBC farm commentator George Atkins died of kidney failure early Monday 30th of november in Wiarton, Ont. He was 92.

    Atkins, who owned and managed a small farm after graduating from the Ontario Agricultural College in Guelph, Ont., was CBC's farm and gardening host in the 1950s and 60s. He was also the founder of Farm Radio International, which celebrated its 30th anniversary last May 2009.

    The Ottawa-based non-profit organization, formerly the Developing Countries Farm Radio Network, collects advice from farmers and farming experts, produces radio scripts based on the information and distributes them to other broadcasters who reach millions of Third World farmers every month.

    Dr. George Atkins reflects back on 30 years of Farm Radio International: Dr. Atkins tells us the story of how he founded Farm Radio International (formerly Developing Countries Farm Radio Network)

    Monday, 30 November 2009

    Latest AfricaAdapt YouTube videos

    Three Kenyan Climate Change Fellowship recipients from the CCAA-START programme attended a recent AfricaAdapt Meet and Greet in Nairobi. They told us about the research that they have been conducting on adaptation to climate change.

    Dr. Ayub Macharia of The National Environmental Management Authority in Kenya

    This project seeks to shed light on pastoralists' vulnerability and coping strategies with respect to climate change in Turkana and Mandera districts, Northern Kenya.

    About 13% of Kenya's 30 million people are pastoralists, herding their livestock in the arid and semi-arid lands that constitute about 75% of the country's land mass. These areas are prone to rainfall variability and extreme drought. This project seeks to shed light on pastoralists' vulnerability and coping strategies with respect to climate change in Turkana and Mandera districts, Northern Kenya. Researchers will examine indigenous technologies, best practices and existing institutional arrangements for adapting to climate change. Policies to date have tried to restrict herd movement and settle pastoralists, but with limited access to critical resources. In a changing climate with increased drought, herd movement will become even more important as an adaptation strategy. The project will seek practices that improve herd movement, such as livestock corridors, while securing pastoralists' right to water and forage.

    Dr Andrew Githeko, of the Kenya Medical Research Institute, talks about his work transferring an epidemic prediction model to western Kenya in relation to the influence of climate change and the spread of malaria.

    Friday, 27 November 2009

    Coalition for African Rice Development Steering Committee meeting

    23 - 25 November 2009. Accra. The steering Committee fo the Coalition for African Rice Development met at FARA. The meeting was co-chaired by AGRA president Namanga Ngongi and FARA executive Director Dr. Monty Jones

    The Coalition for African Rice Development (CARD) is a consultative group of bi-lateral donors, regional and international organizations working in collaboration with rice-producing African countries. Its goal is to support the efforts of African countries to double rice production on the continent to 28 million tones per annum within 10 years (by 2018).
    Shimpei Tokuda (JICA), Oja (JICA), George Bigirwa (AGRA), Cheick M. Sourang (IFAD), Kensuke Okada (JIRCAS), Namanga Ngongi (President of AGRA), Joseph Rickman (IRRI), Christine Cornelius (World Bank), Hiroshi Hiraoka (Coordinator CARD), Hiroyuki Kubota (JICA), Caroline Bwire (CARD secretariat), Ralph von Kaufmann (FARA/CARD Secretariat)
    (from left to right, no row distinction)

    Africa-wide Conference to Discuss Strategies to Boost Agricultural Development

    23-24 November. Addis Ababa—Over 70 participants including policymakers, researchers, development partners and donors, representatives of farmers’ organizations and the private sector participated in this conference.

    The conference, “Exploring New Opportunities and Strategic Alternatives to Inform African Agricultural Development, Planning, and Policy,” was organized by the Regional Strategic Analysis and Knowledge Support System (ReSAKSS). Facilitated by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), ReSAKSS supports implementation of the Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development Programme (CAADP) of the African Union’s New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD).

    The major aim of this conference at the U.N. Economic Commission for Africa, was to assess countries’ progress in implementing CAADP, discuss what needs to be done in the future, and share experiences and success stories. To date, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Malawi, Mali, Niger, and Senegal have surpassed the target of committing ten percent of their budget to agriculture, and most countries have made significant progress towards this goal. More than 20 countries have achieved agricultural growth rates of six percent or more.

    “This conference comes at a critical time,” said Dr. Ibrahim Assane Mayaki, chief executive officer of the NEPAD Secretariat. “The CAADP agenda reflects a fundamental shift in the way Africa’s leadership looks at agriculture and its potential contribution to ending poverty and hunger and achieving the Millennium Development Goals. From the G8 Summit in L’Aquila to the G20 Summit in Pittsburgh, CAADP has received international support and recognition for its role in putting agriculture at the centre of the African development agenda. In addition, countries are starting to follow through on their CAADP commitments, but we continue to face challenges related to implementation,” he added.

    Interviewed during the NEPAD Tertiary Institutions Dialogue on 29th of July, Dr. Ibrahim Assane Mayaki explained that policies used to be defined by the binoom of African governments and external partners. Today there is a need to include the civil society, producers and research institutes/universities in the elaboration of sectorial policies.

    The marketing of agricultural products through ICT

    23, 24, 25 November 2009. Ouagadougou. The forum ‘The marketing of agricultural products through ICT’ aimed to increase the impact of the lessons learned and build the national network for ICT and development in Burkina Faso. The event was organised by Burkina NTIC, in particular its ICT cluster Agriculture.The typical method of collecting market price information in Burkina Faso.

    The organisers collected best practice examples of marketing agricultural products through ICT, to understand where the opportunities are and to draw lessons for the future. Best practices will be gathered from Burkina Faso and neighbouring countries.

    Hereunder is a training videos by TV Koodo, introducing the agricultural market information systems launched by Burkina NTIC and IICD.

    TV Koodo chooses puppet tv presenters as carriers of the instructional message. This choice demonstrates the significance of efforts to make e-/m- learning technologies more accessible and more responsive to the needs and educational backgrounds of African users. The coupling of learning technologies with ICT services geared towards enabling market transactions, could hold the key to the adoption, the popularity and the value derived from market services.

    Related FARA blog post:
    23 Oct 2009 Announcement: Marketing of agricultural products through ICT
    MMD4D Mobile Market Design for Development

    Thursday, 26 November 2009

    Advancing the implementation of CAADP Pillar IV in ECCAS/CEEAS sub-region

    24 - 25 November. Yaoundé, Cameroun. Sub-regional Meeting: “Advancing the implementation of CAADP Pillar IV in ECCAS/CEEAS sub-region”. Meeting to promote the awareness on the CAADP roundtable processes and Pillar IV issues for key players drawn from countries of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) .

    Cette réunion régionale est organisée en vue d’informer les principales parties prenantes de tous les processus de la table ronde du PDDAA et notamment sur les questions relatives au Pilier IV. Ces processus front l’objet d’une explication avec les rôles et responsabilités définies par les parties prenantes et une explication détaillée donnée sur la manière dont les cadres et les dispositions institutionnelles aideront à faire avancer le processus de mise en oeuvre du Pilier IV du PDDAA dans la région de la CEEAC. [ DECLARATION DU FARA PAR RAMADJITA TABO ] (left on this picture)

    Governance and Small-scale Agriculture in Southern Africa

    9th -11th November 2009. Johannesburg, South Africa. This workshop organised by the Institute for Democracy in Africa IDASA in Johannesburg, brought together stakeholders in agricultural issues within the southern Africa sub-region and FARA as the apex organization for the facilitation of continental agricultural development.

    The workshop with the theme; “Governance and Small-scale Agriculture in Southern Africa” was organized to facilitate interdisciplinary discussion on constraints and opportunities that surround governance and public investment processes and how they are shaping small scale agriculture in the region.

    Research papers and reports from countries were presented and discussed. The themes included:
    1. Priorities for investment in agriculture.
    2. Trends in public expenditure and small scale farming.
    3. Stakeholders’ participation in agricultural policy.

    The conference recommended a.o. that advocacy for the CAADP compact should include lobbying the country' government to channel the budgetary increase into issues and programs that are pro smallholders and with potentials to sustainably improve their livelihood and reduce poverty.

    Participation of farmers in policy formulation is critical for the policies to adequately address the challenges in the agricultural sector. Governments have, in the past, dominated policy formulation. Small-scale farmers need to organise themselves to start engaging with policy formulation. But in order to influence policy, one needs to understand the processes that policy makers go through.

    Joe Mzinga of the Eastern and Southern Africa Small-Scale Farmers’ Forum (ESAFF) also emphasised the importance of small-scale farmers organising themselves and being more aggressive in trying to participate in policy formulation.

    The eastern and southern African region account for a population of about 300 million, mainly comprising smallholder farmers (60% to 80%).Despite this, the group isn’t adequately involved in the decision-making and the policy processes that touch their daily lives. Most of the ongoing agricultural strategies and programmes aren’t based on the needs and aspirations of small-scale farmers. Most of them aren’t aware of the national and regional initiatives for agriculture.Tthe 10% budget for agriculture agreed on by the African countries remained part of the decisions of the elite, government officials and a few businesspeople.

    Access to Data and Information on Biodiversity, Forest Carbon and Other Global Issues

    17-18 November. Washington. The Group on Earth Observations (GEO) held its annual Plenary meeting. Some 80 nations, the European Commission and 56 international organizations are coordinating their Earth observation assets and strategies through GEO. They are sharing and interlinking their systems for tracking global trends in carbon levels, climate change, biodiversity loss, deforestation, water resources, ocean temperatures and other critical indicators of planetary health and human well-being. GEO is co-chaired by China, the European Commission (EC), South Africa and the United States.

    Many of the information systems and services under review at the Plenary analyze Earth observation data gathered by satellites and by in-situ instruments, such as ocean buoys, carbon flux towers, rain and discharge gauges, cameras and sonar. Two of the examples being presented at the Plenary and exhibition are:
    • Forest Carbon Tracking - By integrating field observations with radar and optical images provided by space agencies (including NASA, USGS, JAXA, CSA, ESA, DLR, ASI, INPE, GISTDA and CRESDA), the GEO Forest Carbon Tracking task is estimating trends in the spatial extent and carbon content of the world's forests. Participants in the task can share images, photos, in-situ data, models as well as results via an on-line platform contributed by Google Earth Outreach (visit after 10h30 a.m.).
    • The GEO Biodiversity Observation Network - Some 100 organizations are collaborating through GEO BON to bring together their biodiversity data, information and forecasts and make them more readily accessible to policymakers, managers, experts and other users.
    The "GEO Portal" for searching integrated data sets and presenting targeted information products to decision makers will also feature in Washington. Two leading information technology companies, ESRI and Compusult, and two international agencies, the European Space Agency and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN, are contributing to this effort.


    CEO presse release 19 October 2009 Comprehensive new global monitoring system to track deforestation and forest carbon
    PR Newswire Group on Earth Observations Meets in Washington to Strengthen Access to Data and Information on Biodiversity, Forest Carbon and Other Global Issues

    Tanzania has Just 20 Years to Adapt Agriculture to Climate Change

    In the first study of its kind in East Africa (or rather a policy pointer of 2 pages) , published by the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), the researchers stress that time is running out for Tanzania to adapt.

    The researchers predict that impacts of climate change in Tanzania’s agriculture sector will reduce the nation’s total GDP by 0.6-1% by 2030. But they warn that unless there is meaningful adaptation in the sector this could rise to 5-68% by 2085 as greater climate shifts take hold and trigger a chain of impacts that spread through the economy like falling dominoes.

    AllAfrica 01/10/2009 Nation Has Just 20 Years to Adapt Agriculture to Climate Change, Warn Economists
    Policy brief September 2009 Cultivating Success - The Need to Climate-Proof Tanzanian Agriculture

    Wednesday, 25 November 2009

    The food economy is increasingly shaped by such new issues as sustainability, safety and quality standards, consumer health, and industry concentration. Cultural and ethical arguments gain momentum when aligned with issues such as economic welfare and stakeholder interests. The food economy grows ever more global and encompasses more elusive elements like trust, integrity, transparency, corporate social responsibility and creating emotional bonds with customers.

    The food economy is inextricably interrelated with globalisation, changes in consumer demand for food and energy, the ICT revolution, sustainability issues, and shifts in the relationship between private companies and public regulators.

    The Food Economy explores a variety of trends and topics from the broad perspective that their evolution is interdependent with all kinds of counter currents and opposite notions: scarcity goes together with abundance, public and private initiatives co-evolve, slow food is connected with fast food, global brands and local products exist simultaneously. The Food Economy devotes chapters to existing and emerging issues and challenges of the expanding food economy.

    The Food Economy is relevant to academics, students, policymakers and consumers who are interested in recent developments in the food system and their implications for the food policy and research agendas in the years to come. Download table of contents of the book 'The food economy'. (PDF file)

    For a book review see the New Agriculturalist (nov 2009)