Saturday, 31 January 2009

CG Virtual library Service Goes Live Via Skype

In response to the demands of scholars in this digital age, a new service is now being offered by the Consultative Group on International Research (CGIAR) Virtual Library. Researchers seeking to avail of instant agricultural information, specially those pertaining to CGIAR research outputs, may now use the services of the CGIAR Virtual Library (GGVL) via a social networking tool: Skype. This is envisioned to provide services required for the 21st century and to realize better awareness and usability of the CGVL as a primary information resource for agricultural scientists the world over.

With the Skype name CGVLibrary, users, on demand, will receive instant assistance from libraries of the various agricultural centers. Currently information providers from the Bioversity (Rome), International Potato Center (CIP, Lima, Peru), International Rice Research Institute (IRRI, Los Banos, Philippines), International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT, Hyderabad, India), International Water Management Institute (IWMI, Sri Lanka), International Center for Research on Agroforestry (ICRAF, Nairobi, Kenya), Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR, Indonesia), International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA, Aleppo Syria), and International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI , Washington, D. C.) are testing and taking turns in looking after site. Live service through Skype is available 16 hours a day (2:00 AM – 6:00 PM GMT) with the collaboration of 9 centers mentioned above.
Reference: IRRI Library 11/01/2009

The African directory of development organizations

The directory of development organizations, listing 53,750 development organizations, has been prepared to facilitate international cooperation and knowledge sharing in development work, both among civil society organizations, research institutions, governments and the private sector.
The directory aims to promote interaction and active partnerships among governments, private sector and key development organisations in civil society, including NGOs, trade unions, faith-based organizations, indigenous peoples movements, foundations and research centres. In creating opportunities for dialogue with governments and private sector, civil society organizations are helping to amplify the voices of the poorest people in the decisions that affect their lives, improve development effectiveness and sustainability and hold governments and policymakers publicly accountable.

Monitoring agriculture resources and sites on the Internet

26/01/2009 Agriculture Resources ( is a Subject Tracer™ Information Blog developed and created by the Virtual Private Library™. It is designed to bring together the latest resources and sources on an ongoing basis from the Internet for agriculture resources. [Download Agriculture Resources White Paper Link Compilation]

Useful book: the Preservation of Web Resources.
One of the goals of PoWR is to make current trends in digital preservation meaningful and relevant to information professionals with the day-to-day responsibility for looking after web resources. This Handbook is one of the outputs from the JISC-funded PoWR (Preservation Of Web Resources) project.
You can download the handbook here

Foreign Aid Seminar of IFPRI in Wahington

January 13, 2009.Washington, DC. International Food Policy Research Institute. Is It Inevitable that Foreign Aid can no longer reduce overall poverty levels? Commentary from 55 Years of Experience.

In most Asian countries, the proportion of the population in poverty has declined dramatically. Poverty reduction was most rapid in the 1970s and 1980s during the Green Revolution, and was greatly assisted by foreign aid. Sub-Saharan Africa also experienced a decade of declining poverty levels – primarily in the 1960s.

In the past several decades, however, low-income countries have not experienced any measurable improvement in poverty or food security, and their agricultural sectors have generally not performed well, either. This has occurred despite a number of favorable global trends: improved terms of trade for primary-product exports and massive increases in global capital flows (excluding the current severe recession), generally more open economies and trade regimes, breakthroughs in the basic science on which increased agricultural productivity is based, and greatly expanded knowledge of growth and poverty-reduction processes.

Part of the reason that low-income countries have met with limited success in terms of poverty reduction and agricultural growth is that there have been major changes in foreign aid allocations and operating procedures in recent years.

The presentations below discuss the nature of those changes, specify what actions are required to jump start poverty reduction, and discuss the likelihood of those actions being carried out.

Introduction by Joachim von Braun, IFPRI Policy Seminar.

Part 1 of the presentation by John Mellor

Part 2 of the presentation by John Mellor

Part 3 of the presentation by John Mellor

Q and A following the presentation by John Mellor, at the IFPRI Policy Seminar

Closing remarks by Joachim von Braun at the IFPRI Policy Seminar.

Reference and background John Mellor
John Mellor is currently President of John Mellor Associates, Inc., a policy consulting firm. Prior to that he was Vice-President of Abt Associates, Director of the International Food Policy Research Institute, and Chief Economist of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID.) At Cornell University he was Professor of Economics, Agricultural Economics and Asian Studies, Director of the Comparative Economics Program and the Center for International Studies. See IFPRI 13/01/2009

The Diversification Challenge in Africa's Resource-Rich Economies

For a growing number of countries in Africa the current commodity boom is a huge opportunity. But if the economic history of resource-rich, poor countries—especially in Africa—is any guide, rather than bringing prosperity, the resource boom may drive them into what Paul Collier (2007) in his influential book The Bottom Billion terms the “Natural Resources Trap.”

In Africa, countries dependent on oil, gas, and mining have tended to have weaker long-run growth, higher rates of poverty, and higher inequality than non mineral-dependent economies at similar levels of income. Two recent studies suggest both the potential and the risks of resource extraction. Reference: Brookings 31/01/09

Drought-Tolerant Maize for Africa

Maize is the staple food of more than 300 million Africans. The crop, however, is severely affected by frequent drought. Drought leads to crop failure, hunger, and poverty. Global climate change is expected to worsen the problem. Recently, a public-private partnership was formed to develop drought-tolerant maize varieties using conventional breeding, marker-assisted breeding, and biotechnology.

Known as Water Efficient Maize for Africa (WEMA), the project is led by the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF) in collaboration with CIMMYT (International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center), Monsanto Company, and agricultural research systems, farmer groups and seed companies in Kenya, Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has committed funding of US $42 million to the project. The first conventional WEMA varieties are expected to be available in six to seven years. Transgenic drought-tolerant varieties will be available in about ten years. Reference: AATF

Friday, 30 January 2009

Learning Agro-biodiversity: Options for Universities in Sub-Saharan Africa

CTA in collaboration with ANAFE, Bioversity International, FAO, EAPGRNet and RUFORUM hosted a regional workshop on “Learning Agro-biodiversity: Options for Universities in Sub-Saharan Africa”, January 21-23, Nairobi, Kenya.

Over 38 senior experts including deans and team leaders from African universities, genetic resource centres and CGIAR centres were represented. In addition to drafting curriculum outlines for various programmes from short courses to PhD level, emphasis was placed on ensuring clarity when defining agro-biodiversity in the African context.

Session on Africa during the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2009

28 January - 1 February 2009. Davos, Switzerland. Under the overall theme “Shaping the Post-Crisis World.” Over 2,500 participants and 40 Heads of State and government are participating in the World Economic Forum meeting, where business, civil society and government leaders have gathered to share ideas on how to shape the post-crisis agenda, from economic reform to climate change.

Raila Amolo Odinga, Prime Minister of Kenya,
captured during the session 'The New US Administration:
Can It Meet the Expectations of the World?'

Although the continent is not insulated from the global financial crisis, African countries will perform “relatively better” than other regions of the world this year. This was the consensus among discussants at the session on Africa.

Other relevant sessions:
Fresh solutions to food security
Kofi Annan,William H. Gates III, Irene B. Rosenfeld, Michael Treschow, Abhisit Vejjajiva with Josette Sheeran (debate of 1 hour)

State of Africa
The governance landscape of Africa is in transition with important democratic elections taking place across the continent. What political and economic actions are required to shape the future of Africa in a challenging global economic environment? (debate of 1 hour 4 minutes)

  • Kofi Annan, Secretary-General, United Nations (1997-2006); Member of the Foundation Board of the World Economic Forum; Co-Chair of the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2009
  • Luisa Dias Diogo, Prime Minister of Mozambique
  • Paul Kagame, President of RwandaKgalema Motlanthe, President of South Africa
  • Raila Amolo Odinga, Prime Minister of Kenya
  • Abdoulaye Wade, President of Senegal
  • Chaired byNiall FitzGerald, Deputy Chairman, Thomson Reuters, United Kingdom; Member of the Foundation Board of the World Economic Forum

Debate on The girl effect on development with Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Melinda French Gates, Mari Pangestu, Mark G. Parker, Ann M. Veneman, Muhammad Yunnus with Helene D. Gayle. (1 hour 3 min)

The Next Digital Experience
Social networking applications and sophisticated mobile devices are combining elements of the real and virtual worlds, and delivering an augmented experience of reality. How is this digital experience changing consumers and communities? (debate of 1 hour 3 minutes)

  • Hamid Akhavan, Chief Executive Officer, T-Mobile International, Germany
  • Eric K. Clemons, Professor of Operations and Information Management,
  • The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, USA
  • Chad Hurley, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, YouTube, USA
  • Craig Mundie, Chief Research and Strategy Officer, Microsoft Corporation, USA
  • Shantanu Narayen, President and Chief Executive Officer, Adobe Systems, USA
  • Mark Zuckerberg, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Facebook, USA

Other relevant sessions:
28.01.09 Update 2009: Africa
30.01.09 Mobile Revolutions in the Developing World
30.01.09 The Future of Development Assistance
30.01.09 From Adoption to Diffusion: Technology and Developing Economies

FAO Glossary of aquaculture

The successful development of aquaculture depends on the use of a common language and standardization of terminology. This publication, validated by international experts, contains over 2 500 terms and includes definitions, information sources, synonyms and related terms, in Arabic, Chinese, English, French and Spanish.
This glossary is for experts and scientists involved in aquaculture research and development, and also for technicians, developers, consultants and users from other disciplines, such as agriculturists, economists, engineers, environmentalists and policy-makers. It is published both in hard copy, and on the accompanying CD-ROM.
Reference: FAO publications

Aligning efforts on agricultural policy and knowledge systems in support of CAADP

On January 6 and 7, 2009, FARA participated to the meeting organised by NEPAD, IFPRI, AGRA, and the World Bank in Dakar, Senegal to align efforts on agricultural policy and knowledge systems in support of CAADP.

The discussions centred on alignment of efforts for CAADP implementation, the roles of agencies involved in the process and focused on the implications of alignment of efforts on agricultural policy and knowledge systems. After six years of CAADP, aligning efforts is crucial in an environment where financial, human and infrastructural resources are limited. In order to achieve a common African vision, a good system should be developed to provide reliable data collection, analysis and timely reporting and in the right format for use by decision makers. Such knowledge systems should be able to adapt and react to ongoing challenges and emerging issues. The systems should be demand driven. Building local capacity to design and identify appropriate approaches, methods and tools is critical to maintain sustainability.

The draft agenda of the meeting is available here.
Further information and conference presentations available on the ReSAKSS Events page.

2008 proved to be a prolific year for ReSAKSS, with 15 new working papers, 3 issue briefs, an annual trends report, and 4 other documents becoming publicly available to policymakers, researchers and development thinkers.

The documents cover a wide variety of relevant and useful topics, including agricultural growth and poverty options for several African countries, an analysis of rising food prices in South Africa, and agricultural expenditures in Africa. Other documents have laid out the strategic planning guidelines for practitioners and the monitoring and evaluation framework for CAADP.

View all ReSAKSS publications on the ReSAKSS website.

IFPRI Strengthens Partnership with FARA

To formalize two of its strong partnerships, IFPRI recently signed Memorandums of Understanding with the African Union Commission (AUC) and the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA).

IFPRI’s continued collaboration with FARA, which is led by World Food Prize Laureate and executive director Monty Jones, seeks to spur agricultural growth and overall economic performance through agricultural research that generates innovative ways to improve crop production, and technology dissemination and adoption. IFPRI will also support the design of agricultural and nutrition strategies and improve capacity for policy research and analysis.
"FARA is pleased to collaborate with IFPRI to foster synergies between
policy recommendations and priorities for technology development and capacity
building, and to promote evidence-based policymaking," said Dr. Jones.


IFPRI blog 29/01/2009 IFPRI Strengthens Partnerships with Pan-African Organizations

Kenyan and Ugandan Journalists Emerge Winners in Continental Agricultural Journalism Competition

2 December 2008. MAPUTO — Patricia Oyella of WBS TV in Uganda and Wandera Ojanji of the East African Standard in Kenya were the winners of the CGIAR-FARA 2008 Award for Excellence in Agricultural Science Journalism in Africa.

The CGIAR-FARA 2008 Award for Excellence in Agricultural Science Journalism in Africa attracted 49 print and broadcast entries on issues affecting Africa’s key crops (banana, cassava, maize, rice) and livestock, namely biofuels, climate change, the role of biotechnology, food safety, access to fertilizers, pest management and efforts to control noxious weeds such as striga.

Ms. Oyella won the prize for outstanding broadcast story while Mr. Ojanji received the outstanding print media prize. Each award, carrying a cash value of US$5,000, recognizes journalists’ efforts in effectively communicating agricultural science issues to the general public.

This year’s prize was jointly offered by the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) and the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA).

Saving the Cooking Banana
Patricia Oyella, editor and reporter at WBS TV in Uganda, received the award for her broadcast feature, “Saving the Cooking Banana,” shown on WBS TV and on Business Africa, a program broadcast on a network of more than 45 African and five European partner channels. Combining powerful, captivating imagery with precise narratives, the feature demonstrated the importance of this food crop in Africa, the problems faced by banana farmers, and the solutions offered by researchers.

Endangered Species
Wandera Ojanji, science and environmental writer at the East African Standard newspaper in Kenya, received the outstanding print award for his article, “Endangered Species,” published on September 2, 2007. In his article, Ojanji effectively highlighted the plight of diminishing indigenous livestock breeds in Kenya and neighboring countries, and advocated strongly for the conservation of their genetic diversity through research, local breeding programs, and policy interventions.

“In this day of information overload, journalists have to be concise, accurate and relevant. They additionally have to present agricultural information attractively and innovatively. Their choice of words and images sometimes has more impact than loads of scientific evidence,” said Francois Stepman, Communications Specialist for the Accra-based Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa. “We truly laud the efforts of journalists to inform and educate the public about the importance of issues affecting agriculture in Africa, and solutions offered by research.” Reference: Press release CGIAR 02/12/2008

Thursday, 29 January 2009

Novel Approaches to Agricultural and Agri-business Policies in Jamaica

FARA participated at the National Science & Technology Conference in Jamaica on
January 28, 2009, about Novel Approaches to Agricultural and Agri-business Policies organised by the University of the West Indies (Seismic Research Centre).
  • Dr. Monty Jones, Executive Director - New innovations in agriculture and agribusiness
    in Africa
  • Dr. Adewale Adekunle - Getting stakeholders to cooperate on agricultural and agribusiness innovations
  • Mrs. Myra Wonpereis – Technology adaptation, diffusion and adoption in agricultural and agribusiness innovation

See futher full programme

ROCARIZ - the multi-country rice research network in West and Central Africa – won the Outstanding Partnership Award at the 2008 Annual General Meeting of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), 1-5 December 2008, in Maputo, Mozambique. The award was jointly received by the Chair and present Coordinator of ROCARIZ, which is hosted by the Africa Rice Center (WARDA). The former coordinator is present FARA collaborator Sidi Sanyang.

ROCARIZ was singled out for “its decentralized, issue-driven task force approach” that has enabled it to successfully foster a high level of national involvement in collaborative research to improve rice productivity in both rainfed and irrigated systems in West and Central Africa.

“ROCARIZ has not only strengthened the rice R&D capacity of our national partners, but has also helped the Africa Rice Center attain critical mass in areas where alone it would not be possible,” said Dr Papa Abdoulaye Seck, Director General, Africa Rice Center.

The West and Central Africa Rice Research and Development Network Рgenerally referred to by its French acronym ROCARIZ (Res̩au Ouest et Centre Africain du riz) Рaims to link rice stakeholders in West and Central Africa in order to generate improved and relevant rice technologies, and facilitate their rapid transfer to users by enhancing the capacity of NARES for participatory rice research planning, technology generation, evaluation, and transfer.

ROCARIZ was created in 2000 following the decision taken by WARDA’s National Experts Committee (Committee of National Agricultural Research Institute Directors), WECARD/CORAF, USAID, and WARDA to merge the WARDA Task Forces and the CORAF Rice Network into a unique rice research and development network in West and Central Africa.
ROCARIZ has more than 150 national scientists today from 21 West and Central African countries and international scientists from the Africa Rice Center. It has enhanced resource-use and research efficiencies and facilitated rapid and efficient technology dissemination to end-users. The network has played a central role in the development and distribution of the both upland and lowland NERICA® varieties, which helped achieve a 6 percent increase in African rice production in 2006/07.

PROTA: a guide to the use of African plants

PROTA - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa - is an international, not-for-profit foundation. It intends to synthesize the dispersed information on the approximately 7,000 useful plants of Tropical Africa and to provide wide access to the information through Webdatabases, Books, CD-Rom’s and Special Products.

The objectives are to bring the published information, now accessible to the resourceful happy few, into the public domain. This will contribute to greater awareness and sustained use of the ‘world heritage of African useful plants’, with due respect for traditional knowledge and intellectual property rights.

The Agricultural College of Botswana uses PROTA books in their curriculum. The direct target groups for the PROTA information are the decision-makers in government, private sector, research, education and rural development, whose decisions affect millions of people depending for their livelihood on the plant resources.

The end-users are the people in Tropical Africa depending directly on the plant resources, mainly farmers and forest communities, but also workers in cottage industries, among them many women. PROTA will bring development opportunities based on plant resources actively and immediately to the attention of the direct target groups for realizing impact on the end-users.


Following the publication of the Timbers (1) volume (511 Species) and Medicinal (1) volume (894 Species), PROTA/Wageningen has started working (with funding from the COFRA Holding - Switzerland) on the PROTA 16 fibres and is looking for scientists who can participate in writing of the review articles. The fibre plants will be broadly defined to include plants made into textiles and cordage, and also those used for making paper, for thatching, packing and filling, as tying material, and for the production of baskets, mats, wickerwork, brooms and toothbrushes. This list can also be found on the PROTA website

African Soil Information Service (AfSIS)

The first detailed digital soil map of sub-Saharan Africa is to be created. The £12.3m ($18m) project will offer farmers in 42 countries a "soil health diagnosis" and advice on crop yields.

Scientists from the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) will take soil samples from across the continent and analyse nutrient levels. These will be combined with satellite data to build a high-resolution map, to be disseminated freely to poor farmers by local extension workers.

The interactive online map, known as the African Soil Information Service (AfSIS), will be accompanied by advice on how to tackle soil deficient in nutrients. It is the first stage of project to build a global digital map - called - covering 80% of the world's soils.

The initial four-year programme is being funded by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (Agra). The project is being led by the Tropical Soil Biology and Fertility (TSBF) Institute, at CIAT. They will collaborate with national agricultural research programs across Africa, including the establishment of regional soil health laboratories in Tanzania, Kenya, Mali, Nigeria, and Malawi. Other partners include the World Soil Information (ISRIC) at Wageningen University in The Netherlands and the Nairobi-based World Agroforestry Centre.


AU Conference of Ministers of Agriculture Preparatory Meeting

20 January 2009. Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The meeting was arranged with the Department of Rural Economy and Agriculture (DREA) of the African Union Commission (AUC) and NEPAD to discuss and strategize on the road map for organizing the 4th Conference of Ministers of Agriculture.

The 4th Conference of Ministers of Agriculture is scheduled to take place April 22-24, 2009 as a prelude to the AU July 2009 Summit in Madagascar.

It was agreed that since NEPAD will engage a facilitator for the process of organizing the conference and because the AUC and Madagascar must endorse a theme, the propositions should be left to the AUC and Madagascar. 3 sub-themes were accepted with the acknowledgment that they need further refinement:
  • land degradation and climate change or land use and climate change;
  • Regional markets on strategic products for investment and trade and
  • strategies to leverage increased investment financing in African agriculture. Partnerships, capacity strengthening and policy cut across all conference themes.

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

An e-agriculture PPP in South-Africa for the meat market

Annami Bruwer of BRUBOER South-Africa explains how a Public Private Partnership is using ICT to improve a range of services to cattle farmers centered around the finishinglot . The ICT service hub includes:
  • Bulk procurement  & market penetration;
  • Logistics;
  • Track and traceability;
  • Training & capacity building;
  • Micro-finance;
  • Veterinary and Breeding
  • Abattoir & Deboning facility
  • Meat Processing Plant & Market penetration. 
There are approximately 300 small scale cattle farmers with approximately 2500 dependents who directly benefit from the ICT Livestock Hub. It empowers the cattle farmers in the area to better access markets. the inputs and services are leading to higher quality livestock and income for farmers. 

The introduction of a track and traceability service, through an animal identification system, means that these farmers can comply with international food safety requirements and penetrate lucrative international markets.

High Level Meeting on Food Security for All

On the 26th and 27th of January 2009, Madrid hosted the High Level Meeting on Food Security for All, to offer continuity to the United Nations Global Action Plan led by the United Nations Secretary-General and to design a road map that will guarantee the fulfilment of the objectives and commitments acquired during the last Rome Summit.
Olivier de Shutter. UN Special Rapporteur on Right to Food.

Representatives of national governments, civil society, trade unions, the private sector, academia, multilateral organisations and donor agencies from around 100 countries took part in the two-day meeting to discuss the Global Partnership for Agriculture and Food Security (GPAFS) to support Africa through CAADP.

Speaking on behalf of the African Union, Prof. Richard Mkandawire who is the head of NEPAD’s Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) called upon the participants to use the meetings as an opportunity for kick-starting action-driven and globally-oriented attempts to end world hunger.

Within the context of Africa – African ministers of Agriculture and representatives from regional economic communities called for the GPAFS to be implemented through the already existing CAADP structures, partnerships and networks.

“In Africa, it is imperative that CAADP is located at the centre of GPAFS activities so that it can be optimally used to support the real agricultural plans of small holder farmers, women and those that are usually marginalised in African agriculture” advised CAADP’s Mkandawire.


Preview on the new CAADP website

The new CAADP website and blog are online since December. This website will be officially launched at a forthcoming African Union meeting.

At the Annual Meeting of the CGIAR in Maputo the site was pre-launched to allow donors and CG scientists to give feedback on what extra information is needed on the site. The search system isn’t online yet and CAADP has not uploaded all the documents in the library. But, the key text is on line.

Professor Richard Mkandawire introduced on
2nd of December the CGIAR AGM Participants to the new CAADP website

FARA Delegation Visits AU and CHFI in Addis Ababa

A FARA delegation, including the Executive Director, Monty Jones went to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, January 14-15, 2009, to attend various meetings.

Meeting with the AU Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture
The Executive Director of FARA gave a brief history of the establishment of FARA in 2002 and the mandate given to it by AU- NEPAD through the signing of an MOU for the coordination and implementation of CAADP Pillar IV which has four thrusts: integrated natural resources management, improvements of germplasm, developing functional markets, and developing appropriate policies.

Meeting with the AU team in the Department of Human Resources Science and Technology (HRST)
The meeting focussed on the African Biotechnology and Biosafety Policy Platform (ABBPP) and Building African Scientific and Institutional Capacity (BASIC) initiatives of FARA that are currently being submitted to the EC through the AU.

Meeting with the Economic Commission for Africa team at the United Nations Office

This meeting was conducted to determine areas of collaboration on Pillar IV activities. The ECA team was updated on FARA activities, the progress made so far and FARA's path to achieving the Pillar IV objectives.

Meeting with the Celestial Humanitarian Foundation International, Inc (CHFI)
The Director of Network Support Function 3 (Regional Policies and Markets) met with a team from CHFI to discuss the work of the foundation and possible collaboration with FARA.

Background: CHFI
The CHFI is a charitable and religious foundation registered in the United States to operate in Africa. Its mission is to eradicate poverty through productive agricultural and social development. CHFI uses a “One Village at a Time” approach modeled after the Korean Saemaul Undong approach.
Related blogpost about Korean Saemaul Undong approach:
Expert Group Meeting on SMART Indicators and Lessons

CAADP’s Food and Nutrition Security Advisor Boitshepo Bibi Giyose talks to New Agriculturist

CAADP’s Food and Nutrition Security Advisor Boitshepo Bibi Giyose talks to The New Agriculturist edition 2009-01
We are living in very challenging times, times of several crises. It has been referred to as the "crises of the four 'F's": food, fuel, fertiliser and now, finance. When we look at these together, the challenge they bring is that they continue to push people over the poverty line; this means that more and more people are suffering and are going to be suffering in terms of food insecurity and malnutrition. But I believe this situation can be prevented.You can listen to the interview here.
To save this audio file to your computer right click here and choose "save target as"
Podcast: Play in new window Download

ASTI Consultation Workshop on Supplementary Indicators

20 January 2009. Entebbe, Uganda. Eighteen (18) participants from global, regional, sub-regional and national agricultural research organizations participated in the consultation. The workshop focused on the improvement and expansion of quantitative information provided by the Agricultural Science and Technology Indicators (ASTI) Initiative.

The presentations included an overview of the ASTI initiative, GFAR’s perspective on the ASTI initiative, innovation system perspective, agricultural research and development input, output and process indicators, and complementing the national perspective.

The ASTI initiative is managed by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI). The initiative compiles, processes, analyzes, and publicizes data on institutional developments, investments, and capacity in agricultural R&D at national, regional land global levels. ASTI outputs describe trends (progress of agricultural R&D human and financial capacity over time at the national, regional and global levels) and comparative information (performance of a country or region compared to others). The initiative entails a large amount of original and on-going survey work focused on low and middle income countries, but also maintains access to relevant data for developed countries. Download the ASTI brochure: (PDF 150K)
Nienke Beintema, Head, Agricultural Science and Technology indicators (ASTI) initiative

Over the past years, the work has mainly focused on developing and maintaining the ASTI website : building a network of collaborators at the national and regional levels; and initiating institutional survey rounds in Africa (2001-04), Asia (2002 – 07), the Middle East (2004 – 07) and Latin America (2007 – 08).

Monday, 26 January 2009

Good knowledge sharing practices in the field of agricultural development and food security

Bioversity International, the CGIAR ICT-KM program, FAO, IFAD and WFP jointly organized a 3-day event entitled Knowledge Share Fair for Agricultural Development and Food Security to at FAO Headquarters on 20 – 22 January 2009.

The Share Fair provided an interactive experience, allowing participant to:
  • share and learn from each others good practices;
  • experiment with tools and methodologies for knowledge sharing;
  • create linkages and networks for future collaboration between the organizations;
  • develop ideas to support and enhance knowledge sharing within and across our organizations.
The purpose of the event was to showcase examples of good knowledge sharing practices in the field of agricultural development and food security.
Rome, 22 January 2009 - Watch hereunder the Closing Ceremony of the first Knowledge Share Fair (FAO headquarters, Green Room). Follow Peter Ballantyne's recap and see what made the Fair "an event for you, made by you".

On knowledge sharing in general in the field of agriculture you can watch a number of interviews which were tkaen prior to the conference at

Equipping Africa’s Farmers with Location-specific Information

Recognizing the importance of geospatial information to agriculture decision making and the inadequate access to data, tools, and analyses, especially in Africa, a Geospatial Technology Program was initiated. The Geospatial Technology Program is under the administrative oversight of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR). CGIAR, in partnership with CH2M HILL and ITC, will design and develop a comprehensive program to provide smallholder farmers in sub-Saharan Africa and other agricultural stakeholders with access to geospatial data, services, tools, and methodologies to help them make more informed decisions.

What Will the Program Accomplish?
CGMAP will help you find answers to questions like: What CGIAR centers are conducting research on chickpea? How many projects are contributing to genetic enhancement of selected species?

Farmers like Mary will have access to higher-quality, location-specific information to make better decisions. They can use this information to decide which crops to raise and when to harvest; receive pest and disease information via cell phone; and apply changing technologies to boost productivity. They will also be able to help other farmers by reporting pest and disease conditions. Developing countries will benefit from collection and dissemination of agricultural data; analysis and communication of geospatial information; and monitoring and evaluation of agricultural development efforts.

Farmer First Revisited

Farmer First Revisited (forthcoming March 2009) returns to the debates about farmer participation in agricultural R&D and looks to the future.

With over 60 contributions from across the world, the book presents a range of experiences that highlight the importance of going beyond a focus on the farm to the wider innovation system, including market interactions as well as the wider institutional and policy environment. If, however, farmers are really to be put first, a politics of demand is required in order to shape the direction of these innovation systems.

This calls for a major rethinking of agricultural R&D, the boosting of the knowledge and capacities of farmers’ organizations to innovate, the strengthening of networks and alliances to support, document and share lessons on farmer-led innovation, and the transformation of agricultural higher education.

Farmer First Revisited
Challenges to strengthening Agricultural Innovation Systems
Fostering Farmer First methodological innovation


Related FARA blog post 12th December 2007
Farmer Participatory Research and Development Twenty years on

UNDP Climate Change Country Profiles

Country-level climate data summaries were prepared with funding from the UNDP National Communication Suport Programme (NSCP) and the UK government Department for International Development (DfiD) in order to address the climate change information gap for developing countries by making use of existing climate data to generate a series of country-level studies of climate observations and the multi-model projections made available through the WCRP CMIP3.

A consistent approach has been applied for 52 developing countries in order to produce an ‘off the shelf’ analysis of climate data, and also make available the underlying data for each country for use in further research.

For each of the 52 countries, a report contains a set of maps and diagrams demonstrating the observed and projected climates of that country as country average timeseries as well as maps depicting changes on a 2.5° grid and summary tables of the data. A narrative summarises the data in the figures, and placing it in the context of the country’s general climate. A dataset containing the underlying observed and model data for that country, is made available for use in further research projects. The files are smaller and more manageable than the global fields made available by the PCMDI, and in text format which can easily downloaded, read and manipulated. Visit list of available country data.


Tuesday, 20 January 2009

High Level Taskforce Meeting on Food Security

12 January 2009. Lusaka, Zambia. The meeting was organized to discuss implementation of CAADP in the COMESA region. It included representatives from COMESA, FARA, NEPAD and the World Bank.

The meeting first discussed how CAADP is being implemented in the COMESA region and how COMESA countries are participating in FARA region-wide initiatives. Discussion then focused on the World Bank’s proposed schedule for the completion of the East African Agricultural Productivity Programme and the World Bank-CAADP Trust Fund. The Trust Fund is expected to support the following initiatives with the COMESA region: a) completion of the regional compact; b) fast tracking of the CAADP round table process in the region; c) engagement of a Pillar IV focal person at the COMESA office; d) provision of support for Pillar IV coordination meetings; and e) development of a long-term work plan for CAADP implementation in the COMESA region.

The meeting then discussed future evaluations of the CAADP agricultural agenda to determine how much progress has been made on key targets such as the proposed 10% budget allocation by governments to agriculture and the 6% agricultural growth rate.

FARA, NEPAD, the World Bank and COMESA then called on the Honorable Minister of Agriculture responsible for Livestock to brief him on FARA-CAADP related issues. Each member of the visiting delegation took turns briefing the Minister on CAADP Pillar IV implementation in the COMESA region.

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

NEPAD SADC Stakeholders Engagement Workshop

4-5 December 2008. Pretoria, South Africa. Eight SADC countries were involved in the sub-regional process focusing on NEPAD implementation at national level. The workshop which was attended by FARA was supported by the Belgian Government and the process leading up to it was conducted by the NEPAD Secretariat with the support of Southern Africa Trust (SAT).

More than 100 delegates and stakeholder partners from the Southern African Development Community region and beyond were present. The objectives of the two-day workshop were for SADC countries to share their experiences on NEPAD implementation; explore collective mechanisms for regional level engagement for NEPAD implementation, linking it to the national; consolidate lessons learnt from the engagement process based on national experiences and identify practical interventions; and device guidelines for future engagements with national and regional processes and structures on NEPAD implementation.

"SADC regional workshop focuses on NEPAD implementation" NEPAD Dialogue, December 5, 2008
Remarks by Deputy Minister Fatima Hajaig at the Southern African Development Community (SADC) stakeholders' engagement on New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), Development Bank of South Africa, Midrand, Gauteng

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Community of Practice for Conservation Agriculture (CA-CoP)

During a Soil Health Workshop last July at the FAO in Rome there was strong support for the establishment of a global network of 'Community of Practice' (CoP) in support of Conservation Agriculture (CA) as a foundation for sustainable agriculture and facilitating the acceleration of farmers' uptake of CA.

As a first step towards making the Community of Practice operational, an e-mail Listserv has been set up at the FAO to facilitate communication amongst the stakeholders of this global CA Community. The quality and value of this communication facility will very much depend on the subscribers. There will be a regular CA-CoP Newsletter which will be distributed through the Listserv.

Investing in sustainable agricultural intensification. The role of conservation agriculture: A framework for action,” FAO, 10 August 2008

Launch of the African Crop Science Society Website

The CGIAR Gender & Diversity program has recently launched the African Crop Science Society (ACSS) website. The ACSS was established in 1993 with the overall objective of promoting crop production and food security in Africa. The activities of the Society include the convening of congresses, symposia, workshops and training courses, publication of the African Crop Science Journal, publication of regular newsletters and organizing general or special general meetings of the Society.

For more information on the Society, contact the ACSS President, Prof. Kasem Zaki Ahmed at

African Crop Science Society

FAO Ministerial Conference on Water for Agriculture and Energy in Africa

15-17 December 2008. Sirte, Libya. The aim of the Conference was to examine all aspects of water resources in Africa in the context of rapidly increasing demand from the agriculture and energy sectors and climate change. Presentations and discussions were focused on three key thematic areas: prospects for food and energy demand by 2015 and projections for 2030 – 2050; investment needs and management issues of harnessing water and irrigation; and financing mechanisms and implementation strategies.

Side meeting with NEPAD, AUC and FARA: A side meeting was held with the NEPAD Agriculture Adviser Prof. Richard Mkandawire and the AUC Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Economy to strategize on how FARA, NEPAD and AUC could work together on key issues of common interest to the three institutions. Also present at the meeting were Mr. Martin Bwalya, NEPAD Land Expert and Mr. Eugene Kanyegirire NEPAD Communications Officer.

The meeting was wrapped up with a pledge to work together in promoting water development throughout the continent and to fully exploit Africa's agricultural and hydropower potential.

Declaration of the Ministerial Conference on Water for Agriculture and Energy in Africa, Sirte, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, 15-17 December 2008
African ministers adopt $65b fund to develop water infrastructure," The Guardian, Nigeria. Dec 22, 2008

Expert Group Meeting on SMART Indicators and Lessons from Korea

17-19 December 2008. UNECA, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The objectives of the meeting were to review the unique particulars of African agriculture and the related implications for the achievement of a green revolution and rural transformation; review approaches of agricultural and rural development in Africa; develop a common Sustainable Modernisation of Agriculture and Rural Transformation (SMART) index using indicators of SMART potential and readiness; and review “Saemaul Undong”, the Korean successful approach to rural development and discuss the applicability of “Saemaul Undong” approaches as a viable model for agricultural and rural transformation in Africa.

Thirty indicators of a successful SMART were identified for numerical quantification and the process of developing an index for SMART potential and readiness was initiated.

SU is a community development model in Korea that aims to empower people and raise their capacity to make decisions on their own development. It is a bottom up approach that uses diligence, self-help, cooperation and the ‘can do spirit’ in the rural community. Usually a seed (input) material is provided by an external agency or national government to help kick start the community effort. SU has recorded successful rural development initiatives in South Korea, Viet Nam, Thailand and recently, in a community in Congo-Brazzaville.

The SU model is to contribute to the SMART and Green Revolution in Africa. The Korean government, through UNPOG, will assist in the introduction of the SU concept into Africa.

Saemaul Undong
Sustainable Modernisation of Agriculture and Rural Transformation Project Document

Validation Workshop for 2007 AETS

4-5 December 2008. Pretoria, South Africa. A workshop of top civil servants, members of Regional Economic Communities (RECs) and development partners, convened by NEPAD, endorsed the 2007 draft report on the agriculture expenditure tracking system (AETS).

The 2003 African Union (AU) Heads of State and Government Summit in Maputo, Mozambique, adopted the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) as a framework for contributing to the attainment of food security and poverty reduction goals in Africa. To increase investment in agriculture development, the 2003 AU Summit further adopted a resolution to encourage member countries to commit at least 10% of the annual national budget to agriculture and rural development by 2008.

In this regard, the AU/NEPAD is mandated to monitor and report to AU Summits the progress made achieving the 2003 AU-Maputo 10% target. Accordingly, the AU/NEPAD, with support from the World Bank and the FAO, conducted a comprehensive survey during 2008 to assess the progress African countries had made in 2007 in complying with the 2003 AU Maputo decision.

The AU/NEPAD convened a workshop for senior civil servants from 4-5 December, 2008 in Centurion, Pretoria, South Africa to review, discuss and approve both the survey report and the guidance note to implementation of the tracking system and identify the measures to accelerate national attainment of at least 10% allocation to agriculture development. The workshop also discussed the attributes and components of the future tracking system to monitor compliance with the 2003 AU-Maputo decision.

At the end of the two-day deliberations, the workshop:

  • Endorsed the report, and reaffirmed the importance of increasing investment in the agriculture sector;
  • Noted the inadequate progress by member countries towards meeting the Maputo 10% target. Only 19% allocate more than 10% of the national expenditure to agriculture development and most countries (57%) continue to spend less than 5%;
  • Observed that the current tracking system is narrow and does not capture and analyse all key components, including budget allocations in line with CAADP priorities;
  • Noted that many African countries are not submitting data to enable AU/NEPAD to monitor compliance with the 2003 AU-Maputo decision; and
  • Appreciated that the current data collection methodology is inadequate to facilitate timely preparation of reports and recommendations to influence decision-making.

Professor Mkandawire addressed the participants at the Pretoria validation workshop: “What is our preparedness for international foundations who are willing to invest in African agriculture? There is a new set of players (India, China, Brazil) and targets.”

Keeping a Check on Budget Allocations to Agriculture, NEPAD Dialogue. Issue 255, December 12, 2008