Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Getting information and communication strategies right for climate change and agriculture

26-31 October 2008. Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. CTA released its compilation document (102 pages) on the Implications of climate change for sustainable agricultural production systems in ACP countries Getting information and communication strategies right.

The Ouagadougou seminar was part of a series of CTA initiatives on climate change that include the Policy Briefs (Brussels, February 2008) and a special issue of Spore (August 2008).

CTA hopes to contribute to overall thinking on capacity-building for ACP partners, and to
the formulation of climate change information and communication strategies. This publication provides a summary of the media coverage, lessons from e-discussions, a summary of the main recommendations and conclusions of the seminar, and abstracts of the presentations. The document is available now online on the seminar’s website or as PDF document

Access of the poor to agricultural services: the role of farmers’ organizations

The Royal Tropical Institute (KIT) has published a dossier on the role of rural producers' organizations in inclusive innovation systems; it focuses on the role that farmers’ organizations play in enhancing the poorest farmers’ access to agricultural advisory services such as research, training, advice and extension.

Farmers’ organizations can play a key role in agricultural innovation, since they have the capacity to pool, aggregate and disseminate knowledge and information. Moreover, they are increasingly positioned in both service networks and supply chains to coordinate activities and promote an enabling environment for innovation.

The services that are being provided to members, whether by farmers’ organizations themselves or by third parties, include knowledge services such as agricultural research, advisory (extension and technology dissemination) and other types of farmer training.

The dossier presents an analytical framework, and the findings and recommendations from a case study.It also outlines KIT's involvement, and provides resources, a glossary, and news.


19 June 2009. Wageningen. During the Science Forum 2009 which took place in Wageningen on 16-17 June 2009, the launch was announced of AGRINATURA, the European Alliance on Agricultural Knowledge for Development.

AGRINATURA is formed by NATURA, the former association of European universities dealing with agricultural research and education for development, and ECART, the consortium of European institutions working in agricultural research for development, in order to capitalize on their respective strengths and expertise. Wageningen UR, comprising Wageningen University and the DLO Research Centres is an active member of both ECART and Natura.

AGRINATURA’s goal is to make substantial European contributions to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the Paris Declaration by:
  • Playing a proactive policy advocacy role for agricultural research and education for development in Europe and worldwide
  • Developing and strengthening strategic alliances and partnerships with and between the different stakeholders in development, both in the North and in the South
  • Encouraging networking and partnerships between institutions, organisations and individuals
  • Organising, facilitating and implementing joint participation in European and international research and education programmes and projects, including EU FP7, Erasmus Mundus, EU Food Security and Thematic Programme, EU Edulink


Farmer-Centred Innovation

16 June 2009. Talking at the Science Forum 2009, IDS Research Fellow Dr John Thompson and a distinguished panel of experts officially launched two new books that emphasise the importance of putting farmers at the centre of agricultural innovation and development: Farmer First Revisited: Innovation for Agricultural Research and Development and Innovation Africa: Enriching Farmers’ Livelihoods.

Panellists included Dr Mark Holderness, Executive Secretary of the Global Forum on Agricultural Research, Professor Niels Röling, Emeritus Professor of Communication and Innovation Studies at Wageningen UR, Ms Chesha Wettasinha, Agriculturalist, EcoCulture, ETC Foundation. It was chaired by Dr Hansjörg Neun, Director of the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation ACP-EU.

IDS 24/06 Transforming Agriculture through Farmer-Centred Innovation
Related Audio
Farmer First Revisited launch at UK Parliament 22/04/09
Related FARA blogpost:
Africa book launch of Farmers First Revisited 12th February 2009.

ICT-enabled collaboration transforming agricultural science, research and technology

16-17 June 2009. Workshop 3 at the Science Forum, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
The CGIAR’s Program on Information and Communication Technologies and Knowledge Management (ICT-KM) has been working over the past years on learning about and promoting ways of ‘connecting people, technology and knowledge for agricultural innovation’. With key projects dealing with a range of ICT and KM questions and topics in its portfolio it has amassed a wide range of knowledge, best practices, experiences and evidence on ICTs and KM in the context of (mostly CGIAR) agricultural research.

Simone Staiger-Rivas of the CGIAR advises research organizations thinking about knowledge sharing "not to start with a strategy."She suggests instead to start small with different projects and experiments. She concludes that we need to adopt the basic approach used in research - to learn, to think about, to experiment, have trials, then scale up - "that's exactly what we should do in knowledge sharing."


Another Portal for Tertiary Agricultural Education in Africa launched

21st-22nd May 2009. The Tertiary Agricultural Education (TAE) Registrar's Seminar was held in South Africa. ITOCA announced the launch of the portal for Tertiary Agricultural Education (TAE) in Africa. The portal was developed through funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The portal data is available on the public domain. Though still in its infancy, the portal’s online interactive database gives vital data to enable the tracking of human capital development in the tertiary agricultural education sector in Africa.

The portal will among other data give contact information of all tertiary institutions offering qualifications in agriculture and related sciences in Africa; enrollment and graduate statistics in every discipline by institutions; staffing levels and qualifications; curriculum updating information; cost involved in producing a graduate and much more.

This portal will give funders, aid agencies and other potential developmental partners vital information for possible investment opportunities in the region pertaining to agricultural education and training in Africa so as to help build capacities. Researchers, students, information specialists and anyone with an interest in agriculture education and training in Africa will also benefit from the portal.
Agriculture Research Institutes in Sub-Saharan Africa is another research facility on tertiary agricultural education. It is an online database developed by AfDevInfo (African Development Information - April 2008 issue).

Monday, 29 June 2009

The lessons from the recent global food crisis

30 June 2009. Geneva. Interactive panel discussion on African food security during the forty-seventh executive session of the Trade and Development Board: "The lessons from the recent global food crisis". The Interactive panel discussion on African food security, entitled "The lessons from the recent global crisis", featured keynote speaker Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, Vice-President for Policy and Partnerships, Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa.

The panellists included Emeritus Professor Marcel Mazoyer, Comparative Agriculture and Agricultural Development, National Agricultural Institute in Paris; and Ambassador Jean Feyder, Permanent Mission of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. Dr. David Nabarro, Assistant Secretary General, Coordinator for the Global Food Security Crisis and Avian & Pandemic Influenza, UNSIC, will be the discussant.

Changing the use of land in the Guinea Savannah

22 June 2009, Rome – A vast stretch of African savannah land that spreads across 25 countries has the potential to turn several African nations into global players in bulk commodity production, according to a study just published by FAO and the World Bank.

The book, entitled Awakening Africa’s Sleeping Giant - Prospects for Commercial Agriculture in the Guinea Savannah Zone and Beyond, arrives at its positive conclusions by comparing the region with northeast Thailand and the Cerrado region of Brazil.

Changing the use of land in the Guinea Savannah to agriculture will inevitably bring some environmental costs, the study found, but that agriculture can also benefit the environment. As agricultural intensification takes place, governments must take care to monitor environmental impacts and implement measures to reduce or avoid damage. “Fortunately, there is a wealth of experience from other countries on which to draw,” said Guy Evers, Africa Service Chief in the FAO Investment Centre. The publication is a shortened version of a larger study drawn up by officials from the World Bank with technical advice from FAO experts and funding from Italy.

FAO press release 400 million hectares of Guinea Savannah land ripe for commercial farming

Weather Info for All

18 June 2009 – About 5,000 new automatic weather stations are set to be deployed across Africa, under a climate change initiative announced today by the United Nations World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the Global Humanitarian Forum, the Earth Institute at Columbia University, and mobile telecommunications companies Ericsson and Zain.
The innovative public-private partnership launched the “Weather Info for All” initiative to improve Africa’s weather monitoring network in the face of the growing impact of climate change.

The 5,000 automatic weather stations will be installed at new and existing mobile network sites throughout Africa over the coming years, aiming to increase dissemination of weather information via mobile phones that can reach the continent’s most remote communities.

At the launch in Geneva, former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, President of the Global Humanitarian Forum, said “This is a great example for twenty-first century collaborative humanitarian and development work between public and private sectors.”

Through its Mobile Innovation Center in Africa, Ericsson will develop mobile applications to help communicate weather information developed by National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHSs) via mobile phones.



FARA stand at the CAADP day

27th of June 2009 . Tripoli, Lybia. The African Union’s New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) convened a ‘Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme’ “CAADP DAY” prior to the start of the 13th Session of the Assembly of the Heads of State and Government of African Union to be: “Investing in Agriculture for Economic Growth and Food Security”.

The following sub themes will be discussed during the 13th Session:
  • Climate Change: Opportunities for enhanced investments and growth of African Agriculture
  • Regional Agriculture trade and market systems: Issues and challenges for stimulating economic transformation and growth in Africa
  • Investment Financing: Making African Agriculture a viable investment option
  • Stimulating participation of the ultra-poor in rural economic activities.
In his address, Mr. Richard Mkandawire, Agriculture Adviser to NEPAD, underscored the need for African countries to develop this important sector in their respective governments, as it will help fight hunger and improve the living standard of Africans. The CAADP DAY is meant to act as a conversation day between African political leaders, farmers, private sector representatives, leaders of think tank institutions, representatives from the diaspora and the development partners. This CAADP Day will afford our leaders, the AU-NEPAD and even the development partners an opportunity to engage each other on progress achieved in the implementation of CAADP since 2003 and also explore the challenges that will delay the process, if not addressed.

More than 200 participants participated including the CEO of NEPAD Dr. Ibrahim Assane Mayaki, Commissioners from the AU, African Ministers of Agriculture, development partners and farmers organisations.

During the Thematic Session (II): The African non-state sector and the CAADP Agenda, Dr. Monty Jones of FARA presented: The role of academic and research institutions in advancing CAADP: Past and future.

Dr Jones with Madam Hope Mwesigye, Minister of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries, Republic of Uganda.


See Agenda +the speeches are posted on the AU website: http://www.africa-union.org/

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Do farmers' organisations need the expertise of researchers and speak in one voice?

Interview with Ajaykumar Manubhai Vashee honorary president SACAU Southern African Confederation of Agricultural Unions & Vice president of IFAP International Federation Agricultural Producers at the Start-up workshop Support to Farmers' Organisations Programme 17-18-19 June 2009 Johannesburg.

Ajaykumar Manubhai Vashee explains how farmers' organisations, in particular SACAU, need the expertise of researchers.

Becuse of regional differences it is not easy to speak in one voice: there is a different history and the African sub-regions have different trade relations with the outside world.

How farmers' organisations can benefit from the FAO training on climate change

Interview with Thomas L. Price Senior Programme Officer Strategic Planning Unit Office of the Director-General Food and Agriculture Organisation Rome Start-Up Workshop Support to Farmers' Organisations in Africa 17-18-19 June 2009 Johannesburg, South-Africa.

Thomas explains how How farmers' organisations can benefit of the FAO training on climate change.

Le Reseau des organisations Paysannes et de Producteurs agricoles de l'Afrique Centrale

Interview with Kolyang Palebele Vice President of PROPAC Plateforme Sous-Regionale Organisation Paysannes d'Afrique Centrale at the Start-up Workshop Support to Farmers' Organisations In Africa Programme 17-18-19 June Johannesburg South-Africa.

Kolyang explains who are the member of PROPAC, what the EC/FIDA funds will allow them to do and how ROPPA has been instrumental in their re-organisation.

EC and FIDA finance an new programme to Support Farmers' Organisations in Africa

Interview with Manuel ANCILLOTTI Programme Manager Centralised Operations for the ACP countries European Commission EuropeAid Co-operation Office at the Start Up Workshop Support to Farmers' Organisations in Africa 17-18-19 June 2009 Johannesburg South-Africa.

Manuel explains where the funding for this programme comes from and what this programme hope to achieve.

The link between subsidiarity, legitimacy and fees for regional farmer organisations

Interview with Ajaykumar Manubhai Vashee, honorary president SACAU Southern African Confederation of Agricultural Unions and Vice president of IFAP International Federation Agricultural Producers at the Start-up workshop Support to Farmers' Organisations Porgramme (SFOAP) 17-18-19 June 2009 in Johannesburg.

Vashee explains the correlation beween subsidiarity, legitimacy and fees for regional farmer organisations and how this works in operational terms between the Southern African Confederation of Agricultural Unions and the National Farmer Organisations.

Why farmers need incentives to invest in climate change strategies

Interview with Doug TAYLOR-FREEME - president of SACAU, Southern African Coordination of Agricultural Unions at the Sart-up workshop on the Support to Farmers'organisations in Africa Programme (SFOAP) - 17 to 19th of June 2009 in Johannesburg.

He explains how farmers will only take up innovative technologies to cope with climat change if they have an incentive to do this.

Monday, 22 June 2009

New fund for innovative knowledge sharing launched by AfricaAdapt

June 15th. The AfricaAdapt network, which is funded by the joint UK Department for International Development (DFID)/International Development Research Centre (IDRC) Climate Change Adaptation in Africa Programme , is launching its new Knowledge Sharing Innovation Fund promoting new ways of sharing knowledge that can help address this problem.

The Knowledge Sharing Innovation Fund will offer grants of up to US$10.000 to projects that seek to overcome barriers to share knowledge with ’hard to reach’ or marginalised African communities. These barriers may be related to language, access to information and marginalisation due to gender or disability. Theatre performances, songs, radio broadcasts, visual arts, videos and comics are just a few ideas about how they could be overcome. The key is to ensure these groups can learn and share.

Ensuring that vulnerable communities are active in the exchange of African knowledge, best practices and know-how on climate change adaptation is a high priority for AfricaAdapt. These communities are the most directly threatened by climactic impacts, however they also have a wealth of experience in adapting to past changes that could benefit other communities.
African researchers, local and civil society organisations, cooperatives and community networks are encouraged to submit their ideas. The First round of submissions open from 1 July to 1 August 2009. Shortlisted applicants will be notified by 15 October.

CAADP calls for more private sector involvement

June 17 to 18, 2009 in Dakar Senegal. The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Commission and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) brought together representatives of the public and private sectors, including farmer’s organizations, development partners and civil society to propose a framework for integrating the private sector into the CAADP Agenda.

The workshop was aimed at creating specific public-private alliances in the areas of smallholder-friendly value chain development through enterprise growth and finance in major commodity sectors for the purposes of boosting economic growth and competitiveness.
  • Deliberations were held on how regional and domestic market development through policy reforms, institutional innovations, and infrastructure investments could be directed towards raising supply, improving quality whilst also reducing the cost of moving modern inputs and products across local and trans-border markets.
  • Participants at the workshop were also keen to explore the issue of institutional development and capacity building to overcome tariff and technical barriers to accessing global markets.
  • The meeting reflected on the value of existing partnerships, alliances and developments such as those concerning the Hewlett Infrastructure Project, ReSAKSS, AGRA’s announcement of an agreement with Standard Bank and private equity investments in agri-related projects.
  • It is within this context that the key issue of public sector investment in support CAADP was also reviewed with many participants arguing that African agricultural stakeholders and leaders need to push for more private-public partnerships in agriculture in order to sustain Africa’s recovery plan.

Participants at the workshop included CMA / AOC, the Government of Senegal, AU / NEPAD / ECOWAS, the World Bank, IFPRI, USAID, AfDB, ECA, the private sector, AGRA, FAO, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the EU and farmers organizations.

Support to farmers' organisations in Africa

Participants at the Start-up workshop in Johannesburg

17-19 June 2009 Johannesburg, South Africa. Start-up workshop of the programme “Support to Farmers’ Organisations in Africa”. The workshop was hosted by SACAU on behalf of the four regional farmers’organisations in Sub-Saharan Africa, namely EAFF, PROPAC, ROPPA and SACAU.
The Programme in support of African Farmers’ Organisations (FOs) is the result of a dialogue started two years ago between African Leaders of regional and national FOs and the European Commission (EC) as to find ways to increase direct support in the EC programmes aimed at strengthening FOs’ capacities support.

The Programme follows the endorsement in 2007 of the Communication 'Advancing African Agriculture' (AAA), by the European Council and the Parliament whereby the European Commission included support to farmers’ organisations as a critical element of its approach for the development of agriculture and rural development.
There are four sub-regional FO networks in Africa: ROPPA in West Africa, EAFF in East Africa, SACAU in Southern Africa and PROPAC in Central Africa. Each of the four FO networks has a unique position as structures representing the national FO´s and their membership base at regional level.
The Programme will be implemented over three years and its cost will be of 5, 365 million euros; 5 million euros contributed by the EC and 365 000 euros by IFAD.

Related blogpost:

Interview with Stephen Muchiri of the East Africa Farmer Federation (EAFF)
Stephen Muchiri comments NAFIS: the National Farmers Information Service which was launched as a pilot project in Kenya begin of May 2008. He was interviewd during a workshop held at FARA between 9 – 11/06/2008. This workshop was organised together with the African Forum for Agricultural Advisory Services (AFAAS) & the Neuchatel Initiative. The National Farmers Information Service (NAFIS)enables farmers and other interested parties to receive timely agriculture information through their mobile phones in national languages.

The first EMRC AgriBusiness Forum in Africa

14 - 17 June, Cape Town, South Africa. EMRC organized the Agri-Business Forum under the patronage of the Department of Agriculture of the Republic of South Africa and in partnership with the Agricultural Business Chamber of South Africa, the FAO and Rabobank Foundation. Judging by the high-level status of the approximately 350 international state and private-sector delegates attending the AgriBusiness Forum 2009, held in Somerset West some 70 kilometres from Cape Town - not to mention their willingness to part with the roughly $2,000 attendance fee - there is a high level of interest in participating in what has been tagged a ‘second green revolution’.

The 350 delegates came from Africa, Europe, Asia and America, including heads of governments and senior officials, entrepreneurs, investors, banks, research institutions and international organizations to examine alternative and sustainable solutions for a rapid growth in food and agricultural sectors, looking at the food crisis not as a threat but rather as an opportunity for smallholders to increase production. It provided an avenue for constructive debate between all stakeholders involved in Africa’s agriculture and agro-food development.
FARA moderated the session on “Increasing and Maintaining Competitiveness”. Dr. Idit Miller gave an elaborate introduction of FARA, presented Dr. Monty Jones to the delegates and apologized for his absence.

FARA’s presence at the Forum was important as this contributed to one of the conclusions on the role and importance of agricultural research and development in enhancing productivity. Briefly, the conclusions were as follows:

  • Growth of agri-business sector in Africa requires a favorable environment. Governments should therefore create the necessary favorable policy environment in order to promote agri-business.
  • Adequate infrastructure is critical for growth in agriculture to occur. Governments should therefore increase investments in rural infrastructure in order to promote agri-business.
  • Agricultural research and development is the key to increased agricultural productivity. For Africa to increase agricultural productivity there is a need to increase the scale and scope of agricultural research and development on the continent. This requires all parties involved – public and private sectors – to work together.
  • Market access is a key component of agricultural development. The EMRC therefore calls upon the European Commission to remove barriers to trade and promote south-south and north-south trade relations.


A microfinance institution from Cameroon, MUPECI, was awarded the EMRC-Rabobank Project Incubator Award of $10,000, which aims to help boost the economy of an African country. The funds will be used to help finance farmers to produce soy. By funding organised groups in rural areas, Augustin Yemene, MUPECI chairman, said he hopes to reduce poverty and food shortages, curb the exodus from rural areas and bolster the country’s supplies of soy.
Pierre van Hedel of Rabobank Foundation and Idit Miller of EMRC with Augustin Yemene of MUPECI.


FARA presents 2 posters at the First CGIAR Science Forum

Gordon Conway, Chief Scientific Adviser of the Department for International Development, UK
gave his presentation at the Science Forum on June 16th

The 16th and 17th June 2009 saw the first CGIAR Science Forum which took place in Wageningen, the Netherlands. The conference was an opportunity to glimpse the kind of issues and debates that the various stakeholders and partners of the CGIAR are currently grappling with.

The event intended to be the first in an ongoing series of biennial science conferences, sponsored by the CGIAR’s Science Council. The inauguration of this new forum reflects the CGIAR’s ongoing efforts to reinvent itself for a new era in international agricultural research and development.
The theme for the 2009 Science Forum was about partnerships and ‘mobilising global linkages’. But the conference also shed light on current thinking on several key technical areas – parallel workshops addressed the contributions of information and communication technologies and biotechnologies, for instance, as well as new opportunities to exploit crops for feed, fibre and – especially – energy.
Dr Adewale Adekunle represented FARA at the Science Forum
The winner of the GFAR sponsorship for participation in the Science Forum 2009 is the team lead by K.A.S. Mani, P.S. Rao, and S.V. Govardhan Das for “Rural Information Kiosk: Taking IT to farmers for improving crop water efficiency in areas subjected to groundwater distress: an FAO-India initiative”.

The FARA posters accepted for presentation at the Science Forum 2009 were created by the following teams:

Adewale Aale Adekunle and Krishna Alluri for “ICT helping scientists engage Innovation citizens in southern Nigeria: A case of ICT reinforced Maize Innovation Cluster in Ago-Are, Oyo State of Nigeria”

Myra Wopereis-Pura, Dady Demby, Francois Stepman, Krishan Bheenick, Kone Anatole, and Jacky Nyagahima for “Connecting people to catalyze African agricultural innovation-Regional Agricultural Information and Learning Systems (RAILS) of the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA)”
RAILS poster: Connecting people to catalyze African agricultural innovation
-Regional Agricultural Information and Learning Systems


The rural hub: supporting rural development in Western and Central Africa

Due to lack of well-defined policies and consultation, actions are very often implemented in a disorganised manner: sometimes several organisations do the same thing in the same place, and worse, under contradictory programmes.

Due to lack of information and communication, the successes are not well known and the failures are often repeated.

Such dissipation and scattering of resources and energies undermine actions undertaken. The Hub was established to correct these anomalies. Financed by several partners (EU, MAE, IFAD, UNIFEM), The Hub is a small independent structure. Its targets are :
  • States of West and Central Africa,
  • Inter-governmental organisations,
  • Civil society organisations, and
  • Development partners.
The Hub provides advisory support, expertise information and promotes consultations on issues concerning rural development and food security.

Mr. Ibrahim Assane Mayaki of the Republic of Niger was between 2004 and 2009 the Executive Director of the Platform in support of Rural Development in West and Central Africa, the Rural Hub, based in Dakar, Senegal. He is the new Chief Executive Officer of the Secretariat of the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), headquartered in Midrand, South Africa.

Monday, 15 June 2009

Technology-Supported Learning for Environmental Education

27-29 May 2009. Dakar, Senegal. The fourth eLearning Africa conference on ICT for Development, Education and Training. Under the patronage of the Republic of Senegal eLearning Africa attracted 1315 eLearning users, newcomers, providers and experts from 85 countries, who gathered over the three conference days.

The benefits of e-learning systems are not, though, without disadvantages, and many respondents to a Survey of e-Learning in Africa Based on a Questionnaire Survey of People on the e-Learning Africa Database in 2007 drew attention to these, typified by the following:

Moodle has a quite steep learning curve and it needs a fair time investment in face-to-face, hands-on, training to get started, which is not easy to arrange when working on a voluntary base. The saying „The first online course you do well is the second“ is very true. To overcome this starting inertia is very hard because it takes time to really deeply understand the potential of eL and see the results, especially when working with a foreign language and being a newbie with PC. Prompt tutoring is crucial (Burundi) See also: Workshop A10: A Hands-On Guide to Using an Open Source Virtual Learning Environment (Moodle)

One of the pre-conference events related to agriculture and the environment: Technology-Supported Learning for Environmental Education. The overall objective of this seminar was to further the implementation of Decision 6 of the 12th session of the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment 12 (AMCEN-12)1, which addressed the interrelated issues of environmental education and technology-supported learning with the aim of mainstreaming technology-supported learning in African environmental institutions to enhance the delivery of environmental education, training and awareness-raising.

Speakers and participants at the seminar included decision-makers, eLearning experts, educators, environmental education programme managers, eLearning programme managers and information specialists working in international organisations, UN agencies, environment ministries, environmental protection agencies, universities, non-governmental organisations, research institutions and the private sector.

First International Conference on the Convergence of Sciences: Strengthening Innovation Systems

22-26 June 2009. Elmina/Cape Coast Ghana. First International Conference on the Convergence of Sciences: Strengthening Innovation Systems (CoS SIS) . The participants include the category of partners called Research Associates, Graduate Students, Supervisors, other stakeholders in the program from Ghana, Mali and Benin, CGIAR and IFDC. The Embassy of the Netherlands and the Ministry of External Affairs in the Netherland were both represented.

  • To provide a forum at which PhD students, RAs, CoS Coordinators, scientific supervisors, domain experts, and chair persons of CoS-SIS Programme Management Teams can meet and discuss.
  • To create an opportunity for all the CoS-SIS actors to get a broad view and a common understanding of the CoS-SIS research programme and its background.
  • To begin to create a common perspective on institutional change, the Innovation Systems Approach, Multi-Stakeholder Processes and other key concepts.
  • To present, discuss and agree on the overall ‘quasi-experimental’ research design of CoS-SIS and its use of Causal Process Tracing (CPT).
  • For the Research Associates (RAs) to present the results of the opportunity scoping in each of the CoS-SIS domains and for these results to be critically discussed and decided upon by the CoS-SIS actors.
  • For the CoS-SIS partners to discuss and guide the next steps of the CoS-SIS process defining the work of both PhDs and RAs.

FARA presented a paper during the Innovation Systems Approach and its relevance session: Why is innovation systems approach important for Africa ( Wale Adekunle, FARA)



Meeting Food Safety Standards: Implications for ACP agricultural exports

11th May 2009. The 11th Brussels Development Briefing took place on on “Meeting Food Safety Standards: Implications for ACP agricultural exports”.

This Briefing reviewed the product standards and technical regulations of importance to promoting economic growth and protecting the health and safety of consumers and the challenges posed by rising private and public SPS standards for ACP suppliers. Exchanges has also be held on the lessons which can drawn from capacity-building programmes as to better adjust to the needs of the ACP private and public sectors and the need to involve ACP countries in international standard-setting and negotiations over standards and regulations.

The video recordings of the 11th Briefing session (“Meeting food safety standards: implications for ACP agricultural exports”) are available on Briefing ‘SPS standards’: video material

Africa’s Rice Production to Double

June 3-4, 2009 Tokyo. AGRA and JICA entered into a long-term pact that builds on the strengths of each organization to reach their ambitious goal.

The pact was formalized at the second General Meeting of the Coalition for African Rice Development (CARD). Mr. Kofi Annan, Chair of the AGRA Board of Directors, attended the signing ceremony, along with Madam Sadako Ogata, President of JICA. Dr. Namanga Ngongi, Agra’s President, and Mr. Kenzo Oshima, Senior Vice President of JICA signed the agreement on behalf of their organizations.

CARD is a consultative group of major donors, rice research organizations and a number of other development entities, which together are working with 21 African countries to strengthen their ability to produce this valuable commodity. Current CARD members include AGRA, FAO, the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA), the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), JICA, the Japan International Research Center for Agricultural Sciences (JIRCAS), NEPAD and the Africa Rice Center (WARDA). The main target of the CARD initiative is reflected in the Yokohama Action Plan, which was one of the main documents adopted at the recent TICAD IV (The Fourth Tokyo International Conference on African Development) held in Yokohama, May 2008.

Since its inception one year ago, CARD has focused on supporting the efforts of 12 countries to develop more effective National Rice Development Strategies. This “first wave” of African rice producing nations includes Cameroon, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Madagascar, Mali, Mozambique, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Tanzania and Uganda.

With the support of the CARD Secretariat, which is hosted by AGRA, all 12 counties have produced the first versions of their strategies. During the CARD meeting, Coalition members will discuss how to best support the national plans while refining them through policy dialogues. In the coming year, CARD will work on similar strategies with the “second wave” of rice-producing countries (Benin, Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Cote d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia, Rwanda, The Gambia and Togo).

African Excutive 10/06 Africa’s Rice Production to Double

Friday, 12 June 2009

ICART regional workshop on Agricultural Information, Communication and Knowledge Management (AICKM)

24-29 May 2009. Gaborone, Botswana. The objectives of the ICART regional workshop meeting were to follow up with representatives from research and extension/information services on their previous exposure to the computer-based communication tools and to discuss, to review the training materials that can be used for capacity building at national level, to discuss a regional AICKM strategy and to work towards a harmonized approach for the organization of national workshops for the development of the national IACKM strategies.

The following countries were represented in this ICART meeting: Angola, Botswana, DR Congo, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Seychelles, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Madagascar did not attend because of the embargo put upon the country by the SADC.

Presentation of the eRAILS Platform. The Platform was presented and a hand on session was organized using the country admin accounts created for each countries. The following actions were performed on the platform by the participants. Access the eRAILS platform, Login to the country account, Create a website, create pages in the web site, create sub pages, upload picture and post information, perform a search at the eRAILS home page. Madagascar eRAILS example was shown to participants.

The eRAILS platform was well appreciated by participants and a number of them planned to use it to disseminate their information. They particularly appreciated the fact that the platform allows institutions that do not have a website to benefit from the platform and easily create their own site while in the same time allowing those who already have their websites to be linked to it and be included in the searches performed from the Platform. The eRAILS feature allowing to perform searches both on the resources hosted within the platform and on the external resources linked to the platform has been considered as a great added value.
There is no better brilliant concept than this eRAILS approach/concept’ dixit representatives from Mauritius.
  • The following countries volunteered to be part of the cases to be shown during the RAILS pre-conference event during the IAALD conference in July 2009 in Accra: Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Seychelles and Zimbabwe. The following countries also expressed the same willingness earlier on: Cote d’Ivoire, DR Congo and Zambia.
  • All the SADC countries are to organize national meetings for national for the development of AICKM

Consultative workshop on natural products sector of eastern Africa

From 18-19 May 2009, ICRAF facilitate a consultative workshop drawing together producers, practitioners, researchers, government agencies, donors and other stakeholders of the natural products sector of eastern Africa.

The establishment of the Botanical products and marketing platform Africa was announced, a regional forum and global community of practice for networking and technical exchange between stakeholders, adding value to the plant products of agroforestry systems and natural plant
product value chains of the African continent.

The ‘Naturally African Platform’, will develop the science, cultivation and trade of tree and other natural products’ - as a first step toward brining together the stakeholders of the African plant-based natural products sector on key issues of product development and commercialization.

For more details, visit, www.worldagroforestrycentre.org or www.NaturallyAfricanPlatform.org

Sustainable Modernization of Agriculture and Rural Transformation (SMART) in Africa

8-12 June, 2009. IITA, Ibadan, Nigeria. The Main Objectives of the current Ibadan SMART training workshop was to enhance the capacity of African countries to formulate and implement appropriate programmes, strategies and policies towards a Sustainable Modernisation of Agriculture and Rural Transformation (SMART).

The Specific Objectives were:
  • General overview of agriculture and rural development.
  • Discuss African agriculture: Unique features and paradigm shifts.
  • Achieving sustainable agriculture and rural development in Africa: Lessons learned from Africa. Country case studies including cassava in Nigeria, rice in Senegal, maize in Malawi, banana plantain in Cameroon, milk in South Africa and water in DR Congo.
  • Achieving sustainable agriculture and rural development in Africa: Lessons from Asia (e.g. case of Saemaul Undong Movement).Formulation of appropriate programmes

Related blogpost: Expert Group Meeting on SMART Indicators and Lessons

Background: Saemaul Undong Movement in Korea has become a model case of agricultural reform. The New Community Movement, also known as the New Village Movement or Saemaeul Movement, was a political initiative launched by former South Korean president Park Chung Hee to modernize the rural South Korean economy. The most significant aspect was spreading orange tiled houses throughout the countryside to replace tradition-bound straw-thatched or choga-jip houses.The following introductory videos on Saemaul Undong will help you understand what Saemaul Undong Movement is. The SU model is to contribute to the SMART and Green Revolution in Africa. Download Saemaul Handbook

Mainstreaming Climate Change into Agricultural Education

The report Mainstreaming Climate Change into Agricultural Education which was released in april 2009 is based on a symposium which was organized by the African Network for Agriculture, Agroforestry and Natural Resources Education (ANAFE) aside of its Fifth General Assembly held in Malawi from 28 July to 1st August 2008.

With graduating students from tertiary agriculture and natural resource management institutions expected to provide solutions to development challenges, it is unfortunate that climate change has not been integrated into the curricula to any meaningful extent.

Consequently graduating students are ill-equipped to advise meaningfully on the challenges posed by climate change. This working paper is an outcome of a symposium organized
This working paper is an outcome of a symposium organized to share information on climate change challenges for agriculture in sub-Saharan Africa; explore methods of mainstreaming
climate change knowledge into agricultural education; and identify recommendations on effective policies, institutions and capacity.

The brief lays down the key issues in climate change: who is affected and what direction we are headed in, if the negative effects presented by climate change are not checked. It presents a compelling argument on the role of tertiary education in making meaningful contributions and
goes further to present an action plan to ensure that climate change is integrated into the curricula of tertiary agriculture and natural resource management institutions, and includes the key components of such a curricula.

Authors: Chakeredza, S.; Temu, A.B.; Yaye, A.; Mukingwa, S.; Saka, J.D.K. World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), Lilongwe (Malawi). SADCICRAF Agroforestry Project. 2009. Mainstreaming climate change into agricultural education: challenges and perspectives.
Nairobi, Kenya: World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) ICRAF Working
Paper no. 82, 30p.

Download the publication:

Thursday, 11 June 2009

Radio, video key to agricultural innovation in Africa

Conventional media, radio and video are powerful, accessible and relevant forces of agricultural innovation and transformation in Africa than usually considered, a study published in this week’s issue of the International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability shows.

The study undertaken by the Africa Rice Centre (WARDA) and Benin’s University of Abomey however finds that the power of radio and video programming is not adequately recognized and accorded due attention by Africa’s policy-maker s, stifling its potential to unleash farmer innovations.
“Farmers’ innovations are often shaped by capital limitations and mainly rely on locally available resources, of which knowledge is a key one,” says Paul Van Mele, a scientist at the Africa Rice Centre. “Video proved a powerful, low-cost medium for farmer-to-farmer extension and to expose rural communities to new ideas and practices.”

Entitled ''The power of video to trigger innovation: rice processing in central Benin,'' the study examined the impacts of educational videos featuring early-adopting farmers demonstrating the use of new technologies and techniques.

Radio, video key to agricultural innovation in Africa

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

First announcement: 5thAfrican Agricultural Science Week and FARA General Assembly

19 –24 July 2010, Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. The Government of Burkina Faso has graciously offered to host the fifth General Assembly of the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa(FARA). The General Assembly (GA)will draw together representatives of FARA's constituents.

FARA constituents are African and non-African institutions involved in African agricultural research and development (ARD) such as the Sub-Regional Organizations (SROs) (ASARECA, CORAF/WECARD, SADC/FANR and NASRO), farmers' and pastoralists' organisations, the agricultural research institutions, universities, NGOs and private enterprises, non-African advanced research institutions (ARIs), the International Agricultural Research Centers (IARCs), international NGOs, policy makers, private sector and Africa's development partners.

  • To provide platform for FARA constituents to interact and network
  • To review progress and lessons learnt since the 4th General Assembly and set the African regional agenda for agricultural research for development (ARD) over the next 3years.
  • To hold a Burkina Faso Agricultural Science day as a highlight of Agricultural Science week, where the host country will show how agricultural innovations are contributing in alleviating poverty, promoting food security and protecting the environment.
  • To hold a FARA business meeting to endorse strategic decisions on governance and direction of FARA


5thAfrican Agricultural Science Week and FARA General Assembly

AfricaAdapt at the Bonn Climate Change conference

The thirtieth sessions of the UNFCCC Convention subsidiary bodies - SBSTA and SBI, sixth session of the AWG-LCA and the eighth session of the AWG-KP are taking place from Monday 1 June till Friday 12 June 2009 in Maritim, Bonn.

Events on Monday, 8 June 2009. This event showcased innovative approaches to mixing traditional knowledge and modern tools for local-level climate change adaptation.

L-R: Xianfu Lu, UNFCCC Secretariat; Blane Harvey, Institute of Development Studies;
Moussa Na Abou Mamouda, ENDA-TM; Binetou Diagne, ENDA-T;
and Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim, Indigenous Peoples of Africa Co-ordinating Committee

Xianfu Lu, UNFCCC Secretariat, said adaptation is multi-scalar and multi-temporal, has multiple drivers and stakeholders, and requires decision making under uncertainty. She described the role of knowledge brokers in synthesizing knowledge from indigenous peoples, academics and scientific centers into useful knowledge tools. She highlighted initiatives under the Nairobi Work Programme to enhance decision-making capacity on adaptation.

Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim, Indigenous Peoples of Africa Co-ordinating Committee, underscored the utility of community mapping tools for mobile indigenous communities in Africa. She described how communities use three-dimensional mapping, CyberTracker, related GPS data-based technology and Google Earth to: map untitled lands; show how local communities are coping with climate instability; and plan for future climate change impacts.

Moussa Na Abou Mamouda, Environment and Development in the Third World (ENDA-TM), stressed that valuable traditional knowledge exists but is poorly shared. He said researchers play a key role in relaying information between vulnerable communities and decision makers. He highlighted constraints that African researchers face, including access to affordable data.

Binetou Diagne, ENDA-TM, highlighted challenges faced by knowledge-sharing intermediaries, including: overcoming linguistic and regional barriers; accessing local knowledge; and delivering pertinent information. She introduced the AfricaAdapt Knowledge Sharing Innovation Fund, which offers grants of up to US$10,000 for innovative tools, such as songs, theatre, and video, to share knowledge on adaptation amongst marginal and hard-to-reach communities.

Participants discussed, inter alia: the potential for radio and Web 2.0 technologies for sharing information about adaptation; the potential for knowledge-sharing networks to threaten the roles of traditional knowledge holders in local communities; the need for knowledge networks to safeguard the intellectual property rights of indigenous peoples; and means to address urgent adaptation needs given slow implementation of NAPAs.


Nestlé opens R&D Centre in West Africa to improve local agricultural crops

Nestlé inaugurated on 30th of April a new R&D centre in Abidjan in the presence of Ivorian government representatives including Amadou Gon Coulibaly, Agriculture Minister, Ibrahima Bacongo Cissé, Scientific Research Minister, Gabriel Lohoury-Guigui, Special Advisor for Scientific Research to the Head of State, and Nestlé CEO Paul Bulcke.

The new R&D centre will focus on improving the quality of locally-sourced raw materials, including cocoa, coffee and cassava, and on adapting products to the nutritional needs and tastes of West African consumers. Better quality crops in West Africa will allow Nestlé to source more raw materials locally, which in turn will raise the income and the quality of life of local farmers. This is a further illustration of the principle of Creating Shared Value, Nestlé's way of doing business, which simultaneously creates value for the company and the communities in which it operates.

The new R&D centre will help Nestlé address the problem of disease and ageing plantations affecting the West African cocoa harvest every year by helping to promote the propagation of millions of high-yielding, disease-resistant cocoa trees across the region over the coming years.

Nestle press release Nestlé opens R&D Centre in West Africa to improve local ...

Monsanto Company Commits $10 Million to Rice and Wheat Research Program

Monsanto Company establised a $10 million grant: Monsanto's Beachell-Borlaug International Scholars Program, which will help identify and support young scientists interested in improving research and production in rice and wheat, two of the world's most important staple crops, through plant breeding techniques.

The announcement of the grant from Monsanto on 25th March marked the celebration of Dr. Borlaug's 95th birthday.

Monsanto is funding the program, which will be administered by Texas AgriLife Research, an agency of the Texas A&M University System, for the next five years. The program honors the accomplishments of Dr. Henry Beachell and Dr. Norman Borlaug, who pioneered plant breeding and research in rice and wheat, respectively.

Applications were accepted until May 31. Applications are reviewed by an independent panel of global judges chaired by Program Director Dr. Ed Runge, who is also a professor and Billie B. Turner Chair in Production Agronomy (Emeritus) within the Soil and Crop Sciences Department, Texas A&M University at College Station.

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Agricultural Biodiversity Initiative for Africa (ABIA)

3 - 5 May 2009. FARA Accra. Agricultural Biodiversity Initiative for Africa (ABIA): Stakeholders Consultative Workshop.

The Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA), the apex agricultural research organization in Africa, in recognition of the need for highly focused advocacy to focus research investment and development on optimizing the conservation and use of Africa’s agricultural biodiversity resources, initiated a programme on agricultural biodiversity in Africa.

FARA, with technical support from Bioversity international, organized a side event during the 2007 Africa Science Week and FARA General Assembly in Johannesburg to discuss the proposed initiative. Participants at the side event recommended that FARA should develop an “Agricultural Biodiversity Initiative for Africa” (ABIA), organize stakeholders’ workshop to discuss and validate a continental framework for ABIA and organize a conference in 2010 on Africa’s agricultural biodiversity.

The purpose of the ABIA Stakeholders’ Consultative Workshop was to discuss and validate a continental framework for ABIA and to further discuss a strategy for enhancing widespread ownership of ABIA in Africa.

The specific objectives of the workshop were:
  1. gain broad consensus among all key actors involved in agricultural biodiversity conservation and use in Africa on the strategic areas for intervention through the FARA-led initiative in agricultural biodiversity;
  2. to examine, amend and adopt a widely shared practical framework for the implementation of ABIA within CAADP and FAAP guidelines.

Workshop participants:

Ms. Thandie Lupupa
Senior Programme Manager
SADC Plant Genetic Resources Centre
Mr. Kombate Koffi
Junior Research Scientist
Insitut Togolais de Recherche Agronomique ITRA

Dr. Raymond Vodouche
Genetic Diversity scientist
Bioversity International

Dr. Simon Heck
Senior Policy Adviser

Prof. Oyoo Mosi
Lecturer/Associate Professor
University of Nairobi
Department of Animal Production
Dr. Okeyo Mwai
Project Leader/Scientist
International Livestock Research Institute ILRI

Dr. Marcel Nwalozie
Director of programs

Dr .Aboagye Lawrence Misa
Deputy director
Council For Scientific and Agricultural Research , Plant Genetic CSIR-PGRRI

Dr.Baidu Jojo Forson
Regional Director, Sub-Saharan Africa,
Bioversity International
Dr. Hans Adu Dapaah
Crops research Institute in Kumasi

Dr. Emmanuel Tambi
Director NSF 3 FARA

Dr .Daniel A. Ofori
Principal research Scientist/ICRAF Representative
ICRAF-World Agroforestry Centre and Forestry Research Institute of Ghana (FORIG)
Dr. Charles The
Plant breeder
West Africa centre for Crop improvement WACCI at university of Ghana

Dr Gueye Badara
In Vitro Conservation Propagation Lab Manager
International Institute of Tropical Agriculture- IITA

Dr. Atta – Krah Kwesi
Deputy Director General
Bioversity International
Dr. Wale Adekunle
Director NSF 5

Dr. Abebe Demisse
Regional Coordinator
Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in Eastern and Central Africa – ASARECA