Monday, 31 August 2009

Announcement: FARA moves to new office

10 September. Accra. FARA Headquarters will move next week to:
Physical address is: 12 Anmeda Street, Roman Ridge
Mailing address: PMB CT 173, Cantonments
Accra, Ghana
Telephone no: +233 21 772823/779421
Fax: +233 21 773676

Note: control click on the physical address to locate us within the google map.

Announcement: Development and Climate Days Annual Film Festival

The Development and Climate Film Festival provides a platform for amateur and independent filmmakers from around the world to showcase short films on issues relating to climate change. They raise awareness, share ideas, and convey important messages in a creative and engaging way.

The film festival was launched as a parallel event to the Development and Climate Days at COP13 in Bali in 2007. Where possible the screenings are attended by the filmmakers giving the chance for the audience to put questions to them directly and take part in the ongoing debates that surround climate and development issues.

The festival will run over the weekend of the 12-13 December 2009, during the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 15) in Copenhagen. The deadline is October 15, 2009.

Broadcast Media & Climate Change. 4-5 September 2009. Paris, UNESCO. This high-level international event is organised by UNESCO in partnership with United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), regional broadcasting unions and other international broadcasting organizations to consider a global consensus to raise public awareness on the challenges of climate change. Read more

Saturday, 29 August 2009

Two-day Malawi national media workshop on climate change

Minister of Natural Resources, Energy and Environment of Malawi, Grain Malunga, said government recognises that the loss of human, nature, financial, social and physical capital caused by climate change is a threat to achieving sustainable development. Malunga said this on Wednesday at a two-day Malawi national media workshop on climate change in Blantyre.

“In response to climate change, Malawi prepared and adopted Napa [National Adaptation Programme for Action] in 2006. Napa identifies and seeks to promote activities that address urgent and immediate needs for adapting to adverse effects of climate change among rural communities,” said Malunga. He called on the media, civil society and government departments to help sensitise local communities to their role in adjusting their livelihoods. The minister also urged the media to use their investigative skills to analyse sources, and reasons for environmental degradation and mitigating measures.
Forum for Environmental Communicators (Feco) Malawi executive secretary Grover Mzumara noted that though the media is a key agent for development, reporters lack skills and knowledge on climate change. Feco-Malawi organised the workshop with funding from the Malawi Environmental Endowment Trust (Meet). Media practitioners also went on a media tour to various sites in Blantyre to appreciate environmental issues.

28/082009, Nation Online Climate change threat to development, says minister
25/08/09 Tanzania Sees Climate Change as Hindrance to Attainment of Mdgs. Batilda Buriani, minister of state in the Vice President's Office (Environment) called for appropriate plans, programs and local community adaptation strategies at both local and national level in order to reduce the negative impacts of climate change

Friday, 28 August 2009

Announcement: High-level session of Africa Partnership Forum on Climate Change

September 3. The Prime Minister of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, Mr. Meles Zenawi, will chair a high-level session of Africa Partnership Forum (APF) which will discuss the immediate concerns and expectations of Africa on climate change, especially as they relate to mitigation, adaptation, technology and finance.
African Partnership Forum co-chairs met already last week to prepare for the Special Session on Climate Change
The session, which will take place at the United Nations Conference Centre in Addis Ababa, will be attended by Ministers in charge of the environment from Sierra Leone, DRC, Uganda, Burkina Faso, Rwanda, Cameroon, Sudan, Kenya, Mozambique and Algeria.

Other high level participants include Mr. Jean Ping, Chairperson of the African Union, Dr. Ibrahim Mayaki, CEO of NEPAD Secretariat, Lord Nicholas Stern, Chair of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment and Abdoulie Janneh, UN Under Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of ECA.

The Africa Partnership Forum (APF) was established in November 2003 to broaden existing high-level G8/NEPAD dialogue to include Africa's major bilateral and multilateral development partners. Its mission is to strengthen partnership efforts for Africa's development.

Related FARA blog post:
24 August 2009 Africa seeks common position on climate change
Background documents can be obtained from UNECA

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Transforming poorly managed land in Africa

CAADP's Pillar 1 TerrAfrica initiative has just produced this explanation of land management issues in Africa, laying out how this affects economies and what can be down to address it.

Key to ensuring any leaps forwards will be ensuring that sustainable land management becomes part of Africa's mainstream agricultural thinking. CAADP is an AU-NEPAD program.

Related: The latest FARA Bulletin (June-July) 2009 is on land transfers

Urgent needs of Africa's water situation

From 25-28 August, scientists from across Africa meet for the Pan Africa Chemistry Network (PACN) Sustainable Water Conference to explore ways to develop solutions for the most urgent needs of Africa's water situation. The conclusions will be delivered to the UN on World Water Day 2010.
Dr Richard Pike Chief Executive Officer, RSC & Mike Mack, Syngenta CEO
The conference, taking place at Nairobi University, will address a wide range of water-related subjects including a look at major challenges such as climate change and detailed scientific topics such as the toxicity of water resources and water contamination. It is the most ambitious initiative set up under the aegis of the network, which is developing links across Africa between scientists, researchers, schools and libraries to help promote science and research across the continent.

The conference is hosted by the PACN, a partnership between the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) and Syngenta. It is the second PACN conference held in Nairobi. Joachim Chissano, Chairperson of the Africa Forum for Former Heads of State and Government, will be joined by Dr Sally Kosgei, Kenyan Minister for Higher Education, and Mike Mack, Chief Executive Officer of Syngenta.

Aug 24, 2009 UK EXPERT ON AFRICAN WATER ISSUES. The UK’s Royal Society of Chemistry speaks on major water issues facing the developing world in the build-up to the Pan African Chemistry Network Sustainable Water Conference


CTA “Training of Trainers” workshop on ASTI

August 24 – 28. Abuja, Nigeria. CTA launched its 1st “Training of Trainers” workshop on the “Agricultural Science Technology and Innovation (ASTI) System” for 2009. Thirty delegates from Nigerian universities, research organizations and ministries are being trained.

This training programme is another phase in the process of competence building in a number of ACP countries for applying the innovation systems concept to supporting science, technology and innovation (ST&I) policy development and implementation for improving the performance of ACP agriculture. There are two main aspects to the CTA Training of Trainers’ programme on ASTI Systems.
CTA "Training of Trainers” workshop on the “Agricultural Science Technology and Innovation (ASTI) System

Reshaping Human and Institutional Capacity Building through Higher Education Partnerships

August 26 – 29, 2009. Accra, Ghana. This event is being hosted for the Africa-U.S. Higher Education Initiative Planning Grant partnerships. The conference provided a forum for these partnerships to present these developing plans. Partners received feedback from each other as well as from stakeholders and donors interested in African higher education development, allowing them to strengthen plans and foster relationships with stakeholders for future support.

Approximately 100 participants contribute to human and institutional capacity building efforts in Africa through higher education partnerships and help improve productive ties between African and U.S. higher education institutions.

In April 2009, 20 partnerships were selected from a pool of nearly 300 highly qualified applications in the Africa-U.S. Higher Education Initiative Planning Grant Competition. Partners were awarded grants of $50,000 each to develop plans that address national and regional development priorities throughout Sub-Saharan Africa and allow for long-term collaboration on capacity building.

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Benefits of reducing deforestation in combatting climate change

24 August 2009. Nairobi. New agroforestry study shows that almost half of all farmed landscapes worldwide include significant tree cover.

Released on at the opening of the 2nd World Congress of Agroforestry being held in Nairobi Kenya, this is the first study to quantify the extent to which trees are a vital part of agricultural production in all regions of the world. It reveals that on more than 1 billion hectares-which make up 46 percent of the world's farmlands and are home to more than half a billion people-tree cover exceeds 10 percent.

Research findings presented today by scientists participating in a symposium on adaptation to climate change during the World Congress on Agroforestry suggest there is much potential for broadening carbon sequestration strategies to include agroforestry.

In a presentation on findings from the recent global assessment “Adaptation of Forests and People to Climate Change,” Risto Seppala of the International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO) emphasized the vulnerability of forests to even minor changes in temperature. “Successful mitigation requires that forests retain their capacity to adapt,” he noted. “The alternative is a potentially catastrophic ‘feedback loop’, in which degraded forests lose their ability to sequester carbon.”


Africa seeks common position on climate change

24 August 2009. Addis Abeba. Ministers from 10 African countries have met in Ethiopia to try to agree a common position on climate change, months before a crucial UN meeting. Yhey were expected to renew demands for billions of dollars in compensation for Africa because of damage caused by global warming. And they are likely to ask rich nations to cut emissions by 40% by 2012.

One of the documents prepared for the meeting refers to the "dismal co-ordination" of the African negotiation process. So far, delegations from individual countries have had limited success in making the case that Africa needs special help to cope with climate change.
The "representatives and experts" of African Union (AU) leaders - who include environment and agriculture ministers from the 10 countries - are meeting in Addis Ababa under Libyan chairmanship in an attempt to change this.

Kenyan environmentalist Wangari Maathai, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, said all African leaders should support the AU's efforts to form a clear message. But she said Africa too had its responsibilities.

"We are all hoping we will develop and attain a higher quality of life, so there has to be a very serious commitment on the part of Africa that we will not be opting for development patterns that will reverse whatever other countries are trying to do," she said.

Listen to PODCAST "Does Wangari Maathai think Africa can speak with one voice on climate change? 3'.05''


Research communication and the Danish Development Research Network

Research communication is gaining growing attention on the international scene. Donors as well as universities are required to demonstrate the value of the research they support and/or carry out, and a need for improved communication between researchers, decision makers and practitioners is addressed by an increasing number of stakeholders.

Furthermore, in a time of fast changes at global level there is a stronger need for quick and effective communication of research based knowledge that may have positive influence on meeting a series of global challenges related to e.g. climate changes, agricultural production, and health issues.

Against this background, the three Danish research networks, Danish Water Forum (DWF), Danish Research Network for International Health (ENRECAHEALTH), and Danish Development Research Network (DDRN) have decided to launch a new seminar series to bring the need for improved research communication into focus and:

  1. Promote the use of research based knowledge in development practice
  2. Help bringing development research on the public agenda; and
  3. Strengthen the communication skills of members of the networks.
In the seminars, communication is approached as a two-way process of dialogue including engagement of all stakeholders involved in the researched context as this is a prerequisite for overcoming structural challenges that often hinder the effective communication and/or implementation of research results. For a more detailed description of the background and objectives of the seminar series, please read the concept note available on the DDRN website.

08/05/2008 Seminar series research communication for development Report from Seminar 1
Professor Mkumbukwa MA Mtambo of Soikoine Universtiy of Agriculture (SUA), Tanzania comments on the August 2009 workshop on Communication in North/South research partnerships for development organized by SUA, the Danish Development Research Network (DDRN) and the Danish Water Forum (DWF) with support from Euforic and CABI.

Announcement: Regional Research Education Networks (RRENs) for Socio-Economic Development

The University of Ghana, Legon in collaboration with The Royal Swedish Institute of Technology (KTH) and Ghana Academic and Research Network (GARNET) will host the 7th International Conference on Open Access in Accra Ghana from 2nd to 3rd November 2009.

Conference Theme"Harnessing the rapid growth of fibre infrastructure for Social Economic Development."

There will be a preliminary meeting on the 1st November, 2009 ushering the OA conference, and will focus on Regional Research Education Networks (RRENs) , by bringing together key players in West and Central African Universities and other participants who may share their experience in forming RRENs; it is expected that this meeting will lead to the formation of the West and Central African Research Education Network (WACREN).

Authors are invited to submit extended abstracts and original papers. Articles should be tutorial in nature and should be written in a style comprehensible to readers outside the specialty of the article. Articles should be submitted in any popular word processor format here
Important dates. Submissions are due on: 15th September, 2009

The 7th International Conference on Open Access Harnessing the rapid growth of fibre infrastructure for Social Economic Development.

Study on how to Enhance e-Infrastructure Uptake and Use in Different Fields of Science
The University of Chicago/National Opinion Research Center, the Oxford Internet Institute, the University of Applied Sciences Northwestern Switzerland and Empirica Communication and Technology Research (Germany) collaborate on a study that will propose strategies to enhance e-Infrastructure uptake and use in different fields of science. The work is done on behalf of the European Commission, Directorate General Information Society and Media (DG INFSO).

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Burundi signed the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) Compact

August 24, 2009. Bujumbura. The Government of Burundi signed the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) Compact. The signing was conducted during the Country’s roundtable meeting, which opened today with the President of Burundi, His Excellency, Pierre Nkurunziza as guest of honour.

The roundtable meeting, held from August 24-25, 2009 attracted agricultural experts, policymakers, and representatives from the Government of Burundi, the African Union (AU), the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), the private sector, civil society and development partners. The Compact is a mutual commitment between the Government of Burundi and the various national, regional and international agencies that are committed to agricultural led development through CAADP.

The Compact was signed by Burundi’s Minister of Finance, Hon, Clothilde Niragira, the Minister of Agriculture, Hon. Ferdinand Nderagakura, AU Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture, Madame Rhodah Tumusiime and COMESA Assistant Secretary General, Mr. Stephen Karangizi on behalf of COMESA Secretary General Mr. Sindiso Ngwenya. Others were, Professor Richard Mkandawire representing NEPAD and on behalf of NEPAD CEO, Dr. Ibrahim Mayaki, Mr. Bleoue Ehoue, a representative of the development partners, Mr. Hermenegilde Ndikumasabo representing the private sector and Mr. Pacifique Nininahazwe, representing the civil society.

Burundi becomes the second Country in the COMESA region to sign the CAADP Compact after Rwanda, which signed in 2007.

Monday, 24 August 2009

Websites that use the spoken word will empower the illiterate

THE internet, wonderful though it is, reinforces one of life’s fundamental divisions: that between the literate and the illiterate. Most websites, even those heavy with video content, rely on their users being able to read and—if interactive—write. Building your own site certainly does.

Guruduth Banavar, the director of IBM’s India Research Laboratory, wanted to allow people who struggle with literacy to create websites. So he and his colleagues have devised a system based on what is known as “voice extensible markup language”, a cousin of the hypertext markup language used on conventional websites, that allows a website to be built and operated more or less by voice alone.

Dr Banavar thinks mobiles could be made to work much harder. His voice sites are hosted on standard computer servers and behave much like conventional websites. At their most basic they are designed for local use, acting as portals through which people can find out such things as when the mobile hospital will next visit their village, the price of rice in the local market and which wells they should use for irrigation. Instead of typing in a web address, the user rings the website up. Then, with a combination of voice commands and key presses, he navigates through a spoken list of topics and listens to subjects of interest.
Voice Browsing: How Two Great Ideas Go Great Together
Voice browsing technology is a rapidly-growing field. Whether or not it proves to be the next internet, it deserves a careful examination in its present form. The programming language responsible for connecting voicemail, live agents, and speech enabled sites is called VoiceXML, which was devised by Lucent, IBM, Motorola, and AT&T. IBM has several patents on its natural language understanding engine which uses probability to guess what people mean if the words are unclear.

East and Southern Africa sets up a regional REDD network

August 12th - 14th. Mombasa, Kenya Regional workshop on REDD. The Forest Action Network (FAN), with collaborating partners from civil society organizations in the sub-region, recently organized a knowledge-sharing and learning event to provide a platform for awareness creation and to develop strategies for future collaboration and networking. Participants were drawn from six countries in East and Southern Africa, namely: Kenya, Malawi, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

The participants come from multi-stakeholders national forest programme committees in countries where the FAO-NFP Facility is operational; government officials from Forestry Departments or Services; civil society organizations; forest research institutions and universities; forest community groups, and, identified donor representatives.

FAN press release Regional workshop on REDD
20 August 2009, The Africa-wide Civil Society Climate Change Initiative for Policy Dialogues (ACCID): East and Southern Africa sets up a regional REDD network

Sunday, 23 August 2009

Ghana: Digital Dumping Ground

On the outskirts of Ghana's biggest city sits a smoldering wasteland, a slum carved into the banks of the Korle Lagoon, one of the most polluted bodies of water on earth. The locals call it Sodom and Gomorrah.

When containers of old computers first began arriving in West Africa a few years ago, Ghanaians welcomed what they thought were donations to help bridge the digital divide. But soon exporters learned to exploit the loopholes by labeling junk computers "donations," leaving men like Godson to sort it out.

A hero of the Congo forest

An interesting video interview just before the 2nd World Congress on Agroforestry starts (Nairobi 23-28/08):
See: TED blog 19/08

Corneille Ewango braved dangers that most of us can’t even imagine, in order to protect the animals and plants of the Okapi Wildlife Reserve during the First and Second Congo Wars. Not long after the war’s official end, Ewango was rewarded for his efforts with a scholarship to the University of Missouri-St. Louis where he earned his master’s degree in Tropical Botany. While studying in the US, he was awarded the Goldman Environmental Prize and in 2007 -- the same year that he gave his TEDTalk -- was named a National Geographic Emerging Explorer. Today, he is at Wageningen University in the Netherlands where he is studying for a PhD in Forest Ecology and Forest Management.

Although Ewango continues to succeed and increase his capacity to help his country, the Democratic Republic of Congo, he can only do so much, and the problems of the Okapi Wildlife Reserve and others like it continue. The reserve, named for its high numbers of okapi, is located in the Ituri tropical rainforest in the northeast of the DRC and is one of five World Heritage Sites in the country.

The Ituri region is still one of the most politically unstable areas in the DRC. Conflict between ethnic and military groups presents an insurmountable challenge to conservation efforts. Contributing to the conservation challenge is the Central African “bushmeat” problem, which has developed as poor living conditions have caused many Congolese to poach animals in order to supplement their diet or to gain income. Problems of unchecked, and often illegal, logging and mining also plague the area. The length and severity of the ongoing conflict in the DRC has a devastating effect on its people, as well as its flora and fauna. Ewango’s talk is over two years old, but it describes a crisis that is far from over.

The 2nd World Congress on Agroforestry starts Monday and preparations are hectic here at the World Agroforestry Centre in Nairobi. The reporting team is getting ready to make some buzz about the Congress. Whether you’re participating in the Congress or not, you will be able to follow what’s going on through a variety of channels:

Saturday, 22 August 2009

Gender in agriculture

This resource produced by the World Bank, IFAD and the FAO is not Africa-specific, but it may be useful. (World Bank Publications - October 7, 2008). The report is now also online. It argues that gender inequalities need to be addressed in order for agricultural growth to fulfill the potential to alleviate poverty.

Women play a vital role as agricultural producers and as agents of food and nutritional security. Yet relative to men, they have less access to productive assets such as land and services such as finance and extension. A variety of constraints impinge upon their ability to participate in collective action as members of agricultural cooperative or water user associations.

In both centralized and decentralized governance systems, women tend to lack political voice. Gender inequalities result in less food being grown, less income being earned, and higher levels of poverty and food insecurity. Agriculture in low-income developing countries is a sector with exceptionally high impact in terms of its potential to reduce poverty. Yet for agricultural growth to fulfill this potential, gender disparities must be addressed and effectively reduced.

Module 1 - Gender and Food Security
Module 2 - Gender and Agricultural Livelihoods: Strengthening Governance
Module 3 - Gender and Rural Finance
Module 4 - Gender Issues in Land Policy and Administration
Module 5 - Gender and Agricultural Markets
Module 6 - Gender Mainstreaming in Agricultural Water Management
Module 7 - Gender in Agricultural Innovation and Education
Module 8 - Gender Issues in Agricultural Labor
Module 9 - Gender in Rural Infrastructure for Agricultural Livelihoods
Module 10 - Gender and Natural Resources Management
Module 11 - Gender and Crises: Implications for Agriculture
Module 12 - Gender in Crop Agriculture
Module 13 - Gender in Fisheries and Aquaculture
Module 14 - Gender and Livestock
Module 15 - Gender and Forestry Module
Module 16 - Gender Issues in Monitoring and Evaluation
Executive summary available in English, French, Arabic and Spanish
Women's Participation in Agricultural Research and Higher Education: Key Trends in Sub-Saharan Africa. 2009 (PDF 334K)

Farmers more keen on yield potential of GM crops than risks

A study conducted by IITA and the Africa College-University of Leeds in Tanzania reveals that local farmers are more interested on the productivity potential of genetically-modified (GM) crops than they are worried about the possible risks associated with their use.

The study, completed in late June, was carried out in consultation with the Mikocheni Agricultural Research Institute and the Tanzanian Commission for Science and Technology. It covered three districts in Tanzania.The research, which assessed the understanding and attitudes of local farmers toward GM crops using disease-resistant cassava as example, also revealed that the level of awareness and basic understanding of GM crops by small-scale farmers is very low. Similarly, it was found that related knowledge level of local agricultural extension officers and district staff – primary sources of information of the farmers – was also inadequate.

Dr Caroline Herron, IITA Virologist involved in the study, said that “it is important for the scientific community to raise the awareness level of farmers by providing accurate and objective information so they can make informed and autonomous decisions on the potential of GM crops in their agricultural practice.The tendency of farmers to focus on short term gains in productivity should not prevent the potential middle and long term risks being fully explained to them to allow them to make clear judgment”
IITA Press Release 30/07

Clinton's visit to KARI and AWARD

On 5th August 2009, female scientists from the African Women in Agricultural Research and Development (AWARD) project, coordinated by the Gender & Diversity Program of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), met with US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, and US Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, at the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI), Nairobi.

AWARD fellow Sheila Ommeh explains her research on indigenous chicken for disease control to distinguished audience including US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, US Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, Kenyan Minister of Agriculture Isaac Ruto and Nobel Laureate Prof. Wangari Maathai

In her official speech, Hillary Clinton emphasized the importance of women in agriculture saying,

"The AWARD program is a great example. It supports women scientists working to improve farming here in Africa and to fight hunger and poverty. And we need women represented in our laboratories as well as our fields. And I really congratulate the AWARD women for being pioneers in plant science."

Award winning Kenyan horticulturalist is investigating African plants

A Kenyan horticultural scientist hopes that a group of leafy green plants, previously dismissed by some as weeds, may have a significant impact on reducing malnutrition and poverty levels in Kenya. Mary Abukutsa-Onyango has identified six local greens - described as African indigenous vegetables - that are very high in nutrients and easy to grow in local conditions.

Her laboratory tests show the vegetables are nutritionally as good, if not better, than the “exotic” greens such as spinach and cabbage, which were introduced to Africa from abroad and have become widely accepted as staples.

Prof. Mary Abukutsa-Onyango hopes the plants
will help reduce malnutrition and poverty levels in Kenya
A spiderplant in bloom. The plant is selling in Nairobi supermarkets and restaurants after years of being spurned by the well-fed as food only for the poor
Her current research programme at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, outside Nairobi, focuses on promoting the production and marketing of African indigenous vegetables, particularly by rural women farmers, as a means of reducing poverty and improving rates of nutrition.

She is one of a growing team of innovative scientists given fellowships by African Women in Agricultural Research and Development (AWARD), a programme aimed at boosting the female talent pool supporting Africa’s women farmers.

IRIN 07/08 KENYA: No longer a weed

Sierra Leone and CAADP

3rd August 2009. Freetown. A four-man delegation from the African Union and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development [NEPAD] met with President Ernest Bai Koroma.

According to the Minister of Agriculture, Dr Sam Sesay, who accompanied the delegation, the purpose of their visit was to assess and have first-hand information on agricultural development in the country. Briefing the President, head of delegation Prof. R M Mkandawire said he is proud to note that the nation is on the march towards recovery and no doubt has made a significant impact in the agricultural sector.

Responding, President Koroma welcomed the delegation and thanked them for appreciating the nation’s agricultural gains, adding that “it is because government has put agriculture top of her priority list, to help in the alleviation of poverty.”

President Koroma and the delegation including Prof. R M Mkandawire (NEPAD) FARA’s Director of Advocacy and Resource Mobilisation, Samira Hotobah During and the Senior Partnership Advisor for NEPAD, Angelline Rudakubana.

CAADP 05/08 President Koroma assures, AU, NEPAD on food security

11/08 Members of Parliament in the Sierra Leone Parliament have benefited from a day’s sensitization workshop on the Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development Programme (CAADP). Deputy Agriculture Minister, Alie B Mansaray explained that the sensitization workshop was held in order to keep parliamentarians abreast with the CAADP’s implementation in Sierra Leone. Mr. Joseph Koroma, the Focal Point Official in the Agriculture Ministry thanked FAO and the Forum of Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) for their contribution in supporting agriculture in the country. References:
Agricultural experts, policymakers and representatives from Africa and the international community, will convene in Bujumbura, Burundi and Addis Ababa, Ethiopia from August 24-25, 2009 and August 27-28 2009 respectively, for roundtables culminating into signing the African Union (AU)/ New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD)’s Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program (CAADP) Compact. Reference - CAADP 07/08 Burundi and Ethiopia to sign CAADP compacts

Climate change and the threat to African food security

Sub-Saharan Africa is currently the most food-insecure region in the world. Climate change could aggravate the situation further unless adequate measures are put in place. Dealing with these impacts requires measures that will minimise losses or take advantage of the opportunities presented. This first issue of a new briefing series called "Joto Afrika" presents six articles about how people in Africa are being affected by climate change, and how they are adapting. The articles are as follows:
  • Inform, involve, adapt in Benin
  • Food insecurity in Kenya
  • Long-range forecasts in West Africa
  • Farmers adapt in Limpopo BasinLivestock and climate change
  • Food production in Ethiopia
Joto Afrika, Swahili for ‘Africa is feeling the heat', is a new series of briefings and online resources about adapting to climate change in Africa. It is produced by the Arid Lands Information Network (ALIN) in Kenya in partnership with AfricaAdapt and IDS Knowledge Services.

Adapting to the impact of climate change on African food securityAuthors: Arid Lands Information Network (ALIN) Publisher: id21 Development Research Reporting Service, 2009 Full text of document

Agricultural Economics Studies in SA scores high among African students

Areport by the Institute for Statistics of the UN’s Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco), based on figures from 153 countries, ranked South Africa as the eighth most-popular study destination for foreigners.

The Global Education Digest 2009 study, which explored changing trends in higher education, listed the US as the most popular destination for foreign students. According to the study, one out of every five foreign students from Africa was studying at a South African university, including 14669 from Zimbabwe, 10169 from Namibia, 4963 from Botswana, 2825 from Swaziland and 1213 from Mauritius.

In contrast, only 5746 South Africans went to study abroad. The study found that one of the reasons students leave is to “avoid the frustrations of under-resourced universities at home”.
Some are attracted by the unique courses offered in South Africa , including viticulture at Stellenbosch; palaeontology at Wits; homeopathy at the University of Johannesburg and a master of science degree in agricultural economics at the University of Limpopo.

03/08 Foreigners flock to SA universities

Developing African Agriculture through Regional Value Chains

The 2009 Economic Report on Africa (ERA) has warned that the food crisis across Africa is not over yet although food prices are on the decline. The report which is a flagship publication of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and the Africa Union Commission says that food prices are likely to stay high in the medium term.

"At the same time, many African countries continue to suffer from food shortage
and food insecurity due to drought, conflicts and rigid supply conditions among other factors," adds the report.
This year's report is focused on "Developing African Agriculture through Regional Value Chains". It provides a comprehensive analysis of developments in African economies over the preceding year, and offers projections for the upcoming year.
"In addition to strengthening emergency responses, Africa needs to have a
long-term focus on agricultural development and transformation in the context of
economic diversification,"

African Drylands Commodity Atlas

The UNCCD secretariat, (Secretariat of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification) and the Common Fund for Commoditiesthe Common Fund For Commodities (CFC) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) have launched the first African Drylands Commodity Atlas.

The Atlas highlights the importance of commodities for primary agricultural production in African countries. It enhances the understanding of national policy makers in dryland LeastDeveloped Countries (LDCs), development partners and other stakeholders on the possibilities and potential opportunities to achieve poverty reduction through environmentally sustainable and economically profitable commodity production drylands.

The Dryland Commodity Atlas seeks to facilitate the on-going stakeholder dialogue process and to build consensus for commodity strategies that integrate the trade potential of dryland commodities into relevant national policy areas and the National Action Programs (NAPs) to com-bat desertification.

For trade to have an impact on poverty reduction in LDCs, it needs to be an integral part of each country’s development strategy, and it also needs to be integrated in the relevant commodity strategies and NAPs. This requires raising awareness and information exchange to promote active engagement on several fronts by a wide range of diverse stakeholders. The atlas also highlights the potential for and the weakness of trade within the African continent.

The Atlas is available for free download (pdf, 5.8mb) (87 pages)

Call for expressions of interest Agricultural Biodiversity for Africa

August 19, 2009. The Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA), in partnership with its four sub-Regional Organizations (CORAF/WECARD, ASARECA SADC-FANR, NASRO), and Bioversity International will be organizing a conference on agricultural biodiversity in Africa, back-to-back with the Africa Science Week and FARA General Assembly to be held in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso on the 19-24th July 2010

The overall goal of the conference is to increase awareness, raise the appeal and generate support for research and development in relation to agricultural biodiversity for development in Africa. The conference will facilitate the sharing of innovative ideas in areas of agricultural biodiversity conservation and use science, research and development in Africa. It will also provide an opportunity to bring the agricultural biodiversity research community together to exchange experiences and lessons learnt, establish linkages and foster post-conference networking.

First Assessment of Africa's mangroves

Growing up in Cotonou, Benin, environmental scientist Lola Fatoyinbo of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) passed polluted mangroves daily. Inspired to help save the forests, she began a mission as a graduate student in the United States to gain more insight about African mangroves.
Lola Fatoyinbo and research assistants from the University Eduardo Mondlane in Mozambique
Her studies have brought her back to Africa, where she has journeyed along the coastlines to test a new satellite technique for measuring the area, height, and biomass of mangrove forests. She developed and employed a method that can be used across the continent, overcoming expensive, ad hoc, and inconsistent modes of ground-based measurement. Fatoyinbo's approach recently produced what she believes is the first full assessment of the continent's mangrove forests.

Fatoyinbo's height map of Gabon's mangrove forest canopy (left image) indicates heights ranging from 0 to 40 meters. In the right image, Fatoyinbo used Google Earth software to overlay the same three-dimensional height map of Gabon's mangroves. Credit: NASA/Temilola Fatoyinbo

"We've lost more than 50 percent of the world's mangrove forests in a little over half a century; a third of them have disappeared in the last 20 years alone," said Fatoyinbo, whose earlier study of Mozambique's coastal forests laid the groundwork for the continent-wide study. "Hopefully this technique will offer scientists and officials a method of estimating change in this special type of forest."

NASA 20/08 NASA researcher nets first measure of Africa's coastal forests
Fatoyinbo's original study on mangrove measurements in Mozambique, Journal of Geophysical Research
More about NASA's Lola Fatoyinbo

Library Program to Help Strengthen Agricultural Research in sub-Saharan Africa

August 19, 2009. Cornell University’s Albert R. Mann Library will increase access to The Essential Electronic Agricultural Library (TEEAL) database for researchers and students in sub-Saharan Africa, supported by a $1.8 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
IAALD conference in Accra with Cornell University Staff and ITOCA staff
The goal of the project is to strengthen the scientific foundation for agriculture research and education in sub-Saharan Africa by providing 115 institutions in 14 countries access to more than 140 key agricultural journals.

This three-year grant will also reduce the cost of TEEAL by 50 percent, making the program more affordable for institutions in every eligible country in the developing world. Additionally, TEEAL’s staff will assist with installation; train students, librarians, and faculty; act as liaisons with publishers; and promote the program among institutional leaders, librarians and collaborative organizations.

In institutions where TEEAL is currently available in Africa, it has proved to be one of the most-used electronic resource of agricultural researchers, significantly improving the speed and quality of research. By increasing TEEAL’s reach, more researchers will be able to access, localize and disseminate relevant knowledge to farmers within their communities.

This grant is part of the foundation’s Agricultural Development initiative, which is working with a wide range of partners in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia to provide millions of small farmers in the developing world with tools and opportunities to boost their yields, increase their incomes, and build better lives for themselves and their families. The foundation is working to strengthen the entire agricultural value chain—from seeds and soil to farm management and market access—so that progress against hunger and poverty is sustainable over the long term.

Cornell Press Release 19/08 Cornell Library Program to Help Strengthen Agricultural Research in sub-Saharan Africa. New Funding Allows Agricultural Research Database to Reach New Institutions

Friday, 21 August 2009

Tackling hunger in Sub-Saharan Africa

Professor Sir Gordon Conway talks about his work and global efforts to tackle chronic hunger across the world in Imperial College’s podcast. You can access the podcast and the transcript of the interview at:

The Dutch, are very good on water control and irrigation systems. We've got some very good plant breeding in Britain at various institutions. In France they've got a lot of experience of working on farmer organisations. (...) And the British and some other countries working in Anglophone Africa have got also their own experiences and successes. But they don't talk to each other very much yet. August 2009 podcast transcript Sir Gordon Conway on efforts to tackle chronic hunger across the world

Gordon Conway at the Centre for Environmental Policy in Imperial College London, with the support of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, is leading a small team to explore the potential for new European partnerships to support agricultural development in Sub-Saharan Africa.

The team will assess and make recommendations as to how governments, think tanks, NGOs, the research community and the private sector and donors might work in partnership to use their combined expertise and influence to create a more coherent and focused approach to agricultural development in Sub-Saharan Africa.

The job is to establish who's doing what across Europe in terms of agriculture in development and to find out from Africa what it wants from Europe. It's all about attacking food poverty in Africa and improving agriculture in the region in the face of challenges like climate change, disease and conflict.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Improving Agricultural Productivity in Africa

August 6, 2009. Center for Strategic and International Studies, Washington.

Following the announcement at the G-8 Summit in Italy of a major commitment to global food security, CSIS hosted Dr. Monty Jones from the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa to discuss FARA's work and reforms in African agricultural practice. In describing emerging opportunities for international collaboration in African agricultural development, Dr. Jones emphasized priority areas for win-win U.S.-Africa partnerships.

Video: Johanna Nesseth Vice President for Strategic Planning interviews Dr. Monty Jones

The objective of Dr. Jones’ presentation was to present what Africa is doing to develop its agriculture and why the United States and other countries should be interested in partnering with the continent to solve the growing world food crisis. As Dr. Jones phrased it, “agriculture is the backbone to economic growth and can reduce poverty.” Africa has gone from an agriculture exporter to an agriculture importer—a change that could become problematic when exporting countries may struggle to feed their own populations. Therefore, investment in agriculture is beneficial in multiple ways because food insecurity increases famine, civil wars, extreme ideology, and immigration—issues of great concern to the American government and all countries.

On the African agricultural front, they are looking to collaborate more on agricultural research and technology, invest in infrastructure development, land and water management, and to invest in its population, of which more than half are involved in some form of agriculture. According to Dr. Jones, the opportunities for partnership are now. With the G8 pledge, attainment of stability in many African countries since the 60s and 70s, and the amount of arable land, Africa is ready to take agriculture to the next plateau.
Nevertheless, for Africa and its partnerships to be successful, Dr. Jones calls for capacity building in all sectors of agriculture (researchers, extension, and farmers), an institutional reform, female empowerment (as they are involved heavily in agriculture but are not involved in research, science, and other areas), an increase in farm subsidies, among other necessary factors for agricultural development.

Though Dr. Jones and the African continent are looking to bring agriculture to the forefront again, there is one thing they most understandably want understood: “Africa must be able to feed itself first.” With that in mind, they set out to solve their own food insecurity problems, and contribute to world’s growing problem.

Audio Aug 6, 2009: Harnessing the Spirit of L'Aquila: Improving Agricultural Productivity in Africa

The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) Task Force on the Global Food Crisis has released a new report, "A Call for a Strategic U.S. Approach to the Global Food Crisis" which calls for modernizing and doubling emergency assistance, making rural development and agricultural productivity foreign policy priorities, revising the U.S. approach to bio-fuels, urgently acting to conclude the Doha Development Round, and creating a strategic U.S. approach to global food security.


CSIS press release Harnessing the Spirit of L'Aquila: Improving Agricultural Productivity in Africa
Abt Associates 30/07/2009 Abt Associates Participates on CSIS Global Food Crisis Task Force
Earth Day Network 21/08/2009 The Hunt for Food Security