Thursday, 28 April 2011

Inaugural conference of the Universities, Business and Research in Agricultural Innovation (UniBRAIN) initiative

19-20 April. Accra. The Universities, Business and Research in Agricultural Innovation (UniBRAIN) initiative's inaugural conference was held at FARA headquarters.
Its purpose was to bring together all the different institutions involved in UniBRAIN: the Steering Committee, the Independent Grants Committee, the implementing partners (FARA, ANAFE, ATPS, PanAAC, ASARECA, CORAF/WECARD and SADC/FANR) and  most importantly, the 12 Agribusiness Innovation Incubation Consortia (AIIC) selected from 51 concept notes to develop competitive business plans.

In addition to providing an opportunity for the stakeholders to get to know each other, the main focus of the conference was on developing business models and business plans with a view to assisting the AIIC to make the best possible submissions of business plans for review by the Independent Grants Committee by the deadline of 14 May 2011. 
Lead Institution
Forum for East African Community (EAC) Dairy Enterprises Development (FEDED)
University of Nairobi
creating competitive livestock-based agribusiness enterprises
CSIR-Animal Research Institute.
[Partnership for Agro-processing and entrepreneurship develop in Uganda
Department of Food Science & Technology
Makerere University
Zambia Mango and Local Fruits Value Chain Consortium (“Zambia Mango Consortium”)
Frontier Development Associates
Centre d’Innovation Agro-forestier du Mali, Projet CAF 
Agro Industrie Development SA (AID-SA)
Consortium de Création et de Renforcement des Capacités d’Entreprises Agro commerciales (CCRC-EA)
Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique et Technologique (CNRST)
Burkina Faso
Chibuto School of Business and Entrepreneurship Incubator
Chibuto School of Business and Entrepreneurship (ESNEC) – Eduardo Mondlane University(UEM).
Egerton University
Sorghum Value Chain Agribusiness Innovation Incubator Consortium
Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT).
Ghana agribusiness incubator and entrepreneurship centre (GAIEC)
Universty for Development Studies, Tamale
Incubation and Diversification of Banana Products for Agribusiness (IDBPA)
Kyambogo, University
Consortium for Enhancing University Responsiveness to Agribusiness Development (CURD)
Makerere, University

Related blog postThe Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs/Danida has provided funds to FARA to support the Universities, Business and Research in Agricultural INovation (UniBRAIN) Initiative.

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Outcome of the Call for Concept notes of PAEPARD

PAEPARD launched on 8th of December 2010 a call for applications for support to the development of multi-stakeholder partnerships that promote demand-driven agricultural innovation and research (deadline 28/01/2011).  PAEPARD partners were asked to disseminate as much as possible the call through their respective channels.

82 concept notes were received by 28 January 2011. 3 concept notes were rejected which came after the deadline.

Selected concept notes:
African Applicant Country
Title of the proposal
Enhancing capacity and developing networks between North-South Universities in Research Methods training at PhD level
l’Agribusiness au tour du soja
Caractérisation de deux variétés du piment rouge pour améliorer la mise en marché et transformation semi-industrielle
Un partenariat Europe Afrique pour la création d’un outil de suivi de l’agriculture familiale
South Africa
Use of  Geographic Information Systems, GMPBasic and existing related information systems to benchmark and plan the development of the emerging livestock sector of South Africa
Improving food security and income for smallholder farmers through improved post harvest technology.
Aflatoxin contamination management along the maize value chain in Kenya
Partnership for Enhanced Aquaculture Innovation in Sub Saharan Africa (PEAISSA)
Re-vamping pyrethrum sector through improved policy environment to address pest problems anticipated due to climate change and improve farmers livelihoods
Improving the incomes of smallholder farmers through increased access to livestock markets and through the engagement of the stakeholders in the livestock production to marketing value chain

The support that PAEPARD offers to new partnerships whose application to the PAEPARD call of December 2010 was successful consists of:

  1. [A] sponsored participation of key partners in Partnership Inception (PI ) workshops
  2. [B] subsidized participation of some of the key partners together with administrative staff of their organizations in Write-shops.
  3. [C] Follow up with the funding opportunities

A) Partnership Inception workshop: 
A workshop of about 7 days involving the participation of 20-25 people who are key partners of three to four (maximum) new partnerships selected in response to PAEPARD calls for applications to support to partnership formation.

  • The PI-workshops give the partners of new partnerships an opportunity to meet face-to-face (often for the first time), develop a shared and in-depth understanding of each other’s perspective of and interest in the common theme, clarify what each of them expects from the others and from the partnership as a whole (in terms of, e.g., contributions in kind and cash, types of benefits and their distribution between partners),agree on the broad development actions needed to address the theme, on the roles and responsibilities of each partner and on the principles to be respected by the different partners to ensure continued focus on the demands of non-research stakeholders and balance in governance.
  • PI-workshops also help participating partnerships to agree on the research questions to be addressed, the concrete results expected from the research and the consultation process between research and non-research partners needed to ensure that results meet the latter’s expectations, e.g., in terms of accessibility and applicability.
  • The PI-workshops will be facilitated by the Agricultural Innovation-facilitators proposed by the successful partnerships and trained by the Capacity building organizations and partners of PAEPARD, In this way, PAEPARD helps strengthen the capacities of the partners to effectively work as a demand-driven, balanced multi-stakeholder team.

The decision which partnerships to combine in each PI-workshop will be based on the potential for mutual learning between the partnerships, complementarities in competencies, commonality of language (English, French), similarities in themes and in capacity strengthening needs, as well as on logistical and other pragmatic considerations.

  • The PI-workshops are preferably organised on the intended research location of one of the participating partnerships (that could probably also host the workshops) to be able to include some field visits for interaction with local actors of the hosting partnership who are not able to participate in the PI-workshop.
  • The other participating partnerships will be stimulated to organise similar interactions on their own research locations after their return from the PI-workshop.

Expected results of the Partnership Inception workshop:

  • Result 1: Demand-driven, balanced ARD consortia are consolidated with clear understanding of the roles and responsibilities of the non-research and research partners and African and European partners and with a clear agreement on the principles of African-led joint governance. Where relevant, missing actors and their required contributions have been identified.
  • Result 2: Each ARD consortium has developed an action plan defining the complementary development activities to address the common challenge/ theme around which each consortium is mobilized and the main elements of a research proposal to be further elaborated at a write-shop.
  • Result 3: Memoranda of Agreement have been signed between the partners in each partnership, between each partnership and its AI-facilitator and between each AI-facilitator and the PAEPARD Work Package 4 [Capacity Building] leaders.
  • Result 4: The collective and individual capacities of all consortium members to function as a team, taking stock of specific needs of non-research partners and mobilising their specific complementary contributions to the innovation process, have been strengthened.

Between the Partnership Inception workshop and write-shops, the AI-facilitators, with help from PAEPARD, assist their partnerships to formulate a first rough draft of a research proposal based on the main elements defined during the PI-workshop.

B) Write shops. 
All ARD consortia established through PI-workshops are expected to qualify for and participate in a write-shop approximately 4 weeks after the PI-workshop. The purpose of the write-shops is to:

  • finalise the research proposals of the participating ARD consortia (already drafted between steps 2 and 3 by the consortium and its AI-facilitator);
  • provide training to key representatives of the consortia on the format/ procedures or requirements of the funding source targeted.

The participants in write-shops are a subset of the key partners who participated in the PI-workshop (as not all partners will be involved in proposal writing), as well as administrative staff that have not been involved in the PI-workshop.

  • Consortia will be required to share 20% of the cost of accommodation and food (i.e. 20% of the per diem), as well as some costs related to their travel.
  • The write-shops will be facilitated by experienced trainers in research proposal writing with expert knowledge of the specific requirements of the ARD-funding sources targeted, both in terms of content and form of the proposal and in terms of the administrative, legal and financial aspects of research project management.
  • In organising write-shops, PAEPARD will combine partnerships on the basis of similarity on requirements of the targeted donors. This may lead to different combinations from those used in the PI-workshops.

Expected results of the Write shop

  • Result 1: Consortium members are aware of the procedures and formats required by the identified funding source to which their research proposal will be submitted and are able to use these formats and apply these procedures.
  • Result 2: Each consortium has fully developed its proposal following the specified format by the identified funding source

C) Follow up with the funding opportunities
After the write-shop, proposal development and submission to a donor.

  • PAEPARD will make sure the consortia continue to work together in other activities while waiting for the funds.
  • PAEPARD will inform the consortia on targeted funding opportunities (see bi-monthly PAEPARD update on funding opportunities)
  • Lessons will be drawn from feedback obtained from donors on proposals that win funding and those that are rejected for one or another reason.

Expected results of the follow up on the funding opportunities

  • Research proposals from different consortia that participated in the process of inception workshop and write-shop are submitted to the targeted funding sources

State of the World 2011 launched in South Africa

On 21st of April 2011 State of the World 2011: Innovations that Nourish the Planet was launched in Pretoria, South Africa, at an event that was hosted in partnership with the Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN)

Dr Lindiwe Majele Sibanda, FANRPAN Chief Executive Officer, and Danielle Nierenberg, Nourishing the Planet co-Project Director, joined local agricultural experts—including Sithembile Ndema, State of the World 2011 contributing author and FANRPAN Program Manager—to discuss agricultural innovations that are working to alleviate hunger in South Africa and across sub-Saharan Africa. The event marks the first ever launch of State of the World in South Africa, and was covered by many local news outlets, including News24The New Age and the Mail & Guardian, one of South Africa’s oldest and top news sites.

Monday, 25 April 2011

CGIAR Ad hoc Funders Forum 2011

April 07, 2011Montpellier, France. The Ad hoc Funders Forum meeting took place on at Agropolis immediately following the 4th Fund Council meeting.  The ad hoc Funders Forum brought together CGIAR donors, members of the Fund Council, and representatives from the Consortium of International Agricultural Research Centers.
Celebrating Forty Years and Positioning for the next Forty
  • Panel presentation (30 mn)
  • Discussion (30 mn). To view the video of the discussion, click here.  (Note! duration of video is 1hr14mn)
Presentations by Panelists:
Meeting Documents: Funders Forum Meeting Agenda
A Strategy and Results Framework (SRF) for the CGIAR
Survey from First Funders Forum Meeting in 2010: 2010 Survey Report

First stakeholders' regional farmers meeting Aligning Production to Markets

April 13-15, 2011. Livingstone. Zambia. The meeting, which was jointly hosted by Alliance for Commodity Trade in Eastern and Southern Africa (ACTESA), Southern African Confederations Confederation of Agricultural Unions (SACAU) and East Africa Farmers Federation (EAFF), was attended by representatives of farmers' organisations and governments from the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) region as well as development agencies and implementing partners.

Some of the topics discussed in the meeting included key challenges in the marketing of agricultural commodities, agricultural standards and market access, farmers' participation in standards setting and models of linking small-scale farmers to regional markets.

Other topics were issues on small-holder farmer capacity, models of how smallholder farmers could directly supply commodities to World Food Programme (WFP) through Agricultural Commodity Exchange (ACE) and small-holder participation in biotechnology.

Improving Post-Harvest Quality and Packaging of Rice, Sorghum/Millet and Cassava Products to enhance Marketability in West Africa

19/04/2011. Twenty women rice processors, mainly drawn from the Bolgatanga Municipality and Kassena-Nankana East District of the Upper East Region, have attended a three-day training workshop to broaden their knowledge on improved rice post-harvest technologies.

The project under which the training was organised was dubbed,; "The project under which the training was organised was dubbed,; "Improving Post-Harvest Quality and Packaging of Rice, Sorghum/Millet and Cassava Products to enhance Marketability in West Africa."

It was as a result of an agreement signed in June 2009, between the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Conseil Ouest et Centre Africain Pour La Recherche et Le Developpement Agricoles (CORAF) and the West and Central African Council for Agric Research and Development (WECARD), based in Senegal, to initiate six projects when there was a food crisis and the hiking food prices all over West Africa.

Project Target Countries 
• Rice: Senegal, Mali, Liberia, Ghana and Nigeria
• Sorghum/Millet: Senegal, Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso and Nigeria
• Cassava: Ghana, Nigeria, Benin and Togo

These projects were to be undertaken under the framework of the Emergency Global Food Security Initiative, with the aim of seeking to mobilise the strengths, expertise and resources for post-harvest technology development and transfer in West Africa, to demonstrate appropriate post-harvest technologies for adoption.

During the training, the participants were taken through rice primary post-harvest operations such as harvesting, bulking, threshing, winnowing, and drying, while under the secondary post-harvest operations, storage, par-boiling, drying and milling were also discussed.

FARA Weekly update

1.      News and Events
e.     International conference on jobs, food and farming. 19-21 March 2012, Accra
f.     Call for abstracts: Challenges and opportunities for agricultural intensification of humid highland systems of sub-saharan Africa. International conference 24-27 Oct 2011, Kigali
g.    International conference: Innovations in extension and advisory services: linking knowledge to policy and action for food and livelihoods. 15-18 Nov. 2011, Nairobi. Download flyer, concept note, registration form for participants, registration form for booth, abstract and paper guidelines

2.      Opportunities
a.      Call for application: ARPPIS PhD fellowship, 2011
c.       Call for papers: African Journal of Pure and Applied Chemistry
d.      Call for papers: Journal of Horticulture and Forestry
e.      Vacancy: latest from GFAR
Information Systems Specialist (P3 grade)

Friday, 22 April 2011

AFAAS SYMPOSIUM and General Assembly

Theme: Going beyond production agriculture for smallholder farmers
12-14 April 2011,  Accra, Ghana. Agricultural extension professionals and managers in Africa have gathered in Accra for an international symposium on innovations in agricultural advisory services. The third symposium of the African Forum for Agricultural Advisory Services (AFAAS) was under the theme: “Going beyond production, agriculture for smallholder farmers”.

Over 140 delegates from 36 countries in Africa, Europe and USA participated in the forum, which had the purpose of sharing information, knowledge and good practice, stimulate country fora and operationalize AFAAS as a continental institution for linking agricultural advisory service actors.

AFAAS currently works in
16 African countries
Executive Director of FARA, Prof. Monty Jones in a Keynote Address spoke on “Positioning Africa’s agricultural advisory services to effectively contribute to sustainable agricultural development: Issues and required transformation”. According to him the ultimate goal of agric advisory should be to reduce poverty, increase incomes and sustainable use of natural resources, stating that farming should no longer be seen as a way of life.
“Today we should look at farming as a business. Today we should categorize our farmers as business people… advisory services should no longer focus on increasing yields, should no longer focus on reducing risks; they should focus on attaining development impact and development impact calls for us to put more money in the pockets of the farmers”, said Prof. Monty.
AFAAS sees its role as a supporting institution that enhances competency of agricultural service providers, enabling them to better address the needs and demands of various value chain actors. AFAAS Chairperson, Dr. Salim Nahdy, stated “AFAAS will stimulate the process in knowledge sharing and capacity building, organization sharing at both national levels through country chapters but also at continent level through AFAAS and linking up with other organizations like FARA and sub-regional organizations, NEPAD and AU". A General Assembly after the symposium validated the AFAAS operational documents, particularly its strategic plan and its constitution. It defined the AFAAS governance structures.

Mobilizing the potential of rural and agricultural extension

Mobilizing the potential of rural and agricultural extension

This paper (FAO, 2010, 58 pages) presents an overview of current opportunities and challenges facing efforts to increase the impact of rural and agricultural extension. The starting point for this analysis is in recognition that the days when agricultural extension was synonymous with the work of public sector agencies are over. The ‘extension services’ described here may just as likely consist of an input vendor advising a farmer about what seed to plant, a television station broadcasting a weather forecast, a supermarket advising traders about what standards are required for the vegetables they purchase or a farmer organization lobbying for research that reflects the demands of its members for new technologies. Mobilizing the potential of extension is about enhancing this broad and complex flow of information and advice in the agrifood sector. The ideas presented in this paper describe how extension systems can contribute to the improvement of the profitability, sustainability and equity of smallholder agriculture within broader innovation systems.
Full pdf 1,119kb

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

New Report on Agricultural Research and Development (R&D) in Africa

Overall investment in R&D increased by more than 20 percent from 2001-2008, but most of this growth occurred in only a handful of countries and spending actually declined in many others.

Press Release


For more detailed information on individual countries, you can access longer Country Notes at: (and click on Sub-Saharan Africa)



Range of Sub-Saharan Africans Likely to Feel Food Price Hikes

April 4, 2011. Gallup does an annual ‘world poll’ in 100 countries and this year focussed on food security, especially in Sub Saharan Africa

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The current spike in global food prices is likely to affect substantial numbers of sub-Saharan Africans who were already struggling to afford food. A median of 57% of residents across 28 countries that Gallup surveyed in 2009 and 2010 said there were times in the past 12 months when they did not have enough money to buy the food that they or their families needed. This percentage was as high as 87% in the Central African Republic and higher than 60% in several countries.

  • Sub-Saharan Africans perceive agriculture (20%) and jobs (19%) as the most important issues for their governments to address
  • Two-thirds (66%) of sub-Saharan Africans say their government is not doing enough to help people get food
  • Nearly 6 in 10 (59%) say there have been times in the last 12 months when they did not have enough money to buy the food that they or their family needed
  • Over a third of sub-Saharan Africans say they or their families have gone without food in the last 12 months several times, many times or always
  • Sub-Saharan Africans across 26 countries rank reducing poverty and reducing hunger as the top two most important goals
Survey Methods
Results are based on face-to-face interviews with approximately 1,000 adults, aged 15 and older, conducted in 2009 and 2010 in 28 countries in sub-Saharan Africa. Surveys were conducted in both years in all countries except Burundi, Congo (Kinshasa), Ivory Coast, Malawi, Rwanda, and Zambia. In those cases, 2009 results are reported alongside 2010 results. Surveys in 2010 were conducted between February and December. Surveys in 2009 were conducted between August and November, except for the Ivory Coast where surveys were conducted in April.