Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Announcement: Agricultural R&D: Investing in Africa’s Future

ASTI, together with the International Food Policy Report Institute (IFPRI), where ASTI is based, and the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA), is convening a conference on agricultural R&D in Africa focused on the following themes: 1. Levels and Stability of Agricultural R&D Investments; 2. Human Resource Development of Agricultural R&D; 3. Aligning and Rationalizing Institutional Structures; and 4. Measuring and Improving the Effectiveness of R&D Systems.
The conference, which will take place December 5-7, 2011 in Accra, Ghana, is invitation only. Papers will be posted on the ASTI website. Organized by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA).

India, Africa to cooperate for increasing agricultural output

25 May 2011. Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Africa and India laid the foundations for a stronger partnership with the adoption, by proclamation, of two key documents i.e. the Addis Ababa Declaration and the Africa- India Framework for Enhanced Cooperation. It sets out specific agreements to cooperate in the following areas: economic; political; science, technology, research and development; social development and capacity building; health, culture and sport; tourism; infrastructure, energy and environment and media and communications.

India has decided to send teams of farm experts to African countries to explore ways of helping the Africa to improve its agricultural practices. The Indian Council of Agriculture Research (ICAR) teams would visit Ethiopia, South Africa, Zambia and other countries of the African continent in June. The Indian teams would make trips to agricultural fields in these countries and interact with the farm scientists to get a first-hand knowledge of the cultivation processes there.A report would be submitted to the government after the trip to chalk out how best India could help African nations improve there agriculture, the ICAR official said.
"This is to study agriculture there and explore role for India to help train manpower in the farm sector there', Deputy Director General (DDG), Education, ICAR, Arvind Kumar
75 students from African continents would be enrolled every year from now onwards in varied agri universities to learn about latest know hows in the sector. As part of the past Indo-African programme, 49 students of African origin are studying presently in different agriculture universities in India.

AGRA and USDA explore ways to help smallholder farmers in Africa through coordinated research, exchanges, training and development activities

May 26, 2011. WASHINGTON. The Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to explore ways to help smallholder farmers in Africa through coordinated research, exchanges, training and development activities.

U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack (left)
and Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA)
President Dr. Namanga Ngongi (right) signed a
Memorandum of Understanding in Secretary Vilsack’s office
 in Washington, DC, on Thursday, May 26, 2011.
AGRA and USDA joint efforts to promote seed development and soil enhancement, reduce crop loss, manage water resources, improve data collection, develop farmer training programs, create market information systems, and improve human capacity and food-related infrastructure in Africa.

The MOU will be in effect for five years. AGRA and USDA will initially focus on increasing food production in African breadbasket regions – areas with high potential because of existing policies, infrastructure and growing conditions – such as Ghana, Kenya, Mali, Tanzania and Mozambique.

Friday, 27 May 2011

Leveraging Private Sector Investment in Developing Country Agrifood Systems

Title: Leveraging Private Sector Investment in Developing Country Agrifood Systems
Authors: International Food & Agricultural Trade Policy Council (IPC Study commissioned by the Global Agricultural Development Initiative)

The research for this paper (May 2011, 73 pages) involved a myriad of discussions on Transnational Corporations’ involvement in the food and agricultural sectors of developing countries.

This policy paper consists of four sections.

  1. The first reiterates the benefits of sound private-sector investment in sustainable food security; it also explains the paper’s primary focus on investments from transnational corporations (TNCs) and describes how TNCs approach decisions on investment allocations.
  2. The second section highlights examples of TNC investments that have simultaneously benefited smallholders in developing countries while creating profits—or the potential for profits—for the investors.
  3. The third section explores how the US government engages with TNCs and incentivizes investments. 
  4. The final section concludes with recommendations for TNCs, governments, and other players, with a view towards increasing TNC investments that both strengthen agricultural development and offer profits to TNCs.

IFAD to help support diaspora investments in rural development and agricultural projects

May 17-19, 2011. Washington, D.C. The US Department of State, in partnership with the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Migration Policy Institute, organized the first ever Secretary’s Global Diaspora Forum, focused on involving US-based diasporas in foreign policy and development efforts to achieve common-interest goals.

The Forum challenged diaspora communities to forge partnerships with the private sector, civil society, and public institutions in order to make their engagements with their countries of origin or ancestry effective, scalable, and sustainable. The Forum took place over three days

One panel was organised around Agriculture and Rural Development. Food insecurity is often rooted in poverty and poses long-term challenges to communities and countries to develop. The global community has launched an expansive effort to eradicate global hunger and achieve food security. This panel, organized in partnership with the International Fund for Agricultural Development, explored the role of diasporas in meeting this objective.

Moderator: Paul Weisenfeld, Assistant Administrator, Bureau for Food Security, USAID
  • Estrella Dizon Anonuevo, Executive Director, Atikha Overseas Workers and Communities Initiative, Inc.
  • Fatumo Farah, Director, Himilo Relief and Development Association
  • Eleanor Nagy, Acting Deputy Coordinator of Feed the Future, Global Hunger and FoodSecurity Office, US State Department
  • Pedro de Vasconcelos, Coordinator, Multi-donor Financing Facility for Remittances
Another panel was organised around Science and Technology. Science and technology are central to addressing major global challenges. Foreign-born scientists in the US contribute to progress in every field of science. For many, maintaining ties with colleagues back home contributes to new research partnerships, increased uptake of new research products or services, and strengthened science policies and practices. This panel focused on the scientific diaspora communities as vectors of knowledge, learning, entrepreneurial partnerships, and science diplomacy.  

Moderator: Dr. Sharon Hrynkow, Ph.D., Senior Advisor to the Assistant Secretary of State for 
Oceans, Environment and Science
  • Dr. Alexander Dehgan, Ph.D. Science and Technology Advisor to the Administrator, USAID
  • Dr. Jorge Gomez, M.D., Ph.D., Director, Office of Latin American Cancer Program 
  • Development, National Cancer Institute, National Institute of Health
  • Dr. Alfred Watkins, Ph.D., Science and Technology Program Coordinator, The World Bank
  • Patricia Zambrano, Senior Research Analyst, International Food Policy Research Institut
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s Opening Remarks:
At the end of her opening remarks, she mentions IDEA will collaborate with IFAD to help support diaspora investments in rural development and agricultural projects.

International Conference and Exhibition on Agricultural Biotechnology in Africa: Fostering Innovation

13-15 May 2011. Addis Ababa (Adis Abeba), Ethiopia. This conference, organized by the Institute for Science and Sustainable Development (ISSD), addressed the role of biotechnologies in the transformation of African economies.

It aimed to:

  • provide a sound scientific knowledge base on issues related to technology transfer and capacity building;
  • identify more efficient ways and means of building capacity and developing sustainable and useful institutions;
  • present lessons learned and identify success factors regarding biotechnology, knowledge transfer and capacity building;
  • and serve as a forum for cross-sectoral and multidisciplinary dialogue between scientists and policy makers on issues related to development, use and application of biotechnology.

The exhibition featured international and local biotechnology companies and provided opportunities to network and exchange ideas relating to the promotion of biotechnology for Africa.


2011 Progress Report on U.S. Leadership in Global Agricultural Development

Tuesday, May 24th. The Chicago Council on Global Affairs held its annual Symposium on Global Agriculture and Food Security in Washington, D.C. , featuring keynote presentations from Bill Gates, Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAIDRajiv Shah, and the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDATom Vilsack. The event coincided with the release of the 2011 Progress Report on U.S. Leadership in Global Agricultural Development by the Chicago Council’s Global Agricultural Development Initiative.

USAID Administer Rajiv Shah was a keynote speaker at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs’ Symposium on Global Agriculture and Food Security on May 24th. (Photo credit: Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network)
The initiative is funded by the Bill &Melinda Gates foundation, and the report gives the U.S. government a grade of B minus for its overall leadership role in global agricultural development.

Action 2a. Provide greater support for agricultural scientists in national agricultural research systems. Score: 6 out of 10
Examples of recent partnerships with NARS include USAID/Senegal’s Education and Research in Agriculture initiative, which will establish a broad research exchange program between a consortium of five U.S. universities and institutes of agricultural research in Senegal, and the USAID-funded Africa-U.S. Higher Education Initiative, which is working in partnership with the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa.

While these partnerships are important, direct financial support of NARS is needed in order for them to reach their full potential and achieve the greatest impacts of agricultural research and development. Regular tracking of U.S. government support to NARS would be useful to assessing funds’ use and ultimate impact.(see page 12 of the report).
For the U.S. government’s efforts to improve national and international institutions that deliver agricultural development assistance, the report gave its highest mark of B plus, citing improvements in USAID’s structure, effectiveness, and coordination with other agencies. A grade of D was given to the effort to improve U.S. policies currently seen as harmful to agricultural development abroad, noting that although lively discussions continue in this area, little action has been delivered.
Bill Gates, Co-chair and Trustee at the annual Symposium on Global Agriculture and Food Security

Ahead of the conference, Gates launched a challenge inviting people from around the world to submit compelling stories, videos or photos, among others, that show the role of small farmers in poverty and hunger reduction.

Extract of the speech: (...) How is the world helping the poorest farmers grow and sell more? The strategy is in innovation – combining the best of what’s worked in the past with new breakthroughs, customized to the needs of small farmers.
  • Innovation in seeds brings small farmers new high-yield crops that can grow in a drought, survive in a flood, and resist pests and disease.
  • Innovation in markets offers small farmers access to reliable customers.
  • Innovation in agricultural techniques helps farmers increase productivity while preserving the environment – with approaches like no-till farming, rainwater harvesting, and drip irrigation.
  • Innovation in foreign assistance assistance means that donors now support national plans that provide farming families with new seeds, tools, techniques and markets. This approach reduces overlap and keeps developing countries squarely in the lead.

Some of the most exciting innovations are coming in agricultural research. (...)

Thursday, 26 May 2011

India, Africa and Food Security: Between the Summits,

09 March 2011. SOUTH- SOUTH COOPERATION. This is a report of a conference held on the 10th and 11th of January 2011. Organized by: the Centre for African Studies University of Mumbai.

The conference on South- South Cooperation (SSC): India, Africa and Food Security: Between the Summits, was organized in collaboration with Nordic Africa Institute (Uppsala, Sweden) and the World Trade Centre with support from the Ministry of External Affairs (Government of India) and the South-South Cooperation Unit (UNDP, New York).

The India-Africa Framework for Cooperation, adopted at the end of the India-Africa Forum Summit April 9, 2008, at New Delhi, identified the development of sustainable agriculture as a key priority in the burgeoning partnership between India and Africa.

The scholarly papers presented at the conference touched upon themes spanning a number of disciplines that cut across; history, gender studies, politics, media, economics, sociology  and development studies. The conference  provided an opportunity for  dialogue between parties that held  diametrically  opposing views on a number of issues related to land and agriculture and  the phenomenon of  alleged  ‘land grabbing’ by foreign firms, including Indian companies, which has been controversial in the past and continues to be hotly debated.

The conference proceedings aims to offer policy oriented solutions and provide for better informed investments and improved relationships between the countries of the  global South as we move into the next decade. The research papers that were presented will be compiled in a publication that will fill in the academic gap/literature on the subject of Indian investments in agriculture in Africa.

Conference Report, SSC- India, Africa and Food Security January 2011.pdf

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Announcement: Second Global Share related to agriculture, food security, price volatility, climate change, etc.

26 – 29 September 2011. Rome, IFAD Headquarters. The Second Global Share Fair will provide a forum for participants to learn and share their knowledge, experience and innovations on emerging trends relating to agriculture, food security, price volatility, climate change, changing demographics, and other rural development related issues.

Building on the success of the first global knowledge Share Fair, Bioversity International, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the World Food Programme (WFP) in partnership with CGIAR, CTA, and SDC are jointly organizing the Second Global Share Fair. Download the Concept Note.

EU-ACP Proposal Writing Training Course with focus on neglected and underutilized species of plants

When: August 29th – September 2nd, 2011
Where: Lilongwe, Malawi
Deadline: June 3rd, 2011
For whom: Prospective applicants for IFS Research Grants from: Ethiopia, Malawi, Mozambique, Kenya & Uganda

The International Foundation for Science (IFS), Bioversity International, RUFORUM, and the University of Malawi – Bunda College, will conduct a Proposal Writing Training Course with focus on neglected and underutilized species of plants (NUS) in Lilongwe, Malawi, between August 29th and September 2nd, 2011. Young scientists (prospective applicants for IFS Research Grants) from Ethiopia, Malawi, Mozambique, Kenya and Uganda are hereby invited to submit a Research Note and apply for participation in this training course.

Read the detailed document, including information on the priority research themes and species for NUS research and the application form, on the IFS website.

Monday, 23 May 2011

Announcement: Student Conference: Climate Change and Indigenous Knowledge

15th to 17th August 2011, in Johannesburg, South Africa.
The African Young Scientists Initiative on Climate Change and Indigenous Knowledge (AYSICCIK) is organising an International Student Conference: Climate Change and Indigenous Knowledge Systems (IKS), (CCIKS2011)

The objectives of the conference are:

  • To create an international platform for students and youth to exchange ideas and experiences in the field of climate change research and the role of indigenous knowledge systems in climate change adaptation and mitigation;
  • To facilitate the building of a sustainable Young African Scientists Network on Climate Change research initiative;
  • To inform the formulation of the African Young Scientists Initiative on Climate Change (AYSICC) based on indigenous knowledge systems.

The conference themes are:

  • The Role of Indigenous Knowledge Systems in Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation;
  • Climate change and vulnerable groups (women, children, disabled, etc,);
  • Climate change, food security and health;
  • Climate change, Migration and social conflicts;
  • Climate change, land, water and other natural resources management;
  • Climate change and biodiversity management and conservation.


July 4-8, 2011. Nairobi, Kenya.The International Fertilizer Development Center (IFDC) announced an international workshop entitled Fertilizer Policy and Marketing Strategies in Africa”.
The workshop is designed for policymakers, private sector entrepreneurs, producer organizations, agro- input dealers, financial institutions and development partners supporting agricultural and fertilizer market development in Africa.

For further information, please click here  and read the detailed program description. 

PAEPARD's contribution to Public consultation on the EC Green Paper

On 9th February 2011, the European Commission presented a Green Paper 'From Challenges to Opportunities: Towards a Common Strategic Framework for EU research and innovation funding' (COM (2011) 48).

  • This paper proposed major changes to EU research and innovation funding to make participation easier, increase scientific and economic impact and provide better value for money.
  • The changes, to be introduced in the next EU budget after 2013, would bring together the current Framework Programme for research, the Competitiveness and Innovation Programme, and the European Institute of Innovation and Technology.
  • The Commission was seeking the views of all interested individuals and organisations on these proposed changes and on the specific questions set out in the Green Paper.
  • The deadline for contributions was Friday 20 May 2011.

Following international organisations/research institutes or projects related to agriculture have submitted a contribution:

Hereunder  is an extract of the Contribution of PAEPARD to the Green Paper:

The ‘Africa’ Call for proposals under the 7th Framework programme generated considerable interest and over one hundred proposals were submitted.  However, only a small number of proposals were funded and the role of African organizations in the partnership teams tended to be quite limited.  This reflects the findings from the early stages of PAEPARD which showed that there are serious barriers to the participation of African organizations in the framework programmes.  The reasons include:
  • The limited number of research themes that are relevant for African organizations, in spite of the large scope for topics of mutual interest and benefit to Europe and Africa.  The new EC-funded African Union Research Grant Program is a welcome development which will help to address this issue.
  • The focus on ‘high end’ science in which only organizations with an established track record are able to compete successfully.  Funding agricultural research for development does not necessarily compromise research quality.  This may involve a degree of risk when new partners are involved.  But there should be a willingness to take on a certain level of risk where the potential for impact is high.
  • The participation of small and medium-sized enterprises and civil society organizations in Africa is constrained by the strict eligibility requirements which are difficult for them to meet.
  •  The complexity of the administrative procedures discourages African organizations from participating. 
  • European researchers may be reluctant to enter into partnerships with organizations from Africa because of the high transaction costs in project management activities. 
  • In many European research organizations, there are limited incentives for staff to engage in work with a strong developmental orientation.  Ultimately, researchers are judged by their ability to publish in high impact factor peer-reviewed journals.

These factors point to the need to simplify administrative procedures and review eligibility criteria.  They also suggest that there is a strong case to provide more support for capacity strengthening at both the individual and organizational level.  Currently, the EC provides this type of support through its EDULINK and ACP Science & Technology programmes.  These are very useful programmes, particularly as they provide opportunities for strengthening the capacity of educational and research organizations in areas such as strategic planning, financial management and quality assurance.  The strengthening of organizational capability in such areas will allow African researchers to participate more effectively in EU-funded research programmes.  A good example is the ACP S&T project "Strengthening Research and Innovation Management in Africa and the Caribbean" which has established a communication network for persons engaged in research and innovation management issues. 

Many African research and educational organizations currently have a highly skewed staff age structure.  This has been caused partly by a long period of under-investment leading to low levels of recruitment.  An additional factor is the low retention rate due to the unfavorable working conditions and low remuneration.  In some countries, more resources are now being allocated and recruitment has begun to increase.  Furthermore, there are now increasing opportunities for staff to upgrade their skills through postgraduate studentships and mechanisms such as internships and exchange programmes.  An encouraging development is the emergence of regional PhD programmes offered by universities in Africa supported by the Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Strengthening in Agriculture.  One of these programmes is on Agricultural and Rural Innovation Studies (ARIS) and is being established with support from the EU. 

However, when these researchers return to their organizations the opportunities for them to apply their new skills is often limited.  We recommend that greater emphasis is placed on instruments that support Fellowships for young professionals in order to assist them to fulfill their potential.  This will contribute to the development of a cadre of researchers who are able to contribute effectively to EC-funded research programmes.

The Story of Agriculture and the Green Economy... ahead of G8 Summit

Farming First has launched a six-part online infographic called “The Story of Agriculture and the Green Economy”, which uses data from leading research organisations to tell the story of agriculture’s potential contribution to building a global green economy.

All of the images have been designed so that they can be Tweeted and embedded on external websites and blogs so that others can share the data and participate in the discussions on the green economy.

The infographic can be accessed on the Farming First website
How can we feed future generations?
How can we reduce poverty around the world?
Why does agriculture matter to a green economy?
Where do we invest to build a green economy?
How can we build a more sustainable supply chain?
How can we manage environmental sustainability
with economic viability?

Protecting and restoring forest carbon in tropical Africa: A guide for donors and funders

This report on forests in tropical Africa is the first to be published by the Forests Philanthropy Action Network (FPAN). The culmination of nearly two years of desk and field research, it provides an introduction and some initial guidance on important questions such as: which interventions to protect and restore Africa's tropical forest carbon are likely to be successful? Under what circumstances? And how can donors and funders engage most effectively.

Protecting and restoring forest carbon in tropical Africa is vital reading for philanthropic donors, public funding bodies and forest carbon companies interested in supporting efforts to halt the loss of tropical forests in Africa.

Announcement: Second African Diaspora Marketplace

18/05/2011. The FINANCIAL - Business Initiative for U.S.-based African Diaspora Announced at Secretary Clinton’s Global Diaspora Forum. The Western Union Company a leader in global payment services, and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) announced they will launch a second African Diaspora Marketplace (ADM) in the fourth quarter of 2011.

The ADM encourages sustainable economic growth and employment by supporting U.S.-based African Diaspora entrepreneurs with innovating and high-impact ideas for start-up and established businesses in Sub-Saharan Africa.

The new Marketplace will incorporate key learning from the first African Diaspora Marketplace, by focusing grants toward priority, high-impact sectors in Africa, including agribusiness, renewable energy, and information and communication technology (ICT).

The African Diaspora Marketplace (ADM) is a business plan competition designed to support the entrepreneurial spirit and resources of the U.S.-based African diaspora community to promote economic development in Sub-Saharan Africa by facilitating diaspora direct investment (DDI) in viable small and medium enterprises (SMEs). In 2010 the African Diaspora Marketplace (ADM) has awarded $1.4 million in matching grants to 14 businesses who are working in partnership with African-based ventures to promote job-growth in their native countries.The grant winners were chosen at an ADM conference in January 2010 after beating out 733 applicants and 58 finalists.

Related to agriculture/agribusiness:


Business Name

Project Title

GhanaAceritas Ghana, Ltd.Green Acres Goat Farm
Beginning with 100 goats, this commercial goat farm will use improved breed stock imported from South Africa and modern husbandry methods to produce the animals for meat and breeding. With a small laboratory and education center, the ranch also will work as a platform for sharing knowledge with local farmers to help them upgrade breeding and farming methods and grow. 
EthiopiaTAF, PLCTAF BioTechnology
TAF BioTechnology (Ethiopia) is a commercial-scale plant tissue culture business focusing on the cultivation and multiplication of cells, tissues and organs of plants with the objective of increasing the yield and quality of produce for Ethiopian agriculture producers. The company will produce plant clones (true copies of plants) in large numbers through streamlined operation of a tissue culture facility.
NigeriaAACE FoodsProcessing and Preserving West Africa's Best Fruits and Vegetables
AACE Food Processing & Distribution Ltd. processes, packages and distributes nutritious and tasty food made from the best of West Africa’s fruits and vegetables. It product line consists of spices, spreads, sauces and complementary food that excite and satisfy individuals and families.
UgandaTek Consults, Ltd.Cooking Solar Ovens Manufacturing
Building a solar oven factory in Uganda. The factory will be located in the industrial park section of Kampala. It will be only the second solar oven factory on the continent, and the very first solar oven factory in sub-Saharan Africa.
Sierra LeonePalm Fruit ProcessingProduction of Crude Palm Oil Using a Palm Processing Mill
Palm Fruit Processing (Sierra Leone) will establish a Palm Oil Processing Mill in Sierra Leone to produce Crude Palm Oil (CPO). CPO is a staple in Sierra Leone and there is a substantial demand for the product. Production of CPO in Sierra Leone is done primarily using traditional methods that are very labor intensive and also inefficient. This inefficiency, coupled with export of CPO, creates an atmosphere wherein CPO trades locally at a substantial premium to world market price
EarthWise FerriesEarthWise Ferries (Uganda) will reestablish, manage, and operate a fast-ferry transportation system on Lake Victoria, with destinations in Uganda, Kenya, and Tanzania. Earthwise has enlisted 600 indigenous farmers to grow sunflower seeds to produce the vegetable oil which will power the ferries.
Uza-MazaoUza-Mazao (Kenya) (TM) is creating a marketplace via SMS messaging to bring unprecedented levels of efficiency to buyers or sellers of crops, farm produce, livestock or livestock products. It gives sellers the ability to find willing buyers and vice-versa. It aggregates buyers and sellers and applies a powerful algorithm to find the best match.