Friday, 24 February 2012

Announcement: Curriculum Development for postgraduate Organic Agriculture Research and Training in West Africa

The “Institutional Capacity Building for Organic Agriculture in West Africa” project is a West African Network for Organic Research and Training. It is financed by the European Union and Implemented by the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States Secretariat under the EDUKINK programme. The partners in this network share their expertise and resources to enhance the prospects for a successful organic agriculture sector in the wider West African region.

Specifically the network partners train graduates, farmers, extension officers and civil society organisations to develop a viable organic agriculture sector. The project partners also facilitate and undertake research that underpins organic production, embed organic agriculture into the curriculum in West African universities and develop locally appropriate standards, regulations and technologies for West African organic production. The composition of the partnership reflects the different stages of development of organic agriculture in West Africa and deliberately includes both Francophone and Anglophone countries.

DVC (A), Prof. Toyin Arowolo (2nd Right) receiving
Dr. Missiako Kindomihou (Standing), Miss Koura Tatiana
(Left) and the Coordinator (WANOART), Prof. Isaac
Aiyelaagbe in his office.
A workshop and training session on curriculum development will be held in Nigeria 6 -13 March 2012at the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (FUNAAB). This will involve partners, participants from other HEIs and other important stakeholders, such as future employers of organic agriculture graduates, government agencies for higher education, and government agencies in the agricultural sector. An outcome of the workshop is expected to be an outline common curriculum for organic agriculture in tertiary institutions in West Africa, which will facilitate further teaching collaboration and exchanges. In addition, teaching materials including posters, slides, DVDs, and monographs will be developed. Access to markets will be a major issue in sustainability of organic agriculture in West Africa.

Defragmenting Africa: Removing Barriers to Trade in Africa

February 7, 2012. Washington. With African leaders now calling for a continental free trade area by 2017 to boost trade within the continent, a new World Bank report shows how African countries are losing out on billions of dollars in potential trade earnings every year because of high trade barriers with neighboring countries, and that it is easier for Africa to trade with the rest of the world than with itself.

in Goods and Servicesregional fragmentation could become even more costly for the continent with new World Bank forecasts suggesting that economic slowdown in the Eurozone could shave Africa’s growth by up to 1.3 percentage points this year. As the authors write, “while uncertainty surrounds the global economy and stagnation is likely to continue in traditional markets in Europe and North America, enormous opportunities for cross-border trade within Africa in food products, basic manufactures and services remain unexploited.”

The reports says this situation deprives the continent of new sources of economic growth, new jobs, and sharply falling poverty, factors which accompanied significant trade integration in East Asia and other regions. The cross-border production networks that have spurred economic dynamism in other regions, especially East Asia, have yet to materialize in Africa.

Obiageli Ezekwesili
“It is clear that Africa is not reaching its potential for regional trade, despite the fact that its benefits are enormous—they create larger markets, help countries diversify their economies, reduce costs, improve productivity and help reduce poverty.” says Obiageli "Oby" Ezekwesili, The World Bank’s Vice President for Africa, and a former Nigerian Minister of Extractive Industries. “Yet trade and non-trade barriers remain significant and fall most heavily and disproportionately on poor traders, most of whom are women. African leaders must now back aspiration with action and work together to align the policies, institutions and investments needed to unblock these barriers and to create a dynamic regional market on a scale worthy of Africa’s one billion people and its roughly $2 trillion economy."

In one notable example of trade barriers, report co-editors Paul Brenton and Gozde Isik of the World Bank describe how the South African supermarket chain Shoprite spends US$20,000 a week on import permits to distribute meat, milk, and plant-based goods to its stores in Zambia alone. For all countries it operates in, approximately 100 (single entry) import permits are applied for every week; this can rise up to 300 per week in peak periods. As a result of these and other requirements, there can be up to 1,600 documents accompanying each truck Shoprite sends with a load that crosses a border in the region.

Paul Brenton is Lead Economist (Trade and Regional Integration) in the Africa Region of the World Bank.
Gözde Isik is an Economist (consultant) in the Africa Poverty Reduction and Economic Management Unit and co-editor of the recently released book De-Fragmenting Africa: Deepening Regional Trade Integration in Goods and Services.
Related: 14/02 Interview with Marcelo Giugale World Bank’s Director of Economic Policy and Poverty Reduction Programs for Africa
“Imagine the benefits of allowing African doctors, nurses, teacher, engineers and lawyers to practice anywhere in the continent, but responsibility for making this happen lies with countries first and foremost,” says Marcelo Giugale, the World Bank’s Africa Director for Poverty Reduction and Economic Management. “The final prize is clear: helping Africans trade goods and services with each other. Few contributions carry more development power than that.” 

In a superb special World Bank video produced for the new report, women traders on the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and neighboring countries in the Great Lakes region describe how they routinely encounter violence, threats, demands for bribes, and sexual harassment, at the hands of the large numbers of customs and other government officials at the border. As one egg and sugar trader from Goma says on the video: “I buy my eggs in Rwanda; as soon as I cross to Congo I give one egg to every official who asks me. Some days I give away more than 30 eggs!”

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Bill Gates and Rwanda’s Paul Kagame attended IFAD’s annual meeting

Microsoft Corp. chairman and philanthropist Bill Gates
gestures during the  (AP Photo/Pier Paolo Cito)
23 February 2012. ROME. IFAD, International Fund For Agricultural Development Annual Governing Council at Rome's IFAD headquarters.

Bill Gates announced nearly $200 million in grants from his foundation.

He called on the trio of U.N. food agencies to improve coordination among themselves and to insist that the countries receiving food aid, agriculture technology, know-how and other assistance show what they have accomplished with periodic reports he likened to "report cards" or "score cards."

Among the projects receiving funding from Gates is one to monitor the effects of agricultural productivity on a region's population and environment. Other grants will build on existing projects, including the release of 34 new varieties of drought-tolerant maize and delivering vaccines to tens of millions of livestock.
Gates has embraced high-tech — and to some critics controversial — solutions for boosting agriculture, including supporting genetic modification in plant breeding as a way to fight starvation and malnutrition. In separate remarks to reporters, he suggested critics should ask farmers in poor countries who have adopted such techniques in plant breeding, "do you mind that it was created in a laboratory?"

Paul Kagame, President of the Republic of Rwanda, said his country is striving to rebuild its economy with coffee and tea production, which are significant sources of foreign exchange. Nearly two-thirds of the population live below the poverty line. But in the past five years progress has been made, Kagame said, noting that the country’s gross domestic product has grown at an average of 8 per cent.

Kagame urged the international community to “be bold and try what has not been done before. We must learn from what has worked and adapt these models to suit smallholder farmers. The reality in most developing countries is that smallholder agriculture remains the source of livelihood and food supply. Every farmer counts.”

Friday, 17 February 2012

AfDB-IFPRI stakeholder consultation on agricultural biotechnology in Africa

15-16 February 2012 in Nairobi, Kenya. in June 2011, the AfDB Group commissioned IFPRI to conduct a comprehensive and evidence-based study on agriculture biotechnology in Africa to assist African countries to address their agriculture and food security problems.

This consultation meeting discussed the findings and recommendations of the study for broad stakeholder validation, prioritize key areas which need to be addressed, and identify and agree on roles, responsibilities and resources needed to implement priority actions.

Some of the main recommendations from the study included the need to enhance support for the following: data collection, capacity building; renewed cooperation on biotechnology with sub-Saharan African countries, and outreach and communication to the public at large. In this regard, the report is an important step in the right direction.

Approximately 80 representatives of development organizations, senior African policy makers, private sector officials, scientists, researchers, and farmers organizations participated in the meeting.

Related: In November 2011, FARA hosted the 1st Pan-African Conference on Stewardship of Agricultural Biotechnology

Related: A lively [still ongoing] debate on fara-net in February resulted in an exchange of a number of reports on the GMO theme:
  1. Vitale, J.D., Vognan, G. Ouattarra,M.  and Traore, O. (2010). “The CommercialApplication of GMO Crops in Africa: Burkina Faso’s Decade of Experience with BtCotton,” Agrobioforum, 13(4): 320-332.
  2. The New Harvest: Agricultural Innovation in Africa (2011) Complete Text of The New Harvest: Agricultural Innovation in Africa (765K PDF)
  3. Freedom to Innovate: Biotechnology in Africa's Development. Report of the High-Level African Panel on Modern Biotechnology. (2007) Full text of this publication is available
  4. A decade of EU-funded GMO research (2001-2011) (2011)
  5. How to engage with farmers over GM crops, Obidimma Ezezika and Justin Mabeya, SciDev, 22/02/2012

Addressing Climate Change Challenges in Africa: A Practical Guide towards Sustainable Development

This manual (272 pages) aims to translate available climate science and current international climate policies into the tools for practical action in Africa, in the context of sustainable development. In this regard the guidebook focuses on the potential climate change impacts on key sectors in Africa and appropriate adaptation and mitigation options. It outlines the governance, technological, financial and capacity building opportunities available to the continent to work effectively towards sustainable development.

The manual is self-contained and stands alone, but provides guidance to intended users to other relevant materials in the form of links and annexes. The primary audiences for the guidebook are policymakers, decision makers, practitioners from public and private sector, civil society organizations, environment and climate change negotiators and experts.

African Ministerial Conference on the Environment, African Union Commission

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Land tenure and international investments in agriculture

Recent literature that estimates the magnitude of land grabbing and/or explores what is driving it, how it is affecting small-scale farmers and what can be done, include “Land tenure and international investments in agriculture” (by the High Level Panel of Experts on Food Security and Nutrition, 2011), “Land and power: the growing scandal surrounding the new wave of investments in land” (Bertram Zagema, 2011), “Land grabbing in Africa and the new politics of food” (Future Agricultures policy brief 41, 2011) and “The great land grab: Rush for world’s farmland threatens food security for the poor” (S. Daniel and A. Mittal, 2009). Land grabbing in Africa: a review of the impacts and policy responses (Oxfam, 2011)

Literature that presents alternatives to international land acquisitions include the “Access to land and the right to food” report (O. de Schutter, 2010), “Responding to land grabbing and promoting responsible investment in agriculture” (IFAD, 2011) and “Alternatives to land acquisitions: Agricultural investment and collaborative business models” (edited by L. Cotula and R. Leonard, 2010). Both the “Development” journal (volume 54, issue 1, 2011) and “The Journal of Peasant Studies” (volume 38, issue 2, 2011) have dedicated a special on land grabbing, and the website of the “International Conference on Global Land Grabbing” (held this year by Future Agricultures) contains articles that cover several aspects of the topic. “A historical perspective on the global land rush” (by the International Land Coalition, 2011) relates the current wave of land grabs to the past legacy of colonisation and neo-liberal reforms.

The African Farm Radio Research Initiative (AFRRI) amassed a huge amount of invaluable data

Download Report #1:  Participatory Radio Campaigns and food security
Download Report #2:  Marketing on the airwaves
Download Report #3:  The new age of radio

In 2006, the Bill &Melinda Gates Foundation provided Farm Radio International a grant to support the 42-month African Farm Radio Research Initiative (AFRRI), starting in 2007.

After two cycles of carefully planned and delivered, radio program campaigns involving 25 African radio stations in five countries, the AFRRI project amassed a huge amount of invaluable data. It demonstrates clearly that well-designed and produced radio campaigns using participatory methodologies can have a significant impact on the adoption of improved technologies by small-scale farmers on a large scale throughout the broadcast area of each radio station.

The data also demonstrate that such uptake of technologies can be even greater when innovative use of other ICTs, such as mobile phones and the Internet, is combined with the radio broadcasts. We call the methodology we designed and tested a Participatory Radio Campaign (PRC).

What Farm Radio International has learned from the AFRRI project can benefit other development communication initiatives. They have produced three reports that describe in detail what they did, how they did it, and what they learned. They are about Participatory Radio Campaigns, radio-based Market Information Services, and how new ICTs can make radio stronger.

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

FARA Weekly Update

Dear All,
Please find below a summary of announcements received in the week of 1-7 February  2012. Thank you.
1.       News and events
3.       Job Vacancies  
4.       New Resources

News and Events

5.       APAARI Newsletter
7.       Plantwise Newsletter

Opportunities for training, scholarships and fellowships

4.       PAEPARD: ARD funding opportunities
i.                     Africa-Brazil Agricultural Innovation Marketplace 
ii.                   Agropolis Foundation (France) and CAPES (Brazil) 
iv.                 Projects in Sub-Saharan Africa 2012-2013.
v.                   Australia-Africa Community Grants 2011-2012. 
vi.                 Fondation Ensemble - Programs Fund 2012
vii.                AXA Research Fund - Calls for Proposals 2012
x.                   French National Agency for Agricultural Research (L'ANR) 

Job Vacancies

1.       Research positions in Food Processing Technology at South China University of Technology

3.       Climate change specialist

4.       Vacancies with ESOKO

New Resources

Sunday, 5 February 2012

PAEPARD: ARD funding opportunities


Ref: HRST/ST/AURG/CALL2/2012/EuropeAid/132-331/M/ACT/ACP
The African Union Commission is seeking proposals for research focusing on the following thematic priorities articulated in Africa’s Science and Technology Consolidated Plan of Action (CPA) and its Lighthouse Projects: (a) Post-harvest and Agriculture, (b) Renewable and Sustainable Energy, and (c) Water and Sanitation in Africa. The programme is financed through the Financing Agreement between the European Commission and the ACP Group of States under the ACP Research for Sustainable Development Program of the 10th EDF Intra-ACP Envelop. The full Guidelines for Applicants, Application form and other supporting documents are available for downloading from the following Internet Sites:
The deadline for submission of proposals is April 20, 2012.

Africa-Brazil Agricultural Innovation Marketplace
Third Call for Proposals. The objective of this initiative is to enhance agricultural innovation for development in Africa through partnerships between African and Brazilian organizations. Themes include productivity enhancement; natural resources management; advances in policies, institutions, and markets; and approaches targeted for poverty alleviation. Applications are invited from public and private organizations in Africa in partnership with one or more of Embrapa's centers in Brazil. Projects should be planned and implemented in Africa; proposals should be prepared in English. The priority is for projects in Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Ghana, Mali, Nigeria, Tanzania, and Uganda. Grants are up to US$80 thousand for projects of up to two years. The closing date for pre-proposals is 29 February 2012.

Agropolis Foundation (France) and CAPES (Brazil)
Research in Agricultural Sciences 2012. The Brazilian Federal Agency for Support and Evaluation of Graduate Education (CAPES) and the Agropolis Foundation invite proposals for Franco-Brazilian research in agricultural and related sciences. Priority is for integrated and interdisciplinary approaches that bring together biological, engineering, and social and human sciences. Requests for funding should not exceed €100 thousand, with a maximum contribution of €50 thousand from the Agropolis Foundation, for projects of up to two years. Research themes and eligibility criteria are included in the call for proposals. The application deadline is 10 February 2012.

European Commission (EC) - Diversifying Farm Income in Malawi. 

The Farm Income Diversification Project (Phase II) for Malawi seeks to improve the livelihoods of rural households through conserving natural resources and strengthening smallholder agriculture. The current call for proposals focuses on post-harvest storage and processing; increasing and diversifying agricultural productivity; and promoting agri-business. Eligibility for grants is open to nonprofit organizations in the EU, the European Economic Area, and EU candidate countries; ACP and least-developed countries (including Malawi); and inter-governmental organizations. Grants will range from €900 thousand to €1.0 million, subject to co-financing requirements. Reference EuropeAid/132284/M/ACT/MW. The closing date for concept notes is 06 February 2012.

Projects in Sub-Saharan Africa 2012-2013.

The Scottish International Development Team announces calls for proposals through the Malawi Development Program and the Sub-Saharan Africa Program (focusing on Rwanda, Tanzania, and Zambia). Priority areas of support include food security, renewable energy, climate change, and water. Grants are up to £400 thousand for three years in the Malawi program; and an average of about £1.3 million for three years in the Sub-Saharan Africa program. Applicants must have a Scottish presence. The closing dates for applications are 06 February 2012 in the Malawi program, and 02 March 2012 in the Sub-Saharan Africa program. Link Malawi Program   Link Sub-Saharan Africa Program

Innovations Against Poverty
"Innovations Against Poverty" makes grants to private companies that supply services, products, or processes that benefit people living in poverty. Eligibility for grants extends to enterprises that are based in or operate in developing countries in any sectors, e.g., agriculture, energy, natural resources, and all others. Small matching grants are up to €20 thousand (50% of project costs) to explore innovations or new markets. Larger matching grants up to €200 thousand (50% of project costs) support companies to put development projects to market tests, or to adapt existing products to be affordable and accessible by the poor. Applications for large grants require prior submission of concept notes. The third round of applications closes 30 April 2012

Australia-Africa Community Grants 2011-2012. 
The AACGS supports community-based activities across Africa. Funding is open to NGOs for projects that promote sustainable economic and social development. Thematic areas include agriculture and food security; environmental awareness; and conservation of natural resources (among others). Grants range from AUD30 thousand to AUD75 thousand (in rare cases, the AACGS will consider requests for larger amounts). The program is managed at Australia's diplomatic missions in Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius, Nigeria, and South Africa. Applicants should check the websites of Australia's diplomatic missions in those countries to locate the correct contact and application materials for the AACGS. Applications are accepted throughout the year (i.e., through 31 December 2012).

B I O D I V E R S I T Y 

Fondation Ensemble - Programs Fund 2012
The Programs Fund supports projects in renewable energies, sustainable agriculture, alternative waste management, biodiversity, and others. The Fund makes grants for a minimum of €50 thousand per year for at least two years, up to a maximum of €250 thousand -- limited to 50% of total project costs. Eligible countries are in Africa are: Benin & Mozambique.. The deadline for applications (French or English) is 12 February 2012.

AXA Research Fund - Calls for Proposals 2012
The AXA Research Fund supports research to help understand risk management and prevention, including risks related to natural disasters and climate change. The Fund calls for Projects applications. Applications can be submitted by pre-registered research institutions in EU member states and collaborating countries in the FP7 research program (including a number of developing countries). Closing date: 08 March 2012.

New England Biolabs Foundation -- Grassroots Conservation.
The Foundation makes grants to grassroots and charitable organizations to support conservation of biological diversity; ecosystem services; community food security; and marine environment. The geographical scope focuses on selected countries of the Gulf of Honduras; the Andean region; and West Africa (in addition to Papua New Guinea, Tanzania, Nicaragua, and El Salvador). Maximum grant size is US$10 thousand, but most grants are smaller. The next deadline for letters of inquiry is 15 February 2012.

C L I M A T E   C H A N G E

Global Development Alliance, Annual Program Statement 2011. 
The Global Development Alliance is a program to leverage resources for development in a ratio of at least 1:1 with USAID. The current Annual Program Statement (APS) includes priority themes in agriculture and livestock, water resources, and climate change (among others). USAID invites partnership proposals from private businesses, social entrepreneurs and investors, foundations, private philanthropists, diaspora communities, and other non-governmental organizations in the USA and worldwide. Matching resources can be cash and/or the value of in-kind contributions. The deadline for concept papers has been extended to 29 February 2012.

French National Agency for Agricultural Research (L'ANR) 
Agrobiosphère 2012. The ANR's research in "Agrobiosphère" focuses on the relationship between agriculture and ecosystems in the context of global warming, threats to biodiversity, and related issues. France's AIRD (Agence inter-établissements de recherche pour le développement) makes grants to co-finance research teams from developing countries to participate in Agrobiosphère. The closing date to apply is 22 March 2012.