Platform for African – European Partnership in Agricultural Research for Development

Friday, April 20, 2018

PAEPARD field visit to groundnut producers in Mchinji district (Malawi)

Members of the Steering Committee
visit a farmer testing single and double row
planting in Mchinji District 
10 April 2018. Before holding a steering committee meeting (11-12 April 2018), PAEPARD members organized a field visit to groundnut farmers in the District of Mchinji (109 Km of Lilongwe) to witness pre- and post-harvest management of the aflatoxin.

The CRF project “Stemming Aflatoxin pre- and post-harvest waste in the groundnut value chain (GnVC) to improve food and nutrition security in the smallholder farming families” is coordinated by the National Small Farmers’ Association of Malawi (NASFAM) and is implemented in the partnerships with FANRPAN (Pretoria), NRI (University of Greenwich in the UK), DARS (Malawi) and ZARI (Zambia).
“This project has demonstrated the strength of collaboration and reinforces information flow between researchers, extensionists and policy advocates. This combination is a power house. From NASFAM point of view, this project has strengthened the extension advisory content and the evidence in influencing policy formulation/implementation. Numerous lessons were learnt from that partnership of which two are to be highlighted: (i) the undisputed role of farmers in research for development; (ii) the need for a holistic approach to challenges facing farmers: Addressing aflatoxin by promoting adoption of pre and postharvest interventions whilst at the same time enhancing access to better and rewarding markets for farmer produce.  
PAEPARD has contributed beyond a product. It is about methodology for achieving agricultural development; it is about approaches to farmer engagement and the need to strengthen platforms of engagement that will form the basis for farmer engagement, policy dialogue and creation of community of practice. Dr Betty Chinyamunyamu Chief Executive Officer of NASFAM.
Double row versus single row planting
trial in a farmer field in Mchinji 
The project has tested many technologies including the double versus single row planting from which Maria Banda a farmer in Mchinji gave a short lecture to visitors. She said the production from the two practices is not as much different. However, she added that “in climate change conditions with no rains, the double row is indicated to conserve the moisture while in normal rain conditions, the single row planting is recommended”. As per post-harvest technologies the Inverted windrow seems to show a breakthrough with less burden to famers and good rate of dried pods.

Related:
A new video on groundnuts has been posted on the platform www.accessagriculture.org. This video is currently available in English, French and Chichewa. It is freely downloadable, also in 3gp format for mobile phone viewing. Produced for NASFAM.

Drying groundnuts in ventilated stacks
The ventilated stack method allows groundnuts to dry slowly and properly in the field after harvest.

Many farmers lose most of their crop due to poor drying techniques, shelling methods and poor storage. The ventilated stack method lets the sun hit the leaves allowing the groundnuts to dry slowly and properly. The hole in the middle lets in air and a bit of sunlight for the pods to dry slowly.

Please find here the Chichewa version

Agriculture, Food and Jobs in West Africa

OECD, April 2018. 32 pages

The food economy is the biggest employer in West Africa accounting for 66% of total employment. While the majority of food economy jobs are in agriculture, off-farm employment in food-related manufacturing and service activities is increasing as the food economy adapts to rapid population growth, urbanisation and rising incomes.

This paper quantifies and describes the structure of employment in the food economy across four broad segments of activities:
  • agriculture, 
  • processing, 
  • marketing and 
  • food-away-from home. 
It examines some of the emerging spatial implications, including rural-urban linkages and rural employment diversification, which are related to the transformations that are reshaping this sector. It then puts forward policy considerations for designing targeted employment strategies that leverage the links between agricultural productivity, off-farm employment and rural-urban areas and that ensure inclusiveness, particularly for youth and women.

Read Download
Also available in: French

Also in the West African Papers series

Atelier de pilotage du projet ProSeSS: semences du soja au Benin

30 March 2018. Cotonou, Benin. Dans le cadre la mise en œuvre du projet ProSeSS (Alignement des attributs de qualité des semences du soja aux différents produits dérivés au Benin) il a été organisé au siège de l’ONG Sojagnon la réunion du comité de pilotage et technique du dit projet.

Cette réunion a connu la présence de tous les partenaires du consortium à savoir : Sojagnon, l’IITA, la FSA, et le REDAD.

See: report of the meeting (13 pages)

Les différentes activités exécutées par la coordination au titre de l’année 2017 sont les suivantes :
  • La formation des semenciers du Benin ; 
  • La participation de la coordination à l’atelier national de l’élaboration du Programme National de Développement de la Filière (PNDF) soja organisé par la Giz ; Ce qui a participé à rendre plus visible le projet; 
  • La participation de la coordination à l’atelier de validation de l’état des lieux de la filière soja et l’identification des CVA porteuse au Benin, organisé par la Giz ; à l’issu duquel les CVA soja grain (semence y compris), fromage de soja, farine infantile et lait de soja ont été retenues ; 
  • L’élaboration d’un document de politique (Policy brief) ; 
  • L’enclenchement du processus d’enregistrement à la bibliothèque nationale; 
  • L’élaboration du guide d’identification des producteurs semenciers ; 
  • L’identification des producteurs semenciers 
Policy Brief Approvisionnement en semences de soja au Bénin : Quelle stratégie faut-il mettre en place ? Mathieu A.T. Ayenan ; Patrice L. Sèwadé; Martin S. Agboton
L’accès aux semences de soja de qualité reste un défi majeur pour les producteurs ; ce qui ne leur permet pas d’obtenir des rendements optimaux. Les solutions durables à cet état de choses reposent sur (i) l’investissement dans la recherche et la production des semences, (ii) le renforcement de capacités technique, managériale et commerciale des producteurs désireux de se spécialiser en production de semence de soja et (iii) l’instauration d’un système de certification flexible mais qui garantit la qualité des semences. La mise en œuvre de ces mesures devrait permettre la production et la distribution de semences de soja de qualité pour l’amélioration de la productivité du soja au Bénin.

RECOMMANDATIONS 
  1. Créer les conditions favorables pour que le secteur privé investisse dans le secteur semencier ;
  2. Renforcer les institutions de recherche en sélectionneurs et spécialistes en production de semences et en moyens financiers pour la création variétale et la production des semences de base ; 
  3. Renforcer les entreprises semencières en technique de production et traitement des semences en stratégies de commercialisation des semences ; 
  4. Adopter le principe de semences de qualité déclarée. 
La mise en œuvre de l’ensemble de ces recommandations adressées au Ministère de l’agriculture, de l’élevage et de la pêche et aux différents acteurs de la filière soja doit permettre d’améliorer la productivité du soja au Bénin.

Related:
Working visit to Portugal: Tropical Research Institute [Instituto de Investigação Científica Tropical].
  • IICT has managed many projects, both with national or national plus European funding (e.g. from Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT), or from the Ministry of Agriculture (ProDeR programme)), and with funding from international institutes, such as CGIAR centers. Highlighted is the fact that IICT leads the BRAGMA project under the GMES & Africa initiative.
  •  IICT has a history of collaborative research and knowledge transfer with mainly with African Portuguese Speaking Countries (Guinea-Bissau, Cape Verde, São Tomé and Príncipe, Angola and Mozambique), with emphasis on i) food transformation and processing using culturally adapted and low input technologies, ii) food quality lab analyses, including for local products and iii) population surveys on food security and gender issues. 
  • Although some research has been done on several food products in Guinea-Bissau and Mozambique, jointly with local NGOs and research institutions, soybean is a novel crop to explore. This collaboration with Benin stands for a challenge and an opportunity to for networking in new partnerships, framed by PAEPARD
IICT contributes in the Soy/Benin consortium to:
  • Design and data analysis of the questionnaire for participative survey,; 
  • Nutritional and quality analyses of the processed products in IICT’s labs. Emphasis will ge given to vitamins, sugars/carbohydrates, antioxidant capacity and nutraceutic compounds. Training of researchers, students or technitians in specific lab analyses in IICTs labs will be offered to the consortium 
  • Linking the developed products with respect of the market needs, 
  • Participation in data analyses and divulgation activities. 
A team of 2 PhD researchers with complementary expertise relevant to the project objectives were allocated to the project tasks. 
  • The team has expertise in leading surveys, including those concerning agricultural practices and their impact on food security in African countries. 
  • It is also skilled in food technology using culturally and locally adapted methodologies/appropriate technologies, and offers with well-equipped labs for sample analyses.  
  • Expanding the capacity for lab determinations allowed expanding the type of analyses foreseen and evaluating the nutritional value of the products resulting also from the improved technologies. 
  • It involved in critical discussion in all tasks of the project, contibuting to remove bottlenecks and improve procedures. 
  • In kind contribution was given to the project, by means of supporting part of the researchers ‘ salaries and making avaliable lab materials, reagents and equipment use. 

USAID Webinar: The Business Case for Land Rights

5 April 2018. USAID LandLinks shared findings from the first voluntary Investor Survey on Land Rights and heard from the private sector about live investment projects seeking to create benefits for both shareholders and communities. This webinar was hosted jointly with Agrilinks and Marketlinks.

The webinar featured following speakers:
  • Sarah Lowery, Economist and Public-Private Finance Specialist, USAID E3/Land
  • Jeffrey Hatcher, Managing Director, Indufor North America
  • Finn Jacobsen, CEO, African Plantations for Sustainable Development (APSD)
    @35:25 
    We need to create more employment in Africa for the youth
  • Oriane Plédran, Impact Officer, The Moringa Partnership
Great questions from the audience have continued to pour in, and we have answers to some the most interesting ones.


Related previous webinars
Events
The Business Case for Land Rights: Results from the 2018 Investor Survey

Webinar Agricultural Information Data Providers

17 April 2018This webinar introduced AGRIS (the International System for Agricultural Science and Technology), a global public domain database with more than 9 million structured bibliographical records on agricultural science and technology.

AGRIS covers the wide range of subjects related to agriculture science and technology, including forestry, animal husbandry, aquatic sciences and fisheries, human nutrition, and extension.

Its content includes theses, conference papers, government publications, unique grey literature such as unpublished scientific and technical reports, etc. Since 1975, AGRIS is maintained by the FAO to serve users from developed and developing countries through facilitating access to available knowledge in agriculture, science and technology. Following toics were covered
  • What is AGRIS?
  • What type of content is acceptable in AGRIS?
  • What are the benefits of contributing content to AGRIS?
  • What type of files and fields should be included when submitting content to AGRIS?
  • Copyright of documents donated to AGRIS (who owns the copyright)
  • Visibility, linkages (such as Google Scholar)
  • Statistics and impact of AGRIS

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Research proposal write shop for the African Union Research Call

16-20 April 2018.  Entebbe, Uganda. The Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM) has organized a proposal write-shop as part of its effort to mobilise and strengthen research capacity in African agricultural universities and research institutions. 

The write-shop targets developing proposals for submission to African Union Research Grants 2018 Call for proposals with a deadline of 22nd May 2018. The Write-shop focused on building capacity of African researchers to design research projects that integrate diverse stakeholders including private sector, industry, farmers and policy makers to strengthen the relevance of research in addressing rural development, national and economic challenges. 

It is also be a platform for African researchers to network and link up with each other and collaboratively develop and implement projects beyond the current African Union Research Grants 2018 Call for proposals.

The Write-shop has three main objectives
  1. researchers skilled to develop and implement demand driven research for development projects, partnerships established among African and European researchers and proposals for submission to the African Union Research Grants. If funded, the projects will develop technologies that lead to improved food value chains to deliver and make accessible more nutritionally rich food to consumers with minimal loss of nutritional value, little wastage and a high level of safety. 
  2. Other projects will improve the nutritional value of crops and animal products, through advances in breeding and biotechnological innovation, such as bio-fortification (improved mineral and vitamin levels in various highly productive crop lines) while others will provide sustainable and innovative technologies used for food processing, packaging and storage, post-harvest handling, and technologies that add values to agricultural produce and their accessibility. These will directly increase the quality, quality and consequently price of agricultural produce, hence farmer income. Through bio-fortification projects, climate resilient and nutritionally enhanced foods will be developed hence sustainably providing food for the poor across the continent. The innovations developed will also provide employment for both women, men and youth. 
  3. In the design of all projects, special emphasis will be pro-women post-harvest handling and food processing technologies. To take care of these needs, youth and women will be engaged in project design. The skills to develop and implement projects of this nature will live beyond the current African Union Research Grants Call for proposals which will be used as a training case. The partnerships establish will continue to develop and submit proposals to different funding sources to develop innovations that address food security and increase farmer incomes. 
The following consortia are attending the Write-shop.
  1. University of Abomey Calavi/Sojagnanon, Benin. SOJAGNON-NGO has a vast experience in innovation partnerships. It received a Euro 250,000 grant from FARA under the PAEPARD to implement a 3-year project. It has also received funding twice from ARF/NWO- Wotro/ The Netherlands to implement projects; Matching grain quality attributes to the requirements of soybean processors in Benin (ProSeSS), 2015-2018 and Enhancing kersting’s groundnut (Macrotiloma geocarpum) production and marketability to improve food security in Benin (Projet Doyiwé), 2017-2020
  2. WOUGNET, UgandaWOUGNET is a member of the PAEPARD Consortia and has implemented several innovation partnerships with support from development partners such as Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA), The Food and Business Applied Research Fund (ARF) of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs among others.
  3. Federal University of Technology, Owerri, Nigeria. Extensive experience in farmer capacity building, knowledge extension (farmer town hall discussions), research-industry linkages, consultancies, volunteerism in animal health campaigns (UNV), multidisciplinary research, coordinatorship of NIPOFERD consortium etc. Professor Okoli is the coordinator of NIPOFERD. He also participated in the PAEPARD organised workshop at Cotonou, Benin in 2012 that led to the submission of a proposal to the AU call of 2012 (Improvement of Cost-effective Quality Poultry Feed Production Systems for Small Scale Farmers in West Africa). Prof. Okoli was invited to participate in the PAEPARD Reflection Workshop about the Brokerage Role of Agricultural Innovation Facilitators (AIF) from 24th to 27th September 2013 at Entebbe, Uganda and the PAEPARD "capitalization workshop" to conclude the present phase and prepare the extension, from 30 October – 1 November 2013 at Nairobi, Kenya. The consortium also successfully submitted proposals to the CORAF grants call of 2011 (Evaluation and transfer of researched solutions to small-scale poultry production constraints in West Africa) and the ACP-EU Co-operation Programme in Science and Technology (S&T II) call of 2012 (Increasing technological capacities in the use of agro-residues for bioenergy through specific training activities) in collaboration with CARTIF, Spain. The consortium also collaborated with Poultry Association of Nigeria to organize a two day exhibition and workshop for farmers in eastern Nigeria in November 2013 (Enagric 2013). In 2014 two PAN members of NIPOFERD were helped to win the YouWin business incubation grant of the Federal Government of Nigeria, while in 2016 one youth member won the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Program (TEEP). In 2016 Prof. Okoli convened and participated in the 1st NIPOFERD workshop held at Asaba, Nigeria and the 3rd Annual PAN/NIPOFERD Imo Conference and Celebration of World Egg Day. In December 2017, the consortium successfully organised a symposium in Owerri, Nigeria, on the Science and Technology of Palm Kernel Cake (PKC) Utilization in Animal Production. 
  4. Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUANAR).  LUANAR has a vast experience in innovation partnerships. LUANAR is designated research centre (Fish Node) of inter Government network of South African Network Biosciences Initiatives for Bioscience (SANBio) which falls under the NEPAD Science and Technology programme. The centre develops innovations and supports other researchers in the Southern Africa region. It currently implements a US$ 6Million Centre of Excellence for Aquaculture and Fisheries (AQUAFISH) with funding from the World Bank which engages non-profit organizations, and the private sector in Malawi, and international research for develop partners to generate innovations that address challenges in Malawi’s fisheries sector. LUANAR has previously implemented research for development projects including European Commission’s funded US$527,000 Concerted Fit-for-purpose PhD training in aquaculture and fisheries to improve food security and livelihoods in Sub-Saharan Africa, RUFORUM-funded US$ 300,000 Community Action Research Programme on Fisheries and Aquaculture among other research for development projects. All these projects have been managed by the leader of the innovation partnership – Prof. Emmanuel Kaunda.
  5. Uganda Christian University. The Uganda Christian University has experience in agricultural research and development involving innovation partnerships. Some of the on-going projects include; US$ 250,000 PAEPARD supported African Indigenous Vegetable Research Project implemented with FarmGain Africa, Chain Uganda, and University of Greenwich-Natural Resources. UCU has also received support from the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Netherlands to implement the project “Development of a Gender Responsive Commercial Seed System for African Indigenous Vegetables in Uganda” in partnership with CHAIN Uganda, Hanze University of Applied Science and Uganda Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (2017-2020). It also received support from to implement the Venture Hub Project (V-Hub project) for two years (2018-2020).
  6. Bio Protect, Burkina FasoBioProtect has vast experience in plant protection and has received support from PAEPARD, the Association for Research and Training in Agroecology (ARFA) based in Burkina Faso and the plant protection research and development company BIOPHYTECH based in France to implement innovation partnerships.
  7. University of Ghana, LegonUniversity of Ghana has been involved in multi-stakeholder partnerships with FAO, IMF, World Bank, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Leventis Foundation, Centre for Development Innovation (CDI), UNIDO, University of Cambridge, and others and playing a PI role.
  8. University of Zimbabwe
Others:
Participants are from the following countries: Belgium, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, DRC, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Netherlands Nigeria, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

The following are thematic areas covered by proposals: Agroforestry, Animal Breeding, Aquaculture, Aquaponics, Bio-fortification, Food processing, plant breeding, and post-harvest handling and storage.

Background
Past Proposal write shop organised by PAEPARD 2012-2016 related to AURG
Write-shop in Entebbe, Uganda (19-24 March 2012) - African Union Research Grants
Write-shop in Cotonou, Benin (26-31 March 2012) - African Union Research Grants
Write-shop in Entebbe, Uganda (11-15 July 2016) - African Union Research Grants
Write-shop in Accra, Ghana (18-22 July 2016) - African Union Research Grants

Under the 2012 African Union Research Grant calls, there was a problem of high wastage and unmet demand with only 20 grants being made (with a further 11 reserves) against the 450 bids received (i.e., a success rate of about 5%). Funding available for the African Union Research Grants was very limited. As a consequence, the success rate for applying was low, and many potentially interesting projects did not receive funding. The available funding was thus not adequate to meet the strong demand for Africa-focused research grants.

The two ARG calls (2001+2012) resulted in 20 grants up of to 750,000 (total value: EUR 13.8 million). 
  • The contracts all end between December 2015 and December 2016. 
  • Of the 20 projects funded, five were led by European and 15 by African organisations, (in contrast with FP7 consortia which are usually European led) although activities always take place in Africa. 
  • This funding was seen as a good preparation to be successful in FP7 calls, although it is too early to say whether AURGs will contribute to more success under H2020. 
  • The EU is pushing the AUC strongly to find other funding sources, including AU Member States, but this continues to be a struggle. 
References:

Women entrepreneurs innovate for agricultural transformation in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific

6 April 2018. The Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA), with the support of the African Development Bank (AfDB), in collaboration with the African Green Revolution Forum(AGRA), Women in Tech Africa, Wennovation Hub (Nigeria) and Suguba (regional), is launching Pitch AgriHack 2018. The theme for this year’s edition is “Women entrepreneurs innovate for agricultural transformation in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific”.

The competition is open to both male and female founders and co-founders of e-agri start-ups, and, more specifically, to companies owners of platforms (websites, apps, devices using software, etc.) offering digital services to the agricultural sector. 

Applicants need to be nationals and residents of African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries signatories of the Cotonou Agreement (see list in the rules). 50% of finalists will be women founders or co-founders of start-ups; discussions at the final will include issues around strengthening engagement of young women in agricultural technology innovations. Applicants must be aged between 18 to 35 years old. The finale will be held during the 2018 edition of the African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF 2018), organised by AGRA and other partners, in Rwanda in September 2018.

Pitch AgriHack will:
  • provide a business training boot camp to selected start-ups
  • conduct a pitching competition
  • offer grants and facilitate access to investments, capacity building and promotional opportunities.
Key Dates
  • Deadline for registration: 21 May 2018
  • Announcement of finalist start-ups: by 15 July 2018
  • Boot camp and pitching events (final): 03 to 07 September 2018 at AGRF 2018.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Diversifood: Cultivating diversity and food quality


11 April 2019. Brussels. DIVERSIFOOD is a European project aiming at enriching cultivated biodiversity by testing, renewing and promoting underutilized or forgotten crop species. Through multi-actor approaches, it supports the spread of a new food culture, based on diverse, tasty and healthy food.

To deal with this issue, the DIVERSIFOOD team organised a forum with policy makers and stakeholders. Diversifood results and key lessons were shared, such as:
  • new approaches for cultivated biodiversity management, for plant breeding for sustainable farming systems, 
  • and new relationships among actors of the food systems. 
In the afternoon there was time  for discussions, to share knowledge, collect feedbacks and to further develop current policies for cultivating diversity and food quality  (for FP9, CAP 2020,…). The outputs of this workshop will feed the final recommendations of Diversifood.

Annette Schneegans of #DGAGRI talked 
about the challenges of food 
diversity in agriculture and research funding
Presentations:
  • Underutilized/forgotten crops: definitions and concepts (A. Costanzo, ORC) 
  • New approaches for plant breeding for for sustainable farming systems (I. Goldringer, INRA)
  • First results regarding the EU experimentation of Heterogeneous Material marketing: presentation of cases studies (A. Costanzo, ORC) 
  • Value chain for produces coming from participatory plant breeding/underutilized crops (B. Oehen, FiBL) 
  • From on farm conservation to Community biodiversity management (R. Bocci, RSR)



Related:
1 November 2017. Kigali, Rwanda. FNI and DIVERSIFOOD, in collaboration with Biodiversity International and LI-BIRD, Nepal hosted a side event on the development of community seed banks during the Seventh Session of the Governing Body of the Plant Treaty.

The fast development of community seed banks in different parts of the world is increasingly contributing to the conservation and sustainable use of crop genetic diversity, and thus to the implementation of the Plant Treaty. At the side event two major studies that shed light on this current development were presented:
  • Community Seed Banks – Origin, evolution and prospects from Biodiversity International and 
  • Survey of community seed banks in Europe by the EU Horizon 2020 project DIVERSIFOOD.
The report “Community Seed Banks: Sharing Experiences from North and South“presents the contents of the event, as well as key decisions from the Governing Body Session of relevance for communityseed banks. What are the key messages of these resolutions? And how will they be followed up in practice among the Contracting Parties? The report provides some answers, at the same time highlighting how DIVERSIFOOD project follows up on this question.
Download the report

Related:
Agroecological practices for sustainable agriculture in Benin



Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Growing food in the cities: Successes and new opportunities

10 April 2018. CTA Brussels Development Briefing no. 50 on “Growing food in the cities: Successes and new opportunities”. This Briefing was organised by the ACP-EU Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA), in collaboration with the European Commission / DEVCO, the ACP Secretariat, and CONCORD.

Background Note and Programme
Reader

Panel 1: Trends and opportunities in urban agricultureThis panel will gave an overview of the main trends in urban and peri-urban agriculture and the various ways of growing food in the cities across the ACP and in Europe.
  • What do we know about urban agriculture? Henk de Zeeuw, Senior Adviser, RUAF Foundation, The Netherlands
  • Successes of Urban agriculture in Europe Axel Timpe, COST-Action Urban Agriculture Europe
  • Innovation on vertical farming technology: the case of Growing Underground Richard Ballard, Co-Founder, Growing Underground, United Kingdom
Panel 2: Successes in urban agriculture across ACP regions
This panel shared some successes from the field, which show that growing food in the cities can offer opportunities for young entrepreneurs. It focused on innovative businesses and serving urban market needs.
  • Urban agriculture: business for young entrepreneurs? Angel Adelaja, CEO, Fresh Direct, Nigeria
  • The experience of micro-gardening in West Africa Coumbaly Diaw, FAO subregional coordinator, Senegal
  • New opportunities in hydroponics in Kenya and lessons learnt Peter Chege, CEO, Hydroponics Kenya

Developing new wheat varieties under SARD-SC

26 March 2018. SciDev. Project using Research and Development is changing wheat farming in Africa

Wheat production in the continent is still low and facing challenges that include poor seed varieties, climate change related impact such as prolonged droughts and pests and diseases.

The continent heavily depends on imported wheat, a burden on the scarce foreign exchange reserves. For instance, 80 per cent of the wheat hectarage in Kenya is cultivated by small scale farmers who produce only about 20 per cent of the country’s total productivity demand.

But with the help of Support to Agricultural Research for Development of Strategic Crops in Africa (SARD-SC) project introduced in 2013 and funded by African Development Bank (AFDB), scientists from the 12 African countries are now sharing knowledge and experiences on how to cut down wheat production challenges using new technologies such as developing new wheat varieties, and progresses are being made.

Scientists, since the introduction of the programme, have released 21 varieties for use as well as researched on 25 candidates along with their crop management practices to find varieties suitable for various agro-ecologies of Africa.

Wheat farmers in 12 African Countries - Benin Republic, Cote d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe - are benefiting from a project aimed at increasing production and reducing demand gap of the crop’s products.

Wheat is an important source for vitamins and minerals as well as carbohydrates, fiber, magnesium, vitamin B, folic acid, antioxidants and phytochemicals. These nutrients can help prevent many of the chronic diseases plaguing Africa.

The Scientific African: a new peer-reviewed scientific research journal

3 April 2018A new peer-reviewed scientific research journal showcasing cutting-edge African research was launched in Kigali,

The NEF launched this Pan African Scientific Journal during the NEF Global Gathering 2018 in collaboration with Elsevier, by the NEF Chair Mr.Thierry Zomahoun and Mr. Ron Mobed, Chief Executive Officer, Elsevier. The journal will provide a multidisciplinary review and will give an open access to stimulate all scientists in order to give global reach to research in Africa.
The new multidisciplinary journal will provide a platform for African leaders in various fields of scientific research to present their findings in an Africa-specific context.
“This journal will front research on Africa by Africans that finds local solutions to local problems.” Ron Mobed at Elsevier, a Netherlands-headquartered global information analytics company specializing in science and health, 

The publication will primarily be targeted at academics and cover a variety of issues in fields such as health sciences, agriculture, biology, physics, and astronomy. However, those at Scientific African hope that the journal will not cater exclusively to this category of researchers. Given their belief in the global nature of scientific methods, the publication is encouraging submissions from any individual undertaking significant scientific research.

The journal’s first edition particularly highlights developments from the region’s commitment to develop agricultural technology.


Related:
This forum brought together editors from a number of leading regional media titles to discuss the challenges and opportunities facing science journalism in Africa. The discussion will consider the media industry in Africa’s relationship with the scientific community, and explore the collective challenges faced by those seeking to communicate science to their readers.

Script is a training and networking programme that aims to improve the flow of communication between scientists and journalists, and address the lack of high quality science reporting in Africa. It is funded by the Robert Bosch-Stiftung and implemented by SciDev.Net.
The forum took the structure of an informal round table discussion, together with a small audience of twenty interested observers. Steered by Nick Perkins, a professional with more than twenty years’ experience working with media across the globe, participants were encouraged to share experiences, discuss common barriers to scientific journalism, and identify opportunities to facilitate better media-science collaboration. Editors who attended:
  • David Aduda, Head of Business Development and Partnerships, Nation Media Group (South Africa)
  • Haruna Idris, Deputy Director Current Affairs and Special Assistant to the Director General, Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (Radio Nigeria)
  • Juliet Masiga, Peace and Security Editor, The Conversation Africa (Kenya)
  • Andrew Meldrum, Acting Africa Editor, The Associated Press
  • Fulgence Sene, Editor and Head of Translation Desk, African Press Agency (Senegal)
  • Bothina Osama, MENA Regional Coordinator, SciDev.Net

Monday, April 9, 2018

Opportunities for Blockchain Technologies in Farm to fork food traceability

26-28 March 2018. Kigali. Launched in 2013, the Next Einstein Forum (NEF) is an initiative of the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) in partnership with Robert Bosch Stift

The NEF is a platform that connects science, society and policy in Africa and the rest of the world – with the goal to leverage science for human development globally.

See all videos

Extract of the programme:
Opportunities for Blockchain Technologies in Addressing Africa’s Challenges 
This session focused on Blockchain technologies in particular their applications beyond cryptocurrencies, as well as policy implications.

Panelists provided insights on Blockchain applications in several sectors that include logistics, finance, healthcare, agriculture as well as the policy implications for the adoption of such a cutting-edge technology in the current environment in Africa.
  • Moderator: Jake Bright, Contributor on Africa at TechCrunch and Crunchbase. Award Winning Author of The Next Africa
  • Komminist Weldermariam, IBM-Research Africa, Kenya
    @ 11:11 blockchain technology and number of actors involved in the advocado export and trade@ 13:05 Farm to fork food traceability
    @ 38:08
    Answers the question: "What device does the farmer need?"
    Related: General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)This website is a resource to educate the public about the main elements of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) Enforcement date: 25 May 2018
  • Sam Yala, International Account Manager of Security Products in Worldline, Belgium

Feeding the World, Preserving the World
The panel addressed factors influencing Climate Change Agriculture, adoption in Africa including the technical, social, political and institutional environment. 
  • Ousmane Badiane - Africa Director for the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI),
    Researchers in Mali have developed manual machines to presh oil out of groundnuts and reducing aflatoxin.
    Millet Varieties from Senegal are now used in Ivory Coast and added to wheat flour for baking bread
    The better processed and packaged millet sells among the middle class in Senegal
  • Sanushka Naidoo - NEF Fellow, 
  • Pierre Thiam - Co-founder of Yolele Foods, (based in New York)
    Fonio is a gluten-free ancient African supergrain with 3 times the protein, fiber and iron of rice.
    Situated on the western coast of Africa, Senegal is a multicultural country with culinary influences from all over the world. Author Pierre Thiam grew up in its capital, Dakar, surrounded by bright, flavorful ingredients and passionate home cooks.
    His debut cookbook celebrates the art of creating family meals using organic, local produce and farm-fresh meats and seafood.
    An accessible and delicious introduction to the next big thing: African cuisine.
  • Agnes Kalibata - President, Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA)
    One girl came up with a bean variety that only requires 40 minutes of cooking instead of 4 hours
    Uber for Tractors is really promising
  • Simeon Ehui - Director, Food and Agriculture Global Practice, The World Bank 
  • Adam Sneyd, University of Guelph (Canada) moderating the panel.


Africa’s Low Carbon Circular Economy
Panelists on Africa’s Low Carbon Circular Economy session discussed recommendations on how to unlock the full potential of this new emerging concept for Africa. The transition of African nations to industrial economies that do not produce waste and pollution will help accelerate its growth. 
  • Vincent Biruta, Minister of Environment, Republic of Rwanda
  • Flavia Schlegel, Assistant Director General for Natural Sciences, the United Nations Cultural, Scientific and Educational Organization (UNESCO), 
  • Rocio A Diaz-Chavez, Deputy Director for Research and Energy and Climate Change Programme Leader at the Stockholm Environment Institute Africa Centre, 
  • Hans Bolscher, Senior Consultant Climate and Renewable Energy, 
  • Justus Masa, Dr. Justus Masa is a Senior Research Scientist and Leader of the Electrocatalysis and Energy Conversion Group at Ruhr-University Bochum, Germany. He holds a PhD in Natural Sciences from Ruhr-University Bochum, Germany, with masters and undergraduate degrees from Makerere University. He has been a Visiting Scholar in the Physical and Theoretical Chemistry Laboratory at the University of Oxford. He is a co-inventor of four patents, one of which was sold to Bayer – materials division (Germany). His core research is in the field of electrocatalysis and energy conversion.
  • Kathryn Toure, International Development Research Centre Regional (IDRC) Director, Sub-Saharan Africa who was the session Moderator.


The loss of knowledge of Africa´s plant diversity
  • Presentation by Sayed Azam-Ali - Chief Executive Officer of Crops For the Future (CFF) about the FORGOTTEN FOOD NETWORK
  • Crops For the Future (CFF) is leading the Forgotten Foods Network – a global initiative to collect and share information on foods, recipes and traditions that are part of our common heritage.
  • The  Forgotten Foods Network  was launchedon 3 November 2017, by His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales at the CFF Headquarters
  • Presentation Starting @3:00 The African agricultural diaspora can be re-connected with the knowledge of its crops. We can connect African Agricultural Scientists from the Diaspora and their knowledge.
  • Response @49:38 We need an urgent initiative to capture the knowledge of the farmers which will otherwise get lost. This knowledge has to be made available for the next generation and we give this knowledge back to the farmers so that they can improve their agricultural systems. The big question is, how to we get this information from the farmers´s head and share it with scientific data. Most of the farmers are willing but they may not have the writing skills, the language needs to be translated. But we must do this urgently because if we don´t we loose 10,000 years of history of farming in one generation and we will have to rediscover all that knowledge from the beginning.
  • @52:00 Often Science is being accused of be supply driven. We have a technology and we look for a commercial use. We are now looking at a demand led knowledge system. This would drive science which can be the climate resilient crops of the future that are the source of nutritious food. And not just promote these crops for markets.


Update on the selection Africa Climate Change Fund (ACCF)'s second call for proposals

5 April 2018. The Africa Climate Change Fund (ACCF)'s second call for proposals, which closed in August 2017, received unprecedented numbers of proposals from diverse government and non-governmental entities. Proponents of shortlisted concept notes were invited to submit full proposals, which were received in late January.

The objective of this call was to solicit innovative and impactful projects that will support direct access to climate finance and small-scale or pilot adaptation initiatives in sectors aligned with the Bank's High 5 priorities to build resilience of vulnerable communities in Africa.

The ACCF Secretariat's team of independent experts convened in Abidjan from February 6-9 to assess and score the proposals against the pre-determined assessment criteria. The team met with various Bank departments, funds and initiatives, including gender and civil society, agriculture, renewable energy and the Sustainable Energy Fund for Africa, Africa Water Facility, Jobs for Youth in Africa, Climate for Development Special Fund, and the Africa NDC Hub with the aim of ensuring that the that projects supported by the ACCF are relevant and synergistic with broader Bank initiatives.

The next stage will consist of the approval of a shortlist by the ACCF's Technical Committee followed by project appraisal and approval of the best proposals. The ACCF has approximately US $5 million available to allocate to approved projects, but is actively engaging with potential donors to mobilize new resources to respond to the significant demand.

African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA)

17-21 March 2018. African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). The Republic of Rwanda, which holds the African Union Presidency, hosted this 10th Extraordinary Session of the AU Assembly focused on the AfCFTA in the presence of the AU Heads of State, AU Commissioners, Representatives of the AU Organs, African Regional Economic Communities, UN Agencies and key partner organisations such as the EU.

The AfCFTA aims at providing a single continental market for goods and services, with free movement of people and investments. Its goal is to accelerate Intra-Africa trade through better harmonization and coordination of trade liberalization. Through these measures, the establishment of the AfCFTA is expected to gather impetus to boost economic growth and attract investments from both within Africa and the world.

The Continental Free Trade Area is one of the central projects of the First Ten-Year Implementation
Plan of Agenda 2063 and is being driven forward along with other related initiatives such as the Single African Air Transport Market and the Protocol on Free Movement of Persons and the African Passport.
"The adoption and signing of the AfCFTA legal instruments and the signing of the Protocol on free movement of persons are concrete commitments to liberalisation and to building on what has already been achieved at the regional level. The EU is ready to support the implementation of this impressive achievement in the spirit of the African Union-European Union partnership and our joint political declaration of the Summit in Abidjan in November 2017. Joint Statement HR/VP Federica Mogherini, EU Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström and EU Commissioner for Development and International Cooperation Neven Mimica
In a recent article (26 March 2018) of the London School of Economics about the Economic Partnership Agreements, the author Dr. Olu Fasan argues in his analysis that
“EPAs could be the key in helping African countries achieve their goal of industrialisation”. 
How so? By supporting Africa in the addressing what the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) calls “the 3Cs”, namely, competitiveness of supply capacity; conformity with international standards; and connectivity to markets. “If fully implemented, the EPAs can help Africa tackle, to a great extent, these challenges”, Dr Fasan argues.
One of the main challenges African countries face in gaining access to the EU market is the EU’s tough quality and packaging requirements. For instance, in 2016, the EU banned 26 Nigerian food products on health and safety grounds. However, under the EPA, the EU undertakes to provide financial and technical support to help West African exporters meet its Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) standards, potentially removing a major non-tariff barrier.
Africa complains that the EPAs would lead to the continent being flooded with “cheap EU exports”, but China is flooding Africa with cheap exports without guaranteeing access to its market for Africa’s current and future manufactured exports. The EPAs give Africa a legally guaranteed access to EU markets. 
If the EPAs fail, Europe would lose influence in Africa but Africa risks losing access to its traditional European markets, as well as the impetus and support to tackle its supply-side and trade constraints. So, Africa should ratify the EPAs, make use of their flexibilities, if necessary, and hold the EU’s feet to the fire on the implementation of the EPA’s development component.
Extract of the programme:

20 March 2018. Kigali. AfCFTA Business Forum: "Leveraging the Power of Business to Drive Africa’s Integration"

DOWNLOAD AfCFTA Business Forum: Programme

Plenary I - Leveraging the Power of Business to Drive Africa’s Integration.
Panelists:
  • H.E. Emmerson Mnangagwa, President of Zimbabwe 
  • Donald Kaberuka, African Union High Representative for the Peace Fund 
  • Ali Mufuruki, Chairman and CEO, Infotech Investment Group, Tanzania 
  • Tonye Cole, Co-founder and Group Executive Director, Sahara Group, Nigeria 
  • Miriem Bensalah, Présidente de La Confédération des Entreprises du Maroc, Morocco

Plenary II - Jobs, Youth and Women: What AfCFTA means for Africa’s citizens
Panelists:
  • H.E. João Lourenço, President of Angola 
  • Arancha Gonzalez, Executive Director, International Trade Centre (ITC) Switzerland 
  • Aliaune Badara Akon Thiam, Co-founder, Akon lighting Africa, Senegal 
  • Tiguidanke Camara, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Tigui Mining Group (TMG) and Camara Diamond and Gold Trading Network (CDGTN), Guinea 
  • H.E. Albert Muchanga, Commissioner for Trade and Industry, African Union Commission (AUC)



Plenary III: Technology, Innovation and Intra-Africa Trade
Panelists: 
  • H.E. Daniel Kablan Duncan, Vice President of Ivory Coast 
  • Ashish Thakkar, Founder, Mara Group and Mara Foundation, Uganda 
  • Kabirou Mbodji, Founder, Chairman and CEO, Wari, Senegal 
  • Jean Philibert Nsengimana, Special Advisor to Smart Rwanda/Former Minister of ICT, Rwanda 
  • Mukhisa Kituyi, Secretary General, UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD)
*** The panelists address the question on the role of research, innovation and education @ 49:10
On the commercialisation of research findings and Africa to benefit more from its scholars abroad [the scientific diaspora]- an audience intervention from Egypt @ 1:02:20


Plenary IV: Financing intra-Africa trade
Panelists: 

  • H.E. Uhuru Kenyatta, President of Kenya 
  • Benedict Oramah, President and Chairman of the Board, African ExportImport Bank (Afreximbank
  • Akinwumi Adesina, President of Africa Development Bank (AfDB
  • Diane Karusisi, CEO, Bank of Kigali, Rwanda 
  • Mr. Erik Solheim, Executive Director, United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) Special
  • Intervention: Ade Adeyemi; CEO, Ecobank, Togo

Agroecology and Livestock

Livestock and agroecology. How they can support the transition towards sustainablefood and agriculture. FAO, 2018, 16 pages

This brief reviews opportunities and challenges related to livestock’s potential to contribute to agroecological transition, focusing on four main themes, which rely on different elements of agroecology: supporting better livelihoods and creating added value; conserving and using diversity; recycling for better efficiency and finally climate change mitigation and adaptation.

It presents recommendations for a better inclusion of livestock in international efforts to transition to sustainable food and agriculture through upscaling and wider adoption of agroecology.

Livestock are found in all regions of the world and supply a wide range of products and services such as meat, milk, eggs, fibre, hides and skins, natural fertilizers, fuel, transport and drought power. They are kept by more than half of rural households and are essential to livelihoods, nutrition and food security. If managed sustainably, they can contribute to important ecosystem functions such as nutrient cycling, soil carbon sequestration and the conservation of agricultural landscapes. They can also improve livelihoods and incomes.

However, the rapid development of the livestock sector in response to growing demand has given rise to a number of risks. Most of this development has taken place in large-scale and intensive systems, with relatively little contribution from small-scale producers or pastoralists. Intensive systems account for about 60 percent of global pork or chicken meat, although they still provide less than 15 percent of beef or milk production. Concerns are also growing over the impact of the livestock sector on the climate and the environment, the role of livestock in global food security and nutrition, as well as in sustainable and healthy diets, animal health and particularly the impact of zoonotic diseases on public health, and animal welfare.

Many means of addressing these risks involve optimizing interactions between animals, plants, humans and the environment and hence are relevant to agroecology, an approach based on applying ecological concepts and principles to agriculture while taking into consideration the social aspects that need to be addressed for sustainable and fair food systems. From pastoralists to small-scale crop-livestock farmers, many livestock keepers already practice agroecology. But the transition will be more challenging for some production systems than others.

Friday, April 6, 2018

E-agriculture in action: Drones for agriculture

6 March 2018. E-agriculture in action: Drones for agriculture.
(FAO, 2018, 112 pages)

The FAO-ITU E-agriculture strategy guide is actively being used to assist countries in the successful identification, development and implementation of sustainable ICT solutions for agriculture.

The use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), also known as drones, and connected analytics has great potential to support and address some of the most pressing problems faced by agriculture in terms of access to actionable real-time quality data. Goldman Sachs predicts that the agriculture sector will be the second largest user of drones in the world in the next five years. Sensor networks based on the Internet of things (IoT) are increasingly being used in the agriculture sector to meet the challenge of harvesting meaningful and actionable information from the big data generated by these systems.

This publication is the second in the series titled E-agriculture in action (2016), launched by FAO and ITU, and builds on the previous FAO publications that highlight the use "

GFAR / CTA / GODAN webinar in the series on Farmers' access to data

5 April 2018. Webinar. As part of its work on farmers’ rights to data and following up on the face-to-face course on Farmers’ Access to Data organized in Centurion in November 2017, GFAR continued its collaboration with the Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition initiative (GODAN) and the Technical Center for Agricultural and Rural Cooperarion (CTA) on a series of webinars on data-driven agriculture, its opportunities and its challenges.

About this webinar 
Data-driven services and products are coming to be seen as promising mechanisms that farmer organizations – cooperatives, associations, enterprises, etc. – can use to better serve the interests of their members. Data-driven services can be used for improved production, trade and market access or finance, among other uses on the value chain. This data can be in numerous forms – collected from the farmer, for the farmer, open or closed. Farmer-representing organizations offer great opportunity to safeguard smallholder data, maximize returns in value chains, and best exploit the potential of third-party services and data offerings. This all relies heavily on efficient farmer profiling activities which will allow the farmer organizations to connect better with their members and deal with third party service provide. 

About the presenters 
  • Chris Addison is Senior Programme Coordinator for Data4Ag at CTA. The Data for Agriculture (Data4Ag) project focuses on data use to benefit smallholder farmers. Chris has worked in the ICT and knowledge management (KM) for development sector for the last 18 years and as director of the nonprofit One World Europe. He contributed to the OpenAire Open Data report as joint author of the Agriculture chapter. Whilst at IFPRI, he commissioned the conversion of the Global Hunger Index data to linked open data and is currently working on a project to publish the CTA archive as a linked open dataset.
  • Chipo Msengezi is Project Coordinator at CTA. She is responsible for the coordination of capacity development activities within the GODAN Action Project, which aims to strengthen data users, producers and intermediaries to engage effectively with open data and maximise its potential for impact in the agriculture. Chipo has worked in the ICT and knowledge management (KM) for development sector for over nine years conducting programmes in Sub-Saharan Africa to enhance capacity amongst the research and education communities in the latest information tools and advocate for the adoption of new technologies that drive development in Africa.


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