Platform for African – European Partnership in Agricultural Research for Development

Thursday, August 29, 2013

European Forum on Agricultural Research for Development (EFARD) meeting

The EFARD meeting was chaired by Martin Kropff
rector magnificus Wageningen University
27-28. August 2013. European Commission, DG Research & Innovation, Brussels. European Forum on Agricultural Research for Development (EFARD) meeting.

Some 30 representative of European ARD actors discussed the vision, strategy and way forward for making EFARD a stronger and more effective organization at both the European and international levels to respond to priority agricultural research for development issues within Europe and on other continents.

The outcomes were:
  • a consensus on the way forward for growing and strengthening EFARD community over the period 2013 – 2015;
  • a revised strategy of EFARD including the EFARD governance
  • the endorsement of EFARD’s new management team and mandate

The European ARD participants represented DG RTD/EIARD + DG AGRI + DG DEVCO (Belgium), BFH + YPARD, BFTH (Switzerland), KU (Danmark), ETC Agriculture (the Netherlands), Action Contre la Faim (France),  the European Cocoa Association (Belgium), CIRAD (France), AGREENIUM (France), PAEPARD (Belgium/Ghana), GFAR (Italy), Wageningen (the Netherlands), AGRICORD (Belgium), NRI (UK), EFARD Secretariat/ CTA, (the Netherlands),  ICRA (the Netherlands), SKAN Platform (Portugal), IAO (Italy).

For the first time two participants represented the Diaspora (AAAPD-E, Sweden): Association of African Agricultural Professionals in the Diaspora and the private cacao industry: CAOBISCO (Chocolate, biscuits and confectionery of Europe) and a cacao processor: EUROCOCOA.

DEVCO presentation
Representatives from DG Research and Innovation, DG Development and Cooperation (DEVCO) and DG Agricultural and Rural Development (DGAGRI) attended the meeting. Bernard Rey,
DG DEVCO Deputy Head of the Unit Rural Development, Food Security and Nutrition, explained the new AR4D strategy (2014–0), which is based partly on the EC communications on resilience in 2012 and on nutrition in 2013.

The Food Security Programme will be absorbed into the Global Public Goods and Challenges Programme.

  • This aims at inclusive and sustainable growth, encompassing social protection, health, education, business environment, sustainable agriculture and energy. 
  • In the new financial envelope, there is nothing earmarked specifically for research, which will be part of global public goods. 
  • Global calls for proposals may be dropped, because the projects were too scattered and small (€1–2 million, disproportionate with costs of managing the calls), did not build strategically on each other, involved too time-consuming procedures (especially for those who did not win projects) and did not contribute to institutional strengthening. Calls may be replaced by commissioned funding of jointly set-­up programmes: the EC would ask specific institutions to develop proposals. More attention will be given to scaling up outputs of past research and to measuring the impact of the research, although the EC currently is not supporting any research into measuring impact. 
DG DEVCO cannot finance Europe bodies, but a mechanism is being developed to combine funding from DG DEVCO and DG Research and Innovation (which traditionally supports European organisations) to allow this. The IntensAfrica initiative led by CIRAD (France) and WUR (Wageningen University and Research) and involving several European research institutes and universities is seeking this kind of funding for African-­European partnership.

The reformed DG AGRI is fostering innovation through the European Innovation Partnership (EIP), implemented through the Rural Development Policy, and has a budget for international agricultural research for implementing part of Horizon 2020. They are working together with DG Research and Innovation in co‐managing research projects through the Research Executive Agency (REA). DG AGRI is currently doing a public e-­consultation on family farming and is organising a large conference on this topic, to be held on 29 November 2013.

PAEPARD presentation:

Monday, August 26, 2013

Second India-US-Africa triangular agricultural training program launched

30 July 2013. Kolkata, India. The United States and India, launched the second India-US-Africa triangular agricultural training program supported by the US government's global hunger and food security initiative Feed the Future. This partnership aims to improve agricultural productivity and support market institutions in Kenya, Liberia, and Malawi.

United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Food Security Office director Bahiru Duguma kicked off this initiative. Mr Duguma explained that, as part of the broader US-India global partnership, the triangular engagement "will share proven innovations from India's private and public sector to address food insecurity, malnutrition, and poverty in the target African countries."

The program will train 180 agricultural professionals from these three African countries by providing marketing and extension management training at the Chaudhury Charan Singh National Institute of Agricultural Marketing (NIAM) in Jaipur and at the National Institute of Agricultural Extension Management in Hyderabad. The initiative, led by USAID and NIAM, is part of a three-year training program and one of several activities resulting from the global strategic partnership announced by Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and US President Barak Obama in 2010.

October 18, 2013. U.S. Ambassador to India Nancy J. Powell presided over a graduation ceremony at the Chaudhury Charan Singh National Institute of Agricultural Marketing (NIAM), marking the completion of the first training program on agricultural marketing management for 30 visiting African agriculture professionals.

Second Sub-Saharan and Argentinean Agriculture Ministers Meeting in Buenos Aires

Sub-Saharan and Argentinean Agriculture Ministers
at their meeting in Buenos Aires.
Photo: Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores y Culto, Argentina.
20-23 August 2013. Buenos Aires, Argentina. Second Sub-Saharan and Argentinean Agriculture Ministers Meeting in Buenos Aires.

“It is time for Latin America to increase its contribution to African development,” Director-General of the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) José Graziano da Silva said at the second Sub-Saharan and Argentinean Agriculture Ministers Meeting in Buenos Aires, which this year focuses on ‘Efficient Agriculture for a Sustainable Agricultural Development.’

Mr. da Silva, who was one of the co-chairs of the meeting, noted that cooperation between Latin America and Africa could be mutually beneficial for the regions as they share similar challenges as well geographic, climate and social characteristics.

He also reiterated FAO’s commitment “to strengthen and channel exchanges between Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa with the aim to adopt, adapt and broaden best practices that promote agricultural development.”

In addition, South-South cooperation could also help make strides in the fight against hunger, Mr. da Silva said, emphasizing that international and multi-stakeholder cooperation will play a crucial role in meeting the Zero Hunger Challenge. He pointed to the High-Level Meeting of African and International Leaders, held in July in Addis-Ababa, Ethiopia under the auspices of the African Union, FAO and the Lula Institute. During the meeting, African leaders, together with representatives of international organizations, civil society, the private sector, cooperatives, farmers, youth groups, academia and other partners unanimously adopted a declaration calling to end hunger in Africa by 2025.

Since FAO's South-South Cooperation initiative was established in 1996, over 50 South-South Cooperation agreements have been signed and more than 1 600 developing country experts and technicians have been deployed to support other countries' food security initiatives.

Felix Koskei, Kenya's cabinet secretary for agriculture, livestock and fisheries, who represented the country at the meeting, said Kenya hoped to gain from Argentina's expertise in livestock, especially in fighting cattle diseases.
"Kenya has for many years worked with Argentina in trying to come up with a long-life vaccine for foot-and-mouth disease and we want to work on this even more closely," says Koskei. 
"The available foot-and-mouth vaccine gives protection to an animal for about four months forcing farmers to have to vaccinate their cattle as many as three times a year, but we think with expertise from Argentina's more advanced vaccine-production laboratories we can make good advances," he adds.
Kenya, he said, is also seeking to promote fish farming and better management existing fisheries resources by tapping into Argentina's knowledge and technology.

The Crawford Fund and the Africa Australia Research Forum

25-28 August 2013, Perth Australia. The 2013 Crawford Fund Conference addresses the interaction between mining and agriculture, industries significant to both Australia and African countries, and identifies national and international practices and policies that provide benefits to communities and improve food security.

The 2013 Conference is being held in conjunction with the Africa Australia Research Forum and will precede the successful "Africa Down Under" mining event in Perth..

Agriculture and mining are important industries in many developing countries, as they are in Australia. Each industry can aid national economic growth, a healthy trade surplus and an inflow of investment capital, and can impact beneficially, or otherwise, on the other industry. At the same time, a booming mining industry can have seemingly perverse consequences for other sectors of the economy.

In 2013 the Crawford Fund partnered with the AARF to explore:
  • How policy, investment and research and development can be better used to provide pro-poor benefits
  • How to ensure positive, sustainable outcomes from mining and agriculture for food security and development  
  • How we can use expertise and infrastructure from mining in developing countries to help poor agricultural and rural communities emerge from poverty.
Key Speakers
You can also download the full program here

Established in June 1987 by the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (ATSE), the Crawford Fund was named thus in honour of the late Sir John Crawford and commemorates his outstanding services to international agricultural research.

The Crawford Fund depends on grants and donations from governments, private companies, corporations, charitable trusts and individual Australians. It also welcomes partnerships with agencies and organisations in Australia and overseas.

The Fund promotes and supports international R&D activities in which Australian research organisations and companies are active participants. It supports the work of the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR), the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID), and CGIAR (Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research) and other international research centres.

Related: Opinion
Scidev 09/09/2013: Missed opportunities at an Africa-Australia research meeting

First Biennial Rwanda Agricultural Board Conference on Agricultural Research and Extension

At the closing ceremony a traditional ballet 
entertained the crowd with dances
21 - 23 August 2013. Kigali, Rwanda. Confronting challenges of food insecurity and poverty in the era of climate change and variability: a conference of public and private sector organizations sharing agricultural technology development, adoption and delivery pathways. The conference has attracted 300 participants from US, Belgium, the Netherlands, Kenya, Uganda, Ivory Coast, DRC and Rwanda including delegates from National Agricultural Research Systems, universities, regional and international research and development organizations, development partners and the private sector.

The conference sub-themes were as follows:
  • Intensification of land use for sustainable crop and livestock production
  • Policy and agriculture technology delivery systems
  • Biodiversity for food security and poverty reduction coping with climate change and variability in crop and livestock production
  • Value addition and market access for economic growth and poverty reduction
One hundred and seventy five papers have been submitted for presentation on a wide range of topics including lessons and challenges on various issues relating to climate change.

Keynote speakers include Tim Searchinger of Princeton's Woodrow Wilson School, RAB Research Director General Dr. Daphrose Gahakwa, Kilimo Trust CEO Professor Nuhu Hatibu, Wageningen University Professor Leo Stroosnijder, Professor Adewale Adekunle (FARA), Professor Kelly Valerie, and Global Environment Facility's Rose Mukankomeje.


First Africa Food Security Conference

20 - 21 August 2013. This conference was held around the theme 'Harnessing Ecosystem Based Approaches for Food Security and Adaptation to Climate Change in Africa'. It was convened by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) and other UN agencies, governments, research institution, NGOs, scholars, donors, and local governments.

The key objectives of the workshop were:
  • Aggregate the lessons shared into common solutions for food security and climate change adaptation across country application, in building the capacity of the practitioners, supporting policy processes at all levels as well as empowering countries in undertaking bigger actions.
  • Share information on targeted ecological actions that provide opportunities for addressing perennial food insecurity in Sub Saharan Africa.
  • Identify key challenges and bottlenecks hindering the scaling-up of ecosystem-based adaptation practices, and how can they be overcome.

IITA, FARA committed to boosting agriculture in Africa

5 - 8 August 2013. Ibadan, Nigeria. In his first official mission as the Executive Director of the Forum for
Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA), Dr. Yemi Akinbamijo visited Dr. Nteranya Sanginga, Director-General of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA). Both leaders reiterated their commitment to speed up institutional efforts and boost the agricultural sector in Africa.

IITA and FARA also underscored the need for deepening their institutional relationship to generate scientific innovations and create impact at farm levels. Speaking on the theme: “The Science Agenda for African Agriculture: Implications for IITA and other CGIAR actors, Dr Akinbamijo stated that to make impact and improve agriculture on the continent, there is need to work together, pull together and deliver together.

He noted that IITA had a unique stake in the context of African agriculture, and that a synergy between FARA and IITA was inevitable for agricultural development on the continent. He explained that the development of an agriculture science agenda for Africa was a result of the Dublin Process — an initiative of African stakeholders in agricultural research and development, the CGIAR consortium and development partners aimed at improving alignment of CGIAR to the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program (CAADP) agenda.

According to Dr. Akinbamijo, the Dublin Process was inspired by the realisation that CGIAR research programmes could be focused – at least in Africa – to better address agricultural research for development needs articulated in country and regional agriculture and food security investment plans. He also said IITA and other CGIAR partners had strategic roles to play in the science agenda, especially in terms of building and developing capacities on the continent.

Dr Kenton Dashiell, IITA Deputy Director-General, Partnerships and Capacity Development, shared IITA’s refreshed strategy with the FARA delegation, which aims to raise 11 million people out of poverty and redirect 7.5 million hectares of degraded land in the tropics into sustainable use. To achieve the vision, Dr Dashiell noted that partnerships would be the main driver in addition to capacity development and involving stakeholders in a joint communication process.

Vanguard 26/08 Investment in agricultural research has gone down – Akinbamijo

Nigeria is a high consumer of poultry and we also produce poultry so how do we meet the need of the poultry industry. Cassava peels are high energy compliment and can be fed to non-ruminants and ruminants alike. In my opinion, I see a great potential of developing animal nutrition industry emerging from the cassava sub-sector, the cassava value chain itself, so we are beginning to see how we can optimize our resources, optimise the crops and the whole value chain of just one commodity where the waste product becomes the raw material of another chain.
Daily Independent 25/08 Nigeria’s agric at all time high –Akinbamijo, FARA ED
I see a great potential of developing animal nutrition industry emerging from the cassava sub-sector. So we are beginning to see how we can optimise our resources, optimise the crops and the whole value chain of just one commodity where the waste product becomes the raw material of another chain.
We would like to request the possibility of Nigeria championing a call for African countries to provide support for the functioning of FARA and calling a meeting of development partners to discuss future support for continent-wide and regional programmes in agricultural research

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The Africa wide Agricultural Extension Week of AFAAS

5th -10th August 2013, Gaborone, Botswana. In line with its vision and mission, the African Forum for Agricultural Advisory Services (AFAAS) organized an Africa wide Agricultural Extension Week. This event brought together, agricultural extension and advisory services practitioners across and outside Africa.

It built on lessons and innovative AAS approaches and tools identified and /or documented since the previous symposia and lessons generated during the Global Forum for Rural Advisory Services annual events, with focus to African Agricultural Development. During the Agricultural Extension Week, AFAAS held its Fourth General Assembly (for members only) as a way to strengthening its governance and institutional structures across the continent.

The sub themes were:
  • Market orientation, Entrepreneurship and Farmer institutional development 
  • Information and Communication Technology (ICT) for Extension and Advisory Services 
  • Linkages between different value chain actors 
  • Emerging issues: Gender, Climate change adaptation and mitigation 
  • Extension policy and Global rural 
  • advisory services perspectives

Third farmers' congress of EAFF


The theme of the congress was 'Towards the economic sovereignty of the Eastern African farmer' which is geared towards show casing the agricultural economic potential and opportunities of the Eastern Africa region with a view of ensuring that farmers take advantage of already existing as well as creating successful value chain agri-business opportunities. During the congres there were discussions on agriculture policies; agriculture trade developments and opportunities

The objectives were
  • Receive the EAFF activity report from 2009 - 2012
  • Provide for exchange between the members of EAFF; EAC; COMESA; the Pan-African Farmers Organization; private sector; development partners and the broader civil society 
  • use the congress as a communication forum to enhance the visibility of EAFF
  • Approve rolling out of the new Strategic framework of EAFF 2012-2020
  • Conduct an election for the next office bearers of EAFF for the next 4 years
  • Approve resolutions aimed at strengthening EAFF as an entrepreneurial organization
application/pdf iconPress Release (En): EAFF congress calls for economic sovereignty of farmers to enhance agricultural development

Applied research to increase the yield of four crops, cassava, maize, wheat and rice

29-30 August 2013. Abuja. Training programme on IAR4D and Innovation Systems Approach for SARD-SC Wheat Value-Chain. The Executive Secretary, Lake Chad Research Institute, Dr. O.G Olabanji, said the purpose of the training is to strengthen capacity of the stakeholders on the wheat value chain. He said the country spends about N635 billion on wheat imports, while it is capable produce it, saying he is hopeful that the country will be self sufficient in wheat production by 2015.

Director General, International Centre for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA), Dr. Mahmoud Solh, said the workshop was organized to support agriculture research for development and strategic crops funded by the AfDB.
"Special technical training has been carried out across the value chain to enhance local wheat production, processing and quality control. Research institutes in the country and abroad were able to research and develop Nigeria's own wheat and this has helped increase wheat production in the country."  Mr Akinbolawa Osho, the Director, Fertliser, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.
15 July 2013. Dr Chrysantus Akem, the SARD-SC project coordinator, presented at the 6th Africa Agriculture Science Week (July, 15-20, 2013) in Accra, the project titled “Support to Agricultural Research for Development of Strategic Crops in Africa” (SARD-SC). [Start date: 06/07/2012]

The African Development Bank finances US$63.24 million for this multi-CGIAR Center project.  The program, sponsored by CGIAR, the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research, is a five-year program expected to run until 2016.

CGIAR’S program is a research for development project aimed at raising the productivity level of four commodity crops in Africa. (Photo credit: IITA)
It will be coordinated by three specific CGIAR centers based in Africa, the Africa Rice Center, the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas, and the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, which is also acting as the Executive Agency. Specialized technical support will be provided by the International Food Policy Research Institute.

The project focuses on research, science, and technology development in order to raise the productivity levels of and income derived from cassava, maize, rice and wheat. These are four of the six commodity crops the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme has determined are strategically essential to the future of African agriculture.

The project will be focusing on value chain approach, from production to the final product by looking at aspects of research to increase the yields of the four crops, taking into consideration good varieties, integration of good agronomical practices to increase the yields, and issues of storage, transport, process, and marketing the products.

In Ghana maize and rice are the selected crops for the project, and FARA has initiated an approach called Innovative Platform Approach to engage all the different stakeholders namely the farmers, researchers, policy makers, marketers to discuss what the problems are and come out with possible solutions.

The role of FARA is a back stop institution to bring value to the project. “Other countries have access to technologies in what is called regional public goods for those countries that are not part of the project’’, he emphasised.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Announcement: Course in Concepts in agribusiness and SME development for Uganda

Graduates are receiving entrepreneurial 
and practical, hands-on experience
The Danida Fellowship Course in General Tools and Concepts in Agribusiness SME Development is a 2 week course situated in Uganda with a follow up week in Denmark. The 2 week course in Uganda is scheduled for the period 04 to 15 November 2013. The follow up course week will be scheduled for second week in May 2014.

The fellowship course for small and medium sized enterprises (SME) in agribusiness development will introduce general concepts and specific tools, which the private entrepreneurs can use for developing and managing agribusinesses in their home countries. The course will support the entrepreneurs in improving management, in developing partnerships and exploring new markets.

Deadline for submitting the forms to the Danish Embassy in Kampala is 23 August 2013.

New Agriculturist July 2013: Unleashing Africa's agribusiness potential

The Danida-funded UniBRAIN Consortium for enhancing University Responsiveness to Agribusiness Development Limited (CURAD) is supporting 25 interns through its consortium member NUCAFE under an "Earn As You Learn Programme" which is helping the University develop better quality graduates with more entrepreneurial and practical hands-on experience, who are able to attract employment or start up their own businesses. Through CURAD, NUCAFE has in turn accessed a lot of partnerships and networks that have greatly improved the visibility of its coffee brand and has boosted demand. Sales of coffee have more than quadrupled.

Tapping into its widespread network of partners, CURAD is organising an international training course in general tools and concepts of agribusiness and small and medium enterprise (SME) development with the Danida Fellowship Centre (DFC) and NIRAS, an international consulting company. This will advance North-South collaboration in Africa's growing food-agribusinesses. The course will be held from 4-15 November 2013 at CURAD's incubation centre.

Is a common food fungus worsening the AIDS epidemic?

July 22, 2013. University of Alabama at Birmingham News. A type of fungus coating much of the stored corn, wheat, rice and nuts in developing countries may be quietly worsening the AIDS epidemic, according to a paper published today in the World Mycotoxin Journal.
In developing countries, food stored in piles of sacks in warehouses is often contaminated with fungi that give off toxic substancesIn developing countries, food stored in piles of sacks in warehouses is often contaminated with fungi that give off toxic substancesKept in sacks piled in barns and warehouses, food stores in countries near the equator are contaminated by Aspergillus flavus and A. parasiticus, fungi that produce a toxic substance called aflatoxin. About 4.5 billionpeople worldwide are exposed to aflatoxin at unsafe levels, and chronic exposure has been linked to liver damage and related cancers; but its role in the spread of infectious disease could make it even more deadly.
“Our work suggests study that aflatoxin exposure may be taking an even greater toll in areas where millions are infected with HIV, including Africa and Asia, the latter with a fast-growing HIV population and rice storage areas contaminated by fungi,” said Pauline, Jolly, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Epidemiology within the School of Public Health at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). Strict regulation and monitoring minimize exposure in the United States.
Previous studies by our team had looked at the possible interaction of aflatoxin and HIV on immune suppression, and this study examined twice as many patients as previous studies,” said Jolly, the study’s corresponding author. “It also was structured to eliminate factors such as opportunistic infections and antiviral combination therapy in clarifying the relationship between aflatoxin exposure and HIV for the first time.” 
Leading theories suggest that the fungal toxin may suppress the immune system by reducing the production of certain immune cells or the proteins that activate them. The toxin also may increase the expression of genes that result in more copies of the virus, but more study is needed to confirm the mechanisms.

This research was supported by a grant by the U.S. Agency for International Development (LAG-G-00-96-90013-00) plus support from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities.
“We have done a series of studies now confirming a link between HIV viral load and aflatoxin exposure, but the problem has not yet been recognized or addressed,” said Jolly, an HIV immunologist who does most of her work in Ghana. “While this study was larger than our previous study, a fungal contribution to HIV transmission will only be proved once and for all by larger randomized studies for which there now is no funding. The scientific and world-health communities need to decide soon whether or not this question is worth answering.”
Association between high aflatoxin B1 levels and high viral load in HIV-positive people


30th July – 1st August 2013, In Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The Alliance for Commodity Trade in Eastern and Southern Africa (ACTESA), a specialized agency of COMESA, is holding its third Regional Stakeholder Farmers Meeting in collaboration with Ethiopia's Ministry of Agriculture, July 30 to August 1 in Addis Ababa.

The three day conference being held under the theme "Financing Value Chains: How effective in helping farmers in the Region?" has brought together farmer's organizations, private sector representatives, government officials, development partners, civil society and academics to share their experiences on the financing of value chains.

ACTESA expert, Argent Chuula, pointed out that:
Argent Chuula
Adding value to small-scale farmers' products through agro-processing would have an important role in increasing the income of farmers when compared to the direct export of primary agricultural products. Financing value added activities for products would help Africa increase its competitiveness in global markets, and so improve state revenue earnings.
The three day conference will be deliberating on ways to strengthen regional integration through the financing of value chains. The forum addresses a number of topics which include:

  • rural finance vs. agricultural finance, 
  • climate smart agriculture in the value chain development, 
  • farming systems in Africa within the agribusiness sector. 
Other key issues discussed include financing input supply, aligning market production, innovative funding for agriculture transformation, seed development processes in the value chain sector from the farmer’s perspective and agri-entrepreneurs and agricultural SME’s among others.