Saturday, 29 March 2008

The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa & genetically modified (GM) crops

The production of genetically modified (GM) crops has increased 67-fold between 1996 and 2007. Around 55 million farmers in 23 countries now grow GM crops, such as maize, cotton, canola, soybean, squash, poplar, petunia, sweet pepper, carnation, alfalfa, tomato, Irish potatoes, papaya and grape on 690 million hectares (1.7 billion acres) (ISAAA 2007). However, Africa, the only continent where per capita food production is declining, has yet to significantly benefit from this technology as only South Africa is commercially growing GM crops in the continent.

The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) commissioned a study between 2004 and 2006 to assess the potential benefits and risks of adopting GMOs in Africa. The study looked at case studies of six countries - Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia - for the two crops of maize and cotton to assess the positives and negatives of adopting GM crops.

The study had to make certain assumptions in order to predict the scenarios in each country. For example, in order to project the net income gains for farmers if they switched to GM crops in the six countries, the study assumed that the areas currently planted to open-pollinated varieties (OPVs) for maize and improved varieties and hybrids for cotton would be the first to make the switch. Results showed that the net income for farmers would vary from US$ 2.5 to 7.5 million for maize and US$ 0.05 to 9.5 million for cotton per country. These are very conservative estimates.

In terms of assessing export risk arising from the European market banning GM or GM tainted crops, the study found that Egypt was the only country to face significant declines in export (4%). The other countries would likely face minor losses of no more than 1% (Table 2). Regional policy harmonization is critical as it is possible that the benefits of within region trade would offset any potential losses from export.

ICRISAT Monthly Newsletter, March 2008
For more information contact:

Friday, 28 March 2008

Drought-tolerant maize varieties for Africa

KAMPALA, Uganda -- The African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF) announced 19/03 a public-private partnership to develop drought-tolerant maize varieties for Africa. The partnership, known as Water Efficient Maize for Africa (WEMA), was formed in response to a growing call by African farmers, leaders, and scientists to address the devastating effects of drought on small-scale farmers and their families. Frequent drought leads to crop failure, hunger, and poverty. Climate change will only worsen the problem.

The Director General of the National Agricultural Research Organisation of Uganda and FARA chair Dr. Dennis Kyetere presided over the official announcement of the initiative and said that the project will help address drought and contribute to food security in Africa.
‘Drought is a source of suffering and food insecurity for many people in Uganda and it is recognised as a challenge by the government. Drought causes up to 100 percent crop failure in Uganda in some instances’, said Dr. Kyetere.
To read the full press release, visit the African Agricultural Technology Foundation Web site.

Thursday, 27 March 2008

Agri-business and the African Venture Capital Association

The AVCA conference, Gabarone, Botswana 16-18/03 was a unique event for networking, sharing the experience of African private equity professionals and meeting global investors targeting Africa.
The 7th Annual AVCA Conference is the most important annual meeting for those involved in venture capital and private equity in Africa and for anyone interested in Africa’s private equity potential. This year’s event is the seventh in a series of highly successful events sindce AVCA’s inception in 2000.

The theme for the conference Africa Rising: Opportunities and Perspectives for Private Equity addressed the fundamental issues necessary for developing and maintaining sustained growth levels for this all-important asset class in Africa. Specifically, the agenda focused on increasing the appetite for private equity opportunities in Africa and encouraging home grown fund management capacity.

Session 4 discussed Agri-business and the Value Chain: (a) The importance of this market sector ; (b) Potential for high returns ; (c) Effective marketing
Participants: Mr. Duncan Vink, CEO United Farmers Fund ; Mr. Tom Adlam, CEO, African Agricultural Capital ; Mr. Rob Caselotti, CEO Country Food Holdings


FARA was mentionned in a paper which was presented at the international conference "Knowledge on the Move: Research for development in a globalising world" in The Hague, from 26-29 February. The conference was organized by three international research and higher education organizations in The Netherlands: NWO-WOTRO Science for Global Development, Nuffic and the Institute of Social Studies.

Session 3 was more in particular on Science, technology and innovation, with attention for food security and sustainable agriculture. Jon Daane remarks that (the author, Jon Daane, is Director of the International Centre for development oriented Research in Agriculture (ICRA), a European centre specialised in building research capacity for rural innovation) :

FARA, the SROs and the constituent R&DIs, as well as African networks of HEIs, such as ANAFE and RUFORUM and their constituents are increasingly aware that building effective innovation systems calls for a paradigm shift and fundamental institutional change in R&DIs and in HEIs. FARA refers to this new paradigm as Integrated Agricultural Research for Development (IAR4D).

J. Daane (2008). New pathways to build capacity for development oriented agricultural research and innovation.
A. Hall (2008). Embedding research in society supporting agricultural innovation in a global knowledge economy.
L. Oruko (2008). International Research Partnerships Support to Regional Collective Action in eastern and central Africa.

Wednesday, 19 March 2008

New resource on the why's, how's, and where's of biofuels

CropLife International has created a new website which is a resource on the why's, how's, and where's of biofuels, and how innovations in plant biotechology can help produce biofuels in a sustainable manner.

CropLife International is a global federation representing the plant science industry and a network of regional and national associations in 91 countries. The company members include BASF, Bayer CropScience, Dow Agrosciences, Dupont, FMC, Monsanto, Sumitomo and Syngenta. These companies conduct innovative research and technology in the areas of crop protection, non-agricultural pest control, seeds and plant biotechnology.

Friedrich Berschauer, Chairman of the Board of Management of Bayer CropScience, has been appointed Chairman of the Board of Directors of CropLife International, the global federation that represents the plant science industry. (press release 11/03/2008).

Meeting of the Comesa Ministers of Agriculture

The ministers of Agriculture from the Common Market for East and Southern Africa (Comesa) on Saturday 15/03/2008 drew up plans for the next one year, and established a database for projects to be implemented under the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP).

The Seychelles Minister for Environment, Natural Resources and Transport, Joel Morgan, who chaired the conference, said:

“We have established a database for the projects we are undertaking under the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) through which the different members states will be able to follow the implementation of the various projects”
Regarding the future plans, he said that the ministers came up with clear objectives.

“We targeted very specific agendas for the next one year during which Seychelles will hold the chairmanship of the Comesa Agriculture ministers, and we have set very specific objectives which we are to attain. The ministers have put in place a monitoring mechanism to ensure that the objective are met and that the agenda is followed”
After this meeting, the delegates hold from 17 till 20/03 the African Union/CAADP Review Meeting as well as the CAADP Partnership Platform meeting to 19-20/03 to which FARA participates.

Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Tech-MODE for agricultural education

Technology-mediated open and distance education (Tech-MODE) for agricultural education and improved livelihood is expanding in sub-Saharan Africa through diverse initiatives. Capabilities have not been formally assessed.

Therefore the Commonwealth of Learning (COL) conducted a few country case studies to identify opportunities for a complementary and catalytic role. In each country, knowledgeable national collaborators from universities, research and training institutions collected and summarized the information.

The Learning for Livelihoods Sector of the Commonwealth of Learning addresses the major challenges related to learning and skills development that are the key for living and for improvement of livelihoods. Developing conceptual frameworks, influencing policy, enabling technology-mediated learning, and strengthening networks and partnerships are the strategies that COL uses for promoting learning and skills for agricultural development, poverty alleviation, and environmental protection.

To meet this challenge, COL aims at building individual and institutional capacity in the use of information and communication technologies combined with open and distance learning in the way of technology-mediated open and distance education (Tech-MODE).

COL supports learning activities from grassroots to policy levels through partnerships with public, private and community-based national, regional, and international institutions and organisations involved in agricultural education, extension, research and development. In sub-Saharan Africa, the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA), and international agricultural research centres of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) are the key international partners.

Anticipating that Tech-MODE will increasingly become an essential tool in the delivery of information, knowledge and education in sub-Saharan Africa, COL undertook eight country case studies with the help of national collaborators from Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia. The practitioners and observers of Tech-MODE for agriculture who provided the case studies share their views on the factors that determine the success or failure of such approaches. COL expects that these studies will be encouraging and useful to, and taken up by partners in the area of agricultural research and development.


For the Country Study on:
Cameroon see Tech-MODE in Cameroon
Ghana see Tech-MODE in Ghana
Kenya see Tech-MODE in Kenya
Nigeria see Tech-MODE in Nigeria (with a contribution from Dr. Adewale Adekunle - FARA)
Sierra Leone see Tech-MODE in Sierra Leone
Tanzania see Tech-MODE in Tanzania
Uganda see Tech-MODE in Uganda
Zambia see Tech-MODE in Zambia

The agricultural potential of countries in the former Eastern bloc

With international fears growing about the socio-economic impact of so-called agflation, the United Nations and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development called on 10/03/2008 for urgent action to unlock the agricultural potential of countries in the former Eastern bloc.

Video with Reuters 11/03/2008
EBRD and FAO call for bold steps to contain soaring food prices
EBRD-FAO report: Fighting food inflation 16 pages

India Africa Project Partnership 2008

The largest ever India-Africa conclave, being held in New Delhi from March 19-21, is expected to discuss 131 projects worth 10 billion dollars.

The conclave will highlight Africa's potential as an investment venue and increase economic cooperation between India and the nations of the African continent. Vice Presidents of Tanzania and Ghana and 37 African Ministers are among the 925 delegates who will participate in 'The India Africa Project Partnership 2008', organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), the EXIM Bank, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry and the Ministry of External Affairs.The conference will focus on four main areas: Technology, agriculture, human resources and energy.

The conference will enable Indian investors to interact with key people from more than 35 African countries on one platform.

The ELISA chairperson Yizzaw Assefa invited Indian investments in Ethiopian leather industry for production of quality leather products. He also invited Indian Companies to participate in the 2nd All African Leather Fair scheduled to be held in January 2009.

'India-Africa conclave to discuss projects worth over 10 billion dollars' Daily India 14/03/2008
India tries to woo Africa in trade and investment Financial Express 24/03/2008

CGIAR braces less funds from USAID

The U.S. Agency for International Development has warned the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research, which includes 15 research centers around the world, that it expects to cut the network's core funding by 75 percent this year, the network's director said on Wednesday 12/03/2008.

"The United States has been playing such an important role that a retreat, a withdrawal in these areas will be devastating," CGIAR director Ren Wang said. U.S. support, including core and project funding, was around $56 million in 2007, about 12 percent of overall funding, CGIAR reported. In 2006, it was $60.7 million.

The expected reduction in U.S. support comes as major donors like the World Bank and the Gates Foundation turn anew to agriculture, suffering from decades of underinvestment, as a primary vehicle for combating poverty.

Farm research network braces for less funds from U.S. - Reuters 13/03/2008

World Bank Pledges More African Agri-Aid

The World Bank has promised to increase its aid package to Africa to help develop agricultural production there and combat rising food prices.

It will contribute $700m (£348.6m) in the 12 months from June 2008, up from $400m in the the previous year period, and may boost its loans further.

The World Bank move comes after United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said one way to tackle acute food shortages would be to help Africa develop its farming capabilities and improve efficiency.

World Bank to double Africa aid - BBC 11/03/2008
World Bank to Increase Africa Agriculture Loans - World Bank Press reviews 11/03/2008


Capacity building for biosafety and ecological impact assessment of transgenic plants in East Africa

BiosafeTrain is a collaboration with scientists from University of Nairobi and Kenya Agricultural Research Institute in Kenya (KARI), Makerere University in Uganda, University of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania, and the Universities of Aarhus and Copenahgen in Denmark.

BiosafeTrain is an Enhancement of Research Capacity (ENRECA) project, funded by DANIDA. During an expected period of 12 years, the project will build up capacity to cope with the challenges of introducing genetically modified crops in East Africa by developing a platform on biosafety impact assessment. See: BiosafeTrain Project

Sunday, 16 March 2008

Why vertical approaches to African Agriculture don't work

Interview with Paul Mafuka, Director General of INERA - Kinshasa, DRCongo

Paul Mafuka compares the present approaches such as the African Green Revolution to emergency approaches in the medical field: malaria and HIV/AIDS. The danger is to create parallel structures which do not take into account the structures which exist already. He wonders how long an emergency approach will remain an emergency and warns for donor policies motivated by panic.


Saturday, 15 March 2008

African Green Revolution

February 21 – 23, 2008 Bellagio, Italy.

FARA participated in a High-level consultation that was convened by Jeffrey Sachs’ team. The main objective was to explore the feasibility and possible mechanisms for increased funding for an African Green Revolution.

Professor Jeffrey Sachs in his position as the Special Advisor to the UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon on MDGs convened the meeting polling 37 participants from a wide range of institutions including AGRA, AU, FARA, Academia, Policy and Donor Community, and Research and Development Agencies.

Reference: Earth Institute Colombia



The Oslo Declaration on the African Green Revolution Secretary General Calls for Uniquely African Green Revolution Cutting World Hunger in HalfNEPAD CCADP Background The Rockefeller Foundation Alliance for a Green Revolution in AfricaThe African Millennium VillagesWorld Bank: World Development Report OverviewAlliance for a Green Revolution in Africa

Related resources:
Lessons of Chinese Agricultural Development for Africa Xiaohua YU, PhD CandidateAgricultural, Environmental and Development Economics and DemographyThe Pennsylvania State University & Hengfu Zou World Bank China Development Bank. Paper prepared for African Green Revolution Bellagio Conference. (32 p)

Lessons from Global Experience in Policy Science-Based Development Focus on the application of S&T to Policy Institutions in Madagascar, Malawi, Senegal, Sierra Leone...

Friday, 14 March 2008

FARA Management Training Workshop: overview of the participants

Kanoute, Ms. Assetou
Director General
Bamako, Mali
Hamidou, Dr. Djibo
Expert formateur
Centre Regional AGRHYMET
Burkina FASO
Mafuka, Paul Mbe-Mpie
Director General,
Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo

Ilboudo, Dr. Jean Pierre
Information & Communications Manager
Dakar, Senegal

Namkosserena, Dr. Salomon
Director General, ICRA (Institut Centrafricain de la Recherche Agronomique, Bangui, Central African Republic


Mr. Mark Hollingworth
Facilitator of the workshop

Sanyang, Dr. Sidi
Director, NSF3
Accra, Ghana

Wopereis, Myra
Director NSF 2
Accra, Ghana
Sereme, Dr. Paco
Executive Director
Dakar, Senegal
Ewole, Mr. Gustave
Programme Manager, SPROPAC/CNOP CAM (Sub Regional Platform of Farmer's Organization in Central Africa
Yaoundé, Cameroun
Porquet, Dr. Desire
1st Vice President

Jalloh, Dr. Abdullai
Freetown, Sierra Leone

Dr. Mohsen Kaabia
Assistant Director
INRAT, Institut National de Recherche Agronomique de la Tunisie
Tunis, Tunisie
Gbehounou, Dr. Gaulbert
Directeur Laboratoire de Defense des cultures
INRAB (Institut National des Recherches Agricoles du Benin)
Cotonou, Benin
Mukisira, Dr. Ephraim
Director General,
Nairobi, Kenya

Bani, Dr. Gregoire
Director, CRAL/DGRST (Centre de Recherche Agronomiques de Loudima)
Brazzaville, Congo
Ketema, Dr. Seyfu
Executive Director
ASARECA (Association for Strengthening Agricultural Resaerch in Eastern and Central Africa)
Jones, Dr. Monty
Executive Director

Ombima, Wilson
Finance Manager
Kampala, Uganda
Kyetere, Dr. Denis T
FARA Chair
Director General, NARO, National Agricultural Research Organisation, Kampala, Uganda
Maman, Dr. Nouri,
SSA CP KKM Sahel TF leader, INRAN
Niamey, Niger

Muchiri, Steve
Nairobi, Kenya

Yaye, Dr. Aissetou
Executive Secretary
Nairobi, Kenya

Hassane, Dr. Moussa
Director General, INRAN (Institut National de la recherche Agronomique du Niger),
Niamey, Niger

Kapiriri, Ms. Monica
Director, SSA NGOC
Development Facilitator
Kampala, Uganda
Tenywa, Prof. Moses
Associate Proffessor
Department of Soil Science
Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda
Desiré Alexandre Manga Ndzana

Chargé de Programme
Yaounde, Cameroun
Adewale, Dr. Adekule
Director, NSF5
Accra, Ghana
Keraro, Mr. Victor
Director HR
Finance and Administration
FARA, Accra, Ghana

Konate, Dr. Gnissa
Director General
INERA (Institut de l'Environnement et Recherches Agricoles)

Wednesday, 12 March 2008

FARA Management training workshop

"If you think you can do a thing or that you cannot do a thing in either case you are right" (G. Ford)

"Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go" (T.S. Elliot)

Between 10/03 and 14/03 some 30 senior managers of National Agricultural Research Systems (NARS) and Sub Regional Organisations (SRO) gather in Accra in order to attend a workshop on Leadership and Team Management.

The workshop is to provide the NARS/SRO with:

  • concrete mechanism and tools for delegation of authority while ensuring accountability
  • a better understanding of how to attract, influence and motivate key employees
  • provide new ideas as to how to best manage meetings for value-creation and decision making
  • improve inter-organisation communication tools
  • improve the use of appropriate decision making mechanisms
  • opportunities to discuss best practices around management
  • increase self-awareness as to each parcipant's leadership styles
  • analyse personal time managment skills
  • identify sources of resistance to personal and organisational change and means to over-ride them in order to better manage change

    Mr. Mark Hollingworth (SETYM) is facilitating the workshop

    Senior Managers from following institutions participate:
  • INRAB (Institut National des Recherches Agricoles du Benin) Porto Novo, Benin
  • INERA (Institut de l'Environnement et Recherches Agricoles) Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso
  • SPROPAC/CNOP CAM (Sub Regional Platform of Farmer's Organization in Central Africa Yaoundé, Cameroon
  • PROPAC, Cameroon
  • ICRA (Institut Centrafricain de la Recherche Agronomique) Bangui, Central African Republic
  • CRAL/DGRST (Centre de Recherche Agronomiques de Loudima) Brazzaville, Congo
  • INERA Kinshasa, DR Congo
  • ANOPACI & ROPPA Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire
  • ANAFE Nairobi, Kenya
  • KARI Nairobi, Kenya
  • INRAN Maradi, Niger
  • Centre Regional AGRHYMET Niamey, Niger
  • INRAN (Institut National de la recherche Agronomique du Niger) Niamey, Niger
  • CORAF/WECARD Dakar-Yoff, Senegal
  • NARCC/SLARI Freetown, Sierra Leone
  • ADAF-Galle Bamako, Mali
  • EAFF Kenya
  • NARO Entebbe, Uganda
  • Department of Soil Science Makerere University Kampala, Uganda
  • SSA NGOC - Development Facilitator Kampala, Uganda
  • RUFORUM Kampala, Uganda
  • ASARECA (Association for Strengthening Agricultural Resaerch in Eastern and Central Africa) Entebbe, Uganda
  • CORAF/WECARD Dakar, Senegal
  • INRAT Tunis, Tunisia
  • FARA NSF directors


Interview with Dr. Denis Kyetere, FARA chair

"There is a tendancy in managing to do the things right, rather then leading to do the right things"
Denis Kyetere gives his appreciation on the FARA Management Training Workshop and answers the question whether this workshop contributes to a long term vision on what management is all about.

Interview with Assetou Kanoute Director General of ADAF/Gallé, Mali.

ADAF/Gallé is a local NGO that supports women's grassroots organisations. Assetou Kanoute thinks the concepts and principles of leadership clarify in which direction change can occur. If African values are taken into account she does not expect resistance to change as everybody recognizes change has to come.

Interview with Dr. Ephraim Mukisira, Director General KARI, Nairobi, Kenya

Dr. Ephraim Mukisira explains why he thinks FARA organised the Management Training Workshop and the needed change in how leaders have led their agricultural research institutes.

Interview with Dr. Desire Porquet, Vice president of ANOPACI & ROPPA - Ivory Coast -

Dr. Desire Porquet - who is responsable for a major farmers organisation - explains why the concept of leadership applies also to farmer organisations. The biggest challenge is to face bureaucracy of research institutes and have a close follow up of the farmer to continue to motivate him at the field level.

Prof. Paul Mafuka (Director General Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique, Kinshasa, RDCongo)

Paul Mafuka (INERA-DRC) highlights the shortcomings of the Management Training Workshop. The facilitator has put the stress on PEOPLE management and not on the unlying VISION and IMPLEMENTATION. He quotes the facilitator saying: "A vision without implementation is worthless and an implementation without competent people is worthless".

Une opinion sur le FARA de l'INRAT (Tunisie)

Interview with Dr. Mohsen Kaabia, Assistant Director of the Institut National de Recherche Agronomique from Tunisia

Dr. Mohsen Kaabia values the unique role which FARA plays in gathering all agricultural research scientists. His participation to the FARA Management Training course is a good opportunity to meet colleagues. He thinks one of the priorities for FARA is to convene an international meeting on Natural Resources to highlight the serious problems Africa is facing about soil depletion and its importance for nutritional self sufficiency.

Tuesday, 11 March 2008

Forum Tech For Food

Satellites, Internet, téléphone portable, etc. : elles apparaissent particulièrement applicables au développement agricole. Permettant de se passer de certaines infrastructures la plupart du temps absentes dans les pays du Sud, de gagner du temps et de l’argent, elles répondent à la fois aux besoins essentiels des paysans les plus démunis qui cultivent en ignorant tout du marché, mais aussi aux exigences des systèmes de surveillance des ressources naturelles qui scrutent parfois plusieurs millions d’hectares. Comment les nouvelles technologies sont-elles en train de révolutionner l’agriculture des pays du Sud ?

Ceci a été la thématique centrale de la deuxième édition du forum Tech For Food, le 26 février 2008, au Salon International de l’Agriculture.

Vous pouvez télécharger le dossier du magazine "Agriculture & Nouvelles Technologies" consacré au Forum Tech For Food 2008 !

Extraits radios

Will the world go short of food?

The head of the UN World Food Programme (WFP) has warned that the rise in basic food costs could continue until 2010. What impact will this have? Head of the WFP, Josette Sheeran, has warned that global food reserves are at their lowest level in 30 years. She said that the WFP may have to ration foods due to funding shortages.Ms Sheeran linked rising food costs to energy and grain prices, the effects of climate change and demand for biofuels.

Areas where the WFP is already seeing an impact include:
  • Afghanistan: 2.5 million people in Afghanistan cannot afford the price of wheat, which rose more than 60% in 2007
  • Bangladesh: The price of rice has risen 25% to 30% over the last three months. In 2007, the price rose about 70%.
  • El Salvador: Rural communities are buying 50% less food than they did 18 months ago with the same amount of money. This means their nutritional intake, on an already poor diet, is cut by half.
  • Anger over rising food prices have already led to riots in Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Senegal and Morocco.

The BBC has a special day of coverage of this issue on Tuesday 11 March, online, on radio and on TV.

2008 US-AFRICA Agri-business forum

In response to Africa’s increasing economic growth potential, The Corporate Council on Africa (CCA) will convene agribusiness leaders at the 2008 U.S.-Africa Agribusiness Forum to discuss and exchange ideas around investing in agricultural production, processing and marketing of food, fuel and climate change commodities.

The 2008 Agribusiness Forum, Investing in Agriculture Links in Africa, is being hosted by CCA’s Agribusiness Initiatives Program and will be held in Chicago, Illinois, June 25-27. The Forum is expected to attract more than 300 leaders from the private and public sectors in the U.S. and Africa.

The two-day Forum will include industry-specific sessions, networking opportunities, and panels to address cross-cutting issues such as financing, commodity trading markets and food security, infrastructure investment to connect African markets, market information systems improvement, product innovation, cash crop and livestock production and investment, pharmaceutical and bio-fuel industry growth, carbon trading, and production technology.

CCA, established in 1993, is a nonpartisan membership organization of nearly 200 U.S. companies dedicated to strengthening the commercial relationship between the U.S. and Africa.
Registration Deadline: 6/20/2008

The Agribusiness in Sustainable Natural African Plant Products (A-SNAPP) alliance

Supported by funding from the US Agency for International Development (USAID), A-SNAPP is a three-year collaborative project between the Herb Research Foundation (HRF) of Boulder, CO, Purdue University of West Lafayette, IN, and the Agricultural Research Council (ARC) of South Africa. By providing marketing assistance, quality management, and training, these partner organizations are working to help African growers and entrepreneurs achieve excellence in the production of competitive, world-class natural products.

Currently, the A-SNAPP partners have undertaken a focused effort to assess, track, and communicate market needs and forces in the international botanicals marketplace, as well as to engage botanical buyers, marketers, scientists, and other key links in the U.S. and Europe to work directly with African producers. To ensure the future success of the project, A-SNAPP is determined to develop long-term funding which will enable its activities to continue, assisting companies, farmers, scientists, and other stakeholders through innovative self-funding mechanisms and corporate partnerships.

In pursuing its pilot project in South Africa, A-SNAPP is faced with three main challenges: to develop cash crops for low-income farmers, to help protect wild plant populations through cultivation of over-collected species used in traditional medicine, and to foster regional production of traditional herbal remedies.

U.S. Agribusiness Trade and Investment Mission

From March 10–14, 2008, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Foreign Agricultural Service (USDA/FAS) will conduct an Agribusiness Trade and Investment Mission to the West and Central Africa Region. Participant countries include Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Ghana, Liberia, Mali, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Togo.
Constance Jackson, Associate Administrator of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service, at the opening plenary on March 10, 2008, of USDA's West and Central Africa Agribusiness Trade and Investment Mission in Accra, Ghana, with Ghanaian Agriculture Minister Ernest Debrah next to her.

The main objective of this mission is to promote U.S.–Africa agribusiness cooperation, trade, and investment. The West and Central Africa region mission will focus on the following sectors: dry grocery products, horticulture, food processing, beer and spirits, seafood, livestock genetics, and production inputs. Nineteen American companies have registered to participate in this mission.

With the passage of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), the opportunities for American agribusinesses looking to enter or expand their presence in Africa are increasing. AGOA has helped to boost two-way trade between the United States and sub-Saharan Africa by 17 percent from 2005 to 2006, reaching almost $71.3 billion, with growth both in U.S. exports to and U.S. imports from the region. Total U.S. imports from Africa increased to $59.2 billion, with U.S. exports to Africa increasing to $12.1 billion.

Ghana: Media Demand More Answers to Agoa -
Africa Offers Trade Opportunities - Farm Futures
US Mission To Explore Investment Opportunities In West/Central Africa - blogpost

Friday, 7 March 2008

Information Society Technologies in Africa

IST-Africa 2008 takes place 07 - 09 May 2008 in Windhoek, Namibia. Part of the IST-Africa Initiative, which is supported by the European Commission under the IST Programme of Framework Programme 6 (FP6), IST-Africa 2008 is the third in an Annual Conference Series which will bring together delegates from commercial, government & research organisations across Africa and from Europe, to bridge the Digital Divide by sharing knowledge, experience, lessons learnt and good practice.

IST-Africa 2008 will focus on Applied ICT research topics addressing major societal and economic challenges, which is part of the European Commission's Information Communications Technologies (ICT) programme. The programme combines strategic keynote presentations, technical and policy papers, case studies, workshops, an exhibition and social activities.

About e-agriculture: Session 9d: e-Inclusion - Using ICT to Support Rural Communities
  • Towards a Modelling Framework for Information and Communication Technology Use in Commercial Agriculture: Significant Factors in South Africa Rachael Tembo, Cape Peninsula University of Technology, South Africa
  • Using ICTs for Managing Network Genebanks: The Case of SADC Plant Genetic Resources Centre Barnabas Kapange, SADC Plant Genetic Resources Centre (SPGRC), Zambia
  • Access to Digital Content and Information in Developing Countries: the Case of Agricultural Research and Development in Uganda Raphael AREGU, University of Groningen: Gulu University., Netherlands
  • ICT as an Enabler for Maximising the Local Economies of Small-town, Rural Africa Roger Layton, Roger Layton Associates (Pty) Ltd, South Africa
  • Internet in rural areas of Zambia: a user study Paula van Hoorik, TNO, Netherlands

The Advance Programme is available online and in PDF format. Online payment registration is open with Early Bird registration available up to 14 March 2008.

e-Agriculture India

eINDIA2008 (, the fourth annual ICT4D forum in India will be convened at New Delhi 29-31 July 2008. The three days forum aims to render active conferencing, networking and showcasing while organising six seminal tracks- egov INDIA, Digital Learning INDIA, Telecentre Forum INDIA, eHealth INDIA, mServe INDIA, eAgriculture INDIA and i4d fi lm festival As an international event, apart from the general public and the media, the eINDIA2008 Conference and Exhibition expects to bring together 2000 high level representatives of the ICT industry, government, civil society, academia and private sector from all across the globe to share the best practices and digital opportunities for development, to discuss, and exchange knowledge and ideas that will shape the future of the global ICT development.

eAgriculture INDIA 2008 WILL FOCUS ON:

  • Policy Paradigm
  • Opportunities in Marketing & Finance
  • Best Practices and Innovative Solutions
  • Ground Issues & Challenges
  • Public-Private Partnership Headway
  • Education, Research, and Knowledge Management
    Training and Capacity Building


online forum: 10 - 28 March 2008 will host a special online forum on the Role of Public Private Partnerships in Asia (PPPs) starting 10 March 2008. Areas which will be explored include: The scope of Public Private Partnerships to implement e-Agriculture successfully; Understanding the major & common constraints in PPP based on past experiences and current practices; Suggestions and solutions to overcome the challenges and focus on bringing practical solutions; and the roles of stakeholders: government, private sector, and others.

Africa Congress on Biotechnology 2008: Call for Papers

The African Biotechnology Stakeholders Forum (ABSF) through its sister network, the Agricultural Biotechnology Network in Africa (ABNETA) and the African Union’ (AU) Division of Agriculture and Food Security are pleased to announce the First ever All Africa Congress on Biotechnology that will be held in the Kenyan Capital Nairobi, during the third quarter of 2008 i.e. 22nd – 26th September 2008 The theme of the Congress will be ‘Harnessing the Potential of Agricultural Biotechnology for Food Security and Socio-Economic Development in Africa’. In addition to the main theme, congress participants will have an opportunity to listen to experiences of other countries in Europe, Asia, USA and Latin America about modern agricultural biotechnology and its applications in their economic transformation processes.

Wednesday, 5 March 2008

New network seeks to break down science barriers

Scientific organisations and researchers working in developing countries will be brought together through a network to be launched later this year.

The programme, Scientists Without Borders, is an initiative of the New York Academy of Sciences. It seeks to integrate the efforts of the scientific and health community to address global health, agriculture and energy challenges in accordance with the Millennium Development Goals.

The Academy has chosen Africa as the starting continent, with Ghana as the pilot country. As much information as possible is being extracted from Ghana to serve as a "proof of principle" for what the database will eventually look like.

Reference: Scidev

Cultivating wild fruits 'could boost African nutrition'

Africa's traditional fruits could boost nutrition, environmental stability and economic development if given the right scientific and agricultural support, says a report.

The report, by the National Research Council of America, was released 30 January and is the third in a series by the council called 'Lost Crops of Africa'. A panel of experts from various African countries, with input from ordinary workers, looked at the sustainability of growing a range of indigenous African fruits and the effect it could have on combating malnutrition and poverty in the continent.

Twenty-four fruits were chosen for their potential to contribute to nutrition — particularly for children — and economic development. Among these are aizen, balanites, baobab, butterfruit, ebony, marula and tamarind.

The report advocates not only large-scale farming, but encourages individuals to select their best crops and share them with others for propagation, saying collaboration between amateurs and professional horticulturalist and scientists will be key to success.

Jane Guyer, professor of anthropology at the US-based Johns Hopkins University and a member of the panel for the report, points out that these crops are already valued and used in many parts of Africa.

"These crops were never lost to the people; they have just been lost to the kind of agricultural science that focused mainly on internationally commercialised crops."

Lost Crops of Africa: Volume I: Grains
Lost Crops of Africa: Volume II: Vegetables
Lost Crops of Africa: Volume III: Wild fruits

United Press International - USA Study: African fruit is untapped resource

Listen to a radio interview on the future of Africa's neglected crops:

Download (MP3) Voice of America- Podcast of 28 May 2009

Transcript of the radio podcast:
Professor Adi Damania says research and promotion could help find wider markets for Africa's local cropsOne food expert who’s optimistic is plant geneticist Adi Damania of the Department of Plant Resources of the University of California (at Davis).

He’s encouraged that two international centers for agricultural research are looking into the issue: the West Africa Rice Development Center based in Benin and the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics with offices in Malawi, Kenya, Mozambique, Mali and Zimbabwe.

Damania says researchers should not only document the use of the crops, but work to improve their yields, especially in light of warming global temperatures that will likely require all foods growning in Africa to become more drought-resistant.

He says research should also help determine how to keep all produce fresh, including Africa’s localgrains, vegetables and fruits. “A very very large proportion of African grain harvests,” he says,“ is lost due to a lack of proper storage facilities.” He says one solution would be to build concrete warehouses that keep out rodents and insects that devour harvests.
Many native crops are more drought resistant than imported varieties.Damania says governments and international agencies could create an advertising campaign to boost the local sale and even export of Africa’s native crops.

“The best [way],” he says, “would be more publicity through radio and TV programs [and] visits ofhigh-profile people. “Princess Diana’s involvement in getting rid of the landmines and fighting HIV really helped. So, [it would really help] if similar high-profile people will get involved in promoting research onAfrica’s local foods.”
Damania says the continent is rich in resources, traditions, and indigenous knowledge. He says these include native food crops which with the judicious use of funds, can help end Africa’s food insecurity.

Tuesday, 4 March 2008

Conference to advance Africa’s R&D

3-7 March 2008. FARA participates at the conference in Addis Ababa on science with Africa aimed to explore how Africa science-based entities could increase their collaboration with and participation in international science and R&D projects . Key themes will be agriculture, environment, water, transport, health, ICT and life Sciences.

The Science with Africa conference aims to create new synergies between European, US and other global science based organisations and those in Africa, where there is an ongoing need to strengthen and improve existing R&D activities, centres of excellence and partnerships.

Agriculture and Climate Change objectives of the Science with Africa conference:

As part of its business plan, ECA will assist its member States in enhancing regional food security through support for the creation of regional agricultural market information systems and databases. It will also undertake in-depth studies on strategic food and agricultural commodity chains with emphasis on regional integration aspects. The Commission will also focus on harnessing land and water resources to help trigger an African Green Revolution. Furthermore in order to promote the development of agribusiness, ECA will seek to develop methods and approaches that efficiently integrate research, market access and development of community agribusinesses. To that end, Science with Africa will:

  • Show scenarios and foresight studies in the field of agriculture in Africa;
  • Present recent developments in agricultural research;
  • Present existing research collaborations in the field of agriculture;
  • Explore the impacts of international farm and trade policies on agriculture in Africa;
  • Present technologies to address water scarcity and promote scientific collaboration in this field.
  • Help establish a framework to facilitate new collaboration.


African scientists call for permanent forum

Inauguration of the West Africa Center for Crop Improment

FARA participated on 27 February at the inauguration ceremony of a new doctoral program at the University of Ghana to train African plant breeders to tackle issues relating to maize, cassava, sorghum, millet, tomato, cowpea and other crops vital to Africans' diet.

Funded by a $4.9 million grant from the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), a partnership between the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation, the program aims to address the serious shortage of professional African plant breeders skilled in breeding indigenous plants. Cornell will receive an additional $1.7 million from AGRA to provide academic and technical support.

Ronnie Coffman, left, international professor of plant breeding and genetics and director of International Programs in Cornell's College of Agriculture and Life Science, with two colleagues from the University of Ghana's Department of Agronomy.

In 2000, the African Centre for Crop Improvement (ACCI) at the University of Kwazulu-Natal in collaboration with Cornell University started a regional centre to train plant breeders for Africa. The ACCI has created a de facto network of 47 functioning plant breeders and their local co-supervisors in 13 countries, linked with a common training, experience and philosophy towards plant breeding in Africa. The excellent results from the ACCI demonstrate Africa’s ability to train the necessary human capacity in plant breeding.

A need exists to train plant breeders in West Africa & Central Africa, by developing a parallel programme at the University of Ghana, Legon (UGL) because
  • the region is also critically short of plant breeders, and most of the crops grown in the region are common to the region and relatively unimproved;
  • the logistics and cost of travelling between West Africa countries is relatively low
  • the region has a common culture, which is different from East and Southern Africa;
  • and unique solutions will be required because the limits and constraints of operating a similar Centre in Ghana are different from those faced in South Africa.

The WACCI plant breeding training programme will produce skilled, knowledgeable and properly resourced breeders to breed locally important crops to meet local needs and preferences.

International Symposium on Underutilized Plants for Food, Nutrition, Income and Sustainable Development

Group picture of the participants

This 5-day Symposium was held in Arusha, Tanzania 3 - 7 March 2008. It was organised under the auspices of the International Society for Horticultural Science (ISHS), recognising the need to provide a global forum for exchange and debate on issues related to the promotion of underutilized plants. The Symposium was an activity of the newly formed ISHS working group on underutilized plant genetic resources (PG3) and will be a joint event of the ISHS Commission Plant Genetic Resources and Section Tropical and Subtropical Fruits.

The Symposium was organised around four main areas of importance for underutilized plants: food security, nutrition and health, income generation, and environmental sustainability. Participants will be invited to share and discuss reasons for success and failure of diverse approaches to promote underutilized plants.

Co-convened by :

  • International Centre for Underutilised Crops (ICUC)

  • Global Facilitation Unit for Underutilized Species (GFU)

  • The World Vegetable Center (AVRDC)

  • The Global Horticulture Initiative (GlobalHort)

  • Bioversity International

  • Plant Resources for Tropical Africa (PROTA)

  • The International Society for Horticultural Science (ISHS)

  • Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA)

  • Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in Eastern and Central Africa (ASARECA)

  • Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation ACP-EU (CTA)