Tuesday, 30 September 2008
Oumar Niangado and Vivienne Anthony from Syngenta Foundation with prof. Walter Alhassan, Sidi Sanyang, Irene Frempong, Samira Hotobah During, Solomon Bangali and Odularu Gbadebo
There are many actors on the biotechnology/biosafety capacity building scene in Africa at both country and regional levels. Syngenta Foundation will therefore assist FARA to undertake a study to determine its role in bioskills and biosafety support in Africa. It will also support a background study to enable the development by FARA of an effective support to awareness creation initiatives and to institute stewardship training of technology recipients.
Dr. Oumar Niangado of Syngenta Fondation explains what the big challenges are for bio-technology from Africas perspective. It is essential that Africans themselves make an informed decision about the use of genetically modified crops especially taking into account the need to increase production. He answers the question whether the problem is mainly political or a problem of capacities. He finally expresses his satisfaction about the consultation with FARA.
PAEPARD I was implemented in partnership between FARA (the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa) and EFARD (the European Forum for Agricultural Research for Development), through ECART (the European Consortium for Agricultural Research in the Tropics) and NATURA (the Network of European Agricultural - Tropically and sub-tropically oriented – Universities and scientific complexes). PAEPARD I made good progress in identifying constraints to increase African-European research collaboration through consultations, and in developing an “Information and communication strategy for promoting partnerships of ARD stakeholders from Europe and Africa”, which will feed into PAEPARD II.
The workshop produced a revised project document for PAEPARD II. Below is an overview of the the participants (excluding FARA staff members).
Communications Consultant FANRPAN
Appui Technique ROPPA
Reseau des Organisations Paysanes et des Producteurs Agricoles
Charge Cooperation Internationale Hort
Chief Executive EAFF
Sub- Director MINADER
Delegate General CONCORD
European Food Security Collective
Mohammed El Nahraway
Agricultural Research Center
Director of programs CORAF
Chief Coorinator, DDRN
University of Copenhagen
International centre for Development Oriented Research in Agriculture
Wageningen / The Netherlands
Friday, 26 September 2008
CGI, now in its fourth year, draws world leaders, celebrities, activists and scholars for three days of discussions about pressing global problems. It coincides with the General Assembly meeting taking place on the other side of town at the United Nations.
The first of its kind, the African Forum on Biotechnology, is being held under the theme: “Harnessing the potential of biotechnology for food security and socio-Economic Development in Africa”. It was jointly organised by the African Union and the Kenyan Government, including several other partners in the presence of government officials of AU Member States, scientists, researchers, journalists specialised in the domain, civil society, agricultural organisations within the African continent as well as representatives of regions that are technically advanced in the area of biotechnology worldwide.
Other activities on the agenda of the Congress include thematic workshops that will hold up to 26 September 2008. One of the workshops will be on communication. It will focus on the role of the media in covering events related to biotechnology.
International Conference on Natural Resource Management, Climate Change and Economic Development in Africa
The intention of the conference was to bring together a significant body of information to illuminate the physical, socioeconomic and global impacts of climate change and resource management, and related policy issues.
Kenyan Environment Minister John Michuki opened the conference at the Intercontinental Hotel. The minister urged the AERC to think seriously about incorporating agricultural and natural resource management issues into its programme.
AERC’s long-term ambition focuses on a paradigm shift at the national level, so that Africa’s poor can become less vulnerable to drought-related food shortages and globalization on the whole. It is anticipated that through AERC’s broad research and policy network, the research papers and dissemination efforts will bring these issues to the fore so as to raise African policy makers’ awareness and enable them to take a proactive stance on behalf of their countries and nationals.
AERC 20th Anniversary Conference
Bussiness Daily Africa 15/09 Minister blames pollution on politics
The Commission consists of international members drawn from Heads of States and Governments, politicians, experts, business people and representatives from both international and regional organizations and the academic world. The majority are from Africa. The Danish Prime Minister, Mr. Anders Fogh Rasmussen, is chairman of the Commission.
The following themes were used as inspiration and guide for the working group discussions: 1. Water resources 2. Food security and agricultural productivity 3. Adaptation to climate change in urban areas 4. Economic development and clean energy 5. Avoiding deforestation
See: Africa Commission
Sixth biennial scientific conference of the University of Nairobi’s College of Agriculture and Veterinary Sciences.
Thursday, 25 September 2008
LifeLines, a technology-based helpline service, is helping initiate a small revolution-of-sorts in the lives of rural communities in India by enabling them with access to critical knowledge and livelihood information just on the dial of a phone.
An initiative of the OneWorld International Foundation, in collaboration with British Telecom and Cisco, the Lifelines service, was introduced as a digital inclusion initiative to help developing-world communities bridge the digital divide and better their livelihood and income opportunities.
The service is based on the premise of leveraging ICTs a mix of internet and telephone technologies - to enable the provision of essential information, advice and guidance to remote and rural communities in India through the medium of voice and in the local language.
Pascal C. Sanginga, Ann Waters-Bayer, Susan Kaaria, Jemimah Njuki and Chesha Wettasinha
In addition to the 25 Laureates being honored, Professor Muhammad Yunus, pioneer of microcredit and founder of Grameen Bank, will receive the 2008 James C. Morgan Global Humanitarian Award, honoring individuals whose broad vision and leadership are helping to address humanity’s greatest challenges.
Established in 2001, The Tech Awards recognize 25 Laureates in five universal categories: education, equality, environment, economic development and health. These Laureates have developed new technological solutions or innovative ways to use existing technologies to significantly improve the lives of people around the world. One Laureate in each category will receive a $50,000 cash prize during the annual Awards Gala on November 12.
This year, the 2008 Laureates represent the truly global vision of the program, spanning countries such as Senegal, Peru, Hungary, Canada, Namibia, Germany, Egypt, India, United Kingdom, Laos and the United States. Their work impacts people in many more countries worldwide.
Below are some of the 2008 Laureates and a brief description of the winning projects.
- Farm inputs like seeds, fertilizers, pesticides
- Funding schemes
- Government schemes on loans and subsidies
- Banking and insurance
- Market prices
- Region specific market information
- Agriculture news
- Organic farming
The types of queries addressed till date include some of the following:
- Insect, pest and disease management
- Market information and commodity prices
- New varieties of crops
- Government schemes for crop insurance and loans
- Watershed management and micro-irrigation
- Seeds and fertilizers
According to the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), 25,000 farm families in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger have significantly improved yields of sorghum, maize and millet by adding just a ''three-finger pinch'' (six grams) of fertiliser when planting seeds or within three weeks of sowing.
This revitalises areas suffering degraded soil and empowers farmers in areas where fertiliser is difficult to obtain or too expensive, says Ramadjita Tabo, ICRISAT's assistant director for West and Central Africa.
The continent could become a gold mine for renewable energy due to abundant solar and wind resources. But roadblocks to clean energy worldwide are amplified throughout the troubled regions of Africa - financial resources are thin and infrastructure is often unreliable.
Meeting at the Africa Carbon Forum in Senegal's capital Dakar 3 - 5 September, United Nations officials, World Bank specialists, and business leaders exchanged strategies for "Clean Development Mechanism" (CDM) projects on the continent - greenhouse gas-reducing initiatives that industrialized countries can support as a way to compensate for their excess emissions. A theme throughout the meetings was the possibility of future CDM projects under a successor agreement to the Kyoto Protocol, especially if the United States joins the market.
If a green revolution was possible in Asia then why not in Africa?
With these words Akin Adesina (AGRA) took the floor and challenged participants during the first panel of the Brussels briefing of 2nd July on “New drivers, new players in ACP rural development”Is a green revolution in Africa possible?
While new technologies and crop varieties can help, they cannot alone offer a solution. Africa faces additional challenges to improve agricultural production: farmers’ access to new technologies is limited; markets are poorly developed, soils are drained of nutrients and fertilizer use is low. To address these challenges, the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa - AGRA - intervenes with a number of programmes, which Mr. Adesina presented, including improving seed systems, soil health and market access as well as policy advocacy.
On top of these, locally based and consistent policies are of central importance. Mr. Adesina argued that World Bank structural adjustment programmes of the 1980s were disastrous for African agriculture and he urged that it was time to end the “Washington Consensus” and adopt a real “African Consensus” for policy development. He reminded participants of African success stories past and present; arguing that if “maize revolutions” have been possible in countries like Zimbabwe, Zambia and Malawi, then productivity growth is possible. He concluded that all actors, public and private, need to ensure that institutions, infrastructures, markets, and technology are working together for a green revolution in Africa.
Wednesday, 24 September 2008
Immediately following the Development Marketplace awards ceremony on September 26th, the Agriculture and Rural Development Department will host Cultivating Innovation: A Response to the Food Price Crisis, a policy dialogue with policy makers and practitioners to explore possibilities for innovation in the food price crisis response. This full day program will provide an interactive forum for exchange and networking among high-level policy makers, World Bank staff, and the Global Development Marketplace finalists.
DM2008 - Assessement of Proposals
One of the selected projects is Dial-up Radio: Agricultural Information on Demand
ORGANIZATION: Kubatana Trust of Zimbabwe
FUNDING REQUEST: $193,400
This project will develop a series of short segment audio programs that will provide small-scale farmers telephone access to relevant information through an automated voice system. This “dial-up” radio system will be an information hub featuring a regularly updated, diverse menu of pre-recorded agricultural content in Shona, Ndebele and English. Moreover, these flexible audio magazines will enable farmers to leave messages and ask questions thereby creating two-way communication with other farmers, suppliers, consumers, transport networks, support services and agricultural extension workers.
Kubatana - Join the NGO Network Alliance Project affordable technology to communicate with one another. Freedom Fone leverages the fastest growing tool for personal access to information 24/7 – the mobile phone – & marries it with citizen radio programming
Interactive Voice Response (IVR) MobileActive.org
Dialup Radio is a tool that distributes human rights and independent media via telephone.
For the full list see DMO8 Event Guide (PDF document)
WB press release June 23, Global DM2008: 100 Innovative Ideas to Make Sustainable Agriculture Work for Developement
Tuesday, 23 September 2008
A new report by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, released ahead of this meeting, showed that while most of Africa’s economies are now growing more rapidly than they did a decade ago, the continent remains “off track” in its quest to achieve the MDGs.
A side event (High Level Panel) "A Response to the World Food Crisis: Smallholder Agriculture, Food Security and Rural Development in Africa" focused on the global food crisis and was held at United Nations Headquarters in New York on the sidelines of the General Assembly’s high-level meeting on Africa’s development needs. The Secretary-General noted:
The High Level Panel was organized by FAO, IFAD and WFP, in partnership with UNDP, UN-NGLS, the Earth Institute of Columbia University and the Republic of Malawi. The speakers included H. E. Mr. Bingu Wa Mutharika President of Malawi, Mr. Ban Ki Moon, UN Secretary General, Dr. Jacques Diouf, Director General of FAO, Prof. Jeffrey Sachs of the Earth Institute at Columbia University and Ms. Elisabeth Atangana, President of the Sub-regional Platform of Peasant Organizations of Central Africa (PROPAC). Other participants will included the Heads of UNDP, IFAD and WFP.
“The Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme drawn up by the African Union has many good proposals. If the Programme is implemented now, Africa will move from food scarcity to food exporter in a few years' time. Given that the majority of Africans live in rural areas where small farmers are the main food producers, it is vital to address the difficulties they face in production. Increasing investments in agriculture and the rural economy is a necessary first step. Investing more will help small farmers adopt new technologies and modern farming methods. It will help provide agricultural extension services, more storage facilities, better roads access to markets”
Extract from the Side Event Draft Concept Note
Global climate change deepens the challenges inherent in enhancing African agricultural productivity and food security. CAADP’s emphasis on empowering producers through improved agricultural education, research, technological dissemination and adoption is made even more urgent by the pressure of global warming. All efforts to enhance rural development in Africa must take explicit account of climate change. As called for under the MDG Africa Steering Group’s recommendations, investments in agricultural research need to be significantly scaled up in a manner consistent with the CAADP, in particular its Pillar IV, the Framework for African Agricultural Productivity (FAAP), and channeled through the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA), sub-regional organizations, centres belonging to the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) and governments.
UN Newscenter 22/09 Investing in Africa’s farmers crucial part of global response to food crisis
ReliefWeb 23/09 Secretary-General, addressing side event on food security in ...
ChinaView 23/09 UN chief urges more investment in Africa to tackle food crisis
More farmer-friendly content emerged in 2006 when a partnership between donor organisations (DFID) and Fit Resources, a non-profit company offering business development services, saw the launch of Mali Shambani, or "Wealth in the Farm".
Farming advice on the radio can help regions with no extension infrastructre.
Surveys indicate this is now one of the most populat radio programmes in Kenya, with 80 per cent of listeners claiming they learned something new from it, and 50 per cent saying that they have put something from the programme into practice.
Aired for one hour each Monday on KBC, the programme targets farmers and others in the agriculture sector, providing information on farming techniques, inputs, quality standards, weather and seasonal issues, market prices and trends, business tips, landuse, and financing opportunities. Each edition also features a question-and-answer section, where listeners call or send text messages and can interact live with an expert panel. A single programme attracts as many as 200 SMS messages from Kenyans and from listeners as far afield as Uganda and Tanzania.
New Agriculturalist Found in translation: farm radio goes local
Going against the grain: Malawi's fertiliser subsidy
Two years of good weather, combined with a government subsidy scheme on maize seed and fertiliser, have produced record harvests in Malawi. However, with the rising cost of fertiliser, does it still represent Malawi's best solution to food insecurity
Bahati Tweve: The honest 'middleman' brokering deals
The First Mile Project in rural Tanzania has promoted the use of 'spies', mobile phones and the internet to help farmers gain better access to market
Reaping what you sow: developing a seed industry in Africa
A programme that provides Business Development services to seed companies in East and Southern Africa is helping to transform Africa's growing seed industry.
Found in translation: farm radio goes local
A pioneeering agricultural radio programme in Kenya has led to local radio stations broadcasting their own versions in vernacular languages, including Kikuyu, Kikamba and Kalenjin. Farmers now have regular and reliable sources of information on the key activities in the relevant regions, such as fruit farming, dairying, fishing or maize production.
No till and raised beds boost yields
On Lesotho's highly eroded plateau, no-tillage conservation agriculture techniques are raising farm productivity. Last year, despite the worst drought in three decades, farmers were able to sell surplus grain to the World Food Programme.
Gender revolution: a prerequisite for change
Women produce 80 per cent of the food in Africa yet own only one per cent of the land. According to Kofi Annan, "a green revolution in Africa will happen only if there is also a gender revolution".
Sorghum beer: a sustaining brew
In Sierra Leone, a public-private partnership - which started as a social experiment - has resulted in a sustainable business buying sorghum from local farmers to use in brewing beer
Thursday, 18 September 2008
The SSA-CP MTP offers a good overview of the changes made as a result of the external review and the SC’s previous MTPs commentaries. The Program has responded seriously and positively to all previous assessments. The SSA CP was set in motion in January 2005. It has undergone several design changes since then. There are three major research questions which the CP has now embraced to try to produce empirical evidence for IAR4D. The SC is pleased to see that this MTP includes a thorough discussion of significant research activities. In addition, capacity building, which is a key in any IAR4D project, has now been made more explicit by the creation of a post-doc program. Also, SROs are now more involved in the implementation of the Pilot Learning Sites (PLS).
Tuesday, 16 September 2008
Professor Yola Verhasselt, Member of the Board Trustees of the International Foundation for Science, explains how young African researchers need to be trained in writing for international scientific journals. For her there is no ambiguity between reaching those international standards and the need to use research findings for vulgarisation. But researchers need to have specific financial means to be able to disseminate their research findings.
IFS is a research council with international operations and the mission is to build the scientific capacity of developing countries in sciences related to the sustainable management of biological and water resources.
Proposal Writing Workshop on Underutilized Crops
Workshop: Nairobi, Kenya 24th - 29th Nov, 2008
- AuthorAID is a new and FREE international research community. AuthorAID is a pioneering program based at the International Network for the Availability of Scientific Publications (INASP). It is supported by the Swedish International Development Corporation Agency (Sida) and the UK Department for International Development (DFID). This new web site has been developed in conjunction with the Institute of Learning and Research Technology at the University of Bristol UK. AuthorAID helps researchers in developing countries to publish and otherwise communicate their work. It also serves as a wider global forum to discuss and disseminate research. Example of their activities Scientific Writing Training Course, Zambia 25-29 Aug 08
- Maximizing the Impact of Agricultural Research in Africa 21st-22nd October, 2008 Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Workshop on Research Communication
Monday, 15 September 2008
Interview with Karen Hackshaw Programme Coordinator Institutional Publications - Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Co-operation. Karen explains how this satellite broadcasting works to disseminate agricultural information from CTA (of which Spore). CTA has been training some 100 participants over the past 3 years who train a minimum of another 3 persons.
- 2005 – Mali and Zambia
- 2006 – Fiji
- 2007 – Senegal and Kenya
- 2008 – Ghana for Anglophone Africa especially the Anglophone countries in West Africa
Saturday, 6 September 2008
Dr. Simon Heck, Senior Policy Adviser, WorldFish Center expains how the need for research in the sector of fisheries has moved beyond fish biologists to incorporate many other disciplines like economists. Too much attention went to understanding African fish markets for export to Europe. He thinks that there is a specific role for FARA-CGIAR collaboration to understand and stimulate inter african fish trade
Friday, 5 September 2008
CTA has held workshops to train users in Zambia and Mali in 2005; in Fiji, in 2006; in Senegal, in 2007 and most recently in Accra 01/09-05/09/2008. The end result of these workshops is the creation of a community of digital satellite users, who are equally skilled in downloading information from the satellite as well as uploading information arising out of their activities.
CTA collaborates on this with First Voice International (FVI). FVI has the unique ability to get vital information to potentially over one billion people who normally miss out: The most poor, illiterate and remote in Africa and Asia Pacific, those who live in places where Internet is unreliable or costs too much, where you still don't find phones, or where electricity, infrastructure or financial resources are limited.
Thursday, 4 September 2008
Dr. Olanrewaju Smith of the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT, Niamey, Niger) gives a first overview of a number of outcomes of the CGIAR - FARA consultation which took place at FARA Accra between 1st and 4th of September 2008.
Dr. Mucemi - CEO of Teknobyte Kenya, explains how Interactive Voice Servce for farmers are an integral part of a comprehensive farmer information system, which he call the farmer information matrix. He also elaborates on the advantages of working with big telecom companies to offer this kind of service.
Professor Christian Borgemeister, Director General of the African Insect Science for Food and Health - icipe Nairobi/Kenya - explains the communication strategy of icipe. icipe wants to make sure its research findings reach high quality research journals but also the farmer in f.i East Kivu in the DRC. He answers the question on how to deal with the multitude of agricultural information providers.
Tuesday, 2 September 2008
Dr Monty Jones - Executive Director FARA - and Dr. Kwesi Atta-Krah - Deputy Director General, Bioversity - adressing the participants. Dr. Adewale Adekunle facilitating the meeting
September 2-4, 2008. A CGIAR / FARA Consultation towards Partnerships and Coordinated Implementation of the Pillar IV of CAADP is held in Accra. The goal is to harmonize CGIAR and FARA research initiatives in Africa, with special emphasis on those involving collective action, with a view to strengthen partnerships and links with the overall CAADP and FAAP agendas of Africa.
This consultation is not intended to cover the overall operation of CGIAR and FARA in the continent. The focus is on collective action initiatives requiring strategic partnerships between the CGIAR and FARA, and which have capacity for contributing towards the CAAPD agenda. Specific research agendas of individual CG centres or bilateral research partnerships between particular Centres and FARA are not necessarily covered in this consultation.
Participants form CGIAR:
Dr. Jojo B. Forson, Regional Director, Sub-Saharan Africa, Bioversity International
Dr. Lawrence Narteh, Coordinator WARDA/Regional Plan WCA
Dr. Ponniah Anandajayase, ILRI
Dr. Paula Bramel, Deputy Director General, Research for Development, IITA
Dr. Boubacar Barry, Senior Researcher (IWMI)
Dr. Ravi Prabhu, Coordinator CGIAR Regional Plan for Collective Action in Eastern & Southern Africa
Dr. Kwesi Atta-Krah, Deputy Director General, Bioversity
Dr. Enrica Porcari, Chief Information OfficerLeader, ICT-KM Program, CGIAR-Bioversity
Dr. Robin Buruchara, Coordinator Pan-African Bean Research Institute (PABRA)
Dr. Simon Heck, Senior Policy Adviser, WorldFish Center
Dr. Ola Smith, ICRISAT
Dr. Cyrus Ndiritus, CPWF