Monday, 30 November 2009

Latest AfricaAdapt YouTube videos

Three Kenyan Climate Change Fellowship recipients from the CCAA-START programme attended a recent AfricaAdapt Meet and Greet in Nairobi. They told us about the research that they have been conducting on adaptation to climate change.

Dr. Ayub Macharia of The National Environmental Management Authority in Kenya

This project seeks to shed light on pastoralists' vulnerability and coping strategies with respect to climate change in Turkana and Mandera districts, Northern Kenya.

About 13% of Kenya's 30 million people are pastoralists, herding their livestock in the arid and semi-arid lands that constitute about 75% of the country's land mass. These areas are prone to rainfall variability and extreme drought. This project seeks to shed light on pastoralists' vulnerability and coping strategies with respect to climate change in Turkana and Mandera districts, Northern Kenya. Researchers will examine indigenous technologies, best practices and existing institutional arrangements for adapting to climate change. Policies to date have tried to restrict herd movement and settle pastoralists, but with limited access to critical resources. In a changing climate with increased drought, herd movement will become even more important as an adaptation strategy. The project will seek practices that improve herd movement, such as livestock corridors, while securing pastoralists' right to water and forage.

Dr Andrew Githeko, of the Kenya Medical Research Institute, talks about his work transferring an epidemic prediction model to western Kenya in relation to the influence of climate change and the spread of malaria.

Friday, 27 November 2009

Coalition for African Rice Development Steering Committee meeting

23 - 25 November 2009. Accra. The steering Committee fo the Coalition for African Rice Development met at FARA. The meeting was co-chaired by AGRA president Namanga Ngongi and FARA executive Director Dr. Monty Jones

The Coalition for African Rice Development (CARD) is a consultative group of bi-lateral donors, regional and international organizations working in collaboration with rice-producing African countries. Its goal is to support the efforts of African countries to double rice production on the continent to 28 million tones per annum within 10 years (by 2018).
Shimpei Tokuda (JICA), Oja (JICA), George Bigirwa (AGRA), Cheick M. Sourang (IFAD), Kensuke Okada (JIRCAS), Namanga Ngongi (President of AGRA), Joseph Rickman (IRRI), Christine Cornelius (World Bank), Hiroshi Hiraoka (Coordinator CARD), Hiroyuki Kubota (JICA), Caroline Bwire (CARD secretariat), Ralph von Kaufmann (FARA/CARD Secretariat)
(from left to right, no row distinction)

Africa-wide Conference to Discuss Strategies to Boost Agricultural Development

23-24 November. Addis Ababa—Over 70 participants including policymakers, researchers, development partners and donors, representatives of farmers’ organizations and the private sector participated in this conference.

The conference, “Exploring New Opportunities and Strategic Alternatives to Inform African Agricultural Development, Planning, and Policy,” was organized by the Regional Strategic Analysis and Knowledge Support System (ReSAKSS). Facilitated by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), ReSAKSS supports implementation of the Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development Programme (CAADP) of the African Union’s New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD).

The major aim of this conference at the U.N. Economic Commission for Africa, was to assess countries’ progress in implementing CAADP, discuss what needs to be done in the future, and share experiences and success stories. To date, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Malawi, Mali, Niger, and Senegal have surpassed the target of committing ten percent of their budget to agriculture, and most countries have made significant progress towards this goal. More than 20 countries have achieved agricultural growth rates of six percent or more.

“This conference comes at a critical time,” said Dr. Ibrahim Assane Mayaki, chief executive officer of the NEPAD Secretariat. “The CAADP agenda reflects a fundamental shift in the way Africa’s leadership looks at agriculture and its potential contribution to ending poverty and hunger and achieving the Millennium Development Goals. From the G8 Summit in L’Aquila to the G20 Summit in Pittsburgh, CAADP has received international support and recognition for its role in putting agriculture at the centre of the African development agenda. In addition, countries are starting to follow through on their CAADP commitments, but we continue to face challenges related to implementation,” he added.

Interviewed during the NEPAD Tertiary Institutions Dialogue on 29th of July, Dr. Ibrahim Assane Mayaki explained that policies used to be defined by the binoom of African governments and external partners. Today there is a need to include the civil society, producers and research institutes/universities in the elaboration of sectorial policies.

The marketing of agricultural products through ICT

23, 24, 25 November 2009. Ouagadougou. The forum ‘The marketing of agricultural products through ICT’ aimed to increase the impact of the lessons learned and build the national network for ICT and development in Burkina Faso. The event was organised by Burkina NTIC, in particular its ICT cluster Agriculture.The typical method of collecting market price information in Burkina Faso.

The organisers collected best practice examples of marketing agricultural products through ICT, to understand where the opportunities are and to draw lessons for the future. Best practices will be gathered from Burkina Faso and neighbouring countries.

Hereunder is a training videos by TV Koodo, introducing the agricultural market information systems launched by Burkina NTIC and IICD.

TV Koodo chooses puppet tv presenters as carriers of the instructional message. This choice demonstrates the significance of efforts to make e-/m- learning technologies more accessible and more responsive to the needs and educational backgrounds of African users. The coupling of learning technologies with ICT services geared towards enabling market transactions, could hold the key to the adoption, the popularity and the value derived from market services.

Related FARA blog post:
23 Oct 2009 Announcement: Marketing of agricultural products through ICT
MMD4D Mobile Market Design for Development

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Advancing the implementation of CAADP Pillar IV in ECCAS/CEEAS sub-region

24 - 25 November. Yaoundé, Cameroun. Sub-regional Meeting: “Advancing the implementation of CAADP Pillar IV in ECCAS/CEEAS sub-region”. Meeting to promote the awareness on the CAADP roundtable processes and Pillar IV issues for key players drawn from countries of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) .

Cette réunion régionale est organisée en vue d’informer les principales parties prenantes de tous les processus de la table ronde du PDDAA et notamment sur les questions relatives au Pilier IV. Ces processus front l’objet d’une explication avec les rôles et responsabilités définies par les parties prenantes et une explication détaillée donnée sur la manière dont les cadres et les dispositions institutionnelles aideront à faire avancer le processus de mise en oeuvre du Pilier IV du PDDAA dans la région de la CEEAC. [ DECLARATION DU FARA PAR RAMADJITA TABO ] (left on this picture)

Governance and Small-scale Agriculture in Southern Africa

9th -11th November 2009. Johannesburg, South Africa. This workshop organised by the Institute for Democracy in Africa IDASA in Johannesburg, brought together stakeholders in agricultural issues within the southern Africa sub-region and FARA as the apex organization for the facilitation of continental agricultural development.

The workshop with the theme; “Governance and Small-scale Agriculture in Southern Africa” was organized to facilitate interdisciplinary discussion on constraints and opportunities that surround governance and public investment processes and how they are shaping small scale agriculture in the region.

Research papers and reports from countries were presented and discussed. The themes included:
1. Priorities for investment in agriculture.
2. Trends in public expenditure and small scale farming.
3. Stakeholders’ participation in agricultural policy.

The conference recommended a.o. that advocacy for the CAADP compact should include lobbying the country' government to channel the budgetary increase into issues and programs that are pro smallholders and with potentials to sustainably improve their livelihood and reduce poverty.

Participation of farmers in policy formulation is critical for the policies to adequately address the challenges in the agricultural sector. Governments have, in the past, dominated policy formulation. Small-scale farmers need to organise themselves to start engaging with policy formulation. But in order to influence policy, one needs to understand the processes that policy makers go through.

Joe Mzinga of the Eastern and Southern Africa Small-Scale Farmers’ Forum (ESAFF) also emphasised the importance of small-scale farmers organising themselves and being more aggressive in trying to participate in policy formulation.

The eastern and southern African region account for a population of about 300 million, mainly comprising smallholder farmers (60% to 80%).Despite this, the group isn’t adequately involved in the decision-making and the policy processes that touch their daily lives. Most of the ongoing agricultural strategies and programmes aren’t based on the needs and aspirations of small-scale farmers. Most of them aren’t aware of the national and regional initiatives for agriculture.Tthe 10% budget for agriculture agreed on by the African countries remained part of the decisions of the elite, government officials and a few businesspeople.

Access to Data and Information on Biodiversity, Forest Carbon and Other Global Issues

17-18 November. Washington. The Group on Earth Observations (GEO) held its annual Plenary meeting. Some 80 nations, the European Commission and 56 international organizations are coordinating their Earth observation assets and strategies through GEO. They are sharing and interlinking their systems for tracking global trends in carbon levels, climate change, biodiversity loss, deforestation, water resources, ocean temperatures and other critical indicators of planetary health and human well-being. GEO is co-chaired by China, the European Commission (EC), South Africa and the United States.

Many of the information systems and services under review at the Plenary analyze Earth observation data gathered by satellites and by in-situ instruments, such as ocean buoys, carbon flux towers, rain and discharge gauges, cameras and sonar. Two of the examples being presented at the Plenary and exhibition are:
  • Forest Carbon Tracking - By integrating field observations with radar and optical images provided by space agencies (including NASA, USGS, JAXA, CSA, ESA, DLR, ASI, INPE, GISTDA and CRESDA), the GEO Forest Carbon Tracking task is estimating trends in the spatial extent and carbon content of the world's forests. Participants in the task can share images, photos, in-situ data, models as well as results via an on-line platform contributed by Google Earth Outreach (visit after 10h30 a.m.).
  • The GEO Biodiversity Observation Network - Some 100 organizations are collaborating through GEO BON to bring together their biodiversity data, information and forecasts and make them more readily accessible to policymakers, managers, experts and other users.
The "GEO Portal" for searching integrated data sets and presenting targeted information products to decision makers will also feature in Washington. Two leading information technology companies, ESRI and Compusult, and two international agencies, the European Space Agency and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN, are contributing to this effort.


CEO presse release 19 October 2009 Comprehensive new global monitoring system to track deforestation and forest carbon
PR Newswire Group on Earth Observations Meets in Washington to Strengthen Access to Data and Information on Biodiversity, Forest Carbon and Other Global Issues

Tanzania has Just 20 Years to Adapt Agriculture to Climate Change

In the first study of its kind in East Africa (or rather a policy pointer of 2 pages) , published by the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), the researchers stress that time is running out for Tanzania to adapt.

The researchers predict that impacts of climate change in Tanzania’s agriculture sector will reduce the nation’s total GDP by 0.6-1% by 2030. But they warn that unless there is meaningful adaptation in the sector this could rise to 5-68% by 2085 as greater climate shifts take hold and trigger a chain of impacts that spread through the economy like falling dominoes.

AllAfrica 01/10/2009 Nation Has Just 20 Years to Adapt Agriculture to Climate Change, Warn Economists
Policy brief September 2009 Cultivating Success - The Need to Climate-Proof Tanzanian Agriculture

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

The food economy is increasingly shaped by such new issues as sustainability, safety and quality standards, consumer health, and industry concentration. Cultural and ethical arguments gain momentum when aligned with issues such as economic welfare and stakeholder interests. The food economy grows ever more global and encompasses more elusive elements like trust, integrity, transparency, corporate social responsibility and creating emotional bonds with customers.

The food economy is inextricably interrelated with globalisation, changes in consumer demand for food and energy, the ICT revolution, sustainability issues, and shifts in the relationship between private companies and public regulators.

The Food Economy explores a variety of trends and topics from the broad perspective that their evolution is interdependent with all kinds of counter currents and opposite notions: scarcity goes together with abundance, public and private initiatives co-evolve, slow food is connected with fast food, global brands and local products exist simultaneously. The Food Economy devotes chapters to existing and emerging issues and challenges of the expanding food economy.

The Food Economy is relevant to academics, students, policymakers and consumers who are interested in recent developments in the food system and their implications for the food policy and research agendas in the years to come. Download table of contents of the book 'The food economy'. (PDF file)

For a book review see the New Agriculturalist (nov 2009)

Can Private Sector R&D Feed the Poor?

27-28 October. Canberra Australia. This year’s Crawford Fund Annual Conference seeked to explore ways in which the private sector can engage in international agricultural research, development and extension to the benefit of the rural poor.

It tackled the longstanding problem of the persistent failure of the private sector to develop and introduce agricultural products, technologies and services so badly needed in the poorest developing countries. This failure is magnified when you consider the benefit that could flow to poor farmers if there was a shift to poorer nations in the overwhelming emphasis of private R&D investment in seeds, animal health products, fertiliser and other technology inputs from developed country markets.

The organisers called on a group of outstanding international and national specialists who come from the private, not-for-profit, philanthropic and public research sectors to consider ways in which the private sector can engage in international agricultural research, development and extension to the benefit of the rural poor, the key issues across agriculture and what it means for international agricultural research.

The international speakers were:
Dr Marco Ferroni, Executive Director of the Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture in Switzerland
Dr Prabhu Pingali, Head of Agricultural Policy and Statistics, Agriculture Development Division, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
Dr Namanga Ngongi, President, Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa
Dr William Niebur, Vice President, DuPont Crop Genetics Research and Development and a member of Private Sector Committee for the CGIAR
Dr Amit H. Roy, President and Chief Executive Officer, IFDC
Dr Thomas Lumpkin, Director General, International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre (CIMMYT)
Ms Janice Armstrong, Vice President, Corporate Affairs, Asia Pacific & China, Monsanto
C L Laxmipathi Gowda, Global Theme Leader-Crop Improvement and Management, International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics
Dr Dyno Keatinge, Director General, AVRDC - The World Vegetable Centre

Latest book on Climate change in Africa

Africa has contributed very little to global warming. But reliance on agriculture, land and natural resources, as well as high levels of poverty and poor governance has made Africa particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change. At the same time, "the interests and perspectives of African nations and their peoples are rarely taken into account when global leaders get around the table," observes Camilla Toulmin, which is of particular concern in the run up to the UN climate change conference in Copenhagen.

Climate change in Africa begins by outlining what scientists are predicting the impacts of climate change will be. Using case studies, the book analyses how global warming will affect water availability, food systems, forests, cities and conflict and addresses what Africa might lose or gain from a low-carbon economy. Finally, Toulmin looks towards the future challenges posed by climate change and the scale of the response required.

The African signatories of Food Security and Climate Change: A Call for Commitment and Preparation

18 November 2009, Global Crop Diversity Trust. Alarmed by a substantial oversight in the global climate talks leading up to the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen next month, more than 60 of the world's most prominent agricultural scientists and leaders underscored how the almost total absence of agriculture in the agreement could lead to widespread famine and food shortages in the years ahead.

Signatories of a statement issued by leading thinkers in development include five World Food Prize laureates, former heads of development agencies, former Ministers of Agriculture, and heads of the world's leading alliance of agricultural research centers.

Gebisa Ejeta, Ethiopia
• World Food Prize Laureate, 2009
• Distinguished Professor of Agronomy, Purdue University

Adel El-Baltegy, Egypt
• Chair of the Global Forum on Agricultural Research (GFAR)
• Former Director General of the International Center for Agricultural Research in Dry Areas (ICARDA)

Wangari Maathai, Kenya
• Nobel Peace Prize, 2004
• Former Assistant Minister of Environment and Natural Resources, Kenya

Chebet Maikut, Uganda
• Vice-President of the Eastern Africa Farmers Federation (EAFF)
• Former MP (Uganda)

Paul Munyenyembe, Malawi
• Head, Plant Genetic Resources Centre (SPGRC), South African Development Community
• Head of Department, Bunda Collge, University of Malawi

Zachary Kithinji Muthamia, Kenya
• Head, National Genebank of Kenya

Godfrey Mwila, Zambia
• Former Chair of the Governing Body of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations
• Former Head, National Genebank, Zambia

Papa Seck, Senegal
• Director General, Africa Rice Center (AfricaRice)
• Former Chair of the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA)

Mohamed Zehni, Libya
• Former Director, Plant Production and Protection Division, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations
• Former Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Libya to the UN

Friday, 20 November 2009

CGIAR change video

You may remember the short explanatory video of the CGIAR from last year where CGIAR used the Common Craft approach to lay out the different elements of the change process. This time and with the communications team of the CGIAR Secretariat the CGIAR decided to opt for a small piece where the CGIAR aimed at capturing the changes in mindsets that have been accompanying the process since its launch and as follows:

“We have success stories to share. However we need impact at scale. A revitalized CGIAR is part of the solution. And mindsets are changing; from skepticism to interest. Step by step we are embracing change. And now it’s your chance to get involved.”

The script is based on various CGIAR stakeholder quotes and the images and video excerpts are taken from center and challenge program Web sources. Both videos have been done with Caramba design, a Cali based multimedia company.

20/11 ICT-KM knowledge sharing: scaling up and out, up and out, up and out…

Dr. Monty Jones has been elected as the Chairperson of GFAR


Dear colleagues,

This is to inform you that I have just been elected as the Chairperson of GFAR. This is an extremely prestigious position and I feel very proud as an African to lead the global forum for agricultural research (GFAR). The revitalized GFAR is at the centre stage of ARD at the global level. GFAR has direct partnerships with various development agencies and donor’s platforms and has direct access to Global Political Summits such as the Food Summit and G8 l’Aguila meeting.

I accepted this nomination and appointment bearing in mind that FARA will benefit greatly at the international level. I will take over from Dr. Adel El Beltagy next March, a big step to follow. Through his leadership (which ends at the GCARD meeting in March 2010), he managed to revigorate GFAR’s image as a functional global platform where investors can actually share ideas within neutral grounds.

Therefore, I hope that FARA the forum and the Secretariat will provide us with guiding support to ensure we achieve our objectives.

Monty Jones, PhD, DSc;
2004 World Food Prize Laureate

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Aide à l'agriculture : des promesses aux réalités de terrain. L’état de la coordination des interventions dans 3 pays d’Afrique de l’Ouest

13 novembre 2009. Lancé à la veille du sommet mondial sur l’alimentation qui se tient à Rome du 16 au 18 novembre, le rapport "Aide à l'agriculture : des promesses aux réalités de terrain" revient sur la mise en œuvre des promesses faites par la communauté internationale au cours des douze derniers mois pour soutenir l’agriculture et assurer la sécurité alimentaire dans trois pays ouest africains : le Burkina Faso, le Niger et le Ghana.

Un rapport qui pointe du doigt le manque criant d’efficacité dans la coordination de l’aide sur le terrain.Très favorablement accueillie par les représentants d’organisations paysannes du Mali, du Burkina Faso, du Ghana, du Niger, du Sénégal et du Nigeria, partenaires de la campagne sur l’agriculture lancée par Oxfam International dans la région d’Afrique de l’Ouest, cette étude a été l’occasion de définir des pistes de travail communes pour l’année à venir sur la question de la coordination des bailleurs de fonds et sur la place des organisations paysannes dans les processus politiques en cours. Auteur du rapport, Jean-Denis Crola, chargé de plaidoyer à Oxfam France - Agir ici, en expose les objectifs initiaux et les résultats obtenus.

Aide à l'agriculture : des promesses aux réalités de terrain. L’état de la coordination des interventions dans 3 pays d’Afrique de l’Ouest

Testimonials on national statistical information systems for food and agriculture

CountrySTAT is a national statistical information system for food and agriculture. The system harmonizes and integrates data on food and agriculture coming from different sources. Through a core database, policy makers and researchers can group data across thematic areas - such as production, trade and consumption - in order to study relationships and processes. FAO cooperates with national statistical offices and ministries of agriculture in order to help them to use the system, know methodologies, organize and disseminate data.

With CountrySTAT, a statistical information system dealing with food and agriculture and a strategic tool in development planning towards food security, FAO is committed to build national capacities. At country-level, experts are learning, experiencing and implementing CountrySTAT.

CountrySTAT is gradually being rolled out in many countries. Food and agriculture data from several countries can already be accessed on line. Click on the African country names hereafter: Burkina Faso ; Togo ; Mali ; UEMOA ; Niger

Watch the technical clip on CountrySTAT to understand its main features and the possibilities offered to its administrators and users! Here are a few testimonials as collected in Rome, during a hands-on Training Workshop (October 2009):
  1. Abner K. Ingosi, Head, National Coordinator of CountrySTAT, Food Security and Early Warning Servicies - Ministry of Agriculture (Kenya). “CountrySTAT helps to collect and analyze data that are fundamental for decision-makers, even though there are some constraints such as the lack of personnel and money and the slowness of internet connection”. Duration: 2min.19sec. Format: mp3
  2. Mr Francis Dzah, Agriculture Statistics, Ghana CountrySTAT Coordinator - Ghana Statistical Service (Ghana). “CountrySTAT allows both producers and users - government officials, members of Parliament, researchers and students - to think about agriculture statistics by using a unique integrate system”. Duration: 2min.35sec. Format: mp3
  3. Mr Benjamin Bisa Banda, Statistician of National Statistical Office (Malawi). “CountrySTAT users have a better approach to statistic information because data coming from different institutions have been put together and they are easily accessible through the use of internet. It helps to understand market direction and trends”. Duration: 1min.26sec. Format: mp3

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Announcement: Sudan: the role of scientific research in agricultural development

23-24 December 2009 . The National Centre for Research of Sudan will organize its 9th Scientific Conference on: THE ROLE OF SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH IN AGRICULTURAL DEVELOPMENT

Overall objective of the Conference: To maximize the utilization of research results, scientific studies and practical efforts to serve the agricultural renaissance in the Sudan for the development of society.

Conference Themes: Policy and Framework ; Agricultural Production (rainfed and irrigated) ; Best Local and International Practices and Indigenous Knowledge ; Agro Processing ; Natural Resources Management ; Food security

Reference: 9th Scientific Conference conference website

Monday, 16 November 2009

Millions Fed: Proven Successes in Agricultural Development

12 November. Launch of the book Millions Fed: Proven Successes in Agriculture.

Millions Fed' is a project aimed to identify and examine successes in agricultural development and provide insights into the lessons they offer. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) called upon the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) to assess the evidence on what works in agriculture -- what sorts of policies, programs, and investments in agricultural development have actually reduced hunger and poverty.

Trailer and full video for "Millions Fed: Proven Successes in Agricultural Development"

IAALD 13/11/2009 Communicating a new research output: IFPRI strategies
What does it take to create a buzz around a new research output? Luz Marina Alvare and Chris Addison share some insights into the communication and knowledge-sharing approaches followed by IFPRI in launching this new book.

World Summit on Food Security

16 November 2009. The third World Summit on Food Security opened at the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) headquarters in Rome, Italy. Following the inaugural ceremony, Heads of Delegations adopted the World Summit on Food Security Declaration.

The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has warned that if more land is not used for food production now, 370 million people could be facing famine by 2050.

FAO head Jacques Diouf told the summit that developing countries had made some progress in reversing the decline in investment in agriculture since prices hit record highs at the end of 2007. But he said much of the money had not yet materialised and that amounts promised were not at the level needed.

Mr Diouf said the $44bn (£26.4bn) required for developing countries was far less that the $365bn (£219bn) that developed countries spend each year on subsidising their farmers.
He recommended that developing countries dedicate 10% of their expenditure to agriculture.


IISD RS will be providing daily reports from this meeting.
Elisabeth Atangana, President of the Sub-Regional Platform of Peasant Organizations of Central Africa (PROPAC), discusses the urgent need for good collaboration and effective involvement of farmer organizations in the process of poverty reduction. PROPAC, is an organization representing small-holders, rural entrepreneurs and the vulnerable rural population (women and youth). See video
Barcelona climate change talks 2-6 November, 2009
FAO supported the last round of Climate Change Talks before the final meeting of the Convention of the Parties (COP15), in Copenhagen, Denmark. This took place in Barcelona to guarantee that food security adaptation and mitigation are taken into account in view of a new climate change deal. Report: Food Security and Agricultural Mitigation in Developing Countries: Options for Capturing Synergies

Stakeholders' workshop on the preparation of the agriculture sector strategy for the AfDB

13 November 2009. Tunis. The African Development Bank held a Stakeholders' workshop on the preparation of the agriculture sector strategy for the AfDB.

In response to the global food crisis, the Bank Group established the African Food Crisis Response (AFCR) Task Force in July 2008 to address the food insecurity in its RMCs. The task force has provided a framework for accelerated support to RMCs affected by escalating food prices. Its interventions are designed to reduce the risk of increased poverty on the continent in the short term and to ensure sustainable food security in the medium to long term.

The Bank’s proposed short term responses cover a one-year period. Four specific short term responses were proposed:
  • Realignment of the existing agriculture portfolio with the aim of boosting food production. This measure comprises agriculture and non agricultural projects;
  • Use of budget support instrument for quick disbursement of resources to RMCs;
  • Increased dissemination of NERICA rice seeds; and
  • Allocation from the Bank’s Surplus Account (UA 20 million).
  • These short term measures have resulted in the Bank’s global approval of UA 416.54 million, UA 255.16 million of which is already disbursed.
The Bank’s medium to long term measures meanwhile will from 3 - 6 years The AFCR proposes seven approaches aiming at improving food security while taking advantage of the high food prices:
  • Improved rural infrastructure;
  • Operationalizing the African Fertilizer Financing Mechanism;
  • Increasing NERICA rice production;
  • Capacity building, policy dialogue and trade promotion;
  • Scaling up private sector operations for food security;
  • Promoting agricultural research, and
  • Establishing a Crisis Response Facility. Gender mainstreaming and addressing climate change are core guiding principles identified under the AFCR.


Related: 11/11/2009 “Africa has to change ways of doing things in agriculture and to recognize the global winds of change for the sector,” Bank Group Operations Evaluation Officer, Detlev Puetz, said on Tuesday 11 November 2009 in Addis-Ababa, during a presentation on the theme: Facing the financial crisis: The imperative of regional action for agriculture in Africa. In the presence of more than 150 conference participants, Mr. Puetz developed key theories on new paths for agricultural finance development. Experts Reflect on Imperative of Regional Action for Agriculture in Africa

FIFTH CAADP Partnership Platform Meeting

09-10 November 2009. Abuja, Nigeria. The African Union Commission (AUC), in collaboration with the NEPAD Secretariat and ECOWAS Secretariat, organized the 5th Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development Programme Partnership Platform (CAADP-PP).

Ahead of the CADDP-PP meeting experts met for a two-days planning meeting, 5-6 November 2009. It was followed by an International Conference on Financing Regional Agricultural Policy in West Africa aims to adopt the Draft Regional Partnership Compact for the implementation of ECOWAP/CAADP: 11-12 November.

The pact confirms the adherence of the parties concerned - ECOWAS, regional cooperation organizations, professional organizations, financial institutions and technical and financial partners - to the focuses, objectives, principles and institutional and financial mechanisms of ECOWAP/CAADP and recognizing ECOWAP/CAADP as the sole basis for the programming and coordination of regional operations in the agricultural sector.

The 5th CAADP-PP meeting, was hosted by ECOWAS Secretariat, and provided an inclusive platform for peer interaction, review and experience sharing among the core institutions and partners involved in CAADP implementation.

The 5th CAADP-PP came at the marking point that a number of countries have shown their commitment of CAADP program implementation by putting the compact agreement. In this regard it to deliberated a key elements and strategies on the joint engagement and coordination so as to ensure the desired, coordinated and timely support appropriate to the country-specific circumstances.

The meeting also discussed various components towards CAADP implementation including, amongst others:
  • CAADP Multi Donor Trust Fund (MDTF) Governance arrangement;
  • CAADP Monitoring and Evaluation Framework;
  • Roadmap for the follow-up and implementation of the July 2009 Heads of State and Government Summit decisions;
  • Framework for Regional CAADP implementation and regional compacts, as well as the issue of food security and climate change, which are affecting agricultural performance.


African Press Organisation, 13/11 AUC, RECS and civil society agree with development partners to boost African agriculture through CAADP programme / Closing of the fifth CAADP PP meeting

AfricaAdapt ‘Meet and Greet’ networking event

5th November 2009. FARA Secretariat, Accra. About 30 participants attended the AfricaAdapt ‘Meet and Greet’ networking event. Participants were from research, national media, community radio, NGOs, academia.

AfricaAdapt held in Nairobi and Dakar similar small scale (30-40 people) networking events where people from policy, research, NGOs, media and network members can share experiences and explore opportunities.

Background: What is AfricaAdapt?
  • AfricaAdapt is an independent bilingual network (French/English) focused on Africa.
  • The Network aims to facilitate the flow of climate change adaptation knowledge for sustainable livelihoods between researchers, policy makers, civil society organisations and local communities across the continent.
  • AfricaAdapt is collaboratively hosted by the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA, Ghana); Environment and Development in the Third World (ENDA-TM, Senegal); IGAD Climate Prediction and Applications Centre (ICPAC, Kenya); and Institute of Development Studies (IDS, UK).

CAAST-Net Stakeholders' Conference on Africa-Europe Science and Technology Cooperation

10 and 11 November 2009. Mombasa, Kenya. The Kenyan Ministry of Higher Education, Science and Technology (MoHEST) in collaboration with the International Bureau of the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (IB of BMBF) held the CAAST-Net Stakeholders' Conference on Africa-Europe Science and Technology Cooperation: Status and Way Forward,

The event was organised with reference to the Joint EU-Africa Strategy and its 8th Partnership for Science, Information Society and Space, and addressed common European-African interest in an enhanced science and technology cooperation as well as the respective policy framework.

The conference comprised a range of different sessions and workshops in order to elaborate on good practice and chances for synergies and coherences in science and technology policies and frameworks. It also provided common ground for joint policy recommendations and thus support the strategic S&T policy dialogue between Africa and Europe on all levels.

The main objectives of the conference were:
  • To support the dialogue between European and African S&T stakeholders from different spheres (the policy and science community);
  • To explore the opportunities and limitations of present S&T cooperation mechanisms (for example, within the framework of FP7, bilateral scientific cooperation as well as development cooperation);
  • To pave the way towards an enabling policy framework for S&T cooperation.

FARA presented during this conference the PAEPARD project: Platform on African European Partnerships in Agricultural Research for Development.

Presentations on the existing landscape, as well as case studies of successful cooperation examples, set the scene for specific workshops focused on three key aspects of bi-regional cooperation: the role of the Seventh Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development (FP7), the role of bi-lateral cooperation and in particular the value of bi-lateral S&T agreements, as well as the question of how to achieve closer synergy between S&T and development agendas.

It is envisaged that the finalised recommendations of the conference will be disseminated within policy fora at the highest level-in particular, policy dialogues taking place around the implementation of the 8th Partnership for Science, Information Society and Space of the Joint Africa-EU Strategy, as well as in the fora of the African Union and European Union commissions.

Background: The CAAST-Net Stakeholders' Conference on Africa Europe Science and Technology Cooperation: Status and Way Forward is an activity of CAAST-Net - the Network for the Coordination and Advancement of Sub-Saharan Africa-EU Science and Technology Cooperation. CAAST-Net is the Seventh Framework Programme INCO-NET for Sub-Saharan Africa. Greater enhancement of the policy dialogue among African and European stakeholders is one important strategic activity of CAAST-Net, and this conference is the first of a series to be organised.


Prize for Arid and Semi-Arid Zones

November 5 to 7, 2009. Budapest, Hungary. 4th edition of the World Science Forum under the theme "Knowledge and Future". The forum aimed at promoting the need for science and scientific advice in political and economic decision-making. It also aimed at fastering better scientific communication among world societies.

Scientists, policy-makers, non-governmental organizations, educational institutions and research bodies, leaders of culture and industry, science and education ministers of the G77 countries were taking part in the event.
During this Forum the Great Man-Made River International Water Prize for Arid and Semi-Arid Zones, which is awarded every two years, has been given to Bellachheb Chahbani, who has spent more than 25 years at the Institute of Arid Regions in Medenine, Tunisia.
The laureate has helped improve water management and optimize irrigation systems by reducing evaporation and run-off. Scientists and local farmers helped elaborate the technique, which is already in use in central and southern Tunisia as well as in Algeria. In these areas, operating costs have been reduced and crops saved that would otherwise have been killed by drought.
The Tunisian researcher, has invented new techniques to promote the economy of surface water in arid areas. They consist of a float by gravity drainage, a pocket stone buried and drainage pumping in addition to the new method of injecting water retention in small dams.

Newslab 24/01/08 Le génie Tunisien!

West and Central African Research Education Network (WACREN)

2nd to 3rd November 2009. Accra Ghana. The University of Ghana, Legon in collaboration with The Royal Swedish Institute of Technology (KTH) and Ghana Academic and Research Network (GARNET) hosted the 7th International Conference on Open Access.

Delegates from Ghana, Nigeria, Cameroon, Cote D'Ivoire, Senegal, Ethiopia, Uganda, Togo, Burkina Faso, South Africa, Canada, Rwanda, Mali, Benin, Sudan, Tanzania, Malawi, Sweden, France and the US are attending the conference, which was preceded by a preliminary meeting, which focussed on Regional Research Education Networks (RRENs).

By bringing together key players in West and Central African Universities and other participants who may share their experience in forming RRENs it is expected that the meeting would also lead to the formation of the West and Central African Research Education Network.

The Open Access Conference series began in Sweden, in 2003 with the focus on regional prerequisites, communication needs, choice of technology and business model among other things. In Africa the conference was organised in Mozambique since 2005, Tanzania in 2007 and in Malawi in 2008.


Friday, 13 November 2009

Learning about and respecting how communities manage common resources in the battle against environmental degradation

The 2009 Nobel Prize in Economics was awarded on 12th October to Elinor Ostrom and Oliver Williamson for their research on economic governance. Ostrom’s award is particularly exciting, for it cites her study of the commons.

Ostrom’s pioneering work mostly concerns the governance of common-pool resources — resources that are rivalrous (i.e., scarce, can be used up, unlike digital goods) yet need to be or should be governed as a commons — classically, things like water systems and the atmosphere. This work is cited by many scholars of non-rivalrous commons (e.g., knowledge commons) as laying the groundwork for their field.

Elinor Ostrom has challenged the conventional wisdom that common property is poorly managed and should be either regulated by central authorities or privatized. Based on numerous studies of user-managed fish stocks, pastures, woods, lakes, and groundwater basins, Ostrom concludes that the outcomes are, more often than not, better than predicted by standard theories. She observes that resource users frequently develop sophisticated mechanisms for decision-making and rule enforcement to handle conflicts of interest, and she characterizes the rules that promote successful outcomes.

Hereunder is a short presentation by Elinor Ostrom, joint winner of this year's Peace Prize for Economics. She talks about the crucial role of learning about and respecting how communities manage common resources in the battle against environmental degradation.

Press Release Noble Prize 12/10 Economic governance: the organization of cooperation

Cataloguing the radiation signature—and thus agricultural potential—of about 100,000 samples of African soils

In Africa, where many soils have become badly depleted of nutrients, better fertiliser management would go a long way.

As a consequence, the World Agroforestry Centre in Nairobi has begun cataloguing the radiation signature—and thus agricultural potential—of about 100,000 samples of African soils. It is giving this detailed information to the International Centre for Tropical Agriculture, based in Colombia, so that it can build a database called the Digital Soil Map.
When ready, this will provide farmers with free forecasts, developed with regularly updated satellite imagery, across farmland in 42 African countries. For a hunger-ravaged continent, that is good news indeed.


FARA blog post of 29 January 2009 African Soil Information Service (AfSIS) The first detailed digital soil map of sub-Saharan Africa