Platform for African – European Partnership in Agricultural Research for Development

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Food and agriculture: Driving action across the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

FAO, 40 pages

Our planet faces multiple and complex challenges in the 21st century. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development commits the international community to act together to overcome them and transform our world for present and future generations. Focusing on food and agriculture, investing in rural people and transforming the rural sector - actions associated with the holistic vision of SDG2 - can speed progress towards all 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

This publication presents FAO’s work to support countries reach SDG targets, highlighting the crucial interlinkages between food, livelihoods and management of natural resources. Featuring examples of country projects across the globe, it describes how FAO’s long experience in shaping projects and policies founded on sustainability, expertise in monitoring and custodianship of SDG indicators, focus on tackling the root causes of poverty and hunger, and capacity to build partnerships with development actors can aid governments construct the necessary enabling environment to achieve the 2030 Agenda.

Guidelines on Innovation Platforms in R4D

Guidelines for Innovation Platforms in Agricultural Research for Development. Decision support for research, development and funding agencies on how to design, budget and implement impactful Innovation Platforms.
Schut, M., Andersson, J.A., Dror, I., Kamanda, J., Sartas, M., Mur, R., Kassam, S., Brouwer, H., Stoian, D., Devaux, A., Velasco, C., Gramzow, A., Dubois, T., Flor, R.J., Gummert, M., Buizer, D., McDougall, C., Davis, K., Homann-Kee Tui, S., Lundy, M., 2017. International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and Wageningen University (WUR) under the CGIAR Research Program on Roots Tubers and Bananas (RTB), Kigali, Rwanda.
46 pages

The guidelines support funders and project developers in thinking about when and in what form innovation platforms can contribute effectively to achieving research and development objectives.

It provides information on key design and implementation principles, the financial and human resources that need to be made available, and makes suggestions for more effective monitoring, evaluation and learning.

The guidelines also contain reference materials, Frequently Asked Questions and a decision support tool for research, development and funding agencies.
“We need to think more critically about when, how and in what form innovation platforms can meaningfully contribute to agricultural development impacts. Some time ago, I noticed that I was becoming increasingly annoyed with the innovation platform approach being opted as a silver bullet solution in agricultural research for development programs – especially for the sole purpose of disseminating (technological) agricultural innovations,” Dr Marc Schut, the lead author of a new booklet
This publication was developed with support from the CGIAR Research Program on Roots, Tubers, and Bananas (RTB).

Related:
Webinar 23/08 Changing sorghum breeding in Mali through gender insights
This webinar will discuss the gender-related findings of the sorghum breeding program at ICRISAT, which ensured that end-users’ preferences and needs are addressed through specific activities at multiple stages designed to include women and men. The session will feature presentations from two experts involved in the program (below) and a moderated discussion with the audience.

Entrepreneurs sociaux : développer une agriculture biologique au Burkina Faso

10 August 2017. En Afrique de l’Ouest, l’utilisation de pesticides et fertilisants chimiques est très répandue chez les producteurs agricoles. Avec l’arrivée de ces produits chimiques venus d’occident après la période coloniale, les agriculteurs ont délaissé la pratique traditionnelle de l’agriculture biologique. Beaucoup ont été attirés par les faibles coûts des engrais et l’obtention de meilleurs rendements à très court terme. Leur utilisation est devenue la norme, détériorant les sols et la santé des hommes.

L’entreprise BioProtect œuvre depuis plusieurs années à la démocratisation de la production de légumes biologiques au Burkina Faso. Elle s’est attaquée à la racine du problème : les mentalités des communautés de petits producteurs. Aujourd’hui, plus de 2000 d’entre eux ont adhéré à l’utilisation de fertilisants biologiques. Pour toucher davantage de personnes, des visites de fermes sont organisées gratuitement afin de faire découvrir la pratique du maraîchage biologique.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Choosing low cost and effective irrigation delivery systems

Choosing low cost and effective irrigation delivery systems and irrigation application technologies are the ways to improve agricultural productivity and farm incomes.

The purpose of this project (August, 2016 to July, 2020) of the International Center for Biosaline Agriculture is to expand low cost and water efficient irrigation technologies and addressing related constraints and limitations for large scale adoption by smallholder farmers in the Sub-Saharan Africa covering mainly four countries; Burkina Faso, Niger, Mali, and Senegal. The partners of the project are ICBA, NARIs, Universities, Farmer Associations, Media agencies, Private Sector

Burkina Faso, Niger, Mali, and Senegal.  have the largest potential for small scale irrigation investments. The major objective of this project is to scale up appropriate and tested small-scale irrigation technologies and introduce on-farm water management practices to smallholder farmers in SSA to increase agricultural productivity and food security. The project also focuses on employing solar systems as a sustainable source of energy for operating irrigation pumps. 

ICBA is an international, non-profit agricultural research center established in 1999 through the visionary leadership of the Islamic Development Bank (IDB), the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) Fund, the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development (AFESD), and the Government of the United Arab Emirates (UAE).


Gender Responsive Cereal Grains Breeding in Uganda

GREAT support course
From left, Maria Nassuna-Musoke, Peace Musiimenta and
Margaret Mangheni, all from Makerere University, look at
wheat growing in the Ithaca Community Gardens
with Devon Jenkins, GREAT project support
specialist in IP-CALS, during a recent visit to Cornell.

7-16 August 2017.  In the joint Cornell and Makerere University project Gender-responsive Researchers Equipped for Agricultural Transformation (GREAT), researchers learn how to identify the needs of women and men when setting priorities, implementing projects, and measuring and communicating project outcomes. They also broaden their understanding of the integral role of gender in their work as scientists and agricultural development professionals.


This is the second of five trainings on the theory and practice of gender-responsive agricultural research offered over the course of the five-year project, which started in 2016. The first course, Gender-Responsive Root, Tuber and Banana Breeding, concluded in February 2017.

Participating research teams in the grains course come from Niger, Nigeria, Ghana, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi, Zambia and Madagascar.

The teams will focus on pressing challenges in Africa, including:
  • cereal grains production within the Internally Displaced Persons Camp in Maiduguri, Nigeria
  • building cereal grain resiliency in changing climates in Niger and Tanzania
  • and sustaining maize, cowpea, rice and sorghum productivity in Ghana, Zambia, Tanzania and Madagascar. 
  • They address grain-breeding issues ranging from improving productivity and preserving genetic diversity to protecting against plant disease.
  • Subsequent trainings will be offered in small ruminant breeding, and dairy and legume value chains. 
All projects incorporate a gender lens to better address the role women play in these crop production systems. 
  • They receive support from an e-learning module of resources on the GREAT course website
  • A second week of training on data analysis, interpretation and advocacy is scheduled for Jan. 15-19, 2018, at Makerere. 
  • For sustainability, GREAT will create a center of excellence for gender-responsive agricultural training at Makerere, and the GREAT curriculum will be integrated into short courses and agriculture degree programs there.
GREAT is funded by a $5 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Among other partners, GREAT collaborates with African Women in Agricultural Research and Development (AWARD) and the Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in Eastern and Central Africa (ASARECA).

Pan-African food and non-food biomass expert network unveiled

12 July 2017. Bonn, Germany. The “first” pan-African expert network on food and non-food biomass has been launched by African and German researchers. There were about 80 participants from Europe and Africa.

BiomassNet aims to ensure that food security and environmental sustainability are not compromised in the development of new biomass uses. The scheme’s developers claim this will help to strengthen the emerging African bioeconomies.

The scheme was launched by Germany’s Center for Development Research ( ZEF) and the Ghana-based Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA). The project was also developed within the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) funded project BiomassWeb.

Under the umbrella of the BiomassWeb project, German and African scientists have addressed the question of how biomass can be used more effectively and efficiently in Africa.
BiomassWeb coordinator Raymond Jatta introduced FARA’s new data infrastructure DataInformS and explained how BiomassNet will be integrated in FARA's outreach platforms
BiomassWeb coordinator Raymond Jatta introduced
FARA’s new data infrastructure DataInformS and
explained how BiomassNet will be integrated in
FARA's outreach platforms
“Africa, especially south of the Sahara, needs biomass both as a source of food and as a source of energy and industrial raw materials. In view of the scarcity of agricultural land, this is hardly possible at the same time. “In order to provide solutions to this problem, we need an improved exchange of knowledge and experience, as well as discussions with local partners. Scientists, politicians, businesses and civil society must work together.” Manfred Denich, director of the BiomassWeb project at the Center for Development Research at the University of Bonn (ZEF).
Dr. Christine Schmitt, who leads the BiomassNet
project at ZEF, introducing the features of the
online platform Biomassnet.org.
Researchers in the BiomassWeb project are developing methods to improve food production and minimise post-harvest losses, such as spoilage. They also explore ways in which innovative processing techniques that can increase the income of small-scale farmers which makes them less prone to crises. Therefore, inedible manioc peels can serve as a substrate for mushroom cultivation which achieve good prices on local markets. The same applies to the further processing of plantains to flour, and maize residue to bio-oil or syngas, according to the developers of the scheme.

Keynote speech by Prof. von Braun (Chair of the German Bioeconomy Council): “Toward a sustainable Bioeconomy in Africa”



Related:
4-6 July 2017. Berlin. The Ethical Fashion Show Berlin presented progressive streetwear and casual wear labels during the Berlin Fashion Week.

Bamboo Belgium, presented and is producing socially responsible and sustainable bamboo home- and nightwear, yoga wear and basics. www.bamboobelgium.be

IoT can play a vital role in the future of Africa’s agricultural sector

2 August 2017. The report titled African IoT 2017 and sponsored by Liquid Telecom stated that IoT can be used to help deliver clean water to thousands of people, or it can be used to better protect endangered species. It can also be used to make roads and streets safer for citizens, or it can be used to better inform farmers and increase crop production.

The report stated that wireless sensors can track crop growth, soil moisture and water tank levels. The potential for these and more advanced solutions to revolutionise the farming sector is immense – namely because the valuable data sets they produce can help farmers make more informed farming decisions.

It cited Zimbabwean startup Hurukuro, which is working on projects that deploy IoT in various parts of the agricultural value chain, from livestock tracking and logistics, through to cutting edge solutions such as agricultural drones.

Hurukuro has built a B2B2C cloud-powered mobile platform focused on enhancing farmer productivity and creating agro-industry linkages. The platform includes production content for various crops, as well as a specially designed wallet to facilitate mobile payments.
  • Read page 6 of the Liquid Telecom report on IoT in Africa!
  • Watch the Climate change video by Empowerment works featuring Hurukuro!

Climate Funds announced for Africa

3 August 2017. During the month of July, major multilateral meetings drew attention to the need for adequate and predictable climate finance for developing countries, with only the US abstaining from the calls. The Green Climate Fund (GCF) Board met amidst calls from civil society to broaden the scope of qualifying adaptation activities. Two new climate financing platforms were launched for Africa, in support of climate-resilient urban development, and investments in emission reduction measures and climate resilience.
  1. A €4 million grant from the Nordic Development Fund (NDF) will support the establishment of the ‘Urban & Municipal Development Fund for Africa’ of the African Development Bank (AfDB), which will target urban growth management and climate-resilient development in African cities and municipalities through improving governance and the quality of basic services, including infrastructure. 
  2. Also, participants at an Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) roundtable on catalyzing investments, held in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, agreed to establish, at the November 2017 UN Climate Change Conference in Bonn, Germany, a sub-regional platform for climate action. The platform will catalyze investments in renewable energy, energy efficiency, other emission reduction measures and climate resilience. [NDF Press Release] [UNFCCC Press Release
The Adaptation Fund launched calls for its 2017 Readiness Grants, including in the areas of South-South Cooperation, project formulation and assessing and the management of environmental and social risks and gender-related issues. [Adaptation Fund Calls]

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Aflatoxins in groundnuts video available in 10 local languages

To support farmers in East Africa, West Africa and Latin America, the video on managing aflatoxins in groundnuts has been translated in 10 local languages, specifically in Aymara, Bambara, Bemba, Chichewa, Gourmantche, Hausa, Mooré, Peulh Fulfuldé, Quechua and Zarma languages. This will not be possible without McKnight Foundation who funded the video and its translations.

Managing aflatoxins in groundnuts during drying and storage

These videos are freely downloadable, also in 3gp format for mobile phone viewing. Kindly share them with as many people as possible, using the Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp, LinkedIn and email options provided at the left side of the video screen on the website.

There is, from now on, a page on the website which shows all the latest uploads each month. You can find the page under ‘forum’, but the direct link is: Recent uploads.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Evaluation of Agricultural Policy Reforms in the European Union

Evaluation of Agricultural Policy Reforms in the European Union
The Common Agricultural Policy 2014-20
OECD, 27 July 2017, Pages: 96

European support to farm incomes has decreased substantially over the past 20 years, according to this report. Farmers earned 22% of total annual receipts from government support over the 2008-10 period, down from 39% annually over the 1986-88 period.

The decline is due to many factors, including high commodity prices, which automatically push down income support, as well as 25 years of Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) reform outlined in the report.

Despite the decline, CAP expenditures nonetheless comprised close to 45% of the total EU expenditures in 2010, or about EUR 53 billion. Overall farm support reached EUR 77 billion in 2010, as measured by the OECD’s Producer Support Estimate, which includes direct payments to farmers as well as the impacts of government policies on prices.

This report provides an overview of the main characteristics and structure of the current Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and its developments in the last 25 years. It analyses the impacts of policy changes on production, trade, land use, farm structure, the environment and some aspects of rural development.

The recommendations in this report for future EU agricultural policy reform include:
  • Remove remaining impediments to the functioning of input and output markets; in particular more open access to the EU market, and transparent EU-wide markets for the sale and lease of land, production quotas and payment entitlements.
  • Increase investment in agricultural innovation.
    "Public expenditure to support  education and research services, to contribute to innovation and support its take-up, should be enhanced  as these are fundamental to future productivity gains and increased sector resilience" (page 10)
  • Introduce an effective and comprehensive framework for risk management at EU level, though policymakers should steer clear of impeding areas where private sector solutions exist, such as production contracts, insurance and futures contracts.
    "Among the 13 member states who have taken it up, only Ireland attributes nearly 25 % of its knowledge transfers and advisory services to risk management, most of the remaining 12% member states spend less hat 2% of their knowledge and advisory services budgets on risk management measures" (page 61)
  • Make targeted efforts to improve the environmental performance of agriculture, including direct payments to farmers, when necessary, for provision of environmental goods and services.
» Read the full report online
» Order your print or PDF copy (OECD Online Bookshop)
» Briefing note: The EU Common Agricultural Policy post-2013 (pdf, 4 pages, 145 KB)

Thursday, August 3, 2017

The rise of agricultural index-based insurance in Africa

20 July 2017. Index based agricultural insurance is gaining momentum across Africa as insurers and reinsurers tap into the large and diverse agricultural sector across the continent. Agriculture comprises a significant proportion of the economies of many East and West African countries, making up 32% of Kenya’s GDP, 21% of Nigeria’s GDP and 25% of Tanzania’s GDP. When crops fail and when yields are reduced it is not just the local farmer, but the economic well-being of the whole country that is adversely affected. Index based agricultural insurance offers a solution, but the idiosyncrasies and challenges of these products are little known outside of the micro-insurance market.

Index based insurance differs from many insurance policies in that payment is triggered by an external indicator. In the context of the agricultural industry, this index can track heat, rainfall or any other environmental factor affecting crops. On the occurrence of a particular defined event, a payment is made to all policy holders within a specified class, area or group. In contrast to more common forms of insurance policies, the payment is not assessed on an individual basis.
  • The WINnERS index based insurance scheme was launched at the World Economic Forum in Davos earlier this year with the aim to provide 50,000 farmers in Tanzania with insurance cover and thereafter expand across sub-Saharan Africa by 2020.
  • April this year, the Swedish start-up insurer BIMA raised $38.4 million to expand its micro-insurance products based on a mobile phone credit business model across emerging markets, including Africa. Partnerships between telecoms and insurance providers, such as the Safaricom/Changhamka partnership in Kenya, allow for high market penetration.
Index based policies are not without their risks. 
  • Payments are made only occasionally but on a large scale and triggers such as heatwaves, droughts and floods are difficult to predict more than a few days in advance. 
  • This poses a challenge to risk assessors and policy drafters to strike the right balance between covering profitability and ensuring policies are attractive; the external trigger must be considered carefully. 
  • While exceptionally heavy rains or heatwaves can be analysed with relative ease by reference to averages, it is far more difficult to assess the impact of a slow-onset drought on crops. 
At what point is the payment triggered? Will this arrive all too late for the local farmer? As the climate varies month on month and across the continent, triggers would in turn need to vary throughout the year and across regions. These and other factors, such as dealing with electronic signatures and adequately knowing the identity and nature of the insured, are among the challenges to index based insurance and other innovative micro-insurance policies.
Related:
Index-Based Insurance Project Database
A compiled database of index-insurance related projects is now available on FARMD. 

Climate Knowledge Brokering

2 August 2017. Over the past 5 months, the Climate Knowledge Brokers Group has published a
number of videos and a book which give an introduction to some of the main topics in climate knowledge brokering, including gender awareness, methodologies, knowledge brokering for resilient development and setting up successful online platforms.

Though they are aimed at climate knowledge brokers specifically, many of the lessons in the modules also apply to knowledge brokering in general. The book, about Linked Open Data for climate knowledge brokers, has been shared on this forum before.

Turning Informationinto Knowledgeand Action for ClimateChange
This Report Celebrates 3 Years of CKB Achievements, 2014-2017, 28 pages

The report is divided into three parts which reflect the most important aims of the group: 
  1. Reaching Out – to climate knowledge brokers who can benefit from participating in the network, as well as to the public at large; 
  2. Creating Connections – among climate knowledge brokers and with other stakeholders such as decision makers and knowledge producers; 
  3. and Facilitating Innovation – creating a collaborative environment for the development of both new technical tools for climate knowledge brokering and new methodologies to understand the needs of users and potential benefits of new interventions.
Besides this 'Climate Knowledge Brokering 101', CKB has also published a series of short videos featuring climate knowledge brokers explaining what they do and why it matters, to give an insight into the variety of roles they can be found in.

All videos and extra materials (case studies, further reading, etc) can be found at www.climateknowledgebrokers.net/learn-more.



Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Video of the the Uganda Indigenous Fruits and Vegetables consortium

30 July 2017. This project led by Uganda Christian University (UCU) involves Farmgain Africa, a Ugandan private sector actor and Chain Uganda, a non-governmental organization (NGO) together with the Natural Resources Institute (NRI), University of Greenwich, UK. Also Makarere University is involved in this project.

In Uganda, some types of African leafy vegetables remain popular and are still widely grown. In Central Uganda the most commonly eaten indigenous vegetable species is Nakati (Solanum aethiopicum) which is usually cultivated by women. Some types of Nakati are eaten for their leaves and others for their fruits. Nakati fruits generally look like a tomato or an eggplant but they vary considerably in their appearance, often even within a landrace. Amaranthus is another group of plants that are consumed in the country, including Bbuga (Amaranthus Gracecizans) and Doodo (Amaranthus Dubius).  


So far a collection of about 190 different indigenous vegetables has been assembled at the Uganda Christian University in Mukono. This has been done in a participatory manner with local communities who shared information about the landraces they are growing and gave their views on challenges and opportunities in indigenous vegetable production.

This consortium is researching appropriate methods of fruit and vegetable harvesting, handling and processing such as drying, canning, vacuum packing, minimal processing, refrigeration, freezing, irradiation and Ohmic heat processing. There is need to adopt automated modern methods and use of appropriate equipment to process indigenous fruits and vegetables so as to deliver quality and competitive products. The main post-harvest technologies being tested are locally available packaging materials and a charcoal cooler.  

The consortium developed, mainstreamed and commercialised products (jam, juices, marmalade and dried products) and processes for extending the stable shelf life of AIFVs without degrading their nutritive value, taste and presentational characteristics. This will lead to increased commercialization of the AIFVs in the economy leading to enhanced nutrition, food and income security.

The project created a facility to leverage investment by private food processing firms and start-ups in the processing and marketing of these products.

References:

The CARIAA Research-into-Use (RiU) Learning Guide

31 July 2017. This learning guide, commissioned by the Collaborative Adaptation Research Initiative in Africa and Asia (CARIAA), is designed to provide research teams with a bottom-up and experience based tool to better understand the effectiveness – and inefficiencies – of different approaches to Research-into-Use (RiU), the uptake of research which contributes to a change in policy or practice. The learning approach can also help to facilitate adaptive and reflexive approaches to RiU.

Although this guide was developed for CARIAA, it has been designed so that any research programme interested in improving its RiU practices can use it. It also includes a pocket guide for easy use in the field.

The expectation of actively promoting research uptake requires many researchers to move out of their comfort zones and incorporate new processes, approaches and communication mechanisms into and alongside their research. This change provides good opportunities for learning, specifically with regard to:
  • What works and does not work in terms of promoting uptake of research amongst diverse stakeholders and across different geographical locations;
  • How researchers from different disciplines backgrounds approach RiU differently across the consortia;
  • How skills can be built in this arena - both for the CARIAA team members, and for targeted stakeholders, and lastly;
  • How management of RiU can be made adaptive in order to incorporate lessons learned. 
An emphasis on RiU offers not only an opportunity to learn, but also an opportunity for increased collaboration across consortia. Independent of research themes and locations, key aspects of RiU such as stakeholder engagement, communication, the development of strategic partnerships and capacity development (see Figure 1 above), can be tracked and leveraged in order to maximise the program’s effectiveness in engaging and influencing decision-makers and other stakeholders in support of program objectives. A coordinated approach to tracking and learning from RiU could also reveal opportunities to influence policy and practice collectively.

The Empirics of Enabling Investment and Innovation in Renewable Energy

1 August 2017. The OECD Centre on Green Finance and Investment announced the publication of the report “The Empirics of Enabling Investment and Innovation in Renewable Energy”.

The key findings of this report are summarised in a new blog published by LSE Business Review:

This report provides insights on how policies and investment conditions influence investment and innovation in renewable power in advanced and emerging countries. Based on new econometric analysis, this new OECD report shows that misalignments in policies and electricity markets and cumbersome and risky investment conditions are among the main factors holding back investment and innovation in renewable energy in advanced and emerging countries. This new report assesses the impacts of climate mitigation policies (such as carbon prices, feed-in tariffs, public tenders, etc.) and the quality of the investment environment (e.g. sovereign credit rating, Basel III, licensing process, etc.) on both investment and patenting activity in renewable power since 2000, across OECD and G20 countries. The report also assesses how the investment environment and related policy misalignments influence the effect of climate mitigation policies in encouraging renewables investment and innovation.

The report is available online at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/67d221b8-en.

Young agripreneurs for mechanisation and business workshop

20 July 2017. Zambia. AGCO,  hosted delegates from 11 countries attending the Southern African Confederation of Agricultural Unions' (SACAU) Young Agripreneurs Forum at its Future Farm in Zambia - a 150ha working farm based just outside Lusaka. Here, the delegates took part in an in-depth three-day programme covering farm mechanisation and the business of agriculture.

SACAU is committed to a transformative agenda for agricultural development which is growth-oriented and enterprise-development focused. A key emphasis is working with young farmers and, since 2014, SACAU has run an annual regional young farmers’ forum. The aim of the forums is to create a positive image for agriculture among the next generation and develop role models from within the sector.

While with AGCO, the young agripreneurs spent time in the classroom, workshop and on the farm. Among the topics covered were the role of mechanisation in primary production, how technology is changing the face of farming, plus business and entrepreneurship skills.

“Young people are setting a new pace in driving agricultural transformation in Africa. The young champions that we work with really are leaders in their communities, challenging the negative public perceptions about farming and showing that agriculture is a dynamic and, most importantly, a profitable career to pursue.” Ishmael Sunga, CEO of SACAU
Delegates were able to get familiar with AGCO’s leading brands of agricultural machinery including Challenger, Fendt, Massey, and Valtra, together with the company’s products and services aimed specifically at supporting African agriculture. A highlight was practical, hands-on experience with the range of Massey Ferguson equipment which includes tractors, harvesting machinery, hay and forage tools, implements, and materials handlers.

Irish charities merge to strengthen trade links with Africa

Bernard O’Connell(left), a director of Traidlinks is pictured
with African women entrepreneurs from Burundi on
a trade mission to Democratic Republic of Congo
20 July 2017. Irish non-profit Traidlinks has merged with Gorta-Self Help Africa in a move designed to build on Traidlinks’ success in facilitating trade on the African continent.

Since 2004 the company has supported over 120 export-orientated businesses across the continent of Africa and in 2016 Traidlinks helped over 20 Rwandan companies achieve nearly $1 million export sales in regional markets.

The merger of the two groups comes as the government launches the latest phase of its Africa agri-food development programme, an initiative designed to support partnerships between Irish and African agri-food companies.
“Business can and is making a real difference in building economies and reducing extreme poverty in sub-Saharan Africa. Rural poor communities need markets, they need jobs, and they need a fair price for their goods and services, and we believe that by working together we can play a vital role in facilitating that to happen,”  Ray Jordan, chief executive of Gorta-Self Help Africa.

Long-term sustainability and production-system resilience among smallholder farmers in Africa

5 July 2017. Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The Global Environment Facility (GEF) will finance a 5 years US$116 million programme to promote long-term sustainability and production-system resilience among smallholder farmers in Africa. 

The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) is the lead agency with the Programme Coordination Unit hosted by the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) at their headquarters in Nairobi. Bioversity International, UN Environment, UNDP, FAO, World Bank, UNIDO, AGRA and Conservation International are all involved.

The ‘Integrated Approach Programme on Fostering Sustainability and Resilience for Food Security in sub-Saharan Africa,’ which aligns with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), will be implemented in Burkina Faso, Burundi, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Swaziland, Tanzania and Uganda. The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) will lead the Programme, with the Programme Coordination Unit hosted by the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) of the CGIAR System Organization.

More than 80 government and development sector experts met launched the Programme. 
“With an explicit focus on smallholder agriculture in the drylands, we have collectively established a framework to underpin the long-term sustainability and resilience of production systems. The program framework, which is defined by three main components – platforms for multi-stakeholder engagement, acting to scale-up innovations, and systems monitoring and assessment – is informed by sound science and policy, including a theory of change.” Dr. Mohamed Bakarr, Lead Environment Specialist at the GEF. 

Online Discussion Forum: Engaging African Youth in Agribusiness in a Changing Climate

12 July - 12 August 2017. Engaging African Youth in Agribusiness in a Changing Climate

The CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), CGIAR Research Program on Livestock, the Climate Smart Agriculture Youth Network (CSAYN), AgriProFocus, and ICCO Cooperation have put together an online discussion forum to dialogue on the challenges and opportunities for engaging youth in agribusiness in a changing climate. The online discussion will run for one month to commemorate World Youth Skills Day (15th July) and International Youth Day (12th August) and will culminate in a webinar to wrap up the online discussion and develop a framework for concrete youth engagement in agribusiness. 

The discussions is focused on the following questions:
  • What challenges do youth-led agribusinesses face in a changing climate?
  • What are the business drivers of climate-smart agriculture (CSA)? And how does this appeal to youth?
  • What career and business opportunities do CSA offer to youth?
  • Across Africa, are there any concrete examples of successful or promising innovative CSA practices and technologies that the youth can learn from?
  • Which policies and programmes should governments put in place to facilitate the involvement of youth in agribusiness?
Related:
27/07 Youth involvement in agribusiness: Examples from Africa
  • The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture’s (IITA) Youth Agripreneurs (IYA) aims to change youth’s perception of agriculture to see it as an exciting and profitable agribusiness. IITA and the African Development Bank are also scaling-up the initiative through a program called ENABLE Youth Program. Through this initiative, 200 participants from 30 African countries have learned about agribusiness, new agricultural skills and technologies, climate change, mechanization and agricultural value chain approaches. 
  • Another example of a training program is in Mali, where youths attended the Mali Agribusiness Incubation Hub (MAIH), established by the World Vegetable Center. At MAIH, they receive training on vegetable production, composting techniques, management of nurseries, the use of integrated pest management methods and vegetable farming for business to generate income.
  • In Senegal, Directoire national des femmes en élevage (DINFEL), is comprised of women between 40-55 years-old, who are actively involved in passing on agricultural knowledge to younger generations. The group offers agricultural training programs that are attractive to the youth, especially under the current climatic conditions. One of the programs includes the rearing of drought tolerant livestock farming, growing of cashew nuts crop, poultry farming and mechanization of farming techniques that can reduce labor requirements.

Learning from Invisible CoPs: Informal actors & relationships in African food systems

25–26 July 2017. Harare, Zimbabwe. A KM4Dev gathering in Harare seeked to inspire various actors and disciplines to engage and learn from the practices of informal food CoPs. 

While relationship-based food demand and supply models are increasing in many developing countries, lack of coherent knowledge pathways limits the extent to which these CoPs can influence development practice, theory and national food policies. Part of what remains unknown and unappreciated is informal food CoPs’ motivations, dynamic practices and contribution to regional and international food systems. 

From farmers to consumers or end-users, more than 70 percent of African food passes through informal food CoPs in informal markets. These CoPs and markets have become powerful sources of knowledge for farmers, traders and other actors. During the Harare KM4Dev gathering, participants were immersed in Mbare Informal food market in Harare where more than a dozen knowledge pathways have been identified: farmer to farmer; farmer to trader; trader to farmer; trader to trader; farmer to transporter; transporter to farmer; trader to transporter; consumer to farmer; consumer to trader; trader to financier and many others.

The event generated reflections and answers to the following questions: 
  • How do informal food CoPs respond to the needs of diverse consumers and knowledge seekers? 
  • What could be the potential role of culture in shaping food demand and supply models? 
  • To what extent do existing theoretical approaches and concepts around food speak to the peculiar roles of informal food CoPs and traders? 
  • How do informal food CoPs and traders negotiate power and neutralize the politics of food? 
  • How can the development sector harness informal knowledge sharing pathways that are used by the majority of African food producers and suppliers to make decisions? 
  • What can we learn from the way knowledge travels through informal food supply models? 
  • How can we recognize invisible CoPs that make informal agriculture markets resilient? 
  • How can we use the KM4Dev toolkit and other approaches to learn from the informal food market? 
Related: 
17/07 How and why relationships move more food than markets
10/07 How informal food markets disrupt and correct the notion of staple foods