Platform for African – European Partnership in Agricultural Research for Development

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Africa Agriculture Status Report 2014

2 September 2014. The Africa Agriculture Status Report 2014 : Climate Change and Smallholder Agriculture in Sub-Saharan Africa
218 pages

As the second in the series of the African Agriculture Status Report, this volume seeks to provide an in-depth and comprehensive analysis of emerging issues and challenges faced by African smallholder farmers, and allow scholars and professionals to contribute practical and evidence-based solutions. 

The Report documents the effects of climate change on smallholders in Africa, the ongoing adaptation by farmers and livestock keepers, constraints to adoption of climate-smart technologies, and highlights areas where investments in African agriculture have the potential to be most productive.

Fortunately, as this publication attests, there are many adaptation and mitigation options at our disposal. We need to be moving towards the widespread adoption of 'climate-smart' agricultural technologies and practices - not just in Africa, but globally. If we fail to do so, we risk greater food insecurity, higher food prices and rising poverty, as well as continued ecosystem degradation.

Inter-Agency Donor Group on pro-poor livestock research and development

16-18th September 2014, BMGF HQ, Seattle, US. Impact of donor investments in dairy research and development on poverty reduction and food security. Evaluating the evidence and identifying funding opportunities and dairy development indicators.

Key rural development donors that support livestock development are engaged in the Inter-Agency Donor Group on pro-poor livestock research and development (IADG). Its current focus is on the promotion of public-private partnerships and bringing on board commercial companies involved in livestock value chains and to identify those issues that might encourage greater collaboration and partnership between the public and private sector institutions involved in livestock development.

The meeting in Seattle focuses on following subject:
  1. Session 1: The current state of smallholder dairy development (success stories, challenges, opportunities). Outputs: Sum up lessons learned on investments in smallholder and pastoralist dairy development: what worked, what didn’t work, what next?
  2. Session 2: Technical developments in research of relevance to smallholder dairy systems and beneficiaries. Outputs: Identification of tested technologies, innovations and approaches which have proven relevance to smallholder dairy producers - for promotion, further testing
  3. Session 3: Public Private Partnerships in dairy development. Outputs: Update guidance document for donors on how to engage the private sector in livestock focused Public-Private Partnerships
  4. Session 4. Design of a set of core design principles and indicators for resilient, competitive and inclusive dairy market development. Outputs: Through consideration of outputs from Sessions 1,2,3 – in breakout sessions and Plenary, compile core set of principles and indicators for donor investments in small-holder dairying 
  5. Session 5 : Donor investments in livestock research and development. Outputs: Mechanisms to encourage greater participation of donors/funders in programme mapping to ensure information remains current/relevant.
Related: Published on 21 Aug 2014 Jorgen Henriksen (Henriksen Advice) n the state of meat production and dairy development projects.

 Jim Yazman (USAID) on the state of meat production and dairy development projects.

Sunday, September 14, 2014



Africa Singapore Business Forum

27 - 28 August.2014.  Singapore. Africa Singapore Business Forum (ASBF 2014) addressed critical issues and identify opportunities for the strategic growth of both regions through presentations, panel discussions, and numerous networking opportunities.

International Enterprise (IE) Singapore is the government agency driving Singapore's external economy. In In Africa, IE has two offices, in Accra (Ghana) and Johannesburg (South Africa). These overseas centres help to build mutual mindshare and facilitate greater trade and investment cooperation between Singapore and Africa.

The third panel adressed agri-business.

Africa Food Security Conference

9 - 10 September 2014. AFSC 2014 was held under the timely theme “Ensuring Sustainable Food Security in Africa Old Challenges – New Solutions.

Building on the success of the inaugural, AFSC 2014 addressed the topical issues of food availability, accessibility, stability and utilization. Africa is entering an unprecedented period of economic growth underpinned by a burgeoning population development and execution of a core food security strategy is essential to providing a sustainable growth platform.  Poverty, climate change, food price hikes, water scarcity, land rights, fairer agricultural policies – all of these issues and more will be addressed to ensure that infinitely better management of natural and financial resources and more strategic investment are implemented.

Sustainable Agriculture for Food, Energy and Industry in Regional and Global Context

3-6 September, 2014. Hurup Thy, Denmark. 6th International Conference on Sustainable Agriculture for Food, Energy and Industry in Regional and Global Context. Organized by Nordic Folkecenter for Renewable Energy and the International Council for Sustainable Architecture -in collaboration with EUROSOLAR Denmark, IFEED, Hokkaido University, York University and others.

ICSA has organized five conferences on sustainable agriculture for food, energy and industry; two in Germany, and one each in China, Canada and Japan. The 6th International Conference was organized with following objectives:

  1. To provide an international forum for scientists, farmers, consumers, industrial, material and energy producers in the field of agriculture and energy to exchange information and achievements in research, technology, education and policy.
  2. To identify long term challenges in agriculture to cater to food, energy and industry sectors and formulation of strategies to achieve the UN millennium goal of reducing hunger.
  3. To harness and promote the international partnership for sustainable agriculture.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Summer course Modern Breeding Techniques of Cassava

Logo UGent (OPGELET: gebruikt in Google Search) Logo FBW geel logo ipbo Logo VLIR-UOS VIB logo Logo Ilvo

8 - 19 September 2014
. The Institute of Plant Biotechnology Outreach (IPBO – VIB/Ghent University) organized an advanced course "Modern Breeding techniques of Cassava" at Ghent University (Belgium) from

This course is aimed at training students and scientists from the public and industrial sector, who are involved in local breeding programs of cassava plants. During this two week course the major topics in the field of modern breeding, including the latest breeding techniques using molecular analyses as a tool were discussed. The course covered different kinds of markers and their use in breeding programs for fingerprinting, mapping of traits and QTL’s, incrossing of specific genes (wild or transgene into cultivars) and quality assessment. The challenges to commercialize ‘elite transgenic events’ as well as legal issues related to plant breeding, such as breeders rights, were discussed. In addition, a session was organized on Cassava value chains to link advances in plant breeding with crop improvement objectives that are relevant for socio-economic impact.

The program also included a day of practical exercises on molecular markers to familiarize participants with the associated lab techniques as well as excursions to crop processing plants.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

The value of climate information for adaptation, risk reduction and resilience in Africa

Facing Uncertainty: the value of climate information for adaptation, risk reduction and resilience in Africa
Added to the Using Climate Information Theme by Fiona Percy from CARE

Climate change is not only a concern for the future. Ongoing and visible changes in temperature and rainfall patterns and increased frequency, severity and unpredictability of extremes in weather and climate are already having devastating impacts on productivity, economies and above all, on the livelihoods of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable. Added to these, longer term, slow onset impacts from rising temperatures and sea levels threaten development and economic growth at local,...

Monday, September 8, 2014

African Green Revolution Forum 2014

1 - 4 September 2014. Addis Abeba. The African Green Revolution Forum focused on delivering agriculture-led economic growth in sub-Saharan Africa. It was looking to build on an African Union declaration to double food productivity and halve poverty by 2025. More than 1,000 delegates, including heads of state, business leaders and scientists, attended the conference.

The AGRF is the most significant Africa-wide gathering of agriculture experts, investors and farmers since the African Union issued its Malabo Declaration forcing strident acceleration of agricultural growth.

In addition the meeting addressed critical issues for Africa’s food security: increasing food productivity as climate change presents more challenging growing conditions; promoting agricultural investment that generates benefits at all economic levels; increasing financing for agricultural development; and support for modernizing commodity markets and removing barriers to intra-regional trade. A pertinent factor omitted is the dire need for job creation within the agricultural sector across the continent.
“Africa’s smallholder farmers produce the vast majority of food grown on the continent and they are the backbone of a sector that employs more than 65 percent of all Africans,” said Strive Masiyiwa, chairman of AGRA. “So when businesses, governments, researchers and farmers work together to strengthen our food production and distribution systems, they are seeking commercial success that will be shared across African society – and particularly for the poorest among us.”

Community Based Adaptation and Resilience in East and Southern Africa's Drylands

1 - 4 September 4, 2014. Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. CARE Ethiopia hosted an event focusing on community-based adaptation and resilience, event together with CARE’s Adaptation Learning Programme (ALP), the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) and the International Centre for Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE).

The conference will explored:
  1. What is the added value that CBA practical experience brings to achieving resilience in dryland communities? 
  2. ow are climate change and related responses exacerbating the entrenched drivers of differential vulnerability among communities living in drylands? What are the barriers and drivers to change? 
  3. What would an integrated and coherent approach to achieving resilience in vulnerable dryland communities look like?

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Intensive training on mycotoxin analysis 2014

28 August – 10 September 2014. Gent, Belgium. The Laboratory of Food Analysis of the university of Ghent held a Short Training Initiative “Intensive training on mycotoxin and aflatoxin analysis”.

This training session aims teaching the trainees the fundamentals of the most important analytical methodologies (ELISA, HPLC, LC-MS/MS,…) for mycotoxin analysis in food and feed. Moreover, the awareness on the mycotoxin problem in developing countries is enhanced by providing the trainees with theoretical lessons given by different experts on the several aspects of the mycotoxin issue.

Theoretical lessons:
  • Mycotoxin management and risk assessment
  • Legislation
  • Recent advances in mycotoxin analysis
  • Good agricultural practices for the reduction of mycotoxins
  • Myctoxins and animal health
  • The impact of food processing on mycotoxin reduction
Practical lab work:
  • Screening techniques for the detection of mycotoxins
  • The use of HPLC-UV-FLD for mycotoxin analysis
  • Multi-mycotoxin analysis in cereals by LC-MS/MS

26-29 August 2014. Ljubljana, Slovenia. 14th congress of the European Association of Agricultural Economists (EAAE).

Kenyan perceptions of aflatoxins: An analysis of raw milk consumption Presentation by Maria Walke, Nadhem Mtimet, Derek Baker, Johanna Lindahl, Monika Hartmann and Delia Grace.

3-5 September 2014. Nairobi, Kenya. Presentation by Johanna Lindahl and Delia Grace at the 9th biennial scientific conference and exhibition of the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Nairobi.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

How the Bank Learns

Published on 1 Aug 2014
The "Learning and Results in World Bank Operations" evaluation was launched at the World Bank HQ in Washington, D.C. in July 2014.

The blog Wanted: A New Approach to Assessing Learning and Results provides a snapshot of some of the findings and what is going to happen in the second phase.

During an event about the first phase of the evaluation on Learning and Results, WB had panelists asking tough questions about how the World Bank can succeed in sharing knowledge and effectively learn through lending.

The discussion covered a lot of ground, which centered around five points:
  1. People are central. The Task Team Leaders who care about learning do so for their clients. They want clients to get the best possible outcomes and will go the extra mile for that. They have an ability to engage with stakeholders in the Bank and in client countries and internalize learning as they do. And they succeed in spite of “the system.” So, is it just a matter of getting the right people on board? Certainly, but the reality is that very few people are leaders in this way, and even their life can be easier, more efficient, and more fun if they don’t have to fight “the system.”
  2. The system as the beast. All of us who work in large organizations – public and private alike – know what it means when bureaucracy becomes an end unto itself. Things are done because “the system” requires them to be done. They either have nothing to do with the client service, or we have long forgotten the reasons for doing these things. We all resent and struggle with the rigidities, and yet we are all part of “the system” and sustain it. Panelists and the audience alike were in tune on this issue: the formality and inflexibility of the system hasgot to go.
  3. Systemic learning, nonetheless. The discussion brought up many calls for getting to a better place where learning is not dependent on chance, but where good practice is handed from one person to another, and shared in a much larger circle than happens now. Ideas included everything from mentoring to short write-ups of success and failure stories, and “blind” peer reviews.
  4. Leaders to the fore. Above all, the evaluation and the audience called on management to lead by example. What should that look like? Simple things like asking during review meetings: what have we learned from the past, have we tried this before, what are some of the mistakes we should avoid? Living the commitment to learning will be essential to becoming the Solutions Bank Group.
  5. Learning to learn. And finally, having the space and time to learn, be conscious of what it takes to learn and invest in those incentives and activities. The second phase of our evaluation is coming and will have even more information and recommendations on how the Bank Group can do a better job of learning.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Rice Innovations Fair of Scalable Technologies

1-2 September 2014. Cotonou, Benin. Rice Innovations Fair of Scalable Technologies

1. Create visibility of research products of AfricaRice & partners for the development sector.
2. Explore with NGO’s, donors, private and public organizations scalable technologies and define
dissemination pathways.

The first day of the event focused on the presentation of a set of eleven technologies, followed by discussions to define dissemination pathways for each innovation.
  1. Scalable technologies developed by AfricaRice and partners (rapid presentation):
  2. Smart‐valleys – a participatory and low‐cost development approach
  3. Inland valley atlas – assessing the potential for development
  4. RiceAdvice – localized farmer advice for nutrient management
  5. Multi‐stakeholder platforms – improving farmers’ access to the value chain
  6. Powertillers – local adaptation to support multiple use
  7. Rice Varieties – ARICA, NERICA and others – new lines of rice varieties
  8. Mechanical weeders – reducing labour in rice production
  9. GEM Parboiler – energy efficient and improved quality
  10. ASI Thresher – high‐capacity thresher for clean rice
  11. PLAR/IRM – Participatory Learning & Action Research for improving farmer practice
The second day will include a visit to the Ouinhi district in Benin, to see inland valleys that have been developed using the Smart-valleys participatory approach. These achievements are the result of AfricaRice’s partnership with the Benin extension agency called Cellule Bas-Fonds, under the Rural Engineering Division of the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Husbandry and Fisheries.

Title: Supporting the African rice value chain (Competitive African Rice Initiative, CARI)
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Countries: Various countries in Africa; based in Nigeria
Lead executing agencies: Agricultural ministries in Nigeria, Ghana, Burkina Faso and Tanzania
Overall term: 2013 to 2017

EU, Uganda Collaborates on local agribusiness development

1 September 2014. At least 35 private small and medium enterprises, engaged in agribusinesses, will benefit from the 25 million Euros (approximately Shs 87.5bn) donor-supported equity fund set up to avail interest-free grants and technical services.

The Small and Medium Agribusiness Fund (SMADF), which was launched last week, is a joint European Union (EU) and government initiative expected to solve capital constraints faced by mid-size agribusinesses in the country. The fund will specifically tend to beef, commercial forestry and fish farming (aquaculture) enterprises over the eight years that the pilot project will run.

Firms applying to access financing and related services from the fund will be selected based on viability, business models and prudent management. An independent board of investors, comprising private sector experts, will assess the viability of the projects applying for support the fund.

The EU, which has contributed 15 million Euros (Shs 52.5bn) in the project, has tasked the International Fund for Agriculture Development (Ifad) to manage its investment in the Fund.

Speaking after the launch of the of fund at the ministry of finance in Kampala, the Head of EU Delegation Ambassador Kristian Schmidt said they chose Uganda for the pilot phase as the EU attempted to blend public and private resources to boost the agribusiness sector by lowering the cost and risk of investments. Previously, the EU had solely funded government projects.

"The purpose of blending the public resources with resources from investment banks, institutional and private investors is to initiate the process of capital investment in Uganda and create a capital market for domestic financial resources," Schmidt explained
Schmidt noted that formal banking and microfinance institutions shied away from agriculture because of the perceived high risks, and yet the sector is crucial to Uganda's growth, where three out of four people are employed.

The EU envoy said the fund did not aim to compete with local commercial banks, but simply to partner with them to serve the needs of SMEs with the most appropriate financial services.

Maria Kiwanuka, the minister of Finance, Planning and Economic Development, described the fund as a "truly public-private producer initiative."

Research to Feed Africa

1 September 2014. Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The Research to Feed Africa dialogue brought together senior ministers and policymakers; researchers; farming, private sector, and agribusiness leaders; and representatives from financial institutions, international governmental and non-governmental organizations, and civil society.

Dialogue delegates discussed the solutions that research has to offer to feed Africa’s hungry people, in particular:
  • new trends to make agricultural research work for the poor 
  • new pathways to deliver cutting edge science for impact 
  • win-win entry points to achieve both research and development impact 
  • practical experiences to take innovations to the millions who need them
CIFSRF is a program of Canada’s International Development Research Centre undertaken with the financial support of the Government of Canada provided through Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada. CIFSRF supports applied, collaborative, results-oriented research projects that can significantly improve agriculture and nutrition in developing countries.

CIFSRF is organizing the dialogue in collaboration with Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN), an Africa-wide agricultural policy think-tank that has long experience in convening multi-stakeholder food and nutrition security policy dialogues across the continent.

4th Sustainable Phosphorus Summit

26 - 29 August 2014. Montpellier, France. PSP5 Fifth international symposium on Phosphorus in the Soil-Plant as part of the PHOSPHORUS week 2014.

PSP5 is the fifth international symposium of a successful series on Phosphorus Dynamics in the Soil-Plant Continuum that was launched in Beijing (China) in 2000, then went to Perth (Australia) in 2003, Uberlandia (Brazil) in 2006 before coming back to Beijing (China) in 2010. It was the first time it occured in Europe.

PSP5 was a multidisciplinary event, gathering plant nutritionists (plant physiology, genetics and systems biology), agronomists, ecologists, biogeochemists and soil scientists from worldwide, fostering scientific exchanges across discipline boundaries, in order to face the challenge of phosphorus limitations in many agroecosystems and terrestrial ecosystems.

The PSP5 Full Programme is downloadable here.

1 - 3 September 2014. Montpellier, France. PSP5 was immediately followed by the 4th Sustainable Phosphorus Summit  where global concerns about Phosphorus sustainability will be discussed. 

The primary aim of this multidisciplinary event is to define the global research priority agenda, integrating phosphorus-related issues across scales, geographical regions and scientific domains. To do so, it will bring together scientists and stakeholders from worldwide, including developing and emerging countries, to foster exchanges of views across discipline boundaries and societal domains. In order to better improve phosphorus use efficiency along the whole of its cycle, it is also at stake to better raise public awareness on this major issue, and re-think education and learning on this matter. Participatory research and co-learning will thus be central in this event.

The full programme of SPS 2014 is downloadable here.

Phosphate rock in EU Critical Raw Materials list
17 July 2014. The European Commission has added phosphate rock to the list of 20 Critical Raw Materials, for which supply security is at risk and economic importance is high. Phosphate rock is identified as non-substitutable and of high economic importance.

The Phosphorus Challenge from Phosphorus Platform on Vimeo.

SACAU: Machinery rings – a proven cost-saver

7 August 2014. SACAU considers mechanization as a key driver of agricultural development and the organisation is exploring various options to enhance production methods of smallholder farmers. To this effect the organisation is looking into the adoption of the concept of machinery rings by its members which has proven to be a cost-saver for farmers in Germany. Could this be the answer to resource challenged smallholders in southern Africa?

A SACAU delegation of eight undertook a study tour to Hanover in Germany to learn first-hand about the concept of machinery rings which has enabled German farmers to purchase the latest available farming equipment together, which individual farmers could not afford on their own.

Dr Theo de Jager, President of SACAU and presidents of SACAU’s farmers’ organisations were part of the delegation. The ownership of machinery rings is determined by the farmers and aims to get the work of the farmers done at a reasonable price. The ownership of the equipment in the machinery ring can take different forms depending on how the farmers are organised. Under a group investment the farmer is a shareholder of the machinery ring as well as the customer. The farmer will have paid for the purchase of the equipment as part of a group which then becomes part of the pool of equipment owned by the machinery ring.

According to Johnson Bungu, SACAU Marketing Advisor who was part of the delegation in May 2014, the idea of machinery rings starts with the realization that there is a need to increase efficiencies and to bring economies of scale to operations.
“Machinery rings should be run by professional employees who operate, schedule, service, contract and work to ensure maximum utilisation of the equipment. The training of the employees to manage the machinery ring is important and must be in line with the technological advances of the equipment. The professional employees play a key role of mediating between those requiring a service from the equipment and those who own the machinery,” he explained. 

Negotiations with different stakeholders will form part of the responsibilities of the machinery ring office. During the agricultural seasons the machinery ring office should be busy working on supporting the farmers and may be open for long hours.

Kenya Livestock Producers Association Farmers Exhibition/Trade Fair of Isiolo

7th and 8th August, 2014. Isiolo County. Kenya. The Kenya Livestock Producers Association (KLPA - member of EAFF) in collaboration with the County Government of Isiolo & co-hosts Kenya Livestock Marketing Council (KLMC), SNV Kenya, Agri-Profocus Kenya, & Airtel Kenya Ltd/ Airtel Kilimo held a Farmers Exhibition/Trade Fair.

Kenya Livestock Producers Association (KLPA) was formed in 2004 as an apex body for all livestock producers in the country.
Published on 23 Aug 2014.

28 - 29 August 2014Kenya Livestock Producers Association (KLPA) in collaboration with the County Government of Murang’a & Airtel Kenya/ Airtel Kilimo, UAP Insurance, ACK Church & AgriProfocus Kenya organised the MURANGA AGRIBUSINESS TRADE FAIR

Consultation des OP d’Afrique centrale sur les APE et les accords de l’OMC

20 - 22 août 2014. Mfou/Yaoundé, Cameroun. Atelier de formation et de consultation des OP sur les APE et les accords de l’OMC. 

Cet atelier fait suite à celui organisé en juillet 2014 sur la restitution de l’étude organisée par la PROPAC avec l’appui du CTA sur les politiques agricoles régionales en Afrique Centrale dans le cadre du projet  «Renforcement des Capacités d’Implication et de Participation des Organisations Paysannes dans les Politiques et le Processus du PDDAA/NEPAD en Afrique Centrale » mis en œuvre avec l’appui du CTA, pour planifier une session de formation et de consultation des organisations paysannes d’Afrique Centrale sur les APE et les Accords de l’OMC.

Cet atelier a vu la participation d'une trentaine de participants représentant les organisations paysannes de la RCA, de la RDC, du Congo Brazzaville, du Cameroun du Tchad et des représentants de la société civile. Il visait à renforcer les capacités des OP à influencer l’élaboration, la mise en œuvre et l’évaluation des politiques au niveau de la sous région. En particulier de :
  • Bâtir/renforcer les connaissances et compétences des participants sur le processus des accords commerciaux et de libre-échange ; 
  • Développer auprès des participants, une compréhension des mécanismes de négociation APE/ACP 
  • Outiller les participants pour la maîtrise des impacts et enjeux des APE sur l’agriculture et le développement socio-économique en Afrique Centrale, en vue de permettre aux OP de mieux formuler leurs propositions à l’adresse des décideurs.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Uptake and scaling of information and communication technologies (ICTs) support for agriculture

28 August 2014. CTA announced five grants totalling 400,000 EUR (536,040 USD) to five institutions in Africa and the European Union to support the adoption, uptake and scaling of information and communication technologies (ICTs) support for agriculture. These grants were awarded following a rigorous competitive process that involved more than 30 high-quality proposals addressing various informational issues along agricultural value chains.

The winning organizations are:
  1. eLEAF Competence Centre, a Netherlands-based high-tech company that uses reliable, quantitative data on water and vegetation coverage to support sustainable water use, increase food production and provide environmental protection systems, will be scaling up its satellite-based information services at the Gezira Irrigation Dam in South Sudan to provide targeted delivery of extension services to farmers.
  2. RONGEAD, a France-based international network system made up of NGOs, technical specialists, international institutions and businesses that provides market information services, will use the grant to improve its current initiative and scale it up through market analysis, training and capacity building, provision of information and advice and delivery of a business intelligence service to improve the competitiveness, profitability and ability of smallholder farmers to manage business risks in food chains in West Africa.
  3. Syecomp Business Services, a private-sector provider of geographic information system (GIS) services based in Ghana, will use its grant to develop a proof of concept and explore business models for the adoption of geospatial technology (GIS/global positioning system applications), dissemination of agro climatic information and mFarm actor-chain interactions in Ghana.
  4. The University of West Indies, a public-sector research institute located in Trinidad and Tobago, will use its grant to extend and scale up an existing suite of web and mobile applications (mFisheries) for small-scale fisheries. It will also explore a novel co-management delivery model for ICTs amongst various agents in the small scale fisheries ecosystem in the Caribbean.
  5. Yam Pukri, a non-governmental organisation (NGO) based in Burkina Faso, will use the grant to improve the monitoring and implementation of agricultural policies using ICTs, thereby empowering smallholder farmers to contribute to the agricultural and rural development policy processes.