Monday, 23 February 2009

PLANNING MEETING FOR ASARECA Regional Agricultural Information and Learning Systems

The Information and Communication Unit of ASARECA held a planning meeting with the RAILS national focal points in the ASARECA countries on 23rd to 24th February 2009 in Entebbe, Uganda. The overall objective of the meeting was to determine how to concretize the RAILS project in the ASARECA region. The outputs were:
  • the identification and description of Learning teams
  • the identification of priority activities;
  • the development of Regional and National action plans


Mrs Jane-Francis ASABA, Information Scientist CABI International Africa Regional Centre, Kenya

Mrs Rachel REGE, Ag. Assistant Director Information and Documentation Services, Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI) Kenya

Dr. Doris Matovelo, Director of Library, Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA) Tanzania

Ms. Vidah MAHAVA, Ag. Head of Information and Documentation Unit, DRD Tanzania

Mr. Pascal KAUMBUTHO, CEO, Kenya Network for Dissemination of Agricultural Technologies (KENDAT) Kenya

Mr. Bob MUGERWA, National Coordinator, District Agricultural Training and Information Centers (DATIC component) Agricultural Sector Programme Support (ASPS) Uganda

Mrs. Marie-Chantal NIYUHIRE, Head Biometrics Unit and Computer Sciences, Institut des Sciences Agronomiques de Burundi (ISABU)

Mr. Jocelin Eyel'nzo MAKOKO, Head Biometrics Unit, Institut National pour l'Etude et la Recherche Agronomique (INERA) DR Congo

Mr. Janvier NKUNZEBOSE, Librarian, Institut des Sciences Agronomiques de Burundi (ISABU)

Mr. Abebe KIRUB, Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research (EIAR)

Ms. Rafaa Ashamallah GHOBRIAL, Head of Information Services and Systems, National Centre for Research, Documentation and Information, Sudan

Ms. Ahlam Ismail MUSA, Head Librarian, Central Library ARC, AGRIS Resource Centre of the Sudan

Mrs. Claudine UMUKAZI, Head Information Communication and Documentation, Institut des Sciences Agronomiques du Rwanda (ISAR)

Zeinab, Secretary ASARECA

Francois STEPMAN, Communication Expert FARA

Dady DEMBY, RAILS program officer FARA

Zeremariam, Eritrea

Jacky NYAGAHIMA, director information and communication, ASARECA

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Appropriate agricultural protection measures

BURKINA FASO, 8-9 FEBRUARY 2009. Meeting to ponder the protection measures required for West Africa's agricultural development and reflexions on the safeguard measures that ECOWAS could adopt.
The meeting was attended mostly by farmers leaders on the national platforms of ROPPA and several high civil servants of ECOWAS and WAEMU. A PowerPoint is available in French on Solidarité website.

Les producteurs ont rejeté le taux de 35 pour cent proposé par le comité conjoint de l’Union économique et monétaire ouest-africaine (UEMOA) et de la Communauté des Etats d’Afrique de l’ouest (CEDEAO). Et ils proposent un taux minimum de 50 pour cent pour le TEC qui, selon eux, permettra également le développement de leurs productions agricoles.

Book launch of Farmers First Revisited

12th February 2009. Nairobi. FARA participated at the Book launch of Farmers First Revisited.
ACHIM STEINER Executive Director, UNEP
CARLOS SERE Director General, ILRI
And Book Contributors:
JOHN K. MUTUNGA, Chief Executive Officer, KENFAP
JEMIMAH NJUKI, International Center for Tropical Agriculture
IAN SCOONES, Fellow, IDS & Future Agricultures Consortium
JOHN THOMPSON, Fellow, IDS & Future Agricultures

Twenty years ago, the Farmer First workshop held at the Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex, UK, launched a movement to encourage farmer participation in agricultural research and development (R&D), responding to farmers’ needs in complex, diverse, risk-prone environments, and promoting sustainable livelihoods and agriculture.
Since that time, methodological, institutional and policy experiments have unfolded around the world. Farmer First Revisited returns to the debates about farmer participation in agricultural R&D and looks to the future.

From this page, you can access the individual papers submitted for discussion at the conference. The papers are organised by the theme and session and listed by author name and paper title.

The paper from Monty P. Jones and Sidi Sanyang* – FARA – Promoting inclusion of civil society organizations (CSOs) in African Agricultural Research and Development was reproduced in the book under the title "The politics of inclusion in African Agricultural Research and Development".

Hereunder are some interviews of book contributors:

Jemima Njuki, researcher CGIAR Zimbabwe, speaks at the FarmerFirst revisited conference (12-14/12/2007) hosted at the Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex.

Lucy Mwangi, General Manager KENFAB Kenya, speaks at the FarmerFirst conference.

Paul Van Mele of the Africa Rice Center (WARDA) speaks at the FarmerFirst revisited conference

Listen to the Podcast of Dr. Wale Adekunle of FARA : Speech (38mins) during the FarmerFirst revisited conference.

Related blogposts:
Farmer First Revisited 26/01/2009
Farmer Participatory Research and Development Twenty years on 12th December 2007

e-agriculture & the Women of Uganda Network

Women of Uganda Network with support of the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation ACP – EU (CTA), held the second Lango forum on e – agriculture in Apac district on the of 10th February 2009. The purpose of the forum was to sensitize rural women and the community at large on the role of information in agriculture and rural development with a gender perspective. Forum participants will share knowledge on the role of information in agriculture and rural development, the social challenges and benefits of ICT tools to men and women including the state of e-agriculture in Uganda.

This bi-annual fora includes Participants from the farming community, district leaders, Civil Society organisations from Apac, Gulu, Lira, and Oyam districts, and stakeholders from other areas of Uganda. Key issues arising from these foras and other project experiences are used to produce briefing papers with a focus on the benefits of ICT and gains from a programme that has working in an environment of limited ICT access.

Reference: WOUGNET

The new Chair of the African Agricultural Technology Foundation Board of Trustees

FARA collaborator Prof Walter S. Alhassan was in November 2008 elected the new Chair of the AATF Board of Trustees. Following is an excerpt from an interview with Prof Alhassan, a founder member of the AATF, on the organisation’s past, present and future.

What are the key challenges you see ahead for AATF and its partners?

I can see AATF growing, but the biggest challenge I foresee here is funding. So far we have an annual budget of about 17 million US dollars. Most of this money is coming from donors, but we are not seeing much input from our very own African governments. So the challenge is how to achieve sustainable funding to complement what the donor community can bring in.

But the good thing is that with the support from donors, we are developing products that can be seen. Take the case of maize. The herbicide-resistant maize is being deployed against Striga in East Africa and producing real benefits for farmers. In West Africa, we are talking to governments about bio-fortification of sorghum, a major crop in West and Central Africa. These products will help us convince our partners, the African governments and regional organizations, that there is need to put in money into what AATF is doing.

The proof of the pudding is in the eating. We deliberately start with products because it is proof that the AATF concept can work. But we are not only focusing on products. Our African scientists are actually participating in developing these products and in the process, they and their institutions are gaining the capacity to handle such products and deploy them to benefit farmers in Africa.

The projects are also building the capacity in the private sector which will market the products locally. Once governments realize that we don’t just bring products from outside but that these go through the national research systems, they will be interested in our activities and products. (Read the full interview)

Related blogpost: Saturday, 31 January 2009: Drought-Tolerant Maize for Africa

Monday, 16 February 2009

Release of Technical Report: Development and Climate Change - A Strategic Framework

This Technical Report is the culmination of a global multistakeholder consultation process that benefitted from thousands of development professionals, policy makers, academics, scientists, youth, indigenous peoples and the private sector representing a wide range of countries, views and perspectives.

The document is of interest to the wider development community and will help with the implementation of the Strategic Framework by the Bank Group, in support of the UNFCCC process.

The Strategic Framework was approved by the Development Committee at the 2008 Bank-Fund Annual Meetings and distributed at the UNFCCC Climate Conference in Poznan in December 2008.

The Technical Report covers in detail how the Bank Group will support climate actions in country-led development processes, how to mobilize additional concessional and innovative finance and more.

Press release World Bank's Climate Change Consultation on 01/28/2009

Friday, 13 February 2009

Institution-Based Information Systems Kenya Agricultural Information Network (KAINet) Planning and Strategy Building.

The organizers of the 2nd Expert Consultation on International Information System for Agricultural Sciences and Technology (IISAST) (September 2007) invited actors from the national level to document their experiences in developing information systems and institutional networks in the form of case studies.

The Kenya Agricultural Information Network (KAINet) was initiated in April 2006 in response to demand from the national and international community to promote information exchange and access among stakeholders in the agricultural sector. KAINet has evolved from the on-going Kenya Pilot AGRIS Project, which aims at building capacities in information management, dissemination and exchange in network members in Kenya.

The project's objectives include establishing institutional repositories of agricultural information, facilitating the development of institutional and national Information and Communication Management (ICM) strategies and policies as frameworks for addressing issues that are critical to content development and information exchange, and supporting development of human capacity in ICM through training programs for information managers.

The main stakeholders in the implementation of KAINet are five national institutions: the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI), the Kenya National Agricultural Research Laboratories (KARI-NARL), the Kenya Forestry Research Institute (KEFRI), the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) and Jomo Kenya University of Agriculture and Forestry (JKUAT).

At the international level FAO, CABI Africa and the Regional Agricultural Information Network (RAIN) of the Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in East and Central Africa (ASARECA) participated in developing the project and are supporting its implementation through providing expertise in ICM. The project received financial support from the Department for International Development (DFID) of the UK Government through FAO. In addition, national and international project partners provide in-kind contributions.

R4D posting of 28/01/09
Please check back to the CIARD website for updates to this document - 2008 7 pp.

How agricultural researchers can monitor and evaluate projects and assess research impacts.

The Institutional Learning and Change (ILAC) Initiative has launched its new interactive website, This new CGIAR-backed resource contains important information about how researchers can monitor and evaluate projects and assess research impacts.
ILAC hopes the site will help them strengthen the capacity of collaborative research - especially in agriculture, to help develop innovative research that involves poor people and helps research to become more effectively managed.

The resources and library sections of the new site contain rich collections useful for all those interested in the evaluation and impact of collaborative projects. The library contains over 1200 references on:
  • participatory research
  • monitoring and evaluation
  • impact assessment
  • organizational learning
More Information
Find out more about Institutional Learning and Change in the ILAC factsheet

Organic agriculture and food security in Africa

This publication (Sept. 2008, 61 pp.), co-published by UNEP and UNCTAD, argues that organic agriculture "can be more conducive to food security in Africa than most conventional production systems," and that it is more likely to prove sustainable in the long term.

Entitled "Organic Agriculture and Food Security in Africa", the study demonstrates that organic agriculture can be equal or better for food security than most conventional systems and is more likely to be sustainable in the longer term, as it builds up levels of natural, human, social, financial and physical capital in farming communities. It also favours the use of low carbon footprint production methods and local resources.

Background: The UNEP-UNCTAD Capacity Building Task Force on Trade, Environment and Development (CBTF) is one of two international partnerships through which UNCTAD conducts its work on organic agriculture as a trade and sustainable development opportunity for developing countries. The other partnership is the UNCTAD-FAO-IFOAM International Task Force on Harmonization and Equivalence in Organic Agriculture (ITF).
Read the full text here.

Vulnerability of national economies to the impacts of climate change on fisheries

The authors of this report (24 pp.- Published online: Feb 4 2009) examined 132 national economies to determine which are the most vulnerable, based on environmental, fisheries, dietary and economic factors.

Two-thirds of the most vulnerable nations are in tropical Africa, where in many countries fish account for more than half of daily animal protein consumption and where research indicates that fish production in both coastal and inland waters is highly sensitive to climate variations.
In coastal regions, climate variations can significantly alter the flow of nutrient-rich waters - known as upwellings - which sustain fish populations that feed millions in sub-Saharan Africa. Meanwhile, in eastern and southern Africa, rising temperatures in freshwater lakes over the last century have already reduced fish stocks. Future climate change is expected to worsen this trend, while also leading to lower water levels due to decreased rain and increased evaporation.

Both coastal and landlocked countries in Africa, including Malawi, Guinea, Senegal and Uganda, four Asian tropical countries - Bangladesh, Cambodia, Pakistan and Yemen - and two countries in South America, Peru and Colombia, were identified as the most economically vulnerable to the effects of global warming on fisheries. Overall, of the 33 countries that were considered highly vulnerable, 19 are already classified by the United Nations as "least developed" due to their particularly poor socioeconomic conditions.

More information
The study: Vulnerability of national economies to the impacts of climate change on fisheries
Fishing and Climate Change
The Stockholm Environment Institute will carry out the study of climate change impacts and their economic costs for Kenya, which it is hoped will inform decision-making by policy makers in Kenya and elsewhere in Africa. Posted on R4D 30 January 2009

Nokia launches information service for farmers in Kenya

Nokia is launching in Kenya a new service to offer prompt weather and agriculture related information to farmers to enhance their preparedness in ensuring optimal food production. The pilot service was innitially launched in India in the Maharashtra region in December 2008. Nokia plans to roll-out the commercial service across the rest of India in the first half of 2009, and will be extended to select countries in Africa and Asia later. Nokia Life Tools service will be available in the first half of 2009. In India Nokia Life Tools will support a wide range of languages, including Marathi, Gujarati, Punjabi, Bengali, Kannada, Tamil, Malayalam, Telugu, Hindi, and English.

Through the Nokia Life Tools, rural based communities and persons living in small towns will now be able to receive regular updates on climatic changes; farm input and farm produce prices on their mobile phones, empowering them to make quick and informed decisions that will enhance their productivity.
Through partnerships with organizations like the Kenya Meterological Department regular tips can be sent to farmers, through Nokia Life Tools, on changing weather patterns, while agro-based organizations could provide information to help farmers update farming techniques or indicate prevailing market conditions that could help prevent future food shortages. Nokia will work with local and regional organizations to provide the local content required that will be sent through the Nokia devices.

Information on weather, prices of seeds, fertilizers and pesticides and prevailing market prices can be sent directly to the farmers’ mobile device. The information for the produce is customized to the farmer’s location and his/her choice of crop.


Harnessing Agricultural Potentials through Regional Partnerships

11-12th February 2009. 2nd ECOWAS Business Forum ‘Quaga 2000’ Conference Center in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.

The operational theme for the forum was "Harnessing Agricultural Potentials through Regional Partnerships." The forum featured exhibitions of goods and services from businesses in the region.
"Last year's food crisis served as a wake up call that we neglected agriculture. Now we have to go back to basics and develop the huge agricultural potential that we have in the sub region,' said president of the Ecowas Commission, Dr Mohammed Ibn Chambas.

The broad objectives of the forum included:
  • reviewing the implementation of the Action Plan adopted at the 1st ECOWAS Business Forum which was held in Accra, Ghana from 29th – 31st October 2007;
  • adoption of concrete and measurable strategies and action plans to engage the private sector more effectively in the implementation of integration programmes and projects, particularly those concerning the promotion of agribusiness (e.g. rice production) and food security in the region.
  • inform the West African private sector and other partners/investors on the status of regional integration in West Africa, with particular emphasis on current opportunities and frameworks for investment and enterprise promotion including Public Private Partnerships (Agriculture/Agribusiness, SMEs, infrastructure – telecoms, energy, etc) international business collaborations (e.g. ECOWAS – China, West Africa – EU, etc) and trade, to facilitate engagements.
  • strengthen regional network associations like the Federation of West African Chambers of Commerce, the West African Manufacturer’s Association, Federation of Business Women and Women Entrepreneurs, FOPAO, NEPAD, Business Group West Africa, West African Road Transporters’ Union (WARTU) and the Wet African Rice Producers’ Association.


Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Announcement: Partner conference on Market information systems

9 till 13 th of March 2009. FARA Accra Ghana.

Timely and accurate market information distributed systematically along agricultural supply chains is desperately lacking in many developing countries. It serves as the foundation for understanding market horizons, better decision-making, more secure transactions and better market linkages; all of these factors have been shown to increase market engagement and revenues for vulnerable low-income farmers.

Despite widespread acknowledgement that these information flows are essential to assist small producers, few approaches have been sustainable and effective. Market information systems have been difficult to maintain and develop, expensive to deploy in the field, rarely accurate, and often not targeted or accessible to the intended customer. Mobile networks have been leveraged for publishing, but rarely for low cost data sourcing or profiling. And no one has designed a revenue model that ensures widespread deployment.

To that end, TradeNet/Esoko will hold with support of FARA a partner conference in Accra, Ghana from March 9 – 13 (the last two days of the conference will be reserved for optional training workshops). The purpose of the conference will be to foster dialog and learning between partners, explore solutions to partners’ challenges with deployment, and conduct an in depth analysis of best practices. The conference will enable participants to share their experiences, ideas, issues, skills, models, etc. and gain a better sense of how to implement TradeNet/Esoko’s MIS successfully in their countries.

  • This activity is a follow-up to FARA's Inventory on Innovative Farmer Advisory Services.
  • Through deployment in numerous countries, Tradenet/Esoko recognizes that success constitutes 5% technology and 95% training and execution. They are particularly interested in building capacity and partnerships on projects and developing an established set of best practices that can be disseminated among numerous participating countries. Currently, Esoko software is being deployed in Afghanistan, Tanzania, Mozambique, Madagascar, Uganda, Nigeria, Cameroon, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Mali, Burkina Faso, Benin, and Togo.

What are the incentive mechanisms for increasing investment in agricultural R&D?

In the paper Agricultural R&D policy: a tragedy of the international commons, (Authors: P., G. Pardey; J., M. Alston; J., S. James Publisher: AgEcon Search, September 2008, University of Minnesota, 42 pages) the factors contributing to persistent global underinvestment in agricultural R&D are described from a developing country perspective. Additionally, incentive mechanisms for increasing rates of investment in agricultural R&D are also discussed.

The paper notes that under-funding of agricultural R&D in developing countries (DCs) is clearly problematic, and the stage is set for the problem to worsen. In the past, DCs benefited from technological spillovers from developed countries. However, because of changes occurring in developed countries, spillovers from developed countries may not be available to DCs in the same extent as before. Decreasing spillover potential is caused by several trends:
  • the types of technologies being developed may no longer be as readily applicable to DCs as they were in the past
  • those that are applicable may not be as readily accessible
  • technologies that are applicable and accessible are likely to require more substantial local development, calling for more extensive forms of scientific R&D than in the past.
Africa has almost 30 percent more public agricultural researchers than the United States and 50 percent more than India, but the training of these researchers continues to lag well behind those in the United States (and well behind those researchers working elsewhere in the developing world). Approximately 25 percent of research full-time equivalents (FTEs) in sub-Saharan Africa have PhDs, compared with 100 percent in the United States and 63 percent in India. (p.14)
African public agricultural research agencies are heavily skewed to the small end of the size distribution, with three quarters of these agencies employing fewer than 20 researchers, whereas one third of the public agencies in India and almost all the public agencies in the United States employ more than 100 researchers. The small size of many research agencies in India and particularly in sub-Saharan Africa makes it difficult to exploit the economies of scale that characterize the production of knowledge. Moreover, the lion’s share of public research in the United States is now performed by universities, while the average university share is less than 20 percent in sub-Saharan Africa and approximately 45 percent in India. (p.15)

Full text of document


Eldis team news blog 03/02/2009 Key debates on food security: challenges ahead with a number of video interviews taken at the ‘Food Crisis and the Global South’ conference in London, 28-29 January 2009

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Daring to share & rapid rural appraisal of agricultural knowledge systems

Interview with Dr. Paul Engel, Director of ECDPM (European Centre for Development Policy and Management).

In the interview Paul Engel explains how the RAAKS methodology fosters agricultural innovation. RAAKS means rapid rural appraisal of agricultural knowledge systems. It is a participatory method that facilitates networking and communication processes. It can be used to improve the generation and use of knowledge and innovation.

Further references:
Engel, P.G.H., Salomon, M.L. Facilitating Innovation for Development. A RAAKS resource box
A KIT/CTA/Stoas co-production. 200 p.

The set includes the book The Social Organization of Innovation and a cd-rom which contents a guide to the RAAKS method, plus 'Windows' - specific ways to gain a new perspective on the situation - and 'Tools' to be used in practice.

On networking for innnovation see:
Chapter 5 Daring to share: networking among non-governmental development organizations

2nd CGIAR Senior Management Course

16-31 January 2009. Nairobi Kenya. The 2 weeks workshop was conducted to provide add-on managerial training to senior management staffs of CG centers and associated institutes. This is in response to the need for additional skill to managed changes in agricultural research and development system, which tend more towards collaboration, network and alliance.
The twenty participants at the workshop were drawn from ten CG research centers, the CG secretariat, FARA Ghana, KARI and ICIPE Kenya.

The success of the first course held in Bangkok in 2007, prompted the decision to run three more trainings in Africa, Asia and America. The broad objective of the workshop is to equip the senior managers in the CG and associated institutions with vital complementary managerial skills that are essential for communication, team management, effective collaboration and ultimate delivery of required output. Other specific objectives include.

  • To prompt an understanding of oneself and its effect on managerial style and team performance
  • To inculcate the intricate principles of effective team work.
  • To provide knowledge base on the initiation of collaboration, network and alliance management for desirable research and development outcome.

High-Level Meeting on African Agriculture in the 21st Century

9-10 February 2009. Windhoek, Namibia. This inter-sessional meeting considered how African governments and other stakeholders can revitalize African agriculture and the broader rural economies in ways that are economically, socially and environmentally sustainable.
2 Main Themes
The meeting focused on two main themes:
Theme 1: how to operationalize a green revolution in Africa;
Theme 2: integrating African agriculture into global markets.
(See agenda overview).
Each theme was divided into 2 sub-themes:
Sub-Theme 1.1: Incorporating sustainable land management and agricultural practices into African agriculture
Sub-Theme 1.2: Increasing agricultural productivity in Africa
Sub-Theme 2.1: Moving African agriculture up the value chain
Sub-Theme 2.2: Integration of small farmers into global supply chains.

Discussions on day one centered on how to operationalize a Green Revolution in Africa, focusing on two central themes: how to incorporate sustainable land management and agricultural practices into African agriculture; and how to increase agricultural productivity in Africa. During plenary, participants stressed the need to develop an African approach for a sustainable Green Revolution, community involvement and locally-driven development in agriculture, and creating an enabling policy environment.In the ensuing discussion, topics discussed included developing an agro-ecological approach to farming, integrating crops and livestock production systems, the empowerment of women; water management, and land reform.

New Era Namibia 10th February 2009 Food Security Equals National Security’
Meeting Website

4th World Congress on Conservation Agriculture

4-7 February 2009 New Dehli. 4th World Congress on Conservation Agriculture: Innovations for improving efficiency, equity and environment

Over a thousand agricultural experts from around the world, who had gathered in Delhi for the fourth congress on conservation agriculture, deliberated an issue that is vital for sustaining high-growth agriculture without clashing with the environment.

Of late, modern agriculture has come in for considerable flak for causing possibly irretrievable damage to the earth's natural resources, notably soil and water, and for vitiating the environment through harmful greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Conservation agriculture, involving some novel farm practices, is said to be an antidote for most of the ill-effects of intensive farming. For, it aims to not only reduce the damage to natural resources and the environment but actually reverse it. The resource conservation practices conceived for this include minimum or zero tillage, letting crop residues get back into the soil instead of burning them, immaculate land leveling to ensure the even spread of water, and applying only need-based fertiliser and water to crops.

The benefits of such practices are many, and somewhat obvious. They protect soil health to enhance its fertility, prevent the environmental pollution caused by burning of crop residues, save on the labour and energy required for repeated land tilling, and reduce the use of water in agriculture, sparing it for other purposes. The biggest advantage is that by letting biological residues get back into the soil, it transforms agriculture from a carbon emitter to a virtual carbon sequester by converting crop land into a carbon sink.
Business Standard / New Delhi February 9, 2009 Now, conservation farming
The fourth World Congress on Conservation Agriculture was hosted by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research and the National Academy of Agricultural Sciences and sponsored, among others, by FAO and the International Fund for Agricultural Development. [FAO Press Release] [FAO Website on CA] [Congress Website]

Monday, 9 February 2009

FANPRAN helps design COMESA’s CAADP regional compact

The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) has signed a contract with the Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN) for the design of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) regional compact.

FANRPAN CEO, Dr. Lindiwe Sibanda was at the COMESA Secretariat in Lusaka, Zambia and signed for FANRPAN.

This development is an important milestone in the CAADP agenda in the COMESA region and for Africa. The regional compact is significant as it will capture priority agricultural investments at regional level, providing a vehicle for the CAADP framework to encompass all key areas and meaningfully contribute to regional integration.

The objectives of the regional compact are to, among other things, finalise the COMESA CAADP regional concept papers for all key pillars and cross-cutting pillars, design and facilitate implementation of programmes focusing on youth and women in the COMESA region.

The regional compact will also take an inventory of key stakeholders in the region that COMESA should work with in successfully implementing the CAADP including taking an inventory of existing regional projects and programmes which, the COMESA- CAADP team should take into consideration.
FANRPAN will work in consultation with other regional stakeholders including the East African Seed Committee (EASCOM), the Forum for Youth in Agriculture (FOYA) and the Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in Eastern and Southern Africa (ASARECA).

COMESA Organised post-Kyoto Meeting on Climate Change

The COMESA Secretariat organized a consultative meeting on Post-Kyoto Climate Change negotiations. The meeting took place at the Hilton Hotel in Nairobi, Kenya on 5th to 6th February 2009. The meeting was attended by Climate Change negotiators from member States, representatives of EAC, SADC, IGAD, AU, Cooperating Partners and Technical Experts from Africa and beyond.

Her Excellency Tumusiime Rhoda Peace, the Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture at the African Union Commission also addressed the meeting, reaffirming the Commission’s commitment to work with and support RECs in areas of common interest. She called on the political leadership to increase investment in agriculture within the framework of CAADP. She further emphasized the need for Africa as a whole to evolve a common position for the Copenhagen Summit. She commended the efforts of COMESA to coordinate member States programmes and projects on Climate Change.


Thursday, 5 February 2009

Saving the cooking banana

Patricia Oyella, editor and reporter at WBS TV in Uganda, received the CGIAR-FARA 2008 Award for Excellence in Agricultural Science Journalism in Africa for her broadcast feature, “Saving the Cooking Banana,” shown on WBS TV and on Business Africa, a program broadcast on a network of more than 45 African and five European partner channels.

Combining powerful, captivating imagery with precise narratives, the feature demonstrated the importance of this food crop in Africa, the problems faced by banana farmers, and the solutions offered by researchers.

This year’s prize was jointly offered by the Consultative Group on International AgriculturalResearch (CGIAR) and the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA).

Related blogpost
Kenyan and Ugandan Journalists Emerge Winners in Continental Agricultural Journalism Competition

National Assessments of Agricultural Information needs

The Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA)’s programmes are organised around three principal activities: providing an increasing range and quantity of information products and services and enhancing awareness of relevant information sources; supporting the integrated use of appropriate communication channels and intensifying contacts and information exchange (particularly intra-ACP); and developing ACP capacity to generate and manage agricultural information and to formulate information and communication management (ICM) strategies, including those relevant to science and technology.

CTA has completed in the course of 2008 a number of assessments to improve collaboration strategies with ACP agricultural organisations and relevance of CTA’s support to African ACP countries. The expected results of those National Assessments of Agricultural Information needs were as follow:

  • status of infrastructure, information services and ICM capacity of institutions involved
    in agriculture and rural development described and analysed;
  • information and capacity building needs in the area of ICM identified for key
    institutions and potential CTA partners involved in agriculture and rural development;
  • baseline data on the status of ICM and ICT in agriculture and rural development
    compiled for monitoring purposes and improved outreach
The assessments provide updated country profiles on the status agricultural information services, the status of ICM/T in the country, which will allow CTA to make informed decisions on the type and mode of intervention as well as partner selection. Following countries were covered in anglophone Africa: WEST AFRICA: Liberia, Nigeria / EAST and CENTRAL AFRICA: Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Mauritius, Seychelles / SOUTHERN AFRICA: Angola, Mozambique.

  1. Jeremiah Njeru Lewis Gitonga and Veronica Machira; Assessment of Agricultural Information Needs in ACP States: Country study Kenya November 2008, 169 pages
  2. Mary C. Shetto; Assessment of Agricultural Information Needs in ACP States: Country study Tanzania December, 237 pages
  3. NG Kee Kwong, R. Assessment of Agricultural Information Needs in ACP States: Country study Mauritius November 2008, 234 pages
  4. Dr. James S. Kiazolu & Mr. Arthur R. Tucker; Assessment of Agricultural Information Needs in ACP States: Country study Liberia December 2008, pages 137
  5. Terry A. Olowu; Assessment of Agricultural Information Needs in ACP States: Country study Nigeria July 2008, 288 pages
  6. Mermedah Moustache; Assessment of Agricultural Information Needs in ACP States: Country study Seychelles December 2008, 159 pages
  7. Alice Kinengyere Mango; Assessment of Agricultural Information Needs in ACP States: Country study Uganda December 2008, 148 pages
  8. Simon Norfolk, Vera Ribeiro, Kees Groenendijk; Assessment of Agricultural Information Needs in ACP States: Country study Angola July 2006, 108 pages
  9. Simon Norfolk, Vera Ribeiro; Assessment of Agricultural Information Needs in ACP States: Country study Mozambique July 2006, 138 pages

Following countries were covered in francophone Africa: WEST AFRICA: / EAST and CENTRAL AFRICA: / SOUTHERN AFRICA:

  1. Evaluation des besoins en information agricole dans les Etats du Groupe ACP : Etude sur le Bénin
  2. Evaluation des besoins en information agricole dans les Etats du Groupe ACP : Etude sur le Mali
  3. Evaluation des besoins en information agricole dans les Etats du Groupe ACP : Etude sur la Mauritanie
  4. Evaluation des besoins en information agricole dans les Etats du Groupe ACP : Etude sur le Niger
  5. Evaluation des besoins en information agricole dans les Etats du Groupe ACP : Etude sur le Sénégal
  6. Evaluation des besoins en information agricole dans les Etats du Groupe ACP : Etude sur République de Guinée
  7. Evaluation des besoins en information agricole dans les Etats du Groupe ACP : Etude sur le Burkina Faso
  8. Evaluation des besoins en information agricole dans les Etats du Groupe ACP : Etude sur la Côte d'Ivoire
  9. Evaluation des besoins en information agricole dans les Etats du Groupe ACP : Etude sur le Djibouti
  10. Evaluation des besoins en information agricole dans les Etats du Groupe ACP : Etude sur le Togo
  11. Evaluation des besoins en information agricole dans les Etats du Groupe ACP : Etude sur le Madagascar
CTA Virtural Resource Center

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Global Developments Commons boosts regional agricultural trade in West Africa

USAID Administrator Henrietta Fore presents in this video 3 initiatives from the Global Development Commons program. This program wants to connect the full spectrum of development practioners: from farmers to traders through information and infrastructure and as such help optimize regional agricultural trade. The first one is about mapping agricultural surplus areas, the second is about the dissemination of New Rice for Africa (NERICA) and the third example Tradenet's market information prices system.

Baba Dioum of the Conference of West and Central Africa Ministers of Agriculture comments how the projects of the Global Development Commons contribute to Pillar 2 of CAADP. The objectives of Pillar 2 are to:

  • Accelerate growth in the agricultural sector by raising the capacities of private entrepreneurs (including commercial and small-holder farmers) to meet the increasingly complex quality and logistic requirements of markets, focusing on selected agricultural commodities that offer the potential to raise rural (on- and off-farm) incomes.
  • Create the required regulatory and policy framework that would facilitate the emergence of regional economic spaces that would spur the expansion of regional trade and cross-country investments.

Dr. Monty Jones of the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa explains how rice import was dramatically reduced by those countries who produce NERICA.

Mark Davies of Tradenet/Esoko explains how mobile phone is THE rural computing system which not only allows to communicate market information prices but also to share information on health, credit and government communications.

Capacity Change and Performance. Insights and implications for development cooperation

ECDPM’s recent paper (December 2008) has as title Capacity Change and Performance. Insights and implications for development cooperation.
This is in fact not the final report of a five year research programme on capacity, change and performance that was published last year, but a Policy Management Brief by Tony Land providing an overview of the final study report and in addition focussing on practical implications.

This research provides fresh perspectives on the topic of capacity and its development. It does so by highlighting endogenous perspectives: how capacity develops from within, rather than focusing on what outsiders do to induce it. The research also embraces ideas on capacity development drawn from literature outside the context of development cooperation.

Agricultural and Trade Policies in Sub-Saharan Africa: Shaping Global and Regional Policy Debates and Promoting Evidence-informed Policies

The Global Development Network has launched a four-year project that aims to contribute to agricultural and trade policy debates in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia in an effort to facilitate economic growth, reduce poverty and help improve the lives of millions of people in these regions, particularly in the agricultural sector.

The project, supported by a grant of US $4.5 million by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, aims to shape north-south and south-south policy debates on agriculture and trade by presenting a timely synthesis of policy-relevant and demand-driven research findings and policy options to the policy community and other relevant stakeholders.

The project, entitled “Agricultural and Trade Policies in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia: Shaping Global and Regional Policy Debates and Promoting Evidence-informed Policies” will be implemented with support from GDN’s regional network partners, the South Asia Network of Economic Research Institutes (SANEI) and the African Economic Research Consortium (AERC), and will draw on the participation of regional policy makers and other stakeholders directly and indirectly involved in the policy process to ensure that research is demand-driven and relevant to policy decisions facing the region.

Press release GDN New Delhi, December 18

Monday, 2 February 2009

Regional Consultative Meeting of Global Climate Adaptation Network in Africa

Nairobi 19-20 January 2009. Regional Consultative Meeting of Global Climate Adaptation Network in Africa. The rapid escalation in demand for information on climate adaptation, building upon the many initiatives and actions underway was highlighted by Musonda Munda from UNEP, following up Jian Liu's summary of the state of planning of the network.
The development and work of the UNEP network needs to build on UNFCCC activities, particularly those under Decision 1/CP.10 (Buenos Aires programme), NAPAs, Nairobi Work Programme and Bali Action Plan. Much work has been done as part of the UNFCCC process to identify adaptation needs and gaps, so this can be used as a starting point for informing the activities of the UNEP Network.

After 2 carrousel sessions and much discussions the critical next steps for the Africa network identified include:
  • consider the establishment of a Steering Committee to drive the start up phase - making it owned and driven by African institutions - should include institutions / organisations on the the supply and demand ends of the spectrum
  • start with a loose group of organisations and see who displays capacity to deliver services in demand who will then move into forming the core group of the network
    make information on network available in French to give Francophone institutions the opportunity to input and get involved
  • define specific functions for network in Africa
  • communicate outcomes of meeting widely to involve and include those organisations with capacity on supporting adaptation not able to attend (possibly including at the SBSTA meeting in June and presenting to the Africa Group in preparation for negotiating on adaptation at COP15)
  • use outcomes from existing institutional mapping exercises on climate adaptation in Africa, including that of the Swedish Environment Agency
    continue discussions with AU, AfDB and UNECA on ClimDev activities to avoid unnecessary duplication
  • clarify and articulate in the strategy document what exactly the intent/purpose of the network (or networked facilities) is and who the target group of users/beneficiaries/members are - in a general sense it is intended to support national governments and communities in adapting well to a changing climate, what does this mean in the African context
  • develop communique containing key messages from this meeting for UNEP Governing Council meeting
  • look for synergies between other such networks and initiatives including ATPS, ClimDev, weADAPT, etc.
  • do something that can continue, not simply another pilot Reference: wikiADAPT

Sunday, 1 February 2009

Twelfth Ordinary Session of the Summit of the African Union Heads of State and Government

26th January - 3rd February. The summit's theme is "Infrastructure Development in Africa" with a focus on transport, energy and investment issues against a negative international financial background.

AU Commission Chief Jean Ping said the current global economic downturn would also come under the spotlight. "African economies and African people will suffer the full wrath of the crisis for which they are not responsible." Mr Ping argued that the financial crisis would divert the international community's attention from funding development to rescuing banking and financial institutions. However, he noted that conflicts have deepened Africa's vulnerability to the global economic slump. The AU Summit holds according to the following schedule :

  • The 17th Ordinary Session of the Permanent Representatives Committee (PRC): 26-27 January 2009;
  • The 14th Ordinary Session of the Executive Council (EC): 29- 30 January 2009; and
  • The 12th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government: 1-3rd February 2009.
  • The theme of the 12th Ordinary Session of the African Union Summit of Heads of State and Government is: “Infrastructure Development in Africa”.