Thursday, 27 October 2011

Global Conference on Climate Smart Agriculture

Alain Ange of FARA
24-26 October. Ede, The Netherlands. “Scientists and technology have a critical role to play if we are to achieve food security in the context of climate change,” said Sir John Beddington, Chair of the Commission on Sustainable Agriculture and Climate Change at the opening of the Global Science Conference on Climate-Smart Agriculture in Ede, The Netherlands. He urged the participating agricultural experts from governments, international agencies, and universities to think about smart ways for farmers to produce enough food while managing and adapting to climate change.

The talk included a foretaste of the soon to be launched recommendations from the Commission on Sustainable Agriculture and Climate Change. The Commission, made up of thirteen experts from around the world, has been collecting evidence to synthesizing the evidence to develop practical actions to support sustainable agriculture in the context of climate change. The summary will be aimed for policy makers and launched in time to be fed into the discussions in Durban.

COP 17 - a unique opportunity to put agriculture on the climate change agenda

Sir John urged scientists to contribute to the global challenge of moving the world into a ‘safe operating space’ in which agriculture can meet global food needs while reducing its greenhouse gas emissions. He highlighted how the scientific evidence base can contribute to policy action. Beddington also proclaimed COP17 in Durban in December as a unique opportunity to put agriculture on the climate change agenda.

Sir John said that the agricultural potential in Africa is substantial and existing technologies can be used to create the necessary transformations. Farmers need to produce more food without further encroaching on sensitive ecosystems in order to contribute to a food system that is sustainable and climate safe. Climate-smart agriculture, he said, has to both appeal to and benefit the rural farmer while not undermining livelihoods. Sir John will deliver the Commission's full recommendations at Agriculture and Rural Development Day on 3 December, in Durban.

Lindiwe Sibanda, CEO of FANRPAN attended
the Global Science Conference on Climate-Smart Agriculture in
Wageningen 24-26 October. Photo: C. Schubert (CCAFS)
Lindiwe Sibanda, CEO of the Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN), and member of the International Science Panel of the CGIAR climate program (CCAFS), said that Africa, a vulnerable continent to climate change, needs to improve its productivity in a climate smart manner. And this is where climate-smart agriculture becomes imperative, since CSA puts people and food first. Sibanda underlined that women are driving agriculture in Africa, which is why “we need to follow women – in everything”.

PAEPARD: ARD funding opportunities


FP7 KBBE 2012.
The European Commission invites research proposals in the theme of Food, Agriculture and Fisheries, and Biotechnology. All topics are open to third-country (non-EU) participation, including with International Cooperation Partner Countries. Cooperation with developing countries is foreseen for research on zoonotic diseases, biowaste, insect protein, global food safety, etc. (Identifier: FP7-KBBE-2012-6-singlestage.) The closing date for applications is 15 November 2011.

Africa specific slides, aim to provide researchers working in Africa with a brief overview of the content of the FP7 2012 work programme and the current calls, and highlight some specific topics which may be of particular interest.

West African Agricultural Productivity Research and Development (WAAPRD)
Dissemination and adoption of agricultural technologies across countries in West Africa (DATWA). The World Bank, within the framework of its Action Plan for “Scaling-up Support for African Agriculture” is supporting the ECOWAS conceived West Africa Agriculture Productivity Program (WAAPP). This competitive grant call therefore calls for project concept notes that innovatively link research and development in order to accelerate the dissemination and adoption of agricultural technologies and innovations across countries in West Africa. Submission of Project Concept Notes (PCN): Deadline is 13th November, 2011 See call in FRENCH and ENGLISH

Nutrition Third World
The present call aims at supporting research to optimize local food sources. This could be applying conservation techniques and developing new food items that can be used to improve the diet. The objective is to find ways to improve overall dietary quality. Deadline: 25 January 2012

EC - Food Security, Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The European Commission invites proposals for its food security program in the DRC, organized into three components. The program aims to: (i) build capacity of local production and marketing of agriculture, livestock, and fisheries to supply urban markets; (ii) improve the nutritional status of children; and (iii) develop and expand agroforestry for charcoal production, carbon sequestration, and other environmental benefits. Eligibility extends to non-governmental organizations in the EU, its candidate countries, the European Economic Area, and DRC and other developing countries -- and to inter-governmental organizations. Projects will range from €1.5 million to €10 million (variable by component). Reference EuropeAid/131530/L/ACT/CD. The application deadline is 17 November 2011.

EC - Food Security, Madagascar.
The European Commission is open to proposals for its food security program in Madagascar. The main objective is to improve agricultural productivity and diversification, with an emphasis on vulnerable populations. Eligibility extends to non-governmental organizations in the EU; its candidate countries; the European Economic Area; and Madagascar and other developing countries -- and to inter-governmental organizations. Projects will range from €800 thousand to €1.5 million. Reference EuropeAid/131530/L/ACT/CD. The application deadline is 15 November 2011.

Partnerships for Enhanced Engagement in Research (PEER)
PEER is a joint program of USAID and the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) to support scientists in developing countries in research and capacity-building. Topics of interest include food security (agriculture, fisheries, and plant genomics), and environment (e.g., water sustainability, hydrology, ocean acidification, climate process and modeling, environmental engineering, disaster mitigation, biodiversity, and renewable energy). In addition to these thematic programs, PEER has country programs for Indonesia, Lebanon, and the Philippines. PEER is open to institutions in developing countries that partner with an NSF-funded collaborator at a U.S. institution. The deadline for applications is 30 November 2011.

BREAD 2012.
The National Science Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation are partners in BREAD (Basic Research to Enable Agricultural Development). Projects in BREAD must connect the outcomes of the research and its relevance and potential application to agriculture in the developing world. Especially encouraged are proposals that address constraints to the productivity of crops important to smallholder farmers, or on the development of novel and efficient production practices. Full proposals are due 22 November 2011.

African Enterprise Challenge Fund (AECF)
Three Active Funding Windows. The AECF offers grants and loans to support businesses in Africa working in agriculture, financial services, renewable energy, and technologies for adapting to climate change. AECF announces three current funding competitions: (i) Agribusiness Africa; (ii) Renewable Energy and Adapting to Climate Technologies (REACT) -- Round 2; and (iii) South Sudan. Eligibility extends to for-profit businesses anywhere in the world if their activities are carried out in Africa (specifically South Sudan in the third case). The application deadline for each of the funding windows is 15 December 2011.

Partnerships in Higher Education & Research for Development 2012.
The Austrian Partnership Program in Higher Education & Research for Development (APPEAR) aims to strengthen institutional capacities in higher education, research, and management. Thematic areas include water supply and sanitation, rural development, energy, environment, and natural resources (among others). Partnerships are prepared collaboratively between institutions in Austria with institutions in Bhutan, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Kenya, Mozambique, Nepal, Nicaragua, Palestinian Territories, Senegal, and Uganda. Partnerships are for up to two years. The deadline for submissions is 31 December 2011.

International Foundation for Science -- Re-Opens for Applications.
The IFS has re-opened for applications, following a period of programmatic review. IFS makes grants of up to US$12 thousand for research projects of 1-3 years in the sustainable management of biological resources (e.g., agriculture, soil science, forestry, biodiversity, environmental chemistry, natural products, food science, animal husbandry, veterinary medicine, aquaculture, and marine resources). Applications are invited from citizens of developing countries who are less than age 40 (with some exceptions, by world regions); at the beginning of their research careers; and who have at least a university master's degree. The next deadline is 29 January 2012.
Awards, Courses, and Training 2012-2013.
The French-language universities of Belgium will award 150 scholarships and 70 training grants in 2012-2013 to applicants from developing countries through Belgium's University Commission for Development (CUD -- Commission universitaire pour le Développement). Subjects include aquaculture; tropical animal and plant resources; environmental management; management of natural hazards; and others. Eligibility requirements are defined by age, previous education, and nationality. The application deadline is 13 February 2012.

B I O D I V E R S I T Y 
The European Commission invites research proposals in the theme of Environment (including Climate Change). The emphasis is on research to improve the protection and management of natural resources (land, water, air, and marine resources). All topics are open to third-country (non-EU) participation, including with International Cooperation Partner Countries. The closing date for applications is 15 November 2011

Bioversity International -- Fellowships in Agricultural Genetic Resources 2012.
The Vavilov-Frankel Fellowships support young researchers in themes of conserving and using genetic resources in agriculture. Applicants are researchers in low and middle-income countries who are under age 35. Funding is up to US$20 thousand for research projects lasting up to one year. The closing date for applications (English, French, or Spanish) is 06 November 2011.

Land Deal Politics Initiative (LDPI)
Call for Applications 2011-2012. The LDPI offers small grants to carry out original field research, provide follow-up to ongoing initiatives, and write papers on subjects related to the "global land grab." The research should be original, relevant to policy, and be based on detailed and case-specific field studies. Grants are up to US$3 thousand. The application deadline is 15 December 2011.

2011 Young Environmental Journalist Award for Africa.
UNEP makes awards to young African journalists who provide new insights, challenge established thinking, and enhance public understanding of the environment in Africa. The competition is open to African journalists -- between 21 and 35 years old -- who are based in Africa. The winner receives a trip to the USA to meet other journalists, environmental organizations, scientists, and others. Applications are due 16 December 2011.

New England Biolabs Foundation -- Grassroots Conservation.
The Foundation makes grants to grassroots and charitable organizations to support conservation of biological diversity; ecosystem services; community food security; and marine environment. The geographical scope focuses on selected countries of the Gulf of Honduras; the Andean region; and West Africa (in addition to Papua New Guinea, Tanzania, Nicaragua, and El Salvador). Maximum grant size is US$10 thousand, but most grants are smaller. The next deadline for letters of inquiry is 15 February 2012.

C L I M A T E   C H A N G E

New Zealand Fund for Global Partnerships in Livestock Emissions Research
The Fund is aimed at accelerating global research into mitigating greenhouse gas emissions from pastoral livestock farming. The Fund is open to international scientists, and it is hoped that multi-stakeholder/country consortia bids will be put forward. Deadline for Expressions of Interest: 7 November 2011.
Research on Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Livestock.
The New Zealand Fund for Global Partnerships in Livestock Emissions Research is an international research fund set up by New Zealand to support the Global Research Alliance on Agricultural Gases. Project leaders can be from New Zealand or another country of the Global Research Alliance; projects should include at least one researcher from New Zealand. The international participants need to contribute co-funding. Specific themes of the research are outlined in the grants announcement. In Round 1, projects are expected to be in the range of NZ$1-4 million over four years. Expressions of interest should be submitted by 07 November 2011.

Climate Change Research 2012.
The Alexander von Humboldt Foundation offers International Climate Protection Fellowships for one-year research projects in Germany on climate protection and resource conservation. The program is open to prospective future leaders in academia, business, and administration in non-European threshold and developing countries (listed in the announcement). The Foundation aims to make 20 grants per year. In the current cycle, the closing date for applications is 15 December 2011.

Development Research 2012.
Denmark's Ministry of Foreign Affairs funds research on climate change adaptation and mitigation in developing countries (among other themes). Research projects are managed by collaborations of Danish and South-based research institutions, with a priority on institutions in Africa. Applications must be submitted by organizations based in Denmark. Grants will range from 5-10 million DKK per project. The deadline for Phase I applications is 12 December 2011.

International Climate Initiative.
Germany's BMU (Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, and Nuclear Safety) funds the International Climate Initiative (ICI) to support international projects on climate change mitigation, adaptation, and biodiversity projects with climate relevance. Projects target carbon sinks with high levels of biodiversity (e.g., Amazon region, Congo Basin, and South-East Asia). Outlines for projects beginning in 2012 may be submitted to the Programme Office until 9 January 2012.

Echoing Green
Echoing Green helps emerging social entrepreneurs with grants of seed capital and technical assistance to support their start-up organizations. Past grants include several that address renewable energy, waste management, smallholder farming, and other societal challenges of developing countries. Applicants can be citizens of any nationality, and their organizations can be based in any country. The fellowships are US$60 thousand for individuals (and US$90 thousand for 2-person partnerships) over two years. Applications are submitted between 05 December 2011 and 09 January 2012.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Financing agricultural value chains in Africa : a synthesis of four country case studies

This 87 pages report Financing agricultural value chains in Africa : a synthesis of four country case studies represents the synthesis of a series of studies into agricultural finance in Kenya, Ghana, Ethiopia, and Burkina Faso, with a view to identifying strategies and tactics which would improve such access for commercially oriented agricultural value chains.

The policy recommendations will represent the African voice in the international community as a primary input for the international G20 policy paper on agricultural finance. In order to ensure this programme is realised in time for the G20 summit in Cannes in November 2011, African representatives, G20 members and development partners are stepping up their collaborative effort in order to reach consensus on the best policy recommendations in agricultural fi nance, both in Africa and internationally.

It represents the synthesis of a series of studies into agricultural finance in Africa sponsored by German development cooperation. The aim was to examine access to finance for agriculture in Africa, with a view to identifying strategies and tactics which would improve such access for commercially oriented agricultural value chains. These recommendations will be used as input
for the pan-African and G20 task forces and to inform policy development by government and development agencies, both at country level and for the continent as a whole.

Outcome of the Call for Concept notes of PAEPARD

PAEPARD launched on 31st May, 2011 a second call for applications for support to the development of multi-stakeholder partnerships that promote demand-driven agricultural innovation and research. PAEPARD partners were asked to disseminate as much as possible the call through their respective channels.

  • Per 15/07/2011, 69 Concept Notes (CNs) were submitted, 
  • 18 Applications did not fulfill the set criteria
  • There were 55 New Applicants and 14 CNs are re-submission
  • There were 55 Anglophone Applications against 14 Francophone Applications
  • 2 Applications were led by European stakeholders: one by Italy and another one by Switzerland
  • In the second call 65 % are led by non researchers while in the first call 49%
  • 51 Concept Notes (CNs) were evaluated.
During its Management Team Meeting of 7th October 2011 in Accra, PAEPARD ranked the priority list.

Selected concept notes:

African Applicant Country
Title of the proposal
Control of Angular leaf spot disease of Citrus in Ghana
Développement participatif des technologies  de la culture pomme de terre et promotion  des innovations sensibles au genre et à la conservation de l’environnement au Burundi
Extensive Collection and Characterization of African Solanaceae Plants
Micro propagation and cultivation of in vitro breadfruit plants and development of novel products from Breadfruit as an alternative source of carbohydrates  in Mauritius
Enhancing soybean and cowpea value chains for increased productivity, incomes and nutritional security of smallholder farmers in East and Central Africa
Burkina Faso
BIOPROTECT-B, un groupement d’intérêt économique pour la  protection biologique des cultures et la fertilisation organique des sols pour une agriculture saine et durable au sahel
Appui a la sécurité économique des ménages ruraux par la production, la commercialisation et la transformation du Soja au Benin
Low cost and high quality livestock feed production knowledge delivery to Nigerian poultry industry (NIPOFERD)
Cote d'Ivoire
Agriculture pour l’éducation (A.P.E) des enfants en âge scolaire (5 – 15 ans) en milieux rural et périurbain
Innover pour l’intensification, la diversification et la transformation de l’agriculture familiale en Afrique Centrale à travers la recherche – action en partenariat : cas de CNOP-CAM dans la région du Centre Cameroun
The support of PAEPARD to new partnerships consists of:
  1. [A] sponsored participation of key partners in Partnership Inception (PI ) workshops
  2. [B] subsidized participation of some of the key partners together with administrative staff of their organizations in Write-shops.
  3. [C] Follow up with the funding opportunities
A) Partnership Inception workshop: 
A workshop of about 5 days of the key partners:
Expected results of the Partnership Inception workshop:
  • Result 1: Demand-driven, balanced ARD consortia are consolidated with clear understanding of the roles and responsibilities of the non-research and research partners and African and European partners and with a clear agreement on the principles of African-led joint governance. Where relevant, missing actors and their required contributions have been identified.
  • Result 2: Each ARD consortium has developed an action plan defining the complementary development activities to address the common challenge/ theme around which each consortium is mobilized and the main elements of a research proposal to be further elaborated at a write-shop.
  • Result 3: Memoranda of Agreement have been signed between the partners in each partnership, between each partnership and its AI-facilitator and between each AI-facilitator and the PAEPARD Work Package 4 [Capacity Building] leaders.
  • Result 4: The collective and individual capacities of all consortium members to function as a team, taking stock of specific needs of non-research partners and mobilising their specific complementary contributions to the innovation process, have been strengthened.
Between the Partnership Inception workshop and write-shops, the AI-facilitators, with help from PAEPARD, assist their partnerships to formulate a first rough draft of a research proposal based on the main elements defined during the PI-workshop.

B) Write shops. 
Expected results of the Write shop
  • Result 1: Consortium members are aware of the procedures and formats required by the identified funding source to which their research proposal will be submitted and are able to use these formats and apply these procedures.
  • Result 2: Each consortium has fully developed its proposal following the specified format by the identified funding source
C) Follow up with the funding opportunities
Expected results of the follow up on the funding opportunities
  • Research proposals from different consortia that participated in the process of inception workshop and write-shop are submitted to the targeted funding sources

Monday, 17 October 2011

FARA Weekly Update

1.      News and Events
a.       International Symposium on cashew nut. 9 - 12 December, 2011, Madurai
b.      World Climate Summit 2011 during UNFCCC COP17, 3 - 4 December, Durban, South Africa -. Download registration form and Gigaton Awards factsheet
d.      Press release:

2.      Opportunities
d.      Call for papers on Climate Change and Agriculture. Deadline 31 December, 2011.
e.      Vacancies:
i.             Job Opportunities at RUFORUM
ii.                   FAO Professional vacancy: Senior Officer - (Livestock Policy) P5. Download details in English / French  / Spanish
f.        Calls for proposals
i.                     Instructional Design and Uploading of 5 PhD AFS Science Courses
ii.                   Instructional Design and Uploading 15 MSc AICM Courses
iii.                  Application for CDKN Innovation fund. Deadline 28 Oct, 2011
iv.                 Agricultural Transformation by Innovation (AgTraIn) . Deadline: 1 November, 2011

Thursday, 13 October 2011

2011 Borlaug Dialogue

October 12-14, 2011 – Des Moines, Iowa. The 2011 Borlaug Dialogue international symposium gathered the top minds and foremost leaders in global agriculture, food and development. The World Food Prize celebrates its 25th Anniversary of bringing hunger issues to the forefront.

The "Next Generation" theme asked several critical questions:

  • What are the most pressing future challenges that the global community will face in fighting hunger and poverty?
  • Who will be the next generation of leaders to confront such challenges and how do we best prepare and develop these leaders?
  • What are the next generation of technologies, methodologies, models and solutions to overcome such challenges?

Beginning Wednesday, Oct. 12, this three-day dialogue addressed the questions above by exploring the following:

  • Empowering youth through education and economic opportunities
  • The role of private investment in smallholder capital to spur innovation and entrepreneurship
  • The coexistence of high-tech agriculture and agro-ecology in promoting sustainability
  • New technologies and practices in improving agricultural ecosystems and environmental resource management
  • Improving efficiencies along the agricultural value chain and its effect on development, nutrition and health
  • Leveraging markets and trade on the macroeconomic level between high-income and developing countries
  • Changing demographics and the impact of population and dietary shifts, urbanization and aging
  • Maximizing the potential of women and girls in fighting hunger and poverty
  • Enhancing communication and collaboration across sectors and among all stakeholders to increase awareness and participation at all levels of advocacy.

10th African Crop Science Society Conference

October 10 – 13, 2011. Maputo, Mozambique. The 10th African Crop Science Society Conference emphasized the role of research in providing new and improved livelihood opportunities for farmers in Africa, thus improving their income and food security. The event provided a dynamic learning environment, with opportunities to interact and learn from one another, and to open and broaden horizons. The conference covered the following thematic areas:

  • agronomy, crop physiology, and cropping systems
  • horticulture
  • crop genetics and improvement
  • crop protection
  • biotechnology
  • integrated crop and livestock systems
  • soil and water management
  • agricultural extension and education
  • agricultural economics
  • environment and climate change effects on agriculture

At the 10th African Crop Science Society Conference, four Council Awards were presented to outstanding scientists:

  1. Prof. Monty Jones (FARA;Sierra Leonean)
  2. Prof. Kasem Zaki Ahmed (Minia University, Egypt)
  3. Prof. Joyce Kikafunda (Makerere University, Uganda)
  4. Dr. John S Tenywa (Makerere University, Uganda)

Regional Workshop of African and European Research Area programme managers for agriculture research for development

11-13 Oct 2011 Uganda. ERA-ARD II together with FARA co-organized a workshop of the African and European Research Area programme managers for agriculture research for development (ARD).

The concept was to create a working mechanism for a real demand-driven co-ordination and alignment of joint research and training activities in Sub-Saharan Africa region especially in developing human and institutional capacities.

The aim of the workshops was to identify regional research demand expressed by African ARD stakeholders and to match it with the available resources from the European programs. The workshops established an integrated approach of programming from various sources to contribute to an effective research, training and education in Africa.

The outcome of the workshop are:
  • identification of priority themes that could be supported using available resources from Africa and Europe. A call for proposals will be launched in the following months. Further details are described in the below concept note, "Sub Sahara Africa - Regional ARD-Alliances".
  • experts/stakeholders present their concepts on specific aspects of "Sustainable agricultural intensification through increased productivity and commodity value of crops". 
  • This was followed by an exchange of views with government official delegates and European program managers.
This film is about the RUNetwork question and answer service for farmers in Africa.

It describes how vouchers are used to esablish a constructive dialogue between the farming and the scientific community. It is not just farmers that get answers from science to solve their production problems but also science that gets access to farm level data for a better understanding of the dynamics of local farming systems. Information from farmers about upcoming problems is also used for early warning. The approach was successfuly tested in 5 different countries and scaled up to 14 communities all over Uganda. It is presently introduced in another 15 African countries in a collaborative project between the forum for agricultural research in Africa (FARA) and the ferderal office for agriculture and food (BLE Germany) with financial support from the Afircan development Bank.


5-7 October 2011. Accra. FARA. The PAEPARD project activities have reached cruise speed with the first and second calls for applications and suggestions concerning the organisation and scheduling of consortia, inception workshops, write-shops, multi-stakeholder consultations in Florence (Italy) and Nairobi (Kenya), and the Leeds meeting that adopted the capacity strengthening strategy. To put flesh on the bones of these suggestions, a MTM was needed.

The agenda consisted of:

  1. Bottlenecks identified by the respective partners
  2. Discussion on Vision/outcomes/outputs/assumptions (linked to the M&E strategy)
  3. Challenges encountered by the respective work packages
  4. Communication
  5. Financial update
  6. Selection of the Call 2 Concept notes (WP5 expert group) + Selection of the Agricultural Innovation Facilitators (WP4+WP5)


5-7 October 2011. A three-day regional parliamentary dialogue on investments in agricultural value chains in Africa was held in Abuja, Nigeria.

The meeting, dubbed 2011 “Regional Parliamentary Dialogue: Enhancing Competitiveness through increased investments in Agriculture Value Chains in Africa” is been attended by legislators from the regional parliaments and national assemblies, government officials, researchers and agricultural scientists. The landmark dialogue organized by the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) is a first of its kind in the continent bringing together agricultural technocrats and legislators to a roundtable. It follows the first Annual Dialogue of Ministers of Agriculture, Science and Technology held in April 2011 in Accra, Ghana.

In the official address, Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina, Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development in the Federal Republic of Nigeria, noted the need for closer co-operation between parliamentarians and technocrats in the agricultural sector to spur innovation, development and stability of agricultural growth in the Africa.

“We can sit and formulate policies, but the main drivers of the policies are parliamentarians. It is thus highly important to dialogue with parliamentarians so that implementation of what is agreed upon becomes easy”, the Minister noted, in a speech read on his behalf by Prof. Yusuf Abubarkar, a member of the Board of FARA.

The Minister appreciated the gains realized in enhancing competitiveness of agricultural value chains. “Food security and agricultural development is necessary with the developed countries today creating partnerships with Africa for the betterment of agricultural economies. At the same time, stronger strategic alliances with emerging powerful economies such as China, Japan and Brazil should be encouraged”, Dr. Adesina noted.

The Executive Director of FARA, Prof Monty Jones maintained that his organisation would continue to enhance value addition in policy, information knowledge and technology and encourage strategic alliances to benefit the continent and the attainment of economies of scale in economic production.

The private sector was urged to work closely with other stakeholders to enhance agriculture and boost the investments. At the moment, investment in the agriculture sector is barely 2% according to the FARA Executive Director as compared to 60% in the developed countries. Other important factors noted as vital for food production to reach the optimum level in the continent to reduce hunger include access to land, infrastructure, and improved variety of seeds.

Conference on Scientific Support for Food Security and Global Governance

28 September 2011. Brussels. The JRC-organised conference 'Scientific Support for Food Security and Global Governance', held on Wednesday 28 September in Brussels attracted 380 participants for a high-level discussion on the need to reconcile the necessity to increase production and competitiveness while respecting sustainable development in the framework of global governance. The conference focused on the links between food security and science, the interdependence between agriculture and environment, and the need for new global governance for improved food availability.

The daylong programme featured 21 speakers with attendees coming from national governments and international organisations EU Institutions, industry and NGOs, and research institutes and universities. Senior officials from the United Nations, the World Bank, the ACP Group of States and the EU presented ongoing initiatives ranging from crops monitoring and forecasting to concrete projects in the food system. Others analysed the sustainability of food production, food price volatility and food supply governance.

The European Commission's Joint Research Centre and the UK Government Office for Science (Foresight) co-organised on 30 March 2011 in Brussels a High Level Seminar on "Future of Global Food and Farming: How can Science Support Food Security?". European policy makers, scientists and practitioners debated the impediments and choices for global food security driven by the expanding world population and the need to develop sustainable agriculture minimizing the over-exploitation of natural resources and the impact of climate change. The conclusions of this conference have underlined the needs for developing and using a new common data and modelling system. The European Union and other international partners have insufficient or sets of data that are not up to date on many topics, such as farming systems.

The conference fostered a debate on following issues and highlighted the contribution of science in policy making at EU and global level on food security aspects:
  • Improving agricultural production and productivity both in the short and long term in order to respond to a growing demand for agricultural commodities;
  • Increasing market information and transparency in order to better anchor expectations from governments and economic operators;
  • Strengthening international policy coordination in order to enhance confidence in international markets and to prevent and respond to food market crises more efficiently;
  • Improving and developing risk management tools for governments, firms and farmers in order to build capacity to manage and mitigate the risks associated with food price volatility, in particularly in the poorest countries;
  • Improving the functioning of agricultural commodities' derivatives markets.

Dominique Ristori is the general director of the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission. In this interview, he speaks about the food security conference organised by the JRC and about the value of research and science in food security.

 In the closing remarks, JRC Director General Dominique Ristori said the conference offered strong evidence for the urgent necessity to invest in science and innovation for global food availability. Shared infrastructures and exchange of science-based knowledge are needed to turn capacities and knowledge into new products and new markets. He called for an interdisciplinary approach and a strong partnership between agriculture, environment, energy and development together with innovation and science. To achieve a sustainable intensification of the farming sector – he said - farmers should be placed inside the innovation chain with a capacity to invest and to reduce direct pressure on land and sea. According to Mr Ristori, a new global governance is necessary, which will strengthen the links between producers, traders, governments and all other stakeholders. He pointed to G20 initiatives as a good start and emphasised the importance of the co-operation between the FAO and the World Bank.

Prof. Monty Jones, Executive Director of FARA talks about the input that science can bring to agriculture, and the responsibility of African governments in food security

Joseph Alcamo, Chief Scientist at the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) talks about the untapped potential of fisheries and the possibilities of achieving food security and environmental protection.

Paulo Gouveia is the director of the General Affairs Department at Copa-Cogeca, the European farmers' representation in Brussels. In this interview, Gouveia speaks about the role of GMOs for food security and the European farmers' responsibility for global food security.