Our upcoming newsletter will feature three new feature articles, on aflatoxin management, on Makerere's Food Technology and Business Incubation Centre, and on UWI's Faculty of Food and Agriculture.
The University of Nairobi's Seed Enterprise Management Institute (SEMIs) has seven short courses plus a MSc programme on seed production, storage, quality assurance, field diagnostic, etc. More information on the SEMIs website. Our dossier on Seed Systems is updated on a regular basis: a policy brief on 'Seed systems, science and policy' will be shared in the next newsletter. To subscribe to the newsletter, click here.
ICN2 took place last week. Lots of information has been produced and shared. And IFPRI has released the first 'Global Nutrition Report 2014'; The Lancet has a good editorial on the matter. Check our dossier on Nutrition too, it is updated on a regular basis. During ICN2, the EU, FAO, the World Bank Group and CTA have launched a framework for joint action on agriculture and nutrition.
Big data is a hot topic right now and for good reasons. See NPR's report: 'Farmers should own their information'. The rapid adoption of technologies for precision agriculture and even smart phones' farming apps all over the world generate a large amount of valuable data. Ownership of this data and benefit sharing from its use (in system modelling and knowledge discovery/mining) should be transparent.
Finally, here below, a selection of interesting recent developments and publications.
The Sustainable Intensification of European Agriculture
This report comprises the first systematic analysis of sustainable intensification (SI) of the European agricultural sector and argues it must be the paradigm within which future agricultural policy is made in the EU. Three key points are made. First, the agricultural input which needs to be intensified across all of Europe is knowledge per hectare. This means knowledge in managing delicate ecosystems, knowledge to ensure that pollinator populations thrive, knowledge to make water management minimise flooding, as well as knowledge to achieve more food output per hectare. Second, the EU needs to devise a measurement tool for environmental farming performance. It would be strongly preferable to build on an EU-wide set of indicators already developed, for example the Joint Research Centre’s IRENA indicators. And third, in addition to better enforcement of existing environmental regulations, and using policy measures under the CAP, changes in farming practices must also come from farmers and private actors themselves. This report was the initiative of the Public Utility Foundation for Rural Investment Support for Europe (RISE) and launched at the Center for European Policy Studies (CEPS).
Protection of traditional knowledge and origin products in developing countries
Patrick Martens, Maastricht School of Management, The Netherlands discusses the links between the protection of Traditional Knowledge (TK), including origin products, and local economic development in developing countries. He focusses on two particularly relevant cases: argane oil from Morocco and rooibos from South Africa and concludes that international, regional and national protective legal systems and political freedoms should be strengthened while at the same time an appropriate level of development support in the establishment of 'economic facilities', 'transparency guarantees' and 'social opportunities' should be provided.
Chemical composition and nutritive value of Tanzanian grain sorghum varieties as feed
Tanzanian grain sorghum have high nutritive value and could partially replace maize in poultry feeding. Their full utilisation in poultry diets, however, requires a strategic improvement to reduce anticipated effects of the high level of condensed tannins (anti-nutritional factors) present in the grain. The research to assess type, suitability, nutrient composition and anti-nutritional components of commercially available Tanzanian grain sorghum was carried out by scientists from the Department of Animal Production and Marketing Infrastructures at the Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries Development and from the Department of Animal Science and Production, Sokoine University of Agriculture, in Tanzania.
(Livestock Research for Rural Development, 10/2014)
World mapping of animal feeding systems in the dairy sector
This report provides a wealth of knowledge on animal feeding systems and is a valuable resource for the dairy sector and connected chain partners. It can be used both to compare and improve feeding systems that are already in use and for the development of new feeding systems. In addition, the report provides information that can be used: (i) to estimate the environmental impact of the livestock sector; (ii) to develop diets and feeding strategies to reduce the carbon footprint and to optimise milk composition; (iii) to enhance animal productivity, health and welfare; (iv) to increase the quality and safety of animal products; and (v) to improve economic sustainability of milk production. The report was compiled by three organisations (IDF, FAO and IFCN) each of which undertook a separate but complementary approach to map dairy feeding systems around the world.
Fish Aggregation Devices: An analysis of use, profitability and shared governance in the Caribbean
A fishing trip analysis shows that catch and profitability are higher when public fish aggregation devices (FADs) are managed privately or by small groups and access to the aggregated fisheries resources is somewhat restricted. In partnership with Counterpart International, the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism, the Dominica and St. Vincent and the Grenadines Fisheries Divisions and the Florida Sea Grant collected information from fishermen on their use of FADs that were deployed privately, by small groups or by the government. This allowed for a determination of governance arrangements that were most profitable and provided input to stakeholder meetings with FAD fishers to identify best practices for sustainably using and co-managing FADs. An engagement strategy that introduced an activity planner as a best practice to increase information sharing helped strengthen the rapport between government and fisheries stakeholders.
Plant insights could help develop crops for changing climates
A new computer model that shows how plants grow under varying conditions could help scientists develop varieties that have high yield under particular environmental conditions in the future. Scientists built the model to investigate how variations in light, day length, temperature and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere influence the biological pathways that control growth and flowering in plants. They found differences in the way some plant varieties distribute nutrients under varying conditions, leading some to develop leaves and fruit that are smaller but more abundant than others. Professor Andrew Millar of the University of Edinburgh's School of Biological Sciences, led the study which has been published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Weather variability and food consumption
Higher temperatures have an adverse effect on food consumption. In contrast, food consumption is not substantially affected by rainfall variations. This working paper, authored by Sara Lazzaroni and Arjun S. Bedi, and published by the International Institute of Social Studies of Erasmus University (ISS, The Netherlands), relies on two-period panel data combined with data on rainfall, number of rainy days and maximum and minimum temperatures which were used to examine the impact of weather variations on food consumption in rural Uganda. While evidence from qualitative interviews and trends in agricultural production suggest that households are adopting mitigation measures, the conclusion from the evidence assembled is that higher temperatures are associated with a decline in crop yields and food consumption.
Increasing the consumption of nutritionally rich leafy vegetables in Samoa, Solomon Islands and northern Australia
Although certain leafy vegetables were popular in countries such as Solomon Islands and Tonga, there was a lack of widespread knowledge of their considerable health benefits. This publication reports on a project for increasing the consumption of nutritionally rich leafy vegetables in Samoa, Solomon Islands and northern Australia Surveys. The project, led by Graham Lyons, University of Adelaide, South Australia and Mary Taylor, Pacific Germplasm and Agricultural Development Consultant, UK, and their colleagues, was successful in: (i) documenting knowledge and opinions of local people on the growing and consumption of leafy vegetables; (ii) producing and distributing information factsheets; (iii) promoting local leafy vegetables via the media in the participating countries; (iv) building local capacity and (v) providing information on optimal propagation methods for the popular vegetable, aibika, from a field trial conducted in Samoa.
Technical considerations for maize flour and corn meal fortification in public health
The technical aspects of flour biofortification are explored in this issue of the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. Research questions such as stability, ingredient dosage, market reach, bioavailability, processing and legislative frameworks are addressed. Through this publication, the WHO, in collaboration with the Sackler Institute for Nutrition Science and the Flour Fortification Initiative (FFI), is updating several evidence-informed guidelines for the fortification of staple foods as a public health intervention, including the fortification of maize flour and corn meal with iron and other micronutrients.
(Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 14/04/2014)
Cassava – exploring its leaves
Cassava leaves are available throughout the year and should be given as much attention as the roots. They are one of the most valuable parts of the cassava plant containing high amounts of protein, and are also a rich source of vitamins, B1, B2 and C, as well as carotenoids and minerals. In fact, the total amount of essential amino acids in cassava leaf protein is said to be similar to that of a hen’s egg and greater than that of spinach leaf, soybean, oat or rice. Toxicity and antinutrients limit the consumption of cassava leaves as food. These toxic and antinutritional aspects must be addressed properly during processing and before consumption. Research at Hohenheim University is examining the optimal way to treat the cassava leaves in order to transform them into an economical and sustainable source of protein and micro-nutrients. Various cassava leaf processing methods have been developed.
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