Knowledge for Development

Related developments

Agro-Value Chain Finance and Climate Adaptation: The role of the banking sector

In June 2014, International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) published this brief to stimulate thinking and discussion on ways to design and deliver agricultural finance that supports adaptation to a changing climate for all actors along agro-value chains from producers to exporters. Agricultural finance refers to financial services (savings, transfers, insurance and loans) that are needed by the agricultural sector. This brief primarily targets the banking sector, particularly credit institutions, involved in financing agro-value chains in developing countries, particularly in Africa. The brief builds on the results and recommendations of a six-month pilot initiative on mainstreaming climate risk along the coffee value chain in Uganda, which was conducted in 2013 through a partnership between the Ugandan Ministry of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives, Makerere University (MAK) and IISD.    (Julie Dekens & Susan Bingi, IISD, June 2014)


Call to invest in laboratory infrastructure

At the April 2014 meeting of the Open Agricultural Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology (OFAB) in Nigeria, agricultural biotechnology experts called on governments to invest in and develop laboratory infrastructures across the continent. Professor Baba Yusuf Abubakar, executive secretary of the Agricultural Research Council of Nigeria and Dr Jonathan Mufandaedza, chief executive and registrar of the National Biotechnology Authority of Zimbabwe explained that modern laboratory infrastructures were indispensable to the promotion of research, enabling testing, certification and innovative development of food products. Dr Nompumelelo Obokoh, chief executive of AfricaBio, said the continent must explore ways of mobilising resources to improve laboratory infrastructure and training scientists in agricultural research, such as public-private partnerships. Other experts argued that obstacles to scaling up research laboratory infrastructures included shortage of trained personnel, poor laboratory management systems, and lack of accessible and quality-assured laboratory services to support meaningful research in agriculture.   (The Herald, Zimbabwe, 02/05/2014)   


Africa-EU university boost: Commission backs plan to double size of partnership scheme

The African Higher Education Harmonisation and Tuning event, jointly organised by the European Commission and African Union Commission on 27 March 2014, focused on student mobility, recognition of qualifications and credits, as well as the development of new and joint degree programmes. Over the next seven years, it is envisaged that the new 'Erasmus+' programme will provide grants for 25,000 African students and academics to study or train in Europe, and around 2,750 African researchers will receive support. One of the aims of the meeting was to double the scope of the initiative from 60 African universities and 130 000 undergraduate students to 120 universities by 2015. Overall, it seeks to improve institutional evaluation and to implement a framework for quality assurance and accreditation.  (EU-Africa Chamber of Commerce, 25/03/2014)


Right-sizing wheat stem-rust research

Wheat researchers are issuing strong warnings that without increased financial support for stem-rust resistance research, Ug99, new virulent forms of stem rust first found in Uganda in 1999, could continue its movement across Africa and the Middle East and southwest Asia. Scientists have developed new wheat varieties with some resistance to the deadly disease, but the disease evolves and mutates into new forms, requiring new resistant varieties to be developed. While crucially important, the international consortium known as the Borlaug Global Rust Initiative, a US$26 million, five-year effort is believed to fill only half the wheat research gap. (ScienceDaily, 15/04/2013)


Africa’s agriculture and agribusiness markets set to top a trillion-dollar in 2030

A new World Bank report says that Africa’s food and beverage markets are projected to reach US$1 trillion by 2030. By way of comparison, the current size of the market is $313 billion, offering the prospect of a three-fold increase. That is, if farmers and agribusinesses can expand their access to more capital, electricity, better technology and irrigated land to grow high-value nutritious foods.  The report took an in-depth look at entire value chains for five commodities, rice, maize, cocoa, dairy and green beans. It calls on governments to work side-by-side with agribusinesses, to link farmers with consumers in an increasingly urbanized Africa. Bank, 4/03/2013)


GCARD 2 breakout session 'Innovations for Better Livelihoods'

A diversity of approaches grounded on participatory action research have been developed including notably the concept of Integrated Agricultural Research for Development (IAR4D). Despite the conceptual agreement around these approaches and the promise they hold, there are also concerns, not only regarding how these approaches can have impact, but also how they can they do so at scale. Participatory approaches to agricultural research have often been judged to be slow and costly 'boutique solutions' confined to the sites where they work directly. As a result their impact on poverty is considered by some to be marginal when compared with commodity research targeting many millions of people. This link loads a webpage prepared by PAEPARD that list all the presentations given during the GCARD 2 breakout session on 'Innovations for Better Livelihoods', including 'Direct investment by farmer-led research' by Ann Waters-Bayer of the Prolinnova Secretariat, 'Establishing effective livelihood research partnerships for impact at scale' by Patrick Dugan of CGIAR's Aquatic Agricultural Systems research programme, and 'Working with national innovation pilot learning sites and inter-regional innovation platforms' by Wale Adekunle, Director, Partnerships and Strategic Alliances, at the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA).   Click to browse all the presentations produced for the GCARD 2 conference.(PAEPARD, 6/11/2012)


Evaluating the impact of the Vavilov-Frankel Fellowship Programme

This brief from Bioversity International evaluates the impact of the Vavilov-Frankel Fellowships (VFF), which is awarded twice annually to young scientists in developing countries to carry out research plant genetic resources.  It reveals that the VFF Programme has met its stated goals of contributing to the scientific capacity of the Fellows and their home institutes, and of fostering the conservation and use of PGR. The evaluation also indicated ways in which the Fellowship Programme could be improved: focus on priority topics, increase engagement with Fellows and increase monitoring of results.(Bioversity, 2012)[showUid]=7059


IITA opening offices in Congo-Kinshasa

The international Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA) opened new offices early August 2012 in Kinshasa, along with a large research laboratory in South-Kivu. It appears research efforts will focus on cassava.


China to build agricultural research facility in Mali

China plans to build a centre for agricultural research and technological demonstration near Bamako, Mali, to carry out experiments and technical training, and to contribute to the development of sustainable agriculture in the country, SciDev reports (7/8/2012).


Nigeria to fund ‘demand-driven’ research

The Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND) in Nigeria has set aside ₦3billion to fund research institutions in order to promote demand driven research. The grants will be awarded to selected tertiary institutions to help them build the appropriate capacity and infrastructure to conduct the ‘demand-driven’ research projects.(University Wolrd News, 22/7/2012)


West and Central African research under the microscope

Research remains the poor relation of universities south of the Sahara, in particular those in West and Central Africa, University World News reports. This finding was repeatedly and bitterly stated at a forum, ‘Strategies for Sustainable Financing of University Research in West and Central Africa’, held in Dakar, Senegal, from 2-4 July 2012. This state of affairs is in sharp contrast to some countries in East and Southern Africa, which have been able to survive research-wise and benefit from the help of donors, according to the forum. The reason given for the relative success of universities in East and Southern Africa was that their countries had paid attention to research at an early stage in their investment efforts. By contrast, in West and Central African countries and some others on the continent, the share of gross domestic product spent on research is only 0.3%.(University World News, 22/7/2012)


Can private sector R&D reach small farms?

Millions of small farmers are reached commercially every day as they buy seeds and crop protection products, fertiliser, cell phones, machinery and tools, taking advantage of the science and research embodied in these products. The market for agricultural inputs is large, and the role of the private sector as a purveyor of technology and services is growing. It is in the nature of the private sector to bring products to the market and deliver value, including to small farmers. But the private sector goes where there is a commercial incentive. Farmers who are too poor to purchase inputs are not helped, and the technologies they need may not get developed. This is a public policy and societal challenge that cannot be solved by the public or the private sector alone. The solution requires the creative complementarities of public-private cooperation that – in addition to the farm population – must include the ‘third’ or not-for-profit sector (foundations, NGOs, civil society). This pathway can develop and deliver solutions to large numbers of small farmers. (From the proceedings of the Crawford Fund 2009 Conference on world food security.)


AfDB sponsors Fund of funds for Agribusiness in Africa

The African Development Bank Group (AfDB) approved in May 2012, an equity investment of USD 100 million to Agvance Africa, the first agribusiness-focused Fund of Funds on the African continent, whatever that means. The strategic objective of Agvance Africa is to increase private investment flows into the agribusiness sector on the continent to address growing food security concerns and unleash the unexploited potential of African agriculture and agribusiness sectors. (AfDB, 22/05/2012)


New feed mill to boost Fiji’s agricultural production

The commissioning of the feed mill at Koronivia Research Station (KRS) in Fiji will assist the Department of Agriculture improve the quality and standard of agricultural services and production on the island. The new feed mill will provide various types of quality livestock feed for poultry and dairy and beef cattle for better quality prime meat, through quality research. The island’s government hopes that the initiative and research findings will be a precursor to setting up of other feed mills by the private sector who could use the findings of KRS Feed Mill, and improve upon the feed formula. The feed mill can produce different types of animal feed for different types of livestock and poultry and has different types of dies to be able to produce and deliver different pellet sizes. (AllAboutFeed, 7/6/2012)


New European Innovation Partnership to focus on 'Agricultural Sustainability and Productivity'

Late February 2012, the European Commission unveiled its plans for two new European Innovation Partnerships (EIPs) that will go some way to meeting the environmental and social issues facing Europe in the near future. The EIP that focuses on agriculture will deal with the increasing challenges food security poses for Europe, where, in this century, there will be a sharp rise in demand for feed, fibre, biomass, and biomaterials. This demand will come at the same time as a slow-down in production, due to cuts in agricultural research and the effects our actions have had on the environment and natural resources. This new partnership will seek to encourage innovations for sustainable food security. (CORDIS, 01/03/2012)


EIB, Caribbean Development Bank launch climate action lending programme

The European Investment Bank (EIB) and the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) agreed on the details of a US$65 million dedicated Climate Action lending and technical assistance programme to be funded by the EIB. The new lending programme will provide long-term, low-cost funding for public and private sector climate change mitigation or adaptation projects. Projects eligible for funding under the new programme include adaptation, renewable energy, sustainable transport, forestry and land use, and low-carbon technology research, development and innovation. The 18 countries that can benefit from the lending programme are: Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, and the Turks and Caicos Islands.


Optimising policy space in the context of increasing international support for CAADP

This briefing identifies the urgent need to strengthen the capacities of policy experts along the CAADP policy processes value chain in order for Africa to take full advantage of this increasing support. The Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) is a pan-African vehicle that translates the vision of the NEPAD Planning and Coordinating Agency (NPCA) into an operational framework to guide agriculture-led development. CAADP’s overall goal is to improve livelihoods, food security and environmental resilience in Africa’s largely agrarian economies. Against this background, the unprecedented rise in international support for CAADP is an indicator of the new focus on global agricultural development, which is also reflected in the increasing relevance of meeting the first UN Millennium Development Goal (‘eradicate extreme poverty and hunger’). The opportunities for greater inclusiveness inherent in CAADP augur well for the African Union–NPCA in the sense that this will result in fairer and greater ownership among stakeholders (including civil society, nongovernmental and farmers’ organisations). Although there has been increasing support for CAADP, strong leadership has been in short supply across the continent, thereby restricting the policy space available to optimise such rising support. (via AfricaPortal)


Agricultural mechanization at a glance: Selected country studies in Asia on agricultural machinery development

This study examines the interactions among agricultural mechanization, food production and agricultural development of the Asia-Pacific region. Six countries were chosen for case studies, namely Bangladesh, China, India, Republic of Korea, Thailand and the Philippines, representing different stages of agricultural mechanization. Through visits and talks with policy makers, researchers and the private sector in the six countries, and thorough review of country reports prepared by representatives to the Technical Committee of United Nations Asian and Pacific Centre for Agricultural Engineering and Machinery (UNAPCAEM), the authors have collected extensive data and information on agricultural mechanization, and conducted thorough analysis. The study identifies the main characteristics of agricultural mechanization of each country, and assesses their respective needs in agricultural mechanization. The study also explores the feasibility of establishing an ‘Asia Pacific Network for Testing Agricultural Machinery’ (ANTAM). The feasibility study on the establishment of “ANTAM” is an important part of this report. “ANTAM” is proposed with an aim to promote introduction of uniform testing procedures and safety standards of agricultural machinery, and facilitate intraregional trade. (UNAPCAEM, 2010)


Construction of an agricultural research centre at the University of Kinshasa, DRC

The Minister of Higher education and University, Léonard Mashako Mamba laid the first stone at the University of Kinshasa, DRC (UNIKIN) for the construction of an agricultural research center, financed by Korean project KOPIA/DRC.This center has to reinforce the research that contributes to the modernisation and promotion of agriculture in DRC. Once built the research centre will provide farmers with seeds and machinery, to help them improve the quality and quantity of their products. The action also aims at the promotion of scientific research at UNIKIN.The Korean Rural Development Administration set up KOPIA (Korea Project on International Agriculture) centres in countries including Vietnam, Kenya, DRC, Brazil, Uzbekistan and Myanmar to spread Korea's customized agricultural technology. For example, the KOPIA centre in Kenya built and operates vinyl greenhouses, poultry farms and distributed agricultural machines such as bicycle-turned thrashers and rice planting machines in order to help the region's farming activities.(Source:, 14 Mar. 2011)


Universities and economic development in Africa: Pact, academic core and coordination (Synthesis report)

The Centre for Higher Education Transformation (CHET, South Africa) has published a synthesis report drawing together evidence from eight African case studies that formed part of the Higher Education Research and Advocacy Network in Africa project (HERANA, The HERANA research surveyed higher education stakeholders in eight African countries: Botswana, Ghana, Nairobi (Kenya), Mauritius, Eduardo Mondlane (Mozambique), Dar es Salaam (Tanzania), Makerere (Uganda), Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University and the University of Cape Town Both in South Africa).The study revealed that flagship universities in these eight African countries are more similar to institutions elsewhere than is generally perceived, with well-qualified staff, positive student-to-staff ratios, and rising enrolments including in science, engineering and technology. The book is available here: analysis of the report was provided by University World News on 20 March 2011(Source: University World News, 20 Mar. 2011)