Knowledge for Development


News items relevant to the policy dialogue on S&T for Development.

Market diversification and sweet potato processing in Papua New Guinea: a pre-feasibility study

This study, commissioned by ACIAR, Australia, focused on exploring the feasibility of establishing an efficient sweet potato processing in Papua New Guinea as an engine for the development of rural areas and the industrialisation of the economy. The main finding by authors Christie Chang, Associate Professor, University of New England and Anton Mais, PNG National Institute for Agricultural Research, is that worldwide sweet potato is used mainly in fresh form for human consumption and as animal feed. Only a very small proportion (less than 1%) is processed into dried chips and flour mainly for home consumption. Per capita sweet potato consumption tends to decline with income growth and urbanisation as consumers are afforded choices in price, quality, convenience, and diversity. The current high level of sweet potato consumption in PNG will change, and has changed in urban centres. Markets for fresh roots will continue to exist in PNG in the short to medium term, but the demand for quality will increase. In the longer term, sweet potato will become less important as a staple food. The study concludes that given the current environment and levels of support and knowledge, promoting sweet potato processing into commercial enterprises would be very difficult. Limited research resources may be better spent on improving the markets for fresh roots and for feedstock.    (Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research, 31/07/2014)   Editor’s comments: It would be interesting to know what the response of the PNG research, government officials and private sector actors including farmers is to this conclusion. UWI Jamaica should also pay attention to this report. K4D had reported in the last issue on the agreement .


Rejected bananas: From the uses of rejected bananas to the delivery of innovative and added-value products to the market

juices and ready-to-use pastes for bakery and for new-intermediate products such as flour, starch, and high-value extracted fractions). In the paper, Olivier Gibert, of CIRAD, France, and colleagues describe the many potential innovative uses of rejected bananas. Most rejected bananas goes to local markets as animal feed and processed products. Industrial use of rejected bananas is limited because most bananas are grown for the fresh consumption market. Moreover, low estimated supply of rejected bananas has discouraged attempts to use them in industrial food processing, such as for flours, breakfast flakes, pastes, tomato-sauce thickener, soft beverages sweetener and alcohols. However, the researchers have now estimated that 15 to 25 % of harvested bananas for export, about 4 to 5 MT/year, are discarded and might be a serious source of raw material for the food processing industry.  (Baking Europe, pp. 12-14, 06/2014)  Editor’s comment: Small island states such as Jamaica have been exploring banana value added options (chips, flour and vacuum packed peeled bananas), but there are challenges. See also a recent article in the Jamaica Gleaner.  ]


Strategies for rehabilitation of banana fields infested with Xanthomonas campestris pv. musacrearum

This study demonstrates that it is possible to effectively control Banana wilt disease (BXW) within 12 months in previously severely infected fields in Eastern and Central Africa, using control options such as single stem removal, suspension of pruning in affected fields, male bud removal and disinfection of tools with fire or sodium hypochlorite. The study, conducted by Jerome Kubiriba, National Agricultural Research Organization, Uganda (NARO) focused at rehabilitating banana fields heavily infected with BXW disease in Uganda, Kenya and D.R. Congo. Farmer-managed trials were established in BXW disease hotspots and the control options evaluated included single stem removal, suspension of pruning in affected fields, male bud removal and disinfection of tools with fire or Sodium hypochlorite. BXW disease incidence was reduced by over 80% in 11 months in Kenya and D.R. Congo, resulting in yield recovery by up to 70% within one year. In Uganda, the proportion of farmers that effectively controlled BXW disease increased 5% to 60% within a year in some hotspots. Consequently banana sales recovered up to 30% in some hotspots. This study demonstrates that it is possible to effectively control BXW disease within 12 months in previously severely infected fields in various areas of the region.   (Journal of Crop Protection via ProMusa, 08/2014)


New study charts the global invasion of crop pests

The world’s most important crop-producing countries will be fully saturated with pests by the middle of the century if current trends continue. Crop pests include fungi, bacteria, viruses, insects, nematodes, viroids and oomycetes. This is the main conclusion of a recent study by Daniel Bebber and colleagues at the University of Exeter, UK, concludes. Using global databases to investigate the factors that influence the number of countries reached by pests and the number of pests in each country, the researchers identified the patterns and trends in their spread. They also identified the pests likely to be the most invasive in coming years, including three species of tropical root knot nematode whose larvae infect the roots of thousands of different plant species; Blumeria graminis, a fungus that causes powdery mildew on wheat and other cereals; and the Citrus tristeza virus which had reached 105 of 145 countries growing citrus by 2000.   (Global Ecology and Biogeography via University of Exeter, 27/08/2014)


Pesticides are more toxic for soil organisms in dry soil and at enhanced temperatures

Scientists from the LOEWE Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre (BiK-F), the Goethe University and the ECT Oekotoxikologie GmbH, demonstrate that soil organisms in dry soil and at enhanced temperatures are more sensitive to pesticides. Singularly and combined, these factors lower the toxicity threshold of fungicides (pyrimethanil) for springtails (Collembolas), tiny hexapods that participate in essential soil functions, decomposing organic material and building up humus. Both conditions – drier soils and higher temperature – may occur more often in the future due to climate change and thus fungicide application under these conditions could further harm the soil biota essential for soil fertility.   (, 11/09/2014)


The imprint of crop choice on global nutrient needs

The choice of cultivated plant species to feed people and livestock influences not only food production but also soil nutrient withdrawals and fertiliser requirements. Esteban Jobbágy, Universidad Nacional de San Luis, Argentina, and Osvaldo Sala, Arizona State University, USA, report 3- to 15-fold differences in soil nutrient withdrawals per unit of energy or protein produced across major crops. These variations explain how food composition shifts over the last 20 years have reduced N, maintained P and increased K withdrawals from soils, while contributing to increasing dietary energy, protein and, particularly, vegetable fat outputs. The researchers show that global fertilisation rates do not relate to actual soil nutrient withdrawals, but to the monetary values of harvested products.   (Environmental Research Letters, 26/08/2014)


Sustainable phosphorus use: 'Feed the crop not the soil '

A new review into sustainable phosphorus use calls for more precise phosphorus management and suggest novel methods for its application by targeting the crop instead of the soil. The researchers, Paul Withers, at Bangor University, UK, and colleagues argue that when phosphorous is applied to the soil a large proportion is immobilised by chemical and biological processes, making it difficult for plants to access. The researchers suggest to target the crop rather than the soil and propose solutions that include targeted application methods to the root, or with seed dressing and foliage feed.   (Environmental Science & Technology via EC Science for Environmental Policy, 04/09/2014)


Pacific fisheries chief warns that tuna stocks are dangerously low

Fish stocks in the Pacific are so low that some species should no longer be fished. In particular, the survival of the Pacific bluefin and the bigeye tuna are at risk. In an interview with on 3 September 2014, Glenn Hurry, the outgoing director of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) observed that fish stocks have rapidly diminished in the past four years. The situation is not yet unrecoverable, but stocks are at a dangerously low level and worsening, and it is time for tough decisions. Japan's recent plan to propose a 50% cut on catches of young bluefin tuna in the western and central Pacific marks an historic shift aimed at safeguarding the at-risk species.   (, 03/09/2014)


Genetically-improved tilapia strains in Africa: potential benefits and negative impacts

Two genetically improved tilapia strains (GIFT and Akosombo) have been created with Oreochromis niloticus (Nile tilapia), which is native to Africa. In particular, GIFT has been shown to be significantly superior to local African tilapia strains in terms of growth rate. This study, by Yaw B. Ansah and colleagues, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, USA, reviews the history of the GIFT technology, and identifies potential environmental and genetic risks of improved and farmed strains and tilapia in general. The study also estimates the potential economic gains from the introduction of genetically improved strains in Africa, using Ghana as a case country. Employing a combination of the economic-surplus model and Monte Carlo simulation, the study found the mean net present value (NPV) of the introduction of the GIFT strain in Ghana to be approximately 1% of the country’s gross domestic product. It concludes that improvements in management practices and infrastructure could increase the yield and profitability of the local strains even if genetically improved strains are not introduced.   (Sustainability, 26/06/2014)


Farming aquatic animals for global food system resilience

How the current interconnections between the aquaculture, crop, livestock, and fisheries sectors act as an impediment to, or an opportunity for, enhanced resilience in the global food system given increased resource scarcity and climate change are explored in this paper. The researchers, Max Troell of the Beijer Institute of Ecological Economics, Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in Stockholm and colleagues, use an innovative framework called Portfolio theory to analyse how growth in aquaculture and diversifying food production may enhance the ability of the global food system to meet future demands under changing conditions. They found that aquaculture can potentially enhance resilience through improved resource use efficiencies and increased diversification of farmed species, locales of production, and feeding strategies. However, the reliance of aquaculture on terrestrial crops and wild fish for feeds, its dependence on freshwater and land for culture sites, and its broad array of environmental impacts diminish its ability to increase resilience. As demand for high-value fed aquaculture products grows, competition for these crops will also rise, as will the demand for wild fish as feed inputs. Although the diversification of global food production systems that includes aquaculture offers promise for enhanced resilience, such promise will not be realised if government policies fail to provide adequate incentives for resource efficiency, equity, and environmental protection.   (Stockholm Resilience Centre, 21/08/2014)


Update: Cross-learning write-shop: 'CTA Top 20 Innovations that Benefit Smallholder Farmers'

CTA organised the CTA Top 20 cross-learning write-shop from 13-17 October 2014. The meeting brought together authors and case owners of the CTA Top 20 innovations, technical experts, editors and designers to produce: (i) Fact sheets, guidebooks and posters of the CTA Top 20 innovations for widespread dissemination in print and electronic formats; (ii) a publication/manuscript consisting of the CTA Top 20 innovations as case stories and; (iii) a technical report on the CTA Top 20 as input into a policy brief on scaling up innovations. It is expected that by increasing access to existing knowledge on the CTA Top 20 innovations, this will contribute to increasing productivity and earning potential of smallholder farmers. The write-shop was a success. For more details about the write-shop, click here.


Participants: International Forum 'Unleashing Science, Technology and Innovation for Food and nutrition security'

A list of some of the keynote speakers at CTA's international forum has been prepared. The programme is available here and the event details here. The list can be downloaded from the link at the bottom of this page.


Cross-learning write-shop: 'CTA Top 20 Innovations that Benefit Smallholder Farmers'

In December 2013, CTA launched the call for the CTA Top 20 innovations that are benefitting smallholder farmers and received 251 submissions. An initial screening of the submissions resulted in a shortlist of 70 which were evaluated using an established scorecard. An expert meeting selected the top 40 innovations which were synthesised into succinct abstracts and translated into French. The shortlist was further evaluated by ACP farmers’ organisations and the CTA Top 20 innovations were identified. Find more information on the CTA Top 20 innovations here. The write-shop's programme can be downloaded below.

Monday 13 October 2014 - Friday 17 October 2014

Programme: International Forum 'Unleashing Science, Technology and Innovation for Food and nutrition security'

The CTA International Forum on Unleashing Science, Technology and Innovation for Food and Nutrition Security, to be held in Arnhem, the Netherlands, 15-17 October  2014, will bring together leading scholars, senior scientists/ researchers/ academics, policy makers, development practitioners, innovators and private sector representatives, including farmers. Download the programme below. Find the event's detail and concept note here. A partial list of participants is available here.


Bridging the gap between increasing knowledge and decreasing resources (Tropentag 2014, Proceedings)

The proceedings of the international conference Tropentag 2014 that took place in September 2014, are now available. The theme of this year's event was 'bridging the gap between increasing knowledge and decreasing resources'. This year ATSAF, Stuttgart, Germany (Association for Research in Tropical and Subtropical Agriculture) convened this annual  international conference on research on food security, natural resource management and rural development in Prague, Czech Republic.


International Forum: ‘Unleashing Science, Technology and Innovation for Food and Nutrition Security’

The CTA International Forum on 'Unleashing Science, Technology and Innovation for Food and Nutrition Security', held in Arnhem, the Netherlands, 15-17 October 2014, broughttogether leading scholars, senior scientists / researchers / academics, policy makers, development practitioners, innovators and private sector representatives, including farmers, to:  • Assess the relevance and effectiveness of current agricultural research and innovation policies and programmes for addressing the challenges of food and nutrition security;  • Analyze and generate evidence on innovations occurring in ACP agriculture for shaping future STI policy formulation and implementation for achieving food and nutrition security;  • Agree on how best to move forward in sharpening the STI focus, strengthening national innovation systems, and increasing public and private investments to effectively address food and nutrition insecurity in the future.  It is expected that this forum will influence CTA partners’ future programmes for agricultural research, higher education and innovation for addressing food and nutrition security.  Find the Forum's programme here.

Wednesday 15 October 2014 - Friday 17 October 2014

Winners of the 2nd Caribbean Science and Agriculture Film and Video Competition 'Adding Value to Local Foods'

The Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation – ACP/EU (CTA) and partners; the Caribbean Council for Science and Technology (CCST), The Caribbean Agricultural Research and  Development  Institute  (CARDI),  The  University  of  the  West  Indies  (UWI),  Columbus Communications Trinidad Limited (FLOW Trinidad) and the Trinidad & Tobago Film Company, are pleased to announce the winners of the second Caribbean Science and Agriculture Film and Video Competition “Adding Value to Local Foods”. The Finals and AWARD ceremony were successfully staged at the Carlton Savannah Hotel, Trinidad and Tobago from 27th – 29th August 2014. 


EARI Newsletter July-August 2014

EARI (Europe-Africa Research & Innovation) has recently publisged the 11st edition of EADI news. In this edition, there are articles about Mozambique's research needs, the research and innovation components in the new EU programme for Africa, and EU-funded research on Ebola and other epidemics.


Pacific Islands Universities Research Network (PIURN)

A Memorandum of Cooperation (MOC) was signed on 29 August 2014 in Apia, Samoa, for the Pacific Islands Universities Research Network (PIURN). The document spells out how Pacific Universities can work together while maintaining their unique identity, independence and intellectual property. The first major network activity will be the 1st PIURN Conference to be held 5-7 November in Noumea. PIURN is working with the Technical Centre for Agriculture and Rural Cooperation ACP-EU (CTA) to enhance the skills of Pacific researchers.Under the PIURN umbrella, four Pacific Islanders have attended a specially designed postharvest pre-congress training workshop and the international horticultural congress in Australia. In November 2014 PIURN and CTA will hold a workshop on food and nutrition security for all member universities. PIURN members have agreed to collaborate in three priority areas in the region: environment & climate change, biology & medicine, and food & agriculture.


GM agricultural technologies for Africa: A state of affairs

This IFPRI report is a comprehensive, evidenced-based review of agricultural biotechnology – its current status, issues, constraints and opportunities for Africa. Agricultural biotechnology comprises several scientific techniques (genetic engineering, molecular marker-assisted breeding, the use of molecular diagnostics and vaccines, and tissue culture) that are used to improve plants, animals and microorganisms. However, in preparing this desktop analysis of peer-reviewed evidence and documented examples, IFPRI has focused on genetic modification (GM) technologies and on the agricultural contexts in which they are applied. The focus was chosen because GM technologies are at the centre of controversies about biotechnology’s role in Africa.   (IFPRI/African Development Bank, 16/07/2014)