Knowledge for Development

Selected publications

Publications and reports in the field of S&T for Development in ACP countries.

FOODSECURE newsletter March 2014

The latest newsletter of FOODSECURE, an interdisciplinary research project, of 19 partners from 13 countries led by LEI Wageningen, exploring the future of global food and nutrition securityhas details on the stakeholder workshop that took place in Prague on 27-28 February 2014 and an extended summary of the conference held in Addis Ababa in October 2013. CTA facilitated the  participation of African and Caribbean researchers in this conference.    (FOODSECURE project, 19/02/2014)


South Africa's 'Bioeconomy Strategy'

The Department of Science and Technology of South Africa, in consultation with other relevant stakeholders, has identified three key economic sectors – agriculture, health and industry – as being the most in need of, and likely to benefit from key levers to drive the implementation of the South African Bioeconomy Strategy. This new strategy provides a high-level framework to guide biosciences research and innovation investments, as well as decision-making as South Africa adapts to the realities of global transition to a low-carbon economy. Designed to have a technology-push and market-pull approach, the strategy addresses the country’s developmental goals and needs, as well as its industrial and agricultural competitiveness.   An important development entrenched in the strategy, is the drive to expand the country’s shift in focus from developing biotechnology capabilities – and subsequently the biotechnology sector as a whole – to developing a bio-economy, where the biotechnology sector joins forces with the ICT sector, environmental agencies, the social sciences and other technologies, especially Indigenous Knowledge Systems (IKS) community of practice, to create holistic solutions and industrial applications for agriculture as well as the health and industrial sectors, in order to create a world-class biotechnological system of innovation.   (DST, 2013)


Knowledge, networks and nations: global scientific collaboration in the 21st century

This report by the Royal Society, UK, is a review, based on available data, of the changing patterns of science, and scientific collaboration, in order to provide a basis for understanding such ongoing changes. It aims to identify the opportunities and benefits of international collaboration, to consider how they can best be realised, and to initiate a debate on how international scientific collaboration can be harnessed to tackle global problems more effectively. It explores this changing geography of science and innovation and investigates where and how science is being carried out around the world and the ways in which this picture is changing. The report makes 5 major recommendations: (i) Support for international science should be maintained and strengthened; (ii) Internationally collaborative science should be encouraged, supported and facilitated; (iii) National and international strategies for science are required to address global challenges; (iv) International capacity building is crucial to ensure that the impacts of scientific research are shared globally; (v) Better indicators are required in order to properly evaluate global science.   (The Royal Society, 2011)


Higher education and globalisation: challenges, threats and opportunities for Africa

This publication, by the Maastricht University Centre for International Cooperation in Academic Development (MUNDO), The Netherlands, is the result of a two year process during which university leaders, from eight African universities, developed strategic plans for their institutes to counter the impacts of globalisation and to benefit from the opportunities it presents. For universities in sub-Saharan Africa, where management and administrative capacities are already limited, responding to changes in the global knowledge system is particularly difficult. The strategy papers developed by the leaders of the eight universities take into account their countries’ diverse economic, historical, educational, social and political dimensions both to develop and to strengthen the capabilities needed to create and disseminate knowledge, and thus to increase their competitiveness in the global knowledge marketplace.   Related:  (ACP EDULINK, 2012)


Improvement of papaya productivity for commercial application

Dr Rimberiawas rewarded the fifth prize in the Women in Science competition. She explains to Knowledge for development that the most relevant result of her project is the finding that the production of clean and healthy papaya plantlets of known sex can solve the farmers’ inability to differentiate among the papaya’s 3 sex types at seedling stage. She found that healthy orchards with the correct mix of one male to nine female plants will increase fruit yield greatly compared to the current situation where farmers use guess work. Farmers will be able to grow more fruits and the papaya industry will be able to produce more yoghurt and beauty products. ‘This award will increase my visibility in the research community and that of my university. Hopefully, it will help me get a promotion at my university and more funding for research projects. In five years time ‘I will be an associate professor with four patents to my name and many scientific publications.’  


Enhancing pig productivity in Lake Victoria crescent zone: the effect of genotype and post-weaning diet

Dr Rugira, who won the fifth prize in the Young Professionals in Science competition, told Knowledge for Development that the most relevant result of his research was developing a much cheaper feed for rearing pigs and getting farmers to adopt a new pig breed that provides better quality pork. ‘More meat of better quality will now become available to Africans, improving their protein intake. The livelihoods of pig farmers will also improve through the generation of extra income and savings made on feed.’ He continued that ‘the recognition means we can build on our research for further action-research to address livestock related issues. This award energized me and makes me feel that good science is appreciated irrespective of the subject matter.’ In five years Dr Rugira expects to be at the peak of his scientific career and hopes that he will be ‘mentoring other Africans researchers, publishing at free will, winning bigger research grants and possibly leading a research organisation.’  


Food security in Africa: an innovative technique for cowpea storage

Dr Binso won the fourth prize in the Women in Science competition. In her interview with Knowledge for Development she explained that her research had shown that hermetic triple bagging is effective in reducing post-harvest losses of cereal and legume grains without the use of insecticide. ‘Hermetic triple bagging technology is a viable alternative because it is effective in reducing grain storage losses and it provides farmers the flexibility to store and sell when prices are high’. She expects that effective extension approaches will lead to quick adoption and commercialisation of the bagging method among smallholder farmers and thus will improve food security through steady supply of quality grain. ‘This recognition means a lot to my career and should serve as an encouragement to women scientists whose research contributes to food security. It gives me confidence to commit myself more to research that supports smallholder farmers, especially rural women to improve their livelihood.’ In five years time Dr Binso sees herself as a specialist in crop storage and an advocate of triple bagging technology.  


Recovery of urban solid waste in Lomé: methodological approach towards sustainable compost production

Dr Koledzi, who was awarded the fourth prize in the Young Professionals in Science competition considers the most relevant result of his project the sorting-composting platform that was developed through the research and that is now processing 20 tonnes of waste every day, with a staff of 35. He told Knowledge for Development that ‘compost producers and farmers both benefit: the compost is being sold to farmers who use it instead of chemical fertilizers to maintain and even regenerate soil fertility in their fields.’ The award for his research is a recognition that even a simple adaptation of existing technologies can help Africa feed itself and the prize will boost the importance of the sorting-composting platform and help me become a full-fledged research professor in this field.’ In five years’ time Dr Koledzi hopes to still be working as a researcher, with engagements both in Togo and Canada.  


Agronomic performance of extra-early maize hybrids under stress and non-stress environments in Nigeria

Ms Akaogureceived the third prize in the Women in Science competition. She clarified to Knowledge for Development that she was the first to research extra-early maize hybrids with a resistance to Striga and a tolerance for periods of drought during the flowering and grain- filling periods. She considers her research important because the adoption and commercialisation of extra-early maize hybrids with these qualities could contribute significantly to food security goals and improved incomes and livelihoods of farmers. She explained that ’the award is a great motivation and encouragement for me. It also inspires me to work harder in order to be one of the winners of the world food prize in the next few years to come. In the next 5 years, I hope to become the head of the maize breeding programme in Nigeria or be working in one of the CGIAR centres developing improved maize varieties that will bring about a maize revolution in West Africa.’   


Introduction of heat tolerance genes into Lohmann Brown for improved egg production under hot and humid environments in Ghana

Dr Haganwas awarded the third prize in the Young Professionals in Science competition. He commented that the most relevant result of his research was the development of chicken breeds that can be highly productive under the hot and humid environments of the tropics. ‘The breeds I have developed are able to produce optimally under heat stress conditions and thereby increase productivity of egg production and hence improve Africa’s food security.’ He told Knowledge for Development that the award is a confirmation that his research has an actual practical impact. ‘It opened doors to international collaboration, helped me to build a research network in my field and to get a promotion as a lecturer in my university. I hope that in five years time I will be an internationally recognised expert in local chicken production and that my work will have  a positive impact on food security.’  


Labour saving tools for women: the forage chopper for smallholder dairy farmers in Uganda

Dr Kiyimbawon the second prize in the Women in Science competition. She told Knowledge for Development that she considers the most relevant result of her research her finding that the effectiveness of using forage choppers depends on the social structures of households, community and support facilities. She explains: ‘To be effectively achieved, mechanised agriculture must be embedded into existing production strategies, recognise what community resources are available and how these can be mobilised to facilitate the use of the machines.’  She considers the award a big milestone in her career, one that makes her believe that although as one person she may not change the world, she can change the world for one person, the smallholder farmer. In the next five years she plans to build a network of researchers working on labour saving technologies, especially for women.   


Landscape-scale management of invasive Cymbopogon afronardus (Stapf) in the rangelands of Uganda

Mrs Kabiri, who won the second prize of the Young Professionals in Science competition, said to Knowledge for Development that mapping Cymbopogon afronardus in Uganda had shown the unprecedented scale of the weed’s invasion. ‘I observed that an essential oil from C. afronardus controls Cyperus rotundus, another weed severely affecting crop production in Africa. C. afronardus is a cheap and environmentally friendly alternative for selective biological weed and pest control in high value crops. Moreover, its harvesting will improve the quality of rangeland pastures.’ She continued: ‘The award gave me confidence as a scientist. It made me realise that my research is important for society and that, in its own small way, it contributes to improving food security. I hope that in five years I am a reputable scientist who contributes towards the consolidation of food security and poverty alleviation in sub-Saharan Africa.’    


Valorisation of poultry litter to compost: an assessment of the pathogen reduction potential

Dr Sobrateewon the first prize in the Women in Science competition. She considers the identification of the weak points, in terms of sanitisation status, that allow bacterial pathogens to proliferate during composting the most relevant result of her project. ‘Optimised practices of composting, as a component of both conservation agriculture and conventional farming, is one of the solutions to Africa’s soil fertility crisis.’ She continued; ‘being at the first place in the competition gives me a legitimate sense of fulfilment with respect to the relevance of my research. It has also instilled in me the confidence that I can make a difference in the field of bio-resource management.’ Dr Sobratee sees herself in five years’ time working in academia in Mauritius, being engaged in both teaching and learning and in research, whereby teaching and learning activities will be driven and informed by her research and development work.    


Identification of QTL conferring resistance to Ethiopian stem rust in durum wheat

Dr Haile, who was awarded the first prize in the Young Professionals in Science competition, told Knowledge for Development that the findings of her research could contribute useful information for developing wheat varieties that are resistant against stem rust. ‘Developing resistant varieties with high yields will increase the productivity of wheat farming in Africa and secure more food for the continent. Having won the first prize is an immense honour for me. I feel strongly motivated to continue working hard and contribute to more research on wheat production for the benefit of African farmers.’ Dr Haile described herself as being on the road to becoming a full-fledged enthusiastic scientist.   


2013 Global Food Policy Report

IFPRI’s 2013 Global Food Policy Report reviews major food policy developments and trends from the past year, documents emerging issues, examines key challenges and opportunities, describes the rising political commitment to food and nutrition security, and sets an agenda for action. It calls for ending hunger and under-nutrition by 2025. In order to achieve these goals, IFPRI's Director General Shenggen Fan stresses the need to: promote country-driven, context-specific, and evidence-based strategies; build on evidence and past experiences such as those from Brazil, China, Thailand, and Vietnam; share ideas and knowledge on lessons learned; enhance and expand partnerships.   Chapter 5 of the Report, written by Nienke Beintema and Gert-Jan Stads, provides a data-driven analysis of recent progress in investing in financial resources and human resource capacity related to agricultural R&D in Africa south of the Sahara. Of note is the rise in private investment in agricultural R&D.  (IFPRI, 11/03/2014)


Knowledge gaps and research needs concerning agroforestry's contribution to sustainable development goals in Africa

This review by Cheikh Mbow and colleagues from the World  Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) addresses the role of agroforestry in the links between food security and agricultural sustainability in Africa. The paper poses the hypothesis that 'Agroforestry concepts and practices can form an effective, efficient and fair pathway towards the achievement of many sustainable development goals'. It aims to demonstrate that the products and services emanating from the integration of trees within farming systems can contribute to food security, farmer livelihoods and environmental resilience. Agroforestry requires several enabling conditions beyond biophysical suitability. Many pending research questions must be explored to optimise agroforestry knowledge and practice, as failure of some agroforestry strategies is related to lack of integration and system approach.  For agroforestry to be adopted it should not be constrained by policies which hinder the integration of trees, with crops and livestock.   (Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, 20/02/2014) 


Scoping report on biofuels projects in five developing countries

This report by ODI, UK, summarises the results of scoping exercises carried out in early 2013 into the status of biofuel projects in five countries: Ethiopia, Indonesia, Mozambique, Tanzania and Zambia. These scoping exercises were undertaken to determine: (i) Whether countries which are commonly referred to as important for biofuel production have seen proportionate levels of biofuel project activity; and (ii) if so, whether projects have reached a stage at which it is possible to assess the impacts of biofuel projects on local food security. The report concludes that in the four African countries, there is little basis to comprehensively investigate the possible effects of increased biofuel production on food security. What could be further researched is the impact of the displacement of people and their agricultural activities, which often occurs as part of biofuel projects. It is too early to know whether the contraction in biofuels project development is indicative of a temporary setback or whether it is of a more permanent nature. However, the number of projects which have already ceased their operations and the time required for new projects to start up operations indicate that production will not reach significant levels in the four African countries anytime soon.    (ODI, 05/2013)


Retrospective: bottlenecks to Jatropha curcas bioenergy value-chain development in Africa – a Kenyan case

Jatropha curcas (Jatropha), a shrubby tree native to Central America, thrives in many parts of the tropics and sub-tropics in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) and Asia. Though an essentially undomesticated shrub, Jatropha suddenly emerged as a promising biodiesel feedstock during the period 2003-2009, when rising petrol prices fuelled global interests in bioenergy crops. Jatropha was claimed to produce high-quality oil, and had a wide adaptability to diverse climatic zones and soil types, minimum input requirements, short gestation period, easy multiplication, drought tolerance, pest and disease resistance and an ability to grow under marginal conditions without competition for resources for food production. It was considered a ‘silver bullet’ to solve energy insecurity in low-income countries and to support economic development. Similarly, investors from developed nations were eager to grow it in large commercial plantations in SSA and elsewhere for export. 


Biofuels: Are They Still Relevant?

With the race to find new gas deposits and develop production of other carbon-based fuels, such as shale oil in the USA, Argentina, Russia and Algeria, the development of the tar sands in Canada and the return to coal in some countries, biofuels might appear irrelevant. But this ignores the high cost, both financially and in terms of water use, impact on local habitats and the longer-term consequences for climate change that result from exploiting both the old and these new sources of oil and gas (Crooks, 2013; Lattanzio, 2013). Such exploitation undercuts efforts towards an energy transition in which clean transport technologies, such as biofuels, could be important. Some options that biofuels are already providing in developing countries are briefly examined and factors that contributed to their positive impact on inclusive development are discussed. 


First major study of science granting councils in Sub-Saharan Africa

In February 2014, the Centre for Research on Evaluation, Science and Technology (CREST) at the University of Stellenbosch published the first comprehensive and in-depth analysis of the roles and functioning of science granting councils (or equivalent bodies) of 17 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. The study found that dedicated funding councils were largely characteristic of the science systems of Anglophone countries. Francophone countries, such as Rwanda and Cameroon traditionally do not have ST&I funding councils. However, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire and Senegal do have efficient funding agencies particularly in agriculture. The study identified a number of models that capture the most commonly found organisational arrangements for public research funding: The paradigm principal-agent model (delegation of responsibility for research funding to a autonomous body); the sector-differentiated model (different research funding councils for different sectors in the science system – causing challenges around coordination in science funding); the multiple principal-agents model ('non-government' science funding channels, usually international donors – there is no coordination between these channels); and the embedded principal-agent model (an extension of government with no obvious independence). The study developed ‘milestones’ in the areas of science and technology governance and policy development to allow for comparison between countries’ S&T trajectories.    (University World News and Stellenbosch University, 17/01/2014)


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