Knowledge for Development

Selected publications

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

Assessment of scientific productivity (2005 – 2010) of African countries participating in the ASTII project (African Innovation Outlook II, March 2014)

This chapter is based on the bibliometric study undertaken by AOSTI on the scientific and technological outputs of the AU’s member countries. The study is first of a series on this topic and forms part of AOSTI’s broader mandate to develop and manage science, technology and innovation indicators. The chapter summarises and highlights key findings from the study with the focus on countries that participated in the second phase of the ASTII project. 


African Science, Technology and Innovation Indicators (ASTII) Initiative series, Policy Brief No. 3, December 2013

The African Science, Technology and Innovation Indicators (ASTII) Initiative was launched in 2007 by the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) as one of the programme areas of Africa’s Science and Technology Consolidated Plan of Action (CPA). The ASTII Initiative supports both evidence-based STI policy formulation and review; enhances regional cooperation and collaboration on S&T and innovation activities or programmes; strengthens Africa’s human and institutional capacities for STI indicators and related surveys; contributes to the production of reliable African STI indicators and related data sets available and in use. Under ASTII participating countries undertake R&D and Innovation surveys to produce the data needed to compile indicators on the status of STI.This Policy Brief shows that ASTII has stimulated AU member states to start conducting R&D and innovation surveys and to build national capacities to inform STI policy formulation and review. However, AU members states are hampered by a number of challenges in their efforts to transition their economies, and these include the limited resources of the responsible bodies to collect and analyse data from R & D and Innovation surveys at national level.


Towards a globalized diet: more food, less diversity, more associated risks

This comprehensive study by Colin Khoury of the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) and co-authors from related research institutes provides evidence of change in the relative importance of different crop plants in national food supplies worldwide over the past 50 years. This study of the global food supply thoroughly documents and confirms for the first time what experts have long suspected: over the last five decades, human diets around the world have grown ever more similar – by a global average of 36 % – and the trend shows no signs of slowing, with major consequences for human nutrition and global food security. The study suggests that growing reliance on a few food crops may also accelerate the worldwide rise in obesity, heart disease and diabetes, which are strongly affected by dietary change and have become major health problems. Many crops of considerable regional importance – including cereals like sorghum, millets and rye, as well as root crops such as sweet potato, cassava and yam – have lost ground. Many other locally significant grain and vegetable crops – for which globally comparable data are not available – have suffered the same fate. Another danger of a more homogeneous global food basket is that it makes agriculture more vulnerable to major threats like drought, insect pests and diseases, which are likely to become worse in many parts of the world as a result of climate change.   Editor’s note – Can the research and policy communities afford not to consider the globalization of diets and the reliance on fewer crops in more depth? The implications for the future of food and nutrition security are far reaching, both for the economies and natural environment. Similar research effort should be extended to livestock – see for example Patterson’s article. A few weeks ago I read that Chinese researchers have begun to consider the implications for food and farming of the loss of indigenous genetic resources which are more resilient.  Other relevant information on this subject: Press release,  CIAT News, Round-up and an article in CrossMark Increasing homogeneity in global food supplies and the implications for food security.(CIAT, 29/01/2014)


What difference has CAADP made to Tanzanian agriculture?

Brian Cooksey of the Future Agricultures Consortium (secretariat at IDS, Sussex, UK) examined the impact of the Comprehensive African Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) on Tanzania's agricultural sector. In this paper he discusses how CAADP relates to national and regional policy initiatives (including the country's Agriculture and Food Security Investment Plan, the Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor of Tanzania, and the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition) and their governance; the possible impacts of CAADP on spending on agriculture in the country; and the extent of the influence and inclusion of civil society organisations on agricultural policy processes. The author concludes that CAADP-related agricultural expenditure was minimal, regressed after recent elections, and left out agricultural research activities in the country.   (Future Agricultures Consortium, 11/2013)


New Pathways to Innovation

This publication by Convergence of Sciences (CoS) documents some of the outcomes of its programme Strengthening agricultural innovations systems (SIS) in Benin, Ghana and Mali and its approaches and methods in enabling successful sustainable business opportunities for smallholders. Rather than focusing on technical innovations, CoS-SIS helps national, sub-regional and African agricultural research organisations, NGOs, universities and other public and private sector agencies, to strengthen and harmonise their programmes by identifying ‘scientific’ synergies. Most notably, CoS-SIS supports university curriculum development and informs decision makers at district and national levels about ways to encourage smallholder innovation. The bilingual booklet details such efforts in sectors like cotton, rice, shea butter, palm oil, cocoa, crop-livestock systems, and water management.  EN booklet:  FR booklet:  (CoS-SIS, 2013)


The Economics of Climate Change in the Pacific

The Asian Development Bank identifies in this comprehensive report the effects and quantifies the costs of the adverse outcomes of climate change to the Pacific island economies, with details provided for selected key sectors including agriculture, fisheries, tourism, coral reefs, and human health. It presents policy recommendations and action steps for the countries to minimise or mitigate these impacts. Some of the report's findings include the following: the combination and interaction of geographic, economic, environmental, and demographic factors are expected to make the Pacific region particularly sensitive to climate change; mainstreaming climate change actions in development planning is crucial to minimise the impacts of climate change; an adaptation strategy is key to addressing the multitude of climate change impacts. This publication is available for a fee as well as free download.   (ADB, 11/2013)


Managing drought risk in a changing climate: The role of national drought policy

In this open-access article in Weather and Climate Extremes, Donald A. Wilhite, at the School of Natural Resources, University of Nebraska, USA, and colleagues address the growing worldwide concern about the ineffectiveness of current drought management practices. Most in-country policy and practices related to drought management are based on the principles of crisis management, resulting in the ‘reactive’ treatment of the ‘symptoms’ of drought. The authors argue that a comprehensive drought management plan must address the causes for the vulnerabilities associated with this type of extreme climatic event. They further show that through the adoption of national drought policies that are focused on risk reduction and complemented by drought mitigation or preparedness plans at various levels of government, the coping capacity of nations to manage droughts can be improved. In their paper they discuss the underlying concepts of drought, the principles and objectives of national drought policies and a drought planning process that has been effective in the preparation of drought mitigation plans.   (Weather and Climate Extreme, 18/03/2014)


Towards improved soil information for quantification of environmental, societal and economic sustainability

International Soil Reference and Information Centre (ISRIC – World Soil Information, Wageningen) has recently published this large report in which information needs for soil data at an increasingly fine spatial resolution are being discussed.  The need for appropriately scaled, consistent and quality assessed soil information in support of studies of food productivity, soil and water management, soil carbon dynamics and greenhouse gas emissions, and the reduction or avoidance of land degradation are first discussed. Soil variables considered most critical for current and likely future model-based assessments are identified and new cost effective measurement methods that may reduce the need for conventional laboratory methods are evaluated. The status and prospects for improving the accuracy of soil property maps and tabular information at increasingly detailed scales (finer resolution) for the world is addressed. The scope for collecting large amounts of site specific and project specific soil information, possibly through crowd-sourcing and consistently storing screening and analysing such data are discussed within the context of ISRCI's emerging Global Soil Information Facility (GSIF), together with the possible institutional implications.   GSIF-related activities are currently being embedded in global initiatives Such as the FAO-led Global Soil Partnership (GSP),, the ICSU World Data System, and the Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS) that promote participatory approaches to data sharing. In order to consolidate its world information services, ISRIC is collaborating with national institutes and international organisation with a mandate for soil resource inventories.  (ISRIC, 05/2013)


Innovation Systems and Institutional Change

By N. Roling and D. HounkonnouModerate intensification of African smallholder farming would improve food security and reduce rural poverty on the continent. It would mobilize the substantial underutilized human and natural resources under smallholder management for global food security. The pathways are controversial, which has its roots in the history of the phenomenal productivity growth in industrial agriculture, especially the US since the 1940s. This growth has commonly been attributed to investment in science-based technology and its promotion through extension. However, careful analysis shows that a system of interlocking institutions that enabled farm development was in place well before the growth took off. Based on international literature, preliminary experiences in research programme in three West African countries, and on the disappointing impact of agricultural research on African farm innovation, Röling and Houngkonnou argue that institutional change demands rethinking the pathways to innovation so as to acknowledge the role of rules, distribution of power and wealth, interaction and positions. The time is opportune: climate change, food insecurity, high food prices and concomitant riots are turning national food production into a political issue for many African leaders.Röling and Houngkonnou present innovation systems as an approach to institutional change based on learning, new patterns of interaction and new configurations of key actors. They argue that institutions should be embedded in local history and contexts and must emerge from them and that extension could more usefully be deployed to facilitate innovation system dynamics that accompany investment in stakeholder interaction than for promoting technology only.


Governmental Extension Services, their Generic Problems and Potential Solutions

By V. Hoffmann, GermanyGovernments should not directly engage in production or services, which are better performed by private agencies. Sometimes it may be appropriate for a government to own or hold shares in private companies. In extension, government responsibilities should focus, in the long-term, on issues of public interest, with public funding and private implementation. Advisory work for private clients should be implemented by the private agencies and paid for by their clients. Governments should create an enabling environment for private sector initiatives, for instance provide and maintain the necessary infrastructure, support knowledge systems, and establish and maintain political stability and continuity and legal and physical security. The core business of governments is to develop beneficial policies and to implement them through an efficient and reliable administration.


Agricultural Extension Policy: The Missing Link In Innovations In Extension And Advisory Services

By O.I. Oladele, NigeriaIn this paper Oladele analyses the features of agricultural extension models and policies in 27 sub-Saharan African (SSA) countries. He bases his analysis on the premise that extension policy in SSA cannot be isolated from the extension models that are used in these countries and argues that a major problem in organising agricultural extension in developing countries is the absence of legal and policy frameworks for providing these services. Putting such frameworks in place is a basic and indispensable way of supporting extension in developing countries. It will help streamline the confusion currently existing around the effort to transfer agricultural knowledge to farmers, particularly in the areas of service provision, programme development and funding. Results from Oladele’s analysis show that pluralistic extension systems dominate the extension and advisory landscape of many SSA countries. Of the 27 countries covered in his study, only two have a legislated extension policy and such policies tend to favour well-organised and financially stable extension systems that have sustained effectiveness and a cumulative impact. Oladele recommends that SSA countries adopt the legislated extension policies option to improve extension service delivery and to reduce contradictions in extension models.


Innovations In Extension And Advisory Services For Alleviating Poverty And Hunger: Lessons From Brazil

By H.B. Corrêa da Silva, BrazilAfter being neglected for over a decade, in 2003, the Brazilian rural extension services were once again included among the national government’s priorities. The introduction of a national policy and increased public funding contributed to reviving these services for addressing family farming and sustainable rural development. Partnership between national and state governments, and family-farmer organisations and social movements became the pillars of a decentralised and pluralistic extension system, which includes participatory governance and governmental and non-governmental organisations. This was consolidated by a new federal law, which introduced a demand-orientated funding mechanism for extension services. The remarkable growth of policies fostering social inclusion, food and nutritional security, and income generation stretched the extension services far beyond their capacity. New links between extension and research facilitated extension agents’ and family farmers' access to technological innovations. In addition, the training of extension agents emphasises vanguard concepts and approaches – such as participatory methods, capacity-building, sustainable agriculture, the value chain and non-farming activities – tailored to the diversity of family farming. Rural extension in Brazil faces the challenge of increasing its capacity to respond to the demand of public policies and family farmers, while evaluating its quality, cost-effectiveness, sustainability and impact.


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

Dr Hagan  was 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.’  


USP-IRETA South Pacific Agricultural News (SPAN) Newsletter March 2014

The March 2014 issue of South Pacific Agricultural News (SPAN), the newsletter of the Institute for Research, Extension & Training in Agriculture (IRETA) at the University of the South Pacific (USP). 


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.’