Publications and reports in the field of S&T for Development in ACP countries.
This publication provides a broad framework for understanding and interpreting the soil resources of Fiji in bringing together into one document all the relevant available soil data. It describes these data in a user-friendly format designed for use by farmers, institutional extensionists, researchers, agribusiness managers, and land use planners.
Remy Bargout and Manish Raizada at the Department of Plant Agriculture, University of Guelph, Canada review the intrinsic factors that contribute to soil infertility in modern Haiti, along with indigenous pre-Columbian soil interventions and modern soil interventions, including farmer-derived interventions and interventions by the Haitian government and Haitian non-governmental organisations (NGOs), bilateral and multilateral agencies, foreign NGOs, and the foreign private sector. This review shows how agricultural soil degradation in modern Haiti is exacerbated by topology, soil type, and rainfall distribution, along with non-sustainable farming practices and poverty. Recommendations aim to address the most important soil intervention gaps in Haiti that include inadequate farmer training (extension) in soil management, and lack of technical support for legume and cover crops and for livestock pastures. http://www.agricultureandfoodsecurity.com/content/2/1/11 (Agriculture & Food Security 2013, 2:11)
This Interim Report by International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) presents the latest update for historical scaling dynamics research including new technologies such as general purpose technologies and small end-use technologies. Scaling refers to the rapid, extensive, and across scale adoption rate of a technology. In particular, it studies the importance of the formative phase in the diffusion of energy technologies and answers the following questions: what are the characteristics of the formative phase in the case of fast and intense adoptions? What is the influence of the formative phase in the overall diffusion? Findings confirm that larger technological transitions require more time for experimentation and maturation in the formative period, especially in the case of complex innovations with high infrastructure needs. In addition, small size technologies with high turnover rates present the fastest diffusion. More research is needed to refine the definition of the moment when the technology completes the formative phase and acquires enough maturity to be massively adopted. http://www.iiasa.ac.at/publication/more_IR-13-004.php (IIASA, 01/06/2013)
This extensive review by Clement Atzberger, at the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences in Austria, describes and illustrates five different remote sensing applications used in agriculture to assess their pertinence in the most current challenges facing the sector: environmental impact evaluation, changing climate adaptation, increasing production and productivity. The applications are (1) biomass and yield estimation, (2) vegetation vigor and drought stress monitoring, (3) assessment of crop phenological development, (4) crop acreage estimation and cropland mapping and (5) mapping of disturbances and land use/land cover (LULC) changes. In the end, Atzberger's recommendations on future developments include: ensure timeliness of information, access and validation of ground truth information, more precise atmospheric correction algorithms, Sensor inter-calibration studies, more detailed description of a product's purpose and limits. http://www.mdpi.com/2072-4292/5/2/949 (Remote Sensing, 5, 949-981, 2013)
Scientists from the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Switzerland, investigate how geographical and environmental characteristics affect the genetic structure of livestock populations around the world to help correlate genetic variation patterns with geographic variables. They explore the potential of a number of different molecular markers, in source material varying from mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) to Y chromosomes, for livestock landscape genomics. The main marker systems in livestock studies are Amplified Fragment Length Polymorphism' (AFPL, combining DNA digestion and polymerase chain reaction PCR amplification), microsatellites (markers in the nuclear DNA), mitochondrial DNA (examination of uniparental clonal inheritance), Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs), and Copy Number Variation (CNV). In a similar effort to crop breeders analysing crop wild relatives and underutilised plants for useful gene discovery, livestock researchers have analysed the genomes of local/native breeds to associate unique loci with environmental parameters. This effort can help improve livestock herds gravely affected by rapid and permanent changes in the environment. http://infoscience.epfl.ch/record/175402/files/InTech-Landscape_genomics_in_livestock.pdf?version=1 (via EPFL, 2013)
The Inter-American Development Bank (IADB) provides an assessment of the major factors influencing water security in the Caribbean Region. Given the diversity of the region, the paper entails a general overview of the region. The key challenges and vulnerabilities for the Caribbean Region are: lack of available data on water distribution, urban, agriculture and industrial consumption, future temperature and precipitation trends and sub-regional variability; neglected forward planning and weak foresight capacity; holistic national water policies; maintenance of water and sanitation infrastructure; private sector involvement; appropriate political and regulatory oversight and the autonomy of water managers and service providers. The report stresses the importance of water related policies in the agricultural sector to guide irrigation and waste water schemes. http://cloud2.gdnet.org/~research_papers/Water+security+and+services+in+the+Caribbean (IADB, 2013)
Climate scientists at CIAT, the CCAFS, ILRI and the University of Leeds, UK have assessed 50 different climate simulations using two products of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP) to understand what kind of useful information can be extracted to better predict the impact of climate change on future crop yields. The research estimates that at least 5–30 years of CMIP work is required to improve regional temperature simulations and at least 30–50 years for precipitation simulations, for these to be directly input into regional impact models. Further research is needed on impact-relevant variables (e.g. dry-spell frequency, incoming shortwave radiation, evapotranspiration, soil moisture), as well as on the effects of the differences between models in impact estimates. http://iopscience.iop.org/1748-9326/8/2/024018/ (Environ. Res. Lett. 8 024018, 2013)
This CCAFS project, completed by Princeton University scientists J. Sheffield and N. Chaney, developed a daily dataset of meteorological variables for 1979–2008 for West and East Africa using global gridded monthly observations merged with high temporal resolution data and scaled down in space to 10 km resolution. The dataset was improved by assimilating daily station data where available. The final dataset was used to calculate indices of extreme daily values and potential evaporation, in order to demonstrate its potential, which is real, for use in climate change studies and for forcing crop models. (CCAFS Working Paper 45, 22/08/2013)
This book by the FAO gives a wide-ranging perspective on the present state of agricultural mechanisation in the developing world. Adoption patterns and progress of mechanisation from around the world are described using example from Africa, South India, Brazil, among other regions. Recurrent topics such as investment opportunities, local machinery manufacturing, environmental impacts, engineering challenges and future research avenues. (FAO, 01/07/2013)
The need for training targeted at African agricultural research scientists on the procedures and techniques for writing and publishing the results of their research has been identified by a variety of institutions, organisations and agricultural research and development networks throughout the region.
This policy brief was prepared by John Ouma-Mugabe, Professor of Science and Innovation Policy, University of Pretoria.
The August 2013 newsletter on the Pacific Breadfruit Project is very relevant to current efforts being undertaken in the Caribbean by FAO to assist locals in making breadfruit a commercially viable product for local use and export. Fresh breadfruit can be be converted to high quality gluten free flour and paste products.What we need to do is to ensure that the supply is consistent and that the quality is high. Recently, a demo took place to staff by a local producer of breadfruit flour, breadfruit cupcakes, and breadfruit cake. The quality and taste were excellent and the packaging was unique and eye-catching.
Sustainable improvement of human well-being depends crucially on knowledge, its production, organisation, distribution, appropriation and wise use. Access to information, the capacity to generate and use scientific and technological knowledge and human innovation give institutions and countries an edge. For ACP countries, past development efforts that ignored local circumstances, technologies and systems of knowledge wasted enormous amounts of time and resources and have failed to achieve the desired result: "sustainable development".
Agrikalsa Nius is the monthly electronic newsletter of the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock of the Solomon Islands. It is prepared by the Agriculture Information Unit; to subscribe, send your e-mail address to mal.agrikalsanius[at]gmail[dot]com.
This synthesis report was presented at the November 2012 event 'Adding Value to Local Foods for Food and Nutrition Security: Myth or Strategic Option' by Prof. Neela Badrie, Deputy Dean of Research and Innovation, Faculty of Food and Agriculture, University of the West Indies, St. Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago. It was commissioned by the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation ACP-EU (CTA).[CTA REPORTS: ADDING VALUE TO LOCAL FOODS FOR FOOD AND NUTRITION SECURITY: MYTH OR STRATEGIC OPTION]
Alfred Maroyi of the Department of Biodiversity at the University of Limpopo’s School of Molecular and Life Sciences, South Africa compiles and assesses information on Zimbabwe’s medicinal plants and their traditional uses. A total of 93 medicinal plant species which are used to treat 18 diseases and disorder categories are reviewed at this website together with relevant data, such as scientific and vernacular names, ailments cured, proven properties, etc. Maroyi identifies several research gaps and according to him, ‘validating the correlations of the ethno-medicinal uses, bioactive substances, biological and pharmacological effects’ is of special importance and should be the primary task for future research.(Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine PDF 9:31, 2013)
The Food Climate Research Network (FCRN) and the Oxford Martin Programme on the Future of Food, UK, have jointly published a report entitled: Sustainable intensification in agriculture. Navigating a course through competing food system priorities. Based on discussions held at a workshop in 2012, the report tries to map the concepts behind the idea of ‘sustainable intensification’ (SI) and to identify areas where further work is needed. Ultimately, the report argues the case for a more ‘systems’ oriented approach to decision making. Following the release of the report, around 30 experts in this field, from academic, governmental, NGO and industrial organisations, were asked to give their comments on the report. More recently, a paper was published on the subject. http://www.futureoffood.ox.ac.uk/news/sustainable-intensification-agriculture-premises-and-policies(FCRN and Future of Food, 04/07/2013)
Two recent working papers by the World Resources Institute (WRI) are the first in a new series leading to the World Resources Report 2013-14: Creating a Sustainable Food Future. One paper, ‘The great balancing act’ assesses the scope of the challenge posed by the need to feed a growing population in the near-future while reducing pressure on the environment. Priorities and solutions must focus on poverty alleviation, gender, ecosystems, climate and water, it argues. Another paper, ‘Reducing food loss and waste’, explains how efforts to reduce postharvest losses and waste perform against each of the sustainable food future criteria. It offers a thorough overview of waste and loss problems and severity and it describes how changes at the level of the value chain – some still to be researched and put into practice – can create immediate benefits to society and the environment.(WRI, 01/07/2013)
This report by the International Network for the Availability of Scientific Publications (INASP) presents findings from a bibliometric analysis of the 26 most productive African countries in Scopus (the world's largest abstract and citation database of peer-reviewed literature) between 1996 and 2009. Changes in the scientific research output and comparisons with global patterns across 27 scientific knowledge domains (8 of which can be directly related to the agricultural research) are illustrated. It details publication patterns over ten years, the number of research papers produced per year per country, the nature of international collaboration in multi-author publications, etc. Strengths and weakness are identified which can be used to inform future decision-making processes.(INASP, 20/06/2013)
‘Biofuels and food security’ and ‘Investing in smallholder agriculture for food security’ have been published in June 2013. Recommendations on future public policies regarding biofuel production and on investment strategies that include smallholders are drafted in the respective HLPE reports. Regarding biofuels, the HLPE recommends that governments must adjust biofuel policies and devise mechanisms to prevent (market-driven) biofuel demands posing a threat to food security from price rises and diminishing access to land and associated resources for food. In terms of investment strategies, the report recommends governments should design and implement medium- and long-term strategies, with the accompanying set of policies and budgets, to increase the capacity of the smallholder sector to fulfil its multifunctional roles in national development.(FAO HLPE, 06/2013)