Knowledge for Development

Selected publications

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

Agrikalsa Nius - August 2013 - Solomon Islands agricultural newsletter

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.


Genetically modified crops in Africa: Economic and policy lessons from countries south of the Sahara

This book by IFPRI investigates how this tool might be effectively used to evaluate the benefits, costs, and risks for African countries in adopting GM crops. The authors gather together studies on the economic effects and impact on trade of GM crops, how consumers view such crops, and other issues. They find that GM crops have had, on average, a positive economic effect in the African nations (Burkina Faso, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Uganda) where they were used and identify future steps for enhancing their adoption. Promising policy initiatives include making biosafety regulations that do not make the development prohibitively expensive, fostering intraregional trade in GM crops, and providing more and better information about GM crops to consumers who might currently be sceptical of them.   (IFPRI, 02/10/2013)


South African food security and climate change: agriculture futures

In a recent report, published in a special issue of Economics, the projected changes in planted area, yield per area, net exports/imports and prices for five major agricultural crops in South Africa were simulated using the projections of four Global Circulation Models (GCMs) under three socio-economic scenarios. The results indicate slightly rising to stable yields per unit area up to 2050, despite climate change, largely due to the inbuilt assumption of ongoing agronomic and genetic improvements. Policies to increase local agricultural production in South Africa, decrease climate sensitivity and access to international markets are highlighted.     (Economics eJournal, 02/09/2013)


Extension improves IPM adoption by using cheaper, less intensive interpersonal communication methods

This study evaluates the current IPM (integrated pest management) dissemination program implemented by the Bangladesh Department of Agricultural Extension and uses a linear programming model to examine alternative strategies to improve IPM adoption. Results suggest that technology transfer programs may increase their impact by reallocating funding from intensive but costly interpersonal communication methods (such as farmer field schools) to less intensive methods (such as mass media and field days) that reach broader audiences.     (Journal of Agricultural and Applied Economics, 01/11/2013)


Enhancing markets for nutrient-dense foods in Ghana

This report from the Institute of Development Studies, Sussex, UK, analyses policy options for promoting nutrient-dense foods to reduce under-nutrition in Ghana. There are a number of nutrient-dense products on the market in Ghana, but they are generally not accessible to the poor. To overcome the problem, four challenges must be met: improve food safety by securing supplies that are free of aflatoxin contamination; raise consumer awareness about nutrition and food safety; create mechanisms to verify the nutritional quality of products and signal this quality to consumers and; and reduce costs so that nutrient-dense foods are available and affordable to the populations that need them.   (IDS, 18/09/2013)


Socioeconomic considerations in biosafety decision making

This IFPRI Research Monographs helps professionals in assessing the ex ante impact of a GM crop in the context of an approval process. Using the case of GM cotton in Uganda, the authors illustrate the evaluation of socio-economic impact on farmers, the national economy, and trade. The authors identify three crucial steps in making socioeconomic assessment part of a biosafety regulatory process, decision making process, or both. First, select appropriate research tools and methods that yield robust results but that also take into account time and budget constraints. Second, evaluate the institutional setting of GM technology deployment. Third, allow for the uncertainties inherent in the assessment by using ranges of values for the parameters under evaluation, including yield, technology efficiency, and prices.  (IFPRI, 23/09/2013)


Mechanisation for Rural Development: A review of patterns and progress from around the world

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)    


Developing high-quality meteorological data for East and West Africa from merged sources

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)


Implications of regional improvement in global climate models for agricultural impact research

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.    (Environ. Res. Lett. 8 024018, 2013)


Promoting value chains of neglected and underutilised species

This publication, commissioned by the Global Facilitation Unit for Underutilized Species (GFU), presents guidelines and good practices for value chain development (VCD) of neglected and underutilised species (NUS).  The guidelines draw upon lessons learnt and good practices described in eight case studies, various publications on the topic, and the experience of the author, Margret Will, in horticultural marketing and VCD. The objectives of this publication are to:  provide recommendations on how to gear VCD of NUS to pro-poor growth; elaborate on challenges and opportunities in marketing of NUS; highlight success factors enhancing the utilisation of the potential of NUS; and indicate factors hampering VCD of NUS and thus putting the objectives, the promotion of biodiversity and pro-poor growth at risk.     (GFU via Agrobiodiverse, 27/08/2013)


Sustainable Intensification and Conservation Agriculture

Amir Kassam in his lead article argues that the no-till farming system involving soil cover and crop diversification, known as Conservation Agriculture (CA), is fundamentally changing farming practices and management of the land resource base, the landscape and the environment. As a proponent of this approach, Kassam notes that CA enhances ecosystem services and resilience, and offers additional economic and environmental benefits that are difficult or impossible to mobilize with conventional tillage agriculture. In his view, CA fits within the sustainable intensification paradigm which when defined in its broadest sense, encompasses production and ecological dimensions, the biological products produced and utilized by consumers and with minimum food waste, as well as the human and economic dimensions of socio-cultural aspirations, organizations and social equity and economic growth.According to Kassam, CA is not intensification in the classical sense of greater use of inputs but rather the intensification of knowledge, skills and management practices and the complementary judicious use of other inputs. He sees the new challenge for science and policy in the 21st Century as being able to produce more from less and with minimum damage and to rehabilitate degraded and or abandoned lands while conserving and optimizing the use of the remaining water and biodiversity resources. CA is now being practiced on 125 million hectares (about 9% of cropland) across all continents, and approximately 50% lies in the developing countries, including in African countries, namely Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Kassam believes that CA can contribute to the goal of sustainable intensification, but more research and extension effort is needed to inform policy formulation and development strategies. 


Soil science, indigenous knowledge and sustainable intensification: Implications for smallholder farming systems

By Walter M Simonson In his article, Oluwatoyin Kolawole highlights key issues on the peculiarities of Africa’s soils and how they affect agricultural production. He argues that because of the very high diversity and spatial heterogeneity in soil type and quality across sub-Saharan Africa, a one-size-fits-all solution is inappropriate to address Africa’s divergent soil problems. Kolawole uses a number of research initiatives on integrated soil fertility management to show that Western science and local/indigenous knowledge are not mutually exclusive in driving sustainable management practices and improving yields on small farms. 


Research priorities on climate change vulnerability, impacts and adaptation

PROVIA is a global initiative by UNEP, UNESCO and WMO which aims to provide direction and coherence at the international level for research on vulnerability,  impacts and adaptation (VIA). In consultation with both experts and policy-makers, PROVIA has developed a set of Research Priorities that reflect a balance  between research ‘supply’ from the expert community and research ‘demand’ from policy/decision-makers. Priorities include the production of better information on  integrated solutions and more inclusive cost estimates. Directly related to food systems, research should focus on understanding how food systems, including  production, processing, distribution and access will be impacted by and adapt to climate change and extreme events and how these impacts and adaptation  strategies interact with other stresses. Emerging topics such as transformative change, geoengineering, model intercomparisons, etc. are also discussed.   (PROVIA, 06/09/2013)  


Farmers’ responses to climate change in northern and central areas of Côte d'Ivoire

This thesis by Hermann Comoé submitted to ETH Zurich investigates Côte d'Ivoire’s farmers’ perception of climate change, their decision behaviour regarding  adaptation, the social institutional context surrounding farmers in relation to climate change adaptation. Findings show farmers have perceived the impacts of climate  change on their local environment through evidence such as the disappearance of certain farming practices, the occurrence of new insects, and the disruption of key  time reference periods. The main adaptation strategies reported were the adjustment of the agricultural calendar to profit from the favourable periods for the farming  season, the adoption of new short-cycle varieties, and the mixed cropping technique. Recommendations for appropriate knowledge transfer are based on a study of  the social networks of actors surrounding farmers: one network was highly dependent on one major actor - the national extension service; the other network relied on  a group of diverse actors including NGOs and inter-professional associations.   (via SFIAR, 10/09/2013)


The influence and implications of climate change on coffee berry borer and coffee production in East Africa

Scientists from icipe used the CLIMEX model to relate present-day insect distributions to current climate and to project the fitted climatic envelopes under two future  climate scenarios [A2A (Intensive economic growth but regional and very heterogeneous development) and B2B (Diverse and local solutions to development, less  intensive with lower population growth)]. In both scenarios, the situation with the coffee berry borer (Hypothenemus hampei) is forecasted to worsen in the current Coffea arabica producing areas of Ethiopia, the Ugandan part of the Lake Victoria and Mt Elgon regions, Mt Kenya and the Kenyan side of Mt Elgon, and  most of Rwanda and Burundi. and    (icipe 05/08/2013 and PLoS ONE 6(9): e24528, 14/09/2011)  


Enhancing the timeliness and relevance of food and nutrition security information

Food and Nutrition Security Information (FNSI) is a critical tool for achieving food and nutrition security, yet FNSI efforts to date have not produced the intended  impacts on policy and programme decision making, largely due to shortcomings in available technologies and frameworks. This article by Nancy Mock and  colleagues from Tulane University reviews the evolution of FNSI efforts in the context of emerging technology and data collection techniques. A conceptual framework  is provided to describe the evolution towards an FNSI characterised by integrating conventional and novel approaches to the collection, analysis and communication  of information into a value stream that supports decision making to achieve food security.    (Global Food Security, Vol. 2 Iss. 1, 01/03/2013)   


A Reference Manual for Utilising and Managing the Soil Resources of Fiji

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.


Soil nutrient management in Haiti: lessons for future agricultural interventions

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.    (Agriculture & Food Security 2013, 2:11)  


Innovation: new evidence in technology scaling dynamics and the role of the formative phase

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.    (IIASA, 01/06/2013)   


Advances in remote sensing of agriculture: context, existing monitoring systems and major Information needs

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.    (Remote Sensing, 5, 949-981, 2013)   


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