T he Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, signed an agreement with Soumaïla Cissé, President of the Commission of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA), to launch a US$12 million project to boost the information and communication technology (ICT) capacity of West African universities.The project is part of a wide-ranging cooperation plan initiated in 2006 by UNESCO and the UEMOA. It aims to develop the use of ICTs to support an ongoing reform of higher education in the UEMOA member states (Benin, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea Bissau, Niger, Mali, Senegal and Togo). The three-year project will install ICT infrastructure, both material and virtual, in higher education institutions. The campuses of eight universities, one in each UEMOA country, will be equipped with fibre optic equipment and at least 200 computers with high-speed connection. In addition to a regional virtual library network to which universities will be linked, the project will set up a cyber institute giving professors on-line access to training courses. A central data base for calculating students’ course credits in all state universities will be established, to help harmonize academic standards and facilitate student mobility.The project will be implemented by UNESCO’s cluster office in Bamako (Mali).(Source: UNESCO, 14feb2011)
The Livestock in Africa: Improving Data for Better Policies Project, or Livestock Data Innovation Project, is a three-year (2010-2012) project which works with national governments and institutes to pilot and develop methodologies for identifying, collecting and analyzing livestock data in three pilot countries : Uganda, Tanzania and Niger. The Project supports the identification of key livestock indicators and underlining data which fosters pro-poor investment and policy formulation through the institutionalization of this data into national frameworks of agricultural statistics. The project consists of three components: Collection and analysis of household survey data to improve our understanding of the role of livestock in the household economy; Collection and analysis of data measuring current and projected consumption of livestock products to identify market opportunities for small livestock producers, and smallholder accessible supply chains; Identification and analysis of data / indicators representing constraints that prevents small livestock producers from being efficient and participating in potentially remunerative value chains and markets. These data-related activities in three sub-Saharan countries will help produce two major outputs that could benefit all sub-Saharan countries: A Sourcebook on Livestock Data in Africa, as a guide on collecting and analyzing livestock and poverty data that can serve the better understanding of key developmental questions facing livestock sectors. An advocacy document Making the Case for Investing in Livestock in Africa which will provide empirical evidence on the role of livestock in the lives and livelihoods of the poor and recommendations on strategic opportunities of livestock-based poverty reduction and economic growth. The Livestock Data Innovation Project is sponsored by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and jointly implemented by the World Bank, ILRI and FAO, in collaboration with AU-IBAR.
The e-learning tool "Community Based Adaptation to Climate Change" offers interactive learning sessions and practical resources for training on climate change adaptation in rural communities. Four thematic modules structured in 24 sessions, introduce basic concepts, participatory tools, analytical steps and working approaches using field examples from various regions of the world, as well as practical examples. (Caribbean ComDev Platform, 2/8/2011)
TECA is a platform where small producers can find practical information – agricultural technologies and practices – to help them in the field. Using TECA, they can interact with people with similar interests and discuss sustainable solutions for their work in the online forums (‘Exchange Groups’). Users can find technologies and practices in crop production, forestry, livestock, fisheries, marketing and more. TECA technologies are tested and/or adopted by small producers, easy to replicate, expected to increase production in a sustainable way. Some of them can also help to adapt to climate change. For example, TECA's category for Climate change and disaster risk reduction features crop rotation techniques, hurricane-resistant poultry pen design, strip cropping and grass barriers practices. (Caribbean ComDev Platform, 2/8/2011)
This interactive photographic guide helps users identify higher plants from West African ecosystems. It contains images of ferns and seed plants taken in the field. Browse through a taxonomic hierarchy and / or search according to selected characters observed on the plant of interest. The database currently contains 7686 photos and 1291 illustrated species. It contains photographs of plants from West Africa in a broad geographical sense, mainly from the savannah regions. It is possible to search for scientific or vernacular names via free text, browse through a taxonomic hierarchy starting with family names or select several morphological characters to access a result list of species with these characters. (Brunken, U., Schmidt, M., Dressler, S., Janssen, T., Thiombiano, A. & Zizka, G. 2008. West African plants - A Photo Guide. www.westafricanplants.senckenberg.de. Forschungsinstitut Senckenberg, Frankfurt/Main, Germany.)
The Rural Agriculture Development Agency (RADA) in Jamaica stimulates growth in the sector through engaging its stakeholders. According to Phillip Chung, Senior Director of the Division of Technology, Training and Technical Information at RADA, his Agency would embark on a large scale-media campaign to change the perceptions (essentially negative) about the role technology plays in the local sector, if it wasn’t for the lack of funding. The Agency’s primary tool in the battle to change perceptions is the promotion of Jamaica’s technological advances. RADA has turned to more economical and innovative tools to spread its message. The use of Facebook and Twitter pages and an online diagnostic system which allows farmers with internet connection to upload photos of diseased plants and other issues and send them directly to extension officers, are some example of the new technologies RADA is using. The officers are equipped with a laptop computer, video recording and still cameras and other technologies while in the field. In addition to text and voice messages the Agency has in recent months been feverishly working to fine tune a Geographic Information System or GIS. This system will help to map and analyze data collected by extension officers while in the field. It is a first of its kind for RADA and is expected to improve the farmer registration process and enable officers to produce reliable statistics regarding acreage and crop production. (Go-Jamaica.com, 15/8/2011)
The Ghana-based Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) will form a Knowledge Management Service (KMS) in the second phase of its eRAILS platform. The technology is an information system that should help mobilise farming communities and farmer advisory service providers to generate questions so that agricultural experts can provide actionable responses. The second phase of the FARA initiative, eRAILS2, will focus on content management. The research institute says this should speed-up the flow of information from agricultural experts to farmers by eliminating intermediaries.(GBI Portal, 15/7/2011)
The Coordinated Regional Climate Downscaling Experiment (CORDEX), an initiative of the World Meteorological Organization and the World Climate Research Programme is now able to render the data from regional climate models to the scale people live in, and decision makers work at. The information will not only help countries but also communities in their efforts to adapt to changing weather patterns, and to tailor their disaster risk reduction plans. The effort is geared to feed into the next assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), due to be released in 2014. (IRINNews, 2/11/2011)
The Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in Eastern and Central Africa (ASARECA) and partners initiated a project to develop a feed database and feed table by gathering, processing and availing information from different sources in the region. This information would assist the various stakeholders in the region to improve feeding and livestock productivity. Information such as energy, protein mineral, vitamin contents and, the presence of anti-nutritional factors and toxic substances is essential for diet formulation. Collected, harmonized and documented by scientists from Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda, the electronic database is based at Sokoine University of Agriculture in Tanzania. ASARECA is at the final stages of uploading it onto its website for wider dissemination. (ASARECA, 17/01/2012)
The newly launched EuroAfrica-P8 FP7 project (‘Strengthening Africa-EU ICT collaborative research links with the aim of reinforcing the strategic partnership 8’) builds upon the results obtained and the momentum created by three previous projects: START (2006-2007), EuroAfriCa-ICT (2008-2009) and EuroAfrica-ICT.org (2010-2011). Organised by Sigma Orionis (the Project Coordinator), this very first official meeting gathered together the whole consortium members (a total of 11 partners): Sigma Orionis (France), CERT (Tunisia), CSIR/Meraka (South Africa), ESMT (Senegal), Fraunhofer (Germany), IICD (The Netherlands), KICTB (Kenya), KTH (Sweden), MCIT (Egypt), UMIC (Portugal) and VTT (Finland). Running for 24 months (2012-2013), the project objectives are twofold: (1) Enhance EU-African collaborative research on ICT; and (2) Support the ‘Africa-EU Strategic Partnership on Science, Information Society and Space’ (called ‘Partnership 8’ or P8).
Rural farming communities and those whose livelihoods are directly impacted by climate change can benefit greatly from better use of ICTs in alleviating poverty and finding ways to farm sustainably. In this regard, developers and entrepreneurs across the Continent have been working on mobile and computer-based systems which would help tackle climate change in creative ways. This creativity was rewarded by the US Department of State’s Bureau of African Affairs in the Apps4Africa Climate Challenge. Announced in January 2012, the first place in the challenge went to ‘The Grainy Bunch’ app, made by 29-year-old Eric Mutta of Tanzania. The Grainy Bunch is a national (Tanzania) grain supply chain management system that monitors the purchase, storage, distribution, and consumption of grain across the entire nation. It was developed with the understanding that selling ‘the effects of efficiency’ to actors in the grain supply chain is much easier than selling ‘the effects of climate change’.http://www.elearning-africa.com/eLA_Newsportal/youthful-innovation-at-apps4africa/
Hortivar is FAO's database on performances of horticulture cultivars in relation to agro-ecological conditions, cultivation practices, the occurrence of pests and diseases and timing of the production. It covers six categories of horticultural crops: fruits, vegetables, roots and tubers, ornamentals, mushrooms, herbs and condiments.
This report presents the results of an assessment of the status, use and application of ICT/ICM in AR4D in the national agricultural research and innovation systems in 19 countries in the Asia-Pacific region. The findings are based on data gathered through a survey of ICM managers in addition to the country status reports in different ICT/ICM workshops organized by APAARI in 2010-2011. It concludes that most national systems for AR4D have very weak coordination in developing, implementing, operating and managing their information systems. They lag behind, in implementing new concepts and technologies to improve their information services. There is an urgent need for transforming these systems to impact agricultural and their country's overall development. Countries with lesser capacities to share information and knowledge will have lesser capacities to participate effectively in the emerging knowledge based global economy. Key indicators are provided on the status of ICT/ICM in ARD4D in Fiji, Papua New Guinea and Samoa. The report stresses the need for mainstreaming ICT/ICM in AR4D at different levels; increased political commitment; increased, improved and targeted investment; capacity development; improving governance; and enabling greater sharing of data, information and knowledge at all levels.
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has developed and launched a project in Accra to monitor agricultural data and information in the sub-region. The project dubbed 'ECOWAS Agricultural Information System' (ECOAGRIS) aims to help decision makers to have and use reliable data and updated analyses to better formulate and monitor strategies for agricultural development. It would also help to effectively manage food security issues and promote the trade of food products in the sub-region. The initiative was designed with the inception of Agricultural Policy of ECOWAS and Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development Program. (Ghana Business News, 7/03/2012)
The report Current Water Resources in Europe and Africa published by the Joint European Research Centre (JRC) shows variations in yearly freshwater generation from 10 mm to over 500 mm for Europe and from less than 0.1 mm to over 500 mm for Africa. The report outlines existing uncertainties and points to many future research challenges, knowledge gaps, and data gaps in the field of water resources estimation and identifies that further research efforts are needed for improved water management. While acknowledging that estimating water scarcity is a challenging exercise, improving the data on water abstractions is critical, as the most recent pan-African data on water abstractions is from the year 2000. The lack of available observed river flow data for Africa, for example, creates a major bottleneck in calibrating and verifying hydrological models for the continent. Satellite data provide improved meteorological data for Africa, but data on water abstractions need to be updated more frequently. (Physorg, 14/03/2012)
The Harmonized World Soil Database (HWSD) developed and maintained by the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), was adopted by the Global Soil Partnership as the definitive database for global soil analyses. Early in 2012, the USDA and Australia’s CSIRO agreed to provide new soil data from their respective countries within the next year, and plans were made for updated information from Canada, Europe, West Africa, and South Asia. (IIASA, 04/2012)
In early 2011, Keron Bascombe, Marketing and Communication Officer of the ABS created a Blog called ‘Technology4agri’. Its intent is to highlight any technologies, techniques and methods, which are new, old and even conceptualized, which can be applied to Caribbean agriculture for the all around development of the sector. After a lengthy evaluation process, this blog, an extension of the ABS recently won in the Youth in Agriculture Blog Competition, hosted by the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA). The blog won in the institutional category for Caribbean Region as the competition was throughout the ACP Countries.See full results and all the winners here http://ardyis.cta.int/en/activities/awards/item/136-results-yobloco/136-results-yoblocoThe blog itself is kept up to date with relevant content and continues to achieve its objective. It is regularly disseminated to as many agri-related information networks as possible, mostly through the use of social media. It can be seen here: http://technology4agri.wordpress.com/
The International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) has updated its catalogue of high-quality photofilms that tell livestock-for-development stories from the field. The new catalogue lists 14 films produced by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), starting in 2010, to capture event highlights and tell stories of people who depend on livestock for their livelihoods, food, income, and cropping. The collection includes, among other fascinating short documentaries, a film on the experiences of a women’s group in Kenya and stories of successful small-scale food production initiatives. (ILRI Clippings; 21/5/2012)
The Agricultural Research Service Scientists Forum (ARSSF) had signed Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities on 18th May 2012 in response to the call to action given by Berlin 10 conference. The ARSSF is the first association of agricultural scientists in the world to sign the Declaration and it stands third in India after the Indian National Science Academy and the Medicinal and Aromatic Plants Association of India who had signed the Declaration during earlier conferences. An example to follow. For those institutes in the world which don't have any online institutional repository for sharing their research outputs, the OpenDepot.org established by The University of Edinburgh comes highly recommended. (AIMS, 6/6/2012)
GloF-DAS is based on a new product derived from satellite data from NASA's Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS). The product, developed at NASA Ames Research Centre by the Carnegie-Ames-Stanford Approach (CASA) ecosystem modelling team, is based on comparison of MODIS global vegetation index images at the exact same time period each year in consecutive years. It registers change when more than 40 % of a five-by-five km forest area has lost greenness over the previous 12 months. Seasonal variation is generally mitigated through the product's quarterly baseline. GloF-DAS could help users detect deforestation shortly after it occurs, offering the potential to take measures to investigate clearing before it expands. (Mongabay via Agro.biodiv.se, 31/5/2012)