Knowledge for Development

Knowledge for development

This website supports the policy dialogue on S&T for agricultural and rural development in African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries. It enables the ACP scientific community - primarily agricultural research and development scientists and technologists, policy makers, farmers and other stakeholders and actors - to share and review results of national and regional efforts and collaborate to harness science and technology for the development of agriculture in their countries.

Africa’s High Level Policy Dialogue (HPLD) on Science, Technology and Innovation agreed to work towards a long term jointly funded and co-owned research and innovation partnership with, as a first priority, the role of science, technology and innovation in ensuring “Food security and nutrition security and sustainable agriculture”. HLPD tasked an expert working group to prepare this roadmap and set out short, medium and long-term milestones recognising the important cross-cutting nature of innovation, entrepreneurship, research infrastructures and technical competence strengthening. 20/11/2014
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The Institute for Pacific Coral Reefs (IRCP) and two french polynesian firms, Société des Nouveaux Hôtels (SNH) and Société Polynésienne de Développement Durable (SPDD) are making available grants to young scientists (Master, PhD, Post-doctorate - < 35 yrs) to conduct a scientific project in the French Polynesia coral reefs. Each year, four candidates are selected among whom at least one from South Pacific Island States in order to promote training for scientific research in these countries.The sum of each grant will be  € 4.500 for  travel expenses to and from French Polynesia, accommodation and research costs. Closing date: 12 January 2015.  12/11/2014
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12th November, Brussels. Pedro Campos-Llopis, DGDEVCO, Belgium will present the EU Nutrition Action Plan at the annual technical meeting of the European Forum for Agriculture Research for Development (EFARD) in Brussels on 12th November. For this year, the EFARD management team in consultation with the membership has determined that the global food and nutrition challenge and more specifically the agriculture-health-nutrition nexus is of strategic importance for deliberation by EFARD members during the annual meeting. This thematic priority also coincides with the second International Conference on Nutrition (ICN2) entitled “Better nutrition, better lives” jointly organized by FAO and WHO for November 2014 in Rome. It is also in line with the European Union’s commitment to supporting partner countries to reduce stunting in children under five by at least 10% by 2025 and its budgetary commitment of Euro 3.1 billion for nutrition-sensitive interventions. EFARD is a regional platform under the GFAR umbrella. CTA hosts the Executive Secretariat for EFARD. Read the programme. 06/11/2014
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We are pleased to forward the September/October 2014 issue of the CTA and S&T Knowledge for Development (K4D) e-newsletter. In this issue, we place emphasis on; (i) the dairy value chain with a focus on small-scale processing, and (ii) traditional knowledge, indigenous crops and livestock especially in the context of food and nutrition security and climate smart agriculture among others. Food and nutrition security and climate change are complex global challenges and our thinking and approaches must evolve if we are to make any inroads in addressing them. Please remember that you can download the full pdf e-newsletter by clicking the link below.  03/11/2014
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Demand for dairy products in developing countries is increasing, and milk production contributes to household livelihoods, food security and nutrition. However, dairy productivity is limited by poor-quality feed resources, disease, poor access to markets and services and low genetic potential. Milk production in Africa is growing more slowly than elsewhere. Increasing efficiency and diversifying into new products have the potential to improve revenue and security within the agricultural supply chain. Entrepreneurial spirit is critical to taking on the challenges of dairy improvement.
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Technology options for small-scale processing of milk, yoghurt and cheese

by Peter Fellows, Midway Associates, Derby, UK
Cultured milks, yoghurt and soft cheeses have been produced for thousands of years in some ACP countries, especially among African nomadic herding communities to preserve milk for home consumption and food security. Only recently has commercial dairy processing begun to produce pasteurised milk and hard cheeses arisen in ACP countries, as local demand increased. A lack of reliable ‘cold chains’ for transporting, storing and selling dairy products and a relatively high incidence of lactose intolerance in some populations limit expansion. Feasibility studies can be used to guide investment decisions of prospective dairy processors before making any investment decisions.  08/10/2014
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Intellectual property, traditional knowledge and food security in Pacific island countries

by Sue Farran, Professor of Laws, University of Northumbria, UK
The link between food security and intellectual property and innovation may not at first seem obvious says Sue Farran, Professor of Laws. In this article, Farran observes ‘that food security cannot or should not be seen as an isolated concern but as integral to various other contemporary issues concerning Pacific island countries (PICs), especially trade and development, climate change and the movement of people’. According to Farran, the intellectual property regimes which impact directly on food security are shaped by the developed world and primarily serve to protect the interests of corporations. 22/10/2014
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Key messages - International Forum 'Unleashing Science, Technology and Innovation for Food and nutrition security'

by Judith Francis, Senior programme coordinator, Science & Technology Policy, CTA
Key messages: 1) Access to food is a human right & 2) We need impact and we must avoid the blame game.   24/10/2014
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Researchers have identified gaps in knowledge within ‘climate-smart agriculture’ (CSA) at the 2013 Global Science Conference on Climate-Smart Agriculture (Davis, USA) and elaborated agendas for interdisciplinary research and identified science-based actions. CSA addresses the challenges of meeting the growing demand for food, fibre and fuel, despite the changing climate and fewer opportunities for agricultural expansion on additional lands. Kerri Steenwerth of the Crops Pathology and Genetics Research Unit, USDA and colleagues, focussed on three themes: (i) farm and food systems, (ii) landscape and regional issues and (iii) institutional and policy aspects. The first comprises crop physiology and genetics, mitigation and adaptation for livestock and agriculture, barriers to the adoption of CSA practices, climate risk management, and energy and biofuels. The second includes modelling adaptation and uncertainty, achieving multi-functionality, food and fishery systems, forest biodiversity and ecosystem services, rural migration from climate change and metrics. The third covers designing research that bridges disciplines, integrating stakeholder inputs to link science, action and governance.    (Agriculture & Food Security, 26/08/2014) 29/10/2014
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In this study multi­seasonal and locational field based trials were conducted in Kenya to identify drought-tolerant and drought-susceptible cassava genotypes. Cassava (Manihot esculenta Crantz) is inherently drought tolerant. Nevertheless, substantial genotypic variation exists for this characteristic. Field drought stress generally reduced cassava vegetative growth and productivity. In addition to other phenotypic parameters, storage root fresh weight was used as a primary criterion to discriminate between drought-tolerant and drought-susceptible genotypes. Charles Ochieng' Orek, researcher at ETH­Zurich, Switzerland, subsequently subjected the cassava gentoypes to further physiological and molecular categorisation under controlled water deficit assays. Categorisation of these morphological, physiological and molecular differences will establish an essential foundation for future development of drought-associated molecular markers for cassava.   (Dr.Sc. thesis, ETH-Zurich, 2014) 29/10/2014
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Nature’s Natasha Gilberts argues that genetic engineering lags behind conventional breeding in a race to develop new drought-resistant maize varieties that can withstand drought and poor soils. She refers to the Drought Tolerant Maize for Africa (DTMA) project led by the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) that since 2006, developed 153 new maize varieties that perform well under dry weather conditions. The Improved Maize for African Soils (IMAS) project - a collaboration between CIMMYT, the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute, the South African Agricultural Research Council, and the multinational corporation DuPont Pioneer has, since 2010, developed 21 conventionally bred varieties that in field tests yielded up to 1 t/ha more in nitrogen-poor soils than did commercially available varieties. Researchers say that they are at least 10 years from developing a comparable GM variety.   (Nature News, 16/09/2014) 29/10/2014
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In this article, Mekuanent Tebkew, University of Gondar, and colleagues at other Ethiopian universities report on a study of the distribution, diversity, role, management conditions and associated traditional knowledge of underutilised wild edible plants in north- western Ethiopia. Despite the extraordinary number of ecological zones and plant diversity, the diversity of plants is under threat due to the lack of institutional capacity, population pressure, land degradation and deforestation. An adequate documentation of these plants also had not been conducted. The researchers found 33 wild edible plants that are used by local communities to supplement staple foods, to fill food gaps and for recreation. As these communities apply only elementary management practices to some wild edible plants, special attention is required to sustain the benefits of these plants.    (Agriculture & Food Security, 26/08/2014) 29/10/2014
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The Africa Agriculture Status Report 2014 (AASR) presents a comprehensive overview of smallholder agriculture in Africa and provides foresight for the planning of a 'climate-smart agricultural’ (CSA) sector on the continent. The first part of the report that was published by the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, focuses on climate variability and change, its impacts on agriculture, the need for adaptation to improve resilience, mitigation issues, and the factors influencing the adoption of climate-smart practices. The second part maps, on the basis of new research, the regions at highest risk for more ‘failed seasons’ as rainfall become more erratic. This part also contains a compilation of micro- and macro-agriculture data tables from selected SSA countries that show trends in agricultural data and climate-related variables. Recommended solution-oriented actions include: (i) promote climate-smart, context-driven agro-ecological approaches and solutions; (ii) strengthen national and local institutions; (iii) build technical capacity and improve knowledge management systems; (iv) raise the level of national investments in agriculture; and (v) create innovative financing mechanisms.    (AGRA, 08/2014) 29/10/2014
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The integration of three state-of-the-art technologies such that scientific findings and data are linked to actual user requirements including governments to achieve better decision-support for agricultural drought preparedness, has been proposed by Markus Enenkel, Vienna University of Technology, Austria and colleagues. Several promising approaches, ranging from the integration of satellite-derived soil moisture measurements that link atmospheric processes to anomalies on the land surface to improved long-range weather predictions and mobile applications are explored. Satellite-derived soil moisture measurements from space-based microwave sensors can help detect plant water deficiencies earlier than conventional products such as the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) and forecasting models can provide seasonal predictions. These models must be calibrated to regional conditions, take into account weather uncertainties and 'hindsight' data, and be combined with crop health predictions. Mobile applications can link end users to drought-relevant information and also play a vital role in validating satellite-derived drought indicators and collecting socio-economic conditions. According to the authors, the added value of these technologies should create enough political will to ensure they find their way into the decision-support toolboxes of the end users.   (Global Food Security, 10/09/2014) 29/10/2014
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This report presents international best practice for strategic innovation policy delivery, synthesising proven methods from around the world. It also makes new recommendations to improve the delivery of on-going policy tools, focusing on reducing risk for private sector investment earlier along the innovation chain, and pursuing an increasingly international innovation policy. By following these principles, governments could unlock renewable energy technology deployment at lowest cost and also enhance technology driven economic growth and exports. The report prepared by the Carbon Trust and supported by Element Energy, involved extensive input through workshops and interviews with leading international policymakers and industry experts.   (IEA-RETD, 09/2014) 29/10/2014
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