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.

Harnessing the potential of indigenous rice lines: an issue of food sovereignty

by Narottam Dey, Department of Biotechnology, Visva-Bharati, Santiniketan, India
In this feature article, Narottam Dey calls for renewed interest in indigenous rice lines to counter the erosion of the crop's genetic diversity. Given the high degree of genetic heterogeneity and a long evolutionary history, rice landraces have proven to be highly adaptive to diverse environmental conditions and are believed to harbour a number of valuable genetic resources for crop improvement.  He argues that the Green Revolution led to the development of a number of high-yielding rice varieties (HYVs) that require both irrigation and fertilizer management and specific cultivation practices to achieve their full yield potential. The widespread use of these high-yielding rice lines has led to the premature abandonment of many indigenous lines. Dey believes the only way to popularise and utilize indigenous lines in future breeding programmes is through the development of a databank with detailed agro-morphology, physio-biochemical and molecular screening with trait-linked markers and specific genes. Many research laboratories are working on improving the knowledge base and a number of promising lines are being utilized in breeding through marker-assisted selection. 15/09/2014
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How realistic is the prospect of low-carbon rice production? Lessons from China

by Sheng Zhou and Xiangfu Song, Eco-environmental Protection Research Institute, Shanghai Academy of Agricultural Sciences (SAAS), Shanghai, China.
In this feature article, Sheng Zhou and Xiangfu summarize some realistic methods for reducing methane emissions in rice production. They present some case studies of efforts to mitigate methane emissions, such as irrigation management, the use of suitable rice cultivars (e.g. water-saving and drought-resistant rice, WDR) and combinations of different fertilizers. The production, oxidation and transport of methane in rice fields are influenced by many factors, including the rice cultivars, the cultivation system, water regimes practiced, and types of fertilizer. Simultaneously, soil carbon sequestration in rice fields is a key potential approach for turning rice fields from being a source of greenhouse gas emissions to being a carbon sink. 15/09/2014
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Building a new generation of agricultural scientists in Africa: networking universities – capturing economies of scale

by Adipala Ekwamu, Executive Secretary, RUFORUM Secretariat, Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda., Malcolm Blackie, Senior Research Fellow, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK., Joyce Lewinger Moock, Consultant to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and other philanthropic organisations.
In this feature article, Adipala Ekwamu, Malcolm Blackie and Joyce Lewinger Moock focus on the experiences of an African-led and -managed organization, the Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Africa (RUFORUM), which aims to capture regional economies of scope and scale, to support innovative curriculum design, fill crucial gaps in the availability of postgraduate degrees, and ensure a quality standard for courses. RUFORUM, through its innovative programmes in its member university system and its established regional convening power is an effective advocate for transformation of tertiary agricultural science training and research.  15/09/2014
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On 29 August 2014, CTA and its partners in the Caribbean (Caribbean Council for Science and Technology (CCST), Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI), University of the West Indies (UWI), Columbus Communications Trinidad Limited (FLOW Trinidad) and the Trinidad & Tobago Film Company) have announced the winners of the second Caribbean Science and Agriculture Film and Video Competition “Adding Value to Local Foods”. Links to the winning films and video can be found here. 12/09/2014
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The farmers have voted for the CTA Top 20 based on the forty (40) innovations that had been shortlisted by a team of ACP experts earlier this year. We have compiled annotations of all innovations which will be available in this document. The first 20 annotation (1-20) can be find in this document. For annotations  21-40, please click here. 28/08/2014
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CTA will support the documentation of proven practices, policies and ICTs that contribute to increased productivity and resilience of agriculture under changing climate in ACP regions. The Centre is particularly interested in interventions that have the potential to contribute to cross-learning among ACP countries and could be scaled up for the benefit of farmers and stakeholders in the regions. The practices, policies and ICTs should be documented in such a way as to provide practical information that will be useful to different stakeholders- farmers, researchers and students, extension workers, development agencies, policy makers. Closing date: 14 October 2014 17/08/2014
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The public can view and 'like' their favorite video. CTA, CCST and their partners launched the second Caribbean Science and Agriculture Film and Video Competition ‘Adding Value to Local Foods’ in October 2013. The main objective of this competition is to encourage the use of ICTs by young professionals in improving the environment for agricultural science and innovation in the Caribbean region. By now, 36 teams from eight countries have posted their videos to the competition’s Facebook page. The public is invited to view and 'like' their favorite videos.The closing date for the public voting is 18 August. There is a prize for the team whose film/video is viewed the most by the public and receives the most 'likes'. The competition awards ceremony will be held in Port of Spain, Trinidad from 27th-29th August 2014. 10/08/2014
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We are pleased to forward the July/August 2014 issue of the CTA and S&T Knowledge for Development (K4D) e-newsletter. In this issue, we place emphasis on (i) sorghum research and value chain development, (ii) extension policy and, (iii) emerging issues in trans-disciplinary research and academic publishing among others. We have also adopted a new format for the K4D newsletter and a new email delivery system using mailchimp which we hope you appreciate.  30/07/2014
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Sorghum is crucial for food and nutritional security for over 300 million people, particularly for communities living in arid and semi-arid lands in sub-Saharan Africa. Its ability to grow in harsh environments where other crops would not survive is an added advantage. Sorghum has also been endorsed by the regional economic communities in sub-Saharan Africa as one of the strategic commodities for targeted investments. In addition to its food use as grain or in syrup, it has wider commercial potential for the production of fodder, alcoholic beverages (e.g. beer) and biofuels. While in the past sorghum had attracted less research investment than other staple crops e.g. cereals such as wheat, rice and corn, sequencing of the genome has provided added opportunities for varietal improvements including enhancing nutritional properties and boosting yield under a range of conditions. Researchers all over the world in both developed and developing countries are conducting research on this crop.  
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Sorghum in Africa: research opportunities and priorities

by Eva Weltzien, International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics, Mali
In her lead article, Eva Weltzien, principal scientist at ICRISAT-Mali describes how sorghum breeders across Africa have been able to develop improved varieties resistant to Striga, and tolerant of high salinity and low phosphorus conditions using local landraces, as well as reintroduce landraces that may have been lost. She notes that the germplasm base must be well known and understood and particular varieties chosen appropriately and in consultation with local stakeholders and farmers to know what varieties might be most suitable. Due recognition of the local knowledge which guides the final selection is critical. 28/07/2014
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Potential for sorghum in food security and economic development among communities in arid and semi-arid lands in Africa

by Florence Wambugu, CEO and Nehemiah Mburu, Business & Project Manager, Africa Harvest
In their lead article, Florence Wambugu and Nehemiah Mburu of Africa Harvest describe how the Africa Harvest organisation is partnering with international research centres of the CGIAR and local national agricultural research institutes (NARIs) to improve the crop. Examples from Kenya and Tanzania show that improved access to high-quality certified seeds, intensification of production and adoption of good agronomic practices have led to increased productivity, stronger market links and higher volumes being traded between the two countries. 28/07/2014
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Sorghum is largely produced and consumed by the local population in the soudano-sahelian region of Cameroon. Public health problems related to mycotoxins are not found in the region  and whether sorghum and sorghum products avoid mycotoxin contamination or whether local postharvest practices are effective against mycotoxins is considered. The observed low incidence levels of mycotoxins in raw dry sorghum grains from northern Cameroon could be linked to pre- and post-harvest strategies to prevent crop contamination e.g., yearly crop rotation, irrigation in hot and dry weather, use of pesticides to reduce insect populations, the drying of crops to a safe moisture level, and protective storage.    (InTech Publishers, 2013) 28/07/2014
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Researchers from CIRAD, IRD and their partners have recently demonstrated that sorghum genetic diversity distribution in eastern Kenya was linked to the ethnolinguistic origin of farmers. The researchers took stock of local sorghum varieties grown by households from three ethnolinguistic groups. They characterised the structure of sorghum genetic diversity within the three areas and tested the link with farmers' ethnolinguistic structures. Distribution of sorghum varieties was associated with ethnolinguistic structures. Introduced varieties, obtained through the formal varietal improvement system, were uniformly distributed within the three ethnolinguistic groups, while several local varieties identified by the farmers were unequally distributed among these groups. This work emphasized the relevance of the local scale for studying the evolutionary processes of crops. (PLOS One, 06/2014) 28/07/2014
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In their paper, Michael von Hauff and Thuan Nguyen of the Technische Universität in Kaiserslautern, Germany argue that Universities can contribute to solutions for major challenges of the 21st century such as increasing environmental and socio-economic crises, inequalities of income and wealth, and political instabilities by integrating the concept of sustainable development (SD) in research, organisation, and by educating future decision makers. Through university curricula, future decision makers can learn the competences needed to solve ecological, social, and economic problems in societies. The authors discuss the observation that universities in Germany fall behind internationally in implementing sustainable strategies and present an approach to how universities can implement the holistic concept of SD. They further analyse the current state of implementing sustainability strategies at universities, and how the success of these implementation efforts can be evaluated and fostered.    (Sustainability, 19/05/2014) 28/07/2014
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Integrated pest management (IPM) has hardly been adopted in developing countries, despite its theoretical prominence and sound principles. These are the findings of a research project conducted by scientists from CIAT, IRD, CIP, University of Greenwich, Cornell University and Wageningen UR. They found 51 potential reasons why IPM adoption by developing country farmers is low. The most frequently mentioned obstacle was 'insufficient training and technical support to farmers'. Different adoption obstacles were identified than in high-income countries. Developing-country respondents rated 'IPM requires collective action within a farming community' as their top obstacle to IPM adoption. Respondents from high-income countries prioritised the 'shortage of well-qualified IPM experts and extension workers'.   http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2014/02/19/1312693111  (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and IRD (FR), 25/02/2014) 28/07/2014
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