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.

This document is an adaptation of the AISHE book (Auditing Instrument for Sustainability in Higher Education, DHO 2001). It offers a description of the concept and details on each of the 20 criteria used in the AIFSHE assessment protocol. 16/07/2014
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As a side event of the RUFORUM Biennial Conference 2014, this workshop intends to expose African deans to the Auditing Instrument for Food Security in Higher Education (AIFSHE) tool and methodology for increasing university engagement (leadership), quality (content and process-wise) and relevance (with respect to the market as well as with the policy makers) in addressing the Food and Nutrition Security (FNS) challenge. The objective of the workshop is therefore, to garner their feedback on the utility of the tool and identify areas for improvement and the next steps for up-scaling FNS in Tertiary Agricultural Education (TAE) for influencing policy and practice and improving food and nutrition outcomes in Africa and beyond. -- Lucungo Hall, Maputo, Mozambique -- 19-20 July 2014.  10/07/2014
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We are pleased to forward the May/June 2014 issue of the CTA and S&T Knowledge for Development (K4D) e-newsletter. In this issue, we place emphasis on (i) improving nutrition outcomes and, (ii) reducing postharvest losses. Effectively tackling malnutrition (under- and over-nutrition) and postharvest losses are challenging policymakers, researchers/academicians, the private sector including farmers, civil society organizations and the development community. If we ask the wrong policy and research questions and invest resources in applying solutions without fully understanding the context, having adequate evidence and evaluating the cost effectiveness and efficacy of the possible options, no significant progress will be made. Linking agriculture and nutrition requires crossing scientific, engineering and sectoral boundaries and herein lies the challenge for policy- and decision makers, scientists/researchers/engineers and the private sector.  02/07/2014
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Food and nutrition security is a global challenge which is increasingly engaging the attention of international, regional and national policy makers, researchers and academicians, farmers, the private sector and the development community. While, achieving food security has always been a priority for many, within recent times, concerns have grown about under and over-nutrition, especially linked to a failure to adequately address stunting and micro-nutrient deficiency and a rise in non-communicable disease. Understanding the nexus between agriculture, food and nutrition has become a research and development priority. For children, there is a particular focus on the first 1000 days from conception to age two, as poor nutrition in this period has particularly damaging long-term effects. Persuading politicians to focus on nutrition is difficult as effects are often hidden or delayed, but demonstrating the cost of failing to act is crucial to raising the profile of the nutrition agenda in policy and decision making.
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Improving nutrition through agriculture: priorities and approaches

by Kimberly Keeton and John McDermott, CGIAR Research Program on Agriculture for Nutrition and Health (A4NH), led by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), Washington, USA.
In this new lead article, Kimberley Keeton and John McDermott describe the complex interplay of malnutrition determinants and stress the need for multi-sectoral policy and programme responses where agriculture has a critical role in providing healthy diets. Government and research should embrace nutrition through three areas: knowledge and evidence, politics and governance, and capacity and resources. Keeton and McDermott describe several known agricultural strategies to boost more nutritious food systems. One approach is to improve household productivity of nutritious foods by targeting small farms where utilising seasonal crop production of traditional and local foods must be encouraged. Another possible cost-effective strategy for reducing micronutrient deficiency is through bio-fortification of commonly-consumed staple foods (breeding crops with enhanced levels of bioavailable nutrients). Yet another approach is to enhance post-harvest and food safety knowledge, process design and efficiency are translated into improved nutritious and safe foods at the 'fork' level.  05/06/2014
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Making nutrition a national priority: a few policy process examples

by Jan Meerman, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, Rome, Italy and Noora-Lisa Aberman, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), Lilongwe, Malawi
Tackling malnutrition effectively requires sustained action across sectors, strong leadership, coalitions and high levels of both institutional and operational capacity. When these needs are met, countries may find themselves positioned to scale up nutrition interventions and meet the challenges of food and nutrition insecurity, high food prices and other shocks. Unfortunately, many governments lack the capacity to implement commitments to achieve these goals. In these countries, nutrition is stuck in a “low-priority cycle”. 05/06/2014
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In this paper, Tara Garnett, of the Food Climate Research Network (FCRN, UK), considers the increasingly topical question of 'What is a sustainable healthy diet?' She begins by highlighting the rationale for focusing on the diets question, and then moves on to discussing definitions of ‘good nutrition’ on the one hand, and ‘sustainability’ on the other.  The main substance of her argument focus on the major food groups that constitute UK’s Eat-well plate, examining the health and sustainability issues that their consumption raises.  She also included a review of recent studies in this area. An important limitation of her paper is that it focuses largely on developed country contexts. Being a discussion paper, FCRN is looking for input from members in low income and emerging economies, where the sustainability and health issues play out very differently.   (FCRN, 04/2014)    30/06/2014
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In this article, published in Chronica Horticulturae, the journal of the International Society for Horticultural Science (ISHS), tropical agronomist Gérard Grubben from the Netherlands and co-founders of the Eastwest Seed Company sketches the scope of vegetable production for the domestic African markets and its importance for improvement of nutrition and health for the poorer population. Grubben notes that emphasis has remained on research and development of energy rich staple crops (cereals, tubers, pulses) and cash crops. Compared to tropical Asia, the vegetable sector in Africa is lagging behind as a result of weak research, breeding, training and extension services, an insufficient seed distribution network and low purchasing power. The author believes many policy makers ignore the nutritional and economic value of vegetables. For example, in countries like Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania and Senegal, high-tech vegetable production for export to Europe and the Arabia Peninsula or for the small supermarket segment in the regional big cities has been supported with ample donor funding. The huge traditional domestic market, of crucial importance for the nutrition of the increasingly urbanised population, is almost devoid of public support. Gérard Grubben is sharing a copy of the article on our website.   (via Zunia.org, 02/05/2014) 30/06/2014
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Micronutrient deficiencies have long-ranging effects on health, learning ability and productivity. They contribute to the vicious cycle of malnutrition, underdevelopment and poverty. Food-based approaches, which include food production, dietary diversification and food fortification, are sustainable strategies for improving the micronutrient status of populations and raising levels of nutrition. This study focuses on practical, sustainable actions for overcoming micronutrient deficiencies through increased availability, access to and consumption of adequate quantities and appropriate varieties of safe, good quality food. It brings together the available knowledge, success stories and lessons learned to demonstrate that food-based approaches are viable, sustainable and long-term solutions to overcoming micronutrient malnutrition.    (FAO, 2011)  24/06/2014
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This review of recent studies of bio-fortified crops, led by Michael R. La Frano at UC Davis, assesses the micronutrient bio-availability of bio-fortified staple crops and derives lessons that may help direct plant breeding to understand the potential efficacy of food-based nutrition interventions. Although breeding to reduce the amounts of antinutrients and heat treatment in food preparation are common-place processes that generally increase the bio-availability of micronutrients, the researchers note that antinutrients still possess important benefits. Nevertheless, bio-fortified foods with relatively higher micronutrient density have higher total absorption rates than non-biofortified varieties. From a policy point of view, this study presents evidence that supports the focus on efforts to breed plants with increased micronutrient concentrations in order to decrease the influence of inhibitors and to offset losses from processing.(Nutrition Reviews, 01/04/2014) 01/07/2014
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Analysis of the post-harvest knowledge system in Senegal: case study of the rice sub-sector

by Fallou Sarr, Institute of Food Technology (Institut de Technologie Alimentaire, ITA), Dakar, Senegal
In this new article, Fallou Sarr reflects on the post-harvest knowledge system for rice in Senegal. He note that rice occupies a prominent place in Senegal's economy and in food consumption for both urban and rural households. Since independence, rice consumption has increased by almost 1,000%, reaching 1 million t of milled rice. Paddy rice production is the responsibility of farmers in irrigated areas and rain-fed areas However, the collection of paddy rice, in irrigated areas, is an activity undertaken by traders, rice millers and farmers while, in rain-fed areas, it is mainly carried out by women and children (more than 90% in the Southern area) and with carts (70% to 80%, in the Central area). Factories find it difficult to secure large quantities of paddy rice in  a single collection area in the Senegal River valley, Sarr acknowledges that there is a clear difference between both rice cultivation systems and this is also reflected in post-harvest losses. However paddy drying is critical for both systems with losses ranging from 5 to 10%. Irrigated systems face two additional critical issues: paddy rice harvest (ill-adapted harvesters) and drying (insufficient drying areas). On the other hand in rain-fed systems, threshing losses, which is mainly manual, represents the stage where most post-harvest losses are recorded (40 %). Sarr emphasizes three intervention areas for improving the post-harvest knowledge system; research, government & universities and regional organizations. 30/06/2014
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Professor Steven Underhill of the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) describes how research in the South Pacific is being tailored to boost Fiji fruit and vegetable exports. His impression of postharvest handling systems in the South Pacific was that of a sub-optimal system which lacks reliable infrastructure and technology. For example, packaging is inappropriate for transporting produce any distance (i.e. old boxes and sacks are used), packing facilities are limited, trucks overloaded with produce travel along rough roads, and refrigeration is non-existent. Given these apparent postharvest limitations, Underhill believes improvements to postharvest practices present big opportunities to benefit local farmers. Historically, postharvest efforts have centred on introducing a concept of 'post-harvest best practice' from outside the region. Over the past decade, this approach has led to the construction of packing sheds and improved packaging with cool storage, and general post-harvest training for farmer groups. However, Underhill feels much more could still be done to tailor solutions to the local context and maximise benefits for smallholder farmers. Understanding local needs and analysing the post-harvest supply chains should be top priorities for post-harvest  science.    (ACIAR, 06/05/2014)   (Photo source: sxcreenshot grab from ACIAR's PARDI work in Fiji) 30/06/2014
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