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 booklet takes a look at the life stories of 12 remarkable African agricultural scientists who are making a difference on the continent and internationally. Ten of them are the women and young researchers who were winners of the 3rd Africa wide science competitions. They are motivated to be part of the solution, and not the problem. Indeed, as researchers they are helping to transform agriculture by developing science-based solutions to some of the complex issues facing African farmers. Their journeys to becoming agricultural scientists are strikingly similar: most of them come from smallholder farms, and their flair for science was spotted and nurtured by their secondary school teachers. 11/01/2015
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Is Horticultural Science in Crisis? What is Needed to Assure Its Future?

by Errol W. Hewett, Institute of Food, Nutrition and Human Health, Albany, Auckland, New Zealand
Science underpins successful horticultural development, whether on large corporate farms or agro-enterprises in developed countries or small subsistence units and small and medium enterprises in developing countries. There are however insufficient university trained professionals to service the horticulture sector. A recent publication of the Royal Horticultural Society noted that in the UK 70% of horticultural businesses surveyed struggled to fill skilled vacancies, with 90% saying horticulture lacked career appeal. In Australia, the number of horticultural graduates has declined from about 150 to about 40 per year within the last 11 years. Meanwhile, it has been projected that the horticulture sector will require about 2,000 new jobs each year for the next decade in order to retain its current situation.  Horticulture is facing a crisis. 11/01/2015
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What is the Future of Horticultural Science in Africa?

by Wariara Kariuki, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, Kenya
Horticulture is a labour intensive sector that is important for human wellbeing: ‘agriculture supplies protein, carbohydrates and staple crops - but we would have a pretty boring life without horticulture.’  Nevertheless, in many countries, faculties of agriculture and their departments of horticulture have been swallowed by schools of life or earth sciences. As a result horticulture gets attention only as a side subject when specific crops are being addressed. However, in Kenya the horticultural sub-sector has emerged as the most important in the agricultural sector providing not only food and foreign export earning but also many new jobs. This development is reflected in Kenyan universities establishing departments of horticulture and increased undergraduate enrolment in horticultural sciences. In view of the need to create 74 million jobs in Africa over the current decade to prevent youth unemployment from rising, can Kenya show the road to go to other African countries? 11/01/2015
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Science for a Social Purpose – A New Agenda for New Times

by Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, Centre for Phytotherapy Research Ltd., Mauritius
The specific challenge African countries face is how to take advantage of positive indicators and move towards an inclusive and people-centered development agenda that harnesses the power of science and research and more importantly, how to transform this knowledge into commercially viable products and enterprises.Science, Technology and Innovation (ST&I) play a significant role in knowledge creation and its translation into products and processes that are key components for development. Economic transformation is directly linked to technological innovation, and one sector where this is very visible is agriculture. However for miracles to happen, the human capital issue comes across very strongly and African States need to focus on building their human capital (local and ways to attract highly talented diaspora) Investment in schools and universities, colleges must go side by side those in roads, and internet access. These investments, along with the appropriate policies, would nurture the emergence of small and medium-sized enterprises, which are among the engines for economic development.  11/01/2015
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During 2014 the EC Directorate General International Cooperation and Development (DEVCO), redefined its approach to agricultural research and innovation for development (AR4D). On 7 November 2014, DEVCO presented its new approach during a workshop that brought together CGIAR stakeholders with representatives of the European and African research communities and the relevant Commission services. This publication provides an annotation agenda of the workshop and provides links to the various presentations. 11/01/2015
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The paper revisits Africa's agricultural input landscape, exploiting the recently collected, nationally representative, agriculturally intensive, and cross-country comparable Living Standard Measurement Study-Integrated Surveys on Agriculture, covering six countries (Ethiopia, Malawi, Niger, Nigeria, Tanzania, and Uganda).  The most striking and important findings are distilled into 10 key takeaway descriptive results which show that: modern agricultural input use has picked up to a significant level in some regions within some countries, especially in the case of inorganic fertilizer and agro-chemical use; the incidence of irrigation and mechanisation remains quite small; there is surprisingly low correlation between the use of commonly 'paired' modern inputs at the household- and plot-level; maize-dominated plots exhibit higher rates of input use intensity, even relative to plots planted with cash crops; there exists a consistent inverse relationship between farm or plot size and input use intensity; farmers do not significantly vary input application rates according to perceived soil quality; few households use credit to purchase modern inputs.   (World Bank, 09/2014) 31/12/2014
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Different perspectives on the inter-relationships between science, technology and innovation (ST&I), the multiple dimensions of development (ecological, economic, social and cultural) and of sustainability (economic, environmental and social) are explored. In addition to outlining underlying scientific concepts and detailing the change of paradigm in ST&I policy over the past decades, Anna Schwachula of the Centre for Development Research, at the University of Bonn, Germany (ZEF) and co-authors note the complexity of analysing the potential impacts of ST&I on society and propose three scientific models. The authors focused on how the OECD, World Bank and UNESCO defined and operationalised ST&I for development and conclude that by emphasising the economic aspects of developments, social and environmental dimensions are side-lined. The lack of institution-wide consensus on key concepts is observed and they caution against applying a universal blueprint. A call js made for a discussion of a broader range of conceptualisations and pathways along the science-policy interface to determine to what extent these could be used for developing countries.   (ZEF, 06/2014) 31/12/2014
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There is clear conceptual overlap and often the inter-changeable use of; resilience, vulnerability and adaptability, which have emerged as the dominant concepts in the study of disturbance and change of social-ecological systems. The authors, Daniel Callo-Concha, of the Centre for Development Research, at the University of Bonn (ZEF), Germany and colleagues, argue that the driving methodological and operational criteria for their application cannot be unambiguously separated. They believe it is difficult to identify guiding principles for the operational application of each and stress that their operationalisation require consistency in approaches and protocols to ensure their coherent use. They conclude that the conceptual and operational integration of resilience, vulnerability and adaptability would perhaps lead to a more complete portrayal of the behaviour of agricultural systems in changing situations.   (ZEF, 01/03/2014) 31/12/2014
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African Yam bean is an orphan highly nutritious crop that is undervalued by policy makers. Plant breeders at the Department of Agricultural Production of Makerere University, are breeding yam beans to develop palatable varieties that are free of poisonous substances and adapted to tall grass savannah agro- ecological zones. 31 new accessions have been included in the CGIAR's Potato Center (CIP) gene bank, and about 60 farmer varieties of yam beans are now maintained at CIP. Makerere University and NARO researchers are optimistic that the yam bean will contribute significantly to food security because it is rich in protein, carbohydrates, zinc and iron and also improves soil fertility.   (FarmBizAfrica, 11/10/2014) 31/12/2014
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Key characteristics of four categories of agricultural practices with high climate-smart agriculture (CSA) potential related to sustainable land management are discussed in this paper. They include: Conservation agriculture (CA), Agroforestry, Soil and Water Conservation (SWC), Irrigation and Drainage. Nancy McCarthy and Josh Brubaker, consultants based in Washington D.C., USA, have hypothesised interactions between tenure security and adoption of changes in agricultural practices with high CSA potential, to help inform the design of CSA and tenure interventions, monitoring and evaluation plans, and impact assessment designs. They have laid out a conceptual framework for evaluating the pathways by which expanding property rights and strengthening tenure security affects incentives to adopt technologies broadly, and then apply the framework to each of the four CSA practices.   (FAO, 09/2014) 31/12/2014
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Family farms must be supported to innovate in ways that promote sustainable intensification of production. This is according to the report The State of Food and Agriculture 2014: Innovation in family farming which analyses family farms and the role of innovation in ensuring global food security, poverty reduction and environmental sustainability. Innovation is considered to be a process through which farmers improve their production and farm management practices. Key messages point to the need for (i) innovation systems to include the extreme diversity of family farms and embrace environmental and institutional complexity of; (ii) an enabling environment for innovation, including good governance, stable macroeconomic conditions, transparent legal and regulatory regimes, secure property rights, risk management tools and market infrastructure; (iii) an increase in public investment in agricultural R&D and extension and advisory services.   (FAO, 16/10/2014) 31/12/2014
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Knowledge of the magnitude of postharvest losses (PHL) in sub-Saharan Africa is limited. Hippolyte Affognona, of ICIPE, Nairobi, Kenya and colleagues conducted a meta-analysis to expose the nature and magnitude of PHL, and the kinds of interventions that have been attempted to mitigate the losses. Their findings reveal inadequacies of loss assessment methodologies that result in inaccurate PHL estimates. Moreover, losses are often economic rather than physical product losses. Overall, technologies for loss mitigation fail to address the dynamics of supply chains.    (World Development, 31/08/2014) 31/12/2014
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Dates: 19-23 April 2015   Venue: Berlin, Germany 31/12/2014
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Nestlé Creating Shared Value Prize 2016: Grants for Nutrition, Water & Rural Development   Deadline: 28 February 2015 31/12/2014
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Call for applications: International Climate Protection Fellowships  Deadline: 15 March 2015 31/12/2014
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