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.

March/April 2015 K4D Newsletter

by Judith A. Francis
Dear Colleagues:We are pleased to present the March/April 2015 issue of the CTA and S&T Knowledge for Development (K4D) e-newsletter. Changes are coming to the K4D web portal and this is the final K4D newsletter. We have, therefore, chosen to capture some of the new thinking and changing dynamics on science, technology and innovation (STI) in agriculture. This is only fitting as STI was the genesis and raison d’être of K4D since it was launched in early 2004. The future looks bright for STI for agriculture and rural development if the momentum is sustained and STI policy and practice are further mainstreamed into national systems which are adequately resourced. Let us, therefore, hope that Queen Elizabeth or some other highly respected national or world leader does not have to ask the experts in the not too distant future ‘How did you get it wrong?’; ‘How did you miss the signals?’ if agricultural sector performance does not improve or perhaps drops and millions of smallholder farmers are further impoverished and their families malnourished and displaced. 16/03/2015
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By Kristal Jones, Research Associate, National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center, University of Maryland, USA    Kristal Jones asks whose values and which ethics should drive innovation in agriculture and makes the case for an ethic of innovation in agricultural development that is built on the foundation of inclusivity and reflectivity.  08/03/2015
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By Lynn Mytelka, Professorial Fellow, UNU-MERIT, France   While many small changes that collectively modify products and processes may open up opportunities for including smallholders in the innovation process, Lynn Mytelka anticipates that there are challenges in developing capabilities, strengthening linkages and building a support infrastructure at the local level.  08/03/2015
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By Merle Jacob, UNESCO Chair, Lund University, Sweden   Merle Jacob recommends that in the pursuit of providing broad-based education – primary, secondary and tertiary – policy makers should not sacrifice quality, even though the demands, expectations and the diversity of options for higher education in ACP countries have shifted. 08/03/2015
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By John Ouma-Mugabe, Professor Science and Innovation Policy, University of Pretoria, South Africa   John Mugabe believes that despite the increasing importance of the governance of science, technology and innovation, there are no conceptual tools or empirically tested indicators – quantitative or qualitative – to provide the evidence base given the complexity of science–technology–society interactions.  08/03/2015
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The CTA/WUR/ACP Universities Auditing Instrument for Food Security in Higher Education (AIFSHE) is an open source tool that is now available online. In 2013, CTA embarked on a collaboration with the Education and Competence Studies Group and the Centre for Sustainable Development & Food Security of Wageningen University and Research Centre, ten universities in Africa, Caribbean and the Pacific, the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) and African regional university networks (ANAFE, RUFORUM, TEAM Africa) to develop the AIFSHE open source tool. In 2014, the draft version of the AIFSHE tool was used by the ACP universities to audit their food security programmes and determine their vision for the future. Since then the tool has been updated, endorsed by several vice-chancellors, principals and deans in regional fora in Africa and the Caribbean, and has been translated into French. The tool is an adaptation of the Auditing Instrument for Sustainability in Higher Education (AISHE), which enables universities to undertake their own self-assessments and to monitor changes over time based on 20 criteria used in the AIFSHE assessment protocol. If you would like to have access to the online tool please send an email to cta@cta.int reference AIFHSE tool, attention Judith Francis. 08/03/2015
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Dates: 25–26 June 2015   Venue: Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences, Holy Spirit University of Kaslik, Lebanon 22/02/2015
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The road map to unleash science, technology and innovation (STI) for Food and Nutrition Security (FNS), with a special focus on African, Caribbean and the Pacific (ACP) countries, is the direct output of the CTA 2014 international forum on this theme. The forum addressed four strategic issues: novel pathways for agricultural innovation; optimizing resources (human and physical); the enabling policy and institutional environment; and (iv) identifying the way forward for addressing the global FNS challenge.     08/03/2015
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Dates: 12–14 May 2015  Venue: Copenhagen, Denmark  Presentation abstracts can be submitted until 1 February 2015.   22/02/2015
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This CD-ROM is a compilation of the research of 40 African scientists who participated in the 3rd Africa-wide Women and Young Professionals in Science competitions Feeding 1 Billion in Africa in a Changing World organized by CTA, FARA and partners. The papers provide insights into the research being undertaken by these highly motivated African scientists aimed at resolving Africa’s challenging food and nutrition security situation and the channels they use to communicate their results to influence policy and practice. 08/03/2015
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More stringent quality criteria are needed for models used at the science–policy interface say Andrea Saltelli of the EC’s Joint Research Centre and Silvio Funtowicz at the University of Bergen, Norway. They argue that simple models could enable scientists and stakeholders to understand how assumptions and outputs are linked and that complex and often over-parameterized mechanistic models should be used only for more speculative investigations outside the policy realm. They present a seven-rule checklist to aid in the responsible development and use of models. These are: (i) use models to clarify, not to obscure; (ii) adopt an ‘assumption-hunting’ attitude; (iii) detect pseudoscience; (iv) find sensitive assumptions before they find you; (v) aim for transparency; (vi) don’t just ‘do the sums right,’ but ‘do the right sums’; and (vii) focus the analysis, don’t do perfunctory sensitivity analyses, merely changing one factor at a time. (Issues in S&T, 30/01/2015) 08/03/2015
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The Joint EIARD–SCAR Strategic Working Group on Agricultural Research for Global Challenges (ARCH) has recently updated the main Agricultural Research (AR) and Agricultural Research for Development (ARD) policy principles and the linkages between them. It is argued that AR and ARD are increasingly interlinked due to the global scale of challenges such as climate change, food and nutrition security and access to natural resources. This action by the Joint EIARD–SCAR Strategic Working Group ARCH was considered necessary in moving from the Millennium Development Goals towards the Sustainable Development Goals, so as to create sustainable policy alliances on research for global challenges.    (PAEPARD, 25/01/2015) 08/03/2015
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Call for Applications: 2015 Oxford Adaptation Academy    Deadline: 1 April 2015 22/02/2015
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‘Big data’ has become a topical issue and the recent technological solutions offered by the ‘data revolution’ to improve the capacity of statistical organizations and systems should be stepped up. In this ECDPM policy paper, F. Krätke and B. Byiers note that the ‘data revolution’ rhetoric has so far largely ignored political economy factors, such as historical factors, formal and informal institutional setups and actor incentives. They argue that to make a difference, work towards a ‘data revolution’ must explicitly acknowledge the real political economy challenges on the ground and aim to work within these constraints to improving data, and/or aim to alter the current incentives for producing and using good official statistics.  (ECDPM, 12/2014)   Read ECDPM’s Policy Brief More information is available on the Informing a Data Revolution website 07/03/2015
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The Africa Biosciences Challenge Fund – Call for Applications 2015    Deadline: 31 March 2015 22/02/2015
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Scientists of Rice University, Houston, USA, traced the uptake and accumulation of quantum dot nanoparticles from water to plant roots, plant leaves and leaf-eating caterpillars. This comprehensive laboratory study, one of the first to examine how nanoparticles move through human-relevant food chains, found that nanoparticle accumulation in both plants and animals varied significantly depending upon the type of surface coating applied to the particles. The research is available online in the American Chemical Society's journal Environmental Science & Technology. (Eurekalert, 16/12/2014) 05/02/2015
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Fulya Batur explains that critics of TRIPS have not achieved the regulatory shift they were advocating due to the lack of socio-technological contextualization of applicable laws and judicial interpretation. Intellectual property applies to very different innovation contexts and confronts all those involved in plant improvement, from mass selectors, small-scale private conventional plant breeders, public molecular researchers, specialized start-ups and integrated biotechnology giants. In her PhD dissertation, Batur notes that with the advent of the TRIPS Agreement and the dominant interpretative implementation of its minimum standards, actors who use, conserve and improve agricultural biodiversity are faced with a strong property rights system that had been thoroughly criticised. However, Batur’s research, highlights the lack of progress in changing the regulatory framework and proposes the reasons  (APBREBES, 04/2014) 07/03/2015
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