Knowledge for Development

Selected publications

Publications and reports in the field of S&T for Development in ACP countries.

Is the innovation systems approach the answer to inclusive development?

A new CTA publication Innovation systems: Towards effective strategies in support of smallholder farmers jointly produced with Wageningen University and Research / Convergence of Sciences: Strengthening Innovation Systems (WUR/CoS-SIS) details the latest knowledge on and lessons learned in applying the innovation systems (IS) approach to agricultural and rural development (ARD) in developing countries.


CTA Top 20 Innovations that Benefit Smallholder Farmers

Over the years, CTA has contributed to building ACP capacity to understand innovation processes, strengthen the agricultural innovation system and embed innovation thinking in agricultural and rural development strategies. The CTA Top 20 Innovations project set out to prove that innovation is taking place in ACP agriculture and in the process has demonstrated that smallholder farmers are beneficiaries as well as partners in agricultural innovation. The CTA Top 20 Innovations that were selected from among the 251 submissions that had been received from 49 countries showcase the ingenuity of numerous stakeholders who are innovating and by their collective efforts are making a difference in the livelihoods of ACP smallholder farmers and their families.


Unleashing science, technology and innovation for food and nutrition security: Developing a road map

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.


Capacity building for climate change adaptation in the Pacific

Valuable resources from a UNDP Pacific regional November 2014 training workshop on building capacity on climate change adaptation


Access to Seeds Index

The Methodology Report of the Access to Seeds Index 2015 is now available. It describes the methodology for both the Global Index and the Regional Index for Eastern Africa.


The bumpy path towards knowledge convergence for pro-poor agro-biotechnology regulation and development: exploring Kenya’s regulatory process

Knowledge production dynamics are explored through an empirical account that documents the biotechnology regulatory trajectory in Kenya over almost two decades. The author, Ann Njoki Kingiri, of the African Centre for Technology Studies (ACTS), Nairobi, Kenya, bases her analysis on papers describing the political nature under which biotechnology development and biosafety regulation have co-evolved. She concludes that scientific knowledge predominantly directs biotechnology development and regulation. Although this process has lacked legal direction, she suggests that lessons learnt from Kenya’s regulatory process should move the country’s biotechnology sector to a higher level in putting the research products in the pipeline to use. (InTech publishers, 14/03/2012)Download the article (PDF) 


Agricultural development and sustainability: A review of recent and earlier perspectives

In this paper, Clem Tisdell, University of Queensland, Australia, reviews various perspectives on agricultural sustainability, starting from three-pillar concept of sustainable development, proposed and applied by Gordon Conway to the evaluation of alternative agro-ecosystems in the 1980s. Tisdell shows that more recent perspectives have adopted a wider approach focusing on ways to sustainably increase agricultural supplies rather than to just maintain them. This recognizes that a substantial increase in demand for agricultural produce is expected in this century. In these approaches comparative roles of agro-ecology and economics in guiding agricultural production are discussed, and the concept of multifunctional agriculture is re-examined in the light of proposals for the sustainable intensification of agriculture. (University of Queensland, 25/01/2015)


Review of targets for the sustainable development goals: The science perspective

This report is an independent scientific review of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and 169 targets, as submitted to the UN General Assembly by the UN Open Working Group (OWG). It is a unique resource for negotiators, technical support teams and other actors engaged in defining a universal, integrated and transformational set of global goals and targets for sustainable development and the political declaration on the post-2015 development agenda. In particular, it is a resource for those carrying out technical reviews of the targets in preparation for their adoption and translation at the national level. With more than 40 contributing authors from 21 countries, the report brings together a wide range of scientific expertise across the natural and social sciences. (ICSU, 13/02/2015)


Towards achieving food and nutrition security, and changing course in global agriculture

This discussion paper from Biovision – Foundation for Ecological Development outlines the priorities of a number of organizations for the final stage of the negotiations on the post-2015 development agenda. The paper underlines key concerns including: protecting the balance and the ambitious character of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and targets, and therefore do not renegotiate the 17 goals and 169 targets; ensuring an equitable multilateral trade system that promotes rural development, food security and animal welfare; creating and expanding the regulatory environment for long-term investments in food security and sustainable food systems; promoting additional financing for microfinance, small and medium enterprises within sustainable food systems and research, as well as capacity building in financial literacy; and recognizing the role that the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) can play in reviewing and monitoring the implementation of the post-2015 development agenda. The paper also calls for ensuring that a number of issues that have not been taken up in the UN Secretary-General's synthesis report will be reflected in the post-2015 development agenda such as doubling the incomes of small-scale food producers; maintaining the genetic diversity of farm animals, as well as seeds and cultivated plants; limiting extreme food price volatility; halving food waste and reducing food losses; and striving to achieve a land-degradation neutral world. (Biovision, 01/2015)


A framework for assessing effects of the food system

The framework for assessing effects of the food system has developed an analytical tool for assessing effects associated with the ways in which food is grown, processed, distributed, marketed, retailed and consumed. The framework allows users to recognize effects across the full food system, consider all domains and dimensions of effects, account for systems dynamics and complexities, and choose appropriate methods for analysis. This report provides examples of applications of the framework based on complex questions that are currently under debate: consumption of a healthy and safe diet, food security, animal welfare and preserving the environment and its resources. Although the framework has been designed and tested for the US, the methodology could be applied in developing countries and become an essential resource for decision makers, researchers and others to examine the possible impacts of alternative policies or agricultural or food processing practices. (NAP, 01/2015)


Robust cropping systems to tackle pests under climate change. A review

This article reviews the effects of climate change on crop protection and strategies to reduce the impact of future invasive crop pests as well as those of rapidly evolving resident populations. The authors make the following points: (i) the consequence of climate change and globalization is a heightened level of unpredictability of interactions between weather, cropping systems and pests; (ii) the unpredictable adaptation of pests to a changing environment creates uncertainty and projected changes do not automatically translate into doom and gloom scenarios; (iii) faced with uncertainty, policy, research, and extension should prepare for worst-case scenarios following a ‘no regrets’ approach that promotes resilience vis-à-vis pests; (iv) farmers can take advantage of Web 2.0 and other new technologies to make the exchange of updated information quicker and easier; and (v) cooperation between historically compartmentalized experts in plant health and crop protection could help develop anticipation strategies. (Agronomy for Sustainable Development, 31/12/2014)Download the article


Coping with climate change: The role of genetic resources for food and agriculture

Genetic resources have a critical role to play in feeding the world, especially as climate change advances faster than expected, and much more needs to be done to study, preserve and utilize the biological diversity that underpins world food production. In this new book published by the FAO the authors argue that that the ability of plants and animals raised by farmers to withstand volatile conditions and adapt when the environment changes is a direct result of their genetic diversity. However, stronger efforts are needed to study and use this diversity as a coping mechanism, and to develop policies to support it. In particular, improving knowledge, conservation and use of crop wild relatives is important. They are likely to have genetic traits that can be used to develop well-adapted crops for use in climate change-affected food systems. (Rural 21, 03/02/2015)Download the book.


Beyond N and P: Toward a land resource ecology perspective and impactful fertilizer interventions in Sub-Saharan Africa

Initial results of experiments with multiple plant nutrients present in soils show that the proportion expressed as ratios impacts crop yields rather than absolute levels, indicating the existence of complex nutrient relations. These ratios are particularly important among Ca, Mg and K, between P and micronutrients and among the micronutrients themselves. Such ratios are shown to govern the ecological diversity of vegetation and spatial pattern of soils. It is therefore essential to include all essential nutrients in agronomic and fertilizer research. Limited amounts of optimal ratios of (micro)nutrients tuned to local soil chemical properties can have large impacts on yield and result in higher fertilizer uptake efficiency. (Virtual Fertilizer Research Center, 2015)


World’s Animal Genetic Resources Report

In January 2015, the FAO’s Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (CGRFA) finalized the second report on the State of the World’s Animal Genetic Resources Report to be published at the end of 2015. The Commission also adopted the 'Strategy for the Implementation of the Global Plan of Action for Forest Genetic Resources' and agreed on 'Elements to Facilitate Domestic Implementation of Access and Benefit-Sharing (ABS) for Different Sub-sectors of Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture.' In addition, the Commission adopted a number of tools, including Voluntary Guidelines to Support the Integration of Genetic Diversity into National Climate Change Adaptation Planning; Voluntary Guidelines for Mainstreaming Biodiversity into Policies, Programmes and National and Regional Plans of Action on Nutrition; a voluntary Guide for National Seed Policy Formulation (agreeing that nothing in this guide should be interpreted to limit farmers' rights to save, use, exchange and sell farm-saved seed/propagating material, subject to national law and as appropriate); and Guidelines for Developing a National Strategy for Plant GRFA. (IISD, 01/2015)


Calling on the nutritional services to improve the Asstel dairy value chain

In November 2014, the FAO organized a training course, ‘Stockbreeding, Means of Subsistence and Nutrition’, in Dakar, Senegal, to train the technical staff of development agencies to better integrate nutrition into breeding and rearing programmes. The workshop addressed one of the current concerns in the Sahel and West Africa, which is to increase the impacts of nutrition in development projects and contribute more to reducing malnutrition and improving resilience. FAO has now published a report on this workshop, which includes training setup and materials.    (GRET, 01/02/2015)   Download the FAO report.


Nanotechnology in agriculture, livestock and aquaculture in China: A review

Nanotechnologies are widely used for rapid detection and diagnosis, notably for clinical examination, food safety testing and animal epidemic surveillance. In this article, the authors review more than 200 reports on nanoscience in agriculture, livestock and aquaculture in China since the 1990s. The major findings are: (i) nanotechnologies are less developed in agronomy than other disciplines, due to less investment; (ii) nanotechnologies used for seeds and water have improved plant germination, growth, yield and quality; (iii) for livestock and poultry breeding, nanotechnologies have improved animal immunity, oxidation resistance, reduced use of antibiotics and less manure odour; (iv) nanotechnologies for water disinfection in fishponds have led to improved water quality and increased yields and survival of fish and prawns; (v) nanotechnologies have increased the performance of pesticides threefold and reduced costs by 50%; and (vi) nano-urea has increased the agronomic efficiency of nitrogen fertilization by 44.5% and grain yields by 10.2% compared with normal urea.    (Agronomy for Sustainable Development, 31/12/2014)


Supporting a regional agricultural sector with geo & mainstream ICT – the case study of Space4Agri Project

The Space4Agri (S4A) project aims to demonstrate how a knowledge platform can be set up for effectively monitoring cropping systems, water stress and the impacts of climate change on specific regions, and for sharing this information at regional and national levels. The platform has been designed to allow data workflows integrating (i) spatial data and observations; (ii) non-spatial information available from existing agronomic databases; (iii) data collected in the field by farmers, agronomists and volunteers using mobile applications; and (iv) data collected by unmanned aerial sensors, and data produced by researchers as a result of applying scientific analysis on high-quality remote sensing data. Foreseen results of the Space4Agri project and from other similar ongoing research activities may significantly spur socio-economic development and create new growth opportunities for famers, as well as agri-business and other companies.    (AGRIS Online Papers in Economics and Informatics, 31/12/2014)


Developing national systems of innovation: University–industry interactions in the Global South

Interactions between firms and universities are key building blocks of innovation systems, as profiled in this book featuring novel comparative research spanning three continents. The editors (Eduardo Albuquerque of Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Brazil, and colleagues) present a universal and dynamic view of the shaping and reshaping of interactions between firms and universities within different countries at various stages of development. Students of innovation, evolutionary economics, science and technology studies and development studies, as well as public research organizations and policy makers, will find the original research to be of great value.    (IDRC, 30/01/2015)


UNESCO maps research and innovation in Malawi

The research and innovation map of Malawi reveals an intriguing paradox: despite being one of the poorest countries in the world, it devotes 1% of its gross domestic product (GDP) to research and development (R&D), one of the highest ratios in Africa. In October 2014, UNESCO released the third volume in its series of country profiles in Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) policy. Although R&D spending remains low in real terms, Malawian scientists publish more in mainstream journals – relative to GDP – than researchers in other countries with similar populations.  (UNESCO, 12/10/2014)


Ensuring the sustainable availability of affordable quality seeds and planting materials in Uganda: A review of Uganda’s draft national seed policy

Uganda’s draft national seed policy (e.g. the Seeds and Plant Act 2006) contains serious loopholes, gaps and challenges, primarily due to the lack of relevant regulations and guidelines to ensure its effective implementation. This is the conclusion of a study by Ronald Naluwairo and Julian Barungi of Advocates Coalition for Development and Environment (ACODE), Uganda, who examined the potential of the draft national seed policy, major seed legislation and the key public sector seed establishments to ensure the sustainable availability and accessibility of affordable quality seed and planting materials. The report presents recommendations that, if effectively implemented, could improve the implementation of the national seed policy and seed legislation and would enhance Uganda’s seed infrastructure and public funding arrangements. (Advocates Coalition for Development and Environment    (ACODE), 2014)