28. November 2018African Union-European Union cooperation on Science, Technology and InnovationOn September 12th 2018, Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission, gave his State of the Union Address to the European Parliament. During the speech, he referred to Africa as Europe’s “twin continent” and declared: “We (African Union and European Commission) agreed that reciprocal commitments are the way forward. We want to build a new partnership with Africa.” But what exactly is the current partnership between Africa and Europe, especially on Science, Technology and Innovation (STI)? And what are the current opportunities?
Currently, six calls with a focus on Africa have been published on the Funding & tender opportunities portal of the European Commission (5 open and 1 forthcoming). They focus on:
Blue Growth (sustainable harvesting of resources from the seas, oceans and inland water): All Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance Flagship. Deadline: 23/01/2019
Sustainable Food Security: Food Systems Africa. Deadline: 23/01/2019; and A vaccine against African swine fever. Deadline: 23/01/2019
Supporting more sustainable ways of agricultural productions and empowerment of small producers: Sustainable Intensification in Africa. Deadline: 23/01/2019
Fighting Climate Change: Human Dynamics of climate change. Deadline: 19/02/2019
Secure, clean and efficient energy (focus area: Building a low-carbon, climate resilient future): Bioclimatic approaches for improving energy performance in buildings in Africa and Europe. Opening: 12/03/2019
The next round of African Union Research Grants has not been published yet, but is expected to come out in the first quarter of 2019. To apply for these calls, visit this website for the European Union and this one for the African Union. These pages have regular updates and important information, which can be leveraged using the BiomassNet website and Dgroup to look for cooperation partners.
The African Union (AU) - European Union (EU) cooperation is implemented through the Joint Africa-EU Strategy (JAES). With regard to STI, the JAES is assisted by the EU-Africa High Level Policy Dialogue (HLPD) that identifies mutual areas of interest and implements long-term priorities to strengthen the African-European cooperation on STI. In 2016 and 2017, two priorities were identified and approved by the AU and the EU:
Roadmap toward a jointly funded EU-Africa research & innovation partnership with a focus on Food and Nutrition Security and Sustainable Agriculture (2016)
This roadmap has a focus on sustainable intensification agriculture and food systems for nutrition, and expansion and improvement of agricultural markets and trade. It also considers cross-cutting issues.
Roadmap toward a jointly funded EU-Africa research & innovation partnership on Climate Change and Sustainable Energy (2017)
This roadmap aims to provide a long-term framework for cooperation on Research and Innovation for jointly-funded climate and energy projects that will allow actors from Africa and Europe to work together on these issues.
Moreover, the two roadmaps serve as guideline for the current and future STI cooperation between the AU and the EU and will offer support for researchers, policy makers and private sector via several calls through the AU and EU funding mechanisms.
Author: Arthur GuischetGo
28. November 2018GlobE – Research for the global food supply: A Pan-African ConferenceFrom 2013 to 2018, the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF) has supported six German-African Research consortia under the GlobE (<<Securing the Global Food Supply – GlobE>>) program. The aim is to promote the development of sustainable agriculture in African countries to secure a stable food supply for the local population and to explore innovative biomass uses in an African bioeconomy. Additional funds for the international agricultural research centres come from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).
As the program is drawing to a close, the final GlobE conference will take place in Naivasha, Kenya on the 3rd and 4th of December 2018; around 250 participants from African countries and Germany are expected to attend.
The conference will be an opportunity for the six GlobE consortia to present their various outputs to a broad audience made up of scientists and implementing stakeholders. For instance, the conference will entail four parallel dialogue sessions that enable scientists to interact with practitioners, development experts, policy makers and representatives of the private sector. This is to stimulate discussions on how to use the GlobE outputs to develop the African agricultural sector with the aim to achieve food security in Africa.
The conference will allow participants and GlobE consortia to engage in networking activities and to discuss follow-up strategies and activities that will be built on the results and legacy of the GlobE initiative.
The BiomassWeb project was present with 25 members from African and German partner organisations. Dr. Christine Schmitt (ZEF) and Dr. Raymond Jatta (FARA) gave a plenary overview of the project and its key outputs while, Dr. Michael Kwaku (icipe), Dr. Adebayo Abass (IITA) and Dr. Girma Kelboro (ZEF) gave snapshot insights into field experimentation, value addition and involvement of the stakeholders in the BiomassWeb research process. During a parallel exhibition, project members showcased sample products, posters and smartphone Apps from the project, while an opportunity was provided to sign up to BiomassNet.
The afternoon session was dedicated to four parallel dialogue sessions (science-policy, science-development, science-SMEs and science-practice) which allowed frank exchange of hurdles and opportunities for better communication of research results to key stakeholder groups.
All in all, the PAC provided an excellent opportunity for the six GlobE-projects to take stock of their achievements during the past six years and to start discussing future opportunities to carry the GlobE-momentum into the future.
The six GlobE projects (listed below) conducted field research in Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, Ethiopia and Tanzania:
Author: Arthur Guischet - Dr. Hannah JaenickeGo
28. November 2018Yacouba Sawadogo: “the man who stopped the desert”Mr. Yacouba Sawadogo from Burkina Faso is one of this year’s winners of the Right Livelihood Award. He was selected as a laureate for his efforts to reverse desertification using an ancient farming technique known as "zai" - pits dug in hardened soil that concentrate water and nutrients, allowing trees and crops to withstand drought. The Right Livelihood Award is announced in Stockholm every year, a tradition going back to 1980, and is often considered as the Alternative Nobel Price. The Award has no specific categories but serves to recognize the achievements of people who struggle for a better future.
Mr. Yacouba Sawadogo’s restoration initiative started in the 80’s during a phase of severe drought and has grown much bigger over time. At first, he faced resistance and scepticism from a part of the local community (his forest was set on fire for example), but he kept working on his project. Later, he also organized workshops for thousands of visitors in order to share his knowledge and vision about protecting the environment and supporting local farmers to increase their food security.
As a result, tens of thousands of hectares of degraded land have been restored to productivity in Burkina Faso and Niger. This has helped local community and especially farmers to adapt to climate change and prevent local resource and water related conflicts.
For more information:
Trailer of the documentary 'The Man Who Stopped the Desert' (from 2010 - about the life of Yacouba and the success of his work)
A short documentary (12 minutes) about Yacouba at the UNCCD COP in Korea in 2011.
Author: Arthur GuischetGo
28. November 2018Policy brief: The new wave of contract farming in Ghana and the role of contract design in facilitating sustainable out grower schemesA policy brief on the important issue of contract farming in Africa has just been published by Adu-Gyamfi Poku: The new wave of contract farming in Ghana and the role of contract design in facilitating sustainable out grower schemes.
The Policy Brief highlights the role of contract design in facilitating sustainable contract farming arrangements between small-scale farmers and agro-processing companies. It provides recommendations for agro-processing companies on how to enhance the long-term sustainability of out grower schemes and make arrangements that are mutually beneficial for small-scale farmers and companies.
Read more here. Please share your comments and ideas with your BiomassNet community via the Dgroup and our comment section.
This is one of several policy briefs published by the the BiomassWeb project.
Author: Arthur GuischetGo
22. November 2018BiomassNet – Profile of the monthInterviewer: Arthur Guischet - BiomassNet Team
Interviewee: Raymond Jatta
Raymond Jatta, Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA), Accra, Ghana
Dr. Raymond Jatta is an Economist who hails from the smiling coast of Africa, The Gambia. He started off working at ActionAid International, The Gambia as Programme Coordinator, moved to the EU-Gambia Cooperation as Programme Officer, and then to The Ministry of Agriculture and FAO respectively as Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist. He has fourteen years’ work experience mainly in Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation relevant to Agriculture, Food Security and Rural Development, Economic Policy Analysis and Climate Change Adaptation. He currently is the Programme Coordinator, Planning and S3A Mainstreaming at FARA. S3A stands for Science Agenda for Agriculture in Africa (S3A)
Dr. Jatta has a PhD in Economics (with focus on Climate Change Economics) from the University of Cheikh Anta Diop in Dakar, Senegal, funded through a partnership with the Centre for Development Research (ZEF) of Bonn University, Germany.
Dr. Raymond Jatta is part of the planning team for mainstreaming and implementing the Science Agenda for Agriculture in Africa (S3A), under the leadership of FARA. We are interested in how the S3A came about and how it is being implemented at national levels.
What can you tell us about the Science Agenda for Agriculture in Africa (S3A) and its priority areas?
The Science agenda is a framework for deepening the application of science, technology and innovation for agricultural transformation in Africa. It seeks to operationalize the implementation of the Malabo commitments, especially on commitment 3, 4 and 6. (ie. Commitment to ending hunger in Africa by 2025, Commitment to halving poverty by the year 2025, through inclusive Agricultural Growth and Transformation, Commitment to enhancing resilience of livelihoods and production systems to climate variability and other related risks.
The development of the science agenda was sanctioned by the African Union Commission and NEPAD. FARA was assigned the responsibility to lead its formulation. In 2014, it was endorsed by the AU Heads of States and governments. Now its is being mainstreamed at country level.
The priority areas are on, increasing investments in science for agriculture, building capacities for technology development and outreach, enhancing quality of science and science delivery and enabling policies. The overall vision of the science agenda is that “by 2030 Africa is food secure, a global scientific player, and the world’s breadbasket”
What are the gaps and challenges that the S3A identified in African agriculture?
A baseline study by FARA in 2016 on how countries were doing in terms of their progress towards meeting the Malabo commitments has shown that with ‘business as usual’ no country in Africa will meet the Malabo commitment of doubling Agricultural productivity by 2025 (using 2013 as baseline). The imperative is therefore for countries to vigorously pursue actions to deepen the application of science to speed up the transformation of agriculture in Africa.
The Science Agenda postulates that a deeper application of science, technology and innovation is required across the value chains –
The value added of the science agenda is therefore to (1) enhance coordination among relevant stakeholders, enhance demand-driven articulation mechanism and technologies; (2) support the implementation of the continental commitments and policies through impactful and coherent country programmes; (3) help define country agendas and priorities, particularly for Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) programmes that are in alignment with national, continental and global targets and; (4) support resource leveraging and partnerships (South-South, North-South, North-North-South).
How is Ghana planning to implement the S3A at the national level?
Ghana is one of five countries in Africa (including Rwanda, Malawi, Senegal and Egypt) selected to start the implementation of the Science Agenda on the basis of progress it has made towards achieving the Malabo/CAADP and MDG/SDG commitments.
Currently, a National Investment Proposal aligned with Ghana’s Medium - Term Agriculture Sector Investment Plan is being developed, led by the government of Ghana through the Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation and the Ministry of Food and Agriculture. Other stakeholder’s include The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. The Universities of Ghana and Cape coast, Farmer-based organizations, Civil Society, private sector actors, and Development partners are all involved in the S3A processes in Ghana. On the 14th November 2018, the government of Ghana (through the two Ministers of Food and Agriculture and Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation) signed a National S3A commitment. In effect, Ghana has become the second country to commit at the highest level to the implementation of a science-driven agricultural transformation. The first country to sign the Commitment letter is Benin. Recently the African Union Commission agencies have also endorsed the Science Agenda implementation processes.
There has also been a wave of new interests on mainstreaming and implementation of the Science Agenda beyond the initial Tier one countries; notably from Benin, South Africa, Uganda, Kenya, The Gambia and Burkina Faso. This is a major achievement for the Science Agenda implementation; where countries demand for support from FARA to initiate the implementation of the Science Agenda on their own. In the 2019, FARA will continue to support countries requests to initate the implementation of the Science Agenda.
Is food and non-food biomass development a point of interest in Ghana’s agenda for agriculture? If so, what programs or activities have been planned or initiated to promote this sector?
In the recently approved Medium Term Agriculture Sector Investment Plan (METASIP III), eradication of extreme poverty, hunger, resilience building are all key programmes of the Government of Ghana. Agricultural transformation is expected through increasing production and productivity of high value export and food crops, such as cocoa, cassava, and maize. Processing and value addition of these crops are also a major feature. The “Planting for Food and Jobs” and “One District One Factory” initiatives are some of the policies developed by the Ghanaian government to accelerate sustainable and inclusive transformation of Agriculture in Ghana. This is where much of the public-private-partnership are concentrated. The example of the BiomassWeb project supporting localized activities in Ghana like mushroom production using cassava peels, or the production of bread and other products using plantain, are therefore good innovations that can easily be out scaled nationwide.
What do you think of the BiomassNet community platform?
I am excited about BiomassNet. Its is the first online platform in Africa on food and non-food biomass. It creates visibility about the importance of sustainable use of resources through innovations, technology, practices and sharing of knowledge. It also brings together experts to interact.
This is good for FARA because it shows that we are also active in this area, as the technical arm of the AU on Agriculture, research and extension.
The challenge is to provide relevant information to the platform and for the platform to be active.
As a scientist, how in your opinion can our BiomassNet community better link science, policy and practice to promote food and non-food biomass development in Africa?
I think occasionally, we should be encouraged to create events that will expedite the process of cataloging all the innovations and practices for the sustainable uses of biomass in Africa. Celebrating key milestones by featuring experts on the platform at any point in time may motivate and encourage active participation.
What do you like about your work?
I am learning a lot, in new areas such as Agricultural research for development, actions for research outputs to reach the last mile, Innovations in Biomass use and interactions. This a good add on from my work in FAO, NGOs and in government. I am naturally a keen listener. So, I am enjoying my work here at FARA. I am also gaining better perspectives on continental and global programmes, eg. Climate Negotiations, CAADP, STISA etc,
How do you deal with biomass in your daily life?
I try to use resources more sustainably and reduce waste as much as possible. I share information on what I know about how biomass is being used sustainably. If there is no need to use a car, I walk.
What is your favorite local food?
My favorite local food is Kenkey. It is a Maize product. I eat it almost every weekend.Go