African Farming: The Roles of Brazil & China Roles Explained

A special issue of World Development, examines the real roles that China and Brazil are playing in African agriculture, moving beyond what the authors consider as “simplistic narratives of South-South collaboration or neo-imperial expansion”.

Eight papers culled from an input of 20 research collaborators detail how Brazil and China are impacting the African economy. The work, organised via the Future Agricultures Consortium, was supported with roughly US$ 934,000 in UK Economic and Social Research Council funding.

The project set out to explore what is actually going on in Ethiopia, Ghana, Mozambique and Zimbabwe, where Brazil and China have made investments, says Ian Scoones, fellow at the Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex, the UK, and editor of the issue.

Through 16 different case studies, the project revealed a complex set of engagements, which contrast with existing patterns of western-led development and investment.

World Development Open Access Special Issue Volume 81, 2016
Editors: Ian Scoones, Kojo Amanor, Arilson Favareto and Qi Gubo

  1. A new politics of development cooperation? Chinese and Brazilian engagements in African agriculture by Ian Scoones, Kojo Amanor, Arilson Favareto and Qi Gubo
  2. South-South cooperation, agribusiness and African agricultural development: Brazil and China in Ghana and Mozambique by Kojo Amanor and Sérgio Chichava
  3. Chinese state capitalism? Rethinking the role of the state and business in Chinese development cooperation in Africa by Jing Gu, Zhang Chuanhong, Alcides Vaz and Langton Mukwereza
  4. Imagining agricultural development in South-South Cooperation: the contestation and transformation of ProSAVANA by Alex Shankland and Euclides Gonçalves
  5. Brazil’s agricultural politics in Africa: More Food International and the disputed meanings of ‘family farming’ by Lídia Cabral, Arilson Favareto, Langton Mukwereza and Kojo Amanor
  6. Chinese migrants in Africa: Facts and fictions from the agri-food sector in Ethiopia and Ghana by Seth Cook, Jixia Lu, Henry Tugendhat and Dawit Alemu
  7. Chinese agricultural training courses for African officials: between power and partnerships by Henry Tugendhat and Dawit Alemu
  8. Science, technology and the politics of knowledge: the case of China’s Agricultural Technology Demonstration Centres in Africa  by Xiuli Xu, Xiaoyun Li, Gubo Qi, Lixia Tang and Langton Mukwereza

Continue reading

Innovation Systems Research: Where We Came from & Where We Could Go

Published on 19 May 2016. Hyderabad, India. Presentation by Dr Andy Hall Project leader-Food Systems Innovation Agriculture Flagship Commonwealth Scientific Industrial and Research- -Organization (CSIRO) AUSTRALIA

Agricultural innovation systems (AIS) is a global perspective accidently invented by ICRISAT nearly 20 years ago. At that time ICRISAT along with the rest of the CGIAR was struggling with the question of how to improve the impact of its research. Partnership with the private sector as a way of achieving impact was a highly controversial idea. The failure of impact assessment research to make a difference and help set priorities could only be discussed in hushed whispers.

AIS thinking explained why partnership was critical for innovation. It explained why we needed to shift from measuring impact to learning how to achieve it. And it explained why (institutional) innovations in the innovation process were a critical part of an organization’s, a sector’s and a country’s capacity to innovate. Unsurprisingly it took many years before these ideas started to become main streamed and uncontroversial, but in the process many misunderstanding and confusion have crept in. 
The promise remains that AIS can 
  1. be used operationally to help navigate and progress the process of innovation in different contexts and 
  2. it can help frame a missing learning and research enquiry on how innovation and impact at scale really happens. 

Like all promises, there is work to do to keep that promise. So why not do it at ICRISAT where it all started? 

12 – 16 May 2016. Hack4Farming was an exciting event and part of ICRISAT’s digital agricultu
re initiative to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, supported by Microsoft, aWhere, USA and T-Hub. Digital technology can accelerate the pace of developing and delivering sustainable and equitable solutions to smallholder farmers and in so doing enable us to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals before 2030. This includes narrowing the knowledge gap between researchers and farmers; providing timely and targeted information to farmers to manage weather and market variability and integrating farmers into profitable markets.

Over 100 data analysts, hardware buffs and software developers came together with agriculture domain experts at a two-day hackathon, titled Hack4Farming, to explore digital solutions to address agricultural development issues in India.

Hack4Farming focused on weather and systems modeling, and their potential impacts on the Indian agriculture sector. Teams explored how to leverage new modeling techniques (from ICRISAT), weather data (from aWhere, USA) and Intelligent Cloud (from Microsoft) to address the information gaps, and benefit the agriculture stakeholders including seed producers, service providers and farmers across India.


Continue reading

Innovative Ways for Sustainable Nutrition, Food Security and Inclusive Agricultural Growth

25 April 2016. Brussels, Belgium. Food and nutrition security and sustainable agriculture are among
the EU’s top development priorities for the period of 2015–2020. In this regard, research and innovation are fundamental pieces to achieve food and nutrition security goals.

The main purpose of this high-level dialogue was to collectively consider opportunities for innovation in food security, nutrition and agriculture to secure inclusive human development. Four specific panels: resilience, nutrition, research and financing shared insights and enable creative dialogue between participants structured around three
key questions:

  1. Challenges: What has been learned from experience with regard to the challenges to inclusive and equitable development and what do we know about how can they be creatively overcome in the post 2015 era? 
  2. Synergies: How best can synergies and strategic coherence be promoted between various initiatives – such as those show-cased as well as others? 
  3. Partnerships: What are the opportunities for new partnerships to be forged to reverse trends of widening inequalities, accelerate impact and reinforce accountability? 


Neven Mimica, EC Commissioner (2014-2019)

International Cooperation and Development

The EU launched four major initiatives to support partner countries in food security and agriculture specifically addressing the key areas of innovation, nutrition, resilience and financing:

  1. In 2016, the European Commission launched an innovative process, promoting a “Joint global food insecurity analysis” with the support of key international partners dealing with food and nutrition insecurity, namely FAO and WFP. The joint analysis allowed agreeing upon the following figures regarding the global situation of food insecurity
  2. The EU has designed programmes and new partnerships that specifically address institutional and capacity constraints to effective nutrition governance: The National Information Platforms for Nutrition, the Food Fortification Facility and the FIRST initiative and is supporting global governance initiative for nutrition such as the SUN movement. 
  3. The EU supports global and regional Agricultural Research for Development (AR4D) initiatives, including the CGIAR, the Global Forum for Agricultural Research (GFAR), and African research organisations supporting the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) process, both through funding and engagement with governance bodies.
  4. The EU acts as a catalyst for private financing through greater use of financial instruments such as guarantees, equity and other risk-sharing instruments for investments. The EU’s new Agriculture Finance Initiative (AgriFI) aims to increase investment in smallholder agriculture and agribusiness. Private sector engagement should result in improving the inclusiveness and sustainability of value chains in agriculture, and food security for the particular benefit of farmers currently left behind by economic opportunities.  

Download the Concept note in PDF format
Download the Agenda in PDF format

Panel members: Part 1 :

  • David Nabarro – UNSG Special Adviser on 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development introducing the Nutrition Discussion 
  • Monique Pariat – Director-General, EC Directorate-General for Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection 
  • Tom Arnold – Scaling Up Nutrition Movement Coordinator 
  • Djimé Adoum – Executive Secretary, CILSS 

Part 2 :

  • Rudolf Strohmeier – Deputy Director-General, EC Directorate-General for Research and Innovation 
  • María de los Ángeles Benítez Salas – Deputy Director-General, EC DirectorateGeneral for Agriculture and Rural Development 
  • Charles Brand – Executive Vice President Product Management & Commercial Operations, Tetra Pak  Didier Hoffschir – Scientific director, Ministry of Superior Education and Research, France 
  • Patrick Caron – President of the UN High Level Panel of Experts on Food Security and Nutrition introducing the Research Discussion 
  • Monty Jones – Minister of Agriculture of Sierra Leone 
Parallel session 2
Addressing governance and accountability gap in nutrition 
  • Tom Arnold – Scaling Up Nutrition Movement Coordinator Panel members: 
  • Mike Penrose – CEO of Action Against Hunger, France 
  • Robinah Mulenga Kwofie – Executive Director, National Food and Nutrition Commission, Zambia 
  • Judith Kimiywe – Associate Professor, Department of Food, Nutrition and Dietetics, Kenyatta University 
  • Stineke Oenema – Coordinator of UN Standing Committee on Nutrition 
  • Jean-Pierre Halkin – Head of Unit for Rural Development, Food and Nutrition Security – EuropeAid
Other parallel sessions:
Session 3: Connecting innovation and research to development 
  • Gerda Verburg – Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the FAO and future Scaling Up Nutrition Movement Coordinator Panel members: 
  • Mamadou Cissokho – Honorary Chairman of the “West African Network of Farmers Organisations” 
  • John Bell – Director Sustainable Bioeconomy, Director-General for Research and Innovation 
  • Albert Schram – Vice Chancellor of the Papua New Guinea University of Technology 
  • Gerd Fleischer – Head of the Agricultural Innovation, Sustainability Standards’ section, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) 
  • Jean-Luc François – Head of the Agriculture, Rural Development and Biodiversity Division, Agence Française de Développement (AFD) 
  • Monty Jones – Minister of Agriculture of Sierra Leone
Session 4: Promoting innovative financing for agriculture 
  • Thomas Duve – Director KfW Bankengruppe Panel members: 
  • Charles Brand – Executive Vice President Product Management & Commercial Operations, Tetra Pak 
  • Roberto Ridolfi – Director for Sustainable Growth and Development, EC Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development 
  • Marie Konate – Côte d’Ivoire Entrepreneur and African Business Woman of the year 
  • Ishmael Sunga – CEO of Southern African Confederation of Agricultural Unions 
  • Jérôme Bertrand-Hardy – Deputy Director of operations, Proparco 

Continue reading

Innovative approaches of food processing in sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia

14-15 April 2016. Bonn, Germany. The German Ministry for Food and Agriculture (BMEL) and The Federal Office for Agriculture and Food (BLE) are planning to launch a call (June 2016) on:

“Innovative approaches of food processing in sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia to improve nutrition and to reduce food losses in quality and quantity”

For this reason the BLE organised an international expert workshop to identify the actual research needs and to evaluate the state of the art in this field.

Aims of the workshop
The German Ministry for Food and Agriculture (BMEL) promotes the development of “Research Cooperation for Food Security and Nutrition” with agricultural and nutritional research institutions in partner countries and in Germany. Programme administrator is the Federal Office for Agriculture and Food (BLE). The objective of this funding programme is to build long lasting international research partnerships between German and respective partner countries’ research organizations. The funded research seeks to contribute to innovative and reasonable approaches, adapted to the requirements of the partner
countries, to improve food security and nutrition.

In preparation for the upcoming call under this programme, the BLE organized a workshop to clarify the research needs in the areas of food processing, preservation, packaging, and distribution (marketing, transport). The overall goal is to improve nutrition, reduce seasonal food insecurity as well as food and nutrient losses and further develop supply chains in the partner countries.

Key issues that required clarification were:

  • Who are the actors working in the field of food processing, preservation, packaging and distribution? What is the state of the art regarding research in this area?
  • What are the restrictions and limiting factors and bottle necks for developing countries?
  • What are the research priorities?

Continue reading

Looking for Healthy Eating? Come to Africa!

Many diets in Africa contain a plethora of
 nutritious leafy greens. Photo credit: Joan Baxter
A 2015 study published by The Lancet Global Health journal looked at the consumption of food (both healthy and unhealthy items) and nutrients in 187 countries in 1990 and then again in 2010. The aim was to determine which countries had the world’s healthiest diets.

It found that none of the healthiest ten diets is in a wealthy Western nation, nor are any in Asia. Most were found in Africa, which is so often portrayed as a continent of constant famine in need of foreign know-how and advice on how to eat and to grow food.

And yet, of the ten countries with the healthiest diets on earth, nine of them are African.

What’s more, the three countries with the very best diets are some the world’s poorest. Chad, ranked as having “very low human development”, 185th of 188 nations on the United Nation 2015 Human Development Index, has the world’s healthiest diet. After that come Sierra Leone and Mali, 181st and 179th on the same Index.

Many diets in Africa contain a plethora of nutritious leafy greens. Photo credit: Joan Baxter

The only non-African country on the top ten list is Israel, in ninth place. Other African nations with the best diets are, in descending order: The Gambia, Uganda, Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire, Senegal and Somalia.

This doesn’t mean that these countries have no food insecurity, hunger or malnutrition. But it does mean that it is time for a serious rethink on how “development” affects diets – especially among the development agencies, international institutions and donors in the (sometimes lucrative and self-serving) business of food aid or improving food security and nutrition in Africa.

The authors of the study conclude that their results have “implications for the reduction of disease and economic burdens of poor diet by lowering the consumption of unhealthier foods, increasing the consumption of healthier foods, or both”.
But this is unlikely to happen so long as the development initiatives claiming to improve food security and eliminate malnutrition in Africa fail to recognize that their technological and market fixes may well encourage a nutrition transition away from healthy traditional diets and foods. And in doing so, they may merely compound the problems caused by already high rates of undernutrition with a whole set of new diet-related health issues.

Continue reading