Archive for category Collective Action News

Collective Action News: Past Issues

With the last issue vol. 26 of the Newsletter released this month, below is a list of all past issues that the programme has published.

Issue 26:  Regional Collective Action Wraps Up

Issue 25: Agriculture and Rural Development Day at the Cancún Climate Change Conference

Issue 24: Hope For the Future: Sowing the Seeds for Agricultural Research in Somalia

Issue 23: Rwanda launches Irrigation Master Plan

Issue 22:  South Africa to Burkina Faso: African Agricultural Innovation in a Changing Global Environment

Issue 21: Developing Africa’s Agricultural Markets 

Issue 20: 2010 International Day of Biodiversity celebrations

Issue 19: Highlights from GCARD

Issue 18: Regional Partnerships to Strengthen the Seed Industry

Issue 17: CGMap Ongoing Research in Africa: Empowering, Informative, Exciting

Issue 16: Regional Collective Action: Achievements to Date

Issue 15: Agriculture and Rural Development in the Copenhagen Climate Change Talks

Issue 14: Update on the CGIAR Reform Process

Issue 13: Disaster Risk Reduction: Addressing the longer term issues

Issue 12: Online Consultations to Enhance Agricultural Research for Development

Issue 11: Rising Food Prices in Eastern and Southern Africa Revisited: Lifting Trade Barriers Is Still the Answer

Issue 10: Managing the Fertility of Africa’s Soils: The Case for Collective Action

Issue 9: Biotechnology, Bioinformatics and Food Security: Hype or hope?

Issue 8: Priority Actions on Agricultural Markets? Not Easy At a Market of Ideas!

Issue 7: Climate and agriculture in East Africa: The future is mixed – April Collective Action News

Issue 6: Food Price Rises: Global Smiles, Regional Frowns?

Issue 5: Connecting the Dots: Online Maps for Improved Access to Information on Agricultural Research Projects

Issue 4: Could 150 Million Thirsty Livestock Be Efficient Water Harvesters? Nile Basin Studies Show How

Issue 3: Lessons from Kampala: Will Urban Farming Make a Difference?

Issue 2: Where Science and Emergencies Meet: As Crises Become More Frequent, Agricultural Research Finds a Big New Role

Issue 1: Food Price Rises: Is Regional Trade the Answer?


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Regional Collective Action Wraps Up

After four years, the Regional Collective Action Programme has come to an end. In this final issue of Collective Action News, we report on how Regional Collective Action activities have supported the work of the Consortium and the CRPs.

The Regional Collective Action Programme has been described by Carlos Seré, Director General of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), which has hosted the Programme since its inception in 2007, as ‘a bold experiment that achieved considerable success in promoting collaborative action in eastern and southern Africa that has now been overtaken by the process of CGIAR reform’. Many of the activities started under the Programme have now been incorporated into the CGIAR Consortium and the CGIAR Research Programmes (CRPs).

A key output of the Programme has been the CGIAR Ongoing Research Map. The Map makes CGIAR research information publicly accessible, facilitating information sharing and promoting partnership opportunities. The Research Map is now maintained and managed by the various focal persons in most of the CGIAR Centres who work closely with scientists and take a leading role in ensuring that projects within their Centres are up-to-date. Future administration of the Map will be subject to the outcome of a proposal presented to the Consortium Office to take it up as part of the system wide initiatives. The Research Map, which now has over 530 projects, can be accessed from the home page of the CGIAR Consortium website.

The four Flagship research programmes have been incorporated into various CRPs: Flagship Programmes 1 (Integrated natural resource management) and 2 (Policies, institutions and information for achieving impact at scale) have become part of CRP5 (Durable solutions for water scarcity and land degradation) and CRP2 (Policies, institutions, and markets to strengthen assets and agricultural incomes for the poor). Some aspects of Flagship Programme 4 (Improving impact of emergency response on agricultural livelihoods in highly stressed and unstable systems) have been incporporated into CRP7 (Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security, CCAFS). Flagship 3 (Conservation and enhancement of agricultural biodiversity for improved agricultural production) held two regional workshops on food-feed crops in Nairobi and Bulawayo in February and March 2011 to further understand and evaluate the potential, challenges and opportunities of crop residues to address food and fodder challenges in eastern and southern Africa. Participants included representatives from ILRI, ICRISAT, CIMMYT and CIP, as well as private sector, national and regional partners. A full proposal around this issue is now being drafted which will link into the CRPs on grains, roots and tubers, and livestock. Further details of all the CRPs can be found here.

The Regional Collective Action Programme also recently supported a detailed review of inter-Centre CGIAR capacity development. A desk study, an e-consultation and two regional workshops held in Nairobi and Maputo in April, 2011, were coordinated by ILRI in collaboration with other CGIAR Centres as well as various other international, regional and national institutions with an interest in capacity development. The review found that, despite various past inter-Centre capacity development projects and numerous discussions over the years highlighting the need for enhanced collaboration, there has been limited action or follow-up. Those consulted by the review were critical of the proposed ‘dedicated informal network’ approach to collective capacity development as outlined in the CGIAR Strategy and Results Framework (SRF). Instead, it has been suggested that a more formal mechanism such as a special unit or platform should be established to serve as a think-tank on CGIAR capacity development and collaboration to add value to all Centres and CRPs. The review recommended that a scoping study on the subject should be undertaken by a high level capacity development specialist in close collaboration with the capacity development staff of the CGIAR Centres and the CRP Leaders.If you need further information or details about this project, please contact Dr. Purvi Mehta (P.mehta(at) head of capacity development, ILRI and Jan Beniest (jan.beniest(at)

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Agriculture and Rural Development Day at the Cancún Climate Change Conference

Agriculture and Rural Development Day (ARDD) was held for the second time during the Sixteenth Conference of the Parties (COP16) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) which took place earlier this month at Cancún, Mexico. The day-long event, which drew hundreds of participants including policy makers, farmers, scientists and journalists, aimed to put agriculture on this year’s climate change agenda. In her opening speech, Inger Andersen, CGIAR Fund Council Chair and Vice President of Sustainable development, World Bank talked about the intersection of agricultural development, food security and climate. She proposed agriculture as a solution that was a triple win of increased food security, resilience and reduction of emissions. The success of the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) in promoting the spread of Evergreen Agriculture in Africa was cited as an example of a climate-smart agricultural technique that can both increase crop yields and help to reduce carbon emissions.

In support of such initiatives, the organizers of ARDD 2010 called for much more local action to help the rural poor adapt to climate change impacts and the use of climate finance to realize agriculture’s substantial potential for capturing carbon and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. In presenting the official summary of the day, Lindiwe Sibanda, Chief Executive Officer of the Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network, appealed to climate change negotiators to recognize explicitly the critical links between agriculture and forestry and to create an agricultural work program under the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) as a first step toward meaningful inclusion of food security in any post-2012 agreement.

By the end of COP16, the collective push for including agriculture in a climate change deal had achieved small but important successes. The Cancún Agreements recognize agriculture and food security as areas deserving priority consideration in a footnote to the ‘Outcome of the Work of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action under the Convention’. Unfortunately there was no decision on a work program on agriculture on the SBSTA, proving correct fears that it would be held hostage by the uncertain state of broader negotiations and by a number of small technicalities at the 11th hour.
The Cancún Agreements did, however, call for a SBSTA work program on REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation) that addresses drivers and methodologies, as well as exploration of REDD+ financing options under the Ad hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action. The links between agriculture and deforestation are such that this decision ensures some support for continued work on agriculture in the climate change context. Indeed, participants at Forest Day 4 (FD4), proposed several options to increase agricultural intensification whilst reducing net annual rates of deforestation including: increasing production efficiencies; promoting multifunctional landscapes; directing REDD+ financing to increase efficiencies in agronomic practices; and shifting extensive production systems to low carbon landscapes.

The thorny issue of agricultural intensification and its effect on deforestation was addressed at an official COP16 side event held jointly by the organizers of ARDD 2010 together with those of FD4. It was concluded that efforts to produce more food from less land must form part of an integrated package of interventions (including practices such as conservation agriculture, agroforestry and integrated pest management) aimed at achieving multiple benefits in rural landscapes. To pursue such an approach in spirit and in practice, it was suggested that the forestry and agriculture sectors should perhaps organize a ‘Landscape Weekend’ rather than two separate events at COP17 in South Africa.

For more details of ARDD 2010, see

For more details of Forest Day 4, see

For details of the first Agriculture and Rural Development Day (ARDD 2009) held at COP15, see

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Hope For The Future: Sowing the seeds for agricultural research in Somalia

The CGIAR Regional Collective Action for Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA) recently supported the Somali Agricultural Technical Group (SATG) in organizing workshops in Hargeisa and Nairobi to identify ways to promote agricultural research in Somalia. The workshops were held under Flagship Program 4 which aims to enhance food security in ESA countries affected by natural disaster and/or conflict through research-related activities that contribute towards effective and appropriate emergency preparedness,
relief and recovery interventions.

The Hargeisa workshop (23-24 November 2010), focused on the self-declared state of Somaliland and the semi-autonomous region of Puntland. There were over 30 participants from universities, international organisations (FAO and IFAD), local and international NGOs, government ministries, and the private sector. The meeting was opened by the Minister of Agriculture for Somaliland, and included presentations on the institutional contexts in Somaliland and Puntland. Both regions are relatively stable and peaceful, and basic state institutions are functioning, thus providing an enabling environment for sustainable, long-term programmes for agricultural research and development (R&D). Implementing agencies working in the agricultural sector are now focusing on longer-term development, including institutional capacity building. The meeting participants identified four technical priority areas (testing, adaptation and multiplication of appropriate varieties of food and fodder crops; improved crop protection practices; post-harvest technologies; and soil and water conservation). Three institutional priority areas (capacity development; compilation of existing R&D information; and coordination among R&D institutions, both local and regional) were also identified. It was agreed that a Steering Group would be established in Somaliland to coordinate the activities needed to move forward on the priority areas identified.

Meanwhile, the Nairobi workshop (29-30 November 2010), focused on the less stable region of south-central Somalia, where there has been no effective government since 1990, and various NGOs and international organizations provide services to farmers and pastoralists. These include the provision of seed and veterinary supplies, training, rehabilitation of irrigation canals, and post harvest technologies. Seed distribution is a common short-term intervention, but limited effort has been made to assess the agroecological conditions, varietal suitability and technology adaptation to the local context. The Nairobi workshop included over 60 participants, mainly from local NGOs but also including international organisations (FAO, IFDC, WFP, and the MDG Center) and NGOs, Mogadishu University, and the private sector. The latter were particularly interested in the video presentation featuring successful agro dealers from ESA, and confirmed that there are several agro dealers already operating in Somalia, and that they can potentially disseminate new technologies, but constraints of quality control and technical capacity must first be addressed. It was agreed that a follow-up meeting of the key players would be convened to discuss in more detail how a technology testing and transfer system can be operationalized for south-central Somalia.

Participants at both workshops noted the important role of CGIAR centers in providing technologies suitable for testing in Somalia, and sought the assistance of SATG in facilitating linkages to CGIAR centers and other regional and international research organizations. SATG was also requested to support project development and resource mobilization to address the identified priority intervention areas.

For more details, please contact Dr Hussein Haji ( or Kate Longley ( Additional information is available at

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Rwanda launches Irrigation Master Plan – September Collective Action News

Rwanda’s economy mainly depends on the agricultural sector, particularly food crop production. Poverty reduction therefore largely depends on efforts made on the modernisation of this sector.

Although Rwanda possesses considerable water resources, they are not evenly distributed. For example, while water is abundant in the marshlands, facilities for storing it elsewhere for irrigation purposes are lacking. Farming during dry seasons is thus limited in most parts of Rwanda. Agriculture and livestock in the eastern parts of Rwanda, where rainfall is lowest, are especially affected. This situation created a need for a full, efficient and sustainable exploitation of water resources that can help to ensure the sustainable production of food, cash, export and industrial crops.

One of the best options of achieving food security and improving people’s living conditions is through the use of modern irrigation technologies. It is from this recognition that the government of Rwanda commissioned Ebony Enterprises Limited, an Israeli firm, for the development of an Irrigation Master Plan (IMP) to facilitate the management of water resources, promote irrigation and improve food security. Ebony subsequently partnered with the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) to undertake this task in collaboration with Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources (MINAGRI) and Rwanda Agricultural Development Authority (RADA). The aim of Rwanda’s IMP is to develop and manage water resources to promote intensive and sustainable irrigated agriculture and improve food security in Rwanda. Specifically, the objective of the IMP is to provide Rwanda with a planning tool for rational exploitation of its soil and water resources as represented by the respective domains (see Figure 1) at both national and district levels. This tool is intended to lead to an increase in crop production for local consumption, as well as to promote production of high-value crops.

In order to produce the IMP, ICRAF developed a flow chart matrix that identifies potential irrigation areas and water sources by mapping biophysical and socioeconomic parameters. Details of this work are provided in the IMP document which was launched on the 17th September 2010 in a ceremony graced by the Right Honourable Prime Minister of the Republic of Rwanda and the Honourable Minister for Agriculture and Animal Resources, Dr. Agnes Kalibata. In her remarks, Hon. Kalibata, commended ICRAF and Ebony for a job well done. A number of organizations from diplomatic missions, international research institutions, local NGOs and the community were represented during the launch of the IMP.

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Bronze Medal goes to the Collective Action News!

The Association for Communication Excellence (ACE) in Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Life and Human Sciences conferred the Bronze Medal in the Newsletters Class of the 2010 Awards to Collective Action News – the monthly e-newsletter of the Collective Action Program.

Produced to alert agricultural researchers and professionals in Africa to the importance of collective action in research , the newsletter seeks to highlight successful cases of such collective action.

The target audience include agricultural researchers working in the Alliance of the CGIAR centres, staff in partner organisations (regional and national agricultural research institutes; NGOs, the private sector), donors, government policy advisers, among others. While the audience is primarily in Africa, the newsletter is also sent to readers in other continents who have an interest in these issues in Africa.

The newsletter reaches approximately 10,000 recipients, and is disseminated electronically – through email and on the Regional Plan website. Readers can easily forward it to others – the publication is generally limited to one page, and the PDF averages just half an MB. Relevant contacts are added onto the mailing list on a regular basis, and the newsletter is sent to Communications professionals in all CG Centres, with a request to circulate it to all staff in their centres and widely within their networks.

Reactions from readers, and the willingness to write lead articles and place newsbytes indicates that the publication is well received and is achieving its objectives.

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South Africa to Burkina Faso: African Agricultural Innovation in a Changing Global Environment

This was the theme that brought together more than 700 hundred diverse participants for the 5th Agriculture Science Week and Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) General Assembly, held 19-24 July 2010 in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. The FARA Science Week has become a major event in the African agriculture scene and has successfully expanded its stakeholder base beyond the national agricultural research systems to include NGO, government, farmer organization and some private sector participants, as well as several ministers of agriculture.

One of the highlights of the week was the discussion on the role of the private sector in implementing the activities of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP). A panel composed of various ministers of agriculture, among others, said that – rather than wait for external support – African countries need to provide structured leadership in agriculture, form thematic groups, and mobilize resources.

The increasing interest in South-South cooperation and partnership was evident by the launch of the Africa-Brazil Agriculture Marketplace. This initiative seeks to promote knowledge exchange, promote investment and support agriculture research and development in the two regions. Up to seven joint project proposals are expected to be selected in October for funding.

The need for access to knowledge, formation of partnerships and adequate allocation of resources to communication, as well as the coordination of regional agriculture research was echoed by various presenters. The CGIAR Collective Action’s CGMap Ongoing Research in Africa, which responds to these needs, demonstrated the use of the map at one of the week’s events. Participants commended the CG for its efforts in sharing and opening up its research activities, and there was interest in the adoption of the map and the use of the tool to synchronize agriculture information in Africa.

The week saw a diversity of side events – nearly 30 in total – many of which were proposed and facilitated by the stakeholders. Among the many side events there was one on technological foresight, and one on an assessment of lessons learnt from the sub-Saharan Africa Challenge Program. A side event organized by ILRI, WorldFish, CIAT and ICARDA to help shape the new CGIAR mega program on livestock and fish attracted many participants and allowed for valuable
partner interactions.

The general mood of the week was one of things happening and opportunities to be captured: Africa’s economies are growing; important infrastructural investments (ports, roads, railways, internet, etc) are taking place; and direct foreign investment is picking up, particularly with the interest of foreign investors in large scale commercial farming. At the political level the CAADP compacts are being signed by more and more African countries, and advancing regional economic integration is creating new market opportunities. Overall, the FARA Science Week presented a very positive picture about the development of Africa’s agricultural sector.

More highlights of the FARA Science week can be found here: Read the rest of this entry »

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