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 (hhaji@satg.org) or Kate Longley (k.longley@cgiar.org). Additional information is available at http://www.satg.org.

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Mapping Agriculture Research Projects: The Redesigned CGIAR Ongoing Research Now Online

CGIAR Ongoing Research (http://ongoing-research.cgiar.org/) has been redesigned. The Research Map now has over 400 on-going research projects of the CGIAR and makes research information accessible, facilitates information and knowledge sharing and collaboration.

The redesign has been mainly influenced by feedback from users, who are at the centre of the Map, as well as by our own quality improvement goals. The Research Map now includes features that encourage re-usability and better searchability of information. Among the features that you will find in the map: RSS feeds, Embed maps, downloadable project reports, Ongoing Research News, “Ask a question” dialogue box for more interaction with the people responsible for the projects.

From covering research work in various African countries, the map has now been expanded to include projects in other regions where there is a CG presence: information from these areas is in the process of being updated.

5 key ways of using the map

1.   Map projects by research area, lead Center or time
Build a map with projects in a given research area ranging from climate change, market access to crops and livestock or led by a specific Center. Fine tune your search to cover a specific time period. Click the ‘View as list’ option and zero in on the projects in a specific country.

2.     Find project details
Informative yet compact factsheets provide you with the names of people involved in the various projects: principal investigator, scientists and partners. Related links to Medium Term Plan projects in CGMap and other online information enable you to learn more about the projects.

3.     Want to know more? Click, search and interact
The map’s clickable keywords enable you to access a list of related projects. Interested in more projects on a particular field or carried out by a specific scientist? Click on the linked words in the factsheet to view similar information in the Ongoing Research projects. Interested in more details? Use the ‘Ask a question’ box on the project factsheet.

4.     Reuse information
Customize and build a map for your own website or other application that reflects your selection and choice of information, simply by using the HTML code generated via the ‘Embed this Map’ option. Download and save in excel project factsheets for further analysis and review. The RSS feeds can be used to import and aggregate project information in Intranets, systems and websites.

5.     Always stay updated
Subscribe today to the RSS feeds and keep up to date with the latest research work.

For more information review the Frequently Asked Questions

To contribute project information and any other feedback send a message to Evelyn Katingi (e.katingi@cgiar.org)

For technical support, contact cgmap-support@cgiar.org

CGIAR Ongoing Research is the result of a collaborative effort between Collective Action in Eastern and Southern Africa and the ICT-KM Program of the CGIAR.

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The premier focal persons workshop for the CGIAR Ongoing Research Map

The CGIAR Ongoing Research in Africa Map whose beta version was re-launched in February 2010 has recorded tremendous growth in the number of projects entered as well as the number of users. Currently there are 387 projects registered in the map.

A lot of feedback on the need to reuse the information and more interactive features in the map has been received over the months and this led the entire team which is the CG Collective Action Program in Eastern and Southern Africa and the ICT-KM Program of the CGIAR to review the system and later decided to migrate the website’s content and functionality to a Content Management System (CMS) from the current development framework that will see the incorporation of features that will facilitate the reuse of information and increase sustainability in terms of system maintenance and future extension as well as new look and features on the front end.

Why the focal persons meeting?
One of the key attributes of a successful project is the participation from stakeholders in the planning and development of the project, the Ongoing Research Map is built and designed for the users whose need are at the forefront of our development. To this end, we decided to hold a workshop for the various Ongoing Research Map focal persons in the CG Centers who contribute project information from their various CG Centers and who work closely with scientists in their respective Centers to make sure that the information in the map is accurate and up-to-date.

In the collective spirit of learning and sharing knowledge, the AgKnowledge Africa Share Fair at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) Ethiopia held on 18-21 October, couldn’t provide a better set up for the two days workshop.

The broad aims of this meeting was to incorporate this particular group of end users at the development phase for a critical user review, evaluation and training of the system, to engage in participative planning in matters related to research information in our centers and of course meet face to face for the first time after months and years of online interaction!

What did we achieve?
After a successful two days workshop we were able to collect a broad range of feedback, both positive and negative, on the system being implemented which will play an important role in the current development phase to ensure that the new look Ongoing Research Map is user friendly, informative and makes browsing and updating research project information the coolest thing to do! The entire team was better equipped with the necessary skills and strength to facilitate information and knowledge dissemination, bonds were strengthened and new ones developed, great ideas on how to plan for the launch generated and overall plenty of learning from one another and knowledge sharing.

The passionate team behind the Map who were present for the workshop.

Ongoing Research Map Workshop Participants

From left to right, standing: Evelyn Katingi (CGIAR Collective Action), Katarlah Taylor (IFPRI), Tiberious Brian Etyang (CIAT), Wubelem Dejene (ILRI), Lucy Gacheru (ILRI), Tezira Lore (ILRI), Anne Munene (ICRAF), Chanchala Kariyawasam (IWMI), Sarah Kibera (CIMMYT)

Seated: Antonella Pastore (CGIAR ICT-KM), Li Ping Ng (CIFOR)

Read related post by Antonella Pastore here and stay tuned for the new look CGIAR Ongoing Research Map!

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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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Feedback from updates on CGMap Ongoing Research in Africa

One of the challenges in the Ongoing Research map has been convincing scientists on the advantages of updating and sharing information in the map. I recently sent out an update on: awareness creation, database growth, information contribution as well as future development plans, here is some of the feedback received from the map contributors;

• This is very nice indeed. I had not visited the site for some time and am surprised how much it has evolved. Henry Neufeldt, ICRAF

• Just checked out the site and it really is a wealth of information well put together. Andrew Mude, ILRI

• Congratulation for the great job you are doing and for your contribution in bringing together so many different experiences. Carlo Fadda, Bioversity

• Thanks very much. This is useful. James Sackey, IFPRI

• It is indeed a relevant site and well organized with huge information. Negussie Zenna, AfricaRice

• The CG requests more and more work from each project leader but do not provide funds to cover the time necessary to deliver these requests. Christophe Bene, WorldFish

• Thanks for the update. Is it possible to get information on the projects working on ag and health? Delia Grace, ILRI

• Thanks for the update which I find important in keeping me informed on the dynamics of the CGIAR.  Jeremias Mowo, ICRAF

While the challenge still exists, there has been positive feedback on the usability and functions of the map including specific information being sought for.

To go to the Map click here

To read more of the database growth click here

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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: http://faraweek2010.blogspot.com/ Read the rest of this entry »

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