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									                                PAAP’s Electronic Newsletter

23 October 2009          Volume 12 Number 21

                                 New Appointment at ASARECA

Ms. Monica Kansiime Owuor has been appointed Programme Assistant, Monitoring and Evaluation
unit. She holds a Masters degree in Agricultural Economics from Makerere University. Prior to
joining ASARECA, Monica worked for Heifer International Uganda programme in different
capacities: Extension Services Supervisor, and Monitoring and Evaluation Coordinator. Her
contacts are:, Tel: +256 414 322226


On October 15, during the 2009 World Food Prize Symposium, Bill Gates, a Co-Chair and trustee
of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation announced nine new agricultural grants amounting to US
$ 120 million. The package includes funding for legumes that fix nitrogen in the soil, for higher
yielding varieties of sorghum and millet, and for new varieties of sweet potatoes that resist pests
and have higher vitamin content. The grants will provide training and resources that African
governments can draw on as they regulate biotechnologies, so they can make science-based
decisions, customized to local conditions, about what advances will best serve farmers,
consumers, and the environment. This issue of the newsletter reproduces an abridged version of
Gates’ speech.

E     ACH of us here has come to our interest in agriculture along a different path. I would like to
      take a moment to explain how Melinda and I came to the work. When we started our
foundation, we agreed that our giving should be guided by our belief that all lives have equal value-
that every person deserves the chance to live a healthy and productive life. Over time, our search
for the greatest leverage brought us to the most compelling challenge in development: how do you
help people who live on less than a dollar a day? They face huge difficulties. How can they get
some traction, so that their daily struggle can lead to a better life?

The answer is in the work they do. Three-quarters of the world's poorest people get their food and
income by farming small plots of land. So if we can make small-holder farming more productive
and more profitable, we can have a massive impact on hunger and nutrition and poverty. Melinda
and I believe that helping the poorest small-holder farmers grow more crops and get them to
market is the world's single most powerful lever for reducing hunger and poverty. Of course, the
idea that better farming can end hunger and poverty is not new. It was demonstrated by Dr.
Norman E. Borlaug. It was honored with the Nobel Prize called the Green Revolution, and it helped
avert famine, save hundreds of millions of lives, and lift whole countries out of poverty. It was one
of the great achievements of the 20th century. But it didn't go far enough. It didn't go to Africa.
Africa is the only place where per capita cereal yields have been flat over the last 25 years. The
average farmer in sub-Saharan Africa gets just over half a ton of cereal per acre. An Indian farmer
gets twice that; a Chinese farmer, four times that; an American farmer; five times that. The
technology and new approaches that are transforming agriculture in other parts of the world can be
applied in new ways, and help Africa flourish too.

Now is the time. The food crisis has forced hunger higher on the world's agenda. From non-
governmental organizations (NGOs) to the G8 to African Heads of State, there is a rush of new
commitment. But there is also trouble. This global effort to help small farmers is endangered by an
ideological wedge that threatens to split the movement in two: on one side is a technological
approach that increases productivity; on the other is an environmental approach that promotes
sustainability. Productivity or sustainability - they say you have to choose.

It's a false choice, and it's dangerous for the field. It blocks important advances. It breeds hostility
among people who need to work together, and it makes it hard to launch a comprehensive
program to help poor farmers. The fact is, we need both productivity and sustainability - and there
is no reason we can't have both. Many environmental voices have rightly highlighted the excesses
of the original Green Revolution. They warn against the dangers of too much irrigation or fertilizer.
They caution against a consolidation of farms that could crowd out small-holder farmers.

These are important points, and they underscore a crucial fact: the next Green Revolution has to
be greener than the first. It must be guided by small-holder farmers, adapted to local
circumstances, and sustainable for the economy and the environment. The last thing anyone
should do is create short-term gains for poor farmers that have long-term costs for their children.
That is why our Foundation works closely with local farmers' groups; and that is why we are one of

the largest funders of sustainable approaches such as no-till farming, rainwater harvesting, drip
irrigation, and biological nitrogen fixation.

The environment also benefits from higher productivity. When productivity is too low, people start
farming on grazing land, cutting down forests, using any new acreage they can to grow food. When
productivity is high, people can farm on less land. But some people insist on an ideal vision of the
environment - divorced from people and their circumstances. They have tried to restrict the spread
of biotechnology into sub-Saharan Africa without regard to how much hunger and poverty might be
reduced by it, or what the farmers themselves might want. Some voices are instantly hostile to any
emphasis on productivity. They act as if there is no emergency - even though in the poorest,
hungriest places on earth, population is growing faster than productivity, and the climate is

According to a Stanford University study published last year in Science Magazine, if farmers in
southern Africa are planting the same variety of maize in 2030 that they are planting today, the
harsher conditions from climate change will reduce their productivity by more than 25 percent.
Declining yields, at a time of rising population, in a region with millions of poor people, means

The charge is clear - we have to develop crops that can grow in a drought; that can survive in a
flood; that can resist pests and disease. We need higher yields on the same land in harsher
weather. And we will never get it without a continuous and urgent science-based search to
increase productivity - especially on small farms in the developing world.

Right now, we are collaborating with our research partners, including the Consultative Group on
International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), many national programs, and others to boost
productivity by breeding new crop varieties. We're not advocates of any particular scientific
method. We support a range of agricultural techniques. In some of our grants, we include
transgenic approaches because we believe they can help address farmers' challenges faster and
more efficiently than conventional breeding alone.

Of course, these technologies must be subject to rigorous scientific review to ensure they are safe
and effective. It is the responsibility of governments, farmers, and citizens - informed by excellent
science - to choose the best and safest way to help feed their countries. Certainly, it's essential for
Africa to find a maize crop that can get higher yields in a drought. More than 300 million Africans

rely on maize as their main food source. When the rains don't come, farmers and their children go

One of our private-sector partners is now collaborating with an African foundation, an international
crop improvement center, and five African countries to develop drought-tolerant maize using both
conventional breeding and biotechnology. The technologies will be licensed royalty free to seed
distributors so that the new seeds can be sold to African farmers without extra charge. If the seeds
perform well, African farmers can expect to produce 2 million more tons of maize in a year of
moderate drought.

Certainly, for small farmers, too much water can be just as devastating as too little. To support
farmers in flood-prone areas - and there are millions of them in India and Bangladesh – we are
helping develop a rice variety that can survive under water for two weeks. Crop breeders have long
known about a variety of Indian rice that can tolerate submergence. In the 1980s, they tried to
breed this flood-tolerant trait into rice varieties that had high-yields, but they dragged in undesirable
traits along with it. So the idea hibernated in the minds of crop breeders for 25 years until it was
taken up again a few years ago - this time, aided by a technique called Marker-Assisted Selection,
a much more precise method of moving a trait from one variety to another. The breeders
developed a new rice variety - called Swarna Sub 1 - and tested it in Bangladesh. A short time after
planting, the floods came. When the waters receded, only ten percent of the normal rice crop was
left, but the Sub1 rice flourished - 95 percent of it survived.

Maize and rice that can tolerate drought and flooding are crucial for increasing yields in hostile
weather. But we also need to play defense against disease - which can wipe out a crop no matter
what the weather is. We are involved in an effort to stop a fast-moving strain of wheat rust that
threatens the world's wheat crop. Almost all existing varieties of wheat are susceptible, and our
partners at 15 research institutions are using a number of approaches to breed wheat varieties that
will offer farmers some lasting protection. We need to take full advantage of these emerging
technologies to develop healthy new crop varieties - and we need to make the seeds available to
the small farmers who need them. I hope that the debate over productivity will not slow the
distribution of these seeds. I also hope the debate does not obscure a crucial lesson from the past:
Developing more productive seeds is just one element of an effective strategy.

At our Foundation, we take that lesson very seriously. That is why our investments in agriculture
are guided by two principles: focusing on small farmers; and making investments across the value
chain. The first principle guides every decision we make. We see all our investments through the

eyes of small farmers - will they lead to better yield, better soil, a better living, a better life? Our
approaches are customized for diverse crops, different climates, and small plots of land. We are
responsive to the needs and recommendations of the farmers themselves. And we respect the
expertise of women farmers, who do most of the farming in Africa.

The second principle - the value chain - guides our overall strategy. Farmers need new seeds, of
course. But they tell us they also need new tools and training; they need access to new markets to
sell their surplus; and they need stronger organizations that can represent their interests.

The value chain also includes gathering data, publishing results, and supporting countries to
develop smart, sustainable agricultural policies. If we're going to get this right, we have to get
everything right.

During the mid-1990s in Ethiopia, the push to increase productivity led to bumper cereal crops in
the highlands, but farmers couldn't get their crops to distant markets. So local markets had too
much food, prices crashed, and farmers suffered - while distant markets had too little food, prices
stayed high, and poor people went hungry. Market access brings balance - prices that are high
enough for poor farmers to get a good income, and low enough for poor consumers to feed their
families. This is the driving idea behind our partnership with the World Food Programme (WFP). In
the past, the world's approach to food aid involved purchasing surplus from rich countries and
shipping it to poor countries. In recent years, some food was also purchased from big traders in
poor countries.

But WFP is now buying crops from small farmers in the same countries where the food will be
eaten. They've already purchased 17,000 metric tonnes of food from small farmers, helping them
build the capacity to sell even more to WFP and other buyers in the future.

The new grants

The new grants will assist African governments in developing policies that specifically serve small
farmers. The package will help get information to farmers by radio and cell phone, support school
feeding programs supplied with nutritious food from local farms, and help women farmers in India
manage their land and water resources sustainably.

This is our approach - investing across the value chain in ways that will benefit small farmers and
their communities. If each effort is measured against these goals, it will keep attention focused on

the human impact of the work. That is the best way to de-emphasize the ideological arguments and
help poor farmers build better lives.

In this global movement, it is crucial that everyone play a role - but Africa must lead. In 2004, the
African heads of state met in Maputo and pledged 10 percent of their national budgets to
agriculture. Countries from Ethiopia to Malawi to Ghana are showing the way. Ghana has met the
ten percent pledge, and its success demonstrates why others should as well. Ghana's agriculture
sector is growing at a steady rate of more than 5 percent a year. Gross domestic product (GDP) is
steadily rising; national poverty rates are dropping; rural poverty rates are dropping even more; and
Ghana is now the first sub-Saharan country to reach the millennium development goal of cutting
hunger and poverty in half. The Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, led by Kofi Annan, is
pushing for these kinds of advances across the continent. Unfortunately, most African countries
have not yet met the ten percent pledge. African leaders should hold each other accountable. Is
there any reason not to find 10 percent of your budget for the highest-leverage approach to the
biggest problem you face?

Rich countries have also pledged to increase their investment in agriculture. In his inaugural
address, President Barrack Obama promised poor nations that the US will "work alongside you to
make your farms flourish." He then took a lead role as the G20 made a three-year US $ 22 billion
pledge to help the poorest farmers increase their productivity. It is a great thing that donor nations
are focusing on this issue. But we need them to spell out clearly what the US $ 22 billion means -
how much is old money, how much is new, how soon can they spend it, and when will they do

Finally, we need Foundations, universities, the UN, the World Bank, scientists, farmers groups, and
others to intensify their support; and we need corporations to play a larger role. Research
companies can take the technologies they've developed for big agriculture and apply them to the
needs of small farmers. They should not try to change the customer to suit what they sell; they
should change what they sell to suit the customer - many different crops, fertilizer that suits
different soils, seeds sold in packages of 1 kilogramme, not 50. In the poorest countries, some of
these products need to be royalty free, or many customers won't be able to buy them.

Food companies can use their buying power to provide markets for small farmers. The logistics
might be more complex at first, but these companies have a phenomenal opportunity to help poor
farmers by turning to them as suppliers. A number of our corporate partners are making impressive
contributions along these lines; we need others to join them.

In closing, I'd like to tell you about a man named Chrispus Oduori, who just last year graduated
from a school we support in South Africa - the African Centre for Crop Improvement, which is
crucial to our hope of training more Ph.D.s in Africa. With his diploma, Oduori became the only
plant breeder in all of Africa with a Ph.D. in finger millet -- a grain that is grown almost entirely by
small farmers, is eaten by more than 100 million Africans, and has shown no significant productivity
gains since the 1960s. Today, working in western Kenya near where he grew up, Oduori goes back
and forth from his demonstration plot to the local farmers - hearing their concerns, testing their
methods, adding his own ideas. Right now, the expected yield of a finger millet farmer in Kenya is
between 500 to 700 kilogrammes per hectare. On the fields where Oduori conducts his research,
using improved seeds and fertilizer, he gets between 2,500 to 3,000 kilogrammes per hectare - 4 to
6 times better. There is no reason for so many farmers to be so hungry and so poor. Poor farmers
are not a problem to be solved; they are the solution - the best answer for a world that is fighting
hunger and poverty, and trying to feed a growing population. If farmers can get what they need to
feed their families and sell their surplus, hundreds of millions of the world's poorest people can
build themselves a better life. It will take passion and focus and a sustained sense of urgency. It
will take a willingness to put aside old divisions and come together behind this cause. We have the
tools. We know what needs to be done. We can be the generation that sees Dr. Borlaug's dream
fulfilled - a world free of hunger.

In 1970 Norman E. Borlaug was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for a lifetime of work to feed a hungry
world. Although a scientist with outstanding contributions, perhaps Dr. Borlaug's greatest achievement was
his unending struggle to integrate the various streams of agricultural research into viable technologies and
to convince political leaders to bring these advances to fruition. He died on 13 September this year at the
age of 95. For details about Borlaug, visit:

This brief was prepared by Dr. Daniel Karanja, Senior Fellow, Partnership to Cut Hunger and Poverty,
Washington, USA. He is gratefully acknowledged.


Africa Agriculture Science Competition and Award 2010: FARA

The Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) has been designated to lead the consortium
of prominent African institutions who agreed to harmonize their investments in recognizing and
promoting excellence in science and technology. The 2008-09 young professionals and women in

science competition organized by CTA/FARA/RUFORUM/ATPS is being merged to RUFORUM’s
IMPRESSA Awards to form a more prestigious African Agricultural Science Award recognized and
endorsed by the African Union program NEPAD.

It is an initiative to recognize outstanding young professionals, women in science and scientists in
the agricultural research for development. This is the first Africa-wide competition and award
organized by FARA, CTA, RUFORUM, ANAFE and the African Union program NEPAD. View the
details of this competition by clicking the icon below.

   FARA Science
   AwardS 2010

PAAP received this information from Dr. Monty Jones of FARA, he is gratefully acknowledged.

AERC/IMF Visiting Scholar Programme for the 2009/2010

The African Economic Research Consortium (AERC) invites researchers to submit applications to
participate in the AERC/IMF Visiting Scholar Programme for the 2009/2010 fiscal year. Participants
will normally be selected during the AERC June and December biannual research workshops from
the applications at hand. The following are the eligibility criteria:

1. An application for the AERC/IMF Visiting Scholar Programme should include a 2-3 page
   outline of what the researcher would like to do at the Fund.
2. A copy of current curriculum vitae.
3. The applicant should have a pertinent on-going research project with the AERC which they
   intend to work on while visiting the Fund.
4. The projects and papers should present a clear interest in the work of IMF.

The deadline for submission for consideration at the December 2009, biannual workshop is,
November 15, 2009.

PAAP received this information from Dr. Damiano K Manda of the African Economic Research Consortium, he is
gratefully acknowledged.

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