This year’s Yara Prize honours hard-hitting and long-term policy advocacy by ILRI board chair Lindiwe Majele Sibanda

YARA Prize winners for 2013

Co-winners of the Yara Prize for 2013, announced last night (4 Sep 2013) are Nigerian Nnaemeka Ikegwuonu (left) and Zimbabwean Lindiwe Majele Sibanda, chair of ILRI’s board of trustees (picture credit: Bella Naija).

The Yara Prize 2013 was yesterday awarded to Nnaemeka Ikegwuonu, founder and CEO of the Smallholders Foundation in Nigeria, and Lindiwe Majele Sibanda, CEO of the Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN) and chair of the board of trustees of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI).

The Yara Prize Committee selected two prominent African laureates for their work for African farmers and for the continent’s green revolution. The award recognizes their effective entrepreneurial work which has spread knowledge that has inspired smallholder farmers and youth to improve their lives, and their policy dialogue and advocacy which has enabled change in the African agricultural sector.

Both laureates have, through personal commitment and special efforts, translated ideas on the development of African agriculture into real results. They are both examples of the can-do spirit and drive that is playing a vital role in transforming agriculture in Africa.

The two laureates were celebrated during a Yara Prize Ceremony in Maputo, Mozambique, held yesterday, 4 Sep 2013, in connection with the Africa Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) 2013.

Nnaemeka Ikegwuonu’s award—communicating for impact
Ikegwuonu was being awarded the prize for his entrepreneurial work of using radio as transmitter of sustainable agricultural development and environmental conservation beneficial to rural poor small farmers in the Imo State in southeast Nigeria. Ikegwuonu and the Smallholders Foundation develops and broadcasts 10 hours of educational radio programs daily to 250,000 listeners. The radio programs are held in the local Igbo language. Since 2007, 65 percent of his radio program listeners have increased their agricultural yield by 50 percent and their household income by 45 percent.

Lindiwe Majele Sibanda’s award—advocating for impact
Jimmy Smith and Lindiwe Majele Sibanda at Africa Agriculture Science Week

ILRI director general Jimmy Smith and ILRI board chair Lindiwe Majele Sibanda at the 6th Africa Agriculture Science Week (AASW6), in Accra, Ghana, 15-20 Jul 2013, organized by the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) (photo credit: ILRI/Paul Karaimu).

Lindiwe Majele Sibanda was awarded the prize for her many years of work generating knowledge and facilitating dialogue to develop informed, research-based development through policy and advocacy across Africa as CEO of the Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN), where she has served since 2004.

FANRPAN is perceived to be one of the most influential policy networks across the African region. Its focus areas include policy research and advocacy work on food policy, agricultural productivity, natural resources and environment, and the impact of HIV/AIDS on farmers livelihoods. Sibanda, who is an animal scientist by training as well as a beef farmer herself, has played a global leadership role in increasing the visibility and importance of agriculture as a key development driver. In 2009, Sibanda led the global ‘No-Agriculture, No-Deal’ campaign and mobilized African civil society organizations to push for the inclusion of agriculture in negotiations of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Sibanda has built the advocacy capacity of FANRPAN through her innovative use of strategic outreach and communication activities, which help leverage and amplify the work done by the organization and its partners at the ground level. In this way, Sibanda has effectively made FANRPAN one of the most recognized and trusted voices on African agriculture and food security, with a strong focus on the continent’s women and young farmers. (Understanding the need to nurture Africa’s youth and include them in agricultural policy processes, FANRPAN launched the FANRPAN Youth in Agriculture Award in 2012.)

Siboniso (‘Boni’) Moyo, another distinguished Zimbabwean animal scientist cum beef farmer, who serves ILRI as its representative for southern Africa, attended the award ceremony in Maputo and was on hand to personally congratulate her country-woman on Sibanda’s achievement. All the directors and staff are delighted to congratulate Lindiwe Majele Sibanda, as well as Nnaemeka Ikegwuonu and both their tireless organizations, for this prestigious award, which is so well deserved and does so much to honour what is right and exciting about Africa and African leadership.

Read a profile of Sibanda.

View a short filmed interview of Sibanda at the July 2013 Accra meeting of the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa.

View a short animated film, Cultivate the future! How learning together can mean learning better and faster, speeding research into use’, co-developed and narrated by Sibanda.

About the Yara Prize
The Yara Prize for an African Green Revolution seeks to contribute to the transformation of African agriculture and food availability, within a sustainable context, thereby helping to reduce hunger and poverty. The Yara Prize is based on nominations of candidates who are carefully evaluated by the Yara Prize Committee. The Yara Prize consists of USD60,000, which will be split between the laureates, a crystal trophy and a diploma. The Yara Prize was handed out in Oslo from 2005 to 2009. In 2012, it moved to Africa, where it was handed out as part of AGRF 2012 in Arusha, Tanzania. The Yara Prize 2013 was awarded during a ceremony in Maputo, Mozambique, on Wed 4 Sep 2013.

Taking Stock: Jul 2012 round-up of news from ILRI

Remembering Jeff Haskins

Last month, we at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and within CGIAR and the wider agricultural development communities grieved over the sudden loss of American media guru Jeff Haskins, who had spent six years in Africa covering African agriculture news stories for the American PR firm Burness Communications. Haskins, who had just turned 32, died at the Kenya coast on 14 Jul 2012. See online tributes to him from the ILRI News Blog (with links to 25 major news releases and 20 major opinion pieces that ILRI produced with the help of Jeff and his Burness team over the last five years), Pictures of Jeff Haskins (ILRI Pinterest Board), Pictures by Jeff Haskins (ILRI Pinterest Board)Burness Communications Blog, Global Crop Diversity Trust, CGIARInternational Center for Tropical AgricultureLa Vie Verte and Jeff Haskins Facebook page.

Emerging Zoonotic Diseases Events 1940-2012

Before his untimely death, Jeff Haskins in early Jul orchestrated major and widespread media coverage of a groundbreaking report by ILRI revealing a heavy burden of zoonoses, or human diseases transmitted from animals, facing one billion of the world’s poor. Some 60 per cent of all human diseases originate in animal populations. The ILRI study found five countries—Bangladesh, China, Ethiopia, India and Nigeria—to be hotspots of poverty and zoonoses. The study also found that northeastern United States, Western Europe (especially the United Kingdom), Brazil and parts of Southeast Asia may be hotspots of ‘emerging zoonoses’—those that are newly infecting humans, are newly virulent, or have newly become drug resistant. The study, Mapping of Poverty and Likely Zoonoses Hotspots, examined the likely impacts of livestock intensification and climate change on the 13 zoonotic diseases currently causing the greatest harm to the world’s poor. It was developed with support from the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID).

An opinion piece by the main author of the study, ILRI veterinary epidemiologist Delia Grace, wearing her hat as a member of the Dynamic Drivers of Disease in Africa Consortium, appeared this Jul in The Guardian‘s Poverty Matters Blog.

Azage Tegegne of IPMS awarded an honorary Doctorate of Science degree

Azage Tegegne, of ILRI and the Improving Productivity and Market Success of Ethiopian Farmers (IPMS) project, was awarded an honorary doctorate of science degree by Ethiopia’s prestigious Bahir Dar University.

Bruce Scott with ILRI Addis colleagues

ILRI bid goodbye to Bruce Scott, who served ILRI as a director for 13 years, the last decade as director of ILRI’s partnerships and communications department. Bruce is moving only down the road in Nairobi, from Kabete to Westlands, where he is taking up the position of deputy director of a new initiative of Columbia University (USA): Columbia Global Centers  ⁄ Africa.

We  compiled links to ILRI inputs to the Rio+20 conference, including how to ‘turn straw into gold’ with dual-purpose crop residues and, with the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), how livestock feed innovations can reduce poverty and livestock’s environmental ‘hoofprint’.

ILRI produced a policy brief on ‘Preventing and controlling classical swine fever in northeast India‘.

We film interviewed ILRI director general Jimmy Smith on ILRI’s evolving new livestock strategy and on ILRI’s role in providing evidence about the ‘bads’ as well as ‘goods’ of livestock production, marketing and consumption. And we interviewed ILRI scientist Joerg Jores on his research results, which, as reported in Scientific American, show that the pathogen that causes cattle pneumonia (CBPP) arose with domestication of ruminants ten thousand years ago, but only ‘heated up’ and began causing disease relatively recently.

Commissioners in Africa

An Australian contingent visited ILRI this month and launched a new initiative, the Australian International Food Security Centre, to improve food security in Africa. The centre, which falls under the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR), will spend USD33.8 million over four years to support food production in Africa as well as in Asia and the Pacific region.

Visit by Korea's Rural Development Authority (RDA) to ILRI in Nairobi

We reported on the signing of a memorandum of understanding by ILRI and Korea‘s Rural Development Authority (RDA) for laboratory work in Kenya, innovative platforms in an imGoats project in India and Mozambique, and training sessions on controlling zoonoses conducted by the Vietnamese members of an ILRI-led project known by its acronym EcoZD (‘Ecosystem Approaches to the Better Management of Zoonotic Emerging Infectious Diseases in Southeast Asia’).

Curious pig in Uganda raised for sale

Azage Tegegne Livestock and irrigation value chains for Ethiopian smallholders (LIVES) project, Addis Ababa, Jun (256 views).
Danilo Pezo Smallholder pig value chain development in Uganda, Wakiso, Jun (1186 views).
Derek Baker Livestock farming in developing countries: An essential resource, World Meat Congress, Paris, Jun (874 views).
Derek Baker Interpreting trader networks as value chains: Experience with Business Development Services in smallholder dairy in Tanzania and Uganda, ILRI Nairobi, Jun (1879 views).
Peter Ballantyne Open knowledge sharing to support learning in agricultural and livestock research for development projects, Addis Ababa, Jun (1589 views).
John Lynam Applying a systems framework to research on African farming systems, CGIAR drylands workshop, Nairobi, Jun (1884 views).
Bernard Bett Spatial-temporal analysis of the risk of Rift Valley fever in Kenya, European Geosciences Union Conference, Vienna, Apr (1164 views).
Nancy Johnson The production and consumption of livestock products in developing countries: Issues facing the world’s poor, Farm Animal Integrated Research Conference, Washington DC, Mar (542 views).

Africa’s vast eastern and southern drylands get new attention–and support–from agricultural researchers

Strategic research themes of CRP on Dryland Systems

A new CGIAR Research Program on Dryland Systems is being planned to find ways to help dryland communities climb out of poverty while enhancing their food security and protecting their natural resources. This program will conduct four strategic research themes in five regions. Two of the research themes—reducing vulnerability/managing risk and sustainably intensifying production—make up the ‘meat’ of what has come to be called ‘the hamburger’ diagram. The top and bottom ‘buns’ represent the other two research themes:  strengthening innovations systems and measuring impacts/synthesizing knowledge across regions, respectively (figure by the CGIAR Research Program on Dryland Systems).

This week in Nairobi, Kenya, opening on a morning as grey and cold as London’s weekend Diamond Jubilee celebrations on the Thames, a Regional Inception Workshop of the CGIAR Research Program on Dryland Agricultural Systems for East and Southern Africa is being held. The 3-day workshop (5–7 Jun) is organized and hosted by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI). This inception workshop brings together more than 50 experts working in the drylands of eastern and southern Africa to identify key hypotheses and research questions for the research program, to agree on initial sites for its activities and to develop impact pathways and implementation plans. See the introductory slide presentation by Maarten Van Ginkel, deputy director general of the International Centre for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA): The CGIAR Research Program on Dryland Systems: Scientific content and progress in the inception phase.

The planners of this CGIAR Research Program on Dryland Systems (the full mouthful of a title of which is ‘Integrated and Sustainable Agricultural Production Systems for Improved Food Security and Livelihoods in Dry Areas’) say this large, multi-institutional, multi-stakeholder and multi-diciplinary research program aims to develop a series of complementary technologies, policies and institutional innovations that will help very poor and highly vulnerable dryland populations improve their livelihoods—and do so over the longer term.

As its full name suggests, this CGIAR research program will apply ‘integrated systems’ approaches, which focus less on technical fixes for discrete problems and more on how interventions can be combined to meet the many needs of a profitable, equitable and sustainable agricultural production system. And the program will use large, so-called ‘landscape level’ frameworks to help scientists think through the links between farm or community practices and the broader ecosystem in which they are located; such analyses should allow, for example, more comprehensive assessments of the increasingly hard trade-offs in use of natural resources.

See consultant John Lynam’s slide presentation (below), which gives a comprehensive overview of ‘systems thinking’. Lynam argued that we need to change our research designs and methods if we’re going to serve the expanding agendas for international agricultural research. In his presentation he asked asked some provocative questions, such as, ‘How do we (should we) understand system performance? Is it by productivity, profitability, or income? Is it levels of vulnerability or food security? Or is it resource efficiency or resilience?. . . . Why do we have plantain (matoke) systems in Uganda while beer banana systems dominate in Burundi and Rwanda? . . . Why are many more people exiting agriculture in Africa than they are in Asia?’

The dry areas of the developing world occupy some 3 billion hectares, which represent 41% of the earth’s land area. These drylands are home to 2.5 billion people, who make up about a third of the population in developing countries. At least 16% of this population lives in chronic poverty.

These people make a living from the drylands by growing and managing a mix of food, fodder and fibre crops; vegetables; rangeland and pasture grasses, shrubs and trees; fruit and fuel-wood trees; medicinal plants; livestock; and fish. These dryland people face enormous environmental challenges, which in many regions are likely only to worsen with climate change.

This program targets two kinds of drylands. The first are those with the deepest endemic poverty and the most marginalized and vulnerable people, the most extreme environmental variability, and often the greatest natural resource degradation as well. The second are those with the greatest potential to increase food security and reduce poverty over the short to medium terms.

Dryland Systems Workshop at ILRI

Table discussions at an ILRI-hosted inception workshop for eastern and southern Africa component of the CGIAR Research Program on Dryland Agricultural Systems, 5-7 Jun 2012 (photo by ILRI/Susan MacMillan).

The future of dryland farming communities, the research planners assume, depends largely on their ability to more effectively manage  risk as well as to diversify and intensify their agricultural production systems. The integrated approach the program will take should help people better manage their natural resources and improve their crop, vegetable, livestock, tree and fish production. The approach should also help facilitate for dryland communities the establishment of enabling policy environments; the provision of greater institutional support; and a more equitable distribution of, and control over, resources, access to information, livelihood opportunities and decision-making.

Dryland Systems Workshop at ILRI: Agenda

Dryland Systems Workshop at ILRI: Outcomes

More specifically, this dryland research program aims to:

  • prioritize agricultural systems for impact
  • identify key researchable issues
  • increase the efficiency and sustainability of natural resource use
  • develop more resilient agricultural systems to manage risk and production variability
  • promote in situ and ex situ conservation and sustainable use of dryland agrobiodiversity
  • improve the productivity and profitability of dryland agricultural systems through sustainable intensification, diversification, and creation of value-added products and market links
  • identify niches of importance to the most vulnerable livelihoods (even if they appear to have low marketing potential)
  • address constraints faced by the most marginal farmers
  • develop new partnerships and models of working together.

Dryland Systems Workshop at ILRI: Organizer Polly Ericksen of ILRI and facilitator Constance Neely of ICRAF

Dryland Systems inception workshop for East and southern Africa organizer Polly Ericksen of ILRI (left) and facilitator Constance Neely of ICRAF (photo credit: ILRI/Susan MacMillan).

The structure and process of this workshop, which is focused on eastern and southern Africa, have been developed by an interdisciplinary research team headed by ILRI’s Polly Ericksen, with participants from the World Agroforestry Centre, the International Water Management Institute and the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics, as well as agricultural research consultants John Lynam and Brian Keating. The lead centre for this CGIAR research program is the International Center for Agricultural Research in Dry Areas.

In this region, the drylands program plans to work to reduce vulnerability in three areas of three East Africa countries:
Northern Kenya/southeastern Ethiopia: the triangle from Garissa in Kenya to Borana in south-central Ethiopia to Somali Region in southeast Ethiopia
Central Kenya: Baringo District
Southern Kenya/northern Tanzania: Kajiado and Narok districts and Serengeti National Park and Monduli and Samanjiro districts.

The program plans work to intensify agricultural production in three areas of three eastern and southern African countries:
Zambia-Malawi-Mozambique: the Chinyanja Triangle
Northeast Tanzania: from Kahama through Shinyanga to Babati districts
Ethiopia: the Oromia zones of East Shoa, West Shoa, Horogudru and the Amhara zone of North Shoa

For more information, visit the website for this CGIAR Research Program.

See previous blogs about this workshop:

ILRI Clippings Blog: CGIAR Drylands Research Program sets directions for East and Southern Africa, 4 Jun 2012.

ILRI Clippings Blog: Supporting dryland pastoralism with eco-conservancies, livestock insurance and livestock-based drought interventions, 5 Jun 2012.

A set of images of this workshop are on ILRI’s Flickr site.


The future of pastoralism in Africa debated in Addis: Irreversible decline or vibrant future?

Maasai man takes his goats out for a day's grazing

A Maasai man takes his goats out in the early morning for a day’s grazing in northern Tanzania (photo credit: ILRI/Mann).

An international conference deliberating the future of pastoralists in Africa is taking place this week (21–23 March  2011) at the Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, campus of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI).

Big changes are occurring in, and to, Africa’s vast pastoral regions. Livestock herders’ access to resources, options for mobility and opportunities for marketing are all evolving fast. Is there, the organizers of this conference ask, opportunity for a productive, vibrant, market-oriented livelihood system or will pastoralist areas remain a backwater of underdevelopment, marginalization and severe poverty?

The Future Agricultures Consortium, an alliance of agricultural development researchers and practitioners that facilitates policy dialogues and debates on the role of agriculture in broad-based African growth, and the Feinstein International Center at Tufts University, which also has a mixed staff of development researchers and practitioners, have jointly organized this conference to share new learning about ongoing change and innovation in Africa’s pastoral areas.

One of the aims of the conference organizers is to shift the crisis narrative that so often dominates news and discussions of pastoralists in Africa. As noted on the Future Agricultures Consortium website: ‘Frequently depicted as in crisis, pastoralists are changing the way they live and work in response to new opportunities and threats revealing the resilience that pastoralists have demonstrated for millennia. Accessing new markets and innovating solutions to safeguard incomes, this often misunderstood and marginalised community is re-positioning itself to make the most of the East African economy. . . .

‘The pastoralist way of life—synonymous with irreversible decline, ‘crises’ and aid rescues—is poorly understood. And whilst the words ‘pastoralism’ and ‘crisis’ have become fused in the minds of many, there are positive signs of vibrant pastoralist livelihoods that debunk the usual reportage of pastoralists depicted as insecure, vulnerable and destitute. . . .

‘Failed by generations of unsuccessful state development plans and aid strategies, pastoralists have been let down because the real problems and issues they face have not been taken into account. A more accurate understanding of the processes of change happening within pastoralist areas, which are significant and complex, has been obscured by the perpetuated myths of pastoralism in crisis.

‘Understanding the complexity and potential for pastoralism is crucial to informing policies for securing the future of this age-old and resilient sector in sub-Saharan Africa.’

Hot topics
The new research and practical experiences being shared at this conference are on the following hot topics in academic and development research.
Regional pastoralist policies (and the politics of pastoralist policy)
Mobility and the sustainability of pastoralist production systems
Impacts of climate change on pastoralism
Commercializing pastoralism through better markets and trade
Delivering basic health, education and veterinary services to pastoralists
New approaches for strengthening pastoralist livelihoods and social protection systems
Alternative livelihoods and exit strategies for pastoralists
Pastoralist views of land grabbing and land tenure
Pastoralist innovations
How conflicts are affecting pastoralist development in the Horn of Africa
The place, and potential, of youth and women in pastoralist societies

Researchers, policymakers, field practitioners and donor representatives at this conference are assessing the present and future challenges to African pastoralism so as to begin to define new research and policy agendas.

For more information, visit the Future Agricultures Consortium website conference page or blog and revisit this ILRI News blog.

India, Mozambique goat value chain project starts

This week, partners in the ‘imGoats’ project meet in India to finalize plans and outcomes for the project.

The project – official title ‘Small ruminant value chains to reduce poverty and increase food security in India and Mozambique’ – is funded by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and is implemented by the International Livestock Research Institute with CARE (Mozambique) and The BAIF Development Research Foundation (India).

The project aims to transform goat production and marketing in dryland India and Mozambique from an ad hoc, risky informal activity to a sound and profitable enterprise and model that taps into a growing market.

Download the project brochure

ILRI in Southern Africa

ILRI’s director general and new representative for Southern Africa visit the region to consult with partner organizations and get an update on work of the NEPAD and its establishment of regional African biosciences centres of excellence.

ILRI’s director general, Carlos Seré, and new representative for Southern Africa, Siboniso Moyo, visited Botswana, Mozambique, South Africa and Zimbabwe in early March 2006 to meet development partners in the region, including public- and private-sector organizations, non-governmental organizations, the secretariats of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), and regional offices of other centres of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), to which ILRI belongs.

ILRI’s new representative in Southern Africa, Siboniso Moyo, called ‘Boni’, joined ILRI in February 2006. She will be based in Maputo, Mozambique. She is an animal scientist graduate of the University of Pretoria and has spent the last 21 years doing livestock research in Zimbabwe and the region.

On their mission, Moyo and ILRI Director General Seré met with John Mugabe, Executive Secretary of NEPAD’s Science and Technology Forum, and Aggrey Ambali, Coordinator of NEPAD’s African Biosciences Initiative, in Pretoria, South Africa. NEPAD’s African Biosciences Initiative, conducted under the NEPAD Science and Technology Programme, is establishing regional networks of centres of excellence comprising hubs and nodes.

Describing the purpose of their mission, Carlos Seré explained that ILRI plans to engage actively in the region’s science and technology agenda for agricultural research. He updated his NEPAD colleagues on the first NEPAD-initiated biosciences centre of excellence to be established, known as Biosciences eastern and central Africa (BecA) and based at ILRI’s laboratories, in Nairobi, Kenya. BecA’s new Network Director, Bruno Kubata, has been on the ground for 100 days, Seré reported, and is working to finalize the BecA implementation plan, with the view to implementing the Network’s research agenda at the BecA hub and nodes from mid-2006.

NEPAD’s John Mugabe said ILRI’s presence in the southern Africa region is welcome. He reported that all the NEPAD-initiated biosciences hubs, and their accompanying networks, are now in place. Besides BecA, based at ILRI’s headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya, and encompassing biosciences nodes throughout eastern and central Africa, there are now three others established: one in Alexandria, Egypt for North Africa, a second in Dakar, Senegal, for West Africa, and a third based at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), in Pretoria, South Africa, for southern Africa. Mugabe said staff at all four hubs of these biosciences centres of excellence now need to develop links with each other and to exchange information.

The ILRI team also met with NEPAD’s Agricultural Advisor, Richard Mkandawire. ILRI’s Seré explained that a series of regional consultations were in progress in regard to the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP). The main goal of CAADP, NEPAD’s Mkandawire explained, is to help African countries reach a higher level of economic growth through agriculturally led development that eliminates hunger, reduces poverty and food insecurity, and enables expansion of exports. A road map for achieving this has been developed by the NEPAD Secretariat to coordinate and facilitate the transition from framework to country-level implementation of the CAADP Agenda. The country-level implementation process seeks to align national agricultural sector policies, strategies and investment programmes with CAADP principles, facilitate better partnerships and alliances, facilitate reliable tracking of the level and efficiency of public-sector investments (target-10%) and growth rate (target-6%) of the sector. It is important, Mkandawire said, that the livestock agenda is tabled during the country round table discussions. CAADP’s technical arm is the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA), an umbrella organization bringing together stakeholders in agricultural research and development in Africa with a secretariat in Accra, Ghana.