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90 second challenge #sfhoafrica


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Fifteen countries from Africa’s most drought prone regions met in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa (23 – 25 October) to share practices on how to best address recurrent droughts and chronic food insecurity on the continent.

Governments and organizations from Africa’s Horn and Sahel regions showcased initiatives on some of the good agricultural practices with a view of enhancing food and nutrition security.

We talked to some participants at the AgriKnowledge ShareFair and gave them 90 seconds to answer each of the below questions.

1. Challenges faced in implementing good practices?
2. How do you upscale good practices to other countries/ regions?
3. Was the ShareFair helpful?

Here is what they had to say… in video and in pictures.

Digital pen a hot tool to identify, track and respond to emergencies


Mobile technology plays an important role helping people make decisions, policy makers assess options, researchers collect data more effectively.

Digital pens were a topic of keen attention in this week’s plenary discussions on mobile devices. Joseph Matere from FAO Kenya explained that the digital pen is a rapid way to collect, collate and share information and data.

He explained how it is being used as part of animal disease surveillance systems to identify and track disease outbreaks in Kenya.

Previously,  it took four to six weeks for a disease to be identified and mitigation measures provided. Often, animals had died and the disease was spread to a very large area. The digital pen helps us deliver rapid identification and diagnoses of diseases – and rapid responses!

The digital pen is a ‘simple’ pen with a built in camera and processor that works with special ‘dot matrix’ paper.

A place for the SUN? Scaling Up Nutrition in the Horn of Africa


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At today’s AgriKnowledge ShareFair in Addis Ababa, Bibi Giyose (Senior Food Security and Nutrition Advisor at the Africa Union) facilitated a panel session on the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) movement.

SUN is a country-led movement that brings organizations together across sectors to support national plans to scale up nutrition by helping to ensure that financial and technical resources are accessible, coordinated, predictable and ready to go to scale. The SUN movement promotes the implementation of evidenced-based nutrition interventions, as well as integration of nutrition goals into sectors including health, social protection, development and agriculture.

At the center of the movement is national level leadership that coordinates both national and international efforts, with the SUN movement aligning financial and technical support with country plans. Leadership at the national level ensures that priorities and programs are designed and implemented to meet the needs of regions and populations within the country and to enable the scale up of sustainable efforts.

The ‘Thousand Days’ partnership supports the SUN movement by focusing attention on the 1,000 day window of opportunity for impact: Engaging government, civil society, and the private sector in efforts to improve early nutrition; and promoting partnerships across these sectors to achieve a scale change in improving early nutrition.

Juliawati Untoro (UNICEF), Martin Ahimbisibwe (WFP) and Juliette Aphane (FAO) explored ways to integrate nutrition in related sectors, using indicators of under-nutrition as one of the key measures of overall progress.

In her summary, Bibi highlighted 4 main points:

First, the session focused on how to actively promote and scale up nutrition in different countries. In East Africa there are six countries that are committed to scaling up nutrition; they include Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Tanzania. Second, the group looked at how to best improve a multi-sectoral approach for better nutrition and better food security.

Second, looking at how best nutrition can be managed within countries, nutrition coordination has to be at the highest level, nutrition has to be coordinated from ministries, or the offices of the prime minister, or the office of the president because only they have the authority, the mandate and the clout to hold all the other sectors accountable.

Third, we need to build capacity so the various sectors are able to deliver according to their mandates, from the highest levels all the way down to where the action is.
Fourth, it is clear that there need to be sustainability mechanisms built into these programs. Through the SUN movement, the emphasis is on a country-led and country-owned approach. “This means that resources have to be mobilized from within the government so that programs can be started and programs can be sustained, while at the same time agreeing that it is important to work across sectors, to work with the development partners to deliver on the best food and nutrition security.”

Fish and aquaculture for improved food security and livelioods


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Many fishing communities live in the world’s poorest countries; they are often marginalized and landless. As fishing is often the livelihood of last resort and fish often the only source of animal protein for the poor, the state of the world’s fisheries can be critical in the fight against poverty in many parts the developing world including Sahel and East African countries.

Today’s AgriKnowledge ShareFair in Addis Ababa convened a panel session to discuss the roles of fisheries and aquaculture in food security and nutrition.

Facilitated by Eshete Dejan and Ana Menezes, participants discussed three cases: Uganda – Mukene fishery development and human consumption for farmer field approach; Ethiopia – GIS based suitability ponds for Tilapia production; and Kenya – Strengthening Fish Production through Adoption of Improved Aquaculture Technology in Western Kenya.

Damp smoked fish wrapped in newspaper in Côte d'Ivoire

In Uganda, fish are among the most significant natural endowments of Uganda, not only because of their magnitude and diversity, but also because they represent a major source of protein in the diet of most Ugandans. They also provide employment and income. The project sought to demonstrate increases in fishery productivity, value addition and market access. Key success factors in this good practice were: focus group training ensured participation and interest; changes (variety) in product development stimulated marketing; training trainers at fisheries training centre pointed to sustainability; training boat builders within fishing communities reduced the costs to fishers who want to buy into new technologies. Also important were the presence of institutions to train others, the existence of internal market for new products and the adoption of the new techniques.

In Ethiopia, Nile tilapia contributed more than 60% of the annual total fish landing and it is the most preferred fish species. Currently, investors and government institutions want to identify potential aquaculture zones. Responding to this, a GIS analysis was made to identify suitable areas for the production of Nile Tilapia in earth ponds. Two scenarios were considered. The first scenario was the production of the species at small scale/household level; the second scenario incorporated some economic factors for commercialization purposes.

Four major common factors were considered to assess suitability: the availability of water throughout the production period, the water temperature regime, engineering suitability for pond construction and the type of land cover in the area. Based on these criteria, GIS site analysis showed that the production of Nile Tilapia in earth ponds for small scale/family sectors ranks from highly suitable, moderately suitable with some additional inputs, marginally suitable, and unsuitable. Most parts of Western and Northwest Ethiopia were determined to be highly suitable and moderately suitable for both scenatrios. Most of Northern, Eastern, Northeastern, Southern and Southeastern parts of Ethiopia were found to be marginally suitable.

In Kenya, the FAO project on “Strengthening Fish Production through Adoption of Improved Aquaculture Technology” aims to increase aquaculture production in Kenya, thereby contributing to poverty reduction and food security. It seeks to improve the value and efficiency of aquaculture production through the implementation of macro [national] level strategic guidelines to develop a more cohesive and synergistic national program. It also works at the micro [farm] level, piloting new market-driven business approaches from the strategic guidelines.

Outputs include: 1) the National Aquaculture Strategy; 2) three functioning clusters operating in a sustainable and profitable way and demonstrating the technical underpinnings of the strategy with at least 100 participating farmers and other stakeholders (e.g., extensionists) and an average yield per site of 2,000 kg/ha/year or more; 3) at least 100 operators familiar with good business practices to evaluate investments and manage farms; 4) input supply and market channels (at least three) developed and operational for pilot sites; and 5) the sub-sector having improved and strengthened coordination with technical and organizational capacity of stakeholder groups, including government support services.

Overall, there was general agreement that the sub-sector should evolve into one with a business orientation but there seems to be some inertia when it comes to “getting down to business”.

Adding value to agricultural products


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Agriculture Production Enhancement

Value chain approach looks at how the commodity moves from the farmer to the final consumer, changing both in form and value. The approach is very important because it looks at how you can link producers to the other actor along the chain including; traders, agro-processors, transporters just to mention a few.

It looks at the linkages that are established to improve the efficiency of moving the produce to the final consumer with the aim of reducing the transaction costs as well as improving the production and productivity.

Susan Minae, Agribusiness and Enterprise Officer for FAO Eastern Africa, highlight the importance of the approach. “it is very important because it links the public and private sectors through forming partnerships between the different actors in the value chain. In the past – for the most – part we have been concerned mainly with production and producers then do not know where to market their produce. A value chain approach assists the producer to know what is in demand, the market quality requirements as well as quantities required, allowing them to plan better”.

In terms of scaling up, the important thing is that it has to be a market-based solution and it has to come from the actors themselves of the value chain. “It is the people who are involved in the value chain that can promote its sustainability because, if you support a practice which needs external funding, as soon as the funding ends, it too fizzles out”, Said Minae.

Using evidence for quick action


Justus Liku, Food security analyst from Care, Food insecurity is growing in a number of African countries and is being worsened by a combination of factors such as natural disasters, population displacement, unstable governance, limited agricultural and economic development, poverty and high commodity prices. The current situation requires food security and humanitarian interventions to address this issue.

At today’s AgriKnowledge ShareFair, Justus Liku (food security analyst at CARE International) explained how the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) has been used to classify available data and the severity of food insecurity situations. The unique selling point of the IPC is that it integrates food security, nutrition and livelihood information.

He emphasized that government buy-in is essential to roll out the IPC. It is vital to start with higher-level officials; once you have their support, it is easier to reach out to all food security and information systems of the country.

In terms of scaling up, he mentioned that a technical working group is a useful mechanism to implement IPC activities and do the necessary analysis and data validation.


“Tombola” – Win at the #sfhoafrica

To thank the participants of the AgriKnowledge ShareFair for their valuable participation and contribution, a lottery “tombola” has been organized.

200 tickets have already been sold but who knows, lady luck could be smiling down at you and yours could be the lucky ticket.

The sheep

• First prize: A sheep from the ‘Livestock and Pastoralism’ booth
• Second prize: A basket of local products from the ‘Value Chain enhancement’ booth
• Third prize: The “Farmer Field School Facilitator’s Guide” from the ‘Farmer Field School’ booth
• A surprise gift: from the ‘Agricultural Production Enhancement’ booth

And if you are not convinced, just walk around the open spaces and have a look at the items on display in participating booths which could be yours.

Agriculture Production Enhancement

The rules are quite simple:

• Get a numbered ticket (one per person) at the ‘Livestock and Pastoralism’ booth
• Every ticket has an equal chance of winning any of the prizes!
• On Thursday, just before lunch, tickets will be drawn at random from a container.
• Claims will only be made against a valid winning ticket.
• If your ticket is drawn but you are not present, the prize will be gamed again!

But remember that you can only play once! If you still have questions on the rules, please do not hesitate to ask them in the ‘Livestock and Pasotralism’ booth!
Last calls before the raffle closes on Thursday… play, play, play!

Drought preparedness: No short-term fixes for long-term problems


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Drought being a recurrent phenomenon in the horn of Africa, one of the most important lessons we have learned is the importance in managing risks rather than crises. The World Food Programme working with development actors and governments in strengthening engagement in the resilience agenda in support of nationally led efforts as well as participating in the IGAD resilience framework.

Deborah Saidy – WFP Deputy Regional Director for East and central Africa discusses why long-term solutions work.