Stories tagged: GCARD

Producing Bioactive Nettings to Protect Crops Againsts Pests

As part of GCARD 2010, Farming First hosted a session entitled ‘Better Benefiting the Poor through Public-Private Partnerships for Innovation and Action.’ Within the discussions, our panel of experts addressed several case studies that present different ways that partnerships have helped to empower smallholder farmers around the world.

Anuj Shah – A to Z Textile Mills Ltd

For almost a decade, A to Z textiles has been involved in an innovative partnership with Sumitomo to develop long-lasting insecticidal mosquito nets. Building on the experience with lessons learned through this first partnership, A to Z is now working to build a new partnership to apply a similar concept to help farmers in their fight against pests. The new venture will focus on the development of a bioactive net (i.e. insecticidal), which can be used to cover crops and protect them from pest damage.

The original mosquito net, a permethrin insecticide-impregnated net called Olyset Net, started out as a collaboration between two French institutes CIRAD and IRD, and the international R&D company Sumitomo Chemical.  It is the first ever to receive a full recommendation from the World Health Organisation (WHO) in the fight against malaria.

The technology behind the Olyset Net has proven extremely successful, showing that nets can retain their properties over long periods of time and provide effective protection. The A to Z team hopes to apply a similar method to create a cost-effective and sage method for protecting crops against major mite species and insects. Tests on cabbage crops in Benin found that using an insecticide-treated net once every three nights was more than twice as effective on the crop yield as the application of insecticides. This increased the value of their crop by an estimated 45%.

When used correctly, these agricultural nets should be able to last for five years (compared to the six-month lifespan of standard sprayed nets) and they leave no residue either on the plants or on the people who apply them. The cost of using the net is less than conventional pesticide use and requires fewer trips to market for purchase.

The success of this scheme will rely on the partnership upon which it is developed. Combining the tools of research institutions, the production capacities of local manufacturers, and the policy support and networks of public bodies, agricultural partnerships can help ensure hat they world’s farmers continue to be empowered to produce enough to feed the world sustainably.

Facilitating Smallholder Farmers Access to Horticultural Training

As part of GCARD 2010, Farming First hosted a session entitled ‘Better Benefiting the Poor through Public-Private Partnerships for Innovation and Action.’ Within the discussions, our panel of experts addressed several case studies that present different ways that partnerships have helped to empower smallholder farmers around the world.

Rémi Kahane – CIRAD and Global Horticulture Initiative (GlobalHort)

The case of horticulture is of special relevance to exemplify the key role of information in the development of public-private partnerships. Horticultural produce is highly perishable and needs careful and rapid handling after harvest. Access to focused and up-to-date technical and marketing information is crucial. Small-scale holders and entrepreneurs need to manage the risk, and information flow is one of the best management tools. However, horticulture is diverse, communities are fragmented, and information is not easy to access.

GlobalHort has initiated information management activities in the vegetable seed sector for several years already. In 2008 with the Asian-Pacific Seed Association it organized a round table on vegetable farming technology in tropical Asia. Representatives of seed companies and ministries of agriculture agreed upon an action plan to be followed up by APSA and GlobalHort to enable vegetable industry to develop at the regional level. Improved information flow was advocated on both parts.

The first requested flow of information will be focused on the needs of end users (producers) and beneficiaries (consumers). There is a clear task to establish terms of reference, to identify what is the challenge. These needs can address technical or organizational issues. If the challenge is only established by the private sector, it will sound like a marketing study. Such a phase implies close connection with those end users, which is something the industry rarely does. The next phase refers to capacities for translating the needs into technological and economical issues, to make the challenge realistic. This is the role of innovation partners, including research, development, expertise etc.; however, in a participatory approach where information is circulating. Whatever the relevance of an innovative concept, making it popular is crucial for its adoption; it is essential to convince NGOs, policy makers and international organizations. They will create an enabling environment, sometimes competing with purely financial interests.

Supporting Smallholder Cassava Farmers in Nigeria

As part of GCARD 2010, Farming First hosted a session entitled ‘Better Benefiting the Poor through Public-Private Partnerships for Innovation and Action.’ Within the discussions, our panel of experts addressed several case studies that present different ways that partnerships have helped to empower smallholder farmers around the world.

Scott Mall – International Fertilizer Development Center (IFDC)

The Cassava Plus project is a public-private partnership initiative helping farmers grow cassava for profit. The project is supported by Nigeria’s Taraba, Osun and Benue state governments, implemented by IFDC (a public international organization) and DADTCO (a Netherlands-based for-profit company) and funded by the Schokland Fund of the Netherlands’ Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 

With over 38 million metric tons of harvested fresh cassava roots per year, Nigeria is the largest cassava-producing nation in the world. An estimated seven to eight million Nigerian farm families grow cassava, which serves as an important staple food crop for both rural and urban populations in many countries in Africa. In addition to its role as a traditional subsistence crop that provides food security insurance, cassava has great market potential as a source of flour and thus can serve as a partial substitute for imported wheat flour.

IFDC will organize and link farmers to the downstream DADTCO value chain and develop the capacity of farmers, agro-input dealers and other market players. These actions will support commercial production, reduce the mining of soil nutrients and make cassava production environmentally and economically sustainable. The Cassava Plus project has the potential to help change cassava from a subsistence to a cash crop, helping farm families maximize their incomes while also improving agricultural practices and soil fertility.

Promoting No Till Farming Amongst Farmers in the Mercosul Region

As part of GCARD 2010, Farming First hosted a session entitled ‘Better Benefiting the Poor through Public-Private Partnerships for Innovation and Action.’ Within the discussions, our panel of experts addressed several case studies that present different ways that partnerships have helped to empower smallholder farmers around the world.

Ivo Mello – Confederacion de Asociaciones de Productores para una Agricultura Sustentable (CAAPAS)

From the late 80s to the early 90s, the farmers of Mercosul Countries (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay) faced difficult economic conditions. As a result of external and internal factors, many governments in the region were unable to maintain agriculture subsidies, and farm economies were negatively impacted by high inflation levels.

Despite these difficulties, farmers in the Mercosul region have created innovative mechanisms to support production and the adoption of best practices. For example, adoption of no till has greatly increased in the region. No till allowed farmers to make savings while providing opportunities for good stewardship. As farmers improved their knowledge and practices, their experiences helped to feed back into industry, state research and advisory agencies to further improve the technique and scientific knowledge linked to no till. In order to bring the different actors together, no till farmers associations were created. They helped organize farmers and coordinate the private sector and state agencies to plan successful strategies.

In South Brazil, the case of “Friends of The Earth” clubs is also famous. In the early 90s there were many such clubs spread over the cropping regions, helping farmers liaise with other stakeholders and making agronomic information available to their members on how to adopt no till practices. The clubs played a key role in making no till accessible to farmers by breaking down the information and making a new practice understandable, resulting in improved profitability for farmers. During difficult economic times, farmers who had adopted no till through the clubs were able to better adapt.

Syngenta and CIMMYT Partner to Help Farmers Combat Crop Losses

As part of GCARD 2010, Farming First hosted a session entitled ‘Better Benefiting the Poor through Public-Private Partnerships for Innovation and Action.’ Within the discussions, our panel of experts addressed several case studies that present different ways that partnerships have helped to empower smallholder farmers around the world.

Marco Ferroni – Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture

The Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture (SFSA) in 2009 developed a two-year public-private partnership between Syngenta and the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) to rapidly identify and map genetic markers for use in wheat resistance breeding against Ug99 stem rust, a fungal disease which can cause devastating crop losses.

The project, funded by the Foundation, will combine Syngenta’s plant genetic profiling expertise with the strengths of CIMMYT’s extensive field research to develop a genetic map of wheat stem rust resistance. This will culminate in the development of wheat varieties that can better resist the disease. The results from this project will contribute directly to the global efforts to combat stem rust, which are coordinated by the Borlaug Global Rust Initiative coordinated by Cornell University. The marker data arising from the research will be published.

This important collaboration brings together complementary skills and addresses a pressing need of farmers in many developing countries.  Ug99 stem rust, which first emerged in Uganda in 1999, is caused by the fungus Puccinia graminis.  It is currently spreading across Africa, Asia and the Middle East with potential to spread further, posing a serious risk to wheat, the world’s third most important food crop.

Along with rice, wheat is a major food crop and is crucial for global food security – it provides 500 kilocalories of food energy per capita per day in China and India, and can provide up to 50 percent of daily calorie uptake in Central and West Asia or North African countries. Wheat yields need to rise 1.6 percent each year to reach required global production levels by 2020, yet investments in wheat technology have lagged far behind those for other cereals.

The scientific objectives of this project are:

1) To identify, characterize and map Durable Plant Resistance Quantitative Trait Loci conferring tolerance to stem rust resistance in wheat.

2) To identify molecular markers flanking the chromosomal regions containing these durable genes to be subsequently used in marker assisted trait selection.

3) To characterise the Sr2 gene complex and understand how this complex of gene(s) interacts with other important genes in wheat.

Challenge Fund to Accelerate Pro-Poor Growth in Africa

As part of GCARD 2010, Farming First hosted a session entitled ‘Better Benefiting the Poor through Public-Private Partnerships for Innovation and Action.’ Within the discussions, our panel of experts addressed several case studies that present different ways that partnerships have helped to empower smallholder farmers around the world.

Gavin Onley

The Africa Enterprise Challenge Fund (AECF) is a US$50-100 million fund that supports private sector investment benefitting the rural poor in Africa. AECF is hosted by the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) and is funded by some of the biggest names in development finance.

A Challenge Fund is a mechanism for allocating and disbursing public funds efficiently and fairly. Organizations are invited to bid for scarce resources, not unlike a tender, but what counts is the quality of the response, not price.  The intention is to get funds to the organisations that truly need them and can use them effectively to realise the broader aims of public policy; and to do this transparently. In the case of AECF the overall policy aim is to promote new ideas that will lead to growth in the rural economies of Africa and creating new opportunities for systemic change in the markets that serve them. The challenge is to identify business ideas with a positive impact on the rural poor through increased incomes, employment, productivity and/or reduced costs. 

The Research Into Business (RIB) window is a special fund of the AECF that is open to business ideas based on the products of agricultural research.  The RIB Funding Window page of the AECF site provides an on-line application form, and guides to completing it. Applicants must also show how the concept will impact on the livelihoods of people in rural Africa. Proposals that are considered to have the greatest positive impact on the rural poor in Africa are invited to present a detailed business plan. Applicants’ Co-investment companies must invest an amount equal to, or greater than, the total funds requested from the AECF.