Platform for African – European Partnership in Agricultural Research for Development

Wednesday, September 20, 2017


 20 - 22 September 2017. Bonn, Germany. Tropentag 2017: Future Agriculture: Social-ecological transitions and bio-cultural shifts. The annual interdisciplinary conference on research in tropical and subtropical agriculture, natural resource management and rural development (TROPENTAG) is jointly organised by the universities of Berlin, Bonn, Göttingen, Hohenheim, Kassel-Witzenhausen, Hamburg, ZALF e.V., ETH Zurich (Switzerland), Czech University of Life Sciences Prague (Czech Republic), BOKU Vienna (Austria) and the
Council for Tropical and Subtropical Research (ATSAF e.V) in co-operation with the GIZ Advisory Service on Agricultural Research for Development (BEAF).

The Tropentag is a development-oriented and interdisciplinary conference. It addresses issues of resource management, environment, agriculture, forestry, fisheries, food, nutrition and related sciences in the context of rural development, sustainable resource use and poverty alleviation
H.E.M Monty Jones

Agricultural systems in developing countries are currently undergoing drastic changes. What are the implications of such developments and change processes for food security, resource base quality, rural well-being, and in general for the future of agriculture? These questions and related topics were addressed in plenary presentations and key note lectures in thematic sessions.

Extract of the programme
Wednesday, September 20th
Workshop 8: The economics of improving seed systems of small scale farmers in developing countries
The purpose of the workshop was to come to a good understanding of the difficulties small-scale farmers face with the current trends in seed systems and to determine which opportunities they have to address these challenges.
Elisha O.Gogo Egerton Univ
Godfrey Nambafu Kenyatta Univ
Erick Maina, Egerton Univ
  • Seed business vs. seed tradition: Commercial vs. subsistence crops, What are the economically most important quality deficiencies of seed presently used by small farmers? Under which conditions (crops, farming systems) are formal and informal systems and combinations profitable? How can you build and improve on farmers' present seed systems?
  • Varietal portfolio: High yielding varieties vs. varieties adapted to present (often low) production intensity, homogenous crops vs. high genetic variability? How can small farmers get access to new varieties? Is a formally organized seed value chain a condition for this? Is dependency from supplier of seed a serious risk?
  • Food security : What is the impact of the shift in seed systems on food security? How important is agro-biodiversity regarding food security?
  • Seed policies: Role of quality and certification of seed. Formal vs. informal seed systems. How can policies support good quality seed for farmers? How can we best take into account farmers’ practices? How to ensure that seed is available and affordable to small-holder farmers?
  • Influence of output markets on seed systems: How do output markets and market orientation of farmers shape the prevailing seed system in different crops? How do output markets influence the varietal portfolio of farmers?
Konrad Adler JLI
Christine Schwake, MRI
Crop biotic stresses

Awareness and Perception about the Occurrence, Causes and Consequences of Aflatoxin Contamination and the Willingness to Pay of Aflatoxin Control in Burundi and Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo
Juliet Akello, IITA Zambia
Abstract (ID 113 ): Web-Version (html) — Print Version (pdf)

Influence of Farming Systems on Aflatoxin Contamination of Groundnut Crops under Field Conditions in Zambia
Dorothea Link, Christine Schwake (MRI)
Juliet Akello
Abstract (ID 754 ): Web-Version (html) — Print Version (pdf)

Networking on Aflatoxin Reduction in the Food Value Chain - AflaNet
Abstract (ID 690 ): Web-Version (html) — Print Version (pdf)

Aflatoxin Distribution in Crop Products from Burundi and Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo
Abstract (ID 10 ): Web-Version (html) — Print Version (pdf)

Thursday, September 21st
Social-ecological transitions and bio-cultural shifts
Formal and Informal Potato Seed Supply Systems Analyses in Rwanda
Abstract (ID 327 ): Web-Version (html) — Print Version (pdf)

Knowledge systems
Oral presentations session:
Integration of Local and Academic Knowledge to Enhance Agroecological Production of African Indigenous Vegetables (Kenya)
Abstract (ID 633 ): Web-Version (html) — Print Version (pdf)

Agricultural and food technology
Oral presentations
Vacuum Storage to Protect Durable Stored Products at Different Moisture Contents
Abstract (ID 207 ): Web-Version (html) — Print Version (pdf)

Value chains
Oral presentations session:
Value Chain Governance of African Indigenous Vegetables: Smallholders Participation in Kenya
Abstract (ID 399 ): Web-Version (html) — Print Version (pdf)

Enhancing Skill-Sharing within Multi-Stakeholder Processes: An Example from the Small-Scale Dairy Chain in Kenya
Abstract (ID 767 ): Web-Version (html)

Sustainable Intensification Pathways for Dairy Farming in Kenya
Abstract (ID 280 ): Web-Version (html) — Print Version (pdf) poster (pdf)

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Making data talk: Reflecting on IFPRI's experiences in data visualization

14 September 2017In this webinar, The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) shared some examples of their data-visualization work from a variety of projects, the associated stories, and what they learned during the process.

It covered:
  • What technology they use and why; 
  • What audiences they aim to reach with data visualizations;
  • How they track the usage/impact of data visualizations.

  • Soonho Kim: Data Manager, Markets, Trade, and Institutions Division, IFPRI, USA
  • Nilam Prasai: Data Curator, Communication and Knowledge Management Division, IFPRI, USA
The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) provides research-based policy solutions to sustainably reduce poverty and end hunger and malnutrition in developing countries. IFPRI research produces primary datasets at the household, institutional, and country levels; countrywide social-accounting matrices; country, regional, and global spatial datasets; and value-added secondary datasets. These are all openly accessible. Yet making data and knowledge products open access alone will not ensure that we reach all our intended audiences. We must also communicate data and translate information in ways that are audience-friendly—for example, through data visualization and infographics. Such approaches are gaining more prominence at IFPRI and beyond.

video forthcoming

GFAR Webinar on "Communications Success Stories"

12 September 2017. This webinar was a collaborative effort: our panel of professional communicators worked together to share their experiences and approaches, their trials and errors.

The webinar presentations can be viewed here.

  • Michael Victor is a communication, knowledge management and policy engagement specialist with more than 20 years of experience delivering on strategic communications, production of high value knowledge products, and facilitating multi-stakeholder learning and dialogue processes in the agriculture and natural resource management sectors. Michael now works for the Agro-Biodiversity Initiative (TABI). 
  • Kathryn M.Clifton works on fostering new approaches to ICT for development at the Catholic Relief Services (CRS), documenting learning, and assisting in
  • Kwesi Atta Krah (picture) is the Director, Country Alignment and Systems Integration, at IITA. He assumed this position in January 2017. Prior to this, he was Executive Director of Humidtropics, a CGIAR Systems Research Program. 
  • Anne Wachira (picture) works at the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) in Nairobi, Kenya where she is responsible for managing social media and website content. 
  • Alpha Sennon (picture) is a farmerpreneur, motivational speaker and agri-youth advocate. Alpha is the
    founder of WHYFARM (“We Help You-th Farm”) a globally recognised and award-winning nonprofit organisation established to creatively promote agriculture among children by increasing their awareness of the world’s food problems and by doing so grow the future feeders of 2050 
  • Boris Rantaša is a forestry engineer, working as an Independent advisor the Slovenia Forest Service. His main occupation is working on international projects, where he manages and takes part in communication, dissemination and outreach activities. He is an active blogger and an on- and offline editor (see Handbook for Learning and Play in the Forest). 
  • Camilla Vote is a Research Fellow at Charles Sturt University based in Lao PDR. With a background in agricultural and natural resource management, her current research focus (and day job) is the investigation of soil and water management strategies to shift from the monoculture of rice production to dry season field/horticultural crops within the lowland systems of Cambodia and Laos.  
  • Dr Mahesh Chander, PhD in Agricultural Extension Education, is currently Principal Scientist and Head, Division of Extension Education at ICAR’s Indian Veterinary Research Institute. He has been actively associated with research, teaching, training, extension and developmental activities concerning agricultural extension education for over 25 years. He has guided nearly 30 masters and doctoral students. 
  • Calum MacKichan is Publications Officer at the European Plant Science Organisation (EPSO) and is a Global Coordinator of the Fascination of Plants Day, a global celebration of plant science that reaches all continents. He is chair of Communication for the Marie Curie Alumni Association, was on the Steering Committee of the Science March Brussels, and holds a PhD in Microbiology peter-avatar-with-dog-copy
  • Peter Casier is an online media consultant for nonprofit organisations. He loves to hang out in spaces and places “where few have gone before”, experimenting on the edge of things, but always “for the greater good”. Peter is originally trained as a printing engineer, worked as a software developer, systems engineer, telecoms technician and for 16 years supported the UN humanitarian interventions across the globe. He is also our resident GFAR Community Coordinator.

The next GFAR comms webinars will be:
  • 19 September 2017Farmers’ Rights: How Complementarity between Researchers and Farmers Impact the Conservation of Genetic Diversity, Food Security and Livelihoods of the Poor” 
  • Oct 17th: webcasting and live streaming (tools and preparation)
  • Nov 14th: “A webinar about webinars”: how to run and organize webinars.
  • Dec 5th: On showcasing “Innovative Annual Reports”

African Union Research Grants Success Stories

7 September 2017. African Union Research Grants Success Stories
This leaflet highlights a number of success stories from the African Union Research Grants programme on Africa-Europe collaboration in research and innovation on food and nutrition security and sustainable agriculture. [Image credit: CAAST-Net Plus]

This booklet provides a glimpse of a selection of the joint Africa-EU initiatives in FNSSA, sponsored by the first phase of the AURG. Although the projects featured here were approved before the FNSSA priority emerged, they have been conducted in the spirit of the Africa-EU partnership in STI and they are illustrative of just how effectively Africa and Europe collaborate to address our shared interests. 

AFS 4 Food

Project name Enhancing food security and well-being of rural African households through improved synergy between AgroForestry Systems and Food-crops 
Coordinator Centre de coopération internationale en recherche agronomique pour le développement (CIRAD), France 
Total cost €1,500,000 AURG contribution €748,500 
Start / end April 2012 to October 2015 
Participants Cameroon, Kenya, Madagascar

Aval Fonio Rediscovering neglected small grains
Project name Improvement of post-harvest and enhancement of fonio in Africa 
Coordinator Centre de coopération internationale en recherche agronomique pour le développement (CIRAD), France 
Total cost €997,427 AURG contribution €749,466 
Start / end December 2012 to June 2016 
Participants Guinea, Mali, Burkina Faso, Senegal

BIOVA Recycling nutrients through conservation agriculture
Project name Recyclage des Biomasses Végétales et Animales dans les systèmes d’agriculture élevage 
Coordinator FIompiana Fambolena Malagasy NorvezianaFIFAMANOR, Madagascar 
Total cost €973,578 AURG contribution €733,508 
Start / end December 2012 to December 2016 
Participants Belgium, France, Mozambique

INCIP Transforming indigenous chicken production
Project name Improving Indigenous Chicken Productivity for Enhanced Livelihood and Food Security in Sub-Saharan Africa 
Coordinator Egerton University, Kenya 
Total cost €1,041,859 AURG contribution €749,096 
Start / end March 2012 to September 2015 
Participants Malawi, The Netherlands

ITACA Intensifying tilapia aquaculture
Project name Improved management and technological innovation in African tilapia farms and hatcheries 
Coordinator National Institute of Oceanography and Fisheries, Egypt 
Total cost €1,069,280 AURG contribution €748,496 
Start / end January 2013 to December 2015 
Participants Senegal, Spain

Limit CBS Molecular techniques unlock clues to cassava disease control
Project name Limiting the impact of Cassava Brown Streak Disease on smallholders, women and the cassava value chain 
Coordinator Natural Resources Institute, University of Greenwich, United Kingdom 
Total cost €776,116 AURG contribution €620,893 
Start / end December 2012 to March 2016 Participants Tanzania, Kenya, Malawi

Thrips I Eco-friendly pest control in cowpeas
Project name Validation and dissemination of bio intensive eco-friendly management strategies for thrips – a critical constraint to cowpea production in Africa 
Coordinator International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology, Kenya 
Total cost €944,875 AURG contribution €749,325 
Start / end March 2012 to March 2016 
Participants Kenya, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Uganda, United Kingdom

13 September 2017. Copenhagen. UNEP DTU Partnership hosted a public event to discuss how can tackle a range of global challenges, such as climate change, food security and public health.
cooperation between Africa and EU organisations on Science, Technology and Innovation (STI)

The speakers included members of the CAAST Net Plus (CN+) consortium, funded by the European Commission:
  • Vinny Pillay (Minister Counsellor, South African Mission to the European Union Department of Science and Technology) 
  • Andy Cherry (Association of Commonwealth Universities, UK)
  • Benjamin Gyampoh (African Academy of Sciences)
  • James Haselip (UNEP DTU Partnership, Denmark)
Ahead of the Africa-EU summit in Abidjan, in November 2017, the 25-member CN+ consortium has put together a book entitled Africa-Europe Research and Innovation Cooperation: Global Challenges, Bi-regional Responses. 

The book aims to convey the work of CN+ in a digestible format, but also with the purpose of filling the science and technology gap in the existing body of literature on Africa-Europe relations. It raises and answers questions on what the current vision for Africa-Europe cooperation is, how the regions cooperate and what is the way forward.

31 August-1 September 2017. RINEA_STI annual consortium meeting in Helsinki. This meeting discussed the future activities for supporting #EU-#Africa #research cooperation.

 In February 2017, more than 70 scientific experts, programme owners and stakeholders from Africa and Europe were brought together in Brussels to identify joint research and innovation (R&I) needs in sustainable energy, climate change and capacity building, advancing on existing collaborative initiatives. Experts identified different situations and requirements on both sides, with heterogeneity in national programmes and strategies, means and disparities between urban and rural areas. 

The next step ss to develop a ‘roadmap agenda’ similar to the Roadmap towards a jointly funded EU-Africa Research & Innovation Partnership on FNSSA. The roadmap will be based on the technical paper on Climate Change and Sustainable Energy, and will result in the launch of a new EU-Africa R&I Partnership on climate change and sustainable energy, with a specific focus on deployment, capacity building in energy efficiency, renewable energy, and climate services .

27 September 2017. Brussels. Permanent Representation of Ireland to the European Union. Seminar to discuss the relevant research infrastructures and collaborations and examples of capacity building for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and to examine the enabling policy and regulatory environment for enhancing science cooperation on a global level.

The seminar will also consider agriculture and food security, and how Africa and Europe can cooperate. Research and innovation are pivotal to realisation of the goals of Africa’s transformative agenda. Food security, nutrition and sustainable agriculture (FNSSA) was identified as the first priority by the EU-Africa High Level Policy Dialogue (HLPD) on Science, Technology and Innovation.

It is envisaged that the recommendations from the seminar will feed into a broad range of discussions at the AU-EU Summit ( Abidjan, Ivory Coast on 29-30 November 2017).

Monday, September 18, 2017

Investment into landscape restoration for food security

13 September 2017. Ordos, Inner Mongolia, China. UNCCD COP13: ’Scaling-Up Investment into Land Restoration: Getting the Biggest Bang for the Buck’ (6-16 September )

Side event

European Commission DG DEVCO “Investment into landscape restoration for food security, resilience and climate action – key element on the way forward to Land Degradation Neutrality”
  • Land degradation is at the nexus of a vicious spiral linking low primary productivity and biodiversity loss with poverty, hunger, instability and insecurity. 
  • Yet the environmental, social and economic functions of even seriously degraded landscapes can be restored if all stakeholders, from farmers and pastoralists to policymakers and businesses, can find ways to work together.
  • Exploring how this can be done at scale and at low cost is the objective of a new five-year European Union-funded project involving eight African countries (Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mali, Niger, Rwanda, Senegal, Somalia), which aims to uncover pathways for large-scale restoration across the world. 
  • This event explored the key ingredients needed to achieve restoration at a truly massive scale, while also looking at successful initiatives from Africa and China.
Key speakers included:
  • Bernard Crabbé, European Commission
  • Mark Schauer, German International Cooperation
  • Dennis Garrity, World Agroforestry Centre
  • Cai Mantang, Elion Resources
  • And high-level government representatives from selected partner countries.
Access the recent study on the links between terrorism and climate change here:

Background: The world’s most extensive humanitarian crisis since 1945 is currently playing out in the four countries that surround Lake Chad: Cameroon, Chad, Niger, and Nigeria.
  • Multiple stressors converge in the region. Unemployment, violent insurgencies, poverty and depleting resources interact with climate change and create a perfect storm of climate-fragility risks. 
  • The international community must act, in order to secure lives and livelihoods. The 10-minute film investigates root causes for widespread misery and conflicts. It features interviews with local experts on Lake Chad, peacebuilders and representatives of international organizations, such as the Security Council and the World Food Programme. 
  • To understand the crisis and secure lasting peace in times of climate change, one must shed light on the complexity of the crisis and learn from experiences on the ground.

4th East African Farmer Federation Congress

US ambassador Deborah R Malac
14-15 September 2017. Uganda. Muyonyo Speke Resort Hotel. The EAFF/East African Farmer Federation Congress organized its 4th conference on Small holder farmers to harness new investments; partnerships and innovations to enhance value chain ownership, productivity and market integration 

A side event was held related to PAEPARD: Linking research to application within the extensive livestock value chain.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Best poster award @ the MycoKey 2017 conference

14 September 2017. Ghent, Belgium. 1st MYCOKEY International Conference

The best poster award offered by @Toxins_Mdpi went to @alegann from @CranMycology .

Potential Biological Control Agents from Strains Isolated from Gm and Non-Gm Brazilian Maize for Control of Aspergillus flavus and Aflatoxin B1 Production.

Contamination of maize by Aspergillus flavus and the production of aflatoxins imposes an extensive socio-economic cost. Among the measures studied to reduce the risk of mycotoxins, biocontrol has been considered a promising technology for sustainable agriculture. A potential option for A. flavus management in the field has largely been focused on the use of atoxigenic isolates of A. flavus which may be able to compete with the toxigenic strains by displacing them and reducing aflatoxin B1 (AFB1) contamination. Thus, the aim of this work was to identify potential biological control agents isolated from distinct Brazilian GM/non-GM maize cultivars for control of AFB1. 

(...) Studies are in progress to examine in situ impacts on GM- and non-GM maize grain stored under different environmental conditions. Molecular techniques are also being employed to identify whether the atoxigenic A. flavus strains lack some key biosynthetic genes necessary for AFB1 production.

This research was supported by CAPES Foundation, Ministry of Education of Brazil—Project BEX 12937/13-4.

Source: Meeting Report Online page 80

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Aflatoxin Contamination in Foods and Feeds: A Special Focus on Africa

12 September 2017. Ghent, Belgium. 1st MYCOKEY International Conference.

PAEPARD video interview with Dr. Njobeh Patrick Berka.
"To better limit the socio-economic impact of mycotoxins in Africa, there is a necessity for the appropriate authorities and relevant stakeholders to sensitize the populace on mycotoxins and ensure effective measures are in place to restrain the menace of these deadly naturally occurring toxins."
Dr. Njobeh Patrick Berka answers following questions:
  • Is it a coincidence that many African mycotoxin researchers are women?
  • What are the challenges for in your field of research?

  • Dr PB Njobeh is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Biotechnology and Food Technology in the Faculty of Science at the University of Johannesburg. 
  • Dr Njobeh is the head of the Mycotoxin Research Unit with research focus in the area of Mycotoxicology and mycology. 
  •  He has successfully supervised over 22 Master’s, PhD and postdoctoral Research fellows and has over 70 peer-reviewed papers, book chapters and conference papers published in high impact journals. 
  • He is a member of the Joint (FAO/WHO) Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) saddled with the responsibility of delivering scientific advice for the establishment of global food safety standards of Codex Alimentarius and others. 
  • He has established collaboration both nationally and internationally and is part of the Center of Excellence (CoE) in Food Security co-hosted by the University of Pretoria and University of the Western Cape. 
  • He has hosted over 20 international visiting scientists in his laboratory.
Related article (2012)
By Makun Hussaini Anthony, Dutton Michael Francis, Njobeh Patrick Berka, Gbodi Timothy Ayinla and Ogbadu Godwin Haruna

FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives report

Eighty-third report of the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives
pdf 1003.75Kb
Editors: World Health Organization
Number of pages: 182
Publication date: 2017
Languages: English
ISBN: 9789241210027

This report represents the conclusions of a Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee convened to evaluate the safety of various contaminants or groups of contaminants in food. The first part of the report contains a brief description of general considerations addressed at the meeting, including updates on matters of interest to the work of the Committee.
"While the full monograph of the 83rd JECFA is not yet available (‘the yellow book’), the detailed summary (‘blue book’) deserves the attention of all those involved in the health and agricultural aspects of the mycotoxins considered.

Aflatoxin had not been done since 1998 and it was time for a major review. At the time of drafting (one year ago), there were 11,000 scientific publications in PubMed on aflatoxin, almost twice the number available at the 49th JECFA (JECFA, 1999). The database of the American Chemistry Society recorded 28,000 publications on aflatoxin. Two important things I would note is that unlike the previous monograph there is an explicit acknowledgement of the plight of countries with potentially high exposures to aflatoxin in terms of acute aflatoxicosis. The second important thing is that the panel concluded that aflatoxin was associated with stunting, although more well-conducted studies are needed to understand the exposure required. The monograph discusses the available exposure data on a global basis and a new and thoughtful discussion of the interaction of hepatitis B and aflatoxin in relation to liver cancer.

The other broadly important thing about the 83rd JECFA is that there is a separate chapter on the interaction of fumonisin and aflatoxin. It is clear that co-exposure to fumonisin and aflatoxin is not the exception, rather it is the norm in countries that depend on maize for starch calories in highly affected regions (Africa, parts of Latin America, East Asia). The available evidence in relevant laboratory animals suggested an additive or synergistic effect of fumonisin and aflatoxin co-exposure in the development of pre-cancerous or cancerous lesions.

The team working on the full monograph was ably led by Dr. Angelika Tritscher (WHO) as well as Drs. Markus Lipp and Vittorio Fattori (FAO)." 
Prof. David Miller, member of the panel of the FAO/WHO report

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Mycotoxin Contamination in Sugarcane Grass and Juice

Mycotoxin Contamination in Sugarcane Grass andJuice: First Report on Detection of MultipleMycotoxins and Exposure Assessment for AflatoxinsB1 and G1 in Humans
Mohamed F. Abdallah, Rudolf Krska and Michael Sulyok

This study was conducted to investigate the natural co-occurrence of multiple toxic fungal and bacterial metabolites in sugarcane grass and juice intended for human consumption in Upper Egypt. Dietary exposure was assessed using a juice frequency questionnaire of adult inhabitants in Assiut City. The assessment revealed different levels of exposure to AFB1 between males and females in winter and summer seasons. The estimated seasonal exposure ranged from 0.20 to 0.40 ng/kg b.w./day in winter and from 0.38 to 0.90 ng/kg b.w./day in summer.

During the harvesting time, chewing raw sugarcane is a common practice. In addition, sugarcane juice is considered the most popular fresh juice in Egypt, with cane juice shops spreading through all the Egyptian cities. Indian and Pakistani people share the same habit with Egyptians regarding chewing raw sugarcane and consumption of juice. Apart from its sweet taste and being a source of energy and minerals, sugarcane juice consumption, in traditional medicine, helps in the treatment of many diseases such as jaundice, kidney stones, urogenital tract infections, and in lowering blood pressure, and healing dermal wounds; it is also reported as a natural antioxidant under various experimental conditions.

The study aimed to detect multiple mycotoxins occurring naturally in the sugarcane crop and juice for the first time. Indeed, the present work will open the door for further studies on the occurrence of more mycotoxins in this important economic crop. Furthermore, the presence of these metabolites either in their present (parent) form or in a modified form in the secondary products, which are based on sugarcane products such as raw sugar, vinegar, alcohol, chipboard, paper, some chemicals, plastics, paints, fiber, insecticides and detergents and molasses, cannot be excluded.

1st MYCOKEY International Conference

12-14 September 2017. Ghent, Belgium. 1st MYCOKEY International Conference. Global Mycotoxin Reduction in the Food and Feed Chain
See announcement
Frans Verstraete: "We need to understand the incentives
to have good agricultural practices"

MYCOKEY aims to deliver by 2019 the first integrated ICT tool to address mycotoxin contamination along the food and feed chain. MycoKey integrates innovative key actions into an user friendly and cheap application, able to provide real-time information and suggestions for mycotoxin management to several stakeholders.

Thanks to the participation of several Chinese partners, it strengthens the global knowledge on mycotoxins as well as the effective cooperation with China. The conference isbe in collaboration with MyToolBox.

The congress is open for all contributions related to the following general topics in mycotoxin research:
Prof. Krska 
  • Global impact of mycotoxins
  • Biodiversity and toxigenic fungi monitoring
  • Mycotoxin analytical challenges
  • Prevention
  • Animal health and toxicology
  • Impact of climate change
  • Challenges for developing countries
  • Remediation and intervention
  • Human health and toxicology
  • Modelling and ICT solutions
Extract of the programme:
12 September. 
  • An integrated toolbox for mycotoxins management for safer food and feed: the Mytoolbox approach R. Krska (coordinator Mytoolbox, IFA Tulln BOKU, Austria)
  • Climate change and globalisation: a challenge for EU policy on mycotoxins in feed and food F. Verstraete (EU DG SANCO, Belgium) (see video extract below)

13 September. 
MSc student (Asheeqah Cassiem)
presenting her poster

  • First year experience with large-scale application of an Aspergillus flavus biocontrol agent for aflatoxin prevention in Italian maize P. Battiliani (Universita Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Italy)
  • Effectiveness of agrochemicals in reducing Fusarium verticilloides (sacc.) nirenberg infection and contamination of fumonisins in maize of low land agro-ecosystems in Tanzania R. Madege (Sokoine University of Agriculture, Tanzania)
  • Effect of feed-borne Fusarium mycotoxins on the gut microbiome composition in broiler chickens and in pigs G. Antonissen (Ghent University, Belgium)
  • Post-harvest interventions decrease infants’ dietary exposure to aflatoxins and fumonisins in Tanzania: a cluster-randomized controlled trial A. Kamala (Ghent University ; Directorate of Food Safety, Tanzania)
  • Effect of groundnut drying methods on drying rate and aflatoxin contamination M. Chimbaza (Luanar, Malawi)
  • Fusarium (modified) mycotoxins in Nigerian sorghum-based beer: natural occurrence and influence of traditional processing methods C. Chilaka (Ghent University, Belgium ; MOUAU University, Nigeria)
14 September. 
  • KEYNOTE: Patrick Njobeh (University of Johannesburg, South-Africa) The socio-economic impact of mycotoxin contamination in Africa
    Foods such as spices and herbs, which are used throughout food processing are often predisposed to toxigenic fungi. Exposure to these contaminants presents a health hazard to humans, thus, it is imperative to monitor highly-consumed spices for fungal growth with subsequent mycotoxin analysis. 
  • I. Adekoya (University of Johannesburg, South-Africa) Multi-mycotoxin contamination in fermented locust beans (Parkia Biglobosa) and the perception of mycotoxin contamination in Nigerian and South African markets
    To date, there is little or no information on multiple mycotoxin occurrences in fermented locust beans. In this study, the knowledge of fermented food vendors and processors on fungi and mycotoxin and the occurrence of mycotoxins in fermented locust beans consumed in Nigeria and South Africa were assessed. 
  • Atanda Olusegun (DBS, Nigeria) Risk assessment of mycotoxins associated with consumption of stored maize grains by infants and children in Nigeria
    Maize is a staple cereal that is used as complimentary or weaning food particularly among infants and young children (IYC) in Nigeria. In this study we determined the Probable Daily Intake (PDI) and characterized the risk assessment of infants and young children to some naturally occurring mycotoxins in stored maize grains from five agro-ecological zones of Nigeria. 
  • Ndemera M. + Nyanga Loveness K. (Institute of Food Nutrition and Family Sciences, University of Zimbabwe) Agronomic Practices and Mycotoxin Contamination in Maize: A Case Study of Subsistence Farming Households in Manicaland and Mashonaland West Provinces of Zimbabwe
    To fully elucidate and understand maize agronomic practices by Zimbabwean subsistence farming populations an investigative field survey was conducted in the selected provinces of Mashonaland West and Manicaland. 
  • Dr.Michael Sulyok #BOKU giving
    a presentation about the analysis
    of #mycotoxins in feed
  • L. Matumba (Luanar, Malawi) Current trends in sample size in mycotoxin analysis in grains: are we measuring accurately?
    Due to heterogeneous distribution of mycotoxins in food and feed, reliability of analytical measurement is greatly affected by sampling. High concentrations of mycotoxins have been found in individual kernels of corn, peanuts, and cottonseed and tree nuts thus heterogeneity of mycotoxins vary strongly amount of kernels per gram. It is well established that variance of estimated concentrations is inversely proportional to sample size. However, recent years have witnessed a revolution in sample size reduction with most laboratory increasingly grinding less than 1 kg of corn or peanuts, and extracting a sample than 10 g of dry grind. The present paper critically reviews the current trends in the sample sizes, sample grinders used, extraction vessels, etcetera over a period of two decades using selected mycotoxin journals and further compares these parameters against national and regional guidelines.

Lunchtime conference "Sustainable cooling"

11 September 2017. Brussels. Developing climate-friendly, energy-efficient and economically-viable solutions require a strong multi-stakeholder network.

  • Etienne Coyette, Head of Sector Climate Change - DEVCO C6 Sustainable Energy, Climate Change
  • Cornelius Rhein, Policy Officer Montreal Protocol - CLIMA A2 Climate Finance, Mainstreaming, Montreal Protocol
  • Bernhard Siegele, Programme Manager, Proklima International, giz Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit GmbH
Information and web-streaming:

RelatedIs Cooling Food Better for the Climate?

9 June 2017. Debate organised by: UNIDO, DW, The Consumers Good Forum, Danish Technological Institute, FAO, IIF/IIR, RIOGO

RelatedVideo of the Uganda Indigenous Fruits and Vegetables consortium
30 July 2017. This project led by Uganda Christian University (UCU) involves Farmgain Africa, a Ugandan private sector actor and Chain Uganda, a non-governmental organization (NGO) together with the Natural Resources Institute (NRI), University of Greenwich, UK. Also Makarere University is involved in this project.

The main post-harvest technologies being tested are locally available packaging materials and a charcoal cooler.

Related: 5 November 2015. A new, US$15.5 million programme promotes investments in post-harvest handling (PHH) technologies and access to storage facilities to help uplift farmers from poverty in Ghana, Kenya and Tanzania. It involves a partnership between Kenya-headquartered Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) and The MasterCard Foundation in Canada.

Through small and medium enterprises, farmers will gain access to cold storage facilities

Several donors, including Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), launched the international initiative Powering Agriculture: An Energy Grand Challenge for Development (PAEGC) in June 2012.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Belgium funds innovative agricultural research

11 September 2017. Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Development Cooperation Alexander De Croo makes ten million euro available over the next four years for innovative agricultural research conducted by the ‘Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR)’, a worldwide network of research centers contributing to enhanced productivity, food security and sustainability in the agriculture. The funding will support, among others, the further development of the banana genebank of the KU Leuven.
”Belgium is an absolute world leader in terms of agricultural research, in the North as much as in the South. Wherever you go in the world, you will find Belgian researchers occupying important positions. In Belgium itself, we host at the KU Leuven an impressive genebank of bananas that helps NGO’s, universities, ministries of agriculture and companies in more than a hundred countries. The promotion of agricultural research is an investment in development with a high return. For each euro invested yearly into agricultural research, you get at least seventeen euros in return.” Alexander De Croo
Adapting banana plants to global warming The Minister presented his views on the Belgian support to agriculture and food security earlier this year in a new strategic note on agriculture and food security.

In line with this new strategy, Minister De Croo makes funding available over the next four years to support the ‘Bioversity ITC banana collection’ at the KU Leuven.
  • The research center in Leuven is requested to invest specifically in research that can enhance food security and high quality nutrition in the South, including through specific adaptations of banana plants against global warming. 
  • Funds are also made available in order to widen the databank in the future to other crops such as potatoes and other tuber and root crops.

Private sector and innovation
An important part of the Belgian support goes to the ‘Consortium for Improving Agriculture-based
Livelihoods in Central Africa’ (CIALCA). Despite the difficult local circumstances in DRC, Burundi and Rwanda, evaluations have shown that farmers who work with CIALCA fare better financially. In the coming years, the Minister expects CIALCA to get even more involved in supporting private-sector initiatives in agriculture, in diversity that contributes to sustainable food security and in innovation.

The research programme around ‘Policy, Institutions and Markets’ focusses on rural transformation and how it can contribute to inclusive growth. It examines the most cost-efficient way to invest in agriculture, in collaboration with the private sector, and how these investments can create opportunities for small farmers, particularly women and. It also aims at intensifying collaboration between Belgian and local centers of expertise.

Rice in Western Africa

Africa Rice, based in Ivory Coast and very active in Western Africa, will receive for the first time in many years support from Belgium. Rice is an important crop in West Africa. With the help of Africa Rice, Belgium hopes that countries in the region will increase their productivity and sustainability in the rice sector.

Belgium is a long-time partner of CGIAR and its sixth European donor. Our country is part of the Board of Directors and makes important contributions to recent reforms. CGIAR has also recently started looking for innovative financing channels and wants to work closer with the private sector, an initiative fully supported by Belgium.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Produce Marketing Association (PMA) “Fresh Connections” conference

Ruben Goudriaan (eleaf), Natasja van der Vlist (SunCooler),
Erna du Plessis (Renlyn Agritech), Bart de Jonghe
(Si Technologies International) and Jack Vera, agricultural
counsellor at the Embassy of the Netherlands to South Africa
16 - 17 August 2017. Cape Town, South Africa. PMA is an important network meeting for fresh food producers and traders. 

Through the coordination of the Embassy of the Netherlands in Pretoria and the Consulate General of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Cape Town, South Africa, a delegation of 10 Dutch companies and institutions participated in the conference. 
  1. Westcape Biotech is a commercial biotechnology company located outside of Stellenbosch in the Western Cape province of South Africa. Westcape Biotech is a fully owned subsidiary of South African based Westcape Holdings (Pty) Ltd. Westcape Holdings is joint venture company between Enza Zaden B.V. (Netherlands), Expressive Research B.V. (Netherlands) and Expressive SA (Pty) Ltd.The company provides advanced molecular biology and plant tissue culture services to local and international clients in the plant Agricultural sector
  2. Wageningen UR is a research institution that focuses on the domain ‘healthy food and living conditions’.
  3. Si Technologies International B.V. strives to improve smallholders lives in using a patented technology to manufacture and distribute the only silicon based product that is directly available to plants. The product ‘NewSil’ is a foliar spray that fires up the plants’ natural defense system against biotic and abiotic stress.
  4. Delphy is a renowned, independent advisory and research partner in horticulture.
  5. eLEAF is a Dutch high-tech company that pioneers in operational satellite based solutions
  6. PlantLab provides turnkey solutions for indoor vertical farming by making use of its own developed growing recipes, production methods, technology and software
  7. Rijk Zwaan Zaadteelt en Zaadhandel B.V. is a Dutch vegetable breeding and seed production company
  8. Ludvig Svensson is the pioneer and world leader in climate control and energy efficiency through textile-based solutions, creating excellent conditions for better and greater production
    Aart van den Bos, 
    social entrepreneur
    in greenhouses all over the world.
  9. Renlyn group and Bosman Van Zaal work together in a business partnership. Based on in-house engineering and manufacturing the Dutch company Bosman Van Zaal provides turnkey production concepts and customized systems for producers of vegetables and floricultural crops in the Protected Horticulture worldwide.
  10. The SunCooler (see picture) is the ideal solution for static storage. It is a mobile cooling device that cools fruit, vegetables, meat, fish, dairy or medicines in a cheap, sound and sustainable way on the spot. There is no need for fuel, generator, grid or even batteries. The Sun is the one and only free source.
These are among the leading Dutch origin companies and institutions in Climate Smart agriculture across the globe. Their participation included exhibitions of their technologies at the Netherlands Pavilion and presentations at the workshop organized by the Embassy. The Embassy’s main theme at the conference is “Climate Smart Agriculture: Focus on technology”.

Since June 2017, the Embassy has been conducting a study on the gaps between technologies available and the use of these in South Africa on Climate Smart agriculture. This study seeks to investigate and understand opportunities to co-create sustainable solutions for local challenges in the agricultural sector. Key findings from this study were shared at the conference.
Partnerships are crucial, and social media allows farmers across the world to learn from climate smart agriculture best practices through knowledge bases like and
As part of the effort to support sustainable and inclusive growth and innovation in the agricultural sector, the Embassy and the Consulate General have also incorporated a students’ programme to its 2017 PMA activities. The Embassy has supported the young professional breakfast event at which the PMA will invite notable motivational speakers for the youth aspiring and studying to be agricultural entrepreneurs. The Embassy has sponsored two students from the Netherlands to share experiences with and learn from leading entrepreneurs and fellow South African students at the conference and during the week in an extended program. These activities also seeks to cultivate the spirit of business to business co-creation among the South African and Dutch agricultural business players of the future.