Happy New Year 2016, the International Year of Pulses

bean market masaka1_lo
Bean market in Masaka, Uganda. Credit: Neil Palmer (CIAT).

A very Happy New Year to you. The United Nations has declared 2016 as the International Year of Pulses. This is a global opportunity to raise awareness on the important role of pulses in contributing to food security and nutritional well-being for millions of people around the world.

According to the United Nations International Year of Pulses website, the aim of this special year is to “heighten public awareness of the nutritional benefits of pulses as part of sustainable food production aimed towards food security and nutrition. The Year will create a unique opportunity to encourage connections throughout the food chain that would better utilize pulse-based proteins, further global production of pulses, better utilize crop rotations and address the challenges in the trade of pulses.”

Visit the website of the Global Pulse Confederation for more information on how you can take part in promoting the International Year of Pulses or follow the online conversations at #IYP2016.

Happy New Year!

Call for abstracts: Kenya’s 2015 National Science Week

Kenya’s National Commission for Science, Technology and Innovation (NACOSTI) and the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology have issued a call for abstracts for the fourth National Science Week to be held on 11-15 May 2015 in Nairobi.

The event consists of an exhibition, robotics contest and a conference. The aim of the conference is to share and identify practical, evidence-based solutions to science and technology development in the post-2015 agenda in line with Kenya’s Vision 2030 national strategic development plan.

The conference will bring together academia, researchers, scientists and practitioners working in universities, research organisations, industry, civil society, government and other stakeholders.

The theme of the conference is The role of science and technology in the post-2015 development agenda. The sub-themes are:

  • agriculture and food security
  • energy and climate change
  • environmental and natural resource management
  • water, sanitation and health
  • knowledge management and technology transfer

Visit the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology website for more information on how to submit abstracts.

The deadline for submission is 31 March 2015.

2014: The Year of Agriculture and Food Security

Bean market in Kampala, Uganda
A man sells beans in a market in Kampala, Uganda. The African Union has nominated 2014 as The Year of Agriculture and Food Security. Photo by Neil Palmer (CIAT).

Happy New Year! It’s now just about one week into the New Year 2014 and I trust that you have gotten off to a good start this year.

The African Union (AU) has nominated 2014 as The Year of Agriculture and Food Security. This is also the theme of the 22nd AU summit which is scheduled to be held on 21-31 January 2014 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The summit also marks the completion of a decade since the  Maputo Declaration on Agriculture and Food Security that gave rise to the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP).

Under this declaration, AU member states committed to allocating at least 10 per cent of their national budgets to agriculture within five years.

I think the 22nd AU summit will be a useful forum for member states to take stock of their performance vis-à-vis the Maputo Declaration target and against that of their peers.

Meanwhile, I hope to keep blogging about various developments in agricultural research and development in Africa in 2014. As always, your comments and feedback are most welcome.

Happy New Year!

FARA to host continental meeting on agricultural science and innovation for food security in Africa

Beans at Sawla market in Ghana's Northern Region. Photo by Neil Palmer (CIAT).
Beans at Sawla market in Ghana’s Northern Region. Photo by Neil Palmer (CIAT).

On 15-20 July 2013, the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) hosts the sixth Africa Agriculture Science Week (AASW) in Accra, Ghana. The theme of the event is “Africa feeding Africa through agricultural science and innovation“.

Earlier this month, a group of volunteer social media enthusiasts (including Yours Truly!) from all over the world, who are passionate about using social media to communicate agricultural science for development, came together to form a virtual social reporting team to help spread the word about the key sub-themes of the 6th AASW.

The FARA-AASW social media team will provide both onsite and offsite social media coverage of the goings-on at the 6th AASW conference. So far, we have over 100 members and still more are volunteering to assist!

The conference organizers have created a blog that will be an informal information channel from the AASW social reporters.

Already, a number of blog posts have been posted on agricultural research for development in Africa and some of the ways in which the youth can benefit from actively participating in the agriculture sector. And you can expect lots more news once the event kicks off mid-next month!

But in the meantime, do take a minute or two and check out the FARA-AASW blog.

Featured resource: FAO food security communications toolkit

As countries in the Horn of Africa, and more recently in the Sahel region, continue to grapple with the challenge of food and nutritional insecurity, professionals in charge of developing and implementing policies and strategies to address the problem need to be able to effectively communicate these strategies to various audiences.

The UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) has published a  communications toolkit to help food security professionals to do just that.

Below is the abstract:

Food security professionals increasing realize that they must use communications strategically for their work to have a maximum impact. While most organizations have invested heavily in food security analysis and research, many still need to enhance their communications to ensure their findings reach their intended users and action is taken.

This toolkit is geared to helping food security professionals develop a communication strategy and communicate more effectively with their target audiences. Specific sections of the toolkit focus on policy makers and the media, because of the important role they play in implementing and influencing food security policies.

The toolkit also looks at specific information products such as policy briefs, reports and early warning bulletins, and suggests ways to structure and improve them. A section on writing effectively, which focuses on grammar and style, makes sure that written documents are easy to read.

Finally, the toolkit gives tips for using the internet, social media and Web 2.0 tools as these technologies offer unprecedented opportunities for engaging in two way dialogues with global audiences. The toolkit also includes readymade templates and dozens of tips and tricks distilled from many years of experience.

While aimed at professionals working in food security related fields, the lessons in this toolkit can easily be applied to many other fields.

The communications toolkit may be downloaded at this web page: http://www.fao.org/docrep/014/i2195e/i2195e00.htm?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=tweet&utm_campaign=knowledge