”Africa is rising, the story is changing and the future of African Agriculture is getting brighter…”
These were the words of Dr. Wole Fatunbi, Lead Specialist Innovation Systems and Partnerships at the opening session of the BiomassWeb partners meeting at the Secretariat of the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) in Accra, Ghana on 30th November 2016. The meeting was held in the framework of a joint field visit by PD Dr. Christine Schmitt, Senior Scientist and Project Coordinator BiomassWeb, from the Center for Development Research (ZEF) University of Bonn, Germany, and Mr. Dady Demby, Ag. Africa BiomassWeb project coordinator, FARA.
The BiomassWeb research is structured around the analysis of biomass demand, supply and related value webs, research innovations, and implementation including capacity and network building. It aims to contribute to food security in sub-Sahara Africa by focusing on biomass based value webs and innovation in the agricultural sector with major focus on the productive Sudanian savanna belt (Ghana, Nigeria) and the East African highlands (Ethiopia).
FARA is coordinating the implementation of the BiomassWeb project in collaboration with ZEF. This project currently has the following activities on-going viz: BiomassNet Online Dgroups, the development of the BiomassNet website and the Demand Driven Research and Development projects (DDRD) being implemented in Ethiopia, Nigeria and Ghana, and the development of the BiomassWeb Young PostDoc program (YPDP) aimed at placing post-doc fellows at FARA and the Department of Agricultural Economics, University of Ibadan, Nigeria.
Dr. Wole Fatunbi who represented the Executive Director of FARA said FARA works with other stakeholders to achieve the aim of the BiomassWeb through the Science Agenda for Agriculture in Africa and the African Union Commission’s Science Technology and Innovation Strategy for Agriculture (STISA). He said the BiomassWeb is working on 2 main priority commodities i.e cassava and bananas.
Dr. Fatunbi pointed out that FARA’s activities in 2017 will further ensure that BiomassWeb research will reach smallholder farmers in the three focus countries. This will be achieved through the implementation of the African Agricultural Research Programme (AARP) which is linked to the Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation (TAAT), two major programmes supported by the African Development Bank (AfDB).
Partners meetings were held both in Accra and Kumasi. During the meeting, the Principal Investigators of the DDRD project presented the progress on the implementation of their activities on the following project:
- Using cassava peels for mushroom cultivation, by Ms, Alice Esinam Dawson, Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA), Accra, Ghana
- Developing biomass-based value chain of plantain and reduce post-harvest losses of plantain through the development of value added products for small scale farmers and processors in two regions in Ghana, Dr. Charles Tortoe, Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) Food Research Institute, Accra, Ghana
- Exploring the potential of bamboo leave fodder for livestock production in Ghana, Michael Kwaku, Director, INBAR Office in Ghana, on behalf of Dr. Samuel Tetteh Partey.
In addition to the DDRD presentation, Mr. Daniel Akoto Sarfo also presented the progress on his PhD work titled: “Bamboo Agroforestry for Rural Household Energy and Food Security in the Dry Semi-deciduous Forest Zone of Ghana: An Exploratory Study”.
The various presentations showed that good progress has been made on the ground. This was a very positive development which was much appreciated by the FARA/ZEF team. Discussions that followed the presentations allowed participants to make useful comments and suggestions to the work being done. In Kumasi, a field visit was organized to the project site where field trials are being implemented on bamboo.
ZEF representative, Dr. Christine Schmitt said the BiomassWeb which started in 2013 and is expected to run till 2018 will investigate the production and utilization of biomass in Africa by looking at current and future biomass demand and supply. The project will identify innovation opportunities in pre- and post-harvest production technologies, institutional settings and governance structures. This will be complemented by implementation activities focusing on joint learning and network building to create innovative capacity beyond the project duration. She thanked FARA and other Ghana partners for the relentless efforts to make BiomassWeb work for Africa’s Agriculture and Development.
This article was first published here, on the website of the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa, FARA.