Latest News

Scholarships available for graduates in African universities

The EU, under its Intra-Africa Academic Mobility Scheme, has provided funding to support training of graduate students in African universities. Under this mobility programme, five African partner institutions and one EU technical partner will collaborate in the training of professionals to achieve sustainable crop production that shall lead to increased yield and enhanced food and nutritional security. A total of 24 Masters (6 credit seeking, 18 degree-seeking) and 12 Doctorates (4 credit seeking, 8 degree-seeking) will be trained in the thematic areas of Plant breeding and seed systems, Biotechnology, Seed science and technology, Agronomy and Vegetable crop production, Pesticides and plant protection and Plant and microbial technology. The project will provide fellowships for full degree programs (PhDs and MSc) as well as short-term mobility (credit seeking) for students and staff and will run from 1st November 2017 until 31st October 2022.Read more …..

The Call for applications is open from 14th February 2018 and will close on 5th April 2018. All interested candidates should download the application form, fill it and submit through either email or postal services. The application for scholarship should be sent to the project coordinating office (, with copy to the coordinator at the sending institution. Admission criteria and application forms are available on the program website. Thanks to FARA-Network.


WorldVeg and Taiwan to participate in Svalbard Seed Vault 10th anniversary

The World Vegetable Centre, a TAA institutional member, describes how than 1000 samples of 21 vegetable species from their WorldVeg genebank are headed for storage in the global "Doomsday Vault”. Read more ….  2018 is a special year for the Svalbard Seed Vault in Norway. This long-term seed storage facility to protect the world’s agricultural diversity and heritage - known to some as the "Doomsday Vault” because it was built to withstand natural or man-made disasters—will celebrate its 10th anniversary on 26-27 February 2018. NordGen/Crop Trust, which operates the facility, has planned a series of events to mark the occasion.

Sophie Chou, Principal Research Assistant at the World Vegetable Center genebank and Maarten van Zonneveld, WorldVeg Genebank Manager, are among the invited guests going to Svalbard to join in the celebrations.

TAA member Geoffrey Hawtin, who was then Senior Adviser of Global Crop Diversity Trust, described the setting up of the Svalbard facility at the 25th Annual Ralph Melville Memorial Lecture in 2007 "Securing crop diversity - assuring the future”, download paper. 


BSc Geography and BSc Environmental Science programmes

NRI, an institutional member of TAA, is offering BSc Geography and BSc Environmental Science programmes at the Natural Resources Institute, University of Greenwich.

Should you have any queries, please do not hesitate to contact Caroline Troy  or call +44 (0) 1634 883156.


ICRA announces new courses to support smallholder farming

ICRA isa non-profit foundation, dedicated to inclusion of small holder farmers in sustainable agribusiness. We do this by strengthening the capacity of people, organisations and networks to jointly innovate within the agricultural and food sectors. In our courses and projects we train and coach professionals working in agricultural education and outreach, research and agribusiness.

Courses: 1) Facing rural innovation challenges - Linking research to inclusive development for food security 24 Sep – 12 Oct 2018 in the Netherlands, for professionals working in agricultural research, agribusiness, rural advisory services, food security and producer organisations. APPLY HERE and click here for scholarship information. 2)  Learning, action research and outreach – Making higher education boost food security
 29 Oct – 16 Nov 2018 in the Netherlands, for lecturers, trainers and researchers in tertiary agricultural education
. What can you learn from the course? APPLY HERE and click here for scholarship information. 3) Building agribusiness relations for sustainable profit – Key skills for inclusive business brokerage
 19 – 30 Nov 2018 in Uganda, for professionals providing agribusiness support services to small-scale farmers, processors and other affiliated enterprises. You’ll get practical tips on e.g. building trust and improving your negotiation skills.
 Watch this video demonstrating the two steps necessary to negotiating a win-win situation. APPLY HERE and click here for scholarship information for courses in the South

Deadline for submitting fellowship applications: 21 March 2018. Read more .....


Important Website news; Curry Club Talks and Ralph Melville Memorial Lecture
1. Members may have noticed a lack of news alerts recently. Unfortunately, we have experienced some serious glitches on our website, which have prevented updates and has resulted in the loss of some new data uploaded since mid-January. We are working to resolve this: we may be in touch with some of you for specific information required to restore the website details. Meantime, we apologise for the inconvenience.

2. We are pleased to announce two new Curry Club Talks at the Strand Continental, central London: 1st March - a talk by Peter Thorne on the theme ‘Don’t Forget the Livestock' and on 29th March - a talk on 'Farming in Sahel & Horn of Africa' 
by Cecilia Benda of Concern Worldwide. Please visit the TAA Events pages for full details. There will be a charge of £15 per head (includes coffee, curry lunch and use of the meeting venue and facilities). Book your place with Terry Wiles.

3. Ralph Melville Memorial Lecture: we are pleased to announce that Dr Elizabeth Warham has agreed to speak on agri-tech developments. The lecture will be held on 11th June 2018 at Portcullis House, Westminster, London, in collaboration with the APPG on Food & Agriculture for Development. Full details of this prestigious event will br published soon but meantime, please make a note in your diaries.


What TAA does: Job Vacancies

The TAA vacancy pages advertise professional, intermediate and beginner level job opportunities for TAA members in the fields of agriculture, livestock and rural development. Three vacancy managers (Michael Fitzpatrick, Alan Stapleton and Bookie Ezeomah) work as a volunteer team to identify potentially relevant vacancies based both on regular searches of some 40-50 web-based announcements from international organisations, private consultants, NGOs and other potential employers, as well as responding to direct requests for including vacancies on the TAA web-site. Lead responsibility for identifying vacancies and reacting to requests for inclusion is determined on an informal, rotating basis among the team members. The team is overseen by the TAA Chairman and other ExCo members.

Once logged-in as a TAA member, the vacancies page can be accessed to show summary details of each current vacancy (vacancy title, country/location, application deadline, assignment duration, funding and a brief outline of the vacancy). There is also a link to further information regarding the vacancy opportunity (usually, the announcement provided by the potential employer). Members with vacancies for jobs, consultancies or internships that are suitable for uploading to the website, are invited to send details to the vacancy managers. A sample vacancy is posted on a news alert to all members every Sunday.

If a member no longer wishes to receive these new alerts, please email the web manager.


A more digestible grass could reduce the environmental impact of cattle

Grass is extremely successful, in part because it is so difficult to digest. It has evolved robust cell walls that make it hard to eat, making it less desirable to herbivores. This is why humans do not use it in salads and why animals that do eat it often need an extra stomach.

Scientists at Rothamsted Research (a TAA institutional member) have identified the gene that creates this cellular stiffness and, working with colleagues in Brazil, have shown in a laboratory that grass can grow well without it. They now want to see if they can create a commercial version, either using genetic engineering or with more conventional plant breeding techniques. "We are having conversations with places like Colombia,” Rowan Mitchell, whose research is published in the journal New Phytologist, said. "Their main interest is more digestible pasture grass, so that they can have less land dedicated to it with more cattle per unit of land.” That in turn would reduce pressure on the rainforests, which are being cut down across South America to create pasture. According to some estimates, 80 per cent of all deforestation in the Amazon is driven by demand for cattle ranching. Brazil has about 200 million cattle and supplies a quarter of the world market. There could also be increased efficiencies for Brazil’s bio-ethanol production. Read more as reported in the London Times and by Rothamsted.


A more digestible grass could reduce the environmental impact of cattle

Grass is extremely successful, in part because it is so difficult to digest. It has evolved robust cell walls that make it hard to eat, making it less desirable to herbivores. This is why humans do not use it in salads and why animals that do eat it often need an extra stomach.

Scientists at Rothamsted Research (a TAA institutional member) have identified the gene that creates this cellular stiffness and, working with colleagues in Brazil, have shown in a laboratory that grass can grow well without it. They now want to see if they can create a commercial version, either using genetic engineering or with more conventional plant breeding techniques. "We are having conversations with places like Colombia,” Rowan Mitchell, whose research is published in the journal New Phytologist, said. "Their main interest is more digestible pasture grass, so that they can have less land dedicated to it with more cattle per unit of land.” That in turn would reduce pressure on the rainforests, which are being cut down across South America to create pasture. According to some estimates, 80 per cent of all deforestation in the Amazon is driven by demand for cattle ranching. Brazil has about 200 million cattle and supplies a quarter of the world market. There could also be increased efficiencies for Brazil’s bioethanol production. Read more as reported in the London Times and by Rothamsted.


What TAA Does: Award of Honours

Each year, TAA presents honours to people and institutions who are judged to have made an outstanding contribution to sustainable agricultural development. Categories are ‘Development Agriculturalist of the Year’, ‘Young Development Agriculturalist of the year’ and ‘Award of Merit for services to TAA’. We ask individual and institutional members to nominate candidates in August each year, which are reviewed by our Honours Panel.

At the recent AGM, TAA awarded ‘Development Agriculturalist of the Year 2017’ to CARE International-UK (CIUK) for "establishing an innovative micro-finance scheme (‘Lendwithcare’) helping entrepreneurs in developing countries to lift themselves out of poverty”. This was accepted by Dr Ajaz Ahmed Khan on behalf of CIUK. Dr Khan is Senior Microfinance Adviser with CIUK and helped to establish microfinance organisations, which now support tens of thousands of small-scale businesses through Lendwithcare. Since 2014, TAA has made contributions of £6,100 to Lendwithcare. To date 464 loans amounting to over £23,000 have been made to 2,327 individuals or small groups across the 12 countries. These have supported 6,720` family members and over 1,000 jobs. We receive regular updates on the use and progress of loans, which are posted and can be seen on the Lendwithcare website. As loan repayments are made they are credited back to TAA. These have been used to provide further loans to entrepreneurs.

Click here to see this and previous awards.


Building a new India: Pledge to Double Farmers’ Incomes by 2022

In order to improve the economic condition of the farmers, Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi has set up an ambitious target in front of the nation. The goal is to double the income of farmers by 2022. It has been for the first time, a Prime Minister has put such a target in front of his compatriots for the welfare of farmers. Under the able guidance of Prime Minister,  the Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Ministry has to achieve this target by 2022. The Ministry is committed to making his dreams come true. Farmers and officers are implementing schemes to increase the income of the farmers. Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVKs) organised pledge-taking ceremonies in 562 districts of the country between August 19 to September 11, 2017, as a clarion call to farmers to double their income by 2022 and a total of 47,08,47 farmers and agricultural workers participated in it. Read more .....

Kindly provided by Girish Bhardwaj, TAA India Coordinator. No mention of gender or the new TIGR2ESS UK-India collaboration. Perhaps TAA India can influence the direction of the project?


ExCo proposes new developments in TAA

Welcome to 2018! For those members who were unable to attend the AGM and Reunion at the Royal Over-seas League on 13th December, we would like to update you on a few key points that arose at the preceding ExCo meeting:

  • Ian Hill’s analysis of the results of the recent survey showed a general satisfaction with TAA but ExCo feels that some activities/ services need to be enhanced.
  • It was agreed that the next ExCo would be 100% devoted to a moderated discussion on future strategy.
  • The survey revealed that some members lack understanding of some of TAA’s activities. We plan to issue weekly email news to explain TAA activities to members.
  • Steve Vaux, Andy Ward and David Radcliffe were elected to ExCo. Steve has taken over as Overseas Branches Coordinator and Andy will join the ag4dev editor panel. David’s role is to be decided but will involve strategic planning.
  • The TAAF team presented new ideas for strengthening participation by awardees, through post-assignment workshops, aimed also at retaining them as members.
  • The publications committee is examining ways to out-source some of the ag4dev work to reduce pressure on our hard-pressed volunteer team.
  • The new website is expected to be available early in 2018.
  • The next Ralph Melville lecture will be given by Elizabeth Warham on ‘Agritech’: venue and date in March yet to be fixed.

Agricultural Policy Research in Africa (APRA)

Welcome to the first edition of the APRA newsletter, led by the Future Agricultures Consortium. APRA is a five-year research programme aiming to analyse pathways to agricultural commercialisation and their differential impacts on empowerment of women and girls, poverty reduction, and food and nutrition security in Sub-Saharan Africa. Funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID), APRA’s directorate is at the Institute of Development Studies (IDS), UK. Read more about APRA

The APRA programme was successfully launched at the Land and Policy Conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in November 2017, read more. Janet Edeme, Head of Rural Economy Division, Department of Rural Economy and Agriculture, African Union Commission and Chair of the APRA International Advisory Group, opened the launch, highlighting the need for ‘agricultural transformation’ in Africa and the exciting prospects of APRA's research. APRA is sponsored by the Future Agricultures Consortium as an Africa-based alliance of research organisations with a network of90 researchers across the region and around the world.  Contact APRA


CA - watch this brilliant video. Link added.

Apologies - the link was missed: click here to watch

This film is about farmers moving away from conventional tillage agriculture and adopting Conservation Agriculture or No-Till Farming. It was produced, directed and narrated by Ms Fiona Cunningham and features TAA members Amir Kassam and Tony Reynolds. Do watch it - a moving film with a powerful message, although lacks full mention of all the technical benefits of CA and aims mainly at the European farming systems. Just right for New Years Day. The next Groundswell Agriculture show will be held in June 2018 in the UK. Many thanks to Amir for submitting this link: now we need a similar film of tropical CA?

Happy New Year!


Conservation Agriculture for sustainable intensification (CASI) in South Asia region

Please see the web links of two documents forwarded by Raj Paroda, Chairman, of the Trust for Advancement of Agricultural Sciences (TAAS), New Delhi, on Conservation Agriculture that were published recently by TAAS, ACIAR and CIMMYT. These are based on a high level policy Dialogue held recently in Dhaka, involving key stakeholders from Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Pakistan.

1. Policy Brief on CASI

2. Proceedings and recommendations of Regional Policy Dialogue on CASI in South Asia

We hope you find them of interest for promoting the cause of CASI in the South Asia region. Any feedback to Dr Raj Paroda.


TAA visit to Aponic's Soil-less Vertical Agriculture Trials, near Cambridge, 23rd Feb

TAA East Anglia has been invited by Jason Hawkins-Row of Aponic Co Ltd, to visit their controlled environment trials at the NIAB centre near Cambridge. This commercial vertical soil-less growing system uses 90% less water than traditional agriculture, runs on rain water and solar power, does not emit harmful run-off into the environment and massively reduces the need for fossil fuels in food production. We shall be able to see their systems for producing vegetables and to discuss their applicability to tropical agriculture and small-scale peri-urban agriculture. As the trials are indoors, we shall not be limited by weather. More information on the trials can be viewed on-line. See TAA Events pages for timing and location. 

Places are limited, please book asap via Eventbrite.


European Conservation Agriculture Federation (ECAF)

ECAF was constituted in Brussels on 14th January, 1999, as a non-profit making international association, subjected to the Belgium laws. It was conceived to encourage any issue focused on maintaining the agrarian soil and its biodiversity in the context of sustainable agriculture. ECAF is not involved in any commercial product, equipment and/ or trademark.

The aims of ECAF are:

  • to promote information to farmers, agrarian technicians and society in general, about the techniques that make it possible to conserve agrarian soil and its biodiversity, in the context of sustainable agriculture;
  • to encourage the development, teaching and investigation on any aspect related to Conservation Agriculture and the biodiversity of agrarian soil;
  • to develop all kinds of activities and programs addressed to the achievement of the previous aims.

ECAF is an Institutional member of TAA; Amir Kassam is an honorary member of ECAF


GFAR: A Call for Collective Action on Climate Change

The 2017 Global Alliance for Climate Smart Agriculture (GACSA) Annual Forum focused on multi-stakeholder efforts to promote climate-smart agricultural practices that address the agricultural implications of climate change in the diverse regions and ecosystems of the world. Mark Holderness, GFAR Executive Secretary (and a long-time member of TAA), was invited to deliver the conference-closing remarks. He warned that climate change is already upon us and called for immediate actions, in which all must play their part, to ensure our ability to feed and nourish humanity through resilient and sustainable systems and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the sector. Using GFAR's collective action principles as a basis, Dr. Holderness called on all those concerned with the future of agriculture to urgently engage with wider society as a collective movement for change, working together through concrete actions to tackle these "wicked” and complex problems that no one can resolve by themselves. Read more and watch the video

Note that TAA is a ‘Partner in GFAR’ (see the list of Partners)


MSc in Food Safety and Quality Management

The Natural Resources Institute (an Institutional Member of TAA) at the University of Greenwich www.nri.orghas launched a new MSc programme in ‘Food Safety and Quality Management’. This programme is based upon the success of the programme of the same name taught in-house at NRI but is now available as an e-learning programme. No need to leave home or travel! You will consolidate your knowledge of the causal agents of foodborne illness and the control measures that need to be applied to ensure that food and feed are safe and wholesome. You will study safety and quality management systems incorporating the principles of Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) following the 'farm to fork' approach. You will also study the role of national food control systems, food law and enforcement in the context of national and international standards and the promotion of international trade. In addition, you will investigate safety and quality issues of a wide range of commodities and manufactured foods. Read more 

For more information, contact Linda Nicolaides, Programme Leader MSc Food Safety and Quality Management (e-learning) Natural Resources Institute. 


FARA Africa Research Reports now available on-line

The Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) is the apex continental organization responsible for coordination and advocacy for agricultural research and innovation in Africa. FARA also serves as the technical arm of the Africa Union Commission (AUC) and the NEPAD Planning and Coordinating Agency (NPCA) on matters concerning science, technology and innovation for agriculture. FARA derives additional strength from its broad-based stakeholders and its constituent Sub-Regional Research Organizations (SROs). FARA is now pleased to share the first publication of FARA Research Reports (FFR), a quarterly publication containing some of our research findings, including Ghana Rice Value Chains, Kenya Agricultural Mechanisation, Mali Mangoes, Ghana Agricultural Innovations, Mali Potato Value Chain, Benin Multi-stakeholder Platforms, Benin Climate Change.

The publication FARA Research Report (FRR) is open to accept manuscript from members of the FARA forum, which, by implication, refers to all stakeholders in Africa agricultural research and development. Please contact FARA FRR for instructions guiding authors, who may want to submit their manuscripts. FARA will be pleased to receive your feedback. 


Global Banana Production in Danger

Scientists at CABI (Centre for Agriculture and Bioscience International) have raised concerns that an attack on the world’s banana production is worse than first feared, with a perfect storm of three pestshaving the potential to decimate around $35 billion worth of crops. Read more

CABI will be presenting at the APPG Food & Agriculture for Development on 23 January 2018 in London – see TAA Events page, why not join the discussion?


Does protected cultivation have a place in sub-Saharan Africa?

With knowledge and practice, small-scale farmers can successfully adopt protected cultivation methods in sub-Saharan Africa. A review examines the performance, profitability, and impact of technologies designed to control the production environment. But are low-tech protected cultivation techniques adapted to the sustainable production of vegetables by smallholders in sub-Saharan Africa? A team of researchers from the World Vegetable Center (a TAA Institutional Member) and other agencies reviewed the pros and cons. Read more in the World Vegetable Centre's FRESH Newsletter and in links.


ERRATUM: Brexit News of 11/12/17
The figure in the first sentence should have been £1.0 billion -"As a member of the EU, the UK makes annual contributions of some £1.0 billion development and humanitarian aid through Brussels. ....". Apologies. Web Manager

Inclusive Business model built on solar dryer dome in Myanmar’s market

Bui Tran Nhu Phuong from Vietnam explained that it all started with a public-private-partnership project called Economic Transformation through Food Security, or in short WeCare. The project was co-financed by DEG KfW and Covestro, implemented by Inclusive Business of Covestro and local partners in three countries: Vietnam, Indonesia and Myanmar. The project brought solar dryer dome models to 12 low-income communities in rural areas of the above-mentioned countries.

In Myanmar, two of three communities received the solar dryer domes (SDD) to grow and dry chili pepper for both domestic use and commercial sale. During one year of drying activities, the feedback from the communities was always positive


BREXIT: Implications for International Development Aid

As a member of the EU, the UK makes annual contributions of some £1.0 billion development and humanitarian aid through Brussels. This has beneficial impacts via rural development and food security-related projects under EuropeAID andthe European Development Fund (EDF), much directed at tropical and sub-tropical developing countries. With Brexit, what will happen to the UK’s contribution? The EU institutions are the world’s fourth largest bilateral donor, while the UK is the third. When the UK withdraws, it will it be difficult to continue committing 0.7% of GDP to aid - would DfID be able to handle the extra budget? This could have implications for emerging economies, rural communities and indeed for those TAA individual and institutional members who work on EU-funded development projects, are employed in the EU institutions or or are recipients of EU funding for agricultural research (eg Horizon 2020). The answer is probably that no one knows as yet. 

In a policy paper prepared in September 2017, the UK government stated its intention to "build a new, deep and special partnership with the European Union” and to "continue to use its international development budget through its international development partnerships” with the EU. There is much speculationbut few clues about how the UK will manage its development cooperation work with the EU after departure. The uncertainty also affects the future of EU aid programmes itself. An interesting review prepared by the European Parliament notes the positive impact of the UK on planning and funding their aid programme and identifies three post-Brexit aid budget impact scenarios, affected by: a 'Nationalist UK', a 'Realistic UK' and a 'Cosmopolitan UK'. There may be a need to retrench and reduce the future EU international development programme under the first options. However, in partnership with a 'Cosmopolitan UK', the programme could continue.

Certainly, UK contributions to the EU aid funds will continue until the end of the current budget cycle in 2020.


Another Reminder: TAA AGM, Honours and Social Reunion, Dec 13th

Please remember to sign up for our function at the Royal Over-seas League in London next week. Join us for the AGM and to hear our initial thoughts on a new TAA Strategy, Meet our Development Agriculturalist of the Year, Lendwithcare – represented by Dr Ajaz Khan. He and one of this year’s TAAF awardees, Alice Stedman, will speak to us about their work.

The event will conclude with our social reunion, accompanied by a fork supper. And, if you are lucky, a prize from the raffle There will be a £25 charge towards the room hire and the supper (payable on the night). More details will be found on our Events pages

Please send an email to Elizabeth Warham to confirm your booking, as soon as possible. 


UK-Kenyan media organisation supporting E African Farmers works alongside local writers, actors, researchers, NGOs, government institutions and international donors to develop media productions that are top quality, appropriate, relevant and sustainable. Print and SMS facilities accompany all programmes, allowing key messages to be summarised on leaflets and SMS systems set up to manage questions and requests for information. This covers radio, TV, social media and print media. They are famous for "Shamba [farm] Shape Up’ takes on radio! Here can you get daily advice on how to improve your farm. It is a bit like a local ‘Archers’. If you can’t watch TV at the weekends, listen to Shamba Shape Up every weekday in Kenya on Citizen Radio! Broadcast in Swahili, Shamba Shape Up’s radio programme visits a family each week, helping them to shape up their shamba and get more crops, milk, meat and eggs for the family. Read more about Mediae’s work

[From Web Manager: Note that Mediae was set up by David Campbell, originally with some help from TAA member Rosie Squires. David is son of the late Doug Campbell, whom many members may remember from Nepal, where he helped to set up what became the Pakhribas Agricultural Centre].


Reminder: TAA SW Branch AGM, lunch and talks on topical subjects

Members and friends are welcome to join the full day event at the Exeter Golf & Country Club on January 4th. The formal AGM will include discussions of the year’s events, followed by short presentations on Beekeeping & Livelihood Security in Western Kenya, by Ellie Wibberley; Customary Laws & Participatory Extension - Key to the Success of Conservation Agriculture (CA) in Timor-Leste, by Chris Baker; Experiences of evaluation - Gender Equity & the CGIAR by Rachel Percy; The natural and political landscape of Chilean forestry and comparisons withthe UK, byBen Robinson; Conservation Agriculture Experience in Devon, by James Lee. There will be time for discussions. Departure 16.00. See full details and location on TAA Events pages. Bookings via SW Secretary Ray Bartlett.


Soil Power! The Dirty Way to a Green Planet

The last great hope of avoiding catastrophic climate change may lie in a substance so commonplace that we typically ignore it or else walk all over it: the soil beneath our feet. The earth possesses five major pools of carbon: of those pools, the atmosphere is already overloaded with the stuff; the oceans are turning acidic as they become saturated with it; the forests are diminishing; and underground fossil fuel reserves are being emptied. That leaves soil as the most likely repository for immense quantities of carbon.

Now scientists are documenting how sequestering carbon in soil can produce a double dividend. Rattan Lal, the director of the Carbon Management and Sequestration Center at Ohio Stateestimates that soil has the potential to sequester carbon at a rate of between 0.9 and 2.6 gigatons per year. That’s a small part of the 10 gigatons a year of current carbon emissions, but it’s still significant. Somewhat reassuringly, some scientists believe the estimate is low. Read his article in the New York Times.

Also, on 4th December,there was a one hour live panel discussion on "National Public Radio” on the topic of soil management.Rattan was one of the four panelists.


"My Name is Lee" – appreciating coffee growing and agro-ecology

Our TAA institutional member, ECHOAsia, invites you to view their short film that was selected as one of the top eight entries in the Youth Agro-ecology Short Film Competition, a collaboration between the Agro-ecology Learning Alliance in Southeast Asia and the Luang Prabang Film Festival. Selected from dozens of submissions from Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Thailand, these films address issues of sustainable farming, the environment, and agro-ecology, as well as the role that youth can play in leading a much-needed agricultural revolution in the Mekong region. The video that gets the most shares on Facebook by 30 November 2017 will win the competition’s Viral Award and $1000, so be sure to help spread your favourites!

If you haven't already done so, we would encourage TAA members to sign up for free membership (as an "Active Development Worker") on As you sign up, be sure to register to receive ECHO Asia Notes (their quarterly technical publications) and ECHO Asia News (updates about projects, trainings, and upcoming events).


Improving the plants that Africans eat and breeders neglect

Nutrition and genetics in Africa: Cassava and sweet potatoes. Lablab beans and water berries. Bitter gourds and sickle sennas. Elephant ears and African locusts. Some will be familiar to readers in rich countries. Others, probably not. Elephant ears, for example, are leafy vegetables. African locusts are tree-borne legumes. All, however, are standard fare in various parts of Africa. What they also have in common is that they are, from the point of view of plant breeders, orphans. They are neglected by breeders because they are not cash crops. Conversely, they are not cash crops because they are neglected by breeders. Read this article form the Economist, 17/11/17. [Kindly submitted by member Bill Thorpe]


Reminder: TAA AGM, Honours and Social Reunion, Dec 13th

We look forward to welcoming members and friends to this event at the Royal Over-seas League in London. In addition to the AGM, we are pleased to announce that the 2017 Development Agriculturalist of the Year honour will be awarded to Lendwithcare, for their achievements in raising micro-finance to help entrepreneurs in developing countries to lift themselves out of poverty, through peer-to-peer lending between people in the UK and people in recipient countries. TAA has supported Lendwithcare over several years. Dr Ajaz Khan, who is responsible for the selection and management of their Microfinance Institution partners around the world, has kindly agreed to speak on Lendwithcare’s achievements and challenges..

Alice Stedman, a TAAF Awardee and MSc student in Water Security and International Development, University of East Anglia, has agreed to present her work on Water Security and Resilience in South African Agriculture: a case study from Limpopo Province.

The event will conclude with our social reunion, accompanied by a fork supper. There will be a £25 charge to cover room hire and the supper (payable on the night). More details will be found on our Events pages. Please reserve your place in advance with Elizabeth Warham. 


Conservation Agriculture in Spain

Visit the link to a video (in Spanish with English subtitles) about a Conservation Agricuture (CA) farm in Southern Spain, which participated in the INSPIA (European Index for Sustainable Productive Agriculture) project involving ECAF (European CA Federation) and other partners. Thanks to Amir and to Paula Trivino from ECAF for sharing the video link.

[Good news that the EU has approved use of glyphosate for another 5 years, an important tool for CA, which had been linked with cancer risk, based on spurious research: Web Manager]


Conservation Agriculture in Spain

Visit the link to a video (in Spanish with English subtitles) about a Conservation Agricuture (CA) farm in Southern Spain, which participated in the INSPIA (European Index for Sustainable Productive Agriculture) project involving ECAF (European CA Federation) and other partners. Thanks to Amir and to Paula Trivino from ECAF for sharing the video link.


New Publications on SRI (System of Rice/Crop Intensification)

The two recent publications focus mainly on experience from India:

  1. 'Opportunities for ecological intensification: lessons and insights from the System of rice/crop intensification – their implications for agricultural research and development approaches', The lead author is Willem Stoop (TAA member) and it is published by CAB Reviews. The paper aims to show the relevance of SRI and its up-scaling for other crops, but also to elaborate on the various biological /ecological processes that are at its basis and contribute to environment-friendly ways of agricultural intensification. Read the paper ….. 
  2. Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) has started intensifying research on sustainable agricultural practices in the context of current Hunger Index, Climate Change and political populism – free electricity to farmers that is driving the already depleted groundwater resources deeper and deeper. Non-organic Agriculture including GM crops turned out to be day dreams and the only redeemer is cost effective local input based agriculture coupled with SRI principles of input management. Read the paper by AK Thakur et al 'Impacts of Cultivation Practice and Water Management in the post-vegetative stage on rice grain yield and water productivity'. Read the paper ….

See also TAA Land Husbandry webpages.

The Evergreen Revolution: Solutions for India’s Rice-Wheat Residue Burning
Air pollution is a major cause of premature mortality globally and the problem is particularly acute in rapidly developing countries like India. Crop residue burning contributes substantially to this problem. Currently, 80% of agriculture in Northwest India uses a rice-wheat production system dependent on burning rice residue. Several rounds of stakeholder consultations have been conducted to address the issue of residue burning and air pollution. New crop residue management systems are needed to drive a profitable, no-burn agricultural system of the future. Read the policy brief prepared by the National Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Delhi. Read also the report on "Six ways to empower India’s no-burn agriculture future” for the Ever Green Revolution, by adopting the "Happy Seeder” technology, a tractor mounted implement that allows no-till and no-burn planting of wheat into fields mulched with rice crop residue.

Kindly submitted by ML Jat (CIMMYT, India) and KV Prabhu (NAAS, Delhi), via member Amir Kassam.


AGM and Trustees Report & Accounts 2017

The annual report and accounts for TAA to the end of June 2017 are now appended to our website. Members will be asked to approve the accounts at the AGM on 13th December, before they are submitted to the Charities Commission. Please read through the report ahead of the meeting. The AGM will be at the Royal Over-seas League, Piccadilly, London. The event will include the Chairman’s review of the year, discussion of the TAA strategy  award of TAA Honours and presentations by TAAF awardee(s), concluding with our social, accompanied by a fork supper, with access to the cash bar. There will be a charge to cover room hire and the supper (payable on the night). Members and spouses/friends are welcome – let’s make it an enjoyable evening. More details will be found on ourEvents pages. Please reserve your place with Elizabeth Warham


Press Updates on Conservation Agriculture

Please see three articles related to Conservation Agriculture in Cuba, Indonesia and Zambia, all from the Inter Press Service News Agency of 10 November 2017.

Kindly submitted by TAA member Amir Kassam, FAO.


Do It Yourself (DIY) Solar Drip Irrigation

Instructions are given for the low cost automation of a gravity feed drip irrigation system so that water is pumped automatically from a farm pond (or other water supply) to a header tank and all plants are irrigated automatically:

Part A is for smallholders who wish to minimize the cost by buying all the relevant components either locally or from various suppliers worldwide.

Part B is for smallholders who wish to simplify the installation by ordering the DIY Solar Drip Irrigation Kit

Read more …..

NOTE from Web Manager: I shall be on holiday for 7 days, so there will be no news alerts for a while



Soil holds potential to slow global warming, Stanford researchers find

If you want to do something about global warming, look under your feet. Managed well, soil’s ability to trap carbon dioxide is potentially much greater than previously estimated, according to Stanford researchers who claim the resource could "significantly” offset increasing global emissions. They call for a reversal of federal cutbacks to related research programs to learn more about this valuable resource. Stanford-led research finds that reduced tillage and other land management practices could increase soil’s carbon storage enough to offset future carbon emissions. The work, published in two overlapping papers in Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution and Systematics and Global Change Biology, emphasizes the need for more research into how soil – if managed well – could mitigate a rapidly changing climate. Read more 

[From: ASA-CSSA-SSSA Science Policy Report, Issue 19 October 2017]


GFAR and Partners look forward to making out-migration a choice, not an obligation

October 16th was World Food Day, with the theme this year as "Change the Future of Migration: Invest in Food Security and Rural Development”. This is an issue of pressing importance to all Partners in GFAR, the Global Forum onAgricultural Research and Innovation. At stake are the future of our food systems, our young people, our rural environments and indeed the very future stability of our societies.

The last few years have seen an unprecedented outflow from rural areas towards urban centres, as young people seek opportunities to improve their livelihoods. This is not a new trend. The State of Food and Agriculture 2017, just released by FAO, reminds that in 1960, 22 percent of the population in developing countries (460 million people) lived in cities and towns. By 2015, that had reached 49 percent (3 billion people). Such numbers of youth migrating to urban centers overwhelm urban job markets struggling to offer worthwhile opportunities. It will also leave a huge production gap in rural agriculture—still the world’s main provider of food – and destroy the future for rural communities. Unless… action is taken to stem the tide of out-migration, by ensuring new opportunities in agriculture and food. Read more ……



Rising temperatures, rice, and arsenic uptake

Arsenic is a widely distributed toxic element that naturally occurs in minerals. One of the most common pathways for exposure is when arsenic leaches into drinking water supplies. One crop known to take up arsenic when the element is available in soils or irrigation water is rice. Arsenic accumulates throughout the plant tissues including the grain that is consumed. Rice plants may be exposed to arsenic through soil or irrigation water. Specifically, rice plants release oxygen from their roots when flooded, and this oxygen reacts with iron forming "plaques” along root surfaces. The iron oxide plaques scavenge arsenic, and the plants take up arsenic released from the plaques or dissolved in the soil solution. One factor that can affect arsenic accumulation in the rice grain, is soil temperature. Read more .....


International Biochar Initiative (IBI)

This 2,000 year-old practice converts agricultural waste into a soil enhancer that can hold carbon, boost food security, and increase soil biodiversity, and discourage deforestation. The process creates a fine-grained, highly porous charcoal that helps soils retain nutrients and water. Biochar is found in soils around the world as a result of vegetation fires and historic soil management practices. Intensive study of biochar-rich dark earths in the Amazon (terra preta), has led to a wider appreciation of biochar’s unique properties as a soil enhancer. It can be an important tool to increasefood security and cropland diversityin areas with severely depleted soils, scarce organic resources, and inadequate water and chemical fertilizer supplies. Biochar also improves water quality and quantity by increasing soil retention of nutrients and agrochemicals for plant and crop utilization. More nutrients stay in the soil instead of leaching into groundwater and causing pollution.

As the IBI Chairman reports, it as been a busy time with conferences in Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Nigeria, Taiwan, and the US; biochar workshops in many countries; the IBI Study Tour to Stockholm, a new IBI Science Committee; evolution of the African Biochar Partnership; and a stimulating series of webinars including the Stockholm biochar project, biochar analysis, markets, feed and anaerobic digestion. ...Read More. Click here for details of IBI and the positive impacts of Biochar.


TAPipedia presents the Trainer's Manual: Facilitating Capacity Needs Assessment

TAPipedia, developed with the support of GFAR, within the context of Tropical Agriculture Platform(TAP), is an information sharing system designed to enhance knowledge exchange in support of Capacity Development (CD) for Agricultural Innovation Systems (AIS). TAPipedia aims to be a global information system for good CD practices, innovation outputs, success stories and lessons learned. TAPipedia has just released a new Trainer's Manual on Facilitating Capacity Needs Assessment. This training manual was prepared under the EU-funded project CDAIS (Capacity Development for Agricultural Innovation Systems), a global partnership (Agrinatura, FAO and 8 pilot countries). Read more ……

To view the training manual, click here, and to download the Manual in pdf, click here


Tropical forests are thermally buffered despite intensive selective logging

Tropical rainforests are subject to extensive degradation by commercial selective logging. Despite pervasive changes to forest structure, selectively logged forests represent vital refugia for global biodiversity. The ability of these forests to buffer temperature-sensitive species from climate warming will be an important determinant of their future conservation value, although this topic remains largely unexplored. Thermal buffering potential is broadly determined by: (i) the difference between the "macroclimate” (climate at a local scale, m to ha) and the "microclimate” (climate at a fine-scale, mm to m, that is distinct from the macroclimate); (ii) thermal stability of microclimates (e.g.variation in daily temperatures); and (iii) the availability of microclimates to organisms. A team from Universities of Sheffield, York and Malaysia, led by Rebecca Senior, compared these metrics in undisturbed primary forest and intensively logged forest on Borneo.

They conclude that selectively logged forests are similar to primary forests in their potential for thermal buffering, and subsequent ability to retain temperature-sensitive species under climate change. Selectively logged forests can play a crucial role in the long-term maintenance of global biodiversity. Read the research article as published by Wiley on-line library, October 2017 [kindly forwarded by TAA member Pramel of Vrutti, India]



We had asked all members to complete our Questionnaire, in order to review our 2008 Strategy and to prepare our new Strategy for 2017 onwards. Thank you to all of you who have responded. However, many people have not submitted their Questionnaires, so we have extended the submission date to November 10th. If you have not already done so, please respond.

Individual members can access the Questionnaire at

The nominated representatives of our Institutional member organisations are requested to respond to a slightly different survey at

You can also access the links via the TAA website. You will need your login and password to access the links. Please contact our Membership Secretary  if you need help with your login and/or password.

Submission deadline is now 10th November 2017.

Never underestimate the power of vegetables

Vegetables are increasingly recognized as essential for food and nutrition security. Vegetable production provides a promising economic opportunity for reducing rural poverty and unemployment in developing countries and is a key component of farm diversification strategies. Vegetables are mankind’s most affordable source of vitamins and minerals needed for good health. But today, neither the economic nor nutritional power of vegetables is sufficiently realized. A groundbreaking review of the economic and nutritional benefits of vegetables points to the urgent need for greater public and private investment in vegetable crop research. Read more about growing fresh vegetables. You can also read about 'Mungbean in Timor-Leste', 'Meat-eating Maasai giving vegetables a try', and 'No water? Grow vegetables', all in the October newsletter from the World Vegetable Centre (a TAA institutional member)


APPG report on Climate Risk Insurance

Read the report prepared by the APPG on Agriculture & Food for Development, which is being distributed to members of the UK Parliament. Also accessible via the TAA website


Transforming the African Savannah Initiatives (TASI)

Dr. Akin Adesina, President of the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the World Food Prize Laureate 2017 delivered a speech at the special event on TASI. His address included:

"The initiative will start by bringing approximately 2 million hectares of savannah in eight African countries - Ghana, Guinea, Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic, Uganda, Kenya, Zambia, and Mozambique - under the cultivation of maize, soybean, and livestock production in optimum conditions. Africa must learn from the experiences that have worked elsewhere, while tailoring the interventions to the specific realities of Africa. We must ensure that small, medium scale and large-scale commercial farmers co-exist in a way that allows opportunities for all.

"Partnerships in research and development will be crucial. That is why the AfDB has engaged to work with the strongest possible organizations with proven track records in tropical agriculture from South America. These include the Brazilian Research Corporation (EMBRAPA), the Agricultural Corporation of Brazil (CAMPO), as well as others with long experience in Conservation Agriculture, including the Argentine Association of Zero-tillage, and the Argentine Agricultural Research Institute." Read more …..


GFAR Webinar on Effective Tools for Understanding, Managing and Accelerating Impact

TAA is a partner with GFAR, as a Civil Society organisation/ NGO in agriculture, food & rural development'. The next webinar is on "Effective Tools for Understanding, Managing and Accelerating Impact”, organized by GFAR, but in collaboration with GFAR partners COSA and the Global Landscapes Forum (GLF). Details and how to register for this webinar can be found in this blogpost.

Peter Casier, the GFAR Community Coordinator, promises to keep us closer involved in upcoming webinars, which are split between content-based webinars on "the core-work we do", and communications-based webinar on "how we can disseminate the work we do".



We ask all members to respond to our Questionnaire 2017, in order to review our 2008 Strategy and to prepare our new Strategy for 2017 onwards, You should have already received the web links to the survey via email. If you have not received the links, or have mislaid them, you can access them here on the website.

Individual members are asked to complete the standard survey

The nominate representatives of our Institutional member organisations are requested to respond to a slightly different survey.

You will need your login and password to access the links on the website. Please contact our Membership Secretary you need help with your login and password.

Responses should be completed by 31st October 2017, please.


TAA Event Reminders: Curry Club, Reading Cocoa Visit and HBML, AGM/Reunion

See Events pages for full details of each event.

26thOctober: Curry Club: Frank Bibby will speak on ‘Highlights from 50 years of large-scale farming in Africa and Iran’. Strand Continental Hotel, London. Meet at 11 am for coffee before the talk. Sign up with Terry Wiles 

8thNov. Tour of Reading University's Cocoa Unit and Crop Environment Labs, meet for lunch at 13.30. Book via Terry Wiles

8thNov: Hugh Bunting Memorial Lecture, ‘Climate Smart tropical agriculture: integrating women, youth, and the digital revolution’.Speaker Dr. Margaret Mangheni of Makerere University, Uganda. 18.00pm, Reading University. Wine reception to follow. Book via Mollie Smith.

13th December. AGM, Honours awards, presentations and Annual Reunion/Social with fork supper. 17.00 at Royal Over-seas League, Piccadilly, London. Book via Elizabeth Warham 


Agroecology farming can sustain soil, ensure food safety for Ghana – Study

A baseline study on agroecology farming, which involves applying ecological processes to agricultural production, has revealed that the method has the potential to improve yield quality, ensure higher yields, and ensure food safety. The study on ‘Climate Change and Agroecology Farming Practice’ was conducted by the University of Ghana for the Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana (PFAG). Read more …. [thanks to Farmers’ Dialogue]


More investment funds for CDC from DfID

The UK government will pump as much as £3.5 billion into the investment arm of the aid department over the next five years in a new commitment to its economic development strategy, according to ‘The Times’ of London.

CDC will receive funding of up to £700 million a year to invest in businesses in the developing world and help to create hundreds of thousands of jobs. The money will come out of the Department for International Development’s (DfID) £13 billion annual budget. DfID is pushing hard to build up a strong private sector in emerging markets in an effort to drive sustainable growth, lift countries out of poverty and "end aid dependency”. Not everyone is in agreement. Read more …..



Does Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification really work?

This is an article in the Mongabay series on "Conservation Effectiveness” covering FSC certification. Zuzana Burivalova, a tropical forest ecologist at Princeton, performed the analysis of the scientific literature on forest certification. The final article was written by Shreya Dasgupta: it is heavily hyperlinked with infographics, so is best read online. Hear Zuzana on the Mongabay podcast.

Despite the rapid expansion of FSC certification over 20 years, there is only limited rigorous science investigating its effects. What little research there is suggests that FSC-certified forests are better for the environment than conventionally managed forests for several outcomes. But for a primary environmental goal (reducing deforestation), the evidence is currently poor. Available research is heavily biased towards Asia (19 studies) and Central & South America (18 studies): Africa remains poorly understood (7 studies). Forest certification, works in complex, continually changing contexts. Companies have varied backgrounds and operate in varied settings with a range of logistical, social, and business challenges. This is where evidence can be helpful. "Scientific evidence can help inform FSC’s policy and other decision makers about where the strengths, weaknesses and potentials of the certification scheme lie.”

The next feature in the series is on payments for ecological services.


Hidden cost of feeding grain to farm animals to hit $1.32tn a year

Campaigners say humans must address the huge hidden costs of industrial farming, such as wasted food and calories. Our habit of feeding human foods, such as grain and soya, to farm animals will cost us $1.32tn (£1tn) a year by 2050 globally, according to environmental campaigners, reported by the Guardian newspaper in the UK. The hidden costs of the industrial farming system are vast, and urgently need to be brought into clear focus, Peter Stevenson of Compassion in World Farming told the Extinction and Livestock conference in London. "There’s a worrying disconnect between the retail price of food and the true cost of production. As a result, food produced at great environmental cost can appear to be cheaper than more sustainably produced alternatives.”

The conference, attended by a broad mixture of scientists and campaigners, but also representatives from multinationals such as McDonalds, Tesco, Compass and Sodexo, would, many hoped, be the beginning of a new movement and voice to challenge the status quo. Read more ……


In order to review our 2008 Strategy and to prepare our new Strategy for 2017 onwards, we ask all members to respond to the TAA Questionnaire 2017. You should have already received the web links to the survey via email. If you have not received these links, or mislaid them, you can access them on the website.

Individual members are asked to complete the standard survey

Representatives of our Institutional member organisations are requested to respond to a slightly different survey.

As the information is confidential to TAA members, you will need your login and password to access the links from the website. If you have mislaid your logo and password, please contact Linda 

Responses should be completed by 31st October 2017, please.

Curry Club reminder: Highlights from 50 years of large-scale farming in Africa and Iran

TAA member Frank Bibby will speak on 26th October at the L&SE Branch Curry Club Talks. Meet at 11 am at Strand Continental for coffee before the talk; curry lunch served afterwards See Events pages for details and charges and sign up with Terry Wiles.

Threat to India Club, where we hold our talks. As reported by the Times: "it may have one of the most limited menus of any curry house in London, but the India Club played a key role in Indian independence — and today it is fighting for its survival. The freeholder of the club in The Strand has applied to Westminster council to demolish the seven-storey building and redevelop it as a boutique hotel. However, the India Club is not going quietly. A favourite of politicians, lawyers and journalists, the management has rallied a list of celebrities in an attempt to block the wrecking ball …..".

TIGR2ESS: a major new UK:India collaborative project

‘Transforming India's Green Revolution by Research and Empowerment for Sustainable food Supplies’ (TIGR2ESS) is being funded under the UK Ministry of Universities, Science, Research and Innovation's new £1.5 billion Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF). TIGR2ESS will define the requirements for a second Green Revolution in India, set the necessary policy agenda, and engage an extensive network of academic stakeholders, NGOs and industrial partnerships to deliver the requirements for it to become a reality. It is focused on how to attain sustainable crop production and resource use in different regions of India, with a particular emphasis on water use. The challenge will be contextualised within the widespread changes taking place in Indian society today, aiming towards a realistic outcome that is both technically and socially acceptable. UK Partners:University of Cambridge (lead), NIAB, John Innes Centre, Rothamsted Research (TAA member), University of East Anglia, University of Essex, Centre for Global Equality, The British Dietetic Association. Indian Partners: 19 higher education and research institutes, 7 NGOs.

TIGR2ESS involves: (i) Themed, interlinked research to address questions relating to crop productivity and water use in India, identify appropriate crops and farming practices and define policy requirements for a second Green Revolution, (ii) Capacity-building for leading researchers to work together and training and skills development junior researchers, (iii) Training workshops, on-farm demonstrations, and education programmes for rural communities, including empowering next generation of female farmers. Read more ….



TAA Questionnaire Survey of Individual Members, 2017

In 2008 a survey was conducted, which served to refine a future strategy, based on six major themes. Since then, much has happened: technologies have changed and the activities of TAA have evolved. Therefore we have decided to conduct a new Questionnaire Survey, which we ask all members to complete by 31 October. The Questionnaire can also be accessed from our Home Page. It is in two parts. Please attempt to answer all questions but if you have only recently joined TAA or have no experience of the 2008 strategy activities you may omit responses to Part 1. All members should please respond to Part 2, which relates to a future TAA strategy. Your views are important: the survey is an opportunity for you to contribute to the future of TAA.

Part 1. A review of themes and activities in the 2008 strategy, to identify successes and constraints to the activities undertaken - questions are shown in green font.

Part 2. Covers issues related to a future TAA strategy, to suggest any necessary modifications to existing activities, identify new activities and consider links to other organizations and the management of the Association. Questions are shown in red font.

Concurrently, we shall be circulating by email a slightly different questionnaire to the representatives of each of our Institutional member organisations for their views. Institutional member representatives can also access their survey here


First-ever global erosivity map shows areas most vulnerable to erosion

Understanding erosion is important in quantifying the loss of topsoil for agriculture, as well as the contamination of food and water by sediments. However, erosion is a very complex process. It depends on many factors, including climate, soil type, and vegetation cover. A new map, published in an open-access paper, tries to quantify how much energy is available to erode the land surface on a given spot globally.
 Read more: 
(From US Science Policy Report, 6 September 2017)


Soils of Malaysia

Edited by Muhammad Aqeel Ashraf, Radziah Othman, Che Fauziah Ishak. Published 20 September 2017 by Routledge, 214 pages, 53 colour illustrations, 14 B/W illustrations, Hardback ISBN: 9781138197695, price hardcover GBP 108.00.
There are approximately 500 different types of soils in Malaysia, most is residual soil and coastal alluvial soil. It covers topics including climate; flora and fauna; geology and hydrology; land use changes for agriculture; soil fertility; human-induced soil degradation; and soil contamination sources. Read more


12th Hugh Bunting Memorial Lecture: Reading

This12th annual lecture will be delivered at Reading University on Nov 8th by Dr Margaret Mangheni, Associate Professor of Agricultural Extension Educationat Makerere University, Uganda. The theme will be "Climate Smart tropical agriculture: integrating women, youth, and the digital revolution”. The event will be Chaired by Dr Andrew Bennett CMG, TAA President. The programme will commence at 17.30, with a networking meeting, followed by a welcome at 18.30 by Professor Julian Park, Head of School. The Hugh Bunting Memorial Lecture by Margaret Mangheni will commence at 18.40. The evening will conclude with a wine and finger buffet,19:40 – 21:00. Members, spouses and friends are welcome. Click here for the detailed programme. Reserve your place for the lecture with Mollie Smith(tel: 0118 378 4549).

A separate, afternoon tour of the University’s Cocoa Unit and Crop Environment Labsis being arranged for TAA members and friends: please book via Terry Wiles. See the TAA Events pages for more information on the lecture and the Cocoa Unit visit.


Membership Dilemmas

Subscriptions by members are essential to pay for the direct costs of the various services that we provide, bearing in mind that all TAA officers work on a voluntary basis. Our Membership Secretary devotes a lot time chasing up payments by members. Ideally, we would use a direct debit system but the Association is too small for us to avail this system. Last year we were delighted to welcome 74 new members but we are still trying to ensure that many faithful members amend/update their payments to match the new subscriptions rates, or they risk being suspended. Student membership is now £15 per year, on-line membership is £40 and full membership with hard copy of the Journal is £50. Please check the membership pages for details – if you have any doubts, contact our Membership Secretary

Meantime, we do continue to receive payment from unknown people: in August deposits were made into TAA’s account by "D Mushrooms and Limes” (£80), by "Dtim Hdf and donations” (£40) and by "John Donaghue” (£50)!! We have no idea who these kind donors are, can anyone help to enlighten us?


Fitbit cows and virtual fences: welcome to the future of farming

Fields without fences, cows wearing activity trackers and robots roaming the strawberry patch could soon be common across the countryside. An agricultural revolution, the fourth in 230 years, is transforming farming, scientists say. Where hi-tech farming used to mean an air-conditioned tractor, the modern farmer’s arsenal includes drones that spot diseases and robots that can weed.

"We are in the fourth agricultural revolution and it’s a digital revolution,” Simon Pearson, head of the Lincoln Institute for Agri-Food Technology, UK, said. "It’s about taking huge data streams to develop precision agriculture that can target specific areas of a field or specific areas of a plant. Read the article as published in The Times, London.


Sustainable Tourism for Development: TAA SW Conference ERRATUM
Please note the corrected link to the detailed programme, below.
The Topical Agriculture Association (TAA) SW Branch invites you to a full day conference at the Royal Agricultural University, Cirencester, with the theme of Sustainable Tourism for Developmentto coincide with this International Tourism Year, 2017. The programme commences with registration at 10.00. There will be nine presentations concerning rural tourism in the UK, Kenya, India, Caribbean, Zimbabwe and Italy. Following a concluding panel discussion, the conference will close at 16.15. Lunch will be available in the refectory.There will be a charge of £20 per person to cover lunch and speakers’ expenses. See Events page or Click here to read the detailed Programme. Contact John Wibberley to reserve a place.


African Women in Agriculture ‘The Marrakech Declaration’

From September 11-13th 2017, the city of Marrakech hosted an important international Congress on the subject "African Women in Agriculture" (AWA). This unprecedented meeting was organized by the American Association ‘Believe in Africa’, in collaboration with the PRESMA Agency. Some 200 participants from 17 African countries and the USA took part in the meeting. Mrs Angelle KWEMO President and Founder of this initiative, at the opening stated that "in terms of agricultural production in Africa, women do not hold the key but they are the solution to the continent's food challenge. It is through women that the continent will achieve not only its food self-sufficiency but above all its "food sovereignty".

The event was also supported by international bodies such as UNO Women and the US Africa Development Foundation, which not only supported rural women's agricultural associations but also facilitated the participation of many women from the continent, including leaders such as Korka Diaw, Korka Rice of Senegal and Mrs. Sirebara Foumata Diallo, President of the Union of Women Cooperatives in Agriculture of Mali. The second edition of "African Women in Agriculture" is expected to be available in May 2018. Read the Marrakech Declaration

[Note that the next edition of the TAA’s journal Agriculture for Development (No 32) will have the theme ‘Women in Agriculture’]


New technology in China turns desert into land rich with crops

Crops like maize, tomatoes, sorghum and sunflowers are transforming more than 200 ha of sand dunes into an oasis – all within six months. It’s all thanks to new technology developed by researchers at Chongqing Jiaotong University. They developed a paste made of a substance found in plant cell walls. When it’s added to sand, it’s able to retain water, nutrients and air. China’s breakthrough experiment in converting sand to soil is promising for making land seemingly hostile to life, into fertile ground. Read more ....


[Thanks to Claude Bourdin of Farmers’ Dialogue]


Message of thanks from LendwithCare
TAA has contributed over £6,000 to LendwithCare over the years, which provides rolling loan micro-finance to small entrepreneurs across the world. Click here to see how our contribution has benefitted small farmers and entrepreneurs. The message from LendwithCare reads:

"I just have a quick update to send you this month. Our colleagues at CARE have been busy in response to Hurricane Irma this week. And our preparations for Christmas have already begun! You may have seen on our social media, but I am absolutely delighted to announce that this month we reached another huge milestone. You have now lent £15 MILLION through Lendwithcare! On behalf of the 64,000 entrepreneurs you've supported:thank you so much”. Shabby, Head of Fundraising, Partnerships & Communications at CARE International, has been visiting Lendwithcare entrepreneurs in Ecuador. Click here to read her series of blogs about her insights into our microfinance partners in the country, and her experience meeting some of the entrepreneurs who've received a Lendwithcare loan from lenders like you”.


Reminders: Curry Club, RAU Conference, Hugh Bunting Lecture and Cocoa lab visit

Keep up to date with full details on the TAA Events pages

28th September: TAA Curry Club ‘Sustainable Land Management and Socio-economic Development in the Highlands of Ethiopia’, a talk byJim Ellis-Jones (TAA member). Jim will look at major initiatives for sustainable land management to improve farm and landscape practices, markets, food security and livelihoods. 11.00 am at Strand Continental Hotel, London. Book your place with Terry Wiles. On 28th Oct, Frank Bibby will talk on "Highlights from 50 years oflarge-scale farming in Africa and Iran”.

12th October: Sustainable Tourism For Development, Annual Conference of TAA SW Branch. Full day conference to coincide withthis International Tourism Year. Programme currently under preparation. It will include presentations on rural tourism from the UK, Kenya, India, Caribbean, Zimbabwe and Italy. 10.00 am at Royal Agricultural University (RAU), Stroud Road, Cirencester GL7 6JS, UK. Contact John Wibberley to reserve a place.

8thNovember: TAA Hugh Bunting Memorial Lecture, ‘Innovation Systems and ICT for Smallholder Farmers’. Speaker Dr. Margaret Najjingo Mangheni, Reader in Agricultural Extension at Makerere University, Uganda. 6.00pm at Reading University. Book via Mollie Smith. Plus an afternoon visit to the University's Cocoa Unit and Crop Environment Labs – book via Terry Wiles


TAA Honours 2017: please send nominations nowThe annual TAA Honours recognises people who have made significant contributions in the field of agriculture for development or to the TAA itself. We rely

The annual TAA Honours recognises people who have made significant contributions in the field of agriculture for development or to the TAA itself. We rely on nominations by our members. Please send the name(s) of candidates whom you wish to propose for the 2017 Honours. The honours will be awarded at the Annual Reunion (Royal Over-seas League, London 13thDecember 2017). The three categories are: 'Development Agriculturalist of the Year' (need not be a TAA member); 'Young Development Agriculturalist of the year' (usually awarded to a TAAF Awardee); and 'Award of Merit or Honorary Membership' is given to TAA member(s), who have made outstanding contributions to meeting the objectives of the Association. The Honours Panel seeks nominations for each category. The closing date for nominations is now 15th October. Each nomination should include a proposer and a seconder (both TAA members or employees of an Institutional Member) and a short statement of the ways in which the nominee meets the criteria for the award for which he or she is being nominated. 

For more details and nomination forms, visit the TAA website Honours and AwardsClick here to see previous recipients of awards.


Welcome to Reliance Foundation, India, as TAA expands in India

Reliance Foundation has recently joined TAA as an institutional member. Reliance works toward enriching the lives of the marginalized communities of India. It enhances livelihood opportunities and provides relevant information to help reduce risks for rural communities. The Foundation makes systematic efforts to improve the quality and productivity of rural assets, leading to increased and more reliable yields. Read more ..... ..


Girish Bhardwaj (TAA Organizer) is arranging a small get-together for Indian TAA members on 28th of September 2017 in Delhi. It is timed to coincide with a visit by the TAA Chairman, Keith Virgo, and is planned as an informal interactive session to focus on on: (i) Introduction to the participants; (ii) Update on TAA globally, along with future strategies; (iii) Challenges in increasing membership in India; (iv) Suggestions on implementing strategies. The output willcontribute to formulating a TAA-India strategy and 3-5 years of perspective plan.


Robo-harvesters gather their first crop of barley

Harper Adams University (UK) has completed a trial of robot-tended cereal production, the first ever example of such crops to be grown entirely by machines. "After a drone had buzzed overhead to check that the barley wasn’t too wet, a small robot-controlled vehicle harvested the first crop in the world to have been grown entirely by machines, with no human having set foot in the field". Although some larger agricultural vehicles are already semi-autonomous, the researchers behind the Hands-Free Hectare project believe that only by automating every aspect of the cycle and working with smaller machines can Britain’s farmers overcome a shortage of labour and near 20-year plateau in crop yields. Can we expect this system to be applied in tropical environments? Read the story, as published in The Times of London

Can we expect this system to be applied in tropical environments?


Groundswell No-Till Show and Conference 2017 Outcomes

Information on the outcomes of the 2017 Groundswell No-Till Show and Conference, held at Weston, Hertfordshire, UK on 28 and 29 June, are now available via links in the TAA website, including speakers and presentations.


Farmers’ Gathering and Visit to Farms in Korea

Following the Cambodian International Farmers’ Dialogue meeting in Cambodia in 2016, a Cambodian farmers’ team learned through an exchange visit with South Korea. This was organised by Farmers’ Dialogue and Initiatives for Change. Click here to read more.

[Article submitted by TAA member, Jim Wigan, on behalf of Farmers' Dialogue International].


Conservation Agriculture Sprouts in Cuban Fields

At the entrance, the Tierra Brava farm looks like any other family farm in the rural municipality of Los Palacios, in the westernmost province of Cuba. But as you drive in, you see that the traditional furrows are not there, and that freshly cut grass covers the soil.

"For more than five years we’ve been practicing conservation agriculture (CA)”, explained Onay Martínez, who works 22 hectares of state-owned land. He was referring to a specific kind of agro-ecology which, besides not using chemicals, diversifies species on farms and preserves the soil using plant coverage and no plowing. "In Cuba, this system is hardly practiced,” lamented the farmer, who is cited as an example by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of integral and spontaneous application of CA, which Cuban authorities began to include in their policies in 2016. Read more …..  [Source: Inter Press Service - Caribbean Climate Wire - 25 August 2017, submitted by Amir Kassam].


Can we fix it? Will cereals be enabled to fix nitrogen? RSB News

Jack Parsons is a BBSRC DPhil student at the University of Oxford. His research focuses on characterising early stage rhizobium-legume symbiosis, and developing novel platforms for tracking root-microbe interactions. For more than 40 years, scientists have attempted to engineer cereal crops that can fix atmospheric nitrogen. With more mouths to feed than ever, Jack Parsons believes a breakthrough may finally be within reach. Symbiosis between the legume (such as alfalfa and soy) and the Rhizobia soil bacteria provides a supply of 'fixed' atmospheric nitrogen to the plant, largely freeing them from the need for man-made fertilisers. The ability to generate self-fertilising cereal crops has remained elusive but with advances in understanding of nitrogen-fixing symbioses, as well as technologies such as Golden Gate assembly and more affordable DNA sequencing and synthesis, we have now reached a crucial tipping point. Read the article in the latest Royal Society of Biology (RSB) journal ’The Biologist’. 

TAA is a Member Organisation of RSB and members can read the RSB Member Organisations’ Newsletter on-line.


APPG seeks suggestions of topics to raise with DfID

Caspar van Vark, coordinator, advises that on 6th September, representatives of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Agriculture & Food for Development will be meeting with Lord Bates, Secretary of State at DFID for the House of Lords. .Lord Bates’ official areas of responsibility include the Caribbean, Overseas Territories, Europe, the United Nations and Commonwealth, global partnerships and emerging powers, education and youth. If any TAA member would like to suggest any specific issues/questions for the APPG to raise at the meeting, please advise Caspar Van Vark as soon as possible. 

NOTE: This a small private meeting with Lord Bates, not a formal APPG meeting.

The APPG will also soon be publishing a report based on their recent mini-inquiry into climate risk insurance. They are now considering topics for another inquiry/report for this autumn and would welcome any suggestions from TAA members. Again, please contact Caspar Van Vark or call 07803 722598 / 0207 219 6079.

Thanks to Terry Wiles, TAA Coordinator on the APPG for forwarding the information.


Sustainable Water Fund (FDW): Indian TAA member seeks partners.

We welcome VRUTTI as an institutional member of TAA. Vrutti, is an NGO based in India, that works with rural communities who are dependent predominantly on farm-based livelihoods, to increase their income, make them resilient and more responsible farmers, in turn creating successful entrepreneurs and sustained job creators. Established in 2002, VRUTTI has been contributing towards empowering poor and marginalised communities across India.

VRUTTI is keen to apply for support under the Netherlands Government Sustainable Water Fund (FDW) projects and seeks TAA member organisations to join in a technical partnership on the theme area of "Efficient and sustainable water use, particularly within agriculture"http://. In India, FDW works in partnerships with Solidariadad, a Dutch NGO. If any TAA members are interested in pursuing this link, please contact Pramel Gupta 


Newsletter of the No-Till Club of Kwa Zulu Natal, South Africa

Good Day No-Till Members and No-Till Conservation Agriculture Supporters! This is the second e-newsletter being sent out to reach a great deal morefarmers, agricultural advisors, etc, to provide encouragement and ideas in the adaptation and technical applications required by No-Till CA. Please download the newsletter here,

Do not forget our No Till Conference on 5 to 7 September 2017: Programme/Program 2017;Speakers 2017;Registration Forms 2017 Delegates' Registration. See TAA events page for more details.


Curry Club: Sustainable Land Management & Socio-economic Development, Ethiopia

Join the London & SE Branch 'Curry Club' Meeting on 28th September. The talk will be given by TAA member Jim Ellis-Jones on Sustainable Land Management and Socio-economic Development in the Highlands of Ethiopia. He will look at major initiatives for sustainable land management to improve farm and landscape practices, markets, food security and livelihoods. These include the participation of community-based organisations and farmer-to-farmer extension initiatives. Join us for coffee at 11.00. The talk will be followed by a curry lunch. Details are given on the TAA Events webpages.  Book your place with Terry Wiles.


Communicating with smallholder farmers about climate change

This document, with examples and recommendations for rural advisory services, summarizes experience and inputs from the FAO Community for Agriculture Sectors and Climate Change, and relevant sources (cited). Our team request your feedback especially on the content (editing will still be made and images will be replenished and inserted in full quality) and on the structure of the content. You can send your comments either as sticky notes to the PDF, or via email to: Agriculture sectors and climate change , with a copy to Maria Nuutinen  by Wednesday 16 August 2017. Read the full draft text Review-draft_CC-communication_with_smallholders_RAS_Examples_compressed2017.pdf


Why better soil could mean peace and prosperity for African farmers
The World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) blog notes that famine threatens South Sudan, Nigeria, Somaliaand Yemen. Ethiopia is also included within the top 5 areas of highest concern. An estimated 42 million people are currently food insecure in the Sahel – expected to deteriorate to 53 million during June to August. Land degradation is at the nexus of the world’s food, poverty, migration, water, climate, and security crisis and lies at the root of many conflicts. As droughts become more frequent and more intense, the resilience of farmers and pastoralists has been eroded. Droughts are particularly damaging to soil health, especially in arid, semi-arid and dry sub-humid areas. Every year, 12 million hectares of topsoil is being either blown or washed away.

Scaling up small and successful interventions to reverse land degradation is key. But there is a gap in funding available for such projects, despite the creation of the Land Degradation Neutrality Fund by UNCCD. Public finance can plug some of this, by rewarding small-scale farmers for investing in soil health, offering financial safety nets as they transition into sustainable land management programmes, or by subsidising input costs.

[Blog by Meera Shah, Imperial College London. originally published by the Malabo Montpellier Panel]


The Zoo beneath or feet

The gardener has a long, touchy-feely relationship with the soil. As every good cultivator knows, you assess the earth by holding it. Is it dark and crumbly, is there an earthworm or beetle in there, is it moist, and when you smell it, are you getting that pleasant earthy aroma? All these signs are reassuring, and have been through the ages, but they are mere indicators of something much greater and infinitely mysterious: a hidden universe beneath our feet. 

READ MORE from the Washington Post


OpenDiagnostics launches new website

The CGE Cultivator Venture OpenDiagnostics has launched their new website OpenDiagnostics are developing a low-cost paper-based diagnostic platform technology for the surveillance of crop and livestock viral infections in low-income countries. If these infections remain undetected, they threaten food security and farmers’ livelihoods.The new website will provide a platform for showcasing their work and documenting experiments and trials, which they hope will soon lead to widespread application. See the earlier TAA news alert of 17th June 2017.


Applications are open for the Innovation in Development Reporting Grant

The European Journalism Centre (EJC) has opened applications for the Innovation in Development Reporting Grant (IDR) Programme. With a focus on food production, food security, health and nutrition, and food trade and markets, the grant aims to enable better coverage of international development issues. The programme is open to both freelancers and newsrooms and the grant given will average €20,000.

Deadline:Wednesday 6 September 2017. More information about how to apply, the eligibility criteria and more about the grant


Thank you to those members who have updated their subscription payments

A big thank you to everyone who has updated their membership for the year commencing July 1st 2017. And special thanks to those who have taken the trouble to update their Standing Order or set up a new payment. This makes running the TAA so much easier for everyone.

If you have not made a recent payment or are unsure of your current membership status then please contact our Membership Secretary Linda

There are still around 62 people who have not amended their payments. Subscription rates changed 12 months ago and they should have received several reminders. Some of you may still use addresses and so are not contactable. Please act now!


Grant Funding Now Available for Healthy Soils Program in California

There's big news in the quest for healthy soils in California! The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) officially started accepting applications for the long awaited Healthy Soils Program (HSP) on August 8th! According to their news release, the "program, authorized by the Budget Act of 2016, receives funding from California Climate Investments, with proceeds from the state’s cap-and-trade auctions targeted to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions while providing a variety of additional benefits to California communities." The program offers grants to farmers and ranchers who implement on-farm practices that reduce green-house gas emissions and improve soil health. There are two components to the grant funding: 1) the HSP Incentives funding and 2) the HSP Demonstrations Project.

Kindly submitted by Amir Kassam, Moderator of the FAO Global CA-CoP Conservation Agriculture Community of Practice and TAA member, who adds "While this is local scheme for California, it does provide an encouraging sign that such local schemes could be offered in many locations in other parts of the world”.

Cambridge Centre for Crop Science (‘3CS’)
The Cambridge Centre for Crop Science (3CS) is a partnership between the University of Cambridge and NIAB (a TAA Institutional member)
that will enhance research in crop sciences, promote knowledge exchange and develop resilience in food security. Established in 2015, the new centre has gained over £30m of funding from the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE). The centre will focus on linking with farming and food industries to translate research into real world impact. With the global population estimated to reach nine billion people by 2050, ensuring all people have access to sufficient food is one of this century’s greatest challenges. The new centre will provide a major boost to the University’s existing research initiatives around global food security."3CS innovations will generate new crops and new ways of growing crops for food, fuels, industrial feed-stocks and pharmaceuticals,” said Professor Sir David Baulcombe, head of Cambridge’s Department of Plant Sciences and the project lead for the University. "We envisage that new 3CS crop technologies will enable higher crop yields and lower environmental impact for crop-based food production – as well as contributing to improved dietary health.”

The 3CS to be housed in a state-of-the-art research laboratory at NIAB’s Cambridge site, where it will be led by a newly-appointed Professor of Crop Science. The Centre will involve researchers from Plant Sciences and other University departments, NIAB, the Cambridge Sainsbury Laboratory, and other UK and international research institutes. 3CS is already establishing connections with major industry partners, as well as agricultural supply chain networks. Read more ……


Presentations of a Soil Erosion modelling workshop
The workshop took place in Ispra, Italy (20-22 March 2017) and was organized by the Joint Research Centre (JRC). It hosted more than 110 participants and the 83 presentations are now available for download. This workshop discussed mainly issues how the local/regional modelling results can be up-scaled (or applied) at European scale. Emphasis was also given to management practices that can reduce soil erosion and small-scale applications.



Research to improve efficiency of food chains and food security

Mukesh Kumar is from a poor village in Bihar, India. He saw small-holder farmers without enough money to buy the seeds or medicines they needed. Following a career in the financial industry, he joined the University of Cambridge’s Institute for Manufacturing as a University Lecturer. With support of the Cambridge Global Food Security Initiative he has conducted research on resilience in the food supply. "We picked eleven case studies, from grapes in California, to gherkins and pickles in Southern India, to shrimp in Andhra Pradesh. These have relatively simple supply chains so we could study them from end to end, and talk to people at every stage from the farmers to the processors to the distributors. We’re building a portfolio of risk across the supply chains, so that resilience can then be built in to reduce food loss and shortage”.

Next he wants to look at how to distribute value more fairly in the food supply chain. Many farmers are concerned that they’re not getting a fair price for their produce, particularly grain. "Talking to Indian farmers I found that they’re actually subsidising the costs of consumer food. They’re poor. They have loans they can’t repay and they don’t want their children to become farmers. They send their boys to school and try to marry their girls out of the farming life. If farming doesn’t become more commercially viable then we won’t have any farmers left. I think that’s the biggest risk to global food security. We have to look at distributing value more fairly”. [submitted by GFS, read more …. ]


ISRIC entrusted as Global Soil Facility for the Global Soil Partnership (GSP)

ISRIC – World Soil Information has been entrusted with the role of Global Soil Information Facility (GSF) by the Plenary Assembly of the Global Soil Partnership (GSP) on June 20, 2017. This means that ISRIC, as member of the Pillar 4 Working Group, will: (i) contribute to the design of the Global Soil Information System, (ii) participate in capacity building programs, and (iii) provide a system that integrates the national facilities into a global soil information. Read more .......


GFAR announces new Chair and Vice-chair

At their meeting in June 2017, the GFAR Steering Committee appointed Ms. Bongiwe N. Njobe from South Africa as their new Chair. She is joined by Mr. Raffaele Maria Maiorano from Italy as Vice-Chair. They have shown themselves to be a dynamic team, eager to engage the members of the GFARSteering Committee, who will guide the Partners in GFAR (including TAA) in taking forward collective actions.

The Partners in GFAR welcome the new appointments and look forward to working with them as GFAR develops and implements its next Medium Term Plan (2018-2021). Dr Mark Holderness, GFAR Executive Secretary (and TAA member) and the GFAR Secretariat staff also take this opportunity to express thanks to the outgoing Chair and Vice-Chair,for their leadership and vision as GFAR has undertaken to transform itself, with their Partners, to be truly representative of the many, diverse voices in agri-food research and innovation. Read more about the new Chair and Vice-Chair and the GFAR Strategic Workshop and Steering Committee held in June. In this GFAR Update we're also highlighting recent Partner Spotlights on SIANI and IFAD, and sharing the final reflections of the young agri-preneurs who took part in YAP Phase 1.


GFAR announces new Chair and Vice-chair

At they rmeeting in June 2017, the GFAR Steering Committee appointed Ms. Bongiwe N. Njobe from South Africa as their new Chair. She is joined by Mr. Raffaele Maria Maiorano from Italy as Vice-Chair. They have shown themselves to be a dynamic team, eager to engage the members of the GFARSteering Committee, who will guide the Partners in GFAR (including TAA) in taking forward collective actions.

The Partners in GFAR welcome the new appointments and look forward to working with them as GFAR develops and implements its next Medium Term Plan (2018-2021). Dr Mark Holderness, GFAR Executive Secretary (and TAA member) and the GFAR Secretariat staff also take this opportunity to express thanks to the outgoing Chair and Vice-Chair,for their leadership and vision as GFAR has undertaken to transform itself, with their Partners, to be truly representative of the many, diverse voices in agri-food research and innovation. Read more about the new Chair and Vice-Chair and the GFAR Strategic Workshop and Steering Committee held in June. In this GFAR Update we're also highlighting recent Partner Spotlights on SIANI and IFAD, and sharing the final reflections of the young agri-preneurs who took part in YAP Phase 1.


Global Challenges Forum to become a Strategic Research Initiative (SRI)

The Cambridge-basedCentre for Global Equality (CGE: an institutional member of TAA) is excited to announce that the Global Challenges Forumhas successfully won a bid to become a University Strategic Research Initiative (SRI) in October 2017. The Global Challenges Forum was co-founded a year ago by University of Cambridge academics with CGE: CGE will continue to contribute to running the initiative in the future and will enable civil society organisations to bring challenges that they face to the research community. CGE will also facilitate effective implementation of research insights for the benefit of poorer communities in developing countries. and in enhancing the contribution of the University’s research towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.  

The GCF is a network of over 140 researchers from across the University. Participants come from the physical and biological sciences, engineering and technology, business, law and medicine, and the arts, humanities and social sciences. GCF collaborates with other networks and groups whose work engages global challenges. For instance, with Synthetic Biology at Cambridge SRI on rapid diagnostics and frugal biotechnology in Africa, with Cambridge Global Food Security SRI on enhancing sustainable food supplies in India. The GCF will be headed by an Executive Committee under Dr Lara Allen and Dr Sara Serradas Duarte, currently in the CGE offices. Read more …… 


Indonesian Minister seeks to ban licences to use designated Forest & Peatland

Reuters (July 24) reports that Indonesia's environment minister says that she wants to make permanent a moratorium on issuing new licences to use land designated as primary forest and peatland. "So far its only been extended, and extended again. I want a permanent (moratorium)," said Environment and Forestry Minister Siti NurbayaBakar. "Our primary forest cannot be cleared out."

Indonesia is prone to outbreaks of forest fires during dry seasons, often blamed on the draining of peatland forests and land clearance for agriculture such as the cultivation of palm oil. The resulting choking smoke from the world's biggest palm oil producer often blows across to neighbouring countries like Singapore and Malaysia, reducing visibility and causing a health hazard. Established in 2011, the moratorium covered an area of more than 66 million ha by November 2016.


Appropriate Technology magazine
Appropriate Technologymagazine communicates new practical technologies, policies and ideas addressed to the elimination of poverty and hunger. The readership includes personnel who are actively involved in a wide range of urban and rural economic development projects, programmes, health, education and training work. This may include, helping communities to achieve self-sufficiency in food, water and energy; develop micro-enterprises; design & construction of rural buildings; emergency relief management; water supply & sanitation: improving healthcare; improving agricultural and natural resource output etc.

Published quarterly, subscribers to Appropriate Technology also benefit by having online access with search facility to ALL volumes from year 2003. If you have a genuine interest in Appropriate Technology and would like to increase your network with others who have similar interest then why not join the LinkedIn Appropriate Technology Group. Meantime, why not read the July 2017 edition.


Final Reminder - TAA Subscriptions Due August 1st

TAA subscriptions are due on 1st August so please ensure your payment is updated so that you continue to receive all benefits of membership.

Methods of payment:-Standing Order or BACS bank transfer (Account name: Tropical Agricultural Association,.Account number: 30907871, Sort code: 20 46 73), Those paying from outside UK may need to quote the SWIFT (BARC GB22) and/or IBAN numbers (GB47 BARC 2046 7330 9078 71; Paypal, which is linked with the TAA website ‘Membership’ pageCheque: Send by post to the TAA Treasurer, at 4 Silbury Court, Silsoe, Bedford, MK45 4RU, UK.

Annual subscription rates: Full £50.00 to include the hard copy Journal via post; Online: £40.00; Institutional: £120.00; Student: £15.00.

We do hope that you continue to see TAA as incredible value with very high standard of our 4-monthly Agriculture for Development journal, as well as regional/overseas events, news alerts and networking, all made possible by volunteers. We look forward to hearing from you. Any questions please contact the membership secretary.


Farmerama radio and Sustainable Food Trust

The Sustainable Food Trust (SFT) works in three areas: Leadership and Collaboration – influencing individuals and organisations in leadership positions; Research and Policy – using sound evidence to advocate better policy and practice; Communications – encouraging and empowering individual and collective action.

SFT use their influence to advocate food production systems that are diverse and integrated, those that work with natural systems and obey the law of return so they can be truly regenerative to the earth, and its plants, animals and people. To this end, we are currently focusing on a number of key themes and issues, that each have a unique and crucial role to play in increasing understanding or creating more sustainable food systems:

The True Cost of Food: Sustainable Livestock; SustainableFood and Healthy Diets; Soil; Principles of Harmony, Health and Education. SFT also covers a wide range of additional related topics on their website, including climate change, food waste, aquaculture, global perspectives, water and social justice and food ethics.

Listen to the SFT Farmerama radio article, which includes a visit to the Tiyeni projectin Malawi, started by local farmers to regenerate soils and bring food security back to local people (and supported by TAA members)  Listen to discussions on CA applications in the UK.


Farmerama radio and Sustainable Food Trust

The Sustainable Food Trust (SFT) works in three areas: Leadership and Collaboration – influencing individuals and organisations in leadership positions; Research and Policy – using sound evidence to advocate better policy and practice; Communications – encouraging and empowering individual and collective action.

SFT use theirinfluence to advocate food production systems that are diverse and integrated, those that work with natural systems and obey the law of return so they can be truly regenerative to the earth, and its plants, animals and people. To this end, we are currently focusing on a number of key themes and issues, that each have a unique and crucial role to play in increasing understanding or creating more sustainable food systems:

The True Cost of Food: Sustainable Livestock; SustainableFood and Healthy Diets; Soil; Principles of Harmony, Health and Education. SFT also covers a wide range of additional related topics on their website, including climate change, food waste, aquaculture, global perspectives, water and social justice and food ethics.

Listen to the SFT Farmerama radio article, which includes a visit to the Tiyeni projectin Malawi, started by local farmers to regenerate soils and bring food security back to local people (and supported by TAA members)  Listen to discussions on CA applications in the UK.


“CA: Making Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation Real in Europe”

This recent report by the European Conservation Agriculture Federation (ECAF) is now on the TAA Land Husbandry webpages. European farmers could remove nearly 200 million tonnes of CO(the equivalent of closing 50 coal-fired power plants) from the atmosphere by implementing Conservation Agriculture. The report shows how switching to CA would remove emissions from the atmosphere equivalent to over 20% of the EU’s entire commitment to emission reductions from non-ETS sectors by 2030.

Note that ECAF is an institutional member of TAA.


New Organiser for the TAA India Branch

We welcome Girish Bhardwaj, who has agreed to look after the TAA interests in India, following the sad loss of Sanjeev Vasudev earlier this year. Girish has wide-ranging experience in agriculture and rural development. He has already made an impact on recruiting new members and recently chaired a small meeting in Delhi to discuss plans for the future. You can read the minutes on our webpages, under news of overseas branches. Girish is based in Delhi and would be delighted to meet any TAA members passing through the city, just send him an email.

We all wish Girish good luck in his plans to further TAA activities in India.


The Economics of Soil Health

There are quantitative tests to determine soil health, there are qualitative tools to assess soil health, and there are predictive models to project changes in soil health. But after all the work, there is very little meaningful data to answer the most important question: does soil health improve farm economics? To find an answer to this, scientists compared multiple independent tests correlated to yield. [Reported by IUSS].

Read more .....


The State of the World’s Plants 2017 report

The 2017 report highlights emerging trends, whilst building upon the important baseline information presented in 2016. Importantly, the discourse moves beyond considering basic understanding of plant diversity and the threats facing our global flora, to examining the likely future ‘winners and losers’ and the ways in which the international community is taking action to maintain diversity and sustainable use. This year’s report highlights the rapidly accumulating discoveries and knowledge that provide important sign-posts to the next food crops, medicines, timbers etc.

We hope you enjoy reading the contents as well as exploring the accompanying interactive website: (the report can be downloaded from this link). [The State of the World’s Plants team, Kew].


Aspirations of Youth in Rural India

Dr Shailaja Fennell, Lecturer in Cambridge’s Centre of Development Studies, has completed a two-year project to understand youth aspirations in rural India. She looked at two regions of rural India where the 1960s Green Revolution generated high-yielding crop varieties: the Punjab and Tamil Nadu. Mobile phone technology has really caught on amongst young people, so she used this as a way to understand their lives. Over 95% of people questioned at both sites owned mobile phones, and there’s no gender difference in mobile phone usage. The phone companies thought these people would use only the minimum 'text-only' package, because they’re poor: but that’s a myth. They’re really into social media and 90% use WhatsApp!

Most important was what these young people discussed on their phones. They want to know how to write a CV, they’re talking about career choices, they want to improve their English. Nobody in Tamil Nadu identifies themself as a farmer, even if they’re living in farming households, whereas in Punjab they all wanted to be farmers. So there are regional differences in two areas with similar incomes but possibly different employment opportunities.

It’s becoming difficult to get a sustainable income from agriculture in many parts of the subcontinent, partly because of climate change. Water supplies are shrinking and food can’t be grown in the same way as it used to be. The rural youth in Tamil Nadu are keen to use the technology network to diversify their opportunities linked to agriculture, whilst remaining in rural areas. There are many options that link directly to food supply, from developing technology to monitor water levels, to refrigeration of crops, to using phone networks for better marketing or deliveries.  Shailaja hopes her results will feed into future work on overcoming the ‘digital divide’ – the technological gap between developed and developing countries. Read more ….


Purple modified rice could help to ward off cancer

A new kind of purple rice that contains the colourful anti-oxidant compounds normally found in blueberries has been genetically engineered by scientists in China. The plant joins a small club of genetically modified crops that have been "biofortified” so that they grow extra nutrients. Fellow members include "golden” rice bolstered with beta- carotene, a precursor to vitamin A, and an anthocyanin-enriched purple tomato that was developed in the UK (see Ag4Dev18, Spring 2013).

[Reported in the London Times 28 June 2017]

Read more ….  


Membership Subscriptions Due August 1st

We would like to remind members in advance that TAA subscriptions are due on 1st August. Please check your payment method. Now is a great time to set up a Standing Order with your bank so that no further efforts are required for making future annual payments. This is easy to do yourself though on-line banking. All you will require are our Account name: Tropical Agricultural Association; Account number: 30907871 and Sort code: 20 46 73, If you are paying from a non-UK bank, you may need to quote our SWIFT (BARCGB22) and/or IBAN numbers (GB47BARC20467330907871).

The alternative is to ay by Paypal, which is linked with the TAA website ‘Membership’ page, or by cheque to the TAA Treasurer, at 4 Silbury Court, Silsoe, Bedford, MK45 4RU, UK

Subscription rates are:

  • •Full - £50.00 to include hard copies of the Journal via post,
  • •Online - £40.00
  • •Institutional  - £120.00
  • •Student - £15.00


We do hope that you continue to see TAA as incredible value, with the very high standard of four-monthly editions of our Agriculture for Development journal as well as regional events, news alerts and networking, all made possible by volunteers. We look forward to hearing from you. Any questions please contact our Membership Secretary.


News from TAAF, helping young members to ‘get a foot on the ladder’

This year the TAA Award Fund received more applications and made more awards than ever before – 15 awardees selected out of 24 applicants. Please look on the TAA website for examples of awards and read the details under TAAF News in the next Issue (No 31) of the TAA Journal Ag4Dev. Support for this number of awardees has been made possible by generous contributions from past and present members of TAA, including a much appreciated legacy of £5,000 from the heirs of the late Bill Reed and a two-year grant made by the Trustees of the Wye College Agricola Fund.

Additional contributions from members, whether as legacies or as living donations, are always welcomed and will be put to very good use. Details of how to donate or to leave a legacy can be found under Finance and Donations on the website or you can contact the TAA Treasurer


Speaker Required on 'Impact of Agriculture on Water in a Circular Economy'

Vyvyan Evans, one of last year’s TAAF awardees who completed an MSc in Water Security and International Development at the University of East Anglia, is now working on the Waste Water Programme of Welsh Water in Cardiff. She writes: "In October 2017 Welsh Water will be hosting its Autumn Forum on the subject: ‘Going full circle: the role of water in a circular economy’. Would anyone from TAA be able to give a 20-30 minute presentation on the significance of the agricultural sector in a circular economy and its impact on water?” If you’re unsure what is meant by a circular economy, look at Wikipedia (A circular economy is an alternative to a traditional linear economy (make, use, dispose) in which we keep resources in use for as long as possible, extract the maximum value from them whilst in use, then recover and regenerate products and materials at the end of each service life).

Anyone interested in talking on the subject please contact Vyvyan.


Scaling Climate Smart Agriculture: Voice of Stakeholders

Watch the video initiated by ML Jat, Principal Scientist/Systems Agronomist at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) in N India. An interesting perspective on scaling-up Climate-Smart Agriculture (CSA) methods from a CGIAR institution. Perhaps lacking the real views of small farmers?

Click here to view


TAA Journal Agriculture for Development Disseminated Widely

The Spring 2017 edition of Ag4Dev (No 30), was a special issue on climate-smart agriculture (CSA). It was guest-edited by Bruce Campbell and Dhanush Dinesh of the CGIAR research programme on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS). The CCAFS programme is now using Ag4Dev31as the focus of a major communications campaign. It already features on the CCAFS webpage, and it will be linked to their quarterly newsletter, which has 8000 subscribers. This should bring Ag4Dev and the TAA to the attention of many potential members. We have been promised feedback from CCAFS, so let's see what happens. Click here is the link to the blog about Ag4Dev31.

[Kindly submitted by Paul Harding, Coordinating Editor, Ag4Dev]


Conservation Agriculture initiative, Zimbabwe

TheMike Campbell Foundation in Zimbabwe practices Foundations for Farming. This has shown that, if farming costs are to be reduced to almost zero for the poor, and revenues are to still remain substantial, we need to use:

(i) Open-pollinated seed that can be kept from one year to the next; (ii) Homemade compost to fertilize the crop; (iii) Mulch to retain moisture; (iv) The no-till conservation agriculture method, i.e. we do not plough but just make carefully measured planting holes with a hoe.

These four points equal 'efficiency'. The only real cost is the labour – much of which would be needed in more conventional farming anyway. On small plots, the labour is all provided by the family. Efficiency for the poor is where costs are brought to almost zero. Apart from efficiency, Foundations for Farming teaches two other principles, which are absolutely central to growing things well: doing all farming operations excellently and then doing them all on time. In countries with high unemployment and largely poor populations, farming with Foundation for Farming principles make absolute sense because the costs are almost zero, and excellence and timing make for good revenues. This is especially important in Zimbabwe where there is over 90% unemployment, a large part of the population is seriously poor and no actual cash is available from the banks to buy anything anyway! they teach these principles as "EET” – a badly spelt version of what we need to do three times a day: eat! If we don’t "EET” we die. It’s "E” for efficiency; "E” for excellence; and "T” for timing. Zimbabwe doesn’t "EET”, so it’s dying. The whole of Africa needs to learn to "EET”.


TAA Curry Club Reminder: Controlled Environment Agriculture for Africa

The next Curry Club talk in London will be on the fascinating subject of Controlled Environment Agriculture for Africa. The date is 29th June. Coffee and curry lunch included in price: see full details on the Events pages

Book your place now with Terry Wiles.

Specialist Group on Malawi

Members will have read that the food situation in Malawi is dire. Many of us have worked in the country. A few current and former members of the TAA, are getting together to examine how different small organisations that are working in the Mzuzu area might be encouraged to work together, with some moral and technical support from TAA, to become more effective. The meeting will be held in central London, on 11th July at 12.30pm. Please contact Benny Dembitzer if you are interested in joining.


A 'litmus paper test' for crop and animal disease detection?
Congratulations to the Centre for Global Equality (CGE) Cultivator venture, OpenDiagnostics, for winning the 2017 London Healthtech Challenge, and the £10,000 Dhruv Batra Prize. Their entry focused on using paper-based cell free diagnostics to help address foot and mouth disease in cattle. Foot and mouth costs £6.5 - £21 billion per year in regions where the disease is endemic, and is a constant threat to subsistence and small-scale farmers, whose livelihoods are dependent on their livestock. Harnessing recent advances in synthetic biology and paper microfluidics, cell-free paper-based diagnostics offer a platform for low cost, in-field tests with a very wide range of possible specificities.

The technique is comparable to using litmus paper to test for acidity but in this case the papers will be used to detect the presence of specific crop or animal diseases in plant sap or animal body fluids. This should be ideal for use by agriculture research institutes and extension personnel. OpenDiagnostics of Cambridge has been supported by CGE (a TAA institutional member). For more information please visit CGE website 


Papers invited on Sustainable Crop Production Intensification

The editors of ‘Agriculture’ invite you to contribute a paper to a special edition on the topic of "Sustainable Crop Production Intensification".

Agriculture is an international and cross-disciplinary scholarly and scientific open access journal on the science of cultivating the soil, growing, harvesting crops, and raising livestock. It aims to look at production, processing, marketing and use of foods, fibers, plants and animals. This special edition will be published with the Open Access publication policy. Visit the website for more information.

Submission due date: 31 December 2017.


Seeking Volunteers Trainers in Agriculture & Appropriate Technology, Sierra Leone

ChildHelp Sierra Leone Is seeking volunteers interested to train youths in vocational training in Agriculture and Appropriate Technology. The duration is 6 to 12 months. The training starts in September 2017 at the YIOTEC Campus in Makeni, Sierra Leone as a Global Campaign for World Learning 2017. If interested, please send your CV and LOI to

[Kaprie J G Thoronka, Director, ChildHelp Sierra Leone, 48 Wellington Street, Freetown, Sierra Leone]


Soil Survey Manual, Handbook No.18, USDA
The 2017 Soil Survey Manual, USDA Handbook No. 18, provides the major principles and practices needed for making and using soil surveys and for assembling and using related data. The Manual serves as a guiding document for activities of the National Cooperative Soil Survey (NCSS). Previously published in 1937, 1951, and 1993, the Soil Survey Manual is one of the defining documents for soil survey in the world.

Hard cover copies of the Soil Survey Manual are available from the NRCS Distribution Center.. The Manual is scheduled for digital release in June 2017. Read more ....


Access Agriculture: an international NGO

Access Agriculture may be interesting to TAA members (or already known). It showcases agricultural training videos in local languages. Here you can see examples of videos, download them or order a DVD copy. The audio tracks can also be downloaded by radio stations. This is a platform for agricultural R&D staff, service providers, extension agents, communication professionals and representatives of farmer organisations to see what training videos are available and request new language versions. The videos are all designed to support sustainable agriculture in developing countries.

View examples of earthworm composting, which can increase soil fertility and help increase the production of vegetables in poor and salty soils. Here we will learn about a fast and easy way to make earthworm compost on a small piece of land. Also, see the technique of Zai Pits to aid moisture conservation and fertility in dry zones.


Controlled Environment Agriculture for Africa, TAA Curry Club Talk, London 29th June

The next Curry Club talk in London will be by Ralph Von Kaufmann on the fascinating subject of Controlled Environment Agriculture for Africa. The date is 29th JUNE (not July as stated earlier). See full details on the Events pagesBook your place soon with Terry Wiles.

Also, note July 12 (early evening) for an APPG talk/discussion on the Africa Enterprise Challenge Fund: details to be refunded after the election and parliamentary recess.


Soil erosion in Tanzania – in pictures

The Jali Ardhi (‘Care for the land’ in Swahili) project is funded by the UK government Global Challenges research fund through the Natural Environment Research Council. It explores the complex impact of soil erosion on East Africa. The project brings together scientists from the UK and Tanzania with the Maasai people to find ways to overcome the challenges of soil erosion and to reduce the adverse impact of soil erosion on Maasai communities and their grazing lands. Photojournalist Carey Marks captures the changing landscape, its people – and the challenges they face. [Impressive photos but they lack ‘before’ and ‘after’ images to compare conditions, or to relate to seasonal changes – Web Manager]. Read more. 


Contributors and Helpers required by the Editor of our journal Ag4Dev

The Editorial Team for our journal Agriculture for Development is seeking support from members:

(1) A volunteer to compile Upcoming Events for each issue of Ag4Dev. This requires one or two days' work every four months. The volunteer will take over from James Malins, who has done an excellent job for the last two years, as a member of the team producing Ag4Dev. Please contact Paul Harding, Coordinating Editor of Ag4Dev. 

(2) We are particularly keen to receive contributions (500-1000 words) to Reminiscences and Reflections from female members of the TAA, for including in Ag4Dev32, a special issue on Women in Agriculture. Examples of contributions can be seen in previous issues of the journal. Please send contributions to Paul Harding 


UPDATE Diploma in Agriculture, Zambia Institute of Agriculture

Chis Kapembwa is grateful for the responses to his request for TAA members to provide short course teaching. Four of the eight course slots have been filled - still open are: 3. Farm Machinery/ Engineering; 4. Livestock Production; 5.Aquaculture. He confirms that ZIA will cover the costs of air travel, stays and logistics for the teachers. Please refer to "Zambia Branch News" for more details.

[Apologies we were unable to successfully post the Course Calendar: Web Manager]


Frameworks for understanding the utilisation of conservation agriculture in Africa
This paper contends that despite the investment and promotion of CA in Africa to smallholder farmers there is little insight into the realities of their use. They used two frameworks to address this issue. They are applied to household survey data from 5 Eastern Africa countries from 1601 villages and 6,559 households. They find a general overestimation of adoption of CA and CA components. They look at the intensity of implementation and added new meaning in the status and contributors to limited CA utilization. {Brown, B, Nuberg I & Llewellyn R. 2017. Agricultural Systems. 153: 11-22).Click here for how to access.

New Diploma in Agriculture, Zambia Institute of Agriculture

The Zambia Institute of Agriculture (ZIA), in partnership with the Cambridge Centre for Environment (CCE), is starting a diploma course in agriculture, commencing 14th August 2017, in Ndola. The course offers the following subjects. 1. Crop Science; 2. Farm Management; 3. Farm Machinery/ Engineering; 4. Livestock Production; 5.Aquaculture; 6.Agricultural Economics; 7. Land Management, Environmental Conservation & Management; 8. Nutrition, Food Security and Sustainable Agriculture. The course will involve 8 sessions, and will be completed by April 2020.

The ZIA was founded by Chris Kapembwe, a TAA member, who heads our Zambia & Southern Africa Branch. The CCE was set up by Martin Kaonga, a TAA member living in Cambridge. They are now looking for interested experts to help. Any TAA member interested in teaching is invited to pick a session subject, in which they feel qualified to teach, and contact Chris. If the offer is accepted, ZIA will arrange and pay for flights and cover costs of stays and other logistics. A session takes one week. Click to see the course Calendar. Chris is open for questions and discussion on WhatsApp (+260977536825). Please contact him on WhatsApp or by email if you are interested! or need more information.


SPAM Warning

Some members may have received a message purporting to be from the Tropical Agriculture Association but actually from "". The headline is "Tropical Agriculture Award Fund”, andthe message invites you to click on a website.

This has not a valid message from TAA: PLEASE DELETE. Web Manager 


Introduction to Community Development: training course by ECHO

As a development worker, where do you start? This five-day course on Introduction to Community Development, organised by ECHO, will cover the basics of effective community development. Using proven participatory methods, experienced community development workers will introduce attendees to hands-on tools that can better enable change agents and partner communities to survey local assets and needs. Utilising feedback, participants will practice prioritising issues as well as strategic responses in order to develop action plans. Course participants will walk through the fundamentals of project management cycles: planning, implementation, monitoring, finances, and reporting. Additionally, participants will explore methodologies of agricultural information exchange. Dates 14-18 August 2017; venue Florida USA

Course fee: $645.00. Ask about our discounts at:

Guides to Goat Farming in India

Husbandry, breeds, feeding, diseases and goat business reporting are covered in this series of on-line practical, illustrated guide books for goat farming in India.


Final Reminder: London Curry Club Talk, May 25th

Do not forget to reserve your place for the TAA upcoming Curry Club Talk, on 25th May, the Strand, London. Michael Turner will give the talk, entitled "Ups and Downs Along the Seed Road”. Book your place with Terry Wiles. Full details on the TAA Events pages 


The TAA’s Future is in Your Hands: message to all ‘on-line’ members

The hard copy of the latest Ag4Dev journal (No 30) is now being dispatched. This includes an insert seeking support from members, entitled 'The TAA’s Future is in Your Hands'. The TAA wishes to obtain support from its members in developing a new strategy that covers the short-, medium- and longer- term. Your Executive Committee (ExCo) has made a start but we are now seeking volunteers to help with this task. We ask members to please respond if you have ideas or can help.

Additional note from the Web Manager: Members can access the latest Ag4Dev 30 can be accessed from ourpublications web pages. The summary of Prof Tim Wheeler’s Hugh Bunting lecture is now also available on these pages.


Better Understanding of Root Fungi of Rice

Carol Ibe, who grew up in Nigeria, received a Gates Cambridge Scholarship to carry out a PhD in Cambridge’s Department of Plant Sciences. As she explains: "Rice roots have widespread associations with both beneficial and detrimental fungi. The beneficial fungus Rhizophagus irregularis helps rice to obtain nutrients from the soil through a symbiotic relationship, whereas the pathogenic fungus Magnaporthe oryzae causes rice blast, a major disease affecting up to 30% of cultivated rice in field conditions. My research aims to discover the commonalities and differences in the way these two fungi colonise and grow inside rice roots, and in how the rice plant deals with them. Rice is a staple food for more than half the world’s population, including many African countries. If we can better understand how the disease-causing fungus interacts with the rice plant, we can develop new and effective disease-control strategies against rice blast. And if we can enhance the mutualistic relationship between rice and the beneficial fungus that provides soil nutrients to the plant, we might be able to improve the process to develop environmentally friendly ‘bio-fertilisers’ for use in low-input agricultural ecosystems. Smallholder farmers in Africa could use these to boost crop yields, instead of more expensive chemical fertilisers that pollute waterways. Read more about the Researcher of the Month (May 2017) ….


10 fascinating facts about agriculture in Africa

The Planet Earth Institute (PEI) observes that, given that agriculture accounts for 60% of jobs on the continent, its importance for sustainable development in Africa cannot be overstated. Read on to learn 10 interesting facts about agriculture development on the continent: challenges and optimism.


Sad news for all ex-Wye College TAA members

Francis Huntington (Hon Sec of Wye Heritage Centre) reports that: 'Telereal Trillium have now submitted their planning application to Ashford Borough Council for the conversion of the Medieval and Edwardian buildings of the College to 39 houses and flats with associated parking and communal areas. You can view the plans on Ashford Borough Council’splanning portal, reference 17/00567/AS and 17/00568/AS. We are pleased to report that the plans include space for the new Wye Heritage Centre:we are now working with TT’s architects to agree the internal layout and facilities for the Centre'.

Probably inevitable?


Feeding the 9 billion: Inconvenient truths about global food security

After his Dean's Lecture at the University of Melbourne, Prof Tim Reeves discusses the profound changes required in agricultural practice, public policy and consumer behaviour if we are to feed earth’s ever-growing human population, which is projected to exceed 9 billion by 2050. Business as usual won’t pass muster anymore. Professor Reeves is a graduate of the University of Nottingham (UK) and the University of Melbourne and has worked for over 45 years in agricultural research, development and extension, focused on sustainable agriculture in Australia and overseas. At the Rutherglen Research Institute, he was a pioneer of no till/ conservation agriculture research. As Prof Reeves states "Globally, agriculture accounts for about 30% of global greenhouse gas emissions and if we're going to double food production by 2050 with business as usual, it would mean the doubling of those greenhouse gas emissions. It would be totally unsustainable." Download the podcast or read the transcript on the University of Melbourne’s ‘Up Close’ website.


International Food Crops Could Vanish as Groundwater Disappears

Latest US Soil & Water Conservation Service (SWCS) Conservation NewsBriefs, from the Scientific American. We already know that humans are depleting vital groundwater resources across the globe. But a new study shows one of the biggest causes of disappearing groundwater is the international food trade. About 70% of freshwater around the globe goes towards irrigation. Researchers from the University College London and NASA’s Goddard Institute of Space Studies now say that a third of that freshwater is drawn from the world’s aquifers—non-renewable underground pockets of groundwater—and 11% of that non-renewable groundwater is used to irrigate internationally-traded crops.Read More….


Soft Robots for Farm Automation
Dr Fumiya Iida, Head of Cambridge’s Biologically Inspired Robotics Laboratory in the Department of Engineering, is developing new machines that are effective in unconventional environments. He has just received a Royal Society Award to investigate the potential to commercialise his latest creation: a robot capable of working on a farm.

"I’m interested in making soft robots. Conventional robots are all built based on the assumption that everything has to be rigid. There are many soft materials available to us, not only things like rubber and sponge, but new advanced functional materials. We can use an electrically conductive soft material to make soft sensors and soft electrical circuits, or robots that are sensitive to light, chemicals, and other stimuli. As soon as you have a soft robot you can deal with uncertain tasks in unstructured environments, like fields and forests. On a farm you’ll find a range of problems that conventional robots can’t solve. All these things are my targets. Crops are unpredictable because each individual plant is slightly different, and you can’t plan for these differences ahead of time. Soft robots have many agricultural applications: harvesting crops, inspection or quality control, wrapping vegetables, and even making bouquets of flowers. I’m collaborating with growers in Ely, Cambridgeshire, to develop soft robots that can harvest vegetables including lettuce, broccoli, celery and tomatoes. These things are currently only done by manual workers because they’re very difficult to automate. Automation is necessary if you want to scale up agricultural processes to feed a growing population”.

[News provided by Cambridge University’s Strategic Initiative for Global Food Security (GFS)]. 28/4/17

Royal Society of Biology Member Organisations

TAA subscribes to the RSB as an 'Organisational Member’, providing TAA with access to a wide range of events and networking links, as described on the RSB website. The society is based at Charles Darwin House, 12 Roger Street,
London WC1N 2JU. TAA has a representative (Ian Martin) on the Advisory Board of the RSB's UK Plant Sciences Federation, a special interest group. 

Each year, Dr Mark Downs, Chief Executive of the RSB, circulates a letter to member organisations, which outlines achievements. Members are encouraged to become involved with RSB’s Membership Organisation events. Please contact the TAA Web Manager for more details.


CCAFS: Research Programme on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security.

The CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) is the largest climate change and agriculture research programme in the world: no other single research institution working alone can address the critically important issues of global climate change, agriculture and food security. CCAFS will address the increasing challenge of global warming and declining food security on agricultural practices, policies and measures through a strategic collaboration between CGIAR and Future Earth. Led by the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), CCAFS is a collaboration among all 15 CGIAR research centers and coordinates with the other CGIAR research programs. Learn more about our people. CCAFS brings together some of the world's best researchers in agricultural science, climate science, environmental and social sciences to identify and address the most important interactions, synergies and trade-offs between climate change and agriculture. Learn more about our partners. The program is carried out with funding support from governments and aid agencies, both through the CGIAR Fund and bilaterally. Learn more about donors.

Bruce Campbell, a Director of CCAFS, is one of the guest editors for the next edition of our TAA journal Ag4Dev30, which is a Special Issue on ‘Climate Smart Agriculture’. This Spring 2017 edition is due to be published in early May.


Guide to Working and Volunteering Abroad - for TAA Student Members

The ‘JobHero’ website offers advice on working and volunteering abroad that may assist our Student Members. The guide offers pathways that can lead to an unforgettable adventure, allow you to contribute to the betterment of a less-fortunate society and broaden your horizons. However, foresight and knowledge are the keys to success, and that’s the reason for this Ultimate Guide to Working and Volunteering Abroad. Find 41 carefully selected resources that will help you learn about foreign countries of interest, locate a quality volunteer or job opportunity, discover expatriates who have made the leap abroad and much more to help you on your journey. See this and more guidance items on the TAA Student Job Seekers webpages.


Guide to Working and Volunteering Abroad - for TAA Student Members

The ‘JobHero’ website offers advice on working and volunteering abroad that may assist our Student Members. The guide offers pathways that can lead to an unforgettable adventure, allow you to contribute to the betterment of a less-fortunate society and broaden your horizons. However, foresight and knowledge are the keys to success, and that’s the reason for this Ultimate Guide to Working and Volunteering Abroad. Find 41 carefully selected resources that will help you learn about foreign countries of interest, locate a quality volunteer or job opportunity, discover expatriates who have made the leap abroad and much more to help you on your journey. See this and more guidance items on the TAA Student Job Seekers webpages.


Food Sovereignty: Taking Root in Women’s Knowledge

The Korean Women’s Peasant Association (KWPA) is a leader in South Korea’s food sovereignty movement. Founded in 1989, it is an association that encompasses hundreds of local women farmers’ groups. Intergenerational exchange of knowledge and experiences among women is at the heart of their work. Through this exchange, a new generation of peasant women are challenging the roles traditionally attributed to women in farming, while the older generation share their lifetime of knowledge. This is a good example of how women’s indigenous knowledge is a crucial ingredient for sustainable farming and food sovereignty. Read more .....


The ECHO East Africa Impact Centre Newsletter

ECHO East Africa are institutional members of TAA. You are invited to read theirlatest Newsletter (April, 2017). The newsletter contains updates on news and various activities taking place around the Impact Center: invasive weeds, seed banks, training news, perennial vegetables, biogas, future events. You can also read the outcomes of ECHO’s 4th Biannual Symposium on Sustainable Agriculture and see news of training events at the Sustainable Agriculture School in Uganda.


African Landscapes

On March 6th to 9th 2017, 140 ILM practitioners, farmers, researchers, policymakers, and finance, business, and community leaders (113 from 16 African countries and 27 from the United States and Europe) convened in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, at the African Landscapes Dialogue to promote new ideas, expand networks, confront challenges, and share lessons and experiences among those who implement landscape initiatives. The goal: To inspire and strengthen capacities of landscape leaders to advance the African Landscapes Action Plan. Please click here to download the Summary Report.


Fertile ground: harnessing the market to reverse soil degradation in South Asia

Soils are the foundation of all terrestrial life on the planet and are essential for agricultural production. Yet unsustainable farming practices are degrading soils across South Asia and many other parts of the world, threatening food security. Soil fertility and structure can be vastly improved through greater applications of compost, manure and other organic fertilisers. However, the shift away from diverse farming systems means that organic matter is now in short supply on many farms. There is a need to develop value chains to enable organic fertilisers and composts to supply much needed organic matter to depleted soils. Lessons from multi-stakeholder initiatives in Bangladesh and Nepal illustrate the potential for scaling up such value chains to foster more inclusive and sustainable agriculture. View the summary, published by IIED and Practical Action, and click the red Download button..


Three Big Myths about Modern Agriculture

In this article in ‘Scientific American’, David R. Montgomery (Professor of Earth and Space Sciences at the University of Washington) claims that three myths get in the way of our ability to restore degraded soils that can feed the world using fewer chemicals.

  • Myth 1: Large-Scale Agriculture feeds the world today
  • Myth 2: Large Farms are more efficient
  • Myth 3: Conventional Farming is necessary to feed the world

He argues that these widely-held views are, generally myths.


Plants talk to each other using an internet of fungus: the ‘Wood Wide Web’

Sometime ago we posted a note about trees communicating. In this BBC Earth article, of November 2014, Nic Fleming describes in more detail an information superhighway that allows plants to communicate and help each other out. It’s made of fungi. While mushrooms might be the most familiar part of a fungus, most of their bodies are made up of a mass of thin threads, known as a mycelium. We now know that these threads act as a kind of underground internet, linking the roots of different plants. That tree in your garden is probably hooked up to a bush several meters away, thanks to mycelia. The more we learn about these underground networks, the more our ideas about plants have to change. They aren't just sitting there quietly growing. By linking to the fungal network they can help out their neighbours by sharing nutrients and information – or sabotage unwelcome plants by spreading toxic chemicals through the network. This "wood wide web" information superhighway speeds up interactions between a large, diverse population of individuals. Read more

And what are the implications for agriculture? Surely it is another justification for No-till and Conservation Agriculture: if you do not smash the mycelial links by tillage, the plants will continue to communicate?


The Future of Small Farms (CABI & SFSA): Conference Report

CABI and the Syngenta Foundation are delighted to have published their report on the January 2017 conference. The document is available both in low resolution and high resolution formats. You are welcome to share the documents. For more information, please contact Paul Castle



Climate Dialogue: community-led initiative on Indian east coast

The article in India Climate Dialogue features a community-led initiative on the east coast. It may be of interest to those involvement with coastal communities or climate related issues. What the communities have undertaken can also be an ideal exercise for high school level children living along the coast. For further information, please contact Vivek CoelhoKindly submitted by Nyla Coelho of Ecologise.

Reminder: Cambridge NIAB Seminar and London Curry Club Talk

Do not forget to reserve your place at two stimulating upcoming TAA events in May:

TAA Seminar, 16th May, Cambridge: Transfer of Crop Research Knowledge to Small Farmers, with emphasis on Sub-Saharan Africa. Presentations by Lesley Boyd of NIAB and Peter Emmrich of the John Innes Centre. Reserve your place via Eventbrite.

Curry Club Talk, 25th May, London: Seeds and Development, a talk by Michael Turner, entitled "Ups and Downs Along the Seed Road”. Book your place with Terry Wiles.

Full details on the TAA Events pages.

An English Sheep Farmer’s View of Rural America
These opinions by James Rebanks, quoted in the New York Times, will have resonance with many TAA members who are involved with small farmers in the developing world.

As he says: "Less than 3% of people in modern industrial economies are farmers. But around the world, I am not alone: The United Nations estimates that more than two billion people are farmers, most of them small farmers; that’s about one in three people on the planet…. We have all become such suckers for a bargain that we take the low prices of our foodstuffs for granted and are somehow unable to connect these bargain-basement prices to our children’s inability to find meaningful work at a decently paid job. ….The future, which we have been sold, doesn’t work. Applying the principles of the factory floor to the natural world just doesn’t work. Farming is more than a business. Food is more than a commodity. Land is more than a mineral resource”. Read the full article …. (Thanks to TAA member Jim Wigan for sending this link)


WeFarm: Connecting farmers to vital information
WeFarm is a free peer-to-peer service that enables farmers to share information via SMS, without the internet and without having to leave their farm. Farmers can ask questions on farming and receive crowd-sourced answers from other farmers around the world in minutes. With 90% of smallholder farmers now able to access a basic mobile phone, WeFarm’s goal is to connect millions of farmers around the world to the information they require. We think that everyone on the planet deserves equal access to information.

WeFarm is a pioneering social enterprise that enables farmers to share and access information through even the most basic mobile phone. WeFarm Connect is a one-off process of on-boarding farmers, which enables them to improve their livelihoods through tailored information. Once farmers have registered, they will have unlimited free access to WeFarm. We collect all data shared by SMS in order to analyse the real challenges faced by smallholder farmers and map trends and issues, such as drought, disease or crop diversification. By disaggregating this information, we can help organisations provide appropriate support and drive sustainable change.WeFarm Reach can be linked to WeFarm Insights to allow farmers to engage with their suppliers.


Success of Conservation Agriculture in Brazil – video

This video celebrates the successes of developing NoTill farming systems in Paraná state of Brazil. The state agriculture research organization (IAPAR) has researched methods and impacts of direct seeding, crop rotations and cover crops for more than 30 years to observe both short term and long term effects. They have found that NoTill systems are not simply direct seeding but developing a whole system of diverse crop rotation management. Analysis of some soil fertility parameters is not enough – a more comprehensive analysis and consideration of soil properties is needed. Positive results of long-term NoTill by researchers and farmers has kept Conservation Agriculture as a priority for IAPAR and the state of Paraná. Watch the video ‘Soil Tillage and Cover Crop Systems - Long Term Experiment’.


China moves to implement more sustainable agricultural practices, good for everybody
On February 5, 2017, the Central Government released its Number One Central Document, the first policy statement of the year, and as in the previous 13 years, it focused on agriculture and rural development. While previous Number One Documents have included mentions of sustainability measures, this year’s had a particularly strong focus on developing "green” policies. Martin, the representative for China from the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) of the United Nations tells Modern Farmer. "The gist of supply-side reform in China’s agricultural sector is to increase the output of high-quality products based on green and innovative production. China is now the fourth largest consumer of organically-produced food in the world, so expanding domestic organic production makes sense. The Central Government plans to push organic products in part by promoting favourable taxes for start-ups in rural areas, and by creating innovation centres to help support the production of high quality farm produce, according to Reuters.


Learning from the past: A new protocol for agricultural education and research in India

Prof MG Jackson offers his views on Indian agriculture, suggesting that we should learn from the past: "We scientists, each one of us, should ask ourselves what the agricultural establishment needs to do in order effectively to address our current agricultural crisis. Given our present mechanistic scientific paradigm, we are part of the problem, and thus cannot be part of its solution. Our first task, therefore, is to change our outlook fundamentally”. Click here to read his article in Ecologise.

MG Jackson is a former Professor of Agriculture and sometime Director of Research at the G.B. Pant University of Agriculture and Technology, Pantnagar, Uttarakhand, India. For an elaboration of the agenda described in this note see the newly released book ‘Tending Our Land: A New Story by M. G. Jackson and Nyla Coelho.


Post-Brexit Agriculture: Views from the Eden Project and Rothamsted Research

Eden Project founder Sir Tim Smit and Dr Dobermann, Head of Rothamsted Research, express their views on the post-Brexit agricultural landscape in the UK. Worrying concerns are raised about the decline of agricultural research and the rural economy. Listen to their forthright discussions on the BBC Farming World programme.

PEI Spotlight Seminar: The Future of Agriculture in Africa

Agriculture is fundamental to development on the continent. It employs more than 65% of the continent’s populations and contributes 32% of Africa’s GDP. Yet the continent’s smallholder farmers, who comprise 80% of its agricultural labour forces, continue to face challenges from plant disease, unproductive soil, pests and droughts to gender disparities, unreliable markets, poor pricing information and a lack of appropriate financing.

Recently, the PEI (Planet Earth Institute) hosted the first in a new series of events – the Spotlight Seminars – that explored the issues defining African agriculture today, as well as the scientific and technological innovations that will come to shape the sector in the future. PEI Chairman, the Rt Hon Lord Paul Boateng, opened the event with a warm welcome to our guests and a special thank you to our PEI Partners whose support makes these initiatives possible. Read more .....


Revamping the TAA Website – seeking help from members

As members will have seen from the recent circular from the Chairman, your Executive Committee is preparing strategy proposals for the future of TAA. A key element will be revamping the website, to modernise it, make it more user-friendly, outward-lookinhg and exciting, as well as to be mobile-friendly. This will be a major task. We would be keen to hear from any members who have skills in web design and development who would be interested in assisting. TAA does have some funds available to assist the process. 

We are also looking for a member who would volunteer to act as Deputy Web Manager, to assist our web manager.

Please let us know if you would be wiling to do web design work or to act as Deputy. Just email the Web Manager. 


Global Food Security programme launches strategy

The UK’s main public funders of food-related research are working together through the Global Food Security (GFS) programme to meet the challenge of providing the world’s growing population with a sustainable, secure supply of nutritious food. GFS has recently launched a new programme strategy, outlining its vision and identifying a number of interdisciplinary research priorities. Read more about the programme and its International partners.


The TAA’s Future is in Your Hands .......

The TAA wishes to obtain support from its members in developing a new strategy that covers the short, medium and longer term. Your Executive Committee (ExCo) has made a start but we are now seeking volunteers to help with this task. Please click here to read ExCo’s initial proposal. This includes an assessment of our current services and activities, on which we would like to build. Many useful ideas for the future are coming forward, as listed in the proposal, some of which we plan to implement as soon as possible, while others will take more thought and more time. However, we need feedback and support from our members.

If you believe you can make a contribution or want to be involved, please contact any member of ExCo (contact details on the rear page of the journal or on the website). 


Potatoes on Mars? CIP Experiments

The International Potato Center (CIP) has launched a series of experiments to discover if potatoes can grow under Mars atmospheric conditions and thereby prove they are also able to grow in extreme climates on Earth. This Phase Two effort of CIP’s proof of concept experiment to grow potatoes in simulated Martian conditions began on February 14, 2016 when a tuber was planted in a specially constructed CubeSat contained environment built by engineers from University of Engineering and Technology (UTEC) in Lima based upon designs and advice provided by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration in Ames Research Center (NASA ARC), California. Preliminary results are positive.

View full Press ReleaseLive streams of the experiment can be viewed at we extend the coverage of TAA beyond Earth??


GFAR Newsletter

GFAR is the unique multi-stakeholder global forum on agricultural research and innovation. GFAR is an open, voluntary forum and a movement for change. It is a networked organization, made up of Partners working together, through collective advocacy and actions, to shape the future of agriculture and food and their role in achieving sustainable development. The Partners in GFAR are growing fast, with strong representation from across public, private and civil society sectors at all levels and among all actors involved in the generation, access and use of agricultural knowledge and innovation. Together, GFAR works to make agri-food research and innovation more effective, responsive and equitable, towards achieving Sustainable Development outcomes. The TAA is a Partner of GFAR. Why not subscribe to their newsletter GFAR UPDATE.

NOTE FROM WEB MANAGER: There was an error in the links to the CA paper on African smallholders and to the journal Environments in yesterday’s alert: it is now corrected.


Role of CA in Sustainable Production Intensification for Smallholder Farmers in Africa

A special issue of the Journal ‘Environments’ (March 2017) is dedicated to the theme of: "The Role of Conservation Agriculture in Sustainable Production Intensification for Smallholder Farmers in Africa", with TAA member Amir Kassam and Saidi Mkomwa as Guest Editors. Click to our CA News Pages.


Seeking Input on Fundamental Changes to Soil Taxonomy

Remember the "7th Approximation”? Development of Soil Taxonomy, the dominant soil classification system in the United States and many other nations, began in the early 1950s and was adopted for USDA soil surveys in 1965. Over 50 years the number of taxa has grown rapidly, but there have been relatively few conceptual changes to maintain the original goal a basic system of soil classification. Thus, the system has become quite complex and increasingly cumbersome to effectively apply. The Soil Science Society of America has now established the ‘Fundamental Changes to Soil Taxonomy Task Force’.

The objective of the task force is to facilitate an open and transparent process to develop a suite of fundamental changes to Soil Taxonomy leading to a soil classification system that can and will be used by more than just experienced pedologists. The changes will reflect concepts used in other soil taxonomic systems and thus will require broad input from soil scientists in the international community. Changes will be developed to simplify format and taxa without losing the knowledge-base in the current system. The final product would be vetted through the National Cooperative Soil Survey, potentially leading to publication of a 3rd edition of Soil Taxonomy. The Task Force solicits input from the larger community on drafts of several proposed fundamental changes to Soil Taxonomy. If you would be interested in commenting on these draft proposals please send an email to


Conservation Agriculture for Smallholders (CASH-II)

The 2nd Conference on CA was held at the Bangladesh Agricultural University, Mymensingh, Bangladesh 14-16 February 2017. Publications are now available on-line. Please visit the TAA Conservation Agriculture News pages for details.


DFID’s Bilateral & Multilateral Aid Reviews, 2016: TAA’s Commentary

At the request of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Agriculture & Food for Development, TAA was asked to comment on DFID's Bilateral (BDev) and Multilateral (MDev) Aid Reviews. Our commentary comprises three main parts: (1) the collective submission made by TAA to APPG, complied by Martin Evans; (2) Jim Elli-Jones' comments and (3) the APPG questions tabled in Parliament, together with Government’s answers. Read the commentaries on our APPG webpages


“Solution Search Farming for Biodiversity”: Funding available

Solution Search: Farming for Biodiversity is looking to identify and reward the most promising approaches to conserving biodiversity on agricultural lands. Organizations working on innovative agricultural practices that help conserve and support the natural environment could win up to $30 000, with additional side prizes for community and social impact, food security and nutrition impact, biodiversity impact and water impact. All finalists will attend a capacity-building workshop and awards ceremony in New York City, New York, USA, with some of the biggest names in conservation and development. Beyond monetary prizes, Solution Search will offer in-country campaigning and technical trainings to help replicable solutions reach scale. An organization’s idea could reach thousands of communities worldwide and help inform UN policy processes. This project is part of the International Climate Initiative (IKI).

The deadline to enter the contest is 10 March 2017. To participate and for more information, visit the website.


Only agriculture has the potential to reboot the economy

A view from Devinder Sharma, a Food Policy Analyst, Researcher and Writer , who sees agriculture as the key to rebooting the Indian economy. He see a need for a huge increase in public sector investments in agriculture, a shift from industrial to rural development infrastructure spending, including market infrastructure and encouragement of rural enterprise through tax concessions. Read the story ……. (Thanks to George Gwyer, former DFID Ag Economist in India, for submitting this article).


The future of food and agriculture. 
Trends and challenges.

We would like to point your attention to a new FAO report, relased today, which analyses current trends that impact the future ability of mankind to feed itself. In a scenario of a growing population and moderate economic growth, global demand for agricultural products will increase by 50 percent, increasing the risk of additional pressures on over-strained and depleted natural resources. As we plan ahead, will today’s agriculture and food systems be able to sustainably meet the needs of a global growing population tomorrow? The short answer is yes. But with a caveat as this will require a major overhaul in how we operate within our agricultural systems, rural economies and natural resource management.

The report cuts straight to the heart of FAO work on the Sustainable Development Goals: to live in a sustainable world by 2030 we have to take into account the trends and challenges that we see for food and agriculture in the future. Read more …… Please visit the FAO webpage to download the report and other relevant information 


Online forum discussion on Agroecology and Soil Health

The TECA team and agroecology team in FAO are preparing an online forum discussion on "Agroecology and Soil health" following up with a previous discussion on "Sustainable Farming through Agroecology”. The online discussion will start from 20 February to 12 March 2017. The objective of this discussion is to identify successful site-specific agroecological farming practices that improve soil health. Many successful experiences have already been documented on various platforms of FAO, e.g. TECA and on Agroecology Knowledge hub. Based on these experiences and others, a three week discussion forum will be held to share knowledge and experiences on agroecology and successful agroecological practices and approaches.

You are invited to share your knowledge and experiences on agroecology and the successful agroecological farming practices and approaches. The forum page can be accessed through this linkIn order to participate/comment you will have to login at the time of the discussion. For any further information please contact:


A new President for IFAD
The election of a new President for IFAD (International Fund for Agricultural Development) has just been completed. Out of eight candidates, Mr.Gilberto Fossoun Houngbo of the Togolese Republic, was the one to be elected, after several rounds of voting. He is going to take over as President IFAD from 1 April 2017. He was Prime Minister of Togo from 2008 to 2012. This news was kindly submitted by Andrew Bennett, who knew Mr Houngbo when he was working at UNDP headquarters, and later elsewhere. Let us see how the course of IFAD may change.

Tippy Tap improves hygiene

The Tippy Tap is a simple hands-free way to wash hands that is especially appropriate for areas where water is scarce. Made from a plastic water container, three bars of metal, a bar of soap and some string, the hand washing device is operated by putting pressure on the foot lever which is made from wood. This technique reduces the chance of bacteria transmission as the user only touches the soap. Read more of the background. Kindly submitted by Claude Bourdin of Farmers’ Dialogue.


Challenging the World Bank’s takeover of farmers’ right to seeds - Update

Since 2013, the World Bank has been rolling out the Enabling the Business of Agriculture (EBA), an index demanded by the G8 to score countries on how they facilitate "doing business” in agriculture. While the stated goal of the project is to guide policymakers to implement "smart and balanced policies”, the EBA ignores farmer-managed seed systems, which provide 80 to 90% of farmers’ seed supply in developing countries and are key to preserving agro-biodiversity and fostering resilience against climate and economic shocks. The Oakland Institute is deeply concerned by the repercussions that the EBA will have on farmers, consumers, and the environment. TAA supported them in their first approach (see Latest News 21st December 2016). Oakland Institute achieved some changes to the text by the World Bank. Now they invite you to join an email campaign to demand the end of the EBA project. Oakland Institute invites you to feel free to email the World Bank President Jim Yong Kim and EBA donors directly to request the withdrawal of this harmful project.


Soil & Water Conservation Society 'Conservation NewsBriefs'

The SWCS publishes Conservation NewsBriefs on topics related to soil and water conservation, comprising latest news articles and trending titles. These are searchable and cover the archive back to 2011. 


Are you really using the TAA Website to the full?

The website contains information of interest to all: explore it! For some pages members will need to enter their login and password.

Scan through the up-coming events - why not sign up for the annual TAA Ralph Melville Memorial Lecture in Cambridge on 7th March, download the flyer. You could add your Career Summary or check for job opportunities. If you are student seeking work, see the job-seekers’ page or links to recruitment agenciesFollow the progress of TAAF awardees or browse our publications Perhaps you have an interest in Conservation Agricultureor news from our UK Branches? Find out who are the members of ExCo, who manage the TAA on behalf of our Trustees. There is lots more to read and the Web Manager always welcome your feedback! 


Global agriculture trends: are we actually using less land?
Slash and burn agriculture; Palm oil plantations; Deforestation in the Amazon..... The environmental news about the natural habitat being converted to agriculture has been pretty grim. When you consider that we will need 70% more food by 2050 (assuming that we don’t make serious progress in reducing waste, slowing population growth, or halting the increase in consumption of animal products, FAO 2011) it’s hard to feel hopeful about the future. Without improving yields, that 70% increase in food would require over 34,000,000 km2 of new farmland and ranches to be created, an area larger than the entire continent of Africa. That’s why I was surprised to find what appears to be good news lurking in global data. Read more ......

(IUSS News)


Yarns from the Desert in Patagonia

ILEIA’s Farming Matters has recently focused on pastoralists, under the title of ‘Listening to pastoralists’. Pastoralists are often the unrecognised ‘movers and shakers’ of the agro-ecology movement, They are managing and maintaining biodiversity across vast tracts of land and resisting top-down policies that threaten their way of life. This story is about pastoralists in southern Patagonia, who have turned conflict between conservation of wild guanacos and sheep rearinginto an opportunity. Read more ……

For more information, contact Ileia. 


BA African Network for Environment

Message from the Director of BA (Bibliotheca Alexandrina, not British Airways!):   "Africa has its own Science, Technology & Innovation (STI) strategy. I am proud that Calestous Juma and I co-chaired the High-Level Group that helped craft that strategy for the AU and for the NEPAD.I have great hopes for the proper integration of African innovations in the pillars of its developmental activity. It has been adopted by the AU, but like so many other agreements, it has to find its way on the ground, in support of our young innovators”. Click Here o read the complete Director's message.


Ralph Melville Memorial Lecture: Cambridge, 7th March, 18.00

The 34th TAA RMML will be delivered by Dr John Ingram, Food Systems Programme Leader of the Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford. John Ingram also leads IFSTAL, a learning community and interactive resource designed to improve post-graduate level knowledge and understanding of the food system. His topic will be ‘Interdisciplinary Food Systems Training to address Global Food Challenges’, The event will be co-hosted by the Cambridge University Strategic Research Initiative on Global Food Security. It will be followed by a wine reception. Venue is the Sainsbury Laboratory (close to railway station). Please book your place by clicking here. There is no chargefor attendance but wewelcome donations to TAAF. Visit the events pages for more details.


Award of TAA Honours for 2016

At our Annual Reunion at the Royal Over-seas League in London on January 11th we were proud to announceour honours for 2016. Paul Harding, Chair of the Honours Committee, read the citations and each recipient accepted a framed certificate from Andrew Bennett, our President. Details of the 2016 Honours are on our website.

Dr William Critchley was named Development Agriculturist of the Year for contributions to sustainable land management, climate change adaptation, and local innovation. Tim Roberts received the TAA Award of Merit for many years of support and contributions to the TAA SW Group, and for pro-actively promoting the TAA. James Alden and Paul Baranowski were jointly named as Young Development Agriculturists of the Year for developing, manufacturing and marketing a Decision Support Tool for smallholder coffee growers.

The honours committee welcomes 2017 nominations for honours from members.Click here to download a nomination form and see the webpages for more details.


DFID Frontier Technology Programme Funding

The DFID programme will look at how 3D printing, Internet of Things, drones and other Frontier Technologies can positively impact on development challenges in eligible countries (mainly in Africa and S Asia)  in a range of sectors (including agriculture, water & sanitation, environment, climate change etc). The funding available (up to £100,000 /project) will be allocated primarily in response to opportunities and gaps identified through discussions with DFID staff. However, DfID invites technology experts 'on the frontier' to register as potential collaborators and suppliers to the programme as well as to propose project ideas, which could be picked up by DFID staff. Applicable to NGOs, companies, humanitarian organisations.

Read more about the programme.


Bamboo Basics: Production, Preservation, and Construction

ECHO (a TAA institutional member) is offering this four-day (February 7 - 10, 2017) course for those interested in learning more about how to use bamboo in agriculture and community development. During the workshop, participants will be exposed to varieties of bamboo and learn how to propagate and utilize this important plant resource.ECHO Global Farm, USA. Click here to register or contact Renee Gill



News from the Web Manager

The Chairman's Review 2017, presented at the recent Annual Reunion in London is now available on the website,Click here to download  it or find it at the foot of ‘Our Services’ page.

Members with a email address are still being blocked by BT from accessing the TAA email News Alerts. These are circulated most days, so if you have a address you are missing the news. We are still trying to find ways to rectify this problem. Meantime, if you have another address, please let the member secretary know and we will change your link – several members have successfully done this.

Our Membership List has just been updated (January 2017). Go to to the Membership Page, log in with your membership number and password; then click on the link under ‘MEMBERS LIST’ to download a pdf file and print it if you wish.

Please send any suggestions regarding the website to the Web Manager 


DfID publishes new Bilateral and Multilateral Aid Reviews
DfID recently published its new bilateral and multilateral aid reviews.The All-party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Agriculture & Food for Development has expressed interest in learning the TAA’s views on these documents, especially in regard to support for agriculture and nutrition, with a view to the APPG tabling a Parliamentary question. We have set up a small committee, that plans to report by the end of January. If any member has a specific issue that they wish to raise, please email Martin Evans of the TAA sub-committee. Note that TAA is a formal ‘supporter’ of the Agriculture & Food for Development APPG

From Screen to Fork: future farmers to grow printer ink?

In the 3D printing space, one of the most interesting areas is 3D printing of foods that grow. This is a way of using 3D printing to create something fairly homogenous, which later changes into something heterogenous. Rather than just producing an interesting shape (as we can do already with 3D printing of chocolate or icing sugar), we can 3D print potential foods.

There are analogies for using 3D printing, to allow cells to grow in a scaffold, which might then develop into a whole organ. Using additive manufacturing in this way could lead to a significant reduction in environmental footprint and food waste. The next stage will be akin to the photo-curing of foods. This is where a food is built up in layers; with each cooked in some way so that another, different layer can be added. For example, in the case of a pizza, each of the individual components can be printed. The challenge is to put these together in a way that they will be a complete food. The next step towards that might also include personalised nutrition – food digitally engineered to meet individual nutritional needs. The US Army is leading research into this through DARPA but some of its findings may be translatable for civilian use – and we may see some tangible outcomes in 2017. (Courtesy of Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN), the UK’s Innovation Network, written by Bryan Hanley, Specialist, AgriFood).


Montserrat - radio interview with TAA Caribbean Tour Team

Listen to this interview with Claude Brown on 'Farmers' Corner', Echo Radio, Montserrat, dated Dec 8th 2016. Click here to hear Tim Roberts, John Hansell, Naomi Bowen and Peter Patterson discussing tropical agriculture and their participation in the TAA Caribbean study tour. As Tim explains: "We did this at the breakfast table in Jane Guise's house, without any rehearsal or breaks. Claude put us completely at ease. He is a great contributor to local agriculture and formerly worked with CARDI.


Happy New Year from the LendwithCare entrepreneurs!

TAA is a supporter of LendwithCare. Tracey Horner, Head of LendwithCare, CARE International UK, sent New Year’s wishes to the TAA team. Many people enjoyed hearing from LendwithCare entrepreneurs - here is a short video of new year messages from the LendwithCare team, and - most importantly - some of the entrepreneurs whom you have supported:

This Christmas LendwithCare sold more gift vouchers than ever before! A huge thank you to everyone who bought a voucher and helped spread the word about LendwithCare. And welcome to all new lenders who received a voucher and have joined the LendwithCare community.


TAA Annual Reunion and Social, 11th Jan 2017: Reminder
This event, at the Royal Over-seas League in London, will focus on an annual review, update on TAAF, the award of our Honours for 2016 and presentations by recipients of our 2016 Honours, followed by supper and interactions.

18:00: 2016 Review/2017 Preview, Keith Virgo, Chairman TAA | 18:15: TAA Award Fund (TAAF), Antony Ellman, TAAF Chair | 18:20: Presentation of TAA Honours, Andrew Bennett, President TAA |18:30: Development Agriculturalist of the Year, Presentation |19:00: Young Development Agriculturalists of the Year, Presentation | 19:15:Fork Supper and Networking. We hope to have more time for interaction and informal networking. The cash bar will be open from 18.00. 19:45  Raffle prize-giving. We have the room until 21.00, so stay and chat! Let's make it an enjoyable event!

Please confirm asap if you plan to attend, by email to General Secretary,Elizabeth Warham. There will be a per head charge of £25, towards the venue hire and the fork supper, payable at the door.More details ….


Did you receive your Winter edition of Ag4Dev?

If you expected to receive your hard copy of the Winter edition of our journal ‘Agriculture for Development’ by post but you did not receive it, there may be a problem with your subscription rate. To receive the hard copy journal you need to be a full member, for which the annual subscription is now £50.00. If you had not emended your subscription payment, there may be an additional amount required to conform with the new rates, as on the Membership pages of our website.

If you think that this affects you, please contact the Membership Secretary, who will be able to advise how to ensure that you receive your hard copy journal in future.


Seeking a new assignment or job in 2017? Publicise your CV

The TAA provides members with a regular posting and updating of vacancies. Members can also post a copy of their CV on the TAA website Expertise pages.

People may also wish to sign up to DevAid to make sure that the best consulting companies have your CV on their databases. Your CV will be circulated to 30 000+ organisations, increasing the visibility of your profile. You can join as a DevAid Professional Member with a seasonal special offer price of 279 euro/year. Or contact by email. 


TAA Events: Dates for your 2017 Diary

Now that Christmas is over and the New Year is about to commence, please make a note of three important up-coming TAA events. See Events pages for these and more events.

January 3rdTAA SW Branch AGM and lunch at the Exeter Golf Club.

January 11thTAA Reunion at the Royal Over-seas League in London. Join us for a relaxed and enjoyable event, including a review of the year by the Chairman and awarding of TAA honours for 2016. Presentations will be made our 'Development Agriculturist of the Year' and by two TAAF awardees. The cash bar will be open and we shall conclude with a fork supper, with opportunities for interaction and informal networking. See programme

March 7thRalph Melville Memorial Lecture at the Sainsbury Lab, Cambridge, with lecture by John Ingram on Interdisciplinary Food Systems Training to address Global Food Challenges.


Listening to Pastoralists

The latest issue of Farming Matters, focuses on ‘Listening to pastoralists’. This issue portrays pastoralists working together to maintain their culture and lifestyles. In many cases they are at the frontline of struggles for their rights to land.Together, the experiences and perspectives presented highlight the importance of pastoral societies for agro-ecology and their role in transforming entire food systems. Amongst stories and opinions from Tanzania, Somaliland and Argentina, an Indian Pastoral Parliament comes to life. Gujarati pastoral groups put cultural and religious differences aside to fight for a common cause. And from Europe, an Italian story makes the case for a continent where migrant pastoralists are supported and recognised for their role in keeping pastoralism alive. There is a lot to learn from pastoralists’ experiences on the frontline of the struggle for land and their demands for a rights-based approach to achieving food sovereignty. Read more..... . Email for more information


The new book 'CA for Africa' is now published.

We are pleased to announce that the following CABI title is now available to buy: 9781780645681 – "Conservation Agriculture for Africa”. We shall be reviewing the book in the next edition of our journal AgforDev. Click here to view more details and to purchase this title. See also the TAA Conservation Agriculture News pages.


Challenging the World Bank’s takeover of farmers’ right to seeds

Since 2013, the World Bank has been rolling out theEnabling the Business of Agriculture (EBA), an index demanded by the G8 to score countries on how they facilitate "doing business” in agriculture. The EBA is supported by five Western donors and has sought the expertise of some of the largest agrochemical firms to determine which "regulatory burdens” hamper their business.The EBA’s top-down approach dictates so called "good practices” to regulate agriculture, and then scores countries on how well they apply these prescriptions. In the seed sector, the EBA pushes for intellectual property rights to further corporate profits. It awards the best scores to countries that ease private companies’ – but not farmers’ – access to public gene-banks. The EBA recommends that governments reduce the time and cost necessary to register industrial seeds, and that the private sector be predominantly represented in the national committees that supervise the introduction of new varieties.

While the stated goal of the project is to guide policymakers to implement "smart and balanced policies”, the EBA ignores farmer-managed seed systems, which provide 80 to 90% of farmers’ seed supply in developing countries and are key to preserving agro-biodiversity and fostering resilience against climate and economic shocks. The Oakland Institute is deeply concerned by the repercussions that the EBA will have on farmers, consumers and the environment. Please consider joining us in sending letters to the President of the World Bank and the donors who are bankrolling the EBA project, to demand that the Bank stops promoting pro-corporate policies which jeopardize farmers’ right to seeds, food security and the future of our planet. You can sign on to the attached letters by sending your organization name and country to Oakland Institute  by 10th January 2017.


Season's Greetings December 2016 from TAA
We wish our readers our very best wishes - please click to download our greetings card.


TAA Collaboration with Airoponix in tropical agritech venture

INNOVATE UK wishes to explore if any members of theTAAwould be interested tin collaborating with the UK company Airoponix. Please access their webpage  and click on "Food”. Their system allows one to grow high quality, staple food crops without soil and 85% less water, on poor rocky or contaminated soil. They are covered by three patents. One can grow crops, starting from vegetables (legumes, root crops such as potato), to rice and wheat. Airoponix would like to develop a collaborative project under Agritech Catalyst funding, which would have a dedicated focus on improving the agritech sector in developing countries.

Any interested TAA members please discuss with Airoponix, and identify which crops and in which geographical areas could deliver most benefit to tropical agriculture. Airoponix has already established collaborative relationships with Rothamsted Research, James Hutton Institute (both TAA institutional members), but now seek partners in developing countries that are eligible for this funding stream. Please contactMichael and John if you wish to collaborate.


ECHO Community'’s Training Programme for 2017

ECHO, one of TAA's institutional members,  would like to bring to your attention their training lineup for 2017, to be provided in Florida at the Echo Center. The training options available throughout the year include:

Tropical Agriculture Development: The Basics January 16 - 20, 2017; Bamboo Production, Preservation, and Construction February 7 - 10, 2017; Seed Saving: A Practical Overview for Small-Scale Seed Banking May 9 - 10, 2017; Tropical Agriculture Development: The Basics July 24 - 28, 2017; Introduction to Community Development August 14 - 18, 2017.

You can stay updated on course offerings at Local resident and group discounts are available, contact ECHO for details. If you don’t see what you need here, let  us know what topics interest you! 


Hugh Bunting Memorial Lecture, Nov 2016, listen on line
You can now listen to the lecture by Tim Wheeler, and Andrew Bennett's introduction, on You tube.  "Climate Smart Agriculture - Helping smallholder farmers manage the risks and opportunities presented by climate change".

Ag for Dev JournalNo 29 Winter 2016 now downloadable
Apologies for an error in uploading the current ag4dev No 29. The journal is now available for downloading ny members. Thank you for those members who drew the problem to my attention. 

Debating the role of livestock with Joel Salatin

The Sustainable Food Trust wishes to share a film from a public event that was hosted at Bristol University in November 2016, where 250 people heard Joel Salatin, America’s favourite livestock farmer, talking about his pioneering farming systems. Joel kicked off the evening by explaining how many of the world’s most fertile soils have been developed over thousands of years through a symbiotic relationship between grasslands and grazing herbivores. If we learn the lesson of history, the great challenge is to reintegrate grazing animals to restore soil organic matter that has been squandered during half a century of industrial farming. We then heard from our panel of expert speakers, chaired by Dimitri Houtart, BBC Rural Affairs and Environment Editor, including Professor Mark Eisler, Chair in Global Farm Animal Health at the University of Bristol, Dr Zoe Harcombe, an expert on public health nutrition, Simon Crichton, head of the Food, Farming and Trade team at Triodos Bank, and Tara Garnett, founder and leader of the Food Climate Research Network. Watch the video .....


DfID Bilateral and multilateral aid reviews

As you probably know, DfID published its new bilateral and multilateral aid reviews last week. The APPG on Agriculture & Food for Development would be interested in your reaction to these reviews and in particular any specific questions that they have raised in your organisation regarding support for agriculture and nutrition, with a view to APPG tabling a written Parliamentary question in the next week or so. If you have comments, please relay them to Caspar Van Vark, Coordinator of APPG on Agriculture & Food for Development.


BA African Networks

The Bibliotheca Alexandrina proudly invites you to join the BA African Networks and receive its enlightening newsletters; including the latest reports and articles from international organizations along with pointers to the upcoming conferences and fellowships.

You can subscribe now to any of the BA African networks; ICT, Research methods, Agriculture, Environment or Global Health through our General portal. Also, you can sign up and join your community of interest through our Q&A section and rate any of the added articles. Read more ….. or sign up for Newsletter.  E-mail for more information,


Conservation Agriculture and Climate Resilience

Kiziro Mazvimavi and the ICRISAT Bulawayo team have maintained the panel data set that DfID established in 2007.  A clear example of how on-farm observation can help us understand more clearly the windows for the promotion of conservation agriculture for a range of crops.  Key is that one must remember that this is just one practice – basins – that makes up the wealth of potential interventions under the CA umbrella. Read the paper online or visit TAA CA pages.

(kindly submitted by David Radcliffe).


Feeding the world with Agroecology

Pablo Tittonell is professor ‘Farming Systems Ecology’ at Wageningen University and one of the worlds most well known experts in the field of agriculture and ecology. In this TED Talk, he advocates intensification of agriculture by making optimal use of natural processes and the landscape to meet the worlds constantly growing demand for food, including nutritional deviersity. Watch the video of his lecture ….


GM crops worldwide - visionary precaution or euro-sclerosis?

Do not forget the Curry Club talk by Dr John Pidgeon on Thursday 15th December at the Strand Continental Hotel, London. See details on the TAA Events pages. The meeting falls in the festive season when the India Club run an improved Christmas menu, priced slightly higher than usual. The inclusive TAA charge will be £17 per head for coffee, the meal and the use of the facilities. Book your place with Terry Wiles.


Soils and Agriculture to feature in COP22?

The interest in agricultural greenhouse gas mitigation strategies and specifically the role of soils, seems to have increased at this year's UN climate convention in Marrakech, compared to Paris a year ago. While soils were explicitly excluded in early iterations of UN climate agreements, they were at least implicitly allowed as part of the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC) to the Paris agreement. But the Paris accord does not mention the word agriculture or soil anywhere.

Therefore, it is good to see that soil carbon and greenhouse gas research receives great interest in Marrakech. The French initiative "4 per mil" (to increase soil carbon annually by 0.4% to offset fossil fuel emissions) provides a welcomed boost to soil carbon sequestration approaches, and the biochar wedge in such a portfolio was well presented in various presentations throughout the week. Twenty-seven African countries confirmed the Marrakech "Declaration for Adaptation of African Agriculture”, spearheaded by the Moroccan government. Agriculture may possibly make it this time into the negotiating text, and hopefully the potential of soil carbon sequestration will be mentioned. Sustainable soil management with long-term soil fertility benefits fits well into these strategies, and biochar provides a learning opportunity on how to link what are usually different and separate sectors focusing on energy, agriculture or waste management. Update by Johannes Lehmann, international Biochar.


Novel fungicides laboratory will contribute to global food security
A new laboratory, the ‘AOX Lab’, has been opened at Hilldale Research Centre in Wickham to develop novel fungicide compounds, based on ground-breaking research at the University of Sussex, and as a result of the institution’s first ever industrial partnership. Work planned at the site will help to drive vital research into the control of respiratory activity in fungi which attack the world’s major cereal crops. With the help of a recent £1M BBSRC Industrial Partnership Award, Professor Tony Moore of the University of Sussex will collaborate with Agform Ltd to accelerate the development of fungicide resistance inhibitors.

Fungal pathogens are adept at developing resistance to treatments by expressing an enzyme called the alternative oxidase (AOX). Using previous BBSRC funding, the novel compounds formulated by Professor Moore prevent this enzyme from being functional. With further development, these compounds may be effective for longer and require less frequent spraying of crops. Read more ..... 


Cambridge Conservation Forum Christmas Party

The CCF Christmas Party is fast approaching! It will be held on December 5th from 7-11pm in the David Attenborough Building  Common Room, Cambridge. This is a fantastic opportunity for all of us to reconnect, enjoy some great locally produced food, and hear live music from the CCF band and CCI choir, so I hope that many of you will be able to make it! Please book your ticket on-line before December 1st. As TAA is a member of CCF, our members are welcome to join.


Membership Subscription top-ups

Ag4Dev Journal number 29 is due out shortly. It will be accessible on-line to all paid-up TAA members, with hard copies sent only to full members who have updated their annual payment to £50.00 and to corporates. The on-line membership is £40.00. If you would like to top up your subscription payment or check your payment status then please urgently contact

Thanks to all of you who attended the AGM, the successful HBML and wine reception at University of Reading this week.


Photos required for our new TAA Instagram Account

One of our younger members has kindly opened an Instagram account for the TAA. She requests that members send her photographs that illustrate the type of work in which they are involved. If you have suitable photos that would be of interest to the membership, please send them, with a very short caption, to Ellie Wibberley,  To view the photos, you will need to download the ‘Instagram BETA’ app on your smart phone, then register with a user name, password and email address. You will then be able to ‘follow’ TAA using the address ‘tropicalagricultureassociation’. You will see the photos as they build-up: these are early days. So, please send Ellie suitable photos and then sign-up to see the collection!


International Development Secretary launches Civil Society Partnership Review

In a press release on 4th November 2016, DFID launched a new Civil Society Partnership Review (CSPR) which sets out a new system of central funding for civil society organisations. It will simplify the system for funding civil society while ensuring it enhances existing high performing relationships and broadens the availability of support. The four central funding sources are designed to incentivise good performance, catalyse innovation and partnership, and push for more efficiency, transparency and accountability. This will guarantee the best value for UK taxpayers and the most effective delivery of DFID’s primary goal - eradicating poverty. The main funding for civil society organisations will be: UK Aid Match; UK Aid Direct; UK Aid Connect - a new partnership approach; .UK Aid Volunteers – which triple in size the International Citizen Service (ICS) youth volunteering scheme and provide opportunities for new partnerships with volunteering agencies.


Job Vacancies and Opportunities from TAA

Are you looking for a consultancy assignment, a new career opportunity or your first job? Why not keep an eye on the TAA Vacancies pages in our website. You will need to have your login name and password available, so that you can browse the wide range of vacancies advertised. Our Vacancy Team posts new vacancies regularly and sends out an email alert for a vacancy every Sunday. During the last week there have been new postings for: Environmental Scientist (Ecosystem Services, NRI); Experto Agrícola (DevelopmentAid Recruitment Solutions); Agriculture and Food Security Experts (ICON Institute); Regional Program Leader (ILRI); Emergency Agriculture and Livelihood Assessment Specialist (FAO); Senior Expert in the area of IPARD (Altair Asesores).

Please also feel free to send details of job vacancies for posting, to the Vacancies Team.


TAA Member presents at the LendwithCare Reception in Manchester

TAA is a supporter of LendwithCare, which holds an Annual Reception in a different UK city every year: this year it was in Manchester. It was a great opportunity for lenders to meet each other, the LendwithCare team, and to learn more about how LendwithCare works. We are proud that Daniella Hawkins spoke on poverty reduction at this year's meeting. She is the Social Performance Manager of the loan fund. Daniella, who is a member of TAA, received a TAAF award in 2005 for work with the Luansobe Beekeepers’ Co-operative in Zambia and spoke at last year’s Ralph Melville Memorial Lecture. Click here to watch the video of her presentation in Manchester.


Sad Demise of Prof Paul Davies

We have received the sad news that Professor Paul Davies passed away on 27th October. Paul was Deputy Vice-Chancellor at the Royal Agricultural University (RAU) until he retired in August tis year. He had been a member of staff for over 25 years, he was Chair of the African Fellowship Trust and was an active member of the TAA. He was diagnosed with cancer last year and had an operation in the New Year, followed by chemo and radio-therapy. He was recently admitted for second operation but he died during the operation. Andrew Bennett, President of TAA and a former colleague of Paul, has sent the family a letter of condolence on behalf of the TAA. The funeral arrangements are likely to be a family affair.


CINTRIN - how to register (addendum)
To become a member of CINTRIN, please register here

Apologies that this contact was missed from our previous message


CINTRIN – a network of research excellence in nitrogen use efficiency
NIAB, a TAA institutional member, invites you to be part of CINTRIN - the Cambridge-India Network for Translational Research in Nitrogen. This is a collaborative virtual centre between the UK and India, a network of research excellence in nitrogen use efficiency, connecting developmental research, crop breeding, agri-technology and extension.

 It is led by NIAB in the UK and the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) in India. It also brings together the University of Cambridge’s Department of Plant Sciences and Sainsbury Laboratory, ADAS, the Punjab Agricultural University, the National Institute of Plant Genome Research (NIPGR) and KisanHub (agri-IT specialists). This is one of four new Virtual Joint Centres in Agricultural Nitrogen, delivered in partnership the BBSRC, NERC and the Department of Biotechnology India (DBT) as part of the Newton-Bhabba Fund.

CINTRIN will be the core of a growing Virtual Joint Centre in Agricultural Nitrogen Use, providing a mechanism for drawing together a wider network of scientists and collaborators.
 Annual workshops will be central to the development and expansion of CINTRIN’s network, and in identifying new areas for study. Academic exchanges and training in India and in the UK will be key to collaboration.

 Help us to consolidate CINTRIN as a community addressing nitrogen use challenges, to ensure that the network has an extensive impact in the UK and in India. If you are working on any aspect of the efficient use of Nitrogen and would like to be a member of CINTRIN, please join us and register here.


Ethiopia Soil Map arms farmers with new fertilizers in climate fight

A comprehensive digital map charting soil fertility in Ethiopia is proving an important tool in tackling the country’s low farm productivity, a challenge made more acute by climate change. The nationwide mapping effort was launched by the Ethiopian Soil Information System (EthioSIS) in 2012, and is due to be finished this year. The project in the Horn of Africa nation is already achieving results, with new fertilizer combinations boosting wheat yields from around 1 tonne to 3 tonnes per hectare on more than 40 percent of its agricultural land last year. Read more ...... (source: IUSS).


Livestock Counts
According to GFAR, this week marked a milestone for the Committee on World Food Security (CFS). For the first time since its reform, it recognised the role of livestock in addressing malnutrition, sustainable agriculture and climate change. Two years ago CFS asked the asked the High Level Panel of Experts to prepare a report on sustainable agricultural development for food security and nutrition, including the role of livestock. The report was presented and endorsed at the 43rd plenary session of the CFS in Rome this week and many of members took the stage to state their positions in regards its recommendations. Read more >>

New high-yielding maize aids smallholder farmers and hungry in drought-hit Africa

Bigger and healthier maize is helping to counter the effects of severe drought caused by the warming effects of an El Nino weather system that has swept across southern Africa making more than 30 million people in the region dependent food aid. Read more from the GFAR blog ...


Curry Club talk by the Better Cotton Initiative Thursday 27th October - FINAL REMINDER
The talk will be given by Corin Wood-Jones, Senior Programme Manager – Global Supply. He will cover the history, mission, and key strategic approaches of the Better Cotton Initiative. He will explain their Standards System for the production of more sustainable cotton. A system that has demonstrated positive results in key production and environmental indicators, such as significant reduction in water and pesticide use, as well as increased productivity and profit.Corin willexplainhow BCI differs from more traditional certification systems and will also cover BCI’s position on pesticides and Genetically Modified Organisms, Thursday 27th October, Strand Continental Hotel, London. See Events pages

Reviewing Three Year Race against Aflotoxins in E Africa

The Biosciences Eastern & Central Africa - International Livestock Research Institute and the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) hosted a forum to share findings of a three-year study on aflatoxins in maize in Kenya, 19 October 2016. Aflatoxins are naturally occurring fungal toxins that contaminate a number of food crops including maize, the staple food for over 130 million people across E Africa. Concerns have been raised over the presence of these toxins that are known to pose acute and chronic risks to human health. Presentations focused on the Kenya component of research (Capacity and Action for Aflatoxin Reduction in Eastern Africa (CAAREA) project), covering Kenya & Tanzania. Research focused on developing cheap and simple ways to identify contaminated foods and feeds to prevent them getting into the food chain, including reduced aflotoxin susceptibility as a new trait in future maize varieties.

The CAAREA project is among other efforts by ILRI to address the spectre of Aflotoxins in Africa. Another ILRI project is carrying out studies to assess risks, economic impacts and disease control technologies along the Kenyan dairy feed chain. The ILRI Hub also hosts the Aflatoxin Proficiency Testing and Control in Africa (APTECA) program, managed by the Texas A&M University, USA and supports the commercial maize milling sector to manage Aflotoxin risk by improving their capacity to accurately perform their own tests for Aflotoxins in maize flour.


Saving the world from "Bananageddon"

A three-year project has been given £1.2million of funding by partners, including the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), to develop solutions for averting the serious risks of fungal disease and the rising costs of banana production. Biologists and economists from the University of Exeter, University of Oxford, UN Food and Agriculture Organization, the NGO BananaLinkand consultancy 3Keel will work to assess the risk of "bananageddon”. They will calculate the shortages of the fruit the public and retailers can expect, the impact of climate change and disease on banana yield and supply.

Members of the research team will also undertake work to examine how to help banana plants resist fungal disease. They will work with retailers to develop new economic models of pricing bananas and examine how consumers will respond to changes in price. They will also work with public health bodies to examine the impact on people’s diets if bananas were less readily available. Read more …. 


Nominations for TAA Honours – closing date extended to 31st October

This is definitely the final reminder for you to nominate candidates for TAA Honours for 2016. Each year the TAA honours those who have made significant contributions to agriculture for development and to the TAA itself. The honours will be awarded at the Annual Reunion, London 11thJanuary 2017. The three categories are: 'Development Agriculturalist of the Year' (need not be a TAA member); 'Young Development Agriculturalist of the year' (usually awarded to a TAAF Awardee); and 'Award of Merit or Honorary Membership' is given to TAA member(s), who have made outstanding contributions to meeting the objectives of the Association. TheHonours Panel seeks nominations for each category. The closing date for nominations is now 31st October. Each nomination should include a proposer and a seconder (both TAA members or employees of an Institutional/Corporate Member) and a short statement of the ways in which the nominee meets the criteria for the award for which he or she is being nominated. For more details and nomination forms, visit the TAA website Honours and Awards'.Click here to see previous recipients of awards.


TAA Trustees' Report & Accounts (previous error corrected)
As mentioned in our earlier message todays, our AGM will be held on 9thNovember at 17.00 at Reading University.before the Hugh Bunting Memorial Lecture, We invite all members to attend. An important task of the AGM will be to approve the annual Trustees' Report and Financial Accounts. The earlier link to the Trustees' Report was incorrect. Please use this corrected link and download the 2016 Draft Report. We request members to read these before the meeting.

Please also sign-up for the Hugh Bunting Memorial Lecture and Reception

TAA AGM: Draft Trustees Report and Accounts for 2016, and Hugh Bunting Lectiure

Our AGM will be held on 9th November at 17.00 at Reading University. before the Hugh Bunting Memorial Lecture,  We invite all members to attend. An important task of the AGM will be to approve the annual Trustees’ Report and Financial Accounts. We request members to read these before the meeting.

The AGM will be followed by a networking session with Reading students, the Hugh Bunting Memorial Lecture by Professor Tim Wheeler on "Climate Smart Agriculture - helping smallholder farmers manage the risks and opportunities presented by climate change” and will conclude with an Informal/wine and finger buffet. To reserve your place, please contact Mollie Smith or telephone 0118 378 4549. Full details on the TAA Events pages.


Reminders: London Curry Club and TAA SW Conferences “Pulses”

The TAA L&SE branch invites you to the Curry Club talk is on Thursday 27th October. The talk on Cotton will be given by Damien Sanfilippo of the Better Cotton Initiative, Geneva. The Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) supports global standards for cotton, bringing together cotton’s complex supply chain, from farmers to retailers. BCI aims to make global cotton production better for the people who produce it, better for the environment it grows in, and better for the sector’s future by developing "Better Cotton” as a sustainable mainstream commodity. Find out about this global initiative at the TAA Curry Club!. Book your place with Terry Wiles.

The TAA SW Branch invites you to a full day conference at the RAU on'CROPPING SYSTEMS & PULSES’. An exciting, full day programme with invited renowned speakers. Places still available: contact the TAASW Secretary,Ray Bartlett.

More details of these meetings given on TAA Events pages.

Double the Income of India’s Smallholder Farmers?

In an effort to boost the agriculture sector, the Indian government has set an ambitious goal to double farmers’ income by 2022. In doing so, it has unveiled strategies ranging from irrigation to crop insurance. But if the food value chain is to undergo true transformation, it needs to move from a production-driven system to one driven by demand, one that increasingly connects consumers with producers. Only through strong leadership from diverse stakeholders can we create the conditions needed for unlocking the entrepreneurship of smallholder farmers and ultimately boosting their income. Read more ….. . Relayed from CABI-Plantwise.


CA: Best Practices for Resource-Limited Smallholder Farms
ECHO, a TAA institutional member, has published (Oct 2016) a Best Practice Note on Conservation agriculture (CA). CA is a resource-saving land management approach that optimizes and sustains the capacity of soils to produce food. In CA, sustainability is linked to the ecological preservation of agricultural landscapes.Click here to read more and access the Best Practice Note on CA.

TAA has now joined Twitter

TAA has been ‘tweeting’ (and doing other Twitter things such as ‘following’ selected organisations) since August. The entry to the TAA’s Twitter account  is in the lower right hand corner of TAA’s Home page. A click on this reveals TAA’s latest tweets, whose Twitter output TAA is following, who in turn is following TAA’s Twitter output, and how many have said they like something TAA has put out.

We would encourage all our members to follow TAA on Twitter. Our Twitter name is @TropicalAgri. For those members who are not on Twitter, it is very easy to open an account by going to and clicking on the ‘Sign Up’ box in the upper right hand corner. The following link is a helpfulguide to using TwitterOnce you have a twitter account, you can FOLLOW TAA by clicking on the ‘follow’ box and logging in with your username and password. You can also REPLY to a TAA tweet, RETWEET a TAA tweet from yourself, declare that you LIKE a TAA tweet, and do many other things. All that you need do is click on the TAA tweet and then on any of the four symbols that appear. Any queries to Martin Evans, who is managing our Twitter account.


Institutional Membership of TAA

TAA has 25 institutional members (formerly called ‘corporate’ members), including educational establishments, research institutes, NGOs and private companies. Four new members joined this year: Crop Nutrition Laboratory Services Ltd (Kenya); ECHO Asia Impact Center (Thailand); NIAB International (UK); and Mountain Lion Agriculture (Sierra Leone). We encourage more organisations that are active in tropical agriculture, rural development and contributing (directly or indirectly) to livelihood improvement in developing countries, to join TAA as institutional members. Thebenefits include TAA’s journal Agriculture for Development, dedicated journal pages, entries on our website, participation in workshops and conferences, facilities to advertise vacant positions and consultancy requirements, access to a list of our members, TAA Award Fund recipients, and the opportunity to nominate employees for TAA honours.

We request members to send us names of organisations that might be interested in joining as institutional members. We would also like to hear from existing institutional members about how satisfied they are with their TAA membership and how the benefits might be further enhanced. Please send suggestions and proposals to our Institutional Membership Coordinator.


The Yeheb Nut Bush: a panacea for drylands?

According to the Yeheb Project, the Cordeauxia edulis bush has been known to Somali nomads for centuries and used to form half the vegetation of Somalia and the Ogaden. The plant appears to provide edible nuts for humans, fodder for livestock and firewood, as well as having 'medicinal properties'. The Yeheb Project, being implemented by Initiatives of Change UK, aims to improve the lives of communities in the drylands of the Horn of Africa by reintroducing yeheb as a reliable, drought-resistant source of food and fodder. Interestingly, the project developed from the rediscovery of yeheb nuts by a Somali post-grad student at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. (Reported in J Anglo-Somali Soc, 60, 4-8).


TAA SW Annual Conference at RAU on Pulses
You are invited by the TAA SW Branch to their annual conference at Royal Agricultural University, Cirencester, on 13th October 2016 on the theme  of CROPPING SYSTEMS & PULSES’. A full day event with presentations by renowned specialists in pulses. See details in the TAA Events pages and click here for a detailed programme.

Please make your bookingsvia the SW Secretary Ray Bartlett

Biodiversity among soil microbes can be bad for crops?
According to the AgriFood community of the Knowledge Transfer Network, research at Rothamsted (TAA member) and Oxford University show that crops in the field are engaged in a constant battle with disease-causing soil microbes. When plant pathogens mount a successful attack, harvests are smaller. To improve food security, scientists are looking for ways to tackle problem diseases. This recent study revealed that decreased biodiversity of Pseudomonas, a genus of soil bacteria, is associated with a reduced severity of the fungal disease ‘Take-all’ in second year wheat. The work revealed that disease incidence was linked to the wheat variety grown in the first year, and that this also had a profound effect on Pseudomonas species community structure. Fighting amongst the strains of soil bacteria may reduce their useful properties when biodiversity is high. In this situation, a high biodiversity of soil microbes can be bad for crop yields. Read more



Assistance Required by TAA

The TAA needs some members who will volunteer to give some of their time to assist with the Association’s operation. This need not take up a lot of time but would help our existing team on ExCo and in the Ag4Dev publications team. The Coordinating Editor of Ag4Dev is seeking individual members to take on editorial responsibility for: a) Obituaries, b) Opinions, and c) Reminiscences & Reflections. Lin Blunt, our Membership Secretary, is seeking someone to assist her part-time with membership issues. Anyone who would like to help, please do contact the Web Manager. 


TAA Ralph Melville Memorial Lecture 2017

Dr John Ingram, Food Systems Programme Leader of the Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford, will deliver this year’s memorial lecture on Interdisciplinary Food Systems Training to address Global Food Challenges. John Ingram leads IFSTAL, a learning community and interactive resource designed to improve post-graduate level knowledge and understanding of the food system. The event will be held at the Sainsbury Laboratory, Cambridge, on March 7th 2017, co-hosted by the Cambridge University Strategic Research Initiative on Global Food Security. There will be a post-lecture wine reception. Visit our Events pages for more details. Please book your place by clicking here


Soilcam captures living underground

This time-lapse photography captures how things decompose underground. 
Watch the video


New Facebook Page for early Career members

A new Facebook page has been created for use by early-career members to promote and facilitate conversations related to international agricultural development about careers, projects and related questions with our peers. Just search for the Tropical Agriculture Association under Facebook ‘pages’, or follow the link. You will need to be ‘approved’ by Alex Tasker, who we are nominating as ExCo member to look after early career members. Please do sign up if you are setting out on your career and contribute to the converstaions that we hope will develop. See also our pages to help student job seekers.


Biostimulants - Organic Future of the Global Agri Industry, 2016
Research and Markets of Dublin, Ireland, have released this Global Strategic Business Report on biostimulants. These are substances of biological origin which, when applied to the soil, seed, plant or any other growing media, enhances the plant's nutrient-using capability. They are products meant for inclusion in regular fertilization practices, and are neither fertilizers nor pesticides but natural plant growth regulators capable of rendering a positive impact on overall health of the plant when applied in small quantities. While biostimulants have been in use for several decades, research work in the area and use of research-based products has been a recent phenomenon. Early stage products were either ineffective or spurious and delivered less than their claims, which restricted market growth. The drive towards sustainable practices in agriculture, stricter regulations putting a check on the use of chemical fertilizers, increasing demand for organic foods and the growing need to expand yield of crops are providing new momentum for biostimulants.

As stated by this new market research report, Europe represents the largest market worldwide. Increasingly stringent regulations on use of chemical pesticides, and growing focus on yield enhancement and environmental friendly crop protection, and growing development of innovative biostimulants products are some of the factors driving growth in the market. Click here for more information.


ISRIC World Soil Museum can now be visited virtually

The World Soil Museum of ISRIC – World Soil Information in Wageningen can now be visited online. The museum has a collection of reference soil profiles from around the world. These 3D profiles, or monoliths, are used to explain main soil forming factors and to show the importance of the soil for ensuring food security, mitigating climate change, or in terms of their cultural value. The museum, the collection, including the objects in the collection storage (normally off limits to visitors) can now be visited online. You can explore the museum as part of an online tour and search for specific data and information on each soil profile. Further, you can also view profiles from the storeroom, which houses the majority of the collection, and obtain a complete overview of the soil profiles by country or soil type. This means you can put together your own exhibition for your studies or as a work project. The virtual tour is available in English. The scope of the virtual tour will be gradually extended.
 Join the online tour:


REMINDER: nominations for 2016 TAA Honours

This is a final reminder for individual and Institutional members to nominate candidates for TAA Honours for 2016. Each year, the TAA honours those who have made significant contributions to agriculture for development and to the TAA itself. They will be awarded at the Annual Reunion, London 11th January 2017. The three categories are: ‘Development Agriculturalist of the Year’ (need not be a TAA member); ‘Young Development Agriculturalist of the year’ (usually awarded to a TAAF Awardee); ‘Award of Merit or Honorary Membership’ is given to TAA member(s), who have made outstanding contributions to meeting the objectives of the Association.

The Honours Panel seeks nominations for each category. Nominations close on 15th September. Each nomination should include a proposer and a seconder (both TAA members or employees of a Corporate Member) and a short statement of the ways in which the nominee meets the criteria for the award for which he or she is being nominated. For more details and nomination forms, visit the TAA website Honours and Awards’. Click here to see previous recipients of awards.


Subscription Updates: Final Reminder
New subscriptions take full effect from September 1st. If, from this date, you receive no further TAA email news alerts and fail to ccess to other services, this will probably mean that your subscription for the current year is overdue or under-paid. Please urgently contact ensure that your TAA membership continues.


2016 TAAF Awards

This year 25 applications were received from MSc students at nine UK universities for our Tropical Agriculture Award Fund (TAAF) awards. After careful assessment by the TAAF Committee, awards were offered to 14 students, as listed in the TAAF webpages. The awards are designed to enable students to undertake field research for their dissertations over a 6-8 week period. Grants of up to £1,000 are offered, together with professional mentoring by an appropriate member of the TAAF Committee. The students are currently writing up their research. Summaries of their reports will be published in future issues of Ag4Dev. The TAAF is funded by generous contributions by members and organisations: TAAF seeks donations and legacies to maintain this valuable support to younger generations, see TAAF Donations on our website.


Cambridge Conservation Forum (CCF) News and David Attenborough Building
CCF member organisations (including TAA) can now use the wonderful new David Attenborough Building (DAB) in Cambridge, off Downing Street. The DAB is where the ten Cambridge Conservation Initiative (CCI) partners are housed – and it provides a superb working environment that is designed to encourage the cross-fertilization of ideas to promote conservation. This is a fantastic opportunity for CCF and the CCF Committee hopes that member organisations will make full use of the facilities provided to foster new relationships and do good stuff for conservation! You can also book meeting rooms for collaborative meetings involving other members of the CCI or take advantage of the comfortable common room (with free tea/coffee) for small ad hoc meetings. Visit the Environment Specialist Group page for background to the CCI or click here for instructionson how to book facilities at the DAB.

We also congratulate Judith Schleicher, who has been elected as CCF Vice-Chair (Judith is an ex TAAF Awardee and TAA member).


Warning: Email News Alerts from 1st September
If you no longer receive the regular TAA news alerts via email after 1st September this will mean that your subscription for the coming year is overdue or has not been adjusted to the new subscription rates. Please contact the Membership Secretary for simple advice on how to make the correct payment to ensure that the news alerts and other TAA services continue beyond Sept 1st.


TAA joins GFAR as a Partner in the Global Forum

The Global Forum is a unique forum bringing together all those concerned with how agricultural and food research and innovation can help deliver sustainable development. TAA is now publicly recognized as a Partner in GFAR through the GFAR website. We are now welcome to identify TAA and our members as Partners in GFAR through our website (see our Policy Advice pages) and communications. We can make use of the extensive GFAR networks to tell the world about what we are doing to deliver our common purpose. Members, can send articles, blogs, news and information about TAA and how it is helping to contribute to the aims of the Global Forum. Members who would like GFAR to specifically highlight their work, or celebrate a key event, through the GFAR website and emailed-updates, please contact Charles Plummer. Please contact the GFAR Secretariat for further advice: 

[Extract form message from Mark Holderness, GFAR Executive Secretary and TAA member].

Curry Club Talk: Date Change for GM Talk
Change of date. Please note that we have re-scheduled Dr Pigeon's talk on GM cropping to 15th December 2016. 
Regrettably, there were insufficient numbers signing-up for the original date of 25th August. Please keep the new date in mind for this interesting talk. See Events pages for full details.

TAP and CABI release Common Framework on Capacity Development
Capacity Development is a high priority among the Partners in GFAR (Global Fund for Agricultural Research). The Tropical Agriculture Platform (TAP) announces the publication of the TAP Common Framework on Capacity Development for Agricultural Innovation Systems, following on its finalization at the TAP Partner Assembly... Read more and download documents

TAP and CABIare Partners in GFAR. The GFAR Secretariatcelebrates the work and collective actions of Partners who share in our mission tostrengthen and transform agri-food research and innovation systems globally.TAA is a Partner in GFAR.


Reminder: Curry Club Talks: GM crops worldwide - visionary precaution or euro-sclerosis?
Please join us at the Strand Continental Hotel, Strand, London on 25th August for this very topical talk by Dr John PigeonThe talk will address GM crops but will also consider the reasons for opposition in Europe to other new technologies, such as zero tillage (CA) cropping and effective, environmentally safer herbicides. A detailed appraisal will be presented of the global progress of GM crops, development of GM technology and an outline of research on novel GM management systems. It will include critical discussion of major UK, GM research, which has done little to rectify public mis-information around this emotive topic. See TAA Events for more details. Places still available, so please email Terry Wiles to reserve your place. A £14.00 charge includes coffee, lunch and the venue hire.


Call for nominations for 2016 TAA Honours

Each year, the TAA honours those who have made significant contributions to agriculture for development and to the TAA itself. These are awarded at the Annual Reunion, which will be held in London on 11th January 2017. There are three categories of award: ‘Development Agriculturalist of the Year’ (need not be a TAA member); ‘Young Development Agriculturalist of the year’ (usually awarded to a TAAF Awardee); ‘Award of Merit or Honorary Membership’ is given to TAA member(s), who have made outstanding contributions to meeting the objectives of the Association.

The Honours Panel now seeks nominations for each category. Please send to the Chair of the Panel, Paul Harding. Nominations close on 15th September. Each nomination should include a proposer and a seconder (both TAA members or employees of an Institutional/Corporate Member) and a short statement of the ways in which the nominee meets the criteria for the honour for which he or she is being nominated. For more details and nomination forms, visit the TAA website Honours and Awards’. Click here to see previous recipients of awards.


Can Plants Communicate? Implications for CA?
TAA member Francis Shaxson has drawn attention to this intriguing subject, supported by Prof Norman Uphoff at Cornell. Francis cites a Youtube video by a forester, Suzanne Simard, from the University of British Columbia, Canada onHow trees talk to each other').She has observed the characteristics of forest soil profiles that show not just roots but also fungal mycelia. Her experiments indicated that there is two-way intercommunication, not only between individuals of the same species of tree but also between different species, along this network of mycelia. Norman supported this by reference to a similar video. Have a look and listen. It may have implications for a better understanding why such activities as no-till/ Conservation Agriculture results in better outcomes in terms of crop growth and development where the treatment of soil is less damaging than conventional tillage, which physically breaks the fungal hyphae in the plough layer, thereby shutting-down subterranean inter-plant communications of this sort?

NEW: Cambridge Centre for Crop Science 3CS
The Cambridge Centre for Crop Science was established last year as a partnership between the University of Cambridge and NIABthat will enhance research in crop sciences, promote knowledge exchange and develop resilience in food security. Why 3CS? Huge demands will be placed on global agriculture in the coming generations. Increasing prosperity, changing lifestyle aspirations and urbanisation are putting pressure on land use and biodiversity. The goal of sustainable crop production and equitable food distribution will require a new generation to be trained in modern biotechnology and traditional plant breeding. This new collaboration between the University of Cambridge’s Department of Plant Sciences, the Sainsbury Laboratory and NIAB will advance scientific capacity and replace lost expertise, by offering opportunities for career progression and enhancement. This will include a new chair of Crop Science and facilities for postgraduate research. Read more about the 3CS mission. Download a poster.


Membership Subscriptions update
Thanks to those members who have updated their Standing Orders or made BACS/Paypal payments for the coming year.However, if you missed updating your Standing Order, then this is a good time to do it or to set up one for payment from Aug 1st next year.To ensure that you continue to receive the journal (£50.00) or have full year on-line access (£40.00), then please make a top-up or full payment now. Full details of how to pay are available on our website. To pay by credit card, use our Paypal link 

If members are unsure of the amount they currently pay or have any questions, please contactLinda, our Membership Secretary.


Join TAA on Twitter!
The TAA ExCo has decided that, to raise our profile around the world, we should have a Twitter account. This will enable regular sharing of news items and posting of comments on developments in the world of tropical agriculture. We have had valuable assistance from Fran Baker of the Cambridge ‘Centre for Global Equality’ in setting up the account and Martin Evans  has kindly agreed to manage the account. Tomorrow, August 5th, the TAA twitter page goes live. Please take a look if you are already on twitter then please follow it. If you could re-tweet some of our followers’ tweets, this will encourage more and more people become aware of the TAA. Web Manager


Call for Evidence on the impact of rural infrastructure on smallholder livelihoods
The APPG on Agriculture & Food for Development invites written submissions from organisations and individuals on the topic of rural infrastructure. Rural infrastructure is essential to improving smallholder productivity, access to markets and poverty reduction. The APPG is therefore holding an inquiry into the three aspects of rural infrastructure thought to be most crucial to smallholders':energy, water and storage/transportation. The deadline for submissions is 15 October 2016. Background, terms of reference and submission guidelines are downloadable here. If any TAA members wish to submit evidence, please copy to Terry Wiles, so that we are aware of contributions from TAA. 

Following the receipt of written submissions, the APPG will be hosting roundtables at Parliament during October 2016. The final outcome will be a report published in late 2016 / early 2017, aimed at Parliamentarians, donors and NGOs.


TAA Caribbean Visit update
Tim Roberts reports that there are now 10 persons signed up for the cruise/island stopover from 27th November to 11th December. Bruce Lauckner in Trinidad is preparing a comprehensive programme of island visits with the help of the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI). One of our members currently resident in Montserrat is also working on the 4 day stopover in Antiqua and Montserrat. A recent addition to our itinerary is the opportunity of a brief visit to the UWI in Trinidad, from which some of us graduated 50 years ago.
It is still possible for graduates of ICTA and UWI or any other TAA member or guest to join us on what should be a memorable visit.
If you ares interested, contact Tim Roberts,  tel: 01761 470455, who has full details.

WhatsApp in Agriculture?
In the latest Update from GFAR (Global Forum for Agricultural Research), expansion of the use in India of smart phone messaging systems for agricultural extension is described by a guest blogger, Mahesh Chander, of the Division of Extension Education, ICAR- Indian Veterinary Research Institute. The widespread use of mobile phones in farming communities is changing the way people in India access extension support, grow and buy food. Read more

REMINDER: Subscriptions due 1st August, please update your payment
As a reminder, annual TAA membership subscriptions are due on 1st August. As agreed through the AGM last year, they have been increased to meet rising costs. To ensure that your membership runs concurrently, PLEASE update your standing order with your bank, on-line, make a payment through Paypal or BACS, or send a cheque to our treasurer. Subscription rates and payment details can be found on the TAA website.

If unsure of your current payment, please contact the membership secretary.



The new TAA annual subscription rates are now in place for new financial year (July 2016- June 2017). Please amend your standing order ready for payment on Monday August 1st to ensure that your membership continues as you wish. This can be done through your bank or directly via your on-line banking system. Note the new subscription rates are:

1. Full members with hard copy of the journal, all ages - £50

2. Online membership, with journal viewable on line, all ages - £40

With so many improvements to the journal and the other services offered through TAA membership, this remains incredibly good value! PLEASE ACT NOW IF YOUR SUBSCRIPTION NEEDS AMENDING.


INBAR’s Annual Report now available online

2015 was an important year for the International Network for Bamboo and Rattan (INBAR) as it continued to raise the global profile of bamboo and rattan. INBAR contributed to the UN’s main advisory body on sustainable development and presented evidence at a series of important international meetings, including: the United Nations Forum on Forests, the COP 12 of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), the World Forestry Congress, and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, COP 21. INBAR launched a major new initiative - the Global Assessment of Bamboo and Rattan (GABAR) - designed to help countries and development partners harness the climate-smart benefits of bamboo and rattan in their national plans and development agendas.With a budget of $100 million, GABAR aims to transform bamboo and rattan production across the Global South. The core of GABAR and INBAR activities is South-South collaboration – the sharing of knowledge and expertise. In 2015 this approach evolved into an exciting South-South-North collaboration, with INBAR harnessing the know-how of partners in Europe and Asia. Click here to download the 2015 Annual Report.


Tea: the dark history behind the favourite drink of India and the UK
Bill Thorpe kindly relayed this story of tea by Justin Rowlatt, BBC South Asia correspondent. An interesting read about the history of tea, which was often a bit shady! Read more …..

ERRATUMplease note that the next TAA Annual Reunion will be on Wednesday 11th January 2017 (see TAA Events


Permaculture Design Certificate Course
This 18 day internationally recognized Certificate Course runs from 2nd to 19th November 2016. It is hosted in a beautiful green setting near Arambol, Goa, India. The course teaches natural growing and organic food farming, based on Permaculture ethics and principles (earth care, people care & fair share, developed in the 70’s by Bill Mollison & David Holmgren). The course will teach you how to use the designs to better enable you to turn your environment into a sustainable and regenerative system. You will learn to utilize strategies and choose which techniques to use, to create a world of abundance for you and those around you. Course price options depend on your financial comfort level, and can include food and accommodation options provided on site. The course is organised by the Jungle Oasis Permaculture Project. Read more ….


Vacancy: Deputy Director General (R&D) – IWMI

The Deputy Director General will drive the research agenda within IWMI to address global development challenges for water security and natural resource management. This includes leading the identification of innovative research areas, ensuring relevance of thematic content for the development agenda that contributes to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), global climate agenda, and other regional and national imperatives, and assuring the quality of outputs. The DDG will be responsible and accountable for IWMI’s contributions to, and engagement in, the CGIAR Research Programs (CRPs), including the CGIAR Research Program on Water, Land and Ecosystems (WLE), which the Institute leads. Visit the TAA Vacancies pages for full details. Deadline 1stAugust.


RSB seeks evidence of impacts of Brexit on UK science

The Royal Society of Biology (of which TAAis an organisational member) is seeking evidence: "Since the EU Referendum there have been multiple requests from journalists for evidence of any real damage to science that has already occurred and is linked to the outcome for Brexit. While some media articles have suggested that evidence is there, some journalists feel that they are lacking specific information on projects and institutions – hence our turning to you to help communicate well-evidenced cases where they exist, and the opposite if this is the case. 
Would you be able to help with case stories of actual changes on EU grant applications or collaborations as a result of the outcome of the EU Referendum - either detrimental to UK members or retaining them despite worry?
We hear of both but without actual examples there is a risk of re-circulation of worry rather than an accumulation of cases – do you think there is anything concrete you could pass on, on this or wider issues? 
We will only share your name or institution with the media with your permission.
Please also let us know if you or a colleague would be willing to speak with the media (on or off the record)”. You can also get in touch with the RSB policy team if you would like to share views ahead of the response to the House of Commons Science and Technology Select Committee’s inquiry into 'Leaving the EU: implications and opportunities for science and research'.


Three reasons why we can win the fight against poverty

Watch this short film about Sub-Saharan Africa by the One Acre Fund, which is helping these farmers lift themselves out of poverty by delivering to them life-sustaining farm services that are already in use all over the world.Click to view. David Hong of the One Acre Fund has been in discussion with TAA.


DfID Funding for Agri-tech in developing countries

The Knowledge Transfer Networkaims to speed up innovation, solve problems and find markets for new ideas. The Agri-foods team, based in Cambridge and Norwich (UK), covers Plants and Crops and supports UK companies that would be interested to work collaboratively with companies and academic organisations in developing countries that grow tropical crops. There are a number of funding streams available to support collaboration between the UK companies and partners in the developing countries, such as the current $4.0 million DFID funding for Agri-techInnovation in Developing Countries.


Farming Matters June 2016 (Vol. 32 no. 2)
This issue of Farming Matters looks at the growing number of initiatives that aim to revive the potential of traditional plant species, and illustrates that these plants can strengthen resilient family farming rooted in agro-ecology and diversity. Read opinions, perspectives, interviews, book reviews and groundbreaking field experiences from Canada, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Germany, India and Thailand. Read online

For over 30 years, Farming Matters has been sharing knowledge about agro-ecology rooted in family farming with thousands of people all over the world. Every issue shows how family farmers are working with others to feed their families, regions and countries, while at the same time contributing to climate resilience, biodiversity, healthy communities and food sovereignty.


APPG Innovations to Eradicate Disease: last minute notice

The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Malaria & NTDs invites you to the Houses of Parliament on Tuesday 12thJuly (16:00 – 17:30) to join discussions. Presenations by Professor David Molyneux (Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine; NTD Lead) on "Innovations towards elimination-examples from Neglected TropicalDiseases"; Antony Ellman (Tropical Agriculture Association Award Fund, Chairman) on "Artemisia annua (Qinghao), A Smallholder-Grown Antimalarial Treatment”. RSVP to


Hugh Bunting Memorial Lecture at Reading 9th Nov 2016
The Hugh Bunting Memorial Lecture will in future be open to the public and co-hosted with Reading University. This year the lecture will be in the evening of 9 November, with Prof Tim Wheeler talking on the topic of Climate Smart Agriculture. it will be preceded by a short AGM and followed by a reception.We are currently exploring with Reading University whether it might be possible to have a workshop with TAAF awardees and Reading University students in the afternoon of 9 November. See Events pages for more details.

New Members of ExCo
We cordially welcome two new members to the TAA Executive Committee: Dyno Keatinge and Alex Tasker. We are confident that they will make valuable contributions to the work of ExCo. Dyno was, until recently, Director of the AVRDC – Asian Vegetable Research Centre in Taiwan but has now moved to Yorkshire to run his own consultancy company that focuses on promoting sustainable development and reducing malnutrition worldwide. He has agreed to assist Paul Harding in the technical editing of our journal Agriculture for Development. See more details of DynoAlex is a young veterinarian with skills in anthropology, research and lecturing, with interests in knowledge networks and innovation in marginal agriculture. Most of his experience has been with African pastoralist communities but has also worked in Asia & Latin America. Alex will specifically look after the interests of the early career members of TAA. View more details of AlexCurrent members of ExCo, with their contact details, are listed on the website.

Keith Virgo, Chairman. 3/7/16

Proposed TAA Scotland Branch Curry Lunch Meeting

John Ferguson, Scotland Convenor, is planning a get-together for an informal chat about the way forward for the Branch. He proposes a curry lunch at Mother India Café, Edinburgh, on Friday 12th August. If you would be interested in joining this meeting, please email John Ferguson. No need to respond if you can’t make it.


TAA remains an international association

The President and Chair of the TAA wish to confirm that the TAA remains a fully international professional association, concerned with the role of agriculture for development throughout the world, contributing to international policies and actions aimed at reducing poverty and improving livelihoods. The recent UK referendum vote to leave the European Union (EU) in no way lessens our commitments to such development. Moreover, we continue to welcome the valuable participation in the TAA by our many individual and institutional members from other countries of the EU and from around the world.


Breakthrough on GM rice will help feed the world

Tom Whipple, Science Editor of The Times, London, reports (10.6.2016) that enhancing a gene found naturally in rice lets the crop make better use of nutrients in the soil. A strain of genetically modified rice that promises 50% greater yield and uses significantly less fertiliser has been developed by the John Innes Centre (JIC), Norwich, UK.. Researchers have shown in field trials in China that a particular protein found naturally in rice helps it to access more of the nitrogen in soil or fertiliser. Tony Miller, from JIC, says that the genetically modified strains of rice could make better use of both forms. "Rice uses mainly ammonium as a nitrogen source” he said. "We’ve taken a GM approach and used a gene to enhance the amount of nitrates used. In effect it is accessing more of the nitrogen fertiliser than it would be able to normally.” While the first bowl of rice has been harvested from the new strain, fears about GM foods have spread from the West to traditionally less strict regulatory environments, such as those in China. In particular "golden rice”, enriched with a source of vitamin A to prevent blindness in the developing world, has repeatedly been delayed from coming to market by protests from environmental groups. Read more .......


Curry Club Talk: A Brief History of Coffee - Travels and Travails of the Bonanza Bean

Reminder to come to hear Jim Waller talk on the Story of Coffee, at the Strand Continental Hotel, London, 30th June. Meet at 11.00 for registration and coffee. The talk will be followed by curry lunch (£14.00 per head) with a chance to relax and chat. Book your place with Terry Wiles. The £14.00 charge includes coffee, lunch and the venue hire. Full details on Events page 


New Timetable for TAA Annual Events
Your Executive Committee has been trying to reorganize the annual calendar to ensure a better spread of venues and dates to match the needs of members and, especially, of student members. The Hugh Bunting Memorial Lecture(HBML) will now be held in November at Reading, in collaboration with the University. We hope to arrange a workshop for students and TAAF awardees before the lecture. The lecture itself will be immediately preceded by a short AGM (to approve accounts, appointment of officers etc) and followed by a drinks reception. This year, the HBML will be given by Prof Tim Wheeler on 9th November. An Annual Review, Honours Awarding, TAAF Presentation and Social will be in London on the 2nd Wednesday of January. The 2017 event will be on 11th January, probably at the Royal Over-seas League. The Ralph Melville Memorial Lecture (RMML) will be itinerant and held in March or April. The 2017 RMML will be in Cambridge in March: the date, speaker and venue are yet to be fixed but the theme may be ‘food systems & value chains’ and It is expected to be held in collaboration with the university’s strategic research initiative on Global Food Security. Please refer to the TAA Events pages for up-to-date information. We look forward to seeing members and their friends at these events. More details will appear in the next edition of Agriculture for Development.


TAA Carribean cruise with a difference Nov-Dec 2016: bookings now open

It is some 50 years since the last UK trainees attended the Imperial College of Tropical Agriculture (ICTA) or later the University of the West Indies (UWI). Armed with a Diploma in Tropical Agriculture many TAA members subsequently enjoyed employment around the world putting the skills learned into practice. To celebrate this anniversary, TAA is organising a Caribbean visit by cruise ship mv Discovery. This should appeal to all those who trained in Trinidad but is open to anyone with an interest in Natural Resource Development on the islands. Visits will be made to Barbados, St Vincent, Antigua and Montserrat, with options for a longer stop-over in Antigua/ Montserrat or to stay on the ship and visit St Maarten, St Kitts, the British Virgin Islands and then return to Barbados. The second week of the cruise visiting Grenada, Dominica, Martinique, Guadeloupe, St Lucia and Barbados. CARDI is putting together an agricultural programme for the island visits (details available soon). Anyone interested contact Tim Roberts asap who will send full cost and booking details for the cruise. For further information see the Caribbean Branch news of the TAA website and click through to the cruise details.Contact:  or call Tim on: 01761 470455


Field Study of Rwanda, APPG Report

Read the latest APPG Agriculture & Food for Development report on a field study of Rwanda, with a focus on women in smallholder farming, April 2016. Click here.


Reminder: CCF Summer Symposium on food security, sustainability & conservation, in Cambridge

The CCF Summer Symposium on food security, sustainability and conservation is on 24th June. There is a stimulating line-up of speakers and topics, including landscape level questions, working with smallholder farmers, consumer behaviour and the health/environmental agenda, and measuring/modelling agricultural resources and the nexus. This year there is also the opportunity to present a poster – and some parallel sessions on the economics, culture and politics of food as part of a wider conference.Do book your place if you haven't already done so.Friday 17th is the deadline for booking -further information here. See also the TAA Events pages


Nigeria’s Home Grown School Feeding (HGSF) Programme
Lesley Drake  of the Partnership for Child Development (PCD) of Imperial College provided the news that the Federal Government of Nigeria in scaling up its Home Grown School Feeding (HGSF) programmeto the national level. The President has announced his Government’s commitment to feed all primary school children in Nigeria, commencing immediately with 18 States. W hen fully realised,the programme aims to feed 24 million school children, making it Africa’s largest ever school feeding programme. The Federal Government has mandated Partnership of Child Development (PCD) of Imperial College to work with the newly formed HGSF Coordinating Unit tohelp provide and coordinate the technical assistance needed for this scale up. The Vice President will be formally launching the National Home Grown School Feeding (HGSF) Strategic Plan on June 9th. Technical assistance within this framework has already been provided to several States,which will provide essential learnings for future HGSF rollout. A ‘Global School Feeding Sourcebook: Lessons from 14 countries’is being launched (a joint PCD, World Bank andWorld Food Programmeanalysis of national school feeding programmes from across the globe). Click here to view the Sourcebook.

TAA CURRY CLUB LUNCHTIME TALK: Jim Waller on 'A Brief History of Coffee'
The talk on 30th June will now be given by Dr Jim Waller. Same place at the Strand Continental Hotel on the Strand, starting at 11.30. See the events website for full details. Reservations to Terry Wiles. Please join us for the talk and lunch.

Life in Syntropy: Brazilian farmer adopts agro-forestry approach
"Life in Syntropy” is a short film that was screened at the Paris climate talks. It tells the story of Brazilian farmer Ernst Gotsch, who bought 1,200 acres of completely deforested land on the edge of the rainforest in 1984 and transformed it into a remarkably bio-diverse farm that reverses climate change by sequestering carbon.

State of the World’s Plants: Kew report
Professor Kathy J. Willis, Director of Science, Kew, announces release of the first annual State of the World’s Plants report, published by the Royal Botanic Gardens. She hopes that you enjoy reading the contents as well as exploring the accompanyinginteractive website: . The report addresses thirteen questions about our current knowledge on the State of the World’s Plants. The main findings not only illustrate the incredible amount of information that is already available about the world’s plants but also the significant knowledge gaps. By synthesising current understanding, Kew hopes that its findings will galvanise the international scientific, conservation, business and governmental communities to take positive action to work together to fill the knowledge gaps highlighted and expand international collaboration, partnerships and frameworks for plant conservation and use. (Royal Botanic Gardens Kew is an institutional member of TAA).

Global Soil Biodiversity Atlas

A new atlas illustrating global soil biodiversity and threats to soil organisms has been published by the Joint Research Centre (JRC) of the European Commission's Science and Knowledge Service. This is the first-ever Global Soil Biodiversity Atlas that maps the soil biodiversity of the entire planet. The unique Atlas pays tribute to soil – the silent engine that keeps the planet alive – by providing a detailed analysis of soil organisms and the threats to soil biodiversity at global scale. The Atlas will be launched by the JRC at the 2nd UN Environment Assembly (UNEA) in Nairobi on 25 May. A low resolution version cab be downloaded.


News of Conservation Agriculture in Gujarat, India, and in Bangladesh
Please refer to the latest news on Gujarat and Bangladesh CA activities on the Conservation Agriculture pages under the Land Husbandry section of the TAA website.


MA programme in Land and Livelihoods

Srishti Institute of Art, Design, and Technology is introducing an M.A. programme in Land and Livelihoods, in the academic year 2016-2017.This programme, accredited by University of Mysore, combines social science and design practices to equip students with critical and creative skills. Click here for more information. Contact Muthatha Ramanathan if you have any queries.


TAA Publications Archive
The TAA’s Ag4Dev journal and the TAA website contain numerous technical contributions from TAA members. However, these capture only a small proportion of the published information produced by TAA members during their many years of work in agriculture world-wide. In Ag4Dev 27 (page 38), Ian Martin proposed inviting TAA members (and their kith and kin in respect of deceased members) to send titles of material (and the complete articles if agreed) that they may have had published in journals, newspapers, presentations etc, including "Grey literature" as well as peer-reviewed publications. We welcome the kind offer by Ian to manage the collation of such documents. The Executive Committee will be discussing how best to facilitate this archiving of publications through the TAA website. Meantime, members can send publication lists and scanned or hard copy papers to the TAA UKPSF representative, Ian Martin or by post to him at 64 Ranelagh Road, St Austell PL25 4NT, UK. Any material sent as original and needing return should be marked as such. We shall update members as soon as exact procedures are decided Web Manager

Global Agroscience Market 2015-2019

It is estimated that by 2050, global population will be more than 9 billion. This is likely to reduce arable land as increasing number of people will be living in cities. The demand for food will increase. In addition, the demand for animal feed and biofuel will boost agricultural production. Soil erosion and land pollution will also responsible for reducing arable land per person. This puts pressure on farmers to improve their crop yield, thereby increasing demands for agrochemicals to enhance crop yield and quality. This report forecasts the global agroscience market to grow at a CAGR of 12.25% over the period 2014-2019. It presents growth prospects of the global agroscience market, covering the APAC, EMEA, Latin America, and North America; it includes a discussion of the key vendors operating in this market. For more information please visit the product page.


World Association of Soil & Water Conservation (WASWAC) reminders
WASWAC welcomes you to their 3rd World Conference in beautiful Belgrade in August 2016 (22nd-26th).  More details available on the TAA Eventspages. WASWAC welcomes any comments or suggestions, and articles for their official journal – International Soil and Water Conservation Research - please contact theWASWAC Secretariat


Changes to the main TAA lectures and events

We have been trying to improve the timing of our main lecture events to encourage greater participation. ExCo has set up a sub-committee. In early June,.we will finalise the future  timetable. Initial decisions include continuing to hold the Hugh Bunting Memorial Lecture at Reading University but moving it to mid November, when students are more likely to be able to participate. This year the HBML will be on 9th November, when Dr Tim Wheeler of NERC will speak on 'Climate Smart Agriculture', followed by buffet & wine reception; provisional details are posted on our Events pages. The Ralph Melville Memorial Lecture will move to March and will become itinerant, with the 2017 lecture probably in Cambridge. We still have to decide on the dates and venues of the AGM, Honours awards, TAAF presentations and Reunion, which may return to early December in London.


Conservation Agriculture Research Updates from Cornell
Please read the latest news from Cornell on the TAA Conservation Agriculture News pages.

Regrettably, the TAA seminar on CA planned for 19th May at the James Hutton Institute, Aberdeen, has been cancelled. This is because of a lack of attendees registering. 

FAO Farmer Field School (FFS) Guidance Document

The FAO FFS Guidance Document has been finalized and approved, and is now in print and available as a download. It is intended as a ‘living” document to be revised/updated based on feedback received from readers. The document will be introduced/discussed during an FFS Institutionalisation workshop to be convened by FAO and the Thai Education Foundation in Bangkok later in May 2016. Take a look at it yourself and reflect on how you can best make use of it as part of your own support for FFS work in your own programmes and localities. 



Hatemalo: Hand-In-Hand - Celebrating the Nepal and UK Development Partnership: 50 years in photographs.
DFID Nepal is pleased to announce the opening of the DFID exhibition, Part of the bicentenary of Nepal-UK diplomatic relations, the exhibition celebrates some of the many development achievements that Nepal and the UK have delivered in partnership over the past five decades. The exhibition will be open to the public between 13 and 22 May, at the Nepal Art Council, Babar Mahal, Kathmandu. Entry will be free.  Many TAA members will have contributed stories, photos and reminiscences for the exhibition. Any queries to Anika.

The International Decade of Soils (2015-2024)

2015 was the International Year of Soils (IYS 2015). The International Union of Soil Sciece (IUSS) acknowledges the many achievements and successful events that were held during the year.  In the ‘Vienna Soil Declaration’ of Dec. 7, 2015, the IUSS identified the key roles played by soils in addressing the major resource, environmental, health and social problems which humanity is currently facing. The IUSS believes that it is important to maintain and increase the momentum created in IYS 2015. Under the Soil Declaration the "International Decade of Soils” will continue the efforts made during IYS 2015. It will be marked by a number of activities on the national and international levels. IUSS plans to play a key role in education, dissemination of information, issuing informative press statement on key issues, co-ordinating activities across the world through our National Members (e.g. World Soils Day) and maintaining a historical record and collecting personal biographies. Furthermore, a public outreach campaign is envisaged to show the emotional and cultural relevance of soils as well as forging partnerships with other international organisations who could help propagate IDS messages and support us in our endeavours.


Seed banks and national policy in Brazil

Access and benefit sharing of plant genetic resources is a crucial but very complex, political and legalistic matter. Does the formal system work for family farmers? The April 2016 issue of Farming Matters focuses on access and benefit sharing of genetic resources. Increasingly, seeds are the domain of professional breeders, agribusiness and policy makers. Despite this, an example from Brazil shows that farmer organisations and social movements in Paraíba have managed to strengthen decentralised farmer-driven seed selection and distribution systems and public seed policies. This opens the way for another seed regime in the country, with its own access and benefit sharing mechanisms. Read more …. 


Reminder: Annual TAA Bicton Conference
The TAA Southwest branch invites you to Bicton College for the conference on the theme "Rural Entrepreneurship and Livestock, Challenges in East Africa", on Thursday May 5th. See details in the TAA Events pages.and read and full programme here 

A No-Till Show and Conference 2016

Groundswell and the Farming Forum invite you to their show and conference on Thursday 30th June 2016 at Lannock Manor Farm, Weston, Hitchin, Hertfordshire SG4 7EE, United Kingdom (Junction 9, A1M). More details available at: Tickets available on-line.


Reminder: Cambridge Conference on Global Food Security
Make a note of this exciting event, which aims to harness the natural and social sciences for future food supply, sustainability and equality, 23–24 June 2016
 at The David Attenborough Building, Cambridge,
incorporating the Cambridge Conservation Forum’s summer symposium. The event will cover issues including: land use choices, natural capital & biodiversity conservation, sustainable food production, consumer choices, cultural traditions, economics & trade, law, politics & global governance, equality. Join the wide-ranging discussion, with contributors representing: natural and social sciences, small-holder farmers, international NGOs, trade & industry, politics & government. Read the flier. More details and how to register under TAA events pages.

Carbon farming is a zero-risk strategy for curbing climate change

Now that 195 nations, including the US, have agreed to ambitious greenhouse gas emission reductions to slow the pace of climate change, the question everyone is asking is: How will we actually meet our targets set for 2035?READ MORE in this article in The Hill by David Wolfe, professor of plant and soil ecology in the School of Integrative Plant Science, Cornell University.


Reminders: TAA events Curry Club Lunch and Cambridge Agri-tech Seminar
28thApril. Still not too late to register for the Curry Cub talk on CONSERVATION AGRICULTURE - there are still places. Please register with Terry Wiles, TAA L&SE Group.
5th May: places still available for the TAA seminar on INNOVATIONS IN AGRI-TECHNOLOGY, Sainsbury Lab, Cambridge. Please register at Eventbrite or contact Keith Virgo. Full details of both meetings on the TAA Events pages. 

Eyes in the sky help farmers with weed control

The last place you might expect to find drones and rovers is checking up on a cereal field, but they could soon join tractors and ploughs on a farmer’s list of must-have agricultural tools, thanks to their potential to reduce pesticide use and increase the amount of crops that can be grown. Read more .... (Horizon, EU Research & Innovation Magazine, 16 March 2016).


Reading University seeking placement and internship opportunities
The Reading University School of Agriculture, Policy and Development, a TAA institutional member, is interested in seeking overseas placement and internship opportunities for students. Specifically, these relate to their undergraduate students studying BSc ‘International Development’, for whom they are looking for relevant opportunities for up to one year. They are also interested in higher level internships of 3 - 6 months for their taught post-graduate students, usually from early June onwards. If you would be willing to host such placements or know of an organisation which might do so, please contact Joanne Davies regarding the BSc International Development placements and Sarah Cardey regarding the post-graduate internships.

TAA seeks new members of the Executive Committee: do you have time to spare?

The Executive Committee (ExCo) is responsible for running the TAA. We meet four times a year and interact regularly by email and telephone in the intervening periods. ExCo meetings are usually in London but we try to spread meetings geographically to coincide with events at regional branches. We have a highly competent team, with individuals looking after the specific services provided for the Association, as explained on the TAA webpages. We are keen to broaden the expertise, age and gender balance of ExCo by recruiting new members. New recruits would be able deputise for current members and take over the reins in future, thereby ensuring better succession and continuity of ExCo’s work. If you feel that you have benefited from TAA and would like to contribute some of your time by joining ExCo, please send a message to the Chairmanbriefly outlining your experience and specific interests. We would welcome offers from any members willing to serve, but applications from younger members, and female members, are particularly encouraged. Please get in touch, we look forward to hearing from you!


Nation-wide Farmers' Discussions, India

Gram Kisan Sabha (Village farmer councils) will be held between 17th to 20th April 2016 across India. Under this ambitious plan, meetings of farmers will be organized in every Gram Panchayat (area of elected village-level administration). Information regarding schemes in the agriculture sector will be given at the farmers’ meetings. Suggestions to improve agriculture will be invited from farmers. Information will be provided about important schemes in the agricultural sector: Fasal Sima Yojana, Krishi Sinchayee Yojana, soil health card, animal husbandry, pisciculture, cropping cycle, horticulture, importance of drip irrigation, neem-coated urea and rural electrification. There will be discussion on proposals to double incomes of farmers by 2022.


Seminar on Innovations in Agri-Tech, TAA E Anglia
Please join us at the prestigious Sainsbury Laboratory for this seminar with the theme of "Agri-Tech – innovative developments to increase sustainable crop production”. Dr Stephanie Race will talk on new techniques In data acquisition, crop modelling and analytics to improve tea production in Kenya, and Prof Sir David Baulcombe will describe how molecular biology and genomics has revolutionised our understanding of disease resistance in plants and points to novel interventions that could be used in many African settings. There will be a Panel Discussion. To reserve a place at the seminar, please click on Eventbrite link. There is no entry fee but we will make a collection for TAAF. More details on TAA Events pages http://and download the Flyer

“State of the Apes: Industrial Agriculture and Ape Conservation”
The ARCUS Foundation of Cambridge has published their second volume on State of the Apes, downloadable from the website. They commissioned paper from a range of experts, which contain a wealth of information, not all of which can be included in each volume. To make this valuable information and analysis publicly available, some of the key contributions are published online in their entirety. A paper by Brian Sims (TAA member) on: 'Conservation Agriculture: A Weapon in the Fight against Forest Destruction' is available for download from the State of the Apes website or from the TAA Publications pages. Elements of Brian’s paper were used in Chapter 1 of this volume, Industrial Agriculture and Ape Conservation (see text box on page 23). More Information from

Greenhouse gas emissions in the livestock sector
FAO has pleasure in inviting you to the webinar on "Demonstration of the GLEAM-i tool for estimating IPCC Tier 2 greenhouse gas emissions in the livestock sector” which will be held on Wednesday, 20 April from 15:00 to 16:30 (CEST - Rome). The objectives of the webinar are to(i) Provide a full demonstration on how to use the tool for analytical work on GHG in the livestock sector, inventories and scenario assessment; (ii) Disseminate GLEAM-i among different user groups: project planners, government officials, private sector, academia and civil society organizations; and (iii) Collect feedback from user groups on the tool and the user guide. The webinar is organized for stakeholders working on livestock and climate change issues including officials from the ministries of agriculture and environment, project planners, producers, industry academia and civil society organizations.

Register for the webinar at We strongly encourage you to download the GLEAM-i prior the webinar and test it. Download GLEAM-i and learn more at:


Climate change seen through indigenous worldviews, India

The March Farming Matters magazine focused on co-creation of knowledge. Its ‘Agri-Cultures’ stories cover Indigenous worldviews that give rise to different ways of understanding climate change. This story explains how the Adivasi (Tribal) life cycle in India was developed through the co-creation of knowledge by youth and elders who were seeking to resist externally imposed measures to combat climate change. Read more .....


The first European earthworm map is drawn

We do try to bring members a diversity of news! The International Union of Soil Science reports that despite the abundance of earthworms in soils all around the world, there is a lack of information concerning the geographical distribution of many lumbricid species. Researchers from eight European countries have collected information on earthworm communities to map the biodiversity of these invertebrates and to put soil conservation on the political agenda.
Read more ......


New Membership Subscriptions: reminder to update your account
Members will recall that we agreed to increase the membership subscriptions from July 1st this year. They have also been simplified into four main categories. Please make sure that you amend your payments/ Standing Orders before 1st July 2016. New members joining after 1st April willreceive full benefits until 30th June of the following year. Contact the Membership Secretary if you have any queries.

Full Individual Member (printed copies Agriculture for Development, all ages): £50 | Online Individual Member (online access to Agriculture for Development, all ages): £40 | Student Member (online access to Agriculture for Development): £15 | Corporate Member: £120 | TAAF Awardee 1 year: Free | Honorary Member: Free


What are you doing in October?

Why not join CARE for the trek of a lifetime in the stunning hills of Nepal and see first-hand how CARE is helping local communities rebuild their lives after the devastating earthquakes of 2015. Throughout the 12-day trip you’ll have the opportunity to stay in traditional homestays, visit ancient monuments, and experience Nepal’s colourful festival of Dashain. Find out more ..... Remember that TAA supports LendwithCare.


‘To Till or not to Till....’ Breakfast CA Seminar at short notice!

TAA member Anthony Pope invites you to a CA breakfast seminar on Wednesday 23rd March, 08.30 at Wrag Barn Golf Club, Highworth, Swindon, Wiltshire SN6 7QQ. All welcome but please email Anthony to let him know and keep a tab on numbers. A printed flyer is available on request. Local farmers are being invited too.


Seeking Advice on Planning a Fruit Farm in Iran

A member of TAA ExCo has been in contact with a retired Iranian lady in London. She wishes to return to Iran to establish a top-fruit and soft-fruit farm on 1,000 ha of land, under an Iranian government scheme to encourage expatriate Iranians to return to the country after the lifting of sanctions. The Ministry ofAgriculture has agreed to help but needs a business plan, which defines a staged business development. She expects to need irrigation and hopes to use renewable energy and organic production methods. She also envisages a compost factory, cold rooms, research centre, library, training rooms and possibly livestock. However, she lacks technical skills in preparing a project. If any TAA member with suitable experience can help in any way in preparing a business plan, please contact Ms Rose Rostami (UK Mobil 0784 1497673), she would be very grateful.


Coping with weather adversity and adaptation to climatic variability: a cross-country study of smallholder farmers in South Asia
A paper by Bhatta, GD & Aggarwal, PK (2015). ‘Coping with weather adversity and adaptation to climatic variability: a cross-country study of smallholder farmers in South Asia. Climate and Development 1-13. Concerns over climate change and climatic variability are growing in South Asia because of the potential detrimental impacts of these phenomena on livelihoods. Such growing concerns demonstrate a need to assess how farmers simultaneously cope with extreme events and adapt to climatic variability. Based on household surveys of 2660 farm families conducted in Nepal's Terai, coastal Bangladesh, and the Indian state of Bihar, this paper seeks to (1) explore farmers’ coping strategies under adverse weather events; (2) identify key adaptation measures used by farmers; and (3) explore the policy interventions required to adjust agriculture to climatic variability. The study reveals that migration is the most important coping strategy of the households in Bihar and coastal Bangladesh, while reliance on credit markets is the most important in Terai. Farmers in the areas with higher rainfall variability pursue a higher number of coping strategies compared to farmers in areas with lower rainfall variability. Food available months are also higher in areas with higher rainfall variability. Across all sites, the most frequently mentioned adaptive practices are changing cropping patterns and adoption of resilient crop varieties. A large number of farmers place emphasis on breeding crop varieties that tolerate adverse weather. Governments should implement a number of planned activities to cope with adverse events, with the aim that these activities would be synergistic with adaptation to climate change. Read more ….

WOCAT Tablet App Available
Did anyone attend the TAA Newcastle seminar this week? WOCAT (World Overview of Conservation Approaches and Technologies) is happy to inform you that the ‘WOCAT Tablet App’ is now available for free download on itunes and google play. The WOCAT SLM App is an educational tool that introduces the broad public to Sustainable Land Management (SLM). It illustrates how land users around the globe care for their land and maintain healthy natural resources: soils, water, and vegetation. Good practices are presented, ranging from orchard-based agroforestry in Tajikistan to rooftop rainwater harvesting in Nepal and sand dams in Kenya. The App was developed by WOCAT in collaboration with DOCMINE Productions AG, kindly supported by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and Ecodocs AG. More info from WOCAT Secretariat

New Book: Case Studies from South Asia and Beyond

Under the constant pressures of climate change and growing global populations, improving food security is of critical importance. Conservation agriculture techniques are low-input, non-prohibitive systems that can have long-term impacts on livelihoods, agricultural production, gender equity and regional economic development. Using South Asia as a case study, this new book takes an interdisciplinary approach to analyse systems at scales ranging from household to regional and national levels. It illustrates key examples of conservation agriculture through the lenses of economics, agronomics, soil ecology, gender implications and technology, as well as exploring the long-term impacts of conservation agriculture adoption. Beginning with a brief history of the situation, it then focuses on the latest research with an emphasis on the applicability of results worldwide, making this book a vital resource for researchers and students of agricultural economics.

Catherine Chan and Jean Fantle-Lepczyk – Editors (2015), Case Studies from South Asia and Beyond. University of Hawaii, USA. Published by Hardback 280 pages 9781780644233£85 / €110.


Reminder: TAA Seminar on Land Degradation, Newcastle, UK

The TAA (North of England Branch) seminar will be held at Newcastle University, Agriculture Building on Wednesday 9 March 2016 2.00 pm to 5.30 pm. A sandwich lunch will be available from 1.00 pm). Vistit TAA events pages for details and click here for the programme of speakers. Register your interest with John Gowing, Branch Convenor.


Biological Pest Control in Kenya

Real IPM is a bio-pesticidecompanybased in Kenya. The companywas founded in 2003 by owners Louise Labuschagne and TAA member Dr Henry Wainwright (a former Lecturer at Writtle College, UK). It now employs 228 staff and is integral to sustainable pest controlin a range of crops including flowers, vegetables and fruit, supplyinghigh quality predatory mites for distribution locally and worldwide.

CNBC Africa visited Real IPM last week. You can view their video of Real IPM on YouTube


Valuing Under-utilised Crops: Stories wanted
The year 2016 is the International Year of Pulses. Pulses, such as lentils, beans or chick peas are a critical component of a balanced and nutritious diet, and they are important sources of fodder and soil fertility. Therefore, in honour of the Year of Pulses, Faming Matters magazine is seeking stories about the revival of pulses. Farming Matters is looking for stories that analyse how under-utilised crops have been revalued. They seek examples of communities that continued growing and processing them contrary to dominant trends. What were the successful strategies and the challenges to reviving the knowledge and the use of the under-utilised crop? How did production, processing and preparation of food change? What role did markets, policy, research or local food and farmers’ movements play? What changes did this bring to rural and urban communities? What was the role of youth?

Articles for the June 2016 issue of Farming Matters should be sent to the editors before 1st April 2016.Submit on lineGuide for authors.


Have you heard of Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF)?
A long time member of TAA, Steve Jones, has been diagnosed with this little known disease. He is keen to raise awareness of IPF,which although it kills 5,000 people a year in the UK, few people have ever heard of it. It is a horrible disease, causing scarring of the lungs and eventually respiratory failure. There is no cure. The word ‘idiopathic’ means that doctors don’t know what causes it. Most IPF patients are over 50 years of age. To be told you have IPF is a death sentence. As the disease progresses, patients become increasingly breathless, cannot walk up stairs or a small slope and become totally dependent on supplementary oxygen. New drugs are being developed, which should extend patients’ lives and improve their quality of life. However, a cure is nowhere in sight.

In the UK far less money is spent on research on lung diseases, compared to heart disease and cancer. We need to tackle this imbalance and target more research funds to lung diseases like IPF. Let’s all do what we can to make IPF a manageable and hopefully curable disease for future generations. If you would like to donate, please visit the IPF website, meantime our thoughts are with Steve and other IPF sufferers.


Cover Crops, a Farming Revolution (read ‘Conservation Agriculture’?)
Don Reicosky reports that the "New York Times" recently ran a front-page article entitled "Cover Crops, a Farming Revolution with Deep Roots in the Past." written by Stephanie Strom. While the title indicates that the emphasis was on cover crops, the title could have easily included conservation agriculture or soil health in the title: it included discussions on no till and diverse rotations. We need more articles like this in the popular press. While the article is about large farmers, they show economic and environmental benefits of many aspects of conservation agriculture and soil health. Click here for the link.

Reminder: Curry Club Talks: The First 20 years of GM crops – what’s not to like?
Jonathan Shoham will talk at the London & South East Branch Curry Club Talk on GM crops. 25th February, starting at 11.00 am. See Events pages for details.

Do not miss this highly topical talk. Book your place with Terry Wiles.


Request for information on ‘Land Grabs’
A message from our student member Kara Minto-Simpson at RAU, in response to our News Alert of 27thJanuary: "I just wanted to say a huge thank you for all the help TAA members have provided with my magazine university project. I have had such a huge and positive response and many people have provided great advice and contribution. Moreover I have learnt so much more about Land Grab from perspectives I had never even thought of before, which I have shared with my course mates.We are very excited about the magazine and we are very much hoping to be able to get some published, we have secured some funding for that so far.Of course when the magazine is complete I will send you an electronic copy and if we are successful in printing I will also send a hard copy. I am so grateful for all the help I have received and I feel that I am an even prouder member of the TAA.

Funeral of George Taylor-Hunt
It was with great sadness that we learned of the death of George, a stalwart of the TAA at ExCo and in the SW England Branch. He received an Award of Merit at the last AGM. His funeral will be on 18thFebruary at 11:00 a.m. at St Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church, Queen Street, Newton Abbot. It’s the one close to the war memorial. Afterwards at the ‘Country House Hotel’, Ilsington, which is on the right hand side of the road leading out of Ilsington going up to Haytor. His wife, Margaret, requests any members who would like to attend toplease email her (to confirm numbers at the hotel). 

Agribusiness: Feeding the dragon
The Economist quotes: "With roughly a fifth of the world’s population but less than a tenth of its arable land, China has had to look outside its borders to feed itself. In the past, clumsy and sometimes corrupt state enterprises foraged in Africa and Latin America for farmland and commodities. Now, savvier Chinese firms are looking abroad for advanced technologies that can boost yields and efficiency at home". TAA members may be interested in this Economist article about a Chinese company taking over Syngenta, the biggest overseas take over by value. Read more ....



Invitation to an informal meeting of recent TAAF awardees

Looking over the contact list of recent awardees, we’re an eclectic bunch and have a wealth of experience from a very varied pool of disciplines. Following some informal conversations at the AGM this year, it was suggested that some of us lot out of contact with fellow members as informal ‘sounding boards’ on a range of professional and academic issues. We were therefore going to suggest that any and all of us who may be interested get together over a pint at some point in February or March, in order to introduce our professional areas and have a chat about any ‘sticky issues’ of the moment – a pseudo ‘career café’ to discuss any topic that comes to mind - professional queries, job opportunities, networking links and group therapy included.

Please feel free to drop me a line if you feel you could use or contribute; we will arrange a quick poll of dates and locations to maximise turnout dependent upon the response. If you are unable to attend in February or March but would like to be included in further group communications, please use the same email and let me know.


Information requested by TAA member on “Land Grabs”

Kara is a student member of TAA at Royal Agricultural University (RAU), Cirencester. She seeks help on a Masters project that a group of students is undertaking at RAU. They have been asked to write a magazine based on "Land Grab” around the world, mostly in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. She is keen to hear from any TAA member who could write an article for inclusion in the magazine, on specific or general aspects of ‘land grabbing”. If you have any suitable stories or information on the subject, please  contact Kara. If practical, the team would be pleased to meet you to ask questions in an interview type article. 


Calling all TAA members in Zambia/Southern Africa

Our branch organiser, Chris Kapembwe, has drawn up a full programme of events for 2016. These will be held St Joseph Guest House at Ndola catholic diocese, along Broadway, Ndola. The first meeting, 12th February, will to register members, appoint office bearers and open a bank account. All members in the region are cordially invited to join this and subsequent meetings (which will be posted on the TAA Events pages), commencing with agricultural production in mining communities on 18th March. Chris has reached agreement with the St Joseph Guest House to hold all TAA meetings at their premises. Please email Chris if you can wish to attend these meetings.


Please add your Career Summary to the TAA Website
The Career Summaries offer a valuable source of information about the experience of our members. They offer a snapshot of the expertise available within our ranks and demonstrate the profession skills of the Association. On a practical level, they ultimately provide basic material for obituaries. Please do add your Career Summary, whether you are young or old. You can always update them over time. Simply go to the Expertise pages, Career Summaries, login with your user name and password and complete the boxes in as much detail as you wish. For those members who are seeking assignments, why not add your full CV to our Directory.

Tropical tea as a high value diversification crop for the UK
Who would have thought it? Tea growing in the UK! Another first for TAA member Nigel Melican, of international tea consultants Teacraft Ltd. As well as having tea-growing clients in England and Wales they are now helping smallholders to grow tea commercially in the distinctly chilly climate of Scotland. Encouraged by Susie Walker-Munro’s launch of her home grown Kinnettles Gold tea last November, a group of eleven walled garden owners have formed the Scottish Artisan Tea Producers Network, and are planning to plant tea bushes later this year. Susie has been learning to grow tea on her Forfar, Scottish farm for the past seven years. Last year, with the skilled help of Teacraft associate consultant Beverly-Claire Wainwright, she processed and sold her first ever batch of Scottish grown tea to Pekoe Tea of Edinburgh. Jon Cooper, of Pekoe Tea announced: "We are very proud to be the exclusive stockists of Kinnettles Gold. Not only because it’s a Scottish grown tea, but because of its unique flavour and the passion that has gone into the processing”. Susie is spearheading the Scottish Artisan Tea Producers’ foray into tea growing by propagating and raising 30,000 tea seedlings in a local glasshouse: enough plants to establish seven acres of bushes.Specially selected cold tolerant tea seed has been imported from Nepal. Photographs available from Nigel. 

UK Aid – latest news

1. UKCDS summarises recent changes in strategy, including the Department for International Development’s new strategy, UK aid: tackling global challenges in the national interest.

2. The Independent Commission of Aid Impact (ICAI) published a report on ‘UK aid in a changing world: implications for ICAI. This explores the changing context for UK aid and the implications for ICAI’s mandate to provide independent scrutiny of the aid programme. Download the report.


Greetings from LendwithCare

TAA is a lender to the Care programme. Tracey Horner, head of LendwithCare, wishes us a Happy New Year sent us an update on events during 2015, which was an incredibly rewarding year. It began by her joining some other adventurous lenders on a bicycle ride from Vietnam to Cambodia to raise funds for CARE. The ride culminated with an inspiring visit to some Cambodian farmers. A similar ride is taking place in November 2016 if you are interested in a new challenge? Please watch her video account.

Due to the growing community of Lenders CARE was able to expand to two more countries, welcoming Microfinance Institutions Umutanguha in Rwanda and Thrive Microfinance in Zimbabwe as new partners. CARE hit the milestone of £8 million loaned to over 27,000 entrepreneurs - that's £3 million more than this time last year!


Conservation Agriculture in the Philippines - Video

See the video on Conservation Agriculture being practiced in sloping terrain in the Philippines. Click here to view. Thanks to Gurpreet Singh of the Aga Khan Rural Support Programme, Gujarat, India, for sending the video via the FAO CA COP.


New Year Greetings: please make a note of TAA events in your new diaries
Click on the TAA Events pages for full details of up-coming events being organised by TAA Branches nd corporate members:

January 6th TAA SW Branch annual meeting, Exeter

January 7th: CCF Annual Symposium, Cambridge

January 12th: APPG Enabling smallholder agribusiness, London

February 5th: International Farmers' Dialogue Conference, Maharashtra, India

March 9th: TAA Northern England Seminar: 'Land degradation', Newcastle

May 5th: TAA East Anglia Seminar on Innovations in Agri-Technology, Cambridge.


Launch of the report: Status of the World's Soil Resources

The 'Status of the World’s Soil Resources', produced by FAO’s Inter-governmental Technical Panel on Soils, has been launched during the World Soil Day celebration and closure ceremony of the International Year of Soils. Read more .........


'Farming Forward for Climate Change': Manifesto of Conservation Agriculturalists


At the Paris climate conference - COP 21, APAD  hosted a side meeting on behalf of the Global Conservation Agriculture Network (G-Can) on the role of Conservation Agriculture in addressing climate change issues  A Manifesto ("Farming Forward for Climate Change”) supported by national and regional organizations of farmers practicing Conservation Agriculture was launched at the meeting. APAD also organized a visit to a Conservation Agriculture farm near Paris to learn more about this no-till production systems from the farmer.




Soil Health Institute launched in USA to benefit soil

The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation, in partnership with the Farm Foundation, announces the launch of the 'Soil Health Institute', a private-public partnership that will work directly with farmers, researchers, academia, legislators, government regulators, industry, and environmental groups to improve soil health. The Institute will focus on five specific areas: research, standards and measurement, economics, education/communication and public policy.

"There are two truths about soil," says Bill Buckner, president and CEO of the Noble Foundation. "One is that soil plays a critical role in our everyday lives. The other is that soil is a precious resource that can be exhausted." Over the last 150 years, half of the earth's topsoil has been lost. In the U.S. alone, 70% of the soil is considered marginal. The Soil Health Institute will address these alarming trends. Read more


Meet your ExCo Members

We have added a new page to the website, which describes the members of your Executive Committee, just click here Please contact the concerned person if you need any advice on the TAA services, activities, publications or events. We need your feedback!

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all members.


Season's Greetings December 2015 from TAA
The President and ExCo members wish everyone a Happy Christmas and prosperous New Year. Click here to read the 'card'

TAA Caribbean Tour – October 2016

This is a very early notice to inform interested parties that there is an emerging plan to offer a tour of some Caribbean islands to study agriculture and to visit other sites of interest in October 2016. The core group will be those who studied tropical agriculture in Trinidad at ICTA (later UWI) up until the late 1960s but there are many more groups who may be interested. Jane Guise, based in Montserrat, has now produced an advance programme. Her idea is to hire a small cruise boat on which we could be accommodated during our visit to the islands adjacent to Antigua and Montserrat. A further visit to Trinidad could be an add-on for those interested (probably involving a short flight at the end of the tour). Jane has noted the interest in cricket and her contacts will work on that. She also has quite a bit of interest from outside TAA. If you are seriously interested in the concept and wish to be kept informed, please contact Tim Roberts, Click here to read a copy of Jane’s tentative programme and further news. 


Ag4Dev No 26: Winter Edition 2015 is available on-line

Please read the latest edition of "AgricultureforDevelopment”, our TAA journal. The theme is Peri-urban Agriculture. Simply go to the Membership Page, enter your login details. Then go to the Publications Pages and click on the ‘download’ button by Ag4Dev 26. The 2014 RMML paper by Mike Bushell has also been loaded and is accessible on the same Publications page.


Feedback from LendwithCare on TAA’s support in Cambodia

TAA recently invested in Ry Chhoeurn from Cambodia. Ry has posted an update on the progress of her business. Feedback from the entrepreneurs is not always possible so it's exciting to receive some news! You can view Ry's message here.

LendwithCare thanks TAA for our continuing support. See TAA website for more details of our contributions. 


January Events: TAA SW Branch Annual Meeting & CCF Cambridge Symposium
6thJanuary: TAA SW welcomes members to its annual meeting, Exeter, with presentations and lunch. If you wish to join, please register by 24 December at latest to Tim Roberts. Please also email Ray Bartlett for menu options and let him know your choice. More details at TAA Events pages.

7thJanuary: Cambridge Conservation Forum’s Annual Symposium at the new David Attenborough Building, Cambridge. This symposium will celebrate the broad diversity of conservation activities and perspectives of CCF members, including a paper by Tony Reynolds on "A decade of conservation agriculture”. CCF will explore the theme of communicating conservation: how the arts, media and science can influence behavioural and political change towards biodiversity conservation. Please book your place on the CCF linkor via the TAA Events pages.


Passing of Patrick Haynes

We are sad to announce that Patrick Haynes died peacefully after a long-term heart condition, on 25th November. Patrick was for a long time a member of TAA. He will be remembered by ICTA graduates who were taught by him. He then worked with FAO and IITA on tropical root crops and later with WS Atkins until his retirement. His funeral will be at St Andrews Church, Girton, Cambridge CB3 0PN on Dec 16th at 2.00 pm. His wife Ruth advises that donations to WaterAid in his memory will be welcome ( If you wish to attend the funeral and subsequent refreshments, please advise Ruth


Cambridge Conservation Forum Annual Symposium 2016
The Programme is now ready for the CCF Annual Symposium to be held in the new Conservation Campus in the David Attenborough Building on Thursday 7th January. We are excited that we will be making use of the meeting spaces and other facilities in this wonderful new conservation hub in the heart of Cambridge. This symposium will celebrate the broad diversity of conservation activities and perspectives of CCF members, including a paper by Tony Reynolds on "A decade of conservation agriculture”. This year, through breakout and panel discussions, CCF will explore the theme of communicating conservation: how the arts, media and science can influence behavioural and political change towards biodiversity conservation. The Symposium is always a popular highlight of the conservation calendar, so please book your place today on the CCF link or via the TAA Events pages.

Announcing the Launch of!

The Global Forum for Agriculture & Research (GFAR) is very pleased to announce the launch of their brand newwebsite:!With better search capabilities, a cleaner look, more intuitive navigation and more dynamic content than ever before, the new website is sure to become a key resource. Check out now! Join in with actions of the Global Forum by becoming a Partner in GFAR. Simply email GFAR-Secretariat@fao.orgstating that you wish to be involved in the collective actions of the Forum. GFAR will be pleased to recognize and help celebrate your work!



The December talk, entitled "Not Just Wood”, will be presented by TAA member Mikael Grut, who is an international forest economist with wide experience in Africa, Asia and South America. Mikael will describe forestry today and address its interfaces with agriculture and animal husbandry and climate change. The talk will include shifting cultivation, savanna grazing, farmed parklands, fodder trees and ‘taungya’`!

Meet at 11.00 for registration and coffee. The talk will begin at 11.30, followed by curry lunch with a chance to relax and chat.The charge is £14.00 per head, which is an inclusive figure to cover the room and facilities, coffee & biscuits and lunch. If you do not wish to stay for luncha contribution of £5 per head towards expenses would be much appreciated. See TAA Events pages for more details.


Zambia/ Southern Africa Branch Meetings
By general agreement, this year’s AGM, RMML and Reunion were very successful. Thank you to those who were able to attend. We also had the pleasure of welcoming Chris Kapembwa to the events. As Organiser of the new Zambia/Southern Africa branch, he is enthusiastic about setting up a formal committee and arranging meetings. Any TAA members resident in, or working in. Zambia, please get in touch with Chris. He plans a committee meeting in January 2016, followed by a series of workshops and seminars: 12thFebruary ‘Cassava production for food security”; 29th April ‘Effective agriculture diversification; 22nd July ‘Local Farming for business’; 30th September ‘Addressing national and regional agriculture challenges’. These will be posted on the TAA Events pages. We are looking at setting up a webpage for Overseas Branches, where Chris (and other Overseas Branch Organisers) can post their local news, via the TAA Branches Coordinator. 


Volunteers needed for Agriculture for Development team

Members will have noticed how our journal ‘ag4dev’ continues to improve and expand. For this, we are grateful to the Publications Team, headed by Paul Harding. But they need help! Hugh Brammer is retiring after many years as Honorary Technical Editor, during which he also coordinated Bookstack and Reminiscences & Reflections. Chris Garforth has kindly agreed to coordinate Bookstack but we still need a volunteer for Reminiscences and Reflections. We also urgently need a Proof Reader to review critically each complete edition, as well as new Honorary Technical Editors. If you would like to lend a hand in any way, please do contact the Coordinating Editor 


TAA Annual Award of Honours, 2015

We are delighted to announce the award of honours for 2015, which were presented at our AGM on Nov 11th at the Royal Over-seas League, London.

Development Agriculturist of the Year: George Rothschild. In recognition of a lifetime of work in agricultural research for development,as a researcher, Director, Director-General, Board Member,Board Chair and GovernmentAdviser, and forsupporting the All Party Parliamentary Group on Agriculture and Food for Development.

TAA Awards of Merit: George Taylor-Hunt and (posthumously) Bill Reed. In recognition of their work over many years for the TAA, as a members of the Executive Committee and as Convenors of the South West Branch.


Reminder: Bledisloe Memorial Lecture 2015 - Sir Fazle Hasan Abed KCMG

You are invited to this annual Lecture at RAU, Cirencester, 11thDecember 2015. The Speaker will be Sir Fazle Hasan Abed KCMG, the 2015 World Food Prize Laureate; Founder and Chairman of BRAC. The citation for the 2015 World Food Prize reads ‘…. for his unparalleled achievement in building a unique, integrated development organisation that many hail as the most effective anti-poverty organisation in the world ‘. BRAC (formerly known as the Bangladesh Rural Development Advancement Committee) has grown into the world’s largest non-governmental organisation (NGO), which has reportedly ‘…. helped raise 150 million people out of poverty‘. See the Events pages for full details and registration.


Sustainable Rice Platform: launches sustainability standard

At their annual Plenary and General Assembly in Manila, the Sustainable Rice Platform (SRP) launched the world’s first rice sustainability standard. It may be of interest to TAA membership. Read the UNEP media release here, and IRRI release and here. Coinciding with the release of the Standard and Indicators, Mars Foods Inc, a leading SRP member, announced its commitment to sustainably source 100% of its rice by 2020. Mars will use the SRP global Standard, which it helped develop, to assess Mars' supply chain, starting with pilot programmes in Pakistan and India. More details...... [Submitted by Wyn Ellis Coordinator SRP, who spoke on SRP at the HBML 2014]. 


Special Issue: Land Management Practices for Soil Conservation in Climate Change Scenarios
AIMS 'Agriculture and Food' is a brand new international Open Access journal devoted to publishing high-quality, peer-reviewed original papers representing complete studies in the multidisciplinary field of Agriculture and Food. We wish to provide a new platform for researchers to communicate their scientific ideas in the field. All the article processing charges for authors are waived. The Editor invites you to contribute a paper to this special issue "Land Management Practices for Soil Conservation in Climate Change Scenarios". Submission due date: February 28, 2016.
 Visit website for more information

DFID Framework link error and Interview with Tony Reynolds on practical CA

ERRATUM. Apologies for the error in our link yesterday to the new DFID 'Conceptual Framework on Agriculture',  please click here or go to the TAA APPG page for the link.

See the link for a video interview with Tony Reynolds, a TAA member and Lincolnshire (UK) farmer who has been practicing Conservation Agriculture for more than 10 years. Click for more information on Tony’s farm. Video made by the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board, which aims to equip member farmers with independent, evidence-based information and tools to grow, become more competitive and sustainable. More at Kindly submitted by Amir Kassam, TAA/FAO.


DFID Publishes a conceptual framework on agriculture

At the APPG meeting ‘Responding to the impacts of climate change on food security and smallholder agriculture in Paris beyond’ (3rd November 2015), the Rt Hon Desmond Swayne, Minister for International Development, introduced DFID’s ‘Conceptual Framework on Agriculture’. In his words, for 20 years agriculture has been neglected but has now become ‘sexy’ again. He explained that the new framework aims at a differentiated approach to support needy subsistence farmers who are ‘hanging-in’, to help farmers ‘step-up’ through technology and market links, and to facilitate farmers to ‘step-out’ into non-farming sectors. Key elements remain as livelihoods, jobs, prosperity, resilience to climate change and sustainability. Feedback is welcome via the APPG, through the new coordinator, Naomi Hirst.


Reminders for the 2015 TAA AGM, RMML and Reunion, and next Curry Club Talk

TAA AGM, RMML and Reunion. Click here to open the POSTER for this year’s, new-style event, focusing on "Changing Needs and Changing Opportunities for UK professionals in International Natural Resource Development”. Please display the poster to encourage your colleagues to join us on Wednesday November 11th. Bookings have been brisk, so please register soon if you wish to attend, by clicking here.

Curry Club. The next Curry Club Lunchtime talk is on Thursday 10th December. TAA member Mikael Grut, a forest economist, will talk on "Not Just Wood”, about forestry today, including its interfaces with agriculture and animal husbandry and a consideration of climate change. Book your place through Terry Wiles.

Visit the TAA Events pages for more details of all events. 

Cambridge Conservation Forum Events: gig, Christmas party & symposium

As TAA is a member organisation of CCF, our members are invited to three events in Cambridge: (1) The CCF Gig on 9 November. A range of excellent bands including The Corner Laughers. Tickets are £5, available from the website (ii) CCF Christmas Party 7th December, live music from the CCF band, great food and the company for just £12, bookonline; (iii) CCF Annual Symposium 7th January at the new David Attenborough Building : volunteers needed to help with organizing; speakers will talk about interesting work being done by CCF member organisations (TAA has nominated Tony Reynolds and Jane Rickson – for more information or offers to volunteer, please contact Keith Virgo)



Agribusiness Reports from World Bank

Grahame Dixie, TAA member and Agribusiness Adviser at the World Bank, has kindly provided links to some reports that may be of interest to TAA members. Read more at the TAA Agribusiness Group page


Sustainable Farming Practices: articles invited for 'Agriculture'

'Agriculture’ (open-access, peer-reviewed) special issue website, papers invited for publication on sustainable farming and soil erosion practices. Land degradation is a worldwide problem, but how the land is degraded is often not specifically defined, It is likely that rates of soil erosion are overstated, being based on plot-based predictive equations, not field assessments, or on sediment loads when sediment may be derived from sources other than farmland. Declining crop productivity may be due to declining soil fertility rather than erosion. Sustainable farming practices should aim at (1) increasing the soil’s fertility and structure, (2) reducing erosion and (3) giving the farmer a good livelihood. Papers are sought which outline: (1) how soil degradation, especially of cultivated soils was assessed and remedied. Were these remedial practices viable economically? In arable landscapes, did they lead to pollution of water courses by nutrients or pesticides? (2) How more sustainable farming practices can be widely brought about whilst achieving better livelihoods for farmers, to retain viable countryside populations and reducing migration? Deadline for submission 31stMay 2016 to the guest editor Dr. Robert Evans, Global Sustainability Institute, Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge. Manuscripts should be submitted online at by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline.


Report explores using insects to feed livestock

The Global Food Security Programme report examining the potential of insects as animal feed can be downloaded (PDF  2.5 MB). Read more about the report and London workshop (August 2015), on which it is based. Sian Williams of Global Food Security Programme would be grateful for any feedback.


TAA Draft Accounts 2014-2015 available on website

Our Treasurer, Jim Ellis-Jones, has received the TAA accounts for 2014-15, which can be viewed on our website. These accounts will be presented at the AGM on Nov 11th for approval by the membership, as well as to seek agreement to re-appoint Montpelier as our independent accountants. Please do join us at the AGM, Ralph Melville Memorial Lectures (in the format of three TAAF presentations), and at the social with buffet supper and cash-bar. All at the Royal Over-seas League, Piccadilly London (see Events pages for details)


Technical and reading books required for school libraries in Uganda and Tanzania

Afrinspire of Cambridge is happy to receive books. As well as professional/technical books they also take any good quality and appropriate reading books from nursery child level through to adult. Typically the sort of books one might find in school libraries are a good indication of what can usefully be sent to Africa. If members have surplus books, please contact Ian Sanderson to arrange a time/method of delivery to their office or warehouse. Easy parking at the warehouse (Wadloes Road, CB5 8PX). In some circumstances they could collect.


Reminders: TAA Curry Lunch talk 29th October and TAA AGM, RMMLs & Reunion 11th November
Please see full details on the TAA Events Pages.
Curry Lunch time talkon by Antony Ellman on Artemisia annua, the anti-malarial medicinal plant. Strand, London. 29th Oct, 11.00 am start, curry lunch (£14) following the presentation. Book your place with Terry Wiles.

TAA AGM, RMMLs and annual reunion with buffet dinner and cash bar, Royal Over-seas League, Piccadilly, London. 11th November, 17.00 start. New format with three presentations by TAAF awardees, and emphasis on younger generation. Book onlineby clicking here. £25 per head.


Now here’s the good news on global warming, CO2 boosts crop yields
Activists may want to shut down debate, but evidence is growing that high CO2 levels boost crops and nourish the oceans. Read the article by Matt Ridley in the Times of 19th Oct 2015 ........



British Overseas Aid: DfID does 'pretty well', according to Economist
The Economist (17/10/2015) includes an article on overseas development aid. Since 2010, the UK aid budget has risen by 40% and reached the 7% target. Only the USA disburses more. 62% of DfID spending goes to multilateral agencies and this seems to impart a positive influence and longer-term impact. Much of the budget goes to war-torn countries and in humanitarian aid. Read more ....

Seeking anyone who knew Kenneth DS Baldwin and his work in Nigeria in 1950s

If anyone knew or worked with Kenneth D. S. Baldwin, author of The Niger Agricultural Project (1957) and co-author of Nigerian Cocoa Farmers: An 'Economic Survey of Yoruba Cocoa-Farming Families (1956), please contact Jim Sumberg at IDS Sussex. He is writing a retrospective piece on the first of these books, but is unable to locate much information about Kenneth Baldwin. Tel: +44(0)1273 915833


Cambridge Food Security Forum launches ‘Food: Field to Table?’ research group
The Cambridge Food Security Forum is an interdisciplinary network of students and early career researchers at the University of Cambridge. The Forum aims to promote interdisciplinary discussion amongst members of the University and raise awareness of the challenge of food security in the broader community. In 2015/2016, the Forum is organising a research group Food: Field to Table? with support from the Cambridge University Strategic Initiative in Global Food Security and the Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences & Humanities. This research group will examine multiple aspects of the global food system, following food across academic boundaries from field to table. You can find more information about the research group and programme here.

As part of the outreach activities of the Forum, there will also be a podcast series, ‘Greedy Planet’, which will launch in October 2015. The series is aimed at the general public and will investigate different issues related to food security. To find out more follow the Forum on Twitter @greedyplanet or Facebook 


HLPE Report on Sustainable Agricultural Development for Food Security and Nutrition: an e-Consultation

In October 2014, the UN Committee on World Food Security (CFS) requested the High Level Panel of Experts (HLPE) on Food Security and Nutrition to conduct a study on Sustainable Agricultural Development for Food Security and Nutrition, including the role of Livestock. The findings of this study will feed into CFS 43 Plenary session (October 2016). The HLPE is launching an e-consultation to seek inputs, suggestions, and comments on the present Draft. This open e-consultation will be used by the HLPE to elaborate the report, before submitting to external expert review, and approval by the HLPE Steering Committee.

The draft report can be downloaded here. To send comments and participate to the on-line discussion, visit the dedicated HLPE e-consultation webpage. Comments can be submitted online until 31 October 2015, by mail to, or directly to the HLPE Secretariat at Open to TAA members!


TAA AGM and Ralph Melville Memorial Lecture & Reunion 11/11/15: a new approach

The theme of this year’s Ralph Melville Memorial Lecture will be "Changing Needs and Changing Opportunities for UK professionals in International Natural Resource Development”. The theme will be illustrated by three case studies presented by recent and not so recent TAAF awardees. The aim will be to demonstrate how TAAF has helped young professionals to embark on careers in development in the past, and to stimulate discussion on how TAA and TAAF can adapt to changing needs in the future. We especially welcome younger members to attend: let's make it an enjoyable event. For the reunion there will be a buffet dinner and cash. The AGM starts at 17.00. Please join us at the Royal Over-seas League, Piccadilly, London. Full details on the Events pages. Apply on line to attend by clicking here.


Curry Club lunchtime talk, Antony Ellman on Artemisia annua, the anti-malarial medicinal plant". 29th October

"Artemisia annua – Qinghao: the most effective smallholder-grown antimalarial treatment". It has been known in China as a treatment for "hot and cold fever” for more than 2,000 years. The active ingredient, artemisinin or qinghaosu, was isolated by Chinese scientists in the 1970s and its cultivation was introduced to East Africa and South Asia. It is now the basis of the frontline drug recommended by WHO for treating severe malaria:more than 300 million treatments are administered annually worldwide. Antony, a smallholder agriculturalist, has for more than 20 years been closely involved in the cultivation of Artemisia annua and extraction and manufacture of the artemisinin drugs. He will describe the birth and expansion of the Artemisia industry, analyse its successes and failures, and discuss future prospects and challenges. Please join us at the Strand Continental Hotel, London, for the talk and curry lunch. For full details see the Events Pages. Book your place with Terry Wiles.


FAO Soil Quiz: simple test for the weekend!
Do you know what is a healthy soil, or how long it takes for one centimetre of soil to form? Test your knowledge about soils! 15 questions to test your soil knowledge.
Try your hand at the quiz !


Corporate Membership Coordinator: Martin Evans
We are delighted to welcome Dr Martin Evans, who has volunteered to be our ExCo member responsible for coordinating TAA Corporate members. These now comprise some 22 organisations (see the website for details). Martin lives in Cambridge, he has qualifications in natural sciences & agriculture and agricultural economics, and, as one can see from his career summary, he has had a long career involving the corporate sector. Martin plans to be in touch with each of the Corporate members to assess how best the TAA can serve their needs and involve them in our activities. Please get in touch with Martin Evans if you would like to offer support or ideas.

Welcome to the new TAA Zambia Branch

At the Executive Committee (ExCo) meeting on 29th September 2015, the new Zambia Branch was formally approved. Chris Kapembwa has been the driving force behind this venture, with earlier encouragement from the late Bill Reed, while Chris was studying at Bicton College. Chris is now establishing the Branch, based in Ndola, with support from local agriculturalists and members of the ministry of agriculture. He is looking for support from other TAA members in Zambia. 'Nathan' Duraisaminathan has also been accepted as our new 'Branches Coordinator', who will assist Chris and other Branch Organisers. Jim Ellis-Jones (our Treasurer and an experienced in Zambian hand) has offered to provide mentoring support for the new Branch. Please refer to the branches webpage for contact details and se the branch news pages for an account of the first meeting. Please contact Chris if you wish to help. Both Chris and Nathan are now members of ExCo.


Welcome to the new TAA Zambia Branch

At the Executive Committee (ExCo) meeting on 29th September 2015, the new Zambia Branch was formally approved. Chris Kapembwa has been the driving force behind this venture, with earlier encouragement from the late Bill Reed, while Chris was studying at Bicton College. Chris is now establishing the Branch, based in Ndola, with support from local agriculturalists and members of the ministry of agriculture. He is looking for support from other TAA members in Zambia. 'Nathan' Duraisaminathan has also been accepted as our new 'Branches Coordinator', who will assist Chris and other Branch Organisers. Jim Ellis-Jones (our Treasurer and an experienced in Zambian hand) has offered to provide mentoring support for the new Branch. Please refer to the branches webpage for contact details and se the branch news pages for an account of the first meeting. Please contact Chris if you wish to help. Both Chris and Nathan are now members of ExCo.


Spade Test: Soil assessment in the field

The film "Spade test" is a contribution to the UN International Year of Soils 2015: Soil assessment in the field – a course at INFORAMA Ruetti in Zollikofen with Andreas Chervet, Soil Conservation Service of the Canton of Berne/Switzerland. The film was made during a course of the School of Agricultural, Forest and Food Sciences HAFL, Switzerland. Posted on FAO COP on Conservation Agriculture by Wolfgang G. Sturny


THE VALUE OF LAND - 2015 ELD Report Launch
Land degradation is an increasing global issue, exacerbated by climate change and affecting food security, threatening water resources and ultimately acting as a driver to migration. The Economics of Land Degradation (ELD study quantifies the costs of land degradation and sets out a universal approach for quantifying the economic benefits of sustainable land management. It aims to enable decision makers to better understand the overall costs and benefits when implementing policies and actions dealing with land. Read more on the TAA Land Husbandry News. Downloadable reports:  'The Value of Land''ELD report for policy & decision makers'.


The Farms of Change: African smallholders responding to an uncertain climate future

For those who missed Agriculture for Impact's launch of the Montpellier Panel Report on 25th September 2015 "The Farms of Change: African smallholders responding to an uncertain climate future". A download of the report is now available on the Agriculture for Impact ‘publications’ pages. 


Twelve Publications on Farmer Extension: ECHO

ECHO, a TAA Corporate Member, reports that valuing and gaining farmer input, facilitating farmer-to-farmer learning, and effectively transferring knowledge and skills are all needed to make a positive impact. An organization called Modernising Extension and Advisory Services (MEAS; ) specialises in documenting how best to do these things. They have produced informational materials that explain strategies, tools and resources for strengthening the role that rural extension systems play in increasing food production and farm income. With support from MEAS, ECHO has extracted and distilled key MEAS insights that are especially relevant to ECHO’s growing network of field-based practitioners. These summaries have been posted to are available for download. Each summary contains a list of references to related MEAS and ECHO publications.


GFAR 2015 - Reformed, Renewed, Reinvigorated!
The Global Forum for Agricultural Research (GFAR) was founded in 1996. The world is a different place now and the agri-food sector faces complex environmental and economic challenges. So is GFAR - the world’s agri-food research and innovation community - up to the task? According to those attending the recent GFAR Constituent Assembly in Bangkok, the answer is a resounding "yes”.GFAR Executive Secretary, Dr Mark Holderness (a TAA member), described the three-day meeting as a landmark event in the evolution of the Forum. "We now have a renewed ‘community of practice’, of people who understand what the Forum is trying to achieve and who share its objectives. It’s very encouraging to see the high level endorsement of the principles and approach, and of the role and the value of the Forum... It really felt like GFAR had come of age.” A full account of the Assembly can be found in the Summary Report. One of the main outcomes was a new Vision for GFAR with a focus on making agri-food research and innovation systems more effective in delivering the Sustainable Development Goals. Likewise, there is a new Mission.

Announcing the death of Peter Goldsworthy

We, at the TAA, are sad to have to share the news that Peter (a TAA member) was drowned on September 19th whilst fishing outside Salcombe in SW England, on the 62nd anniversary of his marriage to Jean. Our thoughts are very much with Jean at this sad time. Peter had had a long career in agriculture, including time at CIMMYT. He received the MBE and was author of the book 'The Physiology of Tropical Field Crops’. We plan to include an obituary in the next edition of 'Agriculture for Development’.


Agriculture a major source of air pollution?

Results of recent research led by Professor Jos Lelieveld, at the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry in Germany, found that agricultural emissions of ammonia had a "remarkable” impact on air pollution. 20% of all global deaths from air pollution resulted from these emissions, which come mainly from cattle, chickens and pigs and from the over-use of fertiliser. The ammonia reacts with fumes from traffic and industryto produce tiny particles and is the largest cause of air pollution deaths in the eastern US, Japan and Europe. "For London, agriculture is the main source,” said Lelieveld. Across the UK, 48% of the premature deaths were ultimately the result of agricultural pollution. Is this a further example of the potential benefits of wider application of no-till conservation agriculture, which can reduce fertilizer usage and retain the ammonia in the soil? Read more 


Journal AIMS Agriculture & Food: special edition on “sustainable agriculture”

AIMS Agriculture and Food is an international Open Access journal devoted to publishing peer-reviewed, high quality, original papers in the field of agriculture and food. We publish the following article types: original research articles, reviews, editorials, letters, and conference reports. The special edition in December 2015 offers a great opportunity to enable news in a hot-discussed topic like Sustainable Agriculture, to be shared and to attract and encourage submissions by researchers and experts. 


CA Manual for the Middle East

This was published by ICARDA in 2015, being the last output of the ACIAR-funded Iraq project. Atef Haddad is currently working an Arabic version.The Practical Implementation of Conservation Agriculture in the Middle East,
 2015, by Stephen Loss, Atef Haddad, Jack Desbiolles, Harun Cicek, Yaseen Khalil and Colin Piggin. See also Land Husbandry news pages.


TAA Ties for sale to members

We have a new stock of TAA ties. These are available for sale at £10 each (plus £2.50 if P&P is required). orders can be placed with Jim Ellis-Jones or Mike Pashof the SW Branch. Payment is required before dispatch, preferably direct by BACS to the TAA’s bank account (Jim can provide details of the account). See 'Our Services' page under 'Merchandise'

NOTE: The proposed TAA L&SE Branch visit to East Malling Research on 23rd Sept has been cancelled due to insufficient participants.


APPG News and DFID's Proposed to Policy Framework on Agriculture

The APPG on Agriculture & Food for Development participated in the International Development Committee's reports on Jobs and Livelihoods and Sustainable Development Goals. The full reports can be viewed on the TAA Policy Advice/ APPG pages. Under Recommendation 12. it was agreed: "We support DFID's focus on agriculture as the most likely sector to help raise people out of extreme poverty. It is a job intensive industry and the sector that most poor people currently work in. Agricultural processing and the food industry has the greatest potential for many African countries as the raw materials and market are local. We look forward to the publication of DFID's agricultural strategy and recommend that our successor Committee inquire into this new agricultural strategy in the next Parliament. (para. 15)". DFID intends to publish a summary policy framework on agriculture by the beginning of 2016. Read more on a recent presentation to a meeting of the African Smallholder Farmer Group in March 2015 by Emmanuelle Beguin and David Howlett on 'DFID's Thinking and Approach to Agriculture'. See also CABI's initiative onGlobal Open Data on Agriculture and Nutrition (GODAN) was discussed. You can read more and join GODAN. The APPG Support Group (with Terry Wiles representing TAA) met on 14 Sept 2015.

NOTE: The proposed TAA L&SE Branch visit to East Malling Research on 23rd Sept has been cancelled due to insufficient participants.

FINAL REMINDER: nominations for 2015 TAA Honours and Awards

TAA honours those who have made significant contributions to agriculture for development and to the TAA itself. These will be awarded at the AGM, November 11th. There are three categories of award: 'Development Agriculturalist of the Year' (need not be a TAA member); 'Young Development Agriculturalist of the year' (usually awarded to a TAAF Awardee); 'Award of Merit or Honorary Membership' is given to TAA member(s), who have made outstanding contributions to meeting the objectives of the Association. PLEASE SEND NOMINATIONS by 16th September. Each nomination should include a proposer and a seconder (both TAA members or employees of a Corporate Member) and a short statement of the ways in which the nominee meets the criteria for the award for which he or she is being nominated. For details see the TAA website Honours and Awards. More information from The Honours Panel.


URGENT Final Reminder: TAA - East Malling Research Fruit Production Visit, 23rd Sept
The TAA London & SE Branch invites members and friends to visit EMR (Kent) for a comprehensive introduction to fruit production, with talks by individual specialists. For more details of EMR, click here. A fascinating programme on EMR's fruit production programme, including buffet lunch and field visit. Click for full details on TAA webpages. DO NOT MISS this event. Arrive 12.30, depart 16.30. Please reserve a place with Terry Wiles. Deadline for reservations 15th September.

Cambridge University Strategic Initiative in Global Food Security

Global food security is a major research priority for UK and international science. The University of Cambridge Strategic Research Initiative in Global Food Security aims to integrate research ongoing across the various university Schools and Departments, to improve our understanding of the challenges of food security, and to develop solutions. Their Newsletter is now available online. TAA has successfully collaborated with the Global Food Security team in joint seminars. For more details of the Initiative, please contact Will SimonsonFor other useful links to Newsletters, Journals and Magazines, go to the TAA Links pages

[ERRATUM: Apologies for the Event Alert yesterday, the title should have been Montpellier Panel Report Launch, Web Manager]


Bananas: news, blogs and analyses on topical issues

Promusa (mobilizing banana science for sustainable livelihoods) regularly circulates InfoMus@, a newsletter covering all aspects of banana production, research, events and opportunities. ProMusa also oversees the development of Musapedia: an online, collaboratively-built and peer-reviewed compendium of knowledge on bananas. To receive a copy of InfoMusa@ in your inbox, sign up here. [CGIAR accredited].


Pathways for achieving food security and reducing global emissions from agriculture

An event on Food and Farming under Climate Change: Moving towards a global agreement took place on 8 July 2015 alongside the global science conference Our Common Future Under Climate Change in Paris. The events aimed to catalyse action in the lead-up to the UN Climate Conference (COP21) in December. Many actions which enhance food security and improve climate resilience for smallholders, also reduce emissions. This is according to Michel Mordasini, Vice President of IFAD, who shared a new study which found that thirteen IFAD-supported adaptation projects could reduce COemissions by about 30 million tonnes by 2034. The study, which was undertaken by IFAD, the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), showed that improved agronomic practices, afforestation and rehabilitation of degraded lands help address farmers' immediate needs for increasing yields and incomes, even with more unpredictable weather, while also reducing emissions and storing more carbon in the landscape. Source:CGIAR Research Programme on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security


Call for nominations for 2015 TAA Honours and Awards: URGENT REMINDER

TAA honours those who have made significant contributions to agriculture for development and to the TAA itself. These will be awarded at the AGM, November 11th. There are three categories of award: 'Development Agriculturalist of the Year' (need not be a TAA member); 'Young Development Agriculturalist of the year'(usually awarded a TAAF Awardee); 'Award of Merit or Honorary Membership' is given to TAA member(s), who have made outstanding contributions to meeting the objectives of the Association. Individual members are urged to send nominations for each category. Nominations close on 15th September. Each nomination should include a proposer and a seconder (both TAA members or employees of a Corporate Member) and a short statement of the ways in which the nominee meets the criteria for the award for which he or she is being nominated. For more details and nomination forms, visit the TAA website Honours and Awards. Click here to see previous recipients of awards. More information from The Honours Panel. 

FAO Soil and Land Resource Legacy Maps

FAO Land and Water Division (NRL) has made an effort to make Soil Legacy data and information available for their users. FAO has just finished uploading 1,228 soil and land legacy maps (mainly soil maps and also land use, geological and land cover maps). Read more.

[Comment from Web Manager: I found thumbnails of soil maps of Dallol Maouri, Niger, that I helped to make in 1968-69! Full downloads (free of charge) can be heavy, up to 100MB. This site seems to be in competition with WOSSAC?]


Membership Subscriptions 2015

Thank you to all those who have recently paid their annual membership by Standing Order, BACS or Paypal. Your membership is renewed for the year and the latest journal will be sent by post to Full Members in September. If at any time you no longer receive news updates, cease to have access to members'  areas on the website, or fail to receive the journal, this is probably because your subscription has not been paid or was insufficient to cover the full year. If you do wish to continue as a member or to resolve any membership concerns, please contact Lin, Member Secretary, as soon as possible

Erratum: The visit to East Malling Research is 23rd September, NOT 29th as posted on Saturday. Apologies, Web Manager.


Growing Food - a Manual for Food Crop Production

This comprehensive manual covers details of how to grow food crops in the tropics and sub-tropics, from mung beans to avocados. The author, Tony Winch, is a Wye graduate who worked in agriculture and development aid projects (mostly in Africa), for Oxfam and then the Red Cross. His 333 page manual was published by Springer of the Netherlands in 2007 as a guide for farmers and field workers. Please contact Tony if you would like to order a hard copy of the book (£7.00 each in the UK, add £5.00 for overseas posting). A pdf version is now available free on the TAA website and a Word version is available on request from Tony. The author would also appreciate any comments and feedback from TAA members.


Saguna Rice Technique (SRT) in India
This new system of no-till, CA rice has been pioneered by Shekhar Bhadsavie in Maharashtra, India. Rice is grown on permanent raised beds, with no cultivation. The rice crops can alternate with vegetables during the cool rabi season.Read more on the Land Husbandry News pages and view the publication: A zero-till, conservation agriculture technique for rice-based farming.


Cornucopia of TAA Events in UK, September to November: reminders

Please visit the Events pages for full details of these exciting up-coming TAA events 

3 Sept: Agribusiness First Thursday of the month meeting, Sidmouth. 12.30 pm. Roger Cozens 

23 Sept: Visit to East Malling Research; TAA L&SE Branch. East Malling, Kent 12.30pm. Terry Wiles

25th Sept: Inaugural Meeting of TAA Scotland: focus on Malawi. Edinburgh 14.00.John Ferguson 

15 Oct: "Soils - where the answer lies", TAA SW Branch seminar. RAU, Cirencester 10.00am.Tim Roberts 

29 Oct: Curry Club lunchtime talk "Artemisia annua against malaria", TAA L&SEB. 11.30am. Terry Wiles

11 Nov: TAA AGM, 33rd Ralph Melville Memorial Lecture and Reunion, accent on TAAF. ROSL, London. 17.00. Bookings 



GRASSROOTS AFRICA seeks help from individuals, NGOs, colleges

GRASSROOTS AFRICA invites TAA members to sign-up themselves and pass on the word to anyone whom they know at any agricultural college, school or university (in UK or sub-Saharan Africa) to join its networks. GRASSROOTS AFRICA is trying to establish a service akin to the BBC GARDENERS' QUESTION TIME, but aimed at farmers in sub-Saharan Africa. This means that we are looking for people who have relevant experience from working, researching or teaching on topics that deal with grassroots agricultural issues. As we roll out the IT, we intend to offer this service in the long run to all sorts of mobiles devices. Even the poorest households these days seem to have one of these. For the time being we can offer it only via the net and in English and usually through intermediaries. Many of the people we work through - people in ministries, in NGOs, and in private businesses in the three countries where we currently work (Malawi, Tanzania and Uganda) have been trained at one of the universities or colleges in the UK and this is why I am appealing to anyone who can reach the heads, lecturers, deans of such institutions to pass the message on. You can read more in the GRASSROOTS AFRICA newsletters.


Stories and Teaching Aids for the Year of the Soil
Several items have recently been published to raise awareness of how the soil functions: (1) Pictorial Posters in the "Dig it!? series could help children to understand soil mechanisms and ecology, downloadable from the FAO website in pdf. (2) An article and 4-minute video cartoon describing aspects of soil and carbon cycling, showing relationships to conservation agriculture and potential for reversing climate change.. (4) A Brochure on  "Soil ? A precious Natural Resource? with a focus on explaining the functions of soil and the services it provides.     

Manual for Conservation Agriculture in Middle East: ICARDA

Over the last year, the ICARDA CA team has produced a practical manual on CA, summarizing their experience in the Middle East. The Manual is downloadable in pdf, click here or paste the URL below into your browser. Submitted by Atef Haddad (CA Agronomist, Weed Management Consultant), via FAO.


N2Africa: Putting Nitrogen Fixation to work for Smallholder Farmers in Africa - Newsletter

The N2Africa issues Podcasters to update on nitrogen fixation approaches across Africa. The current issue looks at the results from PhD research, for example on yields of bean in Rwanda. The other topics range from molecular studies with rhizobium to field agronomy, adoption studies and nutrition. We felt it was time for the next generation of nitrogen fixation researchers to share some of the excitement of their findings with you. The next issue of the Podcaster will focus on public-private partnerships within N2Africa, so please send in your stories straight away. To receive copies of future Podcasters, send an email request.


REMINDER - Curry Club Talk: "Machine Harvesting of Tea - Curse or Cure?" 27TH August

Talk by TAA member Nigel Melican. He promises an intriguing insight into little understood trends and consequences in tea production. While governments in developing countries discourage mechanized tea harvesting with the idea of protecting jobs, the reality is that workers are fleeing the land for the bright lights. Tea estate owners are being pulled rapidly into mechanization not from choice but as a last resort. Where does all this lead? Join us at 11.30 for registration and coffee at the Strand Continental Hotel India Club, 143 Strand, London WC2R 1JA. See Events webpages for details. Book your place through Terry Wiles 


Attention TAA Members in Zambia: new group's inaugural meeting, 26th August
Christopher Pannet Kapembwa, with encouragement from the late Bill Reed and others, is calling an inaugural meeting of a TAA Zambia group on August 26th. Subject to formal approval by TAA ExCo at the end of September, it looks a though we shall soon be able to welcome a new TAA Zambia Branch. For the inaugural meeting, some 30 participants are expected, from the Ministry of Agriculture and people from the farming community. It will be held at Chris' office: House 47, Kariba Road,  Ndola, commencing at 10:00 am. If you would like to attend or contribute to his activities, please contact Chris by email  or mobile 0977 536 825. He is an agronomist and recently participated in a Bicton College course.


LendwithCare�s Laos to Cambodia Bike Ride next year

CARE's Laos to Cambodia Cycle Challenge, 3-14 November 2016, is a 650km cycling adventure from Pakse in southern Laos to Siem Reap in western Cambodia (site of Ankhor Wat). The route will take you through stunning countryside and alongside beautiful waterfalls, rumbling rapids, UNESCO world heritage sites, and if you're lucky a couple of freshwater dolphins! Along the way you'll also have the opportunity to meet some some of the entrepreneurs, whose lives have been changed by a LendwithCare loan. TAA supports the LendwithCare programme. This bike ride really is a once in a lifetime opportunity and will raise funds for the cause. To find out more, visit the CARE website. Or better still book up ...


Sad departures of old TAA friends

We were saddened to learn of the deaths last week of long-standing TAA members Brian Robinson and Bill Reed. Brian will have been known to members, especially through his work on coffee with DfID. Bill served agriculture in Malawi for many years; until recently he was a member of TAA ExCo and was also a strong supporter of the TAA Southwest Branch: his enthusiasm and optimism will be sorely missed. There will be a Thanksgiving Service for Bill at Marnhulll Methodist Church, Dorset DT10 1PS, at 11.00 on Thursday August 20th. Bill's family welcome TAA members. 

On behalf of TAA, we tender our sincere condolences to the families of Brian and Bill. Obituaries will appear in the Winter edition of Ag4Dev.


Climate-Smart Agriculture, India

The Department of Agriculture (DoA) of the Indian state of Haryana, in collaboration with CIMMYT-CCAFS, developed an action plan to mainstream climate-smart agriculture (CSA) in the state and develop 500 new climate-smart villages (CSVs), at a workshop held on 8 June 2015. Over the past three years, Haryana has successfully adopted CSA technologies and practices through a CSV initiative of CIMMYT and the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS). Demand-driven policies and engagement by local governments are essential to ensure CSVs continue to expand throughout the country. Read more.


TAA member on UK Plant Sciences Federation advisory panel, Royal Society of Biology
The TAA is a Member Organisation of the Royal Society of Biology (RSB). The UKPSF operates as a special interest group within the RSB. UKPSF also has a separate PlantSci website, containing various resources (news, events, funding opportunities) for the plant science community. Ian Martin has kindly agreed to represent TAA on the UKPSF advisory panel (see Ian's Career Summary). Please contact Ian if you have any plant/crop science issues to raise.

Ian and TAA colleagues can now post details of TAA meetings on the events page by registering as a user of the website and can also sign up for the monthly news bulletin


Call for nominations for 2015 TAA Honours and Awards

Each year, the TAA honours those who have made significant contributions to agriculture for development and to the TAA itself. These are awarded at the AGM, which is held in November. There are three categories of award: ?Development Agriculturalist of the Year? (need not be a TAA member); 'Young Development Agriculturalist of the year' (usually awarded a TAAF Awardee); ?Award of Merit or Honorary Membership? is given to TAA member(s), who have made outstanding contributions to meeting the objectives of the Association.

The Honours Panel nominations for each category. Nominations close on 15th September. Each nomination should include a proposer and a seconder (both TAA members or employees of a Corporate Member) and a short statement of the ways in which the nominee meets the criteria for the award for which he or she is being nominated. For more details, visit the TAA website Honours and AwardsClick here to download a nomination form (in WORD). Click here to see previous recipients of awards.


LendwithCare Birmingham Event, 24 September 2015 6.30 - 9.00pm

If you would like to meet the Lendwithcare team and hear more about the work they do to alleviate poverty through micro-finance, please sign up for this evening reception at 5-7 Hill Street, Birmingham B5 4UA. Dr Amjad Saqib, the founder of their partner Micro-finance Institution in Pakistan, Akhuwat, will be speaking about their work to improve the lives of poor people in Pakistan through interest free micro-loans. The contributions from TAA have now provided 135 loans, lending nearly £7500 and supporting 642 individuals and 2586 family members, helping to create 153 jobs.

Limited spaces. Click here to find out more information and book.


A tale of 2 (soil) cities
The International Union of Soil Science (IUSS) reports that recent work has shown that long-term differences in soil use and management influence not only the sizes and numbers of soil aggregates, but also what the pores inside them will look like. Soil is a living, dynamic substance, and the microbial life within it is crucial to providing plant life with the food they need to grow. The microbes can be bacteria or fungi, but both need space -the pores - for a good living environment. Soil particles that clump together are aggregates. These are the architectural building blocks of soil. Their presence has a major effect on the behavior of the soil as a community. Read more

New TAA Scotland Branch

For some time now, John Gowing has been efficiently acted as convenor for the Scotland and NE England TAA Branch. This was a vast territory! John Ferguson has now kindly volunteered to become Convenor for a separate Scotland Branch, which will look after members "north of the border" but he will work in close liaison with John Gowing, who will now be Convenor for North of England. Email contacts will now be for John Ferguson. Visit the  "Group Facebook Page" and join the Group. More details will be posted on the TAA website. We wish John every success. 

John Ferguson is based in Edinburgh. He studied agriculture at the Scottish Agricultural College, followed by an MSc in Tropical Agricultural Development at the University of Reading. His Masters research was on the role of dairy goats in poverty reduction and development in Tanzania. Subsequently, he served an internship with ILRI in Kenya before spending a couple of years with VETAID, delivering their development education. John then worked in Malawi with Environment Africa and supervised young British volunteers through Progressio / ICS. He currently has his own ethical start-up business, working with sisal farmers in Tanzania and producing sustainable geo-textiles which are marketed in the UK for environmental applications, such as peatland restoration and coastal realignment.


CURRY CLUB TALK REMINDER: Machine Harvesting of Tea - Curse or Cure, 27TH August

Talk by Nigel Melican, Managing Director of Teacraft and 'Nothing but Tea'. TAA L&SE is fortunate to have Nigel to talk to us. He draws on 40 years of R&D in the tea industry around the world and promises an intriguing insight into little understood trends and consequences in tea production. While governments in developing countries discourage mechanized tea harvesting with the idea of protecting jobs, the reality is that workers are fleeing the land for the bright lights. Tea estate owners are being pulled rapidly into mechanization not from choice but as a last resort. Where does all this lead? Join us at 11.30 for registration and coffee at the Strand Continental Hotel India Club, 143 Strand, London WC2R 1JA. See Events webpages for details Book your place through Terry Wiles 

International Soil & Water Conservation Research - first issue of new journal

WASWAC announces the first issue of ISWCR in 2015. This is the first one published after cooperating with Elsevier Press. All papers are now available on line in real-time, downloadable in pdf.


"Tending a Schoolyard Garden" is now downloadable free online

Tending a Schoolyard Garden is a teacher manual/ handbook,written in an easy to follow style with step-by-step instructions and plenty of illustrations. This book is the outcome of field tests of theOur Land Our Life. The hard copy book comes with a DVD containing over 130 carefully selected resource material. It is now available free as a PDF download


UK Plant Sciences Federation (UKPSF): seeking TAA member to join Advisory Group

The UKPSF is a special interest group of the Royal Society of Biology (RSB), which brings together 30 Member Organisations from across the breadth of plant and crop sciences in the UK to create a coordinated approach to research, industry, education and outreach. The UKPSF aims to be an inclusive organisation and is keen to make sure that all aspects of plant and crop science are covered. Further information about their aims and objectives can be found on the UKPSF website and via the Royal Society of Biology web pages. As TAA is a member organisation of the RSB, we have been invited to nominate a member to join the UKPSF Advisory Group. This Group determines the strategy and operational direction of the Federation, meeting once or twice a year. An Executive Committee, elected from and by the Advisory Group, develops and manages specific UKPSF activities and reports annually to the Advisory Group at our AGM in London.

If you are a member of TAA and have specific interests in crop or plant sciences and would like to join the UKPSF, please contact the Web Manager.


New TAA Branch for Scotland

John Ferguson has kindly volunteered to take on the role of Convenor for a new Scotland Branch, working in close liaison with John Gowing, who is convenor for North England Branch (which formerly included Scotland and N England). John is seeking suggestions from TAA residents in Scotland as to what they would like the branch to do: please complete his simple online survey to help John to plan a programme.  

By way of background, John lives in Edinburgh.  He studied agriculture at the Scottish Agricultural College, followed by an MSc in Tropical Agricultural Development at the University of Reading. He did his Masters research on the role of dairy goats in poverty reduction and development in Tanzania. Subsequently, he has served an internship with ILRI in Kenya before spending a couple of years with VETAID, delivering their development education. He then worked in Malawi with Environment Africa and supervising young British volunteers who were volunteering through Progressio / ICS. He currently has his own ethical start-up business, working with sisal farmers in Tanzania and producing sustainable geo-textiles, which he markets in the UK for environmental applications, such as peatland restoration and coastal realignment.


Ralph Melville Memorial Lectures: the next generation. Initial Announcement. 11th November 2015
Please make a note in your diaries/calendars of the AGM, Ralph Melville Memorial Lectures and annual reunion. This year we plan a different format, in which there will be presentations by three recent TAAF awardees and discussions on how to attract younger members. We hope to make the event interesting and enjoyable. Please see the events pages for initial details.

New publications of interest to TAA members: Indian forests and CA mechanisation
1.  SH Howard's famous, but now rare, book published in 1927 "THE FOREST POCKET BOOK is back in print!. This gem contains every bit of information any Indian forest officer may need at anytime in his/ her career. It is now beautifully published in paperback. The book covers artificial regeneration, important species, silvicultural matters, yield, diameter. volume, outturn tables, utilisation, engineering  Everything that he writes about holds true even today. Great news for nature enthusiasts and foresters. Priced at just Rs.495.00 (£5.00 plus postage). You are welcome to register your orders with Y Singh at Natraj Publishers, India.

2. The latest edition of Rural21 Journal is themed as "rural mechanization". The lead article (Rural mechanisation where are we now, and where should we be going?) by Brian Sims (TAA member) and Josef Kienzle, and focuses on CA mechanisation. There other two articles on mechanisation that refer to No-Till/ CA.


TAA Membership/Subscription Reminder: due 1st Aug - get a standing order!
Membership Subscriptions will be due on 1st August.Please ensure your payment is up to date. If at any time you cease to receive TAA email alerts then your subscription may be overdue. Setting up payment by Standing Order on 1st Aug each year ensures continuity and is much easier to manage for everyone. So, if you haven't done so already, please download and complete the Standing Order Form and present it to your bank. Thank you. Linda Blunt, Membership Secretary. 

New book on Conservation Agriculture and smallholder farmers (CABI)
A new book from CABI on Conservation Agriculture and smallholder farmers is now available for purchase. The CABI title is: 9781780644233 - Conservation Agriculture in Subsistence Farming, edited by C. Chan and J. Fantle-Lepczyk. £76.00 on-line discounted price. Click here to view and purchase the book.


'Agribusiness First Thursday of the Month meeting, 2nd July

The next 'Agribusiness First Thursday of the Month meeting will be Thursday 2nd July at the Bowd Inn, Bowd Cross Sidmouth, Devon EX10 0ND. This is a lovely venue, has good food and is easy to find. See you there between 12.30 and 1.00 pm for lunch. We already have a number of people coming, please let Roger Cozens know if you can attend the meeting and I can book the table. All are welcome. 


Sad losses this month
We are sorry to have to announce that Benney Warren passed away on 15 June after a battle with cancer. His funeral is on 30 June. Benny spent many years as a DfID stalwart and a member of TAA. We are also sad to report the sudden death of Roger Rowe on 21st June: although not himself a member of TAA, many of you will remember him from his days with HTS. 

Oil Palm residues for fertilisers: Cranfield seeking expertise for workshop Sep 2nd.

Cranfield University has just started a 12 month project in conjunction with the University of Malaysia and some private sector companies in KL to research into the improved use of oil palm residues as fertilisers. This will involve devising optimal ways of distributing these materials, taking account of soil suitability and transport costs. The Malaysian team is coming to an interim workshop at Cranfield on 2nd September. The Principal Investigator and WOSSAC invite TAA members with relevant experience to apply to join the workshop. Please contact Ian Baillie if you think that you qualify and would like to attend.


REMINDER: TAA Curry Club lunchtime talk by Farm Africa: 25th June
"The changing roles of civil society and the private sector in smallholder farmer development in East Africa. A talk by Nigel Harris, who has a strong background in finance and in relief and development. Before joining Farm Africa he was Chief of Staff at Save the Children. As a former investment banker, Nigel will present a novel and refreshing perspective on sustainable development and climate smart agriculture and on the models and alternative development approaches that he sees emerging. Book your place now, with Terry Wiles See Events pages for more details.

Listen to Podcast of Cambridge Food Security Seminar
If you wish to hear what Dr Bojana said at the May 14th seminar, please go to the Reports: UK Branches on the TAA website, cursor down to East Anglia Branch or Click here to view weblink >> to see the YouTube video kindly prepared by Emily at the Humanitarian Centre. The paper by Amir & Gottlieb will follow.

Reminder Hugh Bunting Memorial lecture 2015: Monday June 8th, Reading
Please join us at Reading University for the Annual Hugh Bunting Lecture and wine reception/ buffet supper. RSVP to: Mrs Linda McCarthy  tel: 0118 378 4549) as soon as possible if you plan to attend. The lecture will be presented by Trevor Nicholls, CEO of the Commonwealth Agriculture Bureau International (CABI), under the title: "Going the extra mile:  helping smallholder farmers obtain the knowledge they need to lose less and grow more". The rail strike is off, so please come! See Events for more details 

Top international development and humanitarian relief jobs delivered to 300,000+ international development professionals each week. Subscribe to The Jobs Newsletter. Members can also logon to the Vacancies listing in the TAA website.


Nepal Earthquake Appeal: thanks from LendwithCare

LendwithCare wishes to thank those who donated to their Nepal Earthquake Appeal. The response from both Lendwithcare lenders and CARE supporters has been incredibly heartwarming. Like all disasters of this scale, the road to recovery is long and there is still a lot more to do; so, if you haven't had the chance to donate yet and would like to, please visit the CARE website and make a donation today. 

If you would like to find out more about the appeal and how your money is now helping survivors of the earthquake, please visit the CARE website here.


Textile expertise needed by TAA member

John Ferguson, a TAA member and Founder of the East Africa Sisal Company Ltd, is looking for anyone who has experience of manufacturing geotextiles or manufacturing anything from sisal. If you can help, please email John at the Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation, High School Yards, Edinburgh, EH1 1LZ, UK. Or telephone 07790 102 359.


World Association of Soil and Water Conservation (WASWAC) journal

The official journal of WASWAC,  "International Soil and Water Conservation Research" (ISWCR) is now available on the ELSEVIER website, please visit the website and feel welcome submit your fresh manuscripts to the journal.


TAA Hugh Bunting Memorial Lecture & Reception, Reading University: 8.6.15 Reminder

Please join us at the prestigious lecture by Trevor Nicholls of CABI: "Going the extra mile helping smallholder farmers get the knowledge they need to lose less and grow more. Followed by a buffet and wine reception and a chance to interact. Please register soon: see the TAA Events pages for more details.


Securing Water for Food Launches 3rd Call for Innovations - GFAR

In March 2015, the Global Forum on Agricultural Research (GFAR) launched "Securing Water for Food: A Grand Challenge for Development to find for game-changing innovations to increase water availability and promote efficient use of water in agriculture. The 3rd Round of the Challenge will be accepting applications until May 22 at 5pm EST. Between 2000 and 2050, water demand is projected increase globally by 55%, as the worlds population grows from almost 7 billion to over 9 billion. More than 70% of global water use occurs in the food value chain, which will make making food and water security a pivotal issues in the coming years. The Challenge aims to source and accelerate innovations in the following areas: water efficiency and reuse, water capture and storage, and salinity and salt water intrusion. This newest round places an increased focus on cutting-edge, advanced technologies and business models, as well as innovations that engage women. Securing Water for Food seeks exceptional initiatives that have already demonstrated success during pilots that go beyond traditional development programs and conventional approaches.


Impact of Conservation Agriculture on human nutrition? Zambia
Paul Wagstaff, TAA Ireland Coordinator and Advisor to Concern Worldwide, notes that a large amount of research has been carried out on the impact of Conservation Agriculture on soil fertility, crop yields and environmental benefits but there appears to be little research so far on the impact of CA on human nutrition, particularly child and maternal nutrition. Concern Worldwide Zambia therefore commissioned Dr Anne-Marie Mayer to carry out an initial study on the potential nutritional impacts of CA amongst practicing CA farmers in Zambia. Click to read the Report . If any member knows of any other research on CA and human nutrition, particularly soil-plant-human nutrient flows and mycotoxins risks, please email Paul Wagstaff

Final Reminder: Food Security Seminar, Cambridge 14.5.15
'Assuring food security to 2050, including implications for climate change and biodiversity loss'. Two presentations will be made: (a) Dr Bojana Bazjelj (Cambridge University Engineering Dept) on managing the demand side and (b) Prof Amir Kassam (TAA member, University of Reading & UN Food & Agriculture Organisation - FAO) and Dr Gottleib Basch(University of Evora, Portugal) on ensuring sustainable agriculture from the supply side. Click here for the programme and abstracts or see the events pages. Some places left: To reserve a place at the seminar, click here.

Please help Nepal in its hour of need
Many TAA members will have worked in Nepal and have Nepali friends. You will be ware that a powerful 7.9 magnitude earthquake struck the Kathmandu Valley and surrounding areas, leaving utter devastation in its wake. More than 4,000 people are known to be dead and thousands of people have been injured, leaving many, including young children and babies, in a very desperate situation. LendwithCare encourages you to donate to the relief effort through DEC, the Disasters Emergency Committee (of which CARE is a member). DEC has launched an emergency appeal. Please consider making a donation today and help us reach families in desperate need with food, safe water and shelter.

For a limited time only from noon today all donations you make to our Nepal Earthquake Appeal will be DOUBLEDif you make your donation via The Big Give.


Agribusiness meeting date changed to 14th May
STOP PRESS we have changed the 'Agribusiness First Thursday of the month meeting' this month as it clashes with the BOAT meeting so it will be Thursday 14th May at the Bowd Inn, Bowd Cross Sidmouth, Devon EX10 0ND. This is a lovely venue, has good food and is easy to find. See you there between 12.30 and 1.00 pm for lunch. We already have a number of people coming, please let me know if you can attend the meeting and I can book the table. All are welcome.

An interesting suggestion from IUSS: Soil Lessons: Tea4Science

Students will use a simple method to measure decay of organic matter (plants) by making use of commercially available tea bags. The method consists of burying Lipton tea bags with Green tea and Rooibos tea, and digging them up after three months. The retrieved bags are dried, cleaned on the outside, and weighed on a balance with a minimum of two decimal places (preferably at least three). Thereafter, weight loss, decomposition rate, and stabilization index will be calculated using the collected data by the teacher or the students (if their age allows) using an Excel sheet. The students can take part in a global citizen science experiment by sending their data to the Tea Bag Index Project (in the period mid-2015 to 2018). The students will learn that (1) there is biological activity in the soils, (2) the intensity of this biological activity depends on environmental conditions, and (3) this biological activity has feedbacks that influence climate change. Click for more details.  


REMINDERS: Curry Club Event, 30th April & Cambridge Food Security Seminar 14th May
There are still places left at this months CC cotton talk to be presented by our colleague Graham Matthews, Emeritus Professor in Pest Management at Imperial College, which will trace the development of crop protection practice and public opinion in cotton from the early pesticide saga through to todays GM debate - etc etc strong as you like. This talk should not be missed!!! 
Also for the Food Security seminar in Cambridge. Visit the Events pages and sign up for these exciting events. 

News from LendwithCare: a Vietnamese Farmer
TAA continues to financially support LendwithCareThis article demonstrates the benefits derived by a farmer in Vietnam. Click here to see how Nga Vu Bich sought a new beginning for her and her family earlier this year when she requested a small loan from Lendwithcare lenders to help diversify her farming business and start raising buffaloes. Members will be interested to see how their contribution is helping.

Curry Club lunchtime talk "Genes, Jeans and Bollworms" 30th April
Reminder: the 5th Curry Club talk in London will be presented by Graham Matthews, on "Genes, Jeans and Bollworms: the changing world of cotton.The event will commence with coffee from 11.30, followed by the presentation and discussion, with curry lunch scheduled for 13.30. Details on main website 'Events'.

SACAN Services on Facebook
Mushtaq Ahmad Gill invites people to see the activities of SACAN Services in respect of capacity building of agriculture service providers under USDA, ICARDA, FAO, IUCN, IWMI and other donor assisted projects. Please visit their Facebook page and add your valuable comments and suggestions. South Asian Conservation Agriculture Network, SACAN Services - Pakistan.

Ag4Dev 24 Spring 2015 Edition is on the Website
Please visit "Publications" on the TAA website to view the special, bumper edition on the theme of "Soils. Members can download the full version, non-members can view the contents page.


Conservation Agriculture prospers in a war zone: news from Syria and Iraq

Colin Piggin and his team at ICARDA report that Field Crops Research has just published a paper from the ACIAR Iraq project. It presents comparative data for 6 years on the performance of the most important crops (wheat, barley, chickpea, lentil) in the Middle East and West Asia under old conventional and new conservation cropping systems. The reality of the extremely variable climate and crop performance in this Mediterranean region is well illustrated, with the important message clear that farmers are almost always better off using zero tillage and early sowing. The trial has helped give the technology credibility and, along with other project-led research, extension, training and ZT seeder fabrication, has encouraged quite widespread adoption and better productivity, profitability and sustainability of cropping across Syria and northern Iraq. The abstract is available on-line. If you need the full article, contact the TAA web manager. 


Interestingly, farmer contacts in Syria and Iraq say that ZT continues to expand because the elimination of plowing is very attractive with the high cost and limited availability of diesel and a desire to minimise dangerous road travel from villages to farms. A few collaborating ZT seeder manufacturers are still functioning and farmers can still buy, rent or borrow a seeder.


Agricultural Challenges in the Horn of Africa, TAA SW seminar
Please join this TAA SW Branch/ BOAT seminar on 7th May at Bicton College. Full details and programme now posted on the Events pages

Reminder: "Assuring Food Security to 2050". TAA E Anglia Seminar
The theme will be of 'Assuring food security to 2050, Two presentations (a) Dr Bojana Bazjelj (Cambridge University) on managing the demand side and Amir Kassam (TAA & Reading Univ) & Gottleib Basch (University of Evora, Portugal) on ensuring sustainable agriculture from the supply side. To reserve a place at the seminar, click here and Click here for the programme and abstracts. Full details on TAA Events pages. Please reserve your place! 

IUSS Stimulus Fund
As reported in the last Alert, the International Union for Soil Sience (IUSS) has established an annual Stimulus Fund, principally to support activities within the Commission and Working Groups, but where appropriate will support activities to assist the development of Soil Science in regions of the world where activities are limited through lack of resource. A number of proposals for funding have been received, which are being evaluated by the Executive Committee. We would like to remind potential applicants that all requests for funding must contain the overall budget, an itimized budget breakdown and details like own resources, contributions from participants to the possibly funded events, selection criteria for these participants etc. The next submission date for applications is 15 June. Applications should be sent For further questions you may consu lt our secretary.

Food security in Africa needs a tailored approach, new research

The blind adoption of solutions from other continents wont work for African agriculture. A one-size-fits-all approach to African agriculture development will not lead to growth, suggests new research published in Food Policy. The authors of the study say that instead of blindly adopting solutions that worked in other continents, governments and researchers should consider the context more closely and develop a tailored approach. The researchers suggest that developing new technologies to improve the output of tree and root crops that are predominant in Africa, and reduce the need for manual labor would be more effective than copying the approaches that worked in Asia and Latin America. Read the full story and hear more from the authors.


Norman Uphoff awarded the Olam Prize for Food Security

Norman Uphoff, of Cornell University, a leading light in the System of Rice Intensification (SRI) and a keen supporter of TAA, has recently been awarded the Olam prize for food security at the Climate-Smart Agriculture Conference in Montpellier. Cornell Universitys work on SRI was praised for proven, sustainable paradigm shifting methodologies impacting on more than 55 rice-producing countries. The TAA Executive Committee congratulates Norman on behalf of the Association members.


Many vacancies many jobs? Did you find a job? Let us know your feedback
Now that the TAA Vacancies webpages are actively being compiled and many jobs, assignments, internships are being posted every day, we would like to have feedback. If you have found the Vacancies pages useful or if they have given you a job opportunity, please send a brief email to, we would love to know. Tell us how we might improve the system too. To visit the Vacancies pages you will need your login and password. 
If you have a vacancy to advertise, email it to



Volunteer required by TAA for Finance Committee

The Finance Committee supports the TAA Treasurer in maintaining the associations accounts and budgets helping to ensure TAA remains focused on its key mandate areas. As one member of the committee has recently retired, we are seeking someone who is prepared to join the small team. This is an important job that can be done in your own time, mostly by email, but we would hope that you would be able to join some meetings of the TAAs Executive Committee meetings in London or Reading. If you would like to help to support the work of the TAA, please contact the Treasurer. 


Conference on Dairying Dilemmas & Developments, TAA SW Branch: Reminder

The TAA Southwest Branch invites you to their conference on DAIRYING DILEMMAS & DEVELOPMENTS. 10 am. Registration. Presentations: Chairman's Introduction & Overview of Trends & Issues in Dairying Globally(John Wibberley); Cows in Context with particular reference to East Africa (Richie Alford,);Practical Progress for Dairy Farmers (Duncan Forbes);Our Story in Dairying, Family Farm Viability & Succession (John & Sally Down); The Long View - experiences and strategies for staying in dairying (John Alvis); Forum: Richie Alford, John Alvis, Duncan Forbes, Mary Mead; 15.45Chairman's Summing Up. Registration £25 (includes tea/coffee & buffet lunch). Please book asap with: SW TAA Coordinator Tim Roberts. Click here for event details.


Farming Matters Soils for Life

Healthy soils contribute to resilient food production. Soil carbon is a key to healthy soils but, today we see the long-term consequences of agricultural management that has neglected soil carbon degraded soils, polluted waters, and unprecedented rates of hunger and malnutrition. There are good examples of agro-ecological practices that were developed by farmers who have long known the importance of soil carbon. Yet, in many cases these practices are being re-learnt, adapted and new practices are being developed to reconnect with the soil and rebuild soil carbon.
The March 2015 issue of Farming Matters (Vol 31, #1) presents the experiences of farmers who are working successfully, together with others, to improve the health of their soil and their lives. The stories on these pages show that healthy soils increase farmers autonomy and long-term productivity. And, healthy soils also contribute to climate change adaptation and mitigation. We see that farmers are making use of local resources to build soil carbon, and in the process they are reducing their dependence on external inputs. This issue makes a call to listen to farmers and learn from their experiences on the land. Preview | Download | Read


Global Soil Week from 19 to 23 April 2015

The Global Soil Week is a collective process and a knowledge platform for sustainable soil management and responsible land governance worldwide. This years Global Soil Week will highlight the importance of land and soil to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals in this the UN designated International Year of Soils. Read more


Assuring food security to 2050: TAA seminar in Cambridge, May 14th

Please make a note in your diaries for this fascinating seminar being organised by TAA East Anglia Branch and the Cambridge Humanitarian Centre, in collaboration with CambPlants, Cambridge Conservation Forum (CCF) and the University's Global Food Security strategic initiative (GFS). The theme will be Assuring food security to 2050, including implications for climate change and biodiversity loss. Presentations will be made by: Dr Bojana Bazjelj (Cambridge University Engineering Dept) on managing the demand side and by Prof Amir Kassam (University of Reading) and Dr Gottlieb Basch (University of Evora, Portugal) on ensuring sustainable agriculture from the supply side. All are welcome. Click here  for venue, reservation procedures. Read the full programme and abstracts. 


Corporate Members Representative: volunteer required by TAA

The TAA now has over 20 corporate members. The Executive Committee (ExCo) is seeking a volunteer who can act as representative for our corporate members and join ExCo, so that we can better respond to the needs and wishes of the corporate members and provide the services that they require. If any member would like to volunteer for this post, please respond to the TAA Chairman. Ideally, the person would be an employee of a corporate member organisation and be based within reasonable access of the London area. The Corporate Members Representative would have opportunities to contribute to the future development of TAA an enhance interactions with corporate members. We look forward to hearing from you!


Soil blog of the World Agroforestry Centre in Nairobi

The most recent blog entry by Keith Shepherd, a principal soil scientist, is about how the simplicity of light is revolutionising the measurement of soil health. Marking the International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies and the International Year of Soils, the Soil-Plant Spectral Diagnostics Laboratory of the World Agroforestry Centre in Nairobi, Kenya, explicates (sic) how the simplicity of light is used to revolutionise the measurement of soil health. Light technology in the visible, near infrared or mid-infrared ranges provides a spectrum that relates to many soil properties measured in the conventional way. The spectral signatures characterise the basic mineral and organic matter composition of the soil, which in turn determine a soils functional properties. This provides hard evidence for decision makers to prioritize on soil health or to formulate appropriate policy and action. Read more 

Please join Grass Roots Africa if you have practical knowledge of smallholder farming

Grass Roots Africa is a service of questions and answers, free of charge to smallholders in sub-Saharan Africa. It was set-up byBenny Dembitzer, a TAA member, and aims to become a Wikipedia of practical agricultural, a global pool of information, tips, and ideas to support the poorest of the poor primarily women farmers. Farmers will be able to access the service through their mobile telephones, in their own languages, and will reach a large reservoir of people with very direct personal and practical experience to address any problems they might have. In the long run, we see this is a collaborative effort of mutual help from farmer-to farmer. We are designing a great network across the three pilot countries (Malawi, Tanzania and Uganda). We need anyone who has relevant experience to register and help. Members of the TAA might find it interesting and fun to join in. More details are on the GRA website 


Seeking Conservation Agriculture Equipment Manufacturers and Suppliers

Concern Worldwide (TAA Corporate member) is looking for Conservation Agriculture Equipment Manufacturers and Suppliers who can supply the following to Juba, South Sudan: (i) Ox drawn Magoye Rippers, (ii) Magoye ripper tines/ chisel tips and wings for converting standard ox ploughs into rippers, (iii) Ox and donkey-drawn direct seeders, (iv) Jab planters, (v) Li Seeders (metal). Please contact: Paul.Wagstaff


TAA Agribusiness meeting, March 5th

The TAA 'Agribusiness First Thursday of the month meeting' will be on March 5th at the Bowd Inn, Bowd Cross, Sidmouth, Devon EX10 0ND. This is a lovely venue, has good food and is easy to find. See you there between 12.30 and 1.00 pm for lunch. We already have a number of people coming, please let Roger Cozens  know if you can attend the meeting so that tables can be booked. We will be discussing climate smart agriculture, gluten free grain production, blueberries and CA. All are welcome.


DfID launching an Africa-Britain-China Scoping Study: bidders required
The study (see DFID website) will provide information, analysis, evidence and options for the development of a programme to support Africa-Britain-China agricultural technology research collaborations. This programme will mobilise joint expertise in the development of new agricultural technology, innovation and knowledge exchange to support the sustainable intensification of agriculture in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), particularly for small-holder farmers. The research communities in Britain and China have distinct and complementary expertise in many areas of agricultural technology. Britain and China have the potential to be a source of evidence and lessons on sustainable intensification and agricultural technology development in Africa. There is now an opportunity to build on the potential demonstrated by these initiatives through a more coordinated UK-wide approach to address some of the challenges facing agricultural development in Africa. The objectives will be 1. Catalogue and synthesise lessons from existing Africa-Britain-China initiatives/relationships, and those completed in the past three years, in agricultural technology, innovation and knowledge exchange, including the underpinning science. 2. Assess the level of interest and willingness, political feasibility in SSA, Britain and China to support and finance a new programme for agricultural technology, innovation and knowledge exchange. 3. Develop a preferred option for the design of the new programme, including governance, administrative, funding arrangements and technical priorities/themes. The study will look at Political, Governance, Financial, Technical and Administrative issues and Private Sector Engagement.
Consortium bids for this work are actively encouraged. Bidders are also encouraged to think creatively about how the objectives of the study could be achieved. The deadline for applications is 18 March 2015. See more about the opportunity, including how to apply, on the DFID website.

Information requested for Northern Ghana

We have a request from Andres Sylvestre Begnis, an Argentine consultant, for information on N Ghana. He is travelling there to conduct a training course on certification schemes. He would be grateful if any members could share with him any information on the agribusiness sector: climate, soils, farmers characteristics, crops, conservation agriculture, etc. Anything that would help him to understand better the farmers situation, especially in the Tamale region. He is a strong proponent of CA. Please email Andres if you can help.


Have you looked at the TAA website recently? New services are available
Please take time to check the TAA website. There are several new services for members (some will require your login and password to access):
Vacancies: the list of job opportunities is regularly being updated by our enthusiastic 'Vacancies' team
CV Directory: you can search for skills or add/ update you own CV, at no charge
Career Summaries: why not add a couple of paragraphs about your work experience?
Land Husbandry News: we add latest news items to keep members up to date.
TAA Branches: we now have an Irish and a Pacific Branch, news is posted on the website.
Please use the website - it is there for your benefit. Web manager.

Reminder: "Curry Club" Lunchtime Meeting 26th Feb, TAA London
The 4th Curry Club talk will be presented by Keith Virgo, Chairman of TAA, on "50 Years of International Development: a personal view, with reflections on policies, trends and fads affecting rural development projectsThe event will commence with coffee from 11.30, followed by the presentation and discussion, with curry lunch scheduled for 13.30. Continental Hotel, 146 Strand, London WC2R 1JA.  Contact Terry Wiles to confirm attendance. All welcome.

CIRAD Videos, Agro-ecology and Sustainable Intensification of Annual Crops

The CIRAD team has been working on cropping systems design and ecological intensification has produced several documentary films based in Laos, Cambodia, Madagascar and Cameroon, in partnership with national institutions, AFD and Images découtes "Plantez couvert 1; "Plantez couvert 2 dealing with CA and sustainable farming. These can be ordered from Denis Victot or CIRAD (Pascale and Christine); Here, below is a list of links to access different clips extracted from "Farming to sustain Cambodias Future can be viewed online The trailer of "Plantez couvert 1",  and "Rice potential in Xieng Khouang province". These videos could be helpful for stakeholders engaged in CA development and education. Contact Stephane BOULAKIA for more details.


Visit the University of Reading Met Dept before the Hugh Bunting Lecture
We have a double bill this year, with a visit to the Meteorology Department before the Lecture. See the Events pages for details.. The day will conclude with a wine reception and buffet supper. Members and friends welcome. Please join us for this worthwhile event. The date: 8th June 2015

PlantSearch up-datesc
The Botanic Gardens Conservation Initiative (BGCI) PlantSearch database is the only global database of living plant, seed and tissue collections currently containing over 1,200,000 collection records provided by over 1,000 institutions. The database connects living collections, aiding conservation, research and education efforts on plant species; particularly those listed as threatened, rare or with medicinal properties. The BGCI team, working in collaboration with the international organisation CABI, has recently updated the database linking it to CABIs Invasive Species Compendium (ISC). New features on the website include links to datasheets (where applicable) within the ISC providing information on plant pests and diseases. These datasheets will help to support the identification and management of pest problems in plant collections. Other updates include new classification and synonymy information for species included in the database and new links to a wide range of other species-based datasets. Kew (a Corporate member of TAA) is closely involved. Find out more.

TAA Agribusiness Group monthly get together, February

The 'Agribusiness First Thursday of the month meeting' will be February 5th at the Bowd Inn, Bowd Cross Sidmouth, Devon EX10 0ND. This is a lovely venue, has good food and is easy to find. See you there between 12.30 and 1.00 pm for lunch. We already have a number of people coming, please let me know if you can attend the meeting and I can book the table. We will be discussing climate smart agriculture and CA. All are welcome. Contact Roger for more details and bookings


Azerbaijan aims to grow more grain sustainably -- based on Conservation Agriculture
Another success story, this time an FTPP project from Azerbaijan is now on the website: "GCP/RER/030/TUR: Conservation Agriculture and Resource Conserving Technologies for Irrigated Areas in Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan



Seeking Copy of TAA Newsletter for December 1991 - can you help?

We have a longstanding request from someone in the USA for a copy of an article in the December 1991 Newsletter. If any member has a copy and can scan the article, please send to the Web Manager. Alternatively, send a photocopy by post (email me if you do not have the address). The article is: "Bandwagons I have known, by Simmonds, Norman W, December 1991, Page Numbers: 7-10.


Vacancies: jobs, consultancies, internships
We have reactivated the TAA Vacancies pages. We are grateful to members Alan Stapleton, Bookie Ezeomah and Michael Fitzpatrick, who have volunteered to act as Vacancy Managers. If any members, corporate members or others have suitable vacancies for jobs, consultancies or internships that they would like to be considered for posting on the TAA website, please email the Vacancy Managers. We hope to make this an active service for members. You will need your membership number and password to log in. If you do not yet have a password, please contact the membership secretary.

Grateful Thanks from LendwithCare
A message from Tracey Horner, Head of LendwithCare, CARE International UK. TAA is a supporter of this innovative micro-financing enterprise, read more about the scheme and see how TAA's contribution is helping. 
"2014 was an incredibly rewarding year for our small team. Due to our growing community of Lenders we were able to expand to two new countries and welcomed the Microfinance Institutions MACDI in Vietnam and the Microloan Foundation Malawi as new partners. We hit the milestone of £5 million loaned to over 14,000 entrepreneurs, and the year was concluded with the sale of £122,000 of gift vouchers - double last year's total.....".

HTS Anniversary Reunion 2015

AMENDED. Many TAA members will have worked with Hunting Technical Services/ HTSPE. Ownership of the company has evolved over recent years and it is now part of DAI, the big American development consultancy. DAI HTSPE is a corporate member of TAA

As a result of all the changes, the 60th anniversary was not celebrated in 2013. However, the James Morton and Brian Kerr are now hoping to plan an informal reunion in 2015, possibly in August or September. If you have 'sailed under the HTS flag' and would be interested in attending a reunion, please contact James Morton, giving your preferred dates and numbers likely to attend. This will help him with planning. Please forward this to any friends who had HTS links.


Urgent Reminder: please complete our survey on Ag for Dev by 31st December

Why not take advantage of the holiday season to complete the survey of members views of our Agriculture for Development journal?  We need your feedback to help us improve the journal and better match the content to the needs of members. It is very quick to undertake, please click here to access the survey form . You will need your membership number and login. The survey closes on 31stDecember, so please do respond as soon as possible.


Welcome in the New Year with two new TAA Branches: Ireland and the Pacific

We are delighted to welcomePaul Wagstaff, who has agreed to establish a TAA Irish branch, which will cover members interests in Eire and Ulster. Paul is with Concern Worldwide, where he is Agriculture Advisor in their Social and Economic Development Unit. He has already received positive interest from people in Ireland who are involved with international development. Paul can be contacted at

Dr Ravi Joshi, who is based in Fiji, has kindly offered to set up a TAA Pacific Branch, which initially will probably cover Fiji, Solomons and PNG. Ravi is a specialist in crop protection, especially in rice, and is Adjunct Professor at the University of South Pacific and Visiting Professor of Biology,University of the Philippines (Baguio). Ravi can be contacted at

The full list of branches can be viewed on our website


TAA 2014 Honours Awarded at the AGM, December 10th

Development Agriculturist of the Year was awarded to Professor John Witcombe for a lifetime of work developing novel strategies for breeding crop varieties; Young Development Agriculturist of the Year to Richard Bliault, in recognition of extension work in Tanzania; TAA Award of Merit to two members: John Russell for contributions to the Tropical Agriculture Association and TAAF and as a Trustee of the Bicton Overseas Agricultural Trust (BOAT); and to Antony Ellman for his contribution to TAAF and for 20 years promoting Artemisia cultivation by small farmers, for the extraction of the antimalarial drug artemisinin. For the full citations click here.

We rely on members to recommend people for Honours each year, please refer to the website for the criteria and procedures. 



Hugh Bunting Memorial Lecture 2015: Monday June 8th, Reading
CORRECTION. Please note that we erroneously stated that the HBML date was 10th June. The CORRECT DATE IS MONDAY 8th JUNE. Please amend your diaries. The 10th Hugh Bunting Memorial Lecture will be presented byTrevor Nicholls, Chief Executive Officer, CABI, Wallingford, UK. His topic will be "Going the extra mile helping smallholder farmers get the knowledge they need to lose less and grow more".  This prestigious TAA event also gives members and friends a chance to meet others at the post-lecture wine reception. Full details for booking are given in the Events Pages.

Going the extra mile helping smallholder farmers get the knowledge they need to lose less and grow more
Please make a note in your diaries of the 10th Hugh Bunting Memorial Lecture, Monday 8th June 2015, to be presented byTrevor Nicholls, Chief Executive Officer, CABI, Wallingford, UK. This is a prestigious event in the TAA calendar and a chance to meet others at the post-lecture wine reception. Full details for booking are given in the Events Pages.

Journal of Soil & Water Conservation
The Journal of Soil and Water Conservation is providing a free access to a sample of the journal with the November/December 2014 issue. It has several excellent articles on No-Till and carbon. You may want to consider a subscription. You can access the free issue at the link

DFID seeks stories by people who were involved on British Aid projects in Nepal
2016 represents 200 years of diplomatic relations between the UK and Nepal. This will be celebrated in Kathmandu by the Embassy, DFID, the British Council and the Ministry of Defence. DFID is keen to tell the story of the development relationships between UK and Nepal over the last 50 years, and to create an exhibition of stories and photos by those who have been involved in British Aid projects and what they have achieved. Because institutional memory is limited, they need help in doing this. DFID Nepal would like to hear from people who have worked in or with Nepal, and who feel they have a story they would like to share about a project they worked on. These will be compiled to tell the story of our involvement in agriculture, infrastructure, health, forestry, etc. DFID Nepal will be trying to get similar reflections from Nepali staff, Government and those who implemented projects. DFID Nepal would be interested not only to hear about what changes you made to Nepal, but also how being in Nepal might have changed you. If you have contacts from your days in Nepal who might also have stories to tell, or have photos of your time in Nepal, please also get in contact.

Please contact Mike McCarthy at the DFID Alumni Association if you can contribute.


UK Launch of Global Nutrition Report - TAA is seeking short report by a member

The "Global Nutrition Report" will be launched at the APPG, London, on December 2nd - see events pages. If any TAA member is attending, we would like to receive a short write-up on this important event for inclusion in our 'agriculture for development' journal. Indeed, the editor is always pleased to receive articles on subjects of interest to members. Do please send any report/ articles to our Coordinating Editor .


New tool for small farmers practicing CA in Kenya
See the new, locally made hand tool for planting seed and fertiliser, including a video and downloadable designs on the TAA Land Husbandry pages.


Land Policy in Africa - Future Agricultures reports
Visit the land Husbandry News Release pages to access the articles published by Agriculture Futures


Agribusiness Group Meetings: December and January

The 'Agribusiness First Thursday of the month meeting' for our special Christmas Agribusiness session will be December 4th at the Bowd Inn, Bowd Cross Sidmouth, Devon EX10 0ND. This is a lovely venue, has good food and is easy to find. See you there between 12.30 and 1.00 pm for lunch. We already have a number of people coming, please let me know if you can attend the December meeting and we can book the table. We will be discussing the November Agribusiness meeting that was held in London with L&SE Group, climate smart agriculture and CA. All are welcome.

The first Thursday of January 2015 is1stof Jan! So we will not hold that meeting but we have the SW TAA AGM on the 8thJanuary, so we so will incorporate our agribusiness element at that time. For bookings, contact Roger Cozens.


Supply Chain Information - article sought by member
Prior to 2001 there was an article printed in our TAA journal about the forensic work undertaken from the supply chain information available to determine how a UK customer suffered tooth damage from a small piece of glass in a packet of sun dried raisins/sultanas from Turkey. Eventually the glass shard was traced to a US military aircraft canopy that was broken for an ejection from the plane over Turkey. It is a classic example of good records providing an audit back to source for an event that should be preventable. For my current work I would like to obtain a copy of that record, preferably in electronic format, in order to demonstrate how good record keeping should always lead back to cause and effect. If any members have a copy of the article, please contact John Littleford.
[I remember the article, may have derived from a BBC Radio 4 item or in The Times. Web Manager].

Urban agriculture is on the rise- what does this mean for our resource base?

Food production globally is taking on an increasingly urban flavour, according to a new study that finds 456 million hectaresan area about the size of the European Unionis under cultivation in and around the worlds cities, challenging the rural orientation of most agriculture research and development work. Read more on this CGIAR study


The Groundnut Scheme: help needed for a film
We have had a request from someone working with a TV production company, Gig House Films, on a documentary about the Tanzanian Groundnut Scheme, which was the subject of his post-graduate dissertation at Oxford. He is interested in interviewing anyone who might have been involved in the Scheme (and, realistically, given the time elapsed, anyone whose parents might have been involved), with a view to using their recollections in the documentary. Can any TAA member help him to track down relevant people for interviewing. If you can help please contact Charles Scott.

Shuttleworth College seeks African course development help from TAA members

Shuttleworth College together with the Marshal Papworth Trust (through The East of England Agricultural Society) has put on courses (mostly at Further Education Level 3) for sub-Saharan African students for the last 4 years. The college is seeking help in developing these courses. They see it as important to develop courses to meet real needs and keep them up-to-date. If any TAA member would like to help, please contact Michael Johnston.  


Old agricultural science text books: good home needed

A member has available several text books from his university days, for which he is looking for a good home. They include Hartley on 'Oil Palm'; Child on 'Coconuts'; Harler on 'Tea'; Priestly, Scott & Harrison 'An Introduction to Botany' and others others. They date from the 1950s and1960s. He is reluctant to bin them - perhaps they have some value to students in the developing world? If any TAA member knows an organisation that could make use of them, please contact Mike Taylor. He can provide a full list on demand.


December 5th 2014 is World Soil Day, 2015 is the International Year of Soils

The upcoming 2015 International Year of Soils (IYS) and World Soil Day, on December 5th of this year will create international awareness for the role that soil plays in the global ecosystem, agriculture outputs, and community development. The need for policies that protect soil, investment in sound soil management, and the connection of soil to larger international development goals will also be served by IYS and World Soil Day.

Read more  


Ebola Risks, DFID Advisory Note

DFID has issued a message on the risks of ebola from the Chief Scientific Advisor, Chris Whitty, who is Professor of Public and International Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Click here to read the text.


Early history of TAA - are we missing an important anniversary?

The Executive Committee is trying to find out about the early history of the TAA, since its evolution from the old ICTA association. We believe that TAA was formalised in the late 1970s. Certainly it was registered as a Charity in 1989. We have appointed a History Committee headed by Jim Watson and supported by David Betts, Roger Smith, Harry Franks and Elizabeth. Jim will present the findings of the committee at this years AGM and the text will be included in the Spring ag4dev. Meanwhile, we have posted some historical anecdotes under the REFLECTIONS pages on the website, which serve to whet the historical appetites. http://. Please send any snippets of the early days to Jim. And come to the AGM, Ralph Melville Memorial Lecture and Reunion at the Royal Over-seas League in London on December 10th to find out!


SPAM WARNING: delete yellow 'Google Docs' message
At least five TAA members have received SPAM messages on their personal in boxes, purporting to be from "Google Documents", with a yellow filled box and link to a dubious source. DO NOT REPLY but delete immediately. One member, who opened it, had his email contacts deleted. Back-up your contacts now. Do not open the SPAM link. [Web Manager]

Revisit Soils : Go back to a future where plants call up soil microbes
Want to slash your nitrogen and phosphorus bills? Go back to a future where plants call up soil microbes to live and prosper in productive harmony. Christine Jones of Best Environmental Technology explains. Watch the short video. It ties-in with the basic concepts of Conservation Agriculture and soil health. Contact Christine Jones

Is the IPCCs Fifth Assessment Report Telling Us Anything New About Climate Change and Food Security?
This Power-point presentation, by TAA member Philip Thornton, analyses the IPCC's fifth assessment report in terms of its content regarding climate change and food security. Specifically, it asks what new information regarding climate change impacts has emerged; it outlines lessons on food security and adaptation for the IPCC's Working Group II (WG2); and highlights major research gaps around climate variability, agricultural systems and diets. Published by the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), Copenhagen, Denmark (2014) 39 pp. The presentation is free todownload.


Global Development Course
If you want to learn about the real challenges that face the global South, you may care to take part- or perhaps encourage someone you know to do so - in the next Global Development Course that starts on November 3rd to 15th 2014, at University of London Union, Malet Street, London.  This two-week course (PARTIME) consists of 12 modules of two hours each, held in the early evenings and on the two Saturdays. Each module explores one key issue; water and agriculture, global finance, health, education, migration, human rights, micro-finance, the environment and others.The course is modestly priced to enable anyone interested to take part. It is an ideal introduction to further study or a career change. You can book here or simply find out more by email:

Dynamic Landscapes, dynamic forum

Anyone remember the Land Systems Approach of the 1970s, promoted by LRD and others? Its starting to happen again! As populations grow and demand for land intensifies, policymakers, practitioners and scientists increasingly recognize that they must adopt integrated approaches if they are to achieve agricultural sustainability, climate change solutions and low-emissions development. People are working together across sectors, and success stories from landscapes around the world are emerging. The Global Landscapes Forum 2014 will propel this movement forward by bringing together 1500 participants from across disciplines, to exchange the facts, to identify the problems, share the stories and explore future solutions. Enter a dragons den, play with data tools in the Landscapes Laboratory, meet like-minded problem-solvers in thematic pavilions and realize that this years Forum will be as dynamic as a landscape. Read more. Sessions will be announced early October, click herefor more detail.


UK Lab Enters Soil Health Test Market

Calling it a "health check for your soil", the UK's largest independent soil testing firm, NRM Laboratories, has introduced the UK's first Soil Health test. The analysis features Solvita as the cornerstone biology test for CO2 evolution. According to the NRM press release "This package has been created to bridge the gap between standard physical/ chemical soil analysis and comprehensive microbial analysis at the same time providing vital information on how the soil components are interacting. Read more


Agribusiness Group meeting, Sidmouth 2/10/14
Agribusiness first Thursday of the month meeting (2ndOctober 2014) will be the Bowd Inn, Bowd Cross Sidmouth, Devon EX10 0ND. This is a lovely venue, has good food and is easy to find, see you there between 12 noon and 1pm for lunch. The Group is hoping to tie up with the TAA London & SE Group for a meeting in London later in the year.

Tending a Schoolyard Garden: new teaching book
This book, by Nyla Coelho, is about introducing children to the fine art of growing and keeping a garden.Although written with the teacher in mind, anyone wanting to engage children in this activity will find it useful. The book is accompanied by a resource CD packed with books, DIY manuals, videos, academic subject linkages, workbooks and much more. Its focus is India but should have applications elsewhere. Developing good horticulture practice by children to improve nutrition will rub-off on their parents. To obtain a copy, send an email  or call +91 831 2460991. 

Much Ado About Mutton: new book by TAA member
Bob Kennards book tells the fascinating, yet previously untold, story of mutton its impact on our culture, history and landscape; the farming of it past and present; as well as recipes and a suppliers directory. It also charts muttons decline in recent decades and its current revival. The foreword was written by HRH the Prince of Wales. Sheila Dillon of the BBC Radio 4 Food Programme, stated that "Mutton is one of Britain's glories - crazily neglected. This is the book to bring that neglect to an end. BBC Radio 4s Food Programme devotes a whole edition to it on 5th October. Signed copies are available, or it is available from all good booksellers. For more info, contact Bob Kennard.

Rothamsted Visit: 30/9/14
A full programme has now been agreed for this exciting visit. A few places are still available. Please visit Events pages for how to book.

"Farming Matters" Newsletter keeps you in touch
Farmers in Odisha (Orissa), India, wanted to conserve their land for their own benefit and they have shown how they were able to do it. This grassroots effort in Indian tribal lands shows that there are alternatives to private investment projects, and which need to be recognised, supported and promoted for the benefit of marginalised farming communities. Since 1984, "Farming Matters" has shared knowledge about family farming and small-scale agriculture. Read more or click here to sign-up for the Farming Matters newsletter.

Career Summary: new section on TAA website
We have created a "Career Summary" section on the website. This enables members to add a summary of their career highlights, thereby providing examples of the range of expertise available within the membership, offering another source for people seeking advice or information.  The format is reasonably open but there is a limit of 1,000 words. Members are invited to add notes on their careers - one can always edit the text at a later date. Just click here to open the pages and then click here to login. Give it a try!

Converted to CA in Gujarat, by Amir Kassem!
Read about a visit by Amir to Gujarat on this blog by Yogesh Bhatt, the Agriculture Programme Specialist at the Aga Khan Rural Support Programme (India). As Amir says "I feel very humbled indeed". Amir is a long-time member of TAA and heads our Land Husbandry Group.

Correction to New Event alert
Apologies for an error loading the new Event on 9th Dec "Congress on adapting food production to a changing climate", which seemed to disrupt the Events pages. I have deleted the offending event, all pages are now displayed correctly.  I will re-enter the details of the Congress later.
Web Manager

NOTE the date is 16th October (not September as erroneously given in the previous alert)
A comprehensive list of speakers has been signed up for this joint seminar arranged by TAA SW Group and the Royal Agriculture University, Cirencester. For more details of speakers and booking procedures, visit the TAA Events page.

On Trial - Agricultural Biotechnology in Africa: Chatham House Report

Increasing agricultural productivity and adapting farming to climate change are central to Africas development prospects. There are important opportunities to enhance yields and increase resilience through the adoption of improved crop varieties. In some cases, biotechnology, and in particular genetic modification (GM), offer advantages over conventional plant-breeding approaches. Accordingly, there are various projects under way to develop new GM varieties for African farmers, ranging from drought-resistant maize to varieties of cassava, banana, sorghum, cowpea and sweet potato with resistance to pests and disease. Read more in this Chatham House research report by Rob Bailey, Robin Willoughby and David Grzywacz.


Black, Clean and Green: Flexidigester for waste processing
John Mullett, a TAA member from the Cambridge area, has developed a cheap and simple system for treating waste water and organic materials at village level. It produces biogas for cooking (saving wood fuel and reducing smoke), and nutrient-rich water for supplementary irrigation, as well as reducing greenhouse gas emissions and the need for smelly pit latrines. All for £1,500 delivered complete in a box! Please look at the video for more details or contact John.

Next Agribusiness meet 2nd October
Following a good meeting on Sept 4th, the next "first Thursday" meeting will be at be the Bowd Inn, Bowd Cross, Sidmouth, Devon EX10 0ND on Thursday 2nd October. Contact Roger Cozens for more information.

Tillage-Live 2014 field demonstrations, 10th September
The field demonstrations "Tillage-Live 2014" will take place on Wednesday 10 September, 8am-3pm at Down Ampney Airfield, Gloucestershire GL7 5PL (off the A419 between Swindon and Cirencester), organised by the Agricultural Engineers Association. There are several no-till drills being demonstrated, plus useful static stands. TAA members can meet at the Harper Adams stand at 11.00 am. Contact Ian Lane if you are attending.

Reminder: visit to Rothamsted Research, Harpenden, 30/09/14

Please sign up for this exciting opportunity to visit the world-renowned agricultural research centre. Hosted by Dr. Simon Vaughan, head of the International Programmes, with presentations by experts and tours of the famous long-term experimental plots and the state-of-the-art glasshouse and laboratory facilities. Read more at the Events page and reserve your place as soon as possible with Terry Wiles


Wello Wheel is a simple device to reduce women's work load carrying water
Visit the Wellowheel and Waterwheel websites for short video and description.

Join the Grassroots Africa Panel to share your expertise

GRASSROOTS AFRICA is setting up panels of people with the relevant expertise to help farmers in sub-Saharan Africa with day- to -day practical tips and suggestions. They have approximately 60 people from around the world with the relevant practical experience. The service is meant to be a bit like a global version of the BBC GARDENERS' QUESTION TIME and the primary focus is on staple crops. The project has started to provide services to farmers in Malawi, Tanzania and Uganda. If you are interested, please visit Grassroots Africa or contact Director Benny Dembitzer, a member of the TAA. You can also click on the TAA Expertise pages to read more.


Checking your membership payments
Thank you to all members who paid their annual TAA membership subscriptions in August by 'Standing Order' , as well as those of you who had already paid during the year. We do hope that you remain satisfied with the many improvements that TAA membership now offers, including these alerts.

Please note that if you no longer receive these alerts then it is likely to be that your membership has expired. In which case, please contact the membership secretary to arrange membership renewal.

How much of the world's cropland is actually used to grow food? Steps to feeding 9 billion

Read the article in National Geographic by Brad Plumer, including his fascinating world map that shows the proportion of the world's crops that are grown for direct human consumption versus all the crops that are grown for animal feed or biofuels.


Simple Conservation Cartoon Book for training, from FAO
You can download the FAO Cartoon Book 'Exchanging Experience with Conservation Agriculture: Towards Climate Resilience' by Li Hongwen, Xie Mei, He Jin and Jiang Heping, click here

Let them eat Iguana: Nicaragua's answer to drought

Nicaraguans have been advised by their government to start breeding iguanas for food after one of the worst droughts in decades devastated harvests and left thousands of cattle dying in parched fields. Faced with growing food shortages, people have been encouraged to catch iguanas,  which can grow to up to 6ft long,  and farm them. Is this a new line of livestock enterprise?  Read more from 'The Times'.


Precision Agriculture and Drones

Precision agriculture, and crop scouting in particular, is about to take a big step forward with the use of drone technology. Countless crop management improvements will be developed once the USA FAA publishes regulations for commercial use of drones in 2015. Read more.


Top 5 'need-to-knows' about Conservation Agriculture
Facing climate change and nine billion mouths to feed by 2050, Conservation Agriculture is key to the future of food security. Read more. See also other recent news releases from our Land Husbandry Group.

Reminder: first London 'Curry Club Lunchtime Meeting 29th August
Strand Continental Hotel, 146 Strand, London WC2R 1JA. 11.30 29th August. Informal gathering, with talk by Dr. Jim Waller on"Globalisation - a game of consequences". More details under EventsClick here for location details >>Contact Terry Wiles to confirm attendance. All welcome.

CA Update Link, Cornell University

The "In the Spotlight webpages Cornell provides links to some of the latest Conservation Agriculture (CA) research papers. These offer search facilities to various research databases that contain good CA papers. New papers will be added every month.Peter Hobbs, Cornell University. See Land Husbandry News.


Agribusiness Group meeting at Honiton Show

Hope to see you at the "first Thursday of the month Agribusiness meeting this week. We will be at the NFU stand at the Honiton Show on 7th August, the stand will be in its normal place on (Ave A25). Roger Cozens will be there from 12.30.


TAA London Curry Club Talks

The London & SE Group is introducing a programme of lunchtime talks on the last Friday of alternate months, commencing 29th August 2014. These gatherings will provide opportunities for informal discussion, focused around a talk by a TAA member or invited guest speaker, followed by a curry lunch at a TAA rate of £10-12. The events will take place at the Strand Continental Hotel, 143 Strand, London WC2R 1JA. This was formerly the India Club, initiated by the first Indian High Commissioner to London. The venue, which is well located, has character, the food is authentic and the price is right! On August 29th, Dr Jim Waller will give a talk entitled: "Globalisation -a game of consequences. All are welcome. Please contact Terry Wiles (Convenor) in advance if you wish to attend.


Deadline for Nominations of TAA Honours
The deadline for nominations of candidates for the 2014 honours is the end of July. We invite nominations for any of the three honours 'TAA Merit Awards', 'Development Agriculturalist of the Year', 'Young Development Agriculturalist of the Year'.
Each nomination should include the name of the proposer and seconder (both should be TAA members or employees of Corporate Members) and a short statement of the ways in which the nominee meets the criteria for the award for which he or she is being nominated. Nominees for Development Agriculturalist and Young Development Agriculturalist of the Year do not have to be members of TAA. For more details, visit the TAA website, and go to Honours and AwardsClick here to see previous recipients of awards. Further information from

GFAR invites your Comments on the Draft CGIAR Capacity Development Guidelines
The CGIAR has embarked on establishing guidelines on capacity development (CapDev). In line with the renewed emphasis on enhanced partnerships within the CGIAR Research Programs and the priorities and work of the CGIAR Centers, the CapDev Working Group is seeking views of a range of organizations and resource persons on the draft document. The CapDev Conference of Partners will then review the revised draft document in early September. Clearly, the paper will have importance within the ongoing CGIAR Reform to frame the fundamental, cross-cutting role of capacity development in support of agricultural innovation and research for development for smallholder farmers.

GFAR has been asked to help obtain feedback on the draft guidelines This is an opportunity to influence the paper and process with far reaching consequences for agricultural research at global, regional and national level. Please click on the link to the draft The document is not long. TAA members are invited to review it and send comments to by 6 August 2014.


New TAA Directory of CVs now functioning!
The new directory is now waiting for members to upload their CVs. Why not make yourself known to the world? Just click here to see the list of members who have already signed up, including on-line search facilities and CVs downloadable in html or WORD. This is now a free service, allowing members to build, edit and update their CVs. You will need your membership number and password to enter your details. Potential employers will have open access to the information. The next step will be to develop a system to enable members to upload their Career Summaries. This is all part of the objective to make the vast expertise of the membership available to benefit the wider rural development objectives of the Association. 
If you have suggestions for improvements, please email the Web Manager.

TAA Subscription Reminder
The TAA subscription year starts on 1st August. Most members make payments by Standing Order, which means that no effort is needed to ensure that your membership is kept up to date.  If you do not yet pay by Standing Order and would like to do so, then this is a good time to make the change - and it would be much appreciated. Please download and complete the Standing Order Form and forward to your bank.  

If you stop receiving these updates it is likely that your membership has expired! Any further concerns please contact

International Development training programme

GRM International is very pleased to offer the Bangkok International Development Program from the 18 29 August, consisting of 16 courses. 

10% discount offered to TAA members


Research on Drivers of Food Choice

DFID and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation are seeking applications to manage a competitive small grants programme that will deliver a deeper understanding of the drivers of food choice among the poor in developing countries. It is expected that one organization will provide services related to designing and competitively tendering a research call, and awarding and managing up to 15 small research grants to sub-grant recipients. The sub-grantees will conduct quantitative or qualitative research studies that will contribute to improved knowledge of food choices, thereby enhancing the ability of national programs and policies to influence consumer behaviours and improve nutrition outcomes, particularly among the poor in developing countries. Read more on the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation website. [information kindly provided by Alex Gwyther of TAA Corporate member UKCDS.


APPG: 'Missing Food' Report (July 2014)

Parliamentarians call for urgent efforts to reduce food waste. In the Parliamentary Report entitled, Missing Food, Parliamentarians of the APPG on Agriculture and Food for Development call on all governments and donors urgently to scale up and better coordinate efforts to reduce post-harvest losses and food waste. Read more.


Deteriorating soil quality is the most important issue facing the world .....

A New Zealand scientist says deteriorating soil quality is the most important issue facing the world today. Dr John Baker says urgent action is needed, and he is set to offer a stern warning at a conference in the US. With 90% of our food growing in arable soil, Dr Baker says there's only 4% of it actually left on the world's surface. Watch the video.


Next Agribusiness meet 7th August, Honiton Show

There was a good turnout for the July meeting. The next Agribusiness meeting will be on 7th August at the Honiton Show at 12 noon at the NFU tent. Contact Roger Cozens for more information. Note that the Agribusiness Group is a general/national group, not part of the South West TAA Regional Group. The Agribusiness Group just happens to meet in the southwest. 


New Coordinator for Overseas Branches and UK Regional Groups
We welcome Fiona Johnson as a co-opted member of the Executive Committee. She has volunteered to take on responsibility for a new post of Coordinator for Overseas Branches and UK Regional Groups. The aim is that she should set up and head a Regional & Overseas Committee (ROC), comprising our existing Overseas Branch Organisers (Bruce Lauckner, Caribbean; Sanjeev, India; Wyn Ellis, SE Asia) and UK Regional Convenors (Tim Roberts, SW Group; John Gowing, Scottish Borders & NE England Group; Terry Wiles, London & SE Group; Keith Virgo, E Anglia Group). We would also hope that she and the ROC will be able to encourage new branches and groups. Please contact Fiona if you have suggestions.

New Book: Agro-Ecological Intensification of Agricultural Systems in the African Highlands
Agro-Ecological Intensification of Agricultural Systems in the African Highlands. By B Vanlauwe, P Van Asten, G Blomme. 2014, Earthscan. ISBN: 978-0-415-53273-0. Hard Cover 314 pages. Price £85. With growing population and food security risks, there is an urgent need to increase sustainable agricultural productivity in sub-Saharan Africa. This book addresses the issue of agricultural intensification in the humid highland areas of Africa. In addition to introductory and synthesis chapters, the book focuses on four themes: system components required for agricultural intensification; the integration of components at the system level; drivers for adoption of technologies towards intensification; and the dissemination of complex knowledge. It provides case studies of improved crop and soil management for staple crops such as cassava and bananas, as well as examples of how the livelihoods of rural people can be improved.

Agribusiness Group Monthly Pub Meeting 2nd July
Agribusiness first Thursday of the month meeting (3rdJuly 2014) will be the Bowd Inn, Bowd Cross Sidmouth, Devon EX10 0ND. This is a lovely venue, has good food and is easy to find, see you there between 12 noon and 1pm for lunch. Click for more details.

David Bergvinson announced as next Director General of ICRISAT

The Governing Board of ICRISAT is pleased to announce the appointment of Dr David Bergvinson as the next Director General of ICRISAT for a five-year term, effective 1 January, 2015. He will replace the current Director General, Dr William D Dar who has served the Institute with admiration and distinction since 1999. Dr Bergvinson is currently with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in Seattle, USA, as Senior Program Officer, Crop Value Chains and Digital Design for Agriculture Development. In this role, he has accelerated the development and delivery of farmer- preferred products and services for staple crops in the developing world through formulating strategies, forging partnerships and applying digital technologies. He currently represents the Foundation on the CGIAR Fund Council.


2014 Hugh Bunting Memorial Lecture : powerpoint & text
The text by Wyn Ellis on "Can voluntary sustainability standards incentivise smallholder adoption? - The case of rice" is expected to be published in the next (summer) edition of ag4dev. Meantime, click here to read the powerpoint presentation.

New system planned for Directory of CVs
The TAA has provided a Directory of CVs since the mid-1980s, initially as hard copy. In the 1990s we introduced an on-line version, which was re-vamped in 2004 and was linked to the new TAA website in 2011.  The Directory has provided valuable links for consultant members, who pay a registration fee, and potential employers. However, numbers registering have declined in recent years. Moreover, it has relied on TAA engaging someone to convert the CVs to 'html' format and upload them to the website, as well as paying annual domain and hosting fees. We are therefore planning to transfer the Directory fully into the main TAA website, under 'Expertise', but based on members entering their own CV detail into an on-line proforma. As we will be able to abandon the old Directory domain and avoid uploading charges, the new system will be free to members. Being entered in 'html' format should continue to enable the Google search engines to pick up CV details and post them on the internet. We hope to have the new system functioning by August. Meantime, current CVs will be maintained on the Directory. If members have any queries, please email the Directory Editor.

Calling East Africa Members: Arusha Biennial Symposium Feb 2015

ECHO is organizing its biennial symposium in February 2015. They have specifically invited TAA members to submit papers at this valuable biannual time of learning, information sharing and networking among those working and serving in the East Africa Region. See Events pages and the ECHO website.


Evidence on Demand Topic Guides: Agricultural productivity
'Evidence on Demand is a DFID-supported international development information hub, providing access to quality assured resources relating to climate & environment, infrastructure and livelihoods. The service has been established to provide a wealth of relevant documents, learning resources and technical expertise to help those on the front line of poverty reduction make evidence-based decisions, while also informing the wider development community. Evidence on Demand produces Topic Guides. A Topic Guide on Agricultural Productivity has just been released (directly download here). Topic Guides are freely available, written by an expert in the field, peer reviewed and formally approved by DFID, providing an excellent knowledge resource. Please send feedback on the Guides and any suggestions by email


TAA invests in LandwithCARE

TAA has made a £2,000 contribution to LendwithCARE. This is a revolving fund for interest-free loans to entrepreneurs vetted by CARE-approved Micro-Finance Institutions, presently in eight countries, Benin, Cambodia, Ecuador, Malawi, Pakistan, Philippines, Togo and Zambia.

Further detail can be viewed on the LendwithCARE website, and on the TAA webpages


Multiple Emails for Corporate Members
Following the suggestion from Alex at UKCDS, we have introduced multiple email addresses for Corporate Member organisations. The nominated point of contact of the organisation will remain as shown in the Corporate Member listing but if other individuals within the organisation would also like to receive our Latest News, events and publication alerts, we would ask the nominated member to forward their email addresses to our Membership Secretary. We have provision for up to four additional addresses per organisation.

New call for research proposals on Sustainable Agriculture
A joint research programme from NERC and BBRC has announced its first call. The Sustainable Agriculture Research & Innovation Club includes AHDB, M&S, seeds and agrichem companies. It seeks to find solutions to challenges affecting the efficiency, productivity and sustainability of UK crop and