Latest News

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'.


Climate Change Journal Launch London 21st December 2015:
The Planning for Climate Change Conference will be launching a new academic, policy and research Journal called the ‘Journal of Planning for Climate Change’. This Journal will be a focus point to promote and share research and good practice on how we plan and adapt to the challenges that we face from increasing climate change. We welcome contributions from anyone who has an interest in this area of policy and we welcome anyone who would like to be a member of the Journal Editorial Board. If you want to submit a paper for publication please email here. To subscribe to the Journal please visit the subscriptionpage or email here. Details of the Journal Editorial and Submission Guidance can be found here. [Climate Change Team, London]

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.


The final demise of Wye College: latest news from Imperial College

In a message to Wye alumni, Imperial College has just announced that, despite effors to retain Wye as an educational institution, the college site has been sold to Telereal Trillium, one of the UK?s largest property companies. Central to the emerging plans will be finalising proposals for the long term consolidation and growth of the Wye Free School. The other buildings could accommodate a mixture of residential, business and community uses. The proceeds of the sale will be used to support activity in Imperial?s Department of Life Sciences, the Centre for Environmental Policy, the Grantham Institute, the Porter Institute and the Institute of Systems and Synthetic Biology. Work within these areas encompasses collaborative research, including new treatments for global diseases, through to food security, as well as ways to address major ecological challenges for the Earth.

[summarized from message from Nicola Pogson
 Acting Head of Alumni Relations, Alumni Office, 
Imperial College London
. Telephone: +44 (0)20 7594 6697


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! 

Articles by George Monbiot: "Ploughing on Regardless"

Read the articles by George Monbiot: Ploughing on regardless  http:// and also his recent articlein the Guardian "Were treating soil like dirt. Its a fatal mistake, as our lives depend on it".


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 livestock sectors.

Proposals are invited for both research and research translation projects to address the first key challenge identified by SARC industry members: "Resilient and robust crop and livestock production systems. Approximately £5.0 million of funding is available for this call, divided between research (£3.5m), closing date 11th Sep 2014, and research translation (£1.5m), closing date 29th July 2014. Click here for details. 


Cover Crop Basics: Capturing Nutrients

Sign up today for this exclusiveNo-Till Farmer webinar sponsored byCover Crop Solutions scheduled to air Tuesday, June 24, at 10 a.m. Central time. Dr. Tracy Blackmer, Director of Research for Cover Crop Solutions, will provide a basic understanding of the nutrient benefits provided by various species of cover crops and how no-tillers can properly utilize those cover crops to reduce their levels of applied fertilizer.


Climate Change & Food Security 'Marketplace', 13 June: Discount for TAA members
The Humanitarian Centre is organizing an event Climate Change & Food Security Marketplace on 13 June, 9:00 to 15:30 at Murray Edwards College, University of Cambridge. Including a 'keynote conversation' between Dame Barbara Stocking (previous CEO of Oxfam) and Sir Jonathan Porritt (founder of Forum for the Future), this interactive and dynamic "marketplace is a space for exchanging ideas and making new connections, to forge new paths towards integrating climate change, food security and poverty reduction work. Presentations are from a range ofgovernment, policy, NGO, research and business leaders, followed by lunch and focused networking sessions. All members of TAA are offered a 50% discount on tickets at £10.00. For your discounted ticket, register as"Humanitarian Centre Member (Concessionary)" at Please contact Anne Radl (+44 (0) 1223 351 713) with any questions.


FIJI: Vacancies in Ministry of Agriculture
The Fiji Ministry of Agriculture seeks to fill posts in GIS, Policy, Trade, Integrated farming, Tree Fruits, Coconut Research, Extension, Livestock, Food Technology, HR. Deadline for expressions of interest by 16th June 2014. 

Call for nominations for 2014 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 is awarded in recognition of outstanding contributions to agricultural development, with a focus on increasing food production, improving food security, reducing poverty and improving environmental sustainability in developing countries.

Young Development Agriculturalist of the year recognises outstanding use of an opportunity (eg afforded by a TAAF Award) for gaining a better understanding of constraints to food security, poverty reduction and environmental sustainability in developing countries, and for making an initial contribution to overcoming these constraints.


Award of Merit or Honorary Membership is given to people who have made outstanding contributions to meeting the objectives of the Association. This category of award is restricted to TAA members.


The chair of the Honours Panel, Paul Harding ( welcomes nominations for each of the above categories. Nominations close on 1st August, after which the Honours Panel will make recommendations to the TAA Executive Committee.


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 Awards. Click here to see previous recipients of awards


All you need to know about Bananas

ProMusa, in alliance with ISHS, publishes InfoMus@, the newsletter of the banana R&D community. It offers a mix of news and analyses on topical issues with links to events and resources available from the ProMusa website. If you have problems reading this email, view it in your web browser. Explore Musapedia, the compendium of knowledge on bananas.


Hugh Brammers new book on Climate change, sea level rise and development in Bangladesh

World Environment Day is observed by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) to encourage worldwide global awareness on taking positive environmental action to protect nature and the planet Earth. On this occasion, the University Press Limited (UPL), Dhaka, has acknowledged the works and achievements of Hugh Brammer, a long-standing member of TAA. UPL notes that he has written many books on soils, agriculture and land use in Bangladesh. "His relentless contribution to the scholarly discourse on these important areas is an invaluable asset for the agricultural and environmental policy making in Bangladesh. Hughs latest book will be available soon: Climate change, sea level rise and development in Bangladesh (ISBN: 978-984-506-141-4; US$64). Click here to order on-line.


Chief Technical Advisor needed for Sierra Leone

A CTA is required for the RSPB work at the Gola Rainforest National Park inSierra Leone. The post requires exceptional managerial skills technical advice, and will have the opportunity to make a vital contribution to ground-breaking conservation efforts of global significance leading the first REDD project in West Africa. The project includes links with agriculture. Do any TAA members know anyone who might fit the bill? Click here for more details of the post. Closing date 11th June 2014. Please pass any ideas, leads or questions, to


Royal Bath & West Show
The show extends from May 28th to 31st. The TAA Southwest Group has a stand at the show, they would be delighted to welcome you if you attend the event. Read more or check our Events pages

Longitude Prize 2014: Vote now for
To commemorate the 300th Anniversary of the original Longitude Prize (for the invention of a clock that could keep time at sea), a new prize has been launched to encourage inventors and scientists to find solutions to six key problems facing the world. Six proposed themes are being put to a public vote via the BBC to determine which will become the winning prize challenge. "Food is one of the proposed topics. (By 2050 there will be an estimated 9.1 billion people on the planet and there will be increased demand for resource-hungry foods such as meat and milk. Yet even now, many people do not get enough nutrients to live healthy lives). Read more. TAA members can help by voting on line or by text for "Food. Perhaps there is more that TAA can do to help if this theme is accepted?


2nd REMINDER: Hugh Bunting Memorial Lecture, Reading, 9th June
The 9th Hugh Bunting Lecturewill be delivered by Dr Wyn Ellis on "Can voluntary sustainability standards incentivize smallholder adoption? - The case of rice". Please see"Events" pagefor details and how to reserve your place for the lecture and subsequent buffet and drinks reception. Please register now!

International dairy summer school, Liverpool School of Vet Science
Hurry! Places are still available for the International Dairy Summer Schools, which are for professionals, leaders and farmers in the dairy sector. They take place 29th July-10th August and 17th September - 2nd October, for two weeks each. Both courses will offer an opportunity visit famous Dairy Shows in UK. See Events pages for more details. 

Sustainable Agriculture Seminar, Cambridge, 12/5/14
We had a very successful seminar in Cambridge last week, led by TAA East Anglia but co-hosted by the Humanitarian Centre, the University Global Food Security initiative and CCF. With 50 participants from Cambridge and beyond, the papers by Brian Sims (CA) and Willem Stoop (SRI) prompted much discussion. We also gained several new members. Read more  (and cursor down to "East Anglia").

Indian Farmer's Miracle Rice Crop - SRI (Guardian article)
See how a Tamil Nadu farmer produces bumper crop, four times larger than average, using the system of rice intensification (SRI), read more.

Advice needed: sustainability of cocoa and cotton production.
Marije reported some excellent responses to this request and she will be in touch with respondents. However, as the project is still subject to formulation and decision-making, she has requested that we take down the announcement for the moment. Thanks to all of you who replied.

Impact Assessment of Agricultural Research - email

FAO will host a moderated e-mail conference about impact assessment of agricultural research from 5 May to 1 June 2014. This e-mail conference will allow participants from around the world to share and discuss their experiences, lessons learned and perspectives regarding impact assessment of agricultural research (note, the term 'agricultural research' encompasses research in the crop, livestock, forestry, fishery and aquaculture sectors). The kinds of topics to be discussed will include use of different approaches, models and tools to assess the impacts of agricultural research and best practices for disseminating impact assessment results to policy-makers and other relevant stakeholders.

The conference is open to everyone, is free and will be moderated. To subscribe to the conference, click here.  


No-till and SRI in Haryana, India
Read the latest news about adoption of the System of Rice Intensification and No-till Farming in Haryana State, India. Read more 

REMINDER: Hugh Bunting Memorial Lecture, Reading, 9th June
The 9th Hugh Bunting Lecture will be delivered by Dr Wyn Ellis on "Can voluntary sustainability standards incentivize smallholder adoption? - The case of rice".  Please see "Events" page for details and how to reserve your place for the lecture and subsequent buffet and drinks reception. Please register now!

TAA Member and ex-TAAF Awardee in S Tanzania seeks contacts
Richard Bliault is a member of TAA and an ex-TAAF awardee. He us now working hard in southern Tanzania with a coffee organisation. He feels a bit isolated and would very much like to be in touch with TAA members in the E Africa region. Richard would be glad to hear from you.

EU-Africa High Level Policy Advice Dialogue
Our TAA Corporate member, UKCDS, is linked to the EU-Africa High Level Policy Advice Dialogue and produces information of policy developments (see

Reminder: Sustainable Agriculture Seminar, Cambridge 12.5.14
The seminar on CA and SRI, led by TAA, will be on 12th May at Hughes Hall (see Places are limited. Please sign up quickly if you wish to attend this interesting event. Email Keith Virgo at

Mike Carr, TAA member, announces publication of his new book "ADVANCES IN IRRIGATION AGRONOMY:FRUIT CROPS", Cambridge University Press, April 2014
Each chapter reviews international irrigation research on an individual fruit crop, identifying opportunities for improving the effectiveness of water allocation and encouraging readers to link scientific knowledge with practical applications. Clearly written and well illustrated, this is an ideal resource for engineers, agronomists and researchers concerned with how the productivity of irrigated agriculture can be improved, in the context of climate change, and the need for growers to demonstrate good irrigation practices.

African Farmer Game
This is a new, free, open source game that simulates the complex decisions and uncertainties facing farmers living in Sub-Sahara Africa. From the Future Agricultures Consortium, Institute of Development Studies. The  multiplayer version of African Farmer is ideal for teaching or training at universities, schools or practitioner organisations. Instructions and software are available to download via the website.

A Decade of Conservation Agriculture in Lincolnshire, UK
On Saturday 29 March 2014 some 25 TAA members and followers met at Tony Reynolds farm where no-till has been the regime since 2003. In addition to the farm visit, there was a presentation on conservation agriculture (CA) from Bill Crabtree, a wheat farmer from Perth, Western Australia. Click here to access the report

Brammer Geographical Society
Congratulations to our long-time TAA member Hugh Brammer. He has been made Honorary President of the Downing College, Cambridge, Geographical Society and the society has been renamed the "Brammer Geographical Society" in recognition of his geographical achievements. Well-deserved honours for Hugh.

Grassroots Africa knowledge service launched by a TAA member
One of our members, Benny Dembitzer has launched new service Grassroots Africa. Several TAA members have already joined in a voluntary capacity. The aim is to provide a pool of advice and relevant practice to farmers in sub-Saharan Africa. For those of us in Britain who are used to the BBC GARDENERS' QUESTION TIME, the formula will sound familiar. Farmers will ask questions of everyday relevance to their farming practices and they will be provided with practical suggestions on how to cope. Of course, in sub-Saharan Africa things are not quite as simple, there are serious barriers; language, distance, technology, to name but three. Therefore, for the time being, the service is being delivered in English, through intermediaries and via the internet.
Grassroots currently has 35 practitioners covering a wide range of topics (crops, water, organic fertilisers, seeds preservation etc). Also registered groups of intermediaries (mainly cooperatives and self-help help groups), who have a total membership base of some 120,000 farmers. If you or your friends are interested in helping, please let Grassroots know. They want to create a critical mass that will help provide knowledge and therefore power to the weakest of all, the marginal small-holder.

No-till farming and the Search for Sustainability in Dryland Agriculture

The seminar arranged at IIED London on 28th March 2014 by the TAA LH Group and given by Bill Crabtree on CA experiences in Western Australia is now available an IIED blog about the seminar and a video-interview with Bill Crabtree. See also TAA Land Husbandry News.


Agricultural Investment, Gender and Land in Africa: changing the debate
Our conference in Cape Town on 5-7 March brought together more than 100 people from civil society, governments, academia and business to change the conversation about gender, land and agriculture in Africa. Presentations, video, blogs and other material from the conference are now on our websiteVisit the conference website, including a video story.

Great Lakes Cover Crop Initiative
Keeping crop fields covered between growing seasons for corn, soybeans and other cash crops can help improve water quality by keeping nutrients on the farm, a collaborative project led by the Conservation Technology Information Center (CTIC) demonstrated. Read more

Sustainable Agriculture Seminar, Cambridge, 12/5/14: Reminder
Do not forget to book your place for the seminar at Hughes College, Cambridge, 14.00 on 12th May. See events for more details. 

No-till farming and Search for Sustainability in Dryland Agriculture
REMINDER. IIED London 28th March. Speaker: Bill Crabtree (TAA) Farmer, Conservationist & Agronomist, Head of Crabtree Agricultural Consulting. He is known as "No-Till Bill" for his enthusiasm for sustainable production with no-tillage and the role he played in the Western Australian (WA) no-tillage revolution.Reservations:Laura Silici, IIED
 +44 (0)20 3463 7435.

Is shifting cultivation really bad? See the article and video from India
The 'Jhum' (shifting cultivation) farming system has been criticized as an environmentally unsustainable practice but do the strengths of the system offer a better chance in the wake of a changing climate? Shifting cultivation is a widely practiced system of crop cultivation among the indigenous communities of Northeast India. While it is generally contested as a destructive method of farming, it is also argued that the system lends itself as much more than just a farming practice. It gives a family its food, fodder, fuel, livelihood and is closely linked to their identity.
Read this ICIMOD article and view the video

New Chronic Poverty Report 2014-15
The new ODI Chronic Poverty Report begins with a dire warning: act now or by 2030 one billion people will be at risk from extreme poverty. It asks why many escape from poverty only to fall back, and sets out measures to defuse this ticking timebomb.

Read the full report, executive summary and overview

See the info graphics


Can We Prevent A Food Breakdown?
A publication from Lester Brown, Earth Policy Institute, has just been issued. "As food supplies have tightened, a new geopolitics of food has emergeda world in which the global competition for land and water is intensifying and each country is fending for itself. We cannot claim that we are unaware of the trends that are undermining our food supply and thus our civilization. We know what we need to do . Read more

REMINDER: Technology or Ecology? 20th March
Cannington seminar: "How can technology advance on farms, without having a detrimental effect on the environment?" With 2014 being the UN 'year of the family farm' particular reference will be made to the smaller family farm business. RSVP to the Tim Roberts of TAA SW Group.

European Tropical Forest Research Network (ETFRN)

European Tropical Forest Research Network (ETFRN) seeks short articles for the ETFRN News, based on your experiences with the landscape approach. We are interested in information based on practical experiences and (on-going) research on landscapes, landscape restoration and landscape performance at the nexus of agriculture, forests and biodiversity in mosaic landscapes in the tropics, and in a context of climate change. This may be an excellent opportunity to showcase your work and to contribute to the discussion on landscapes. If you are interested in contributing, please contact the editor, Jorge Chavez-Tafur, briefly outlining your proposed article, before March 17th 2014. For more information visit ETFRN.


Green Carbon Conference, Brussels, 1st April
REMINDER. Green Carbon Conference 1-3 April, Brussels. A few places places are still available for late registration by people interested in CA. Visit website or contact European Conservation Agriculture Federation (ECAF) to book; see TAA events.

REMINDER: Farm Walk: Conservation Agriculture (CA) 29th March
A few places are left for the Farm Walk with Tony Reynolds - No Till Farming (Conservation Agriculture) to see at first hand his no-till/CA farming system, Lincolnshire. See website Events for contact address and booking.

Agribusiness Group Meetings
The TAA Agribusiness Group held their "first Thursday of the month" pub lunch meeting in February. They had quite a good turnout and shared opportunities for consultancy work. The venue is the 'Mill on the Exe' pub, Exeter. The next meeting is 12 noon for 1.00 on 6th March. All are welcome. See our website for more info.

LIFE and Soil protection
New publication, January 2014. With issues such as erosion, soil sealing, carbon capture and contaminated land of growing public concern and policy focus, this brand-new LIFE Focus publication takes a timely look at LIFE and Soil protection. The 68 page brochure includes an overview of EU soil policy, analysis of LIFEs contribution to its implementation and interviews that link soil science to policy-making to practical action. It also addresses in detail the impact of LIFE actions relating to all the key issues around soil sustainability, including: land take and soil sealing; soil biodiversity; carbon capture; soil monitoring; soil and water protection; sustainable agriculture; and land contamination. The publication thus provides an opportunity to highlight and assess the LIFE programme's 
contribution to soil protection to date, including proposals for ways in which project outcomes may be better channelled and have an even greater impact in future.

If you are interested in ordering a printed copy of this and other LIFE Focus publications, please visit the ordering publications section of the LIFE website. Download: Long-term impact and sustainability of LIFE Nature
 (~10 MB)


Grassroots Africa launched
Benny Dembitzer,TAA member, has launched Grassroots Africa. The aim is to connect people in the South, primarily farmers in sub-Saharan Africa,with people who have the relevant knowledge and experience in the UK and in various parts of Africa itself. The expertise needs to be, as far as feasible, as local as possible. Under the 6 degrees of separation rule, even if you do not know the best immediate answer to a query, you will know other people who do know. It would be helpful if members of TAA, who have relevant experience, could join us. We need lots of contacts and lots of keen people to make the entire operation work well.

Please look at our site, and register by selecting "create account" and then provide a bit of information about your area of expertise. We will start to kick off a discussion among the 50+ people who have accepted to join the network to date. Georgina Steel  is the administrator of the register and will be looking after any enquiries.


Pigeon Peas in Guatamala & Chicken feed in Nigeria: help needed
Curt Bowen, of Semilla Nueva in Guatemala, was one of the finalist companies in the Unilever 'Sustainable Living' Young Entrepreneurs Awards, organised by the Cambridge Programme for Sustainability Leadership. His company focuses on growing Pigeon Peas to support smallholder farmers, read more. Curt is keen to make contact with any members of TAA who could share their expertise on pigeon pea and Guatemala. Please contact him by email if you can advise. [Curt adds: "We are specifically looking for assistance in processing pigeonpea into industrial and artisanal animal feed, canning pigeonpea for human consumption and collaborative research and funding partnerships. We have growing methods that can help farmers grow pigeonpea in between the rows of their existing crops, providing food security, rebuilding soils and increasing income"].
Another finalist was Blessing Mene from Unfire Ltd of Nigeria. He is developing alternative chicken feeds for smallholder farmers in Nigeria, read more. He also seeks advice from any TAA members, please email Blessing if you can help. 


Why did I work overseas: reflections
Are you following the fascinating string of reflections on why members worked overseas? We still need some reflections from younger members! Go to News & Comments, login and then view Reflections 

Opinions and Reflections: why did you work overseas?
Peter Goldsmith has started an interesting discussion on why members decided to work overseas, what was their original motivation? Why not visit the 'News & Comment' pages on the TAA website, click on 'Opinions &  Reflections' (enter login details) and submit your own reasons for embarking on overseas work. Please give the year that you started such work.

2015 Year of the Soil
The United Nations has approved 2015 as the Year of the Soil. This will be an unique opportunity to raise the profile of soils and celebrate soil science. The IUSS has formed an ad-hoc committee that will coordinate and organize all activities for this special year. Many activities are being planned and please submit these activities and all your ideas to the IUSS President elect Rainer Horn. Any suggestions for a TAA event? Please send to the Web Manager

Global Food Futures events in Cambridge

The Cambridge Humanitarian Centre, a corporate member of TAA, is looking forward to some exciting Global Food Futures activity in 2014.

  1. January 22: Talks of interest from the Cambridge Global Food Security Strategic Initiative
  2. February 8th: Food for a Greener Future Conference
  3. February 12: "Hasnt the time come for some brave new thinking on food management?"; keynote lecture by Andrew MacMillan
  4. February 28: Fairtrade Fortnight at the Global Sustainability Institute
  5. March 22: Innovation & Development Hackathon Finale; transparency along the global food supply chain
  6. May 12: Sustainable Agriculture Development Seminar
  7. May 16: Save the Date for the Cambridge GM Conference
For regular updates on news and events relating to international development in Cambridge, join the mailing list here.

New Book: Vegetation Cover, Practical Intercrop Management
"Vegetation Cover, Practical Intercrop Management, 2014, by Frederick Thomas and Matthew Archambeaud,
Publishing France Agricole, 306 Pages. After more than 20 years of field-testing and nearly 4 years of writing, the authors have successfully completed their guide to the vegetation cover.After analyzing the current inconsistencies and face an economic, environmental context and conditions of production rapidly changing agricultural systems, they present a detailed and reasoned all the benefits of cover crops. A richly illustrate practical guide.

New Book: Conservation Agriculture - Global Prospects and Challenges

CABI has just published Conservation Agriculture - Global Prospects and Challenges, edited by Ram A Jat (ICRISAT), Kanwar L Sahrawat (ICRISAT) and TAA member Amir Kassam (FAO and University of Reading, UK). This 424 page book provides an up-to-date review and status of Conservation Agriculture at the global-level. It covers the spread of Conservation Agriculture (CA) in countries
including Brazil, Argentina, the USA, Canada, Australia and emerging CA destinations in Europe, Asia and Africa. Topics covered include the performance of CA as an approach to sustainable crop intensification and how it can contribute to enhancing productivity, improving food security, reduce land and environmental degradation, enhance the flow of ecosystem services, and respond to climate change. Each chapter is based on the latest scientific and empirical evidences regarding the productivity, environmental and socio-economic benefits that can be harnessed through CA. The book will be useful to teachers, researchers, extensionists, farmers, and students interested in environmental quality, as well as to institutional leaders and policy-makers in promoting sustainable agricultural intensification and development. Click here to see the flyer or visit CABI.


Royal Society-DFID Africa Capacity Building Initiative
The Royal Society-DFID Africa Capacity Building Initiative is a £15.3 million partnership initiative between the Royal Society and the Department for International Development (DFID). The initiative will bring together scientists working across sub-Saharan Africa with UK-based researchers aiming to strengthen research and training capacity across sub-Saharan Africa by creating sustainable scientific networks. This Initiative will concentrate onthreeresearch areas:
Water & sanitation- including water engineering and irrigation, waste water management, and other related projects.
Renewable energy- including solar-/wind-/hydro- energies, energy capture and storage and other related projects;
Soil-related research- including soil properties, degradation, nutrients, crop-soil interface, soil management, and other related projects.

2014 - the International Year of Family Farming
The UN declared 2014 as the International Year of Family Farming, recognising the multiple social, economic, environmental and cultural functions of family farmers. Many family farmers have proved to be innovative and resilient under the right socio-political framework and conditions especially when supported by the right policies. 

Using agro-ecological practices, family farmers can exert a large degree of autonomy and still be part of the global economy working with, rather than against nature. They pool their labour and resources, and increase their yields. They organise themselves and make their voices heard. They build their own educational spaces where they learn from each other and teach others. Women play a key role in these strategies. 

The current issue of Farming Matters highlights inspiring experiences of strengthening family farming, while maintaining the values and knowledge that characterise this particular and resilient type of agriculture.

We appreciate reports on events attended by members
If you plan to attend one of the events advertised on the TAA website "Events" pages, we would really appreciate a brief report for inclusion in our journal Agriculture for Development. Any member who is considering attending an event and is willing to submit a report, please let our Coordinating Editor know in advance.

Cisgenics - a new GM approach
A new, less intrusive way of genetically engineering plants would help to feed the worlds growing population but is at risk from the same "Luddite attitudes blocking GM crops, according to afarming industry report.
8.1.14b rev

CA included by Chinese Government as means for addressing climate change

China's Policies and Actions for Addressing Climate Change (2013)  includes  CA as a method for Addressing Climate Change. The  reports were prepared by The National Development and Reform Commission of the Peoples Republic of China, representing the China government.   An English version, can be downloadedCA is mentioned on P25. Unfortunately,  the translator had no background of CA, so it is difficult to understand, but in Chinese, it is CA. (info provided by Li Hongwen, Professor, China Agricultural University; Director, Conservation Tillage Research Centre) 


N2Africa newsletter
See the new newsletter N2Africa Podcaster: "putting nitrogen fixation to work for smallholder farmers in Africa". To see this and our other links to topical technical Newsletters, click here.

Season's Greetings 2014 from TAA
Click here for greetings from the President, Chairman and members of the TAA Executive Committee. Guess where Jim Ellis-Jones took the picture? 

[It was northern Mozambique roughly between Nampula and Malema]

Hugh Brammer's Reminiscences
Hugh Brammer says "You might like to inform TAA members that I have opened a web-site that gives all my reminiscences". This contains a wealth of stories, serious and amusing, accumulated over a life time of overseas work, worth a visit, click here! You will need your membership number and password (easily obtained via the website or from the Membership Secretary, if you do not have a password).

Rewiring metabolism to improve crop yield in Africa
News from the 6th International Meeting on Synthetic Biology (July 2013, Imperial College), illustrates how new technologies are being applied to an old problem in African farming - Striga. Read more 

A successful AGM, RMML and Reunion
The TAA event at the Royal Over-seas League in London on 27th November was a great success, thanks to the organising skills of our General Secretary, Elizabeth Warham. New members were elected for the post of Chairman (Keith Virgo), Vice-Chair (Paul Harding) and Convenor London & SE (Terry Wiles). Thanks too to our speakers Emma Bush (TAAF) and John Beddington (Ralph Melville memorial lecturer). We have also added Ralph Melville's obituary to our website, in case you wish to now more about him.

Nigeria's Akinwumi Adesina named Forbes African of the Year

Nigerian Agriculture Minister Akinwumi Adesina has been named Forbes African of the Year for his reforms to the country's farming sector. Click for details


Four steps towards ending global poverty
The Humanitarian Centre, Cambridge (a TAA corporate member) yesterday released their 2013 Cambridge International Development Report "Four steps towards ending global poverty".  Please read the report

Nutrition, agro-ecology, health, CGIAR reforms, REDD+
Read the latest comment on a range of subjects in 'New Leaf'.

Enrich Your Soils Organic Matter Key to Soil Fertility (2)

Farmers and industry are invited to come along to a day of discussion on improving the fertility of soils with an emphasis on organic matter and soil biota. The Royal Agricultural Society of England (RASE) is running eight events across the East of the country looking at the importance and benefits of organic matter. Read more


Urgent: speaker needed for CCF Symposium
The Cambridge Conservation Forum (CCF), annual symposium will be held on 9th January 2014 at the Judge Business School, Cambridge. The organising committee is urgently seeking persons from CCF member organisations, like TAA, to present short papers at the symposium. The subject should relate to topical issues, research or development being addressed by the organisation. Last year, Brian Sims made a useful presentation on CA for smallholders in Africa. If any member has a topic that they would like to present, please contact the East Anglia Convenor as soon as possible.

New elements of TAA Website - have you explored?
We have made improvements to the website and added new elements. See the new list of TAAF awardees and case studies, or the re-formatted Group & Branch news. Also, please visit "News & Comment" where you can add 'Opinions' on topics of the day or add personal 'Reflections and Reminiscences'. Space for up to 1,000 words is provided. All articles will be moderated by the webmanager before uploading (you will need your membership number and password to login). There is also a new TAA Forum/Bulletin Board which is still under development - watch this space!

Future Agricultures Newsletter
Why not sign up for the Future Agricultures newsletter to keep up to date with latest in agriculture development? Access  policy briefsworking papers and research papers and read the blogs.

Vacancy: Coordinator of APPG Food ^ Agriculture for Development

The listing for the position of Coordinator of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Food and Agriculture for Development is now available on the University of Greenwich website closing date 3/12/13.

The link can be found here:


2nd Reminder TAA AGM and Ralph Melville Memorial Lecture & Reunion
TAA AGM and Ralph Melville Memorial Lecture & Reunion
DO NOT FORGET TO BOOK FOR THIS IMPORTANT EVENT! The guest speaker will be Sir John Beddington, formerly the UK Government's Chief Scientific Adviser, presenting a lecture on 'Challenges of the 21st Century'. The event is being held from 5:00 pm at the Royal Over-Seas League, Park Place, London on Wednesday 27th November, 2013. Contact Elizabeth Warham, General Secretary, to reserve tickets for the meeting and hot buffet supper. Price £25.00 per person. Cash bar open from 4.30 pm. Read more


Agriculture Leaders Announce a Partnership to Promote Conservation Agriculture Adoption

The Howard G. Buffett Foundation, John Deere, and DuPont Pioneer collaborate to support smallholders and sustainable farming in Africa to foster a conservation-based system of agriculture designed and targeted to sustainably improve the productivity of smallholder farmers in Africa. The effort will be piloted in Ghana and include a conservation-based, mechanized product suite developed by John Deere; a system of cover crops and improved inputs from DuPont Pioneer; and support for adoption and training on conservation-based practices by the Howard G. Buffett Foundation.


Training Course in Bees for Developing Countries

One day training course:Strengthening livelihoods in developing countries through beekeeping.
Friday 6th December 2013, Cardiff. Introduction to a range of topics about beekeeping in developing countries. The programme will be of relevance to individuals andorganisations who have an interest in beekeeping as a means to build sustainable livelihoods, and would like to find out more. Includes apiculture in developing countries and how it supports livelihoods; appropriate and sustainable issues of technology choice; an introduction to honey marketing and trade; case studies: success stories from around the world. Further details from Bees for Development.


Opinions and Reflections

We have set up new pages on the website to give members an opportunity to voice their opinion on topical subjects relating to agriculture & rural development and to share personal reflections / reminiscences on how development activities have changed over the years, lessons learned and personal views drawn from their own career experiences. Go to the News & Comment pages, read the articles or select one of the options given and submit your own article online:

I wish to share my Opinion on Topical Subjects

I wish to share personal Reflections / Reminiscences


TAA AGM and Ralph Melville Memorial Lecture & Reunion
DO NOT FORGET TO BOOK FOR THIS IMPORTANT EVENT! The guest speaker will be Sir John Beddington, formerly the UK Government's Chief Scientific Adviser, presenting a lecture on 'Challenges of the 21st Century'. The event is being held from 5:00 pm at the Royal Over-Seas League, Park Place, London on Wednesday 27th November, 2013. Contact Elizabeth Warham, General Secretary, to reserve tickets for the meeting and hot buffet supper. Price £25.00 per person. Cash bar open from 4.30 pm. Read more


UN highlights role of farming in closing emissions gap

Matt McGrath (BBC News Environment correspondent) reports that the UN says that changing farming practices could play an important role in averting dangerous climate change. In their annual emissions report, they measure the difference between the pledges that countries have made to cut warming gases and the targets required to keep temperatures below 2C. On present trends there is likely to be an annual excess of 8 to 12 giga-tonnes of these gases by 2020. Agriculture, they say, could make a significant difference to the gap, including wider adoption of conservation agriculture. See TAA Land Husbandry Group news pages.


Farming Matters: call for articles: Agricultural biodiversity

Farming Matters seeks articles on innovations in agri-biodiversity for publication in the March 2014 edition. In recent years many promising initiatives have been launched around the world, which aim to preserve and manage agricultural biodiversity. 2014 will be the International Year of Family Farming, so this edition will also explore the close interconnection between agricultural biodiversity and family farming. This issue will be produced in collaboration with agrobiodiversity@knowledged, the Hivos/ Oxfam Novib Knowledge Programme. 
Articles should be sent to the editors,, before December 1st 2013. More information at


One-day conference on Water and the Green Economy
The Irrigation and Water Forum (the new name for ICID.UK) and UEA Water Security are hosting a one-day conference on Water and the Green Economy on November 8th at the Institute of Civil Engineers, London. The conference will discuss implications of the green economy for agricultural and water. The event will be available to watch on-line. See Irrigation and Water Forum for details  

News from APPG and Bihar Report
We wish Dominic Foster well, he has recently left the APPG; Anna Geiderdis is the interim Coordinator, read more
The APPG has published a report on a visit to Bihar, which included consideration of DFIDs change in relationship with India, from grant aid to technical assistance. Click to read the full report.

Information sought on mechanisation of small farms, Zambia
A member, who is completing a dissertation on "The impacts on food security in Zambia through the use of four wheeled tractors below 100 hp on small scale farms" seeks help. He needs survey data from farmers/ NGOs who have recently mechanised or are helping farmers to mechanise, and, for those who haven't, he needs to find out why. He plans travel to Zambia soon to visit the AGCO Demonstration farm near Lusaka. He just needs to find out who to talk to while there! If anyone has any useful links that may help him, please email Chris Schofield

New TAA Representative in SE Asia
We welcome Dr Wyn Ellis as our representative/ contact point in Thailand and SE Asia. Wyn has had a long career in agriculture, commencing with an MSc under Hugh Bunting at Reading, including crop protection, agro-biotech, distance learning, agriculture innovation, enterprise competitiveness, certification in fisheries and currently is coordinator of the UNEP Sustainable Rice Platform. Wyn recently completed a PhD at Chulalongkorn University after research into 'Technopreneurship and Innovation Management'.  

TAA Membership List - updated 1st October
The membership list has been updated. To view the list, click on the 'Membership' page, login with your membership number and password, click on the link for the Membership List (pdf file). If you do not yet have a password or have difficulty logging-in, please email our membership secretary. If there are errors in your details, go back to the Membership page, click on View your Member Profile (at top right), which will take you to your own page, where you can correct the entries.

TAAF Awardees 2013
The TAA's Tropical Agriculture Award Fund has granted support for eight MSc students and one longer-term graduate to enable them to complete research and development work overseas this year. Click here for details (you will need your membership number and password). Read more for full details of TAAF and how to donate to this worthwhile cause.

TAA Draft Accounts 2012-13 for approval at AGM 27/11/13
Members are requested to look at the draft accounts for 2012-13, ahead of the AGM on 27th November, when they will be submitted for formal approval. Click here to see the draft accounts. 

Future Agricultures Regional hubs invite collaboration

The regional hubs established by Future Agricultures in East Africa (Nairobi), West Africa (Accra), Southern Africa (Cape Town) and UK (Brighton) are now fully operational and active in their regions. The new structure marks a transition to an African-led, Africa-centred organisation. We invite you to engage with any of our regional hub Coordinators for collaborations in policy research and engagement.

Contact our Regional Hub Coordinators

Read more about our regional hubs

Sign up for the Futures Agriculture newsletter 


Gift Aid - please sign up to boost TAA income
The UK Revenue & Customs allow TAA to claim 25 pence off every pound donated by members. If you are UK resident and tax payer, all we need is for you to download a Gift Aid form, sign and post it to the Treasurer. So simple but it makes a big difference to our budget! Can't remember if you have sent a Gift Aid form before, does not matter - send one again! Many Thanks

TAA membership of the Society of Biology

The TAA is an organisational member of the Society of Biology  which entitles our members to attend SoB events. For more details of benefits, click here.

The East Anglia Branch of SoB has two events in October to which TAA members are welcome: 14th October- a visit to 'Bluegnome and Illumina'. 24thOctober - a seminar 'Contemporary research in Pathology'. See details.  If you are interested in booking for either evening, please register by email. There is no charge for either event.


Global Food Futures Year 2013-14

The TAA and the Humanitarian Centre Cambridge have agreed to exchange complimentary reciprocal membership for 2013-14. The Humanitarian Centres theme for this year is Global Food Futures, which will be of interest to TAA members. The programme will be launched on October 8th, for which a few places still available. A public consultation is also being launched on-line: Questioning our global food futures to find out, "What are the most important questions to askand to answerfor a future where everyone has enough, nutritious food to eat? This will be followed by a workshop to help prioritise the top ten questions on 6 November, 2013, 10:00-16:30 at Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge. 

TAA members are encouraged to participate in he Global Food Futures year events. Our association will be recognised in the 2014 Cambridge International Development Report, which will focus on Global Food Futures.


27th Nov: TAA AGM and Ralph Melville Memorial Lecture
Please remember the AGM, Ralph Melville Memorial Lecture and Reunion on 27th November at the Royal Over-Seas League, London.  The guest speaker will be Sir John Beddington, the UK Government's Chief Scientific Adviser 2008-13, presenting a lecture on 'Challenges of the 21st Century'. Please Contact Elizabeth Warham, General Secretary, to reserve tickets for the meeting and hot buffet supper (£25.00 per person). Cash bar open from 4.30 pm. More details under Events.

Benchmarking the Business of Agriculture: World Bank

The World Bank is developing the Benchmarking the Business of Agriculture index 'to inform and to leverage policy reforms which enable the emergence of a stronger commercial agriculture sector'. It will cover issues such as access to finance, inputs, water, rural energy and infrastructure. Issues that are all vitally important to smallholder farmers - but does it go far enough in addressing smallholders needs? They want your experience and views, please come to the event organised by the African Smallholder Farmers Group, in partnership with the World Bank, Friday 11 October 2013 at 12:30-2:00pm, Room MC5-101, at theWorld Bank, 1818 H St. Attendees will need to be already registered with the World Bank for the Annual Meetings. Places are limited; please send RSVPs to Alison Griffith 


Poverty: Growth or safety net?

Eradicating extreme poverty is no longer a pipe dream. But first governments must agree on their approach. Read the story in the Economist 21st September


Sustainable Agriculture Seminar 14.10.13 POSTPONED
The Cambridge Seminar is postponed indefinitely due to the ill-health of Dr Norman Uphoff.

CGIAR Blog Space for water, land & ecosystems
This platform offers a perspective of a world in which agriculture thrives alongside vibrant ecosystems, and those engaged in agriculture live in good health, enjoy food and nutritional security, and have access to the inputs and resources they need to continuously improve their livelihoods. The blog space is a platform for discussion and networking on ecosystems services and resource management. Click here for details.

The Story of Phosphorus

Global food security and food for thought. Dana Cordell, Jan-Olof Drangert & Stuart White. Global Environmental Change 19 (2009) 292305. Food production requires application of fertilizers containing phosphorus, nitrogen and potassium on agricultural fields in order to sustain crop yields. However modern agriculture is dependent on phosphorus derived from phosphate rock, which is a non-renewable resource and current global reserves may be depleted in 50100 years. While phosphorus demand is projected to increase, the expected global peak in phosphorus production is predicted to occur around 2030. The exact timing of the peak might be disputed, but it is widely acknowledged in the fertilizer industry that the quality of remaining phosphate rock is decreasing and production costs are increasing. Yet future access to phosphorus receives little or no international attention. This paper puts forward the case for including long-term phosphorus scarcity on the priority agenda for global food security. Opportunities for recovering phosphorus and reducing demand are also addressed together with institutional challenges. Read the full paper.


GFAR Stakeholder Survey

GFAR Theory of Change stakeholder consultation survey to understand Collective Commitment amongst stakeholders in the Global Forum on Agricultural Research. These changes cover all dimensions of the way agricultural research, innovation and knowledge delivers to the needs of farmers and consumers, across the range of actions initiated and catalyzed through stakeholders in the Global Forum. To achieve these goals we need to see how the existing agricultural innovation and research for development (AR4D) system is working for you (or not) and what needs to be done better. The survey attached forms part of this process. We trust that as a stakeholder in the Forum you will contribute your views frankly and constructively as a further step in achieving the kinds of changes we all want. The results of the survey will be analysed and shared, and will inform future directions for GFAR. (Juan Lucas Restrepo, Chair, Global Forum on Agricultural Research).


ECHO East African Newsletter

Why not sign up to the ECHO East African Newsletter? In the August edition: Seed Bank Update; Students Visit ECHO EA; Local CA Training Events; Staff Transitions; Resources for Organic Certif; The Debate over GMOs; New Online Resources. Simply email Erwin Kinsey,
 ECHO East Africa Director, Ngaramtoni, PO Box15205, Arusha, Tanzania. Or join the ECHO Online Network for downloadable resources about organic agriculture and the transition to low-external input sustainable agriculture. And connect with colleagues working your region.


TAA Membership/Subscription Reminder

Our new subscription year started on August 1st! Please check that you have renewed your subscription. Many people will have paid by Standing Order on 1st August, which makes life easier for all of us. We appreciate members setting up Standing Orders. If you do not pay by this method, and think that your subscription may due, please check the membership page on our website: go to How to Pay, select Standing Order and complete the form to ensure that you have continuous membership in future. While on this page, why not login with your membership number and password, then click on View your Member Profile? (all in top right corner of the membership page). This will enable you to check and amend (on-line) the details in your profile. Note that some members are still paying at old subscription rates and have been suspended. If you cannot login, you may not have registered a password, simply click here for guidance. Alternatively, your subscription may be overdue or the payments less than current rates (these are shown on the membership page). If you have any concerns, please contact the membership secretary.


Election of IUSS Division & Commission Chairs

The International Union of Soil Sciences (IUSS) invites members of national soil science societies to vote for their Division and Commission chairs and vice chairs for the period 2014-2018. These are key position and determine largely the scientific activities of the IUSS. The voting is electronic, click here for short bios of all the candidates and details of voting procedures. 


"Amazon Forest and Savanna Lands" - book available as pdf on-line
Thomas Cochrane (TAA member) advises that their book "Amazon Forest and Savanna Lands. A guide to the climates, vegetation, landscape and soils of central tropical South America" can now be read on-line as a PDF file via the website

TAA Member appointed D.N Borbora Chair for Tea Quality and Manufacturing

TAA Member, Nigel Melican, has been awarded the D.N Borbora Chair for Tea Quality and Manufacturing at the Tea Research Association of India. Tenure is for three years on a visiting basis at Tocklai Experimental Station, Jorhat & Nagrakata. Institution of the Chair celebrates the TRA's 100 years' of tea research reached in 2011. D.N Borbora was a progressive and innovative tea engineer and the objective of the Chair named for him is to identify and lay foundations for tea processing research to guide the TRA's second Centenary, read more. Nigel has 33 years working in the tea industry on six continents. He takes up the post with an initial tour of North Indian Tea estates and tea research facilities from mid August. Congratulations Nigel!


New Agriculture Director at Gates Foundation, vacancy at CIP
Pamela K. Anderson, Director General of the International Potato Center (CIP), Peru has been appointed Director for the Agricultural Development Program at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, reported by Rod Cooke, CIP Board Chair, who is now seeking a replacement for Pamela at CIP. Look our for the ad in the Economist, 3rd week of August.

Beekeeping courses in September

Forthcoming training courses with Bees for Development: Bee friendly beekeeping with the Warré People's hive - a Masterclass with David Heaf, Sunday 15 September 2013; Strengthening livelihoods in developing countries through beekeeping, Friday 20 September 2013; Weekend Course on Sustainable Beekeeping, Saturday and Sunday 21-22 September 201. For further information or booking, click here or phone 01600 714848 


Farming Matters
 Call for articles: Strengthening family farming

agricultures network magazines document practical field experiences on sustainable agriculture. They offer an opportunity for those working in agricultural development, particularly in diverse, risk-prone and resource-poor regions, to publish their experiences and to read about the experiences of others. All magazines are published four times a year, and each issue deals with a particular theme. 2014 was by the United Nations as the International Year of Family Farming. This is a very important recognition of the multiple social, economic, environmental and cultural functions of family farming. For example, family farmers produce more than 50% of the worlds food, and are important guardians of biodiversity. Creating the conditions for family farming to thrive is essential for a sustainable future. Call for articles: Strengthening family farming. Deadline: October 1st, 2013.


Advanced Course on Conservation Agriculture (CA) -Asia

CIMMYT India is pleased to announce the Advance Course on CA-Asia (2013) scheduled during October 17-31, 2013 at Ludhiana, India. This is fourth in the series of the advance courses in the region that are initiated closely with ICAR and PAU. To keep the course very focused and practical, we will accommodate only 15 participants. You may like to nominate or advise colleagues to send their nominations for this. Contact Dr M Lal Jat at CIMMYT Global Conservation Agriculture Program (GCAP), +91 9999108787, or send email.


Agriculture and Ecosystems blog space

To feed the world in 2050 and beyond we will need to intensify agricultural production while maintaining vital ecosystem functions. Many believe, however, that intensification will cause unacceptable harm to the environment. The CGIAR Water land & Ecosystems (WLE) platform challenges this perspective. Our vision is of a world in which agriculture thrives alongside vibrant ecosystems, and those engaged in agriculture live in good health, enjoy food and nutritional security, and have access to the inputs and resources they need to continuously improve their livelihoods. The CGIAR Agriculture and Ecosystems blog space is a platform for discussion and networking on ecosystems services and resource management. Sign up for weekly updates We or join the discussion: we welcome blog posts from guest authors on relevant topics.  You may email submissions to Abby Waldorf


Utilization of fruit and vegetable wastes as livestock feed and as substrates for other value-added products

By 2050 the world will need to feed an additional 2 billion people and require 70% more meat and milk. The increasing demand for livestock products, driven by increases in income, population and urbanization will impose a huge demand on feed resources. A key to sustainable livestock development is: efficient use of available feed resources including reduction in wastage, and enlargement of the feed resource base, particularly those not competing with human food. Fruit and vegetable wastes (FVW) and by-products are available throughout the world. A large proportion of wastes are dumped in landfills or rivers, causing environmental hazards. Alternatives could be recycling through livestock as feed resources and/or further processing to extract or develop value-added products. This FAO publication by Wadwa & Bakshi presents information on the chemical composition, conservation methods, nutritive value and guidelines for incorporation of FVW in animal diets. It also covers aspects related to utilization of such wastes as a substrate for the generation of value-added products. It is expected that this document will promote conversion of wastes to resources and help generate opportunities for development. The document is intended for use by extension workers, researchers, feed industries, food processing industries, NGOs, farmers associations, producers, policy-makers and science managers. 19.7.13

Bicycle Seed Drill (bicicleta semeadora)

Please have a look at this video of an ingenious small (experimental) direct seeder developed by two retired researchers (Drs Tomm & Voss) from EMBRAPA Brazil. There is no copyright for this invention. Submitted by Brai Sims. 15.7.13

Watch roots grow - a video from Dundee

See this latest New Scientist article about how lasers watch plant roots grow in transparent soil. It contains an amazing short video of roots actually growing in an artificial soil. This uses 'Light Sheet Tomography (LST) for in situ Imaging of Plant Roots' developed by Zhengyi Yang, et al, all working at institutions in Dundee, Scotland, including the James Hutton Institute (a corporate member of TAA). This was submitted by Francis Shaxson, who wonders how this might be applied to visualise how roots struggle to get through compacted soils, and to enable to comparison (by video and photo) of the effects of different soil types, degrees of compaction etc? 13.7.13

New Book (free): Celebrating the contribution of British science to cotton development in Africa
NRI and its predecessor organisations have supported cotton research and development in Africa for a century or more. Rory Hillocks who joined NRI in 1995, after a period of 13 years working in Africa as a cotton scientist on British Government supported cotton projects, has written a book which follows the history of cotton development in Anglophone countries of sub-Saharan Africa. This is available free as a download: click here

Norman Uphoff's presentation on Sustainable Rice Intensification
Norman gave an extremely good presentation to a TAA-IIED group at the IIED offices in London on 4th July. Click here for a summary of his presentation.

New Book: Restoring the Soil: A Guide for Using Green Manure/Cover Crops ......
New book recently published by the Canadian Foodgrains Bank, entitled Restoring the Soil: A Guide for Using Green Manure/Cover Crops to Improve the Food Security of Smallholder Farmers. Click for details.  The author, Roland Bunch, is widely known for his previous book, Two Ears of Corn: A Guide to People-Centered Agriculture Development.

mySoil App: Crowd-sourced soil data for Europe and the Globe

Crowd-sourced soil data for Europe and the GlobemySoil is a free smartphone app (download at itunes), originally for the United Kingdom and recently expanded to cover Europe. mySoil contains a soil properties map with basic information on soil texture, pH and vegetation habitat. It also has the ability to crowd source georeferenced data. We are continuing to expand the capabilities of mySoil and would be interested in hearing from groups who might help with data to take this effort global. Read more or contact: David A. Robinson


June 2013 issue of Appropriate Technology
Read the latest edition of Appropriate Technology, incorporating 'Agriculture & Equipment International' and 'International Agricultural Development'. Special features on livestock, mobile phones, GIZ, agro-forestry seeds, IPM etc. Click to read

Online tool to estimate greenhouse gas reductions through CA

Researchers create online tool to estimate greenhouse gas reductions through Conservation Agriculture. Read more 


Bees for Development Journal

If you are a beekeeper working in a developing country you are eligible to receive a free Sponsored Subscription to Bees for Development Journal.  Simply apply online 


UEA's Combined Heat and Power the way ahead (16.9.13)
TAA East Anglia visit to the University of East Anglia's Combined Heat & Power plant to see their biomass production unit (click for details), and presentation on "UEA's Combined Heat and Power: the way ahead", by Martyn Newton. Join a tour of the biomass generation installation, followed by a talk on, inter alia,  the production of biomass, environmental aspects, project management, costs, and the impacts of biomass use on food production. Please join us. Monday 16th September. For more details click here. 

Global Poverty Action Fund (GPAF)
The DfID-sponsored Global Poverty Action Fund (GPAF) is a demand-led fund supporting projects focused on poverty reduction and pursuit of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) through tangible changes to poor peoples lives including through: empowerment & accountability; service delivery; work on conflict, security & justice. Projects will be selected on basis of impact on poverty, clarity of outcomes and value for money. Click here for details of grant categories, eligibility (UK-based not-for-profit organisations) and how to apply.

Goss margin Calculator: new edition
TechTalk has prepared a new and updated version of their successful tool for calculating gross margins to determine how well an enterprise is doing. Click for details. Register free at the TechTalk website.

New: Soil Atlas of Africa published
A team of international experts has drawn up the Soil Atlas of Africa  the first such book mapping this key natural resource to help farmers, land managers and policymakers understand the diversity and importance of soil, and the need to manage it through sustainable use. Download the Soil Atlas of Africa (part onepart twopart three). The atlas is also available as a printed copy from the EU's publication office.

Increase investment in agriculture to end global hunger
Parliamentarians urge government to increase investment in agriculture to end global hunger. 
See the latest press release by the APPG on agriculture and food for development.

Call for nominations for TAA Honours

TAA's Mission is: "Advancing education, research and practice in agriculture for rural livelihoods and sustainable development. In pursuit of this mission, we award honours annually to people who have made significant contributions to the improvement of rural livelihoods in developing countries through sustainable agricultural development. We now invite nominations for each category of award, please see our website for details of categories, who is eligible and how to nominate. 

Political Economy of Agricultural Policy in Africa: papers
What makes African governments invest in agriculture? This Future Agricultures conference brought together key figures from research, politics, donor organisations and civil society. The papers from this international conference (Pretoria, March 2013) are now available online. 

'Farming Matters'
 Call for articles "Education for change"

The September 2013 ssue of Farming Matters will focus on the role of education in changing the mindsets of rural communities. We seek contributions that describe innovative education in rural areas. Who are involved? What is being taught? What teaching methods are used? What lessons are learned? And what makes these experiences valuable? We will also look at how educators prepare themselves for their job in a fast changing world, what their aspirations are, how the education system supports and how they connect with different stakeholders in the agricultural system, such as farmers and other value chain actors, fellow educators, researchers and policy makers.

Please send us your contributions to Jorge Chavez-Tafur, editor, before June 1st, 2013

Gift Aid - please sign up to boost TAA income
The UK Revenue & Customs allow TAA to claim 25 pence of every pound donated by members. If you are UK resident and tax payer, all we need is for you to download a Gift Aid form, sign and post it to the Treasurer. So simple but it makes a big difference to our budget! Can't remember if you have sent a Gift Aid form before, does not matter - send one again! Many Thanks

Email Alerts by TAA
Our alerts for latest news, job vacancies and events has been generating interest among members. If you do not want to receive the alerts, please go to the TAA website. At top right, enter your membership number and password, then click on "View your membership profile". This will take you to your membership details (you can update if needed), at the bottom of the page there are options for email alerts: click "No" to stop alerts, or "Yes" to reinstate them. If you do not know your membership number or password, go to the first time page  and follow the instructions.

APPG seminar: Small Scale - Big Impact: small scale agriculture and improving nutrition
As part of the launch of the "UK Hunger Alliance" a joint DFID-NGO consortium, the APPG  on Agriculture and Food for Development (APPG) is hosting a session at the House of Lords, London, on 29th April entitled:  Small Scale - Big Impact: The contribution of small scale agriculture to improving nutrition: Is small scale agriculture important to improve food and nutrition security?  How can this be achieved and what are the challenges? For more details see Events pages

Malawi Farmer discusses No-till farming on BBC
A farmer from Malawi was on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme yesterday briefly discussing the advantages of no-till farming. Heres the link (takes a couple of seconds to load): Radio 4 Today No Till Farming

Advice sought on poultry farming in Kenya

A Kenyan agriculture graduate in Kangari, Kenya, is seeking advice and support from members for his new large-scale broiler poultry enterprise. He particularly seeks advice on breeds suitable to the region, weather conditions, disease resistance and poultry policies (marketing, feeding materials, taxation). If anyone can offer advice, please email John Macharia


New Membership List on TAA Website
We have completed the revisions to our membership database. Details of all current, paid-up members can be viewed on the Membership page, just enter your membership number and login, and then click to open/download the pdf membership list. The list has been condensed, using smaller font sizes, to 21 pages. Note that the list is accessible only to paid-up TAA members. Please email our Membership Secretary if: a) you are a paid-up member but cannot access the list,  b) you have lost your login password, or c) your membership has lapsed and access has been denied. 

Farming Matters on your smartphone!!

TAA Convenor needed: Midlands, NW England, Wales
The TAA urgently needs a member to take on the role of convenor/ coordinator for the Midlands, Wales and NW England. This requires someone who is resident in the region, who can act a focal point for TAA members, helping to organise field visits, meetings, seminars etc. The Convenor would become a member of ExCo and would receive support from ExCo members. If you would like to help,  have a little spare time and lots of interest in supporting TAA, please email Elizabeth, our General Secretary  

Sustainable Intensification: A New Paradigm for African Agriculture
Please note that in the email alert the APPG breakfast meeting on "Sustainable Intensification: A New Paradigm for African Agriculture" the web link was incorrect. Click here for the correct link and see the event details.

8th Hugh Bunting Memorial Lecture 17th June
Guest speaker Dr J.D.H. Keatinge, 
Director General, AVRDC - The World Vegetable Center, Taiwan. The topic will be 'Horticulture The Key Ingredient in the Developing World for Nourishing Families, Empowering Women and Commercializing Small Holders'.  University of Reading. Finger Buffet and Reception, free of charge. See 'Events' for details.

SRI-System of Rice Intensification
The results of trials in eleven countries show that yields increased by an average of 60 percent, although they varied sharply  between states, from an 11 precent increase to 220 percent. Changing the way rice is grown, from planting it in flooded paddy fields to drier soil cultivation, is dramatically increasing yields and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.A paper published in the Geographical Journal (March 2013) by Amir Kassam and Hugh Brammer (both TAA members) says that the System of Rice Intensification, or SRI, is having such success that 50 countries are now adopting it. See more

French Soil Science Journal now in full open-access

The French soil science journal (Etude et Gestion des Sols) is now entirely available free of charge on the web, click here. There is no charge for publication or handling of the papers. Papers must be submitted in French, with an abstract in English. Captions to tables and figures must be provided both in French and English. Papers are released on the web as soon as they are accepted and edited. A Spanish translation of the abstract is offered for free by the editorial board. Please submit your papers to Dominique Arrouays 

The Physical Geography of Bangladesh: new book by Hugh Brammer
The Physical Geography of Bangladesh, by Hugh Brammer (a TAA member). 2013. 548 pp. ISBN 978 984 506 049 3. . In his eighth book on Bangladeshs physical environment and agriculture, the Hugh draws together his long experience in surveying, observing and studying the countrys physical geography and provides a revised map of the countrys physiographic regions. He draws attention to the interrelationship between geomorphology and soils, and to the countrys dynamic geomorphology, particularly changes in river courses and the impacts of earthquakes. 

Cover Cropping for Soil Health
This is the follow-on from the previous film about 'Food on your table' and organic farming. This one provides the answer to how to preserve soil health. Click to view.

Sustainable Table: What's On Your Plate?

Sustainable Table: What's On Your Plate? Worth an hour to watch this film (pity about the short intervening adverts). The focus is on 'organic' farming: why did they miss the next step of conservation agriculture and save the soil too? Bhutan has recently become the first country to be 'organic'.

Over nine months, director Mischa Hedges and his crew traveled the west coast of USA to learn more about our food system. While interviewing farmers, agricultural experts, nutritionists and activists, Mischa and his team learned that the standard methods of producing food do not take environmental or human health costs into consideration.

For our younger members: DFID's new Graduate Scheme

The DFID Graduate Recruitment Scheme 2013 will open for applications on Tuesday 15th January 2013 until 12th March 2013.

DFID's Graduate Development Scheme offers a diverse range of work experience in key teams across DFID, all united by a single goal: to tackle poverty and help people in developing countries improve their lives.


New book: Sustainable Food Production Practices in the Caribbean
"Sustainable Food Production Practices in the Caribbean" by Wayne Ganpat and Wendy-Ann
Isaac (Editors) has just been released. US$ 50.00. Order from the publishers or on Amazon. Wendy-Ann is a member of TAA.

NRM research: can CGIAR raise its game?

A lot of people whose opinions matter not least because they hold the purse-strings think that the CGIAR system "could do better in research on natural resource management (NRM). New from the systems Independent Science and Partnerships Council (ISPC) is a green paper that points possible ways forward Read more

New research to investigate virus damage to yam crops
"Poor farming communities to benefit from new research into viruses that damage yam crops"
The Natural Resources Institute (NRI) has won a grant from the Gates Foundation to support research to detect damaging viruses which can reduce the yield of valuable yam crops for smallholder farming communities in West Africa and other parts of the developing world. Click for details.  
Contact Ruth for further information.

NEW: DFID Entry Scheme for Advisers (DESA)
After nearly 12 months of deliberation DFID have launched their DESA scheme with a very short deadline of 25th Jan. Click on this link .
"Would you like to help DFID rise to the challenge of reducing world poverty and do all that we can to achieve the Millennium Development Goals? DFID is pleased to announce a new DFID Entry Scheme for Advisers (DESA). This is a great opportunity to join DFID and launch a career in development as an adviser.
We welcome applications from anyone meeting the eligibility requirements of the DESA scheme.  Please click on to see full details, download an application pack and submit your application. Closing date for applications: 12 Midnight UK time on 25 January 2013"

eSci Journal of Crop Production

eSci Journal of Crop Production is a peer-reviewed, open access journal publishes original research articles, short communications, research notes reporting experimental and theoretical contributions to crop science in the field of crop production. Click for details. Submit your articles to or click here to submit your manuscript.


Documentary films on CA in Lebanon

Two documentaries on Conservation Agriculture from Lebanon, which were accomplished with farmers and researchers: CA in Lebanon ; CA in Orchards Systems in Lebanon. Click on the Youtube "Captions button and select "English: CA in Lebanon to display English subtitles.

AgriTechTalk International advisory services
AgriTechTalk International CIC is a Community Interest Company, created to improve food security in poorer, marginalized communities through the provision of technical support through projects and programmes funded by grants and donations. Register for TechTalk's Advisory Service by clicking here. AgriTechTalk is operated by AA International, a corporate member of TAA.

Video about Soil Biology, Australia
An interesting video about investigating soil biology and crop responses in S Australia.   From IUSS Alert  90, Dec. 2012. 


New book: "Amazon Forest and Savanna Lands: a guide to the climates, vegetation, landscapes, and soils of central tropical South America

TAA member Thomas Cochrane writes to introduce this book, which he initiated during studies as a member of the British Tropical Agricultural Mission to Bolivia in the 1960s, and has subsequently added to and updated over the years. Now available in both English and Spanish versions. The book is primarily about the Amazon region but it has an extensive series of appendices which would be of interest to most agronomists and soil scientists working in under-developed countries. Editors: Thomas T. Cochrane and Thomas A. Cochrane, University of Canterbury, UC Design, Publisher:, ISBN 10: 1452866376, Published: 2011, Pages: 190. Cost: $49. Additional information on "AGTECA" web-site  or from Thomas (Director, Agrotecnologica Amazonica).


New 'Fodder Machines' in India

The machines reportedly can produce 100 kg of grass by using 14 kg of seeds put into it. They can produce fodder in a matter of weeks. The technology has been tested and used successfully in  Haryana and Gujarat. The fodder produced by the machines was not different from fodder grown on fields. Since there was no soil involved in the cultivation process, cattle could even feed on the roots. In arid lands dependent on rainfall,  such machines could be of great help to farmers, especially during dry days. Click here for more details


TAA Accounts 2012-13
The draft accounts for 2011-12 are now available on the website, just click on Accounts. These will need to approved at the AGM on November 28th.  We invite members to check the accounts ahead of the AGM. 

Global Agenda of Action in support of sustainable livestock sector development

FAO is preparing a Global Agenda of Action, through a participatory process which focuses on consensus building among key stakeholders in the livestock sector, for a subsequent operational phase. Initially, a Global Agenda of Action will focus on the improvement of resource-use efficiency in the livestock sector to support livelihoods, long-term food security and economic growth while safeguarding other environmental and public health outcomes. For more details, email or check the website    20.10.12

VIDEO: How Zambia scaled up Conservation Agriculture
How has Zambia scaled it up".... a new release from World Bank Institute, in collaboration with TerrAfrica program and partners". 

(1) English short version
(2) French short version

The short version (9 min) is less detailed than the long version (15 min), but essential messages are there.

AgriTechTalk International
AA International (a TAA member organisation) has recently created a not-for-profit Community Interest Company (limited by guarantee) called AgriTechTalk International Its mission is to improve food security in poorer, marginalized communities through the provision of free at-point-of-delivery technical support to projects and programmes. AgriTechTalk International CIC encompasses the TechTalk's Advisory Service and a Joint Action Scheme for NGOs and community organisations wishing to work jointly with AA International in the implementation of food security / rural development projects and programmes. Click here to read more about AgriTechTalk International. Contact Lisa if you have any further enquiries.

Younger members joining? What is the age structure of TAA now?
Since the new website was set up we have had younger people joining. And thanks to our new Membership Secretary membership on our new on-line database have been updated. Now we are keen that each member checks their membership profile and adds their date of birth. Then we will be able to analyse the age structure of members. Moreover, if you are over a certain age, you may be due a discount! Please help us to update your details - it is easy to do on-line. Go to the membership page. Enter your membership number and password and logon. Click on "View your Member profile" to see the details that we hold on you, correct any errors, add missing data (eg: date of birth dd/mm/yyyy). For first time login, follow the instructions on the website. If you cannot find your membership number, email the membership secretary . Please help us to keep the membership details accurate and complete! 

A new initiative, founded by the Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture , has been launched as AgPartnerXChange ( This has a mission to change the enabling environment for public-private partnerships that adds value for smallholder farmers.  AgPartnerXChange's mandate is to improve our capacity to catalyze more and better PPPs, and to evaluate the impact of PPPs on smallholder farmers.  Working with GATD Foundation, Syngenta Foundation is putting into action the results of 2+ years of consultation with private and public sector partners.  [13.9.12]

Drought in the US : a contribution by Argentina

Argentina is a country that has gone through similar drought situations as the US, and today, more than 80% of its arable area is under no-till farming systems. Roberto A. Peiretti, Argentina No-Till Farmers' Association, offers a paper that illustrates how No Till Improves Soil Functioning and Water Economy and a PowerPoint on No-Till's role in increasing Productivity, Profit and Sustainability [Amir Kassam, FAO, reports]


Annual Reunion, RMM Lecture & AGM, London
A note for your diary, the Annual Reunion, AGM and ralph Melville Memorial Lecture will be held at the Roayal Over-seas League, Piccadilly, London on 28th November. Details and application procedures for tickets given under 'Events' page

Conservation Agriculture in Zambia
A new web site for anybody interested in the promotion of Conservation Farming and Climate-Smart Agriculture. In many parts of Africa, stagnant productivity, population pressure, environmental degradation and the threat of climate change suggest an increasingly bleak future for millions of African families whose livelihoods depend on farming. Take a look at the solutions or contact the Conservation Farming Unit.

New global alliance for research in animal diseases

You may be interested to know that a TAA member has recently established a global network of the major research funders on animal diseases, which involves partners from the Americas, Asia, Australasia, Africa (just AU-IBAR so far) and Europe. Global Strategic Alliances for the Coordination of Research on the Major Infectious Diseases of Animals and Zoonoses. Read more 

CGIAR will speak with one voice

"CGIAR will speak with one voice". That's the first tenet of the revised CGIAR Branding Guidelines and Toolkit released recently. There's a new tagline "Science for a food secure future". The acronym CGIAR has morphed into a name and is no longer to be spelled out or used with the definite article. The guidelines and toolkit are being rolled out by individual centres and programmes. 

Conservation Agriculture: National Statistics
For FAO's latest statistics on the uptake of Conservation Agriculture around the world, click here 

How to end hunger in times of crises
The book by Andrew MacMillan and  How to End Hunger in Times of Crises. Let's start now! is available on Amazon/Kindle as an e-book. Either go the Amazon books and type in the title or see . When you buy a copy, you will support education in Kenya (

New book: How to End Hunger in Times of Crises.
The book by Ignacio Trueba & Andrew MacMillan (TAA Member) is now available:  "How to End Hunger in Times of Crises. Let's start now!" on Amazon/Kindle as an e-book. Either go the Amazon books and type in the title or see . When you buy a copy, you will support education in Kenya (

2014 to be the International Year of Family Farming
The UN General Assembly has declared 2014 to be the International Year of Family Farming and has invited FAO to facilitate implementation of the International Year, in collaboration with its partners. Among its initiatives for the International Year, FAO is planning to publish a major study on family farming and Agricultural innovation systems (AIS) in 2014 in the State of Food and Agriculture series, which is FAOs major annual flagship publication.

ELLA Guide: Improving Small Farmers' Adaptive Capacity in Semi-arid Regions
DFID's Research for Development (R4D) provides digests of current research worldwide, such as this ELLA Guide for Brazil. Click here to sign up for regular research digests.

African agriculture: Dirt poor

News Feature from Nature 28 March 2012: The key to tackling hunger in Africa is enriching its soil. The big debate is about how to do it. Click here.

Iraq Salinity Project
Iraqi and international research team looks at causes and solutions to salinity that threaten agriculture in the Tigris-Euphrates river basin.

Young Professionals in Agricultural Research for Development

GFAR reports on the revised set of skills needed by young graduates to address new challenges in agriculture. The Young Professionals Platform in Agricultural Research for Development (YPARD) has contributed to the debate on change in formal higher agricultural education with the study "Working towards a new generation of Young Professionals in ARD.  This study focused on tertiary level education, asking young professionals to identify those competencies that they were not adequately provided adequately during their education.  This differs from previous studies, by focusing on the perspective of young professionals themselves.

ICARDA News Update: Conservation Agriculture
Conservation Agriculture strategies and policy options for optimal food production in the dry areas. ICARDA shares their new report that presents recent research and trials on adopting conservation agriculture in dry areas and low income countries. It presents results of recent work with farmers in several countries and provides examples and options for decision makers considering evaluating and scaling-up a conservation agriculture approach.

TAA Agribusiness Group and British Expertise

Interested TAA members can join the Agribusiness Group simply by contacting Jim Turnbull ( Membership of the Agribusiness Group gives TAA members access to British Expertise services and events. This will be of particular value to younger TAA members who are in active employment. So, what is British Expertise and what services does it offer? British Expertise is a trade association for British consultancy and professional services companies wishing to develop their businesses internationally. It is multi-sectoral, but a large number of members have interests in the agriculture and rural development fields. Read more

Dr Samran Sombatpanit requests people to send their digital work in the fields of degradation/ rehabilitation/ restoration/ conservation/ improvement of soil/land/water. These will be included in the 'LANDCON e-LIBRARY' that will be widely distributed in 2012.

Empowering women in agriculture

Empowering women in agriculture: rethinking agricultural needs and actions through the eyes of women. GFAR reports on Global Conference on Women in Agriculture, held in Delhi, March 2012 with 760 participants from 50 countries. For the summary: GFAR_e-news_empowering_women_in_agriculture.pdf

Agriculture and eradicating poverty: towards a new approach

Now loaded: 29th Annual Ralph Melville Memorial Lecture delivered at the Annual General Meeting Held at the Royal Overseas League on 23rd November 2011 Agriculture and eradicating poverty: towards a new approach, Dr Andrew Shepherd, ODI. Click to read

Report on African Agriculture
See a recent Montpellier Panel report on African agriculture, click here.

NEW: Women's Empowerment in Agriculture Index
Women play a critical and potentially transformative role in agricultural growth in developing countries, but they face persistent obstacles and economic constraints limiting further inclusion in agriculture. The Women's Empowerment in Agriculture Index (WEAI) measures the empowerment, agency, and inclusion of women in the agriculture sector in an effort to identify ways to overcome those obstacles and constraints. The Index is a significant innovation in its field and aims to increase understanding of the connections between women's empowerment, food security, and agricultural growth.Click for details.

New report on UK agricultural research
Understanding the UK Agricultural Research Contribution to International Development and Food Security. Co-produced by UKCDS and the London International Development Centre, this report sets out a comprehensive overview of the past, present and possible future for UK investment and collaboration in agricultural research for development since 1973. Read more

Contested Agronomy: agricultural research in a changing world
This book, edited by James Sumberg and John Thompson of IDS, explores the basis for a much needed political agronomy analysis that highlights the impacts of problem framing and narratives, historical disjunctures, epistemic communities and the increasing pressure to demonstrate success on both agricultural research and the farmers, processors and consumers it is meant to serve It is a fascinating and thought-provoking read for professionals in the Agriculture and Environmental sciences, it will also appeal to students and researchers in agricultural policy, development studies, geography, public administration, rural sociology, and science and technology studies. To be published March 2012. Click for details.

Wellbeing and Poverty Pathways
Wellbeing and Poverty Pathways is an international research partnership exploring the links between poverty and wellbeing through research in rural communities in Zambia and India. For details click here

Norman Borlaug Institute for Global Food Security (NBI)
Rothamsted and Nottingham University recently re-launched the Norman Borlaug Institute for Global Food Security (NBI). The institutes objectives are likely to interest many TAA members: click for details