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Reports: UK Regional Branches

This page provides space for reports and news of events held by UK Regional Branches.

The papers have not necessarily been peer-group edited.

East Anglia Branch

Improving rural livelihoods by reducing crop losses, with emphasis on Eastern Africa, May 9th 2018

TAA East Anglia Annual seminar at David Attenborough Building, Cambridge, 9th May 2018. Jointly hosted with Global Food Security and CamPlantsHub. Two papers were presented. Philip Taylor of CABI spoke on? Plantwise: a programme to extend extension and improve plant health systems?. Luke Braidwood, of Plant Sciences, then spoke on? Maize Lethal Necrosis (MLN): using next-generation sequencing to characterise and develop genetic resistance to new disease outbreaks, such as MLN?. Participants were then given an informative tour of the David Attenborough Building by Elizabeth of the Cambridge Conservation Initiative. The full text of the Plantwise paper will be published in Agriculture for Development No 34, Summer 2018. Click on the web link below to read abstracts of both papers.

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Report on TAA Visit to APONIC, February 2018

APONIC is developing vertical soil-less growing systems with a focus on high value, low volume crops and the strap line “The Future is Growing Up”. They are conducting trials at the NIAB Innovation Hub. Read more about this fascinating concept for future farming.

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Transfer of Crop Research Knowledge to Small Farmers, with emphasis on Eastern Africa

TAA East Anglia Annual seminar at NIAB, Cambridge, 16th May 2017. Two papers were presented. Supporting Smallholders in Improving Wheat Cultivation, by Tinashe Chiurugwi (NIAB) et al, presented by Dr Lesley A Boyd (NIAB) and Unlocking the potential of grass pea (Lathyrus sativus) for food security, by Peter Emmrich (John Innes Centre). Dr Lydia Smith (NIAB) escorted attendees on a tour of the NIAB research glasshouses and field plots. The full texts of the papers will be published in Agriculture for Development No 31, Summer 2017, click on web link Read a summary of subsequent discussions in the attached text.

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Innovations in Agri-Tech, May 2016

The seminar was organised by the (TAA) East Anglia Branch, with the Centre for Global Equality (CGE), CambPlants Hub and the University of Cambridge Strategic Research Initiative on Global Food Security (GFS). The theme was Agri-Tech – innovative agricultural technical developments to increase sustainable crop production, through data-driven precision agriculture and genetic plant protection techniques, with emphasis on cropping in East Africa and the ultimate relevance of the techniques to small farmers. Two presentations were made: (i) Dr Stephanie Race, CropPerformance Ltd, Cambridge: on Sustainable Perennial Crop Production in the Tropics: understanding yield variation. This covered innovative approaches to satellite remote sensing data acquisition, crop modelling and analytics to inform practices that increase yield and quality, with a focus on tea production in Kenya; (ii) Prof Sir David Baulcombe, Department of Plant Sciences, Cambridge, on Biotechnology to control disease in African crops. describing how molecular biology and genomics has revolutionised the understanding of disease resistance in plants and led to new strategies for robust strategies for crop protection. The seminarconcluded with a Panel Discussion. Click on the link below for abstracts and full papers, and a summary of the panel discussion. The full papers are also published in Agriculture for Development (28).

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Global Food Security Symposium, Cambridge, July 2015

The symposium, organised by the Global Food Security Initiative, University of Cambridge, took place at the Sainsbury Laboratories on 8th July 2015. Three members of TAA were invited. Slides and audio recordings of most of the talks are now available at the link below. If any participant has comments or suggestions for future such meetings, please refer to Will Simonson

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Cambridge Seminar on Food Security, May 2015

The Tropical Agriculture Association (TAA) East Anglia Branch and the Cambridge Humanitarian Centre arranged a seminar on the theme of Assuring food security to 2050, including implications for climate change and biodiversity loss, in collaboration with CambPlants Hub, Cambridge Conservation Forum (CCF) and the University’s Global Food Security strategic initiative (GFS). Papers ere presented by Dr Bojana Bazjelj on means to manage food demand, examining The importance of shifting dietary preferences and addressing food waste for food security and sustainability, and by Prof Amir Kassam and Dr Gottlieb Basch on ensuring the supply side of food production: Mobilizing greater crop and land potentials: replacing the faltering engine. Click the links below for the papers by Amir & Gottlieb and by Bojana.



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A seminar hosted by the Humanitarian Centre in Cambridge, including a presentation by Benny Demblitzer on Grassroots Africa. See the YouTube video

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Sustainable Agriculture Development Seminar, Cambridge, May 2014

The seminar was led by the TAA, with enthusiastic support from the Humanitarian Centre (Cambridge), Cambridge Universitys Strategic Initiative in Global Food Security (GFS) and the Cambridge Conservation Forum (CCF). There was an amazing turn out of some 50 people from a wide range of institutions and individuals from Cambridge and beyond.

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Development priorities?

A catastrophic storm has hit the world, the East of England is devastated and Cambridge flattened .

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Global Food Futures Year Launch

The Humanitarian Centre, Cambridge, has taken this title as the theme for their activities and events this year (2013-14) and the outcomes will be published in a special edition of the Cambridge Development Report later in 2014.

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Visit to Frederick Hiam Farms, Brandon, Suffolk

Frederick Hiam Ltd is a predominantly vegetable production and packaging concern that has been family owned for the past 80 years.

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Meeting the Relics

The National Soil Resources Institute (NRSI), based at Cranfield University, hosted a days visit to introduce the work and activities of WOSSAC the World Soil Survey Archive & Catalogue. A comprehensive and varied menu of talks and walks had been arranged by Ian Baillie, assisted by Brian Kerr and other colleagues

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When the chips are down

About twenty TAA members and friends attended a meeting at the University of East Anglia, Norwich, for a tour and presentation on UEA Combined Heat and Power: the way ahead.

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Global Food Futures Launch

The Cambridge ‘Humanitarian Centre’ has joined TAA as a corporate member during their themed year of Global Food Futures, 2013-14. This was launched on Oct 8th at the Sainsbury Laboratory, with a keynote address by Dr Camilla Toulmin of IIED. Click here for a report on the event.

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London/SE England Branch

Improving people?s livelihoods and resilience in the drylands of the Sahel and Horn of Africa through agricultural interventions. Curry Club, London. March 2018

Cecilia benda of Concern Worldwide, outlined Concern?s principal agriculture and livestock activities in working with the most vulnerable people. She drew on examples from Niger, Chad, Sudan, Kenya and Somaliland, with a focus on Concern?s work on resilience to address climate change, population growth and inequalities. Lively discussions continued over a‪ Curry Lunch after the talk by Cecilia

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Intensive Production In Tanzanian Agriculture: making It happen. March 6th, 2018

The All Party Parliamentary Group on Tanzania, together with the Britain Tanzania Society, held a well-attended seminar in the House of Commons on March 6th, focusing on the Future of Tanzanian Agriculture. Antony Ellman, TAA member and Award Fund Chairman, gave a keynote address on Intensifying Tanzanian Agriculture: his powerpoint presentation with explanatory notes can be viewed below. The meeting was attended by MPs, members of the APPG, NGOs, TAA and other interested parties. The outcome of the discussions is expected to form the basis of a future APPG submission to DFID.

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Visit to Rothamsted Research: October 2014

22 members of the TAA attended a visit to Rothamsted, a Corporate member of TAA. It was well organised by Simon Vaughan, head of International Programmes. Professor John Pickett gave a first class presentation of impressive work on the push-pull crop protection programme in Kenya.

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Globalisation a game of consequences. By Jim Waller 29/8/2014

Broadly globalisation is to “make worldwide in scope or application” but the term became popular in relation to the opening of international financial markets and business activities in the 1980-90s. Globalisation began with Mans first emigrations from Africa and the subsequent development and spread of agriculture, trade and urbanisation. The first significant problem to emerge as a consequence of early globalisation was the black death/plague caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis, an enzootic of ground rodents and their fleas in central Asia. This was probably carried along the silk route and spread rapidly in densely populated cites of Europe, in effect human monocultures, killing an estimated 50% of the European population in the 14th century. Since then, other diseases of man, livestock and crops have continued to spread mostly through the agency of human activity linked to increasing globalisation.

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Can voluntary sustainability standards incentivize smallholder adoption? – The case of rice

9th Prof. Hugh Bunting Memorial Lecture By Wyn Ellis, PhD UNEP / Sustainable Rice Platform & Tropical Agriculture Association, University of Reading 9 June 2014

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Northern England

Land degradation seminar 9th March 2016

Joint TAA- Univ of Newcastle Soil Science Society seminar. Land degradation is the reduction in the capacity of the land to provide ecosystem goods and services and assure its functions over a period of time. Land degradation affects large areas and many people in dryland regions. Changes in land use through ploughing, heavy grazing and deforestation all leave the soil highly vulnerable to wind erosion particularly during severe droughts. Heavy grazing around water points or during long droughts prevents or delays the regrowth of vegetation or favours only unpalatable shrubs.

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Crop protection: advances and challenges (8th Dec 2014)

For farmers around the world, tackling crop pest problems in a safe and sustainable way is a major challenge. Currently between 30-40% of crops are lost to pests, which exacerbates the problem of food insecurity and hunger. The food system is under pressure from climate change, environmental degradation, population growth, rising energy prices, rising demand for meat and dairy products, competition for land from biofuels, and urbanization. We cannot afford for these losses to continue, but can we do about it?

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Scotland Branch

Curry lunch Discussion

A curry lunch was held at Mother India in Edinburgh on 12 Aug 2016, as the first informal TAA meeting to take place in Scotland. It was well received. After eating we had a short discussion on? What is the role of TAA Scotland??. Having defined some priorities, future actions were discussed.

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Survey & Inaugural Meeting 25/9/15

Having conducted a survey of members’ needs, the TAA Scotland Branch held their first meeting on Friday 25 September 2015 at Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation.

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Southwest England Branch

Soil – where the answer lies

The TAA Southwest Branch organised a full day seminar at the Royal Agriculture University, Cirencester on 15th October 2015, as part of the UN Year of the Soil 2015. Introduction by John Wibberley, and papers by David Hopkins on Healthy Soils challenges for research & development; Jane Rickson on Soil degradation & Ecosystem Security; Alan Stapleton on Travels with an auger: tropical soil diversity in practice; Tony Reynolds, on Soil management: lessons from and for Conservation Farming; Richard Baines on Reducing Soil Erosion through improved agricultural practices among smallholder farmers in Tanzania; Charles Hartley on Soil Conservation via Tropical Tree Crop Management. Followed by an active panel discussion.

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Dairy Farming Seminar, March 2015

Papers presented were: 1) Overview of Trends and Issues in Dairying Globally by Prof John Wibberley. 2) Cows in Context with particular reference to East Africa. Richard Alford. 3) Practical Progress for Dairy Farmers. Duncan Forbes, MD of Kingshay Farming and Conservation. 4) Our Story in Dairying. Family Farm Viability and Succession. John and Sally Down 5) The Long View; experiences and strategies for staying in dairying. John Alvis.

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