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The Value of Spiders in CA Systems

December 10th, 2018

Please find a new paper from southern Africa assessing the valuable contribution of spiders in Conservation Agriculture (CA) systems. This was a collaborative effort by CIMMYT Zimbabwe with the University of Chinoyi. The results may be particularly relevant for future research on biological control measures for the Fall Armyworm FAW.

“The present study confirmed our first hypothesis and showed that no-tillage increased abundance of some predatory ground wanderers (Lycosidae and Gnaphosidae) and plant wanderers (Thomisidae), whilst also increasing spider diversity. Moreover, our results partly supported the second hypothesis and found increased abundances of Lycosidae, Gnaphosidae and Thomisidae in mulched plots”.Read the full paper.

As the lead researcher from CIMMYT, Christian Theirfelder, says: ‘Spiders are really cool!’

ECHO International Agriculture Conference 2018: videos

December 9th, 2018

Videos & presentations are now available for the ECHO 25th annual International Agriculture Conference, which featured many exceptional speakers, opportunities for networking and hands-on training. For those of you who were unable to attend this year, or for those wanting to review the material presented we are excited to announce that the videos of the plenary sessions are available now for everyone to see. ECHO Asia & East Africa are institutional members of TAA.


NOTE: Regarding those Nigerian hoes [News 7th Dec], Paul S has indicated a possible home with the ethnographic collection of the Anthropology Dept at Durham University.

Latest Vacancy Postings

December 8th, 2018

New Vacancies posted:

  • Chief of Party (ACDI/VOCA);
  • Food Security Technical Deputy Chief of Party (ACDI/VOCA);
  • Market Systems Director (ACDI/VOCA);
  • Researcher – Crop Water Productivity and Water Resources (IWMI);
  • National Epidemiologist – Kenya (FAO);
  • Senior Rural Development Specialist (AsDB);
  • PhD studentship in Environmental Science (Open Univ.);
  • Long and Short Term Experts (AFC); and
  • Sustainable Agriculture Consultant (ADAS).

Please visit the TAA Vacancy pages for more details (you will need to logon as a member to view the details).

Looking for a home for Nigerian Hoes

December 7th, 2018

We have received a message as follows:

My father worked as a Tropical Agriculturalist in Nigeria, West Africa, for most of his life. When he died, he left about 12 transpierced agricultural hoes. My sister and I are keen to find a suitable ‘home’ for them and wondered if anyone in the TAA would be able to offer any suggestions. Catherine F

If anyone has any suggestion, perhaps a museum, please contact the Web Manager

Soil microbes are gaining worldwide interest

December 6th, 2018

ABC News in Western Australia reports growing interest in soil microbes, and not just from organic farmers. Internationally-recognised soil scientist Dr Christine Jones travels the world giving talks on the benefits of the microscopic organisms and how they can help improve the quality of your crop — whether it be on the farm or in the garden. She said with healthy soil biology, plants have been shown to become more resilient to frosts and diseases. Soil microbes are the probiotics of the plant world.

In addition, soil becomes less susceptible to weeds and it ends up costing less for the farmer or gardener, without the added costs of inputs. Dr Jones, who has been studying microbes and giving talks for 40 years, said over the past two years interest had gone through the roof. Read more …..

Small Group Discussion-Series: TAA India Branch

December 5th, 2018

TAA-India is planning to organise “Small Group Discussion-Series” (SGDS) on current global and regional issues in the areas of rural livelihood, agribusiness, conservation agriculture, environment conservation and land husbandry focusing for policy and/or action support. In addition to TAA members, key professional/ specialist non-members will be invited to participate in the SGDS. Thus the learning will be shared to the wider audience.

Initially, SGDS-1 is planned to be organised in Delhi, tentatively during first half of February 2019. However the criteria for the selection of location will be decided across the country on the basis of interest and priority of the respective members. The institutional members of TAA-India are requested to come forward with some modest  financial support to organise SGDS. All TAA-India members are also requested to suggest the contacts who can be approached for small financial support.

The suggestions from members will be highly appreciated, including possible invitees. It is also requested to suggest the theme for SGDS-1 to be organised in February 2019. Please respond to Girish Bhardwaj, India Organiser

Three Big Myths about Modern Agriculture

December 5th, 2018

Myths get in the way of our ability to restore degraded soils that can feed the world using fewer chemicals. Read this conversation with David R. Montgomery (2017) in the Scientific American.


According to a recent U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) report, family farms produce over three-quarters of the world’s food.


Many high-volume industrial processes exhibit efficiencies at large scale that decrease inputs per unit of production. The more widgets you make, the more efficiently you can make each one. But agriculture is different. A 1989 a National Research Council study concluded that “well-managed alternative farming systems nearly always use fewer synthetic chemical pesticides, fertilizers, and antibiotics per unit of production than conventional farms.”


Comparing crop yields on conventional farms to those on organic farms, where cover crops were planted and crops were rotated to build soil health. the yield gap was below 10 percent.

New vacancies

December 5th, 2018

Vacancies uploaded recently:

  • Breeder for Cassava Germplasm Enhancement (CIAT);
  • Senior Agricultural Specialist (World Bank);
  • Animal Health Consultant (FAO);
  • Plant Production and Protection Specialist (FAO);
  • Junior Professional Officers (FAO);
  • Team Leader (NIRAS);
  • Technical Advisor (Blumont);
  • Policy/Regulatory Expert (NIRAS);
  • Soil Fertility Expert (IFDC);
  • Chief of PArty (ACDI/VOCA);
  • Dep.Chief of Party (ACDI/VOCA);
  • Subject Matter Experts (ACDI/VOCA); and
  • Livelihoods and Food Security Specialist (UNOPS).

Trustees’ Annual Report & Accounts, TAAF Workshop, Events

December 1st, 2018

Annual Trustees’ Report for July 2017-June 2018, This is available on the website . We ask members to read it before the AGM on December 11th, when the Chairman will update progress since July and discuss plans for the year ahead.

TAAF Workshop,  A successful one-day workshop, bringing together returned TAAF awardees, was held at University College London on 9th November. The aim was to enable awardees to discuss their fieldwork experiences, and to discuss future career opportunities with experienced TAA members. You can read more under ‘TAAF News

Members’ Login. A new button has been added to the top right corner of the website to make it easier for members to log in, review their profile and access topics such as Vacancies, institutional members, etc.

Events announcements. Future Events can be viewed on the website . Unfortunately, on the new website, adding an event will not automatically initiate an email alert. We will post important ones under ‘TAA News‘ but we ask members to keep a check the events pages regularly for new additions.

Web Manager

Reminder: TAA Honours Awards, AGM and Social Reunion

November 30th, 2018

Please join us on 11th December, from 17.00 at Royal Over-seas League, Piccadilly, London.

The event will include our AGM, a review of activities during the year and a look to the future, by the Chairman, a short presentation by a TAAF Awardee and then awards to the recipients of the  TAA 2018 Honours for Development Agriculturalist 2018, Young Development Agriculturalist (Overseas) 2018 and Awards of Merit. Our Development Agriculturalist 2018 will speak. We are delighted that our Young Development Agriculturalist (Overseas) 2018 will be joining us from India and will briefly describe his work. This will be followed by our social evening, with hot buffet dinner.

We hope that this will be an enjoyable event, a chance to learn about what TAA is doing, to meet those who have been given honours and to catch up and interact with each other. The cash bar will be open and there will be a raffle of prizes.  Members, spouses and friends are very welcome. Please join us to make the evening a success.

You are requested to book your place as soon as possible through Elizabeth Warham, there will be a £25 per person charge to cover room and facility hire and a hot buffet dinner, payable at the door.

International Conference on CA in Central Asia: proceedings

November 28th, 2018

In order to strengthen the links and to promote transfer of technologies among the Conservation Agriculture  community of the region, the organisers have uploaded all presentations and materials to the cloud. You can find the materials for the ICCA-2018, click here.

Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN)

November 27th, 2018

The Science-Policy Interface (SPI) of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) wishes to invite you to participate in a survey on the potential contribution of Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN) to enhancing the well-being and livelihoods of people, as well as the state of the environment. More investigation is needed for more effective implementation of LDN by: 1) learning from experiences; 2) understanding the role of enabling and reinforcing factors, including land governance; 3) identification of options to enhance the benefits of LDN for human well-being and livelihoods. All this will help refine the implementation of LDN.

The information you provide through this survey is planned to feed into deliverables of objective 1.2 of the SPI Work Programme 2018-2019, adopted by decision 21/COP.13, and has a great potential of shaping deliberations of the fourteenth session of the UNCCD Conference of the Parties in October 2019. Responses will be stored anonymously and the results of the survey will be presented in an aggregated format without identifying individual respondents.

Please access the survey link. It will only take 20 minutes to complete the survey and share your views on what is needed to achieve and maintain LDN in terms of policies, incentives, and support for implementation. The survey will be closed on 24th December 2018.

Should you have any questions, please contact Mr. Cameron Allen.

New vacancies

November 25th, 2018

Uploaded vacancies:

  • Senior Scientist – Gender Specialist (IITA);
  • Agriculture Value Chain Expert (SNV);
  • Team Leader (Applan);
  • Technical Consultant – Water and NRM (Blumont);
  • Animal Health Consultant (FAO);
  • Technical Adviser (FAO)

World Ploughing Championships – a future with CA?

November 25th, 2018

Read this article from the Guardian by Sophie Elmhirst, who says that some compare the world championships to snooker, others to figure skating. But for those who have given their lives to competitive ploughing, it’s more than a sport, it’s a way of life.

But read on to her observations on the future, with the expansion of no-till conservation agriculture, quoting John Cherry, a leading conservationist farmer, “The soil is a mixture of inert minerals and living creatures, a wonderful world of superhighways and information paths, then you come along with a plough, turn it all upside-down and destroy it”. So convinced is Cherry of the no-till method that three years ago, he launched Groundswell, a two-day summer festival held on his UK farm, where hundreds of farmers learn about conservation agriculture. Among Brazilian soil experts and English worm specialists, Cherry delivered an hour-long lecture, with slides, to a packed barn on the success story of no-tilling his own farm. He likes to quote Franklin D Roosevelt’s 1937 letter to state governors in the USA after dust storms and floods had caused irreparable harm across rural America: “The nation that destroys its soil, destroys itself”.

Recently, Sheffield University researchers suggested that, given the state of their soil, British farms only have 100 harvests left. But conservationists detect a moment of opportunity. As farmers face the disappearance of EU subsidies after Brexit, Cherry believes they are desperately looking to cut costs. No-till farming uses less diesel, less fertiliser. As well as preserving the soil, it’s cheaper. Every year, he said, more farmers were defecting to his side. In a speech he gave in March this year, DEFRA minister, Michael Gove, talked about giving no-till farmers support “to help control and reduce carbon emissions, demand for chemical inputs and provide a richer habitat for insects and invertebrates”. When he announced his agriculture bill in September, Gove set out  out how farming, post-Brexit, would in theory become a paid-for public good.

[Thanks to Michael F for submitting this]

Members’ Revised Update on the new TAA Website

November 24th, 2018

Many of you will have explored the new website. We hope you like it? There are still several issues being resolved and the full value of the new membership database is yet  to be realised. We ask for your patience. We also seek your help in updating your ‘profile’, see below. We  have now modified the news item to account for some feedback.

There are few tips to help members become comfortable with the new structure:

  • Accessing the Membership areas. Please click on the “Members” tab on the nav bar at the top of the site. This will ask you to enter your membership number and password, then click “login”. This will show the status of your membership subscriptions. Click on “edit profile” under “My Account” and you will have access to members’ information, vacancies, downloads of recent journals etc.
  • We encourage all members to log in and update their Profile as soon as possible, please (‘Edit Profile’ under the ‘My Account’ heading, click ‘Your Profile’)  If you have forgotten your password, you can now request a new one under the ‘Login’ heading.
  • News, Vacancies and Events are being posted at intervals and will be emailed to members. If you need more information on a news item, just click on the blue (live) title of the relevant item in the email. Note that you will need to be logged-in as a member to view the Vacancies pages.
  • We have deleted the Directory of CVs, which was seldom used before. We have included a new Careers Summary section, which requires members to update their Profiles to include relevant information. This will then be viewable by all members.
  • Visit “What we do” on the “Home” page for information on such things as our “Award of Honours” and other activities of TAA.
  • There is now s “Search” button (top left in the nag bar) to help you navigate and find specific topics.

If you have any problems or suggestions, feel free to contact us: website or membership. Meantime, we ask for patience as teething problems in the new site are resolved.

New partnership to address food and nutrition security in Asia

November 22nd, 2018

SEARCA and WorldVeg (TAA member) will be able to access each other’s networks, develop joint research programs, organize roundtable conferences, and more.

The Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) and the World Vegetable Center (WorldVeg) formalized ties for institutional cooperation through the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) at the Development Academy of the Philippines in Tagaytay City on 7 November 2018. Signatories were Dr. Fernando C. Sanchez Jr. on behalf of SEARCA as chairman of its governing board, and Dr. Marco Wopereis, Director General of WorldVeg. The signing ceremony was held on the sidelines of the International Conference on Nutrition-Sensitive Agriculture and Food Systems, 7-10 November 2018. Read more ….. .


Reminder for Curry Club 29th Nov

November 21st, 2018

29th November: 10.45 Curry Club talk by Nikki Yates of Rothamsted Research on how the organisation has evolved and will introduce the latest efforts and opportunities at Rothamsted in its transition towards an ever-stronger international role. At Strand Continental Hotel. £15 per head . Book your place with Terry Wiles.

Draft for IPCC Special Report on Climate Change and Land

November 20th, 2018

The Second Order Draft for the IPCC Special Report on Climate Change and Land (SRCCL) will be open for Expert and Government Review from Monday 19 November 2018 to Monday 14 January 2019.

You are invited to register as an Expert Reviewer to provide comments and suggestions to the author teams. You are invited to review individual chapters, the Summary for Policymakers and/or to provide overarching comments on the report as a whole. For reference, the approved outline for the report is available on the IPCC website: .

Please follow the link provided below to register as an Expert Reviewer. Registration will be open from 9 November and closes 7 January 2019, but please note the draft will not be available to view or download until 19 November.

It is IPCC practice that all drafts are confidential and should not be cited, quoted or distributed (please refer to Section 4.2 of Appendix A to the Principles Governing IPCC Work for further information. The login details you will receive are personal and non-transferable. When draft chapters and figures are downloaded the files are personalised with a traceable bar code that is associated with your login details. All approved Expert Reviewers will be acknowledged in the final report, due to be finalised in August 2019. The Expert Review is an important part of the IPCC process and we very much hope you will be able to participate as an Expert Reviewer for the SRCCL Second Order Draft.

New Source of Nutrition?

November 19th, 2018

Cambridge Global Food Security, an institutional member of TAA, highlights this month’s researcher. Dr Payam Mehrshahi, of the Department of Plant Sciences, University of Cambridge, is working to generate a new source of nutrition that could significantly relieve the pressure on agricultural land. Find out more here


Combating Desertification & Drought: Using Data to Restore Land

November 19th, 2018

The GEO LDN initiative, unveiled in Kyoto last week, hopes to bring together Earth Observation (EO) data providers and governments in order to develop quality standards, analytical tools, and capacity-building to strengthen land degradation monitoring and reporting. Read more ….

The lack of action on one of the world’s biggest environmental problems is largely due to the lack of accurate data and tools to monitor it.

“Land degradation is an existential crisis. Until now, monitoring it in real time felt like an insurmountable challenge. No longer,” said Executive Secretary of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) upon welcoming the new initiative. With Earth observation datasets and the practical tools to use them readily available, decision-makers and land users will have immediate and actionable information to scale up sustainable land management and planning. It is a first step to boosting our resilience,” she added.

Kindly forwarded by Farmers’ Dialogue

New vacancies

November 18th, 2018

Vacancies uploaded today:

  • Team Leader/Agriculture Expert – Coffee Sector (GIZ);
  • Call for Chiefs of Party (Technoserve);
  • Team Leader Agricultural Extension (GFA Consulting Group);
  • Experts – Renewable Natural Resources (AECOM);
  • Chief of Party, West Africa (ACDI/VOCA);
  • Chief Forestry Officer (AfDB);
  • Consultancy: Environmental Impact Study (ICBA);
  • Veterinary Scientist – Epidemiology (ILRI);
  • Scientist – Seed Systems and Project Management (IRRI);
  • PhD Studentship – Insect crop pests (CEH)

FARA Networks – New Funding Opportunities and Events in Africa

November 13th, 2018

The Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) is the apex continental organisation responsible for coordinating and advocating for agricultural research-for-development. (AR4D). FARA serves as the technical arm of the African Union Commission on matters concerning agriculture science, technology and innovation.

New funding opportunities in agricultural research for development are available through the Platform for African – European Partnership in Agricultural Research for Development (PREPARD). FARA also announces new events in AR4D.

TAA members are also invited to join the FARA and PREPARD Networks

Saving and using Mexico’s fantastic tomato agricultural biodiversity

November 10th, 2018

Tomatoes have spread into cuisines around the world but most commercial varieties have a narrow genetic base and only grow well in optimum conditions often in greenhouses. As climate changes and interest in the fruit’s nutritional properties grows, drawing on the huge number of indigenous varieties in Mexico to meet these challenges is hugely important as they grow in a wide range of conditions and have different nutritional properties. That’s a central aim of a project I heard about at Lancaster Environment Centre* earlier this month from Jacob Phelps in a talk on “Charting a future for Mexico’s endemic tomatoes”.

In this interview, he explains more about the importance of Mexico’s significance for the future of tomatoes and the role of the indigenous people in breeding a huge range of varieties and why they need urgent work to ensure they are not lost. Read more and listen to Jacob Phelps of the Lancaster Environment Centre…

[Thanks to Michael F for submitting]

New vacancies

November 9th, 2018

The following vacancies have been uploaded to the Vacancies Page on the TAA website:

  • Communications Specialist (FARA);
  • Team Leader/County Project Adviser (AHT Group);
  • County Project Adviser (AHT Group);
  • Land Use Planning Specialist (Landell-Mills);
  • International Meat Trade Expert (Landell-Mills);
  • Collaboration, Learning, and Adaptation (CLA) Director (ACDI/VOCA);
  • Team Leader – Senior Irrigation Planning Specialist (CACG);
  • Rangeland and Pastureland Specialist (FAO)

Reminders for TAA Events: Hugh Bunting, MERL; Curry Club; AGM

November 9th, 2018

Please join us at the following meetings, as listed on the Events pages

14th November. Visit to Museum of Rural England, Reading, before Hugh Bunting lecture. Book through Terry Wiles

14th November: 17.30 Hugh Bunting Memorial Lecture onClimate Risk Management and wine reception, Reading University. Book through Teresa Hicks

29th November: 10.45 Curry Club talk by Nikki Yates of Rothamsted Research on how the organisation has evolved and will introduce the latest efforts and opportunities at Rothamsted in its transition towards an ever-stronger international role. At Strand Continental Hotel. £15 per head . Book your place with Terry Wiles.

11th December: TAA AGM, Honours and Social Reunion, 17.00 at Royal Over-seas League, Piccadilly, London. Book through Elizabeth Warham, pay at the door.

Soil research institutions & universities offering soil science in Africa – request for input

November 8th, 2018

Dr. Andrei Rozanov, Stellenbosch University, South Africa, provided maps of soil research institutions and universities offering soil science in Africa to the International Union of Soil Science (IUSS). IUSS is glad to share them with the soil science community. 
There are two options to view the map files:
 a) Install Google Earth Pro desktop on your PC from 
b) Use directly in Google Chrome browser. Then Click here to read the KML file from Chrome: you can also download the map files from the IUSS website in Chrome:
, ResearchAfrica.kmz

The map was compiled from the information available on-line. If you find that some of the information is incorrect (e.g. the exact location of the soil science department is incorrect, the department does not exist, the department exists but does not appear on the map, the department is a research unit and does not offer a soil science degree programme, the link to the department website requires an update) please contact Dr. Andrei Rozanov, Stellenbosch University, South Africa by email: to make the necessary corrections.

Apparently, Google Earth is now accessible only via Google Chrome browsers. If you have problems, please refer to Dr Andrei or to the IUSS News Alert September 2018

TAA AGM, Honours Awards and Social Reunion

November 7th, 2018

We look forward to welcoming members and friends to our AGM on 11th December 2018 at the Royal Over-seas League. The event will include the award of TAA Honours for 2018, followed by a presentations by the recipient of the ‘Development Agriculturalist’ award, as well as talks by recent TAAF awardee(s). A cash bar will be open. The event will conclude with our social reunion, accompanied by a fork supper, and a raffle. There will be a charge of £25 to cover room hire and the supper (payable on the night). 

Members, spouses and friends welcome.

Please reserve your place with Elizabeth Warham.

Member Sought to Represent TAA on UKPSF Committee

November 6th, 2018

TAA has ‘Organisational Membership’ of the Royal Society of Biology (RSB), which provides access to a wide range of events and networking links Read more.  The RSB has assigned the TAA a post as representative on the Advisory Board of their UK Plant Sciences Federation, a special interest group of RSB.

This post is currently vacant, since Ian Martin resigned. Dr Jonathan Carruthers, Science Policy Officer, is seeking a TAA member to fill the position. If any member with interests in crop and plant sciences would like to volunteer some time to join UKPSF advisory committee meetings, contribute to their technical reports and join events, please contact the Web Manager We would welcome the opportunity to have a representative on this important committee again.

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

Launch of New TAA Website

November 5th, 2018

The day has finally arrived! The new site is now operational at It has been a complex process transferring data from the old platform and developing a more efficient and user-friendly membership database. There will inevitably be teething problems, so we askmembers to be patient as we deal with these through our partners at Cambridge Web Solutions.

Unfortunately, during the transfer of our News Items, the weblinks and email addresses in the orihginal posts were lost and do not show on the new website The dates of posting new items are now inserted automatically, however, those transferred from the old website all carry the date of transfer – Oct 9th. A similar problem affected the Event news , in which many of the original web links have failed to transfer, especially those relating to the venue locations. We will rectifiy these issues in future postings. We also encountered a last minute problem with presenting our institutional members, we are working on this and the full listings, linked to the new membership database should be added later this week.

This is only the start. We shall now be able to expand the web services on the new platform. Meantime we would welcome constructive feedbck, as the new website gets bedded down: just click on “Contact Us”

Web Manager

Welcome to Malawi Fruits, our new Institutional member

November 4th, 2018

We are pleased to welcome Malawi Fruits as an institutional member. This Scottish Charity is committed to working with partners in Malawi to establish and grow sustainable community businesses in the north of the country. They aim to provide start-up finance, training and support to agriculture and related community enterprises. Malawi Fruits encourages smallholder farmers to see their smallholding as a business and provides support and training to help develop these fledgling businesses, so that farmers can maximise their income and provide for the education and healthcare needs of their families. Kevin Simpson, would be pleased to hear from TAA members with interests in Malawi , he and colleague Charles Howie joined a TAA event in Edinburgh in 2015 organized by John Ferguson, our convenor for Scotland.

New vacancies on TAA site

November 4th, 2018

The following vacancies have been uploaded to the TAA Vacancies page on the website:




  • Chief of Party – Private Seed Sector Development Project (IFDC);
  • Post-doctoral Research Fellow – future livestock development scenarios (ILRI);
  • Postdoctoral Research Fellow – Soybean Breeding (IITA);
  • Principal Irrigation Engineer (AfDB);
  • Animal Welfare Expert (AVENSA);
  • Animal Health Expert (AVENSA); and
  • Senior Staff Positions in ASARECA

New Publications from FAO: Contract Farming and Livestock Manure

November 1st, 2018

Contract farming and public-private partnerships in aquaculture: Lessons learned from East African countries. FAO fisheries and aquaculture technical paper; 68 pages | 210 x 297 mm | ISBN 9789251307113

Through an array of project outcomes in different countries, this paper demonstrates that contract farming is a “win–win” solution because young workers gain access to markets, while private companies have access to produce without acquiring land or supervising labour. Download here.

Nitrogen inputs to agricultural soils from livestock manure, New statistics. 86 pages | 176 x 250 mm | ISBN 9789251300244

This report sheds light on the amount of nitrogen applied to agricultural soils from livestock manure at different scales, and the relevance of producing, refining and monitoring statistics for agronomic policy and planning. Download here.


The Soils of Argentina

October 30th, 2018

This is the first comprehensive book on Argentinian pedology. It discusses the main soil types of Argentina, their geographical distribution, classification, functions, agricultural use, ecological aspects, and the threats to which they have been subjected during centuries of intensive and extensive management. The description of the soils is accompanied by a complete set of data, pictures and maps, including benchmark profiles and an overview of the country’s agricultural production. It also deals with future scenarios of the relationships between soil science and other disciplines and the main challenges that soil science will face in the future. Further, the book explores aspects of the main soil forming factors, such as climate, vegetation, geology and geomorphology, making use of new, unpublished data and elaborations, and presents a history of pedological research in Argentina. Read more …….

Edited by Rubio, Gerardo, Lavado, Raul S., Pereyra, Fernando X. Published in the World Soils Book Series by Springer, 268 pages, ISBN 978-3-319-76853-3, price hardcover EUR 139,99 | GBP 119.99 |USD 169.99; price ebook: EUR 118,99 | GBP 95.50 | USD 129.00.


Welcome to the World Food Week issue of GFAR Update #69

October 27th, 2018

Here are some of the highlights: read the full newsletter . FAO Headquarters was abuzz last week as the Committee on World Food Security (#CFS45), an inclusive international and intergovernmental platform for all stakeholders, met to shape policy that ensures food security and nutrition for all. Kicking off the week was the release of FAO’s annual flagship publication, The State of Food and Agriculture (SOFA). GFAR Secretariat welcomed four bright young researchers on the occasion of World Food Day to share their fascinating findings on what some cutting-edge food technologies and innovations mean for our future. A stimulating discussion followed about the policy environment needed to scale an innovation up and out. GFAR and have recently launched an exciting new online media campaign: #GFARImpakters. Partners in GFAR are being invited to share written contributions on key topics related to their work with GFAR and involving other GFAR Partners that will enable the public at large to engage with and reflect more deeply upon their work and impacts. By taking part, Partners will raise awareness and further the public’s knowledge on issues of global importance for agri-food research and innovation. During the week of 8-12 October, we ran a Partner Spotlight on Africa RISING highlighting many stories of demand-driven, locally-tailored, resource-saving agricultural innovations for sustainable intensification that improve household welfare and at the same time enhance sustainability. And earlier this month, GFAR was showcased at the Committee on Agriculture (#COAG26) as an innovation in partnership. Watch this short video for a snapshot of GFAR’s work! Mark Holderness, GFAR Executive Secretary (and TAA member), was invited to speak on GFAR’s role in innovation for agricultural development at a COAG26 event showcasing the links between European Union support and the work of FAO.


New Publication ‘Compendium on Climate-Smart Irrigation’

October 26th, 2018

The Global Alliance on Climate-Smart Agriculture (GACSA) and partner’s announce a new publication, Compendium on Climate-Smart Irrigation: Concepts, evidence and options for a climate-smart approach to improving the performance of irrigated cropping systems. The compendium provides a comprehensive overview of the challenges and issues for sustainable irrigation development, both related and unrelated to climate change. It discusses the options and opportunities for each of the three pillars of climate-smart agriculture (CSA), identifies potential synergies and trade-offs between the different objectives of CSA, and underscores the importance of inclusive processes engaging stakeholders across different sectors and institutional levels. If you have any questions, please contact the GACSA Facilitation Unit at FAO or Julian Schnetzer or [Thanks to David R]

Call for Proposals for a Grant – ICT-enabled Mechanisation In Africa

October 9th, 2018

The Technical Centre for Agricultural and RuralCooperation (CTA) has launched a Call for proposals to support theimplementation of ICT-enabled mechanisation services in Africa. Applicationshave to be sent by Thursday, 11 October 2018 @ 6:00 pm. Netherlands time. The overall indicative amountmade available under this Grant is Euro250,000. Moreinformation on the CTA website. Contactis Ken Lohento.Web Manager’s Note: Thank you to Jane Guise, who has kindly agreed to take over as Coordinator of Overseas Branches. We are very pleased to have her with us on ExCo.17.8.18

Early Career Members Seeking Jobs in International Development?

October 9th, 2018

Visit the TAA Student JobSeekers pages for suggestions on seeking jobs. A new link to an extensive list of job websitesfor people looking for employment in International Development has been added.See also the new link to the Facebook group on ‘International Development Jobs for Young Professionals’, by SDG categories. Meantime, our new websiteis taking shape and should be operational soon. In future, we intend to display all the new vacancies posted each week, rather than just one example, This should enable a wider spread of jobs to be displayed, suiting early career aswell as more experienced members. We also expect to have the facility to post photographs with news alerts, where relevant. Web Manager.


Early Career Members Seeking Jobs in International Development?

October 9th, 2018

Visitthe TAA Student JobSeekers pages http:// for suggestions on seeking jobs. A new link to an extensive list of job websitesfor people looking for employment in International Development has been added.See also the new link to the Facebook group on ‘International Development Jobs for Young Professionals’, by SDG categories.Meantime, our new websiteis taking shape and should be operational soon. In future, we intend to display all the new vacancies posted each week, rather than just one example, Thisshould enable a wider spread of jobs to be displayed, suiting early career aswell as more experienced members. We also expect to have the facility to postphotographs with news alerts, where relevant. Web Manager10.8.2018

Paraguay Symposium on Conservation Agriculture

October 9th, 2018

This successful symposium was organized by FEPASIDIASlast month. It was attended by about 500 people. It was said that the economiccontribution of No-tillage in Paraguay was about US $ 500 million/year,accumulating to US $ 14,800 million over the past 30 years since introductionof the technology. Unfortunately all the published material is in Spanish orPortuguese. FEPASIDIAS is the Paraguayan Federation of No-till farmerassociations. The National meeting discussed improving theNo-tillage system in the country. Currently, more than 80% of grain production inParaguay grains occurs in areas under No-tillage. Read more ….3/8/18

Prof Michael Stocking, UEA

October 9th, 2018

With sadness, the British Soil Science Societyannounced the death of Michael Stocking, Prof Emeritus in the University ofEast Anglia School of International Development, on 21 May 2018 [as announcedby IUSS]. He completed his PhD at Oxford University in 1969 and, over almost 50years, developed an international profile and reputation as a researcher andadviser in tropical agricultural development, land resources, conservation ofbiodiversity and soil conservation. He was one of very few soil scientistsknown by anthropologists and political economy specialists. Read more …….Although he did not jointhe TAA, many members will remember Michael, especially for his pioneering workon soil erosion in Zimbabwe, contributions to soil fertility/ environmentalissues and advice to GEF.30/7/18

Book Release: Water Management fro Sustainable Agriculture

October 9th, 2018

This new book by Theib Oweis of ICARDA was published inJune 2018 in the Burleigh Dodds Agricultural Sciences series. In a review for WASWAC by David Molden, Director General ICIMOD, Nepal and formerly DeputyDirector General for Research at the International Water Management Institute,Sri Lanka, he commends the book:”This bookprovides excellent source material, covering a range of important topics forsound and sustainable water management practices for agriculture. This is anurgent need as food production is the major consumer of water resources. Thisbook will hold the keys to help unlock the potential for improved watermanagement. The editor and author are to be applauded in taking this issue sideby side with issues of sustainability.” 14/7/18

Expertise sought in Cannabis Growing, Caribbean

October 9th, 2018

A friend ofthe TAA, who is working with a team that is establishing a 500 acre farm in theCaribbean to grow cannabis for medicinal use, is seeking expertise relating tocannabis growing. If any member has such expertise and is interested, pleaseemail the Web Manager and we will forward to Dylan Banks. Update on TAAWebsite: we can assure members that the new website is now under constructionand we hope to have it fully operational by early August. Meantime, the WebManager has been on leave, we hope that regular news alerts will recommence inearly July. Thank you for your patience. 28.6.18

Scientists shocked by mysterious deaths of ancient baobab trees

October 9th, 2018

International scientists have discoveredthat most of the oldest and largest African baobab (Adensonia digitata) trees have died over the past 12 years. Theysuspect the demise may be linked to climate change, although they have nodirect evidence of this. The tree can grow to an enormous size, and may livehundreds if not thousands of years. The researchers, from universities in SouthAfrica, Romania and the US, say the loss of the trees is “an event of anunprecedented magnitude”. Revealing the findings in the journal  Nature Plants they say the deaths were not caused by an epidemic.The trees that have died or are dyingare found in Zimbabwe, Namibia, South Africa, Botswana and Zambia. They are allbetween 1,000 and more than 2,500 years old. Baobabs are an iconic feature inmany parts of the continent. See more at undernews/science-environment-4441884914.6.18

News of the TAA Website

October 9th, 2018

We are pleased to announce that we have identified a suitable web developer to re-build our website. At the Executive Committee meeting on June 11th, agreement was reached to proceed with developing the new site immediately. Meantime, the Web Manager will be on holiday from mid-June, so you will not be receiving the regular News Alerts. Moreover, there may be a slight hiatus as we transfer data to the new website and populate the new linked membership database. We seek your patience. Hopefully, we should be able to launch the new site in early August, in time for the next new membership year. The website is a vital part of the Association but re-building it is an expensive process: we would be very grateful for donations from members, any amount is welcome. You can donate via the website. Go to and add /taa-donations.asp and follow the instructions. Alternatively, please contact the Treasurer.13.6.18

CA – watch this brilliant video. Link added.

October 9th, 2018

Apologies – the link was missed: click here to watchThis film is about farmers moving away from conventional tillage agriculture and adopting Conservation Agriculture or No-Till Farming. It was produced, directed and narrated by Ms Fiona Cunningham and features TAA members Amir Kassam and Tony Reynolds. Do watch it – a moving film with a powerful message, although lacks full mention of all the technical benefits of CA and aims mainly at the European farming systems. Just right for New Years Day. The next Groundswell Agriculture show will be held in June 2018 in the UK. Many thanks to Amir for submitting this link: now we need a similar film of tropical CA?Happy New Year!1/1/18b

APPG report on Climate Risk Insurance

October 9th, 2018

Read the report prepared bythe APPG on Agriculture & Food for Development, which is being distributedto members of the UK Parliament. Also accessible via the TAA website27.10.17

TAA Questionnaire Survey of Individual Members, 2017

October 9th, 2018

In2008 a survey was conducted, which served to refine a future strategy, based onsix major themes. Since then, much has happened: technologies have changed andthe activities of TAA have evolved. Therefore we have decided to conduct a newQuestionnaire Survey, which we ask all members to complete by 31 October. The Questionnaire can also be accessed from our Home Page. It is in two parts. Please attempt to answer all questions but if you have only recently joined TAA or have no experience of the 2008 strategy activities you may omit responses to Part 1. All members should please respond to Part 2, which relates to a future TAA strategy. Your views are important: the survey is an opportunity for you to contribute to the future of TAA. Part 1. A review of themes andactivities in the 2008 strategy, to identify successes and constraints to theactivities undertaken – questions are shown in green font. Part 2. Covers issues related to a futureTAA strategy, to suggest any necessary modifications to existing activities,identify new activities and consider links to other organizations and themanagement of the Association. Questions are shown in red font.Concurrently,we shall be circulating by email a slightly different questionnaire to therepresentatives of each of our Institutional member organisations for theirviews. Institutional member representatives can also access their survey here. 4/10/17

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

October 9th, 2018

Theannual TAA Honours recognises people who have made significant contributions inthe field of agriculture for development or to the TAA itself. We rely onnominations by our members. Please send the name(s) of candidates whom you wishto propose for the 2017 Honours. The honours will be awarded at the AnnualReunion (Royal Over-seas League, London 13thDecember 2017).The three categories are: ‘Development Agriculturalist of the Year’ (neednot be a TAA member); ‘Young Development Agriculturalist of the year’ (usuallyawarded to a TAAF Awardee); and ‘Award of Merit or HonoraryMembership’ is given to TAA member(s), who have made outstandingcontributions to meeting the objectives of the Association. The HonoursPanel seeks nominationsfor each category. The closing date for nominations is now 15th October. Eachnomination should include a proposer and a seconder (both TAA members oremployees of an Institutional Member) and a short statement of the ways inwhich the nominee meets the criteria for the award for which he or she is beingnominated. For more details and nomination forms, visit the TAA website Honours andAwards. Click here to see previousrecipients of awards. 14.9.17

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

October 9th, 2018

Reliance Foundation has recently joinedTAA as an institutional member. Reliance works toward enriching the lives ofthe marginalized communities of India. It enhances livelihood opportunities andprovides relevant information to help reduce risks for rural communities. TheFoundation makes systematic efforts to improve the quality and productivity ofrural assets, leading to increased and more reliable yields. Read more ….. ..   GirishBhardwaj (TAA Organizer) is arranging a small get-together for Indian TAAmembers on 28th of September 2017 in Delhi. It is timed to coincidewith a visit by the TAA Chairman, Keith Virgo, and is planned as an informalinteractive session to focus on on: (i) Introduction to the participants; (ii) Updateon TAA globally, along with future strategies; (iii) Challenges in increasingmembership in India; (iv) Suggestions on implementing strategies. The output willcontribute toformulating a TAA-India strategy and 3-5 years of perspective plan. 13.9.17

Groundswell No-Till Show and Conference 2017 Outcomes

October 9th, 2018

Information on the outcomes of the 2017 GroundswellNo-Till Show and Conference, held at Weston, Hertfordshire, UK on 28 and 29 June, are now available via links in the TAA website, including speakers and presentations. 7.9.17

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

October 9th, 2018

We welcome VRUTTI as an institutionalmember of TAA. Vrutti, is an NGO based in India, that works withrural communities who are dependent predominantly on farm-based livelihoods,to increase their income, make them resilient and more responsible farmers, inturn creating successful entrepreneurs and sustained job creators. Establishedin 2002, VRUTTI has been contributing towards empowering poor and marginalised communities across India. VRUTTI is keen to apply for supportunder the Netherlands Government Sustainable Water Fund (FDW) projectsand seeks TAA member organisations to join in a technical partnership on the themearea of “Efficient and sustainable water use, particularly within agriculture”http://.In India, FDW works in partnerships with Solidariadad, a Dutch NGO. If any TAAmembers are interested in pursuing this link, please contact Pramel Gupta  29.8.17

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

October 9th, 2018

Good Day No-Till Members andNo-Till Conservation Agriculture Supporters! This isthe second e-newsletter being sent out toreach a great deal morefarmers, agriculturaladvisors, etc, to provide encouragement andideas in the adaptation and technical applications required by No-Till CA. Please download the newsletter here,Do not forget our No Till Conference on 5 to 7September 2017: Programme/Program 2017;Speakers 2017;Registration Forms 2017 Delegates’ Registration.See TAA events page for more details.28.8.17

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

October 9th, 2018

Join the London & SE Branch ‘Curry Club’ Meeting on 28th September. Thetalk will be given by TAA member Jim Ellis-Jones on Sustainable LandManagement and Socio-economic Development in the Highlands of Ethiopia. He will look at major initiatives forsustainable land management to improve farm and landscape practices, markets,food security and livelihoods. These include the participation ofcommunity-based organisations and farmer-to-farmer extension initiatives. Join us for coffee at 11.00. The talk will be followed by a curry lunch. Details are given on the TAA Events webpages.  Book your place with Terry Wiles. 26.8.2017

Communicating with smallholder farmers about climate change

October 9th, 2018

This document, with examples and recommendations forrural advisory services, summarizes experience and inputs from the FAO Communityfor Agriculture Sectors and Climate Change, and relevant sources (cited). Ourteam request your feedback especially on the content (editing will still bemade and images will be replenished and inserted in full quality) and on the structureof the content. You can send your comments either as sticky notes to the PDF,or via email to: Agriculture sectors and climate change ,with a copy to Maria Nuutinen  by Wednesday 16 August2017. Read the full draft text Review-draft_CC-communication_with_smallholders_RAS_Examples_compressed2017.pdf 23/8/17

The Zoo beneath or feet

October 9th, 2018

The gardener has a long, touchy-feely relationship with the soil. As every good cultivator knows, you assess the earth by holding it. Is it dark and crumbly, is there an earthworm or beetle in there, is it moist, and when you smell it, are you getting that pleasant earthy aroma? All these signs are reassuring, and have been through the ages, but they are mere indicators of something much greater and infinitely mysterious: a hidden universe beneath our feet. READ MORE from the Washington Post21.8.17

Applications are open for the Innovation in Development Reporting Grant

October 9th, 2018

The European Journalism Centre (EJC) has opened applications for the Innovation in Development Reporting Grant (IDR) Programme. With a focus on food production, food security, health and nutrition, and food trade and markets, the grant aims to enable better coverage of international development issues. The programme is open to both freelancers and newsrooms and the grant given will average €20,000.Deadline:Wednesday 6 September 2017. More information about how to apply, the eligibility criteria and more about the grant18.8.17

Thank you to those members who have updated their subscription payments

October 9th, 2018

A big thank you to everyone who has updated their membership for the year commencing July 1st 2017. And special thanks to those who have taken the trouble to update their Standing Order or set up a new payment. This makes running the TAA so much easier for everyone.If you have not made a recent payment or are unsure of your current membership status then please contact our Membership Secretary Linda are still around 62 people who have not amended their payments. Subscription rates changed 12 months ago and they should have received several reminders. Some of you may still use addresses and so are not contactable. Please act now!17.8.17

GFAR announces new Chair and Vice-chair

October 9th, 2018

At their meeting in June 2017, theGFAR Steering Committee appointed Ms. Bongiwe N. Njobe from South Africaas their new Chair. She is joined by Mr. Raffaele Maria Maiorano from Italy asVice-Chair. They have shown themselves to be a dynamic team, eager toengage the members of the GFARSteering Committee, who will guide thePartners in GFAR (including TAA) in taking forward collectiveactions.The Partners in GFAR welcome the new appointments andlook forward to working with them as GFAR develops and implements its nextMedium Term Plan (2018-2021). Dr Mark Holderness, GFAR Executive Secretary (andTAA member) and the GFAR Secretariat staff also take this opportunity toexpress thanks to the outgoing Chair and Vice-Chair,for their leadershipand vision as GFAR has undertaken to transform itself, with their Partners, tobe truly representative of the many, diverse voices in agri-food researchand innovation. Read more about the new Chair and Vice-Chairand the GFAR Strategic Workshop andSteering Committee held in June. In thisGFAR Update we’re also highlighting recent Partner Spotlights on SIANI and IFAD, andsharing the final reflections of the young agri-preneurs who took part in YAP Phase 1.3/8/17

GFAR announces new Chair and Vice-chair

October 9th, 2018

At they rmeeting in June 2017, theGFAR Steering Committee appointed Ms. Bongiwe N. Njobe from South Africaas their new Chair. She is joined by Mr. Raffaele Maria Maiorano from Italy asVice-Chair. They have shown themselves to be a dynamic team, eager toengage the members of the GFARSteering Committee, who will guide thePartners in GFAR (including TAA) in taking forward collectiveactions.The Partners in GFAR welcome the new appointments andlook forward to working with them as GFAR develops and implements its nextMedium Term Plan (2018-2021). Dr Mark Holderness, GFAR Executive Secretary (andTAA member) and the GFAR Secretariat staff also take this opportunity toexpress thanks to the outgoing Chair and Vice-Chair,for their leadershipand vision as GFAR has undertaken to transform itself, with their Partners, tobe truly representative of the many, diverse voices in agri-food researchand innovation. Read more about the new Chair and Vice-Chairand the GFAR Strategic Workshop andSteering Committee held in June. In thisGFAR Update we’re also highlighting recent Partner Spotlights on SIANI and IFAD, andsharing the final reflections of the young agri-preneurs who took part in YAP Phase 1.3/8/17

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

October 9th, 2018

Reuters (July 24) reports that Indonesia’s environment ministersays that she wants to make permanent a moratorium on issuing new licences touse land designated as primary forest and peatland. “So far its only beenextended, and extended again. I want a permanent (moratorium),” saidEnvironment and Forestry Minister Siti NurbayaBakar. “Our primary forest cannot be cleared out.”Indonesia is prone to outbreaks offorest fires during dry seasons, often blamed on the draining of peatlandforests and land clearance for agriculture such as the cultivation of palm oil.The resulting choking smoke from the world’s biggest palm oil producer oftenblows across to neighbouring countries like Singapore and Malaysia, reducingvisibility and causing a health hazard. Established in 2011, the moratoriumcovered an area of more than 66 million ha by November 2016. 1.8.17

Appropriate Technology magazine

October 9th, 2018

Appropriate Technologymagazine communicates new practical technologies, policiesand ideas addressed to the elimination of poverty and hunger. The readership includes personnel who are actively involved in a widerange of urban and rural economic development projects, programmes, health,education and training work. Thismay include, helping communities to achieve self-sufficiency in food, water andenergy; develop micro-enterprises; design & construction of ruralbuildings; emergency relief management; water supply & sanitation:improving healthcare; improving agricultural and natural resource output etc.Published quarterly, subscribers to AppropriateTechnology also benefit by having online access with search facility to ALLvolumes from year 2003. If you have a genuine interest in AppropriateTechnology and would like to increase your network with others who have similarinterest then why not join the LinkedIn Appropriate Technology Group. Meantime,why not read the July 2017 edition. 31.7.17

New Organiser for the TAA India Branch

October 9th, 2018

We welcome Girish Bhardwaj, who has agreed to look after the TAA interests in India, following the sad loss of Sanjeev Vasudev earlier this year. Girish has wide-ranging experience in agriculture and rural development. He has already made an impact on recruiting new members and recently chaired a small meeting in Delhi to discuss plans for the future. You can read the minutes on our webpages, under news of overseas branches. Girish is based in Delhi and would be delighted to meet any TAA members passing through the city, just send him an email.We all wish Girish good luck in his plans to further TAA activities in India.21.7.2017

The Economics of Soil Health

October 9th, 2018

There are quantitative tests to determine soil health, there are qualitative tools to assess soil health, and there are predictive models to project changes in soil health. But after all the work, there is very little meaningful data to answer the most important question: does soil health improve farm economics? To find an answer to this, scientists compared multiple independent tests correlated to yield. [Reported by IUSS].Read more …..20.7.17

Scaling Climate Smart Agriculture: Voice of Stakeholders

October 9th, 2018

Watch thevideo initiated by ML Jat, PrincipalScientist/Systems Agronomist at the International Maize and Wheat ImprovementCenter (CIMMYT) in N India. An interesting perspective on scaling-up Climate-Smart Agriculture (CSA) methods from a CGIAR institution. Perhaps lacking the real views of smallfarmers?Clickhere to view 27.6.17

TAA Journal Agriculture for Development Disseminated Widely

October 9th, 2018

The Spring2017 edition of Ag4Dev (No 30), was a special issue on climate-smart agriculture (CSA). It wasguest-edited by Bruce Campbell and Dhanush Dinesh of the CGIAR research programme on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS). The CCAFS programme is now using Ag4Dev31as the focus of a major communications campaign. It already features onthe CCAFS webpage, and it will be linked to their quarterly newsletter, whichhas 8000 subscribers. This should bring Ag4Dev and the TAA to theattention of many potential members. We have been promised feedback fromCCAFS, so let’s see what happens. Click here is the link to the blog about Ag4Dev31.[Kindly submitted by Paul Harding, Coordinating Editor, Ag4Dev]24.6.17

Specialist Group on Malawi

October 9th, 2018

Members will have read that the food situation in Malawiis dire. Many of us have worked in the country. A few current and formermembers of the TAA, are getting together to examine how different smallorganisations that are working in the Mzuzu area might be encouraged to worktogether, with some moral and technical support from TAA, to become moreeffective. The meeting will be held in central London, on 11th July at12.30pm. Please contact Benny Dembitzer if you are interested in joining.19.6.17

A ‘litmus paper test’ for crop and animal disease detection?

October 9th, 2018

Congratulations to the Centre for GlobalEquality (CGE) Cultivator venture, OpenDiagnostics, for winning the2017 London Healthtech Challenge,and the £10,000 Dhruv Batra Prize. Their entry focused on using paper-basedcell free diagnostics to help address foot and mouth disease in cattle. Footand mouth costs £6.5 – £21 billion per year in regions where the disease isendemic, and is a constant threat to subsistence and small-scale farmers, whoselivelihoods are dependent on their livestock. Harnessing recentadvances in synthetic biology and paper microfluidics, cell-free paper-baseddiagnostics offer a platform for low cost, in-field tests with a very widerange of possible specificities. Thetechnique is comparable to using litmus paper to test for acidity but in thiscase the papers will be used to detect the presence of specific crop or animaldiseases in plant sap or animal body fluids. This should be ideal for use by agriculture research institutes andextension personnel. OpenDiagnostics of Cambridge has been supported by CGE (a TAAinstitutional member). For more information please visit CGEwebsite 17.6.17

Seeking Volunteers Trainers in Agriculture & Appropriate Technology, Sierra Leone

October 9th, 2018

ChildHelp Sierra Leone Is seeking volunteers interestedto train youths in vocational training in Agriculture and AppropriateTechnology. The duration is 6 to 12 months. The training starts in September 2017 at the YIOTEC Campus in Makeni, Sierra Leone as a Global Campaign forWorld Learning 2017. If interested, please send your CV and LOI to[Kaprie J G Thoronka, Director, ChildHelp Sierra Leone,48 Wellington Street, Freetown, Sierra Leone]10.6.17

Soil Survey Manual, Handbook No.18, USDA

October 9th, 2018

The 2017 Soil Survey Manual, USDA Handbook No.18, provides the major principles and practices needed for making and usingsoil surveys and for assembling and using related data. The Manual serves as aguiding document for activities of the National Cooperative Soil Survey (NCSS).Previously published in 1937, 1951, and 1993, the Soil Survey Manual isone of the defining documents for soil survey in the world.Hard cover copies of the Soil Survey Manual areavailable from the NRCS Distribution Center.. The Manual is scheduled fordigital release in June 2017. Read more ….9.6.17

Access Agriculture: an international NGO

October 9th, 2018

Access Agriculture may be interesting to TAA members (or already known). It showcases agricultural training videos in local languages. Hereyou can see examples of videos, download them or order a DVD copy. Theaudio tracks can also be downloaded by radio stations. This is a platform for agriculturalR&D staff, service providers, extension agents, communication professionalsand representatives of farmer organisations to see what training videos are available and request new language versions.The videos are all designed to support sustainable agriculture indeveloping countries. View examples of earthworm composting, which can increase soil fertility and helpincrease the production of vegetables in poor and salty soils. Here we will learnabout a fast and easy way to make earthworm compost on a small piece of land.Also, see the technique of Zai Pits to aid moisture conservation and fertility in dry zones. 8.6.17

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

October 9th, 2018

The next Curry Club talk in London will be by Ralph Von Kaufmann on the fascinating subject of Controlled Environment Agriculture for Africa. The date is 29th JUNE (not July as stated earlier). See full details on the Events pages. Book your place soon with Terry Wiles.Also, note July 12 (early evening) for an APPG talk/discussion on the Africa Enterprise Challenge Fund: details to be refunded after the election and parliamentary recess.7.6.17

Contributors and Helpers required by the Editor of our journal Ag4Dev

October 9th, 2018

The Editorial Team for our journal Agriculture for Development is seeking support from members:(1) A volunteer to compile Upcoming Events for each issue of Ag4Dev. This requires one or two days’ work every four months. The volunteer will take over from James Malins, who has done an excellent job for the last two years, as a member of the team producing Ag4Dev. Please contact Paul Harding, Coordinating Editor of Ag4Dev. (2) We are particularly keen to receive contributions (500-1000 words) to Reminiscences and Reflections from female members of the TAA, for including in Ag4Dev32, a special issue on Women in Agriculture. Examples of contributions can be seen in previous issues of the journal. Please send contributions to Paul Harding 31.5.17

UPDATE Diploma in Agriculture, Zambia Institute of Agriculture

October 9th, 2018

Chis Kapembwa is grateful for the responses to hisrequest for TAA members to provide short course teaching. Four of the eightcourse slots have been filled – still open are: 3. Farm Machinery/ Engineering; 4. LivestockProduction; 5.Aquaculture. He confirms that ZIA will cover the costs of air travel,stays and logistics for the teachers. Please refer to “Zambia Branch News” formore details.[Apologies we were unable to successfully post the Course Calendar: Web Manager]27.5.17

Frameworks for understanding the utilisation of conservation agriculture in Africa

October 9th, 2018

This paper contends that despite the investment and promotion of CA in Africa to smallholder farmers there is little insight into the realities of their use. They used two frameworks to address this issue. They are applied to household survey data from 5 Eastern Africa countries from 1601 villages and 6,559 households. They find a general overestimation of adoption of CA and CA components. They look at the intensity of implementation and added new meaning in the status and contributors to limited CA utilization. {Brown, B, Nuberg I & Llewellyn R. 2017. Agricultural Systems. 153: 11-22).Click here for how to access.26.5.17

New Diploma in Agriculture, Zambia Institute of Agriculture

October 9th, 2018

The Zambia Institute of Agriculture (ZIA), in partnership with the Cambridge Centre for Environment (CCE), is starting a diploma course in agriculture, commencing 14th August 2017, in Ndola. The course offers the following subjects. 1. Crop Science; 2. Farm Management; 3. Farm Machinery/ Engineering; 4. Livestock Production; 5.Aquaculture; 6.Agricultural Economics; 7. Land Management, Environmental Conservation & Management; 8. Nutrition, Food Security and Sustainable Agriculture. The course will involve 8 sessions, and will be completed by April 2020.The ZIA was founded by Chris Kapembwe, a TAA member, who heads our Zambia & Southern Africa Branch. The CCE was set up by Martin Kaonga, a TAA member living in Cambridge. They are now looking for interested experts to help. Any TAA member interested in teaching is invited to pick a session subject, in which they feel qualified to teach, and contact Chris. If the offer is accepted, ZIA will arrange and pay for flights and cover costs of stays and other logistics. A session takes one week. Click to see the course Calendar. Chris is open for questions and discussion on WhatsApp (+260977536825). Please contact him on WhatsApp or by email if you are interested! or need more information.24.5.17

Innovative ICTs for scaling-up agricultural technology in Ethiopia

October 9th, 2018

Farm RadioInternational is a Canadian-based, not-for-profit organization working indirect partnership with approximately 600 radio broadcasters in 38 Africancountries to fight poverty and food insecurity. Agriculturalextension officers are an invaluable resource for farmers looking to increasetheir yields. Extension officers can provide tips on combating a new disease,or advice on planting and post-harvest practices. Unfortunately, farmers livingin remote areas infrequently interact with agricultural extension officers.However, information communication technologies(ICTs) can bridge the distance between farmers and extension officers. Radio,combined with mobile phones to create ICTs such as beep-to-vote, as well asparticipatory community video, can engage farmers and provide them withinformation they need. This innovative approach will combine radio and video toreach listening groups in select regions of Ethiopia. Participatory programs,led by local radio broadcasters, will promote quality seed and the productionof wheat and maize, aiming to reach 900,000 farmers with the information theyneed to increase their yield. Read more about Ethiopia and many other projects across Africa.9.6.18

Let the environment guide our development

October 9th, 2018

Please seethe link to a TED talk by Johan Rockstrom who is the Executive Director of theStockholm Resilience Centre. Humangrowth has strained the Earth’s resources, but as Johan Rockstrom reminds us,our advances also give us the science to recognize this and change behavior.His research has found nine “planetary boundaries” that can guide usin protecting our planet’s many overlapping ecosystems. Watch the video.  30.5.18

A new TAA Interest Group on Malawi

October 9th, 2018

One of our long-timemembers, who has strong links to smallholder farmers in Malawi, is keen to findout if any TAA members would be interested in joining an informal email groupto share ideas about Malawi farming and provide support for Malawi farmers.This would be a small knowledge-sharing service in which those with experienceof Malawi could participate by email (or withdraw if they so wish). If you are interested, please do reply to this email and we shall forward your detailsaccordingly.———————–PS: Do not forget our Ralph Melville Memorial Lecture byElizabeth Warham at Portcullis House, Houses of Parliament, June 11th,in collaboration with the APPG Ag & Food for Development. See Events pagesfor bookings, a few places still available.24.5.18

iShamba helps Kenya farmers improve their farms and get better yields.

October 9th, 2018

Farmers can sign up to iShamba and turn their farminto a profitable business: free or premium services. A practical example ofnew technology working for small farmers. iShambais a call centre of agricultural experts where you can SMS in your questions orcall in to speak to an expert for instant help. Once you sign up, you will alsoreceive agri tips on crop and livestock, market prices and weather updates. Sign up to iShamba premium and get instant access to our call centre.Call in any day to speak to a farming expert. Wondering when you shouldvaccinate your chickens? Or when is the best time to top dress your maize?Receive tips on your phone about the crops you are growing and the livestockyou are keeping. Get weather forecasts, weekly crop market prices on your phonefrom major markets countrywide. Read more and watch the video at

Awareness and adoption of CA in Malawi: what difference can farmer-to-farmer extension make?

October 9th, 2018

Despitethe potential of conservation agriculture (CA) for increased crop yields,energy savings, soil erosion control, and water-use efficiency, smallholderfarmers in sub-Saharan Africa have been slow to adopt. Farmer-to-farmerextension (F2FE) may have a role to play in overcoming the information accessproblems and lack of knowledge that may preclude widespread adoption. Thisstudy uses data for 180 lead farmers linked to their 455 followers toinvestigate how F2FE influences awareness and adoption of CA technologies inMalawi. Results from a bivariate probit model for follower farmer awareness andadoption of the three CA principles (minimum soil disturbance, crop residueretention, and crop diversification) reveal four main findings: First, leadfarmer motivation increases their effectiveness at diffusing CA practices totheir followers. Second, lead farmer familiarity with and adoption of CA bothmatter to the spread of CA practices, but familiarity appears more important.Third, lead farmers play a more critical role in increasing awareness thanadoption of the CA practices. Finally, F2FE is a complement rather than a substitutefor other sources of agricultural extension in Malawi’s pluralistic extensionsystem and should support but not replace current systems. Research and policyimplications are discussed. For a link to the full paper, go to ‘Branches & Groups’ on the TAA website and click on ‘Conservation Agriculture News’ in the drop-down menu. MonicaFisher et al. 2018. published on-line in the International Journal ofAgricultural Sustainability.  10.5.18

Reminder: Converging insecurities of climate, food, water and energy, APPG AFD

October 9th, 2018

15May 2018, Houses of Parliament, Committee Room 6, at 12.00, a talk by ProfAndrew Campbell, CEO of the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research(ACIAR). See Events Pages on our website for booking details. Reminder to book for our prestigious annual Ralph Melville Memorial Lecture on 11th June, being jointly hosted by the APPG AFD, with the lecture being delivered by Dr Elizabeth Warham on agricultural technology. Book via Eventbrite (see Events web page). 9.5.18

Fortnightly Seminars at Centre for Agroecology, Water and Resilience (CAWR

October 9th, 2018

CAWR Coventry, a former institutional member of TAA, invites members to expand their knowledge by attending their fortnightly seminars, with both national and international speakers. Theselunchtime seminars provide a lively discussion forum that is open to anyone toattend, including Coventry University staff and students, visiting associatesand practioners. All seminars are held at CAWR Ryton Organic Gardens (CV83LG) between 11.30am – 12.30pm(unless specified otherwise). Future programmes are given on theirwebsite.A free shuttle bus service is availablefrom Coventry University to Ryton Organic Gardens. There is also free parkingon site. If you would like to attend, please contact the CAWR Office (+44 (0) 2477 651679).4.5.18

TAA Ralph Melville Memorial Lecture, London

October 9th, 2018

Please join us at on June 11th atPortcullis House (Parliament Square, London) for our annual public lecture, tobe held in partnership with the APPG on Agriculture and Food for Development.Elizabeth Warham, of TAA, will deliver the lecture on the subject of new technologiesfor farms, especially in developing countries. The meeting will be chaired by Lord Cameronof Dillingham and introduced by Andrew Bennett, President of TAA. The talk willbe followed by drinks and light refreshments. Full details are given on the Events pages of the TAA website. Placesare limited, so please login to the Eventbrite link on the Events page to sign up soon. You will need to print out your Eventbrite ticket to gain access to Portcullis House.2.5.18

Ralph Melville Memorial Lecture, London

October 9th, 2018

Please join us at on June11th at Portcullis House (Parliament Square, London) for our annualpublic lecture, to be held in partnership with the APPG on Agriculture and Foodfor Development. Elizabeth Warham will deliver the lecture on the subject ofnew technologies for farms, with reference to developing countries. The meetingwill be chaired by Lord Cameron of Dillingham and introduced by Andrew Bennett,President of TAA. The talk will be followed by drinks and light refreshments.Full details on our Events pages.Places are limited, soplease click here to sign up soon.9.4.18

Two Recent Publications in Communications in Soil Science

October 9th, 2018

TAA member Watson Matamwa, Senior Agricultural Officer in Kilolo District of Tanzania has been studying at University of Greenwich. He has kindly sent us links to two papers that he has had published with colleagues in the Journal of Communications in Soil Science and Plant Analysis (Volume 49, 2018 (Issue 4): In Situ Acidulation of Rock Phosphate Plant Availability of Sulfur Added to Finished Fertilizers27.3.18

Agri-tech Catalyst Colombia Competition

October 9th, 2018

The Colombian Prosperity Fund ProgrammeandInnovate UK will invest up to £3 millionin innovation projects to address challenges facingthe agriculture sector in post-conflict and conflict-affected regions ofColombia, through the Agri-tech Catalyst Colombia competition. This competitionaims to support inclusive growth in the Colombian andUK Agri-tech sector through the development of innovativetechnologies,products and services. It aims to help farmers in Colombia,particularly female smallholders, adopt innovations faster. The scope isbroad and proposals may take innovative ideas from any sector or disciplinethat addresses: (i) primarycrop and livestock production, including aquaculture, (ii) foodsecurity and nutrition challenges, (iii) challengesin downstream food processing (primary production)All proposals must demonstrate the potential foradvancing sustainable intensification in Colombian agriculture, to delivereconomicimpact across the agri-tech industry. Projects and their outcomesmust fit with theOfficial Development Assistance (ODA)criteriaandInternational Development (Gender Equality) Act. More details on the scope, eligibility, funding, andapplication process are available on the Innovate-UK website. Book the briefing session on 5 April, registration deadline 18 July, decision 7 Sept.24.3.18

Nominations for the CSA Project of the Year Award are now open!

October 9th, 2018

Organisedby the Aid & International Development Forum, the award recognisesoutstanding projects which unite multiple stakeholders in the agriculturalecosystem, with the shared goal of establishing or furthering Climate SmartAgriculture initiatives. The deadline for nominations is 17th April 2018. Thewinner will be announced at the Africa ClimateSmart Agriculture Summit on 15th May in Nairobi, Kenya. Therecipient of the award will benefit from extensive media coverage, industryrecognition for their impact on Climate-Smart Agriculture initiatives and two complimentary passes to the Climate Smart Agriculture Summit 2019. Applyon line now.  23.3.18

BSc Geography and BSc Environmental Science programmes

October 9th, 2018

NRI,an institutional member of TAA, is offering BSc Geography and BSc EnvironmentalScience programmes at the Natural Resources Institute, University of Greenwich. Should youhave any queries, please do not hesitate to contact CarolineTroy  or call +44 (0) 1634 883156. 17.2.18

What TAA does: Job Vacancies

October 9th, 2018

The TAA vacancy pages advertise professional, intermediate and beginner level job opportunities for TAA members in the fields of agriculture, livestock and rural development. Three vacancy managers (Michael Fitzpatrick, Alan Stapleton and Bookie Ezeomah) work as a volunteer team to identify potentially relevant vacancies based both on regular searches of some 40-50 web-based announcements from international organisations, private consultants, NGOs and other potential employers, as well as responding to direct requests for including vacancies on the TAA web-site. Lead responsibility for identifying vacancies and reacting to requests for inclusion is determined on an informal, rotating basis among the team members. The team is overseen by the TAA Chairman and other ExCo members.Once logged-in as a TAA member, the vacancies page can be accessed to show summary details of each current vacancy (vacancy title, country/location, application deadline, assignment duration, funding and a brief outline of the vacancy). There is also a link to further information regarding the vacancy opportunity (usually, the announcement provided by the potential employer). Members with vacancies for jobs, consultancies or internships that are suitable for uploading to the website, are invited to send details to the vacancy managers. A sample vacancy is posted on a news alert to all members every Sunday.If a member no longer wishes to receive these new alerts, please email the web manager.10.1.18

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

October 9th, 2018

Please see the web links of two documents forwarded by Raj Paroda, Chairman, of the Trust for Advancement of Agricultural Sciences (TAAS), New Delhi, on Conservation Agriculture that were published recently by TAAS, ACIAR and CIMMYT. These are based on a high level policy Dialogue held recently in Dhaka, involving key stakeholders from Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Pakistan.1. Policy Brief on CASI2. Proceedings and recommendations of Regional Policy Dialogue on CASI in South AsiaWe hope you find them of interest for promoting the cause of CASI in the South Asia region. Any feedback to Dr Raj Paroda.30/12/17

European Conservation Agriculture Federation (ECAF)

October 9th, 2018

ECAF was constituted in Brussels on 14th January, 1999, as a non-profit making international association, subjected to the Belgium laws. It was conceived to encourage any issue focused on maintaining the agrarian soil and its biodiversity in the context of sustainable agriculture. ECAF is not involved in any commercial product, equipment and/ or trademark.The aims of ECAF are: to promote information to farmers, agrarian technicians and society in general, about the techniques that make it possible to conserve agrarian soil and its biodiversity, in the context of sustainable agriculture; to encourage the development, teaching and investigation on any aspect related to Conservation Agriculture and the biodiversity of agrarian soil; to develop all kinds of activities and programs addressed to the achievement of the previous aims.ECAF is an Institutional member of TAA; Amir Kassam is an honorary member of ECAF23.12.17

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

October 9th, 2018

TAA East Anglia has been invited by Jason Hawkins-Row of Aponic Co Ltd, to visit their controlled environment trials at the NIAB centre near Cambridge. This commercial vertical soil-less growing system uses 90% less water than traditional agriculture, runs on rain water and solar power, does not emit harmful run-off into the environment and massively reduces the need for fossil fuels in food production. We shall be able to see their systems for producing vegetables and to discuss their applicability to tropical agriculture and small-scale peri-urban agriculture. As the trials are indoors, we shall not be limited by weather. More information on the trials can be viewed on-line. See TAA Events pages for timing and location. Places are limited, please book asap via Eventbrite. 29.12.17

FARA Africa Research Reports now available on-line

October 9th, 2018

The Forum forAgricultural Research in Africa (FARA) is the apex continental organization responsible for coordination and advocacyfor agricultural research and innovation in Africa. FARA also serves as thetechnical arm of the Africa Union Commission (AUC) and the NEPAD Planning andCoordinating Agency (NPCA) on matters concerning science, technology andinnovation for agriculture. FARA derives additional strength from itsbroad-based stakeholders and its constituent Sub-Regional ResearchOrganizations (SROs). FARA is now pleased to share the first publication of FARAResearch Reports (FFR), a quarterly publication containing some ofour research findings, including Ghana Rice Value Chains, Kenya AgriculturalMechanisation, Mali Mangoes, Ghana Agricultural Innovations, Mali Potato ValueChain, Benin Multi-stakeholder Platforms, Benin Climate Change. The publication FARAResearch Report (FRR) is open to accept manuscript from members of the FARAforum, which, by implication, refers to all stakeholders in Africa agriculturalresearch and development. Please contact FARA FRR for instructions guidingauthors, who may want to submit their manuscripts. FARA will be pleased toreceive your feedback. 20.12.17

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

October 9th, 2018

With knowledge and practice, small-scale farmers can successfully adoptprotected cultivation methods in sub-Saharan Africa. A review examines theperformance, profitability, and impact of technologies designed to control theproduction environment. But are low-techprotected cultivation techniques adapted to the sustainable production ofvegetables by smallholders in sub-Saharan Africa? A team of researchers fromthe World Vegetable Center (a TAA Institutional Member) and other agenciesreviewed the pros and cons. Read more in the World Vegetable Centre’s FRESH Newsletter and in links.18.12.17

ERRATUM: Brexit News of 11/12/17

October 9th, 2018

The figure in the first sentence should have been £1.0 billion -“As a member of the EU, the UK makes annual contributions of some £1.0 billion development and humanitarian aid through Brussels. ….”. Apologies. Web Manager

Improving the plants that Africans eat and breeders neglect

October 9th, 2018

Nutrition and genetics in Africa: Cassava and sweet potatoes. Lablab beans and water berries. Bitter gourds and sickle sennas. Elephant ears and African locusts. Some will be familiar to readers in rich countries. Others, probably not. Elephant ears, for example, are leafy vegetables. African locusts are tree-borne legumes. All, however, are standard fare in various parts of Africa. What they also have in common is that they are, from the point of view of plant breeders, orphans. They are neglected by breeders because they are not cash crops. Conversely, they are not cash crops because they are neglected by breeders. Read this article form the Economist, 17/11/17. [Kindly submitted by member Bill Thorpe]30.11.17

Conservation Agriculture in Spain

October 9th, 2018

Visit the link to a video (in Spanish with English subtitles) about a Conservation Agricuture (CA) farm in Southern Spain, which participated in the INSPIA (European Index for Sustainable Productive Agriculture) project involving ECAF (European CA Federation) and other partners. Thanks to Amir and to Paula Trivino from ECAF for sharing the video link.[Good news that the EU has approved use of glyphosate for another 5 years, an important tool for CA, which had been linked with cancer risk, based on spurious research: Web Manager]28.11.17

Conservation Agriculture in Spain

October 9th, 2018

Visit the link to a video (in Spanish with English subtitles) about a Conservation Agricuture (CA) farm in Southern Spain, which participated in the INSPIA (European Index for Sustainable Productive Agriculture) project involving ECAF (European CA Federation) and other partners. Thanks to Amir and to Paula Trivino from ECAF for sharing the video link.28.11.17

Press Updates on Conservation Agriculture

October 9th, 2018

Please see three articles related to Conservation Agriculture in Cuba, Indonesia and Zambia, all from the Inter Press Service News Agency of 10 November 2017. Conservation Agriculture Sprouts in Cuban Fields Indonesian Farmers Weather Climate Change with Conservation Agriculture Zambia Double-edged SwordKindly submitted by TAA member Amir Kassam, FAO.11/11/17