Call for improved international commodities regime
At a workshop on the weekend of 1st May, 2022, organized by the Strategic Decision Analysis Group at SEEL, a review of the current commodity market defects was provided. An interesting aspect of this subject is that the experience of the 1973 petroleum price crisis was not handled in a way to lower prices but the IMF, for example, recirculated petrodollars in such as way as to assist OPEC increase prices seven-fold within a decade. Petrodollar diplomacy resulted in political parties and politicians benefiting from the petrodollar finance lobbies generosity, very little was done on the global sustainability front or petroleum substitution front. The result was a squeeze on food commodity production in low income countries as a result of the raised input prices, most of which were imported. As a result many countries now face a similar squeeze with the current prices rises in petroleum, gas and fertilizers and the fall in accessibility of food commodities resulting in significant price rises.
Under the deregulation of financial sector in the 1980s-1990s banks and later hedge funds raised their particupation in commodity futures and as a result of computer-based false trades have raised the prices and often reduce the availability of essential food commodities. There is an urgent need for the world community, in the context of climate change and Sustainable Development Goals, to place more emphasis on the goals of inequality and food security by agreeing on a more appropriate food commodity framework.
Advisory concerning Sustainable Development Facility progress
The Sustainable Development Facility provides geneous grants for the 143 lowest per capita income countries. This grant series has become important because it supports the subsidized use of the Sustainable Development Goals Toolkit which provides range of advanced analytical tools for agricultural planning and development. The commodity balance sheet section provides a transparent process whereby countries can develop their food production and access strategies to include import substitution and enhancement of yields. This has become important in the light of the current evolving crisis of rising food commodity prices on the international markets.
However, the Facility has reported that some scams have appeared with people being contacted directly via email concerning the SDF Grants Programme by third parties pretending to be agents for Sustainable Development Facility (SDF). The SDF does not operate through any agents. The SDF only deals directly with governments and government services as well as companies vetted by governments. Therefore any direct contacts from anyone stating they are from the Sustainable Development Facility should be ignored and any attached files or *.zip files should not be accessed to avoid potentially malicious infections with malaware. The SDF has advised that no requests of any payments should be made to anyone because the preparation for SDF Grants is free of any charges and does not involve any fees for setups or registrations of any kind. Accepting a grant from SDF does not place any grantee under any obligation to pay for the reduced fee (20%) following the 6 month grant-supported free use of the full range of resources provided through the Sustainable Development Toolkit - SDGToolkit ).
The offer to NGOs and companies interested in making direct applications for grants remains open and contact information is provided here:How to apply for Grant.
Agricultural field service support enhanced by IT innovations
24/03/2022: Early next month the new version of SDGToolkit will be launched together with a grants scheme from the Sustainable Development Facility, to lower the cost of entry to low income countries.
SEEL-Systems Engineering Economics Lab have developed a simulations and projections database (Accumulog) for recalling narratives, text, data tabulations and graphic results of analytical simulations used to determine national gaps and needs to guide project design and farm planning. The have also developed, through Plasma.Systems ways to stack more data onto databases so as to lower the lost of server operations for SDGToolkit.com and therefore for users of the system.
India attempting to take advantage of temporary global grain shortage
16/03/2022: The Indian government is panning to respond to the temporary gap in the international wheat market linked to the Ukraine crisis, by increasing wheat exports this season. Over 200 quality control labs have been asked to conduct assessments to identify production with quality characteristics falling within the range necessary for specified quotations for export. Ports have been asked to expand temporary storage capacity and the railway network is advancing logistics schedules. This could result, paradoxically in an excess of supply in June 2022 when Russian exports might resume.
Vegetable oil temporary shortage
16/03/2022: The Ukrainian situation has impacted sunflower seed and sunflower oil exports. This is offering many countries an opportunity to enter this market given the very wide geographic area where climatic conditions are suitable for its production.
Angus Raeburn of SEEL commented on the evolving situation,
"The temporary nature of grain and oilseed market gaps present a short term opportunity but any expense associated with investments in field and logistics infrastructural equipment and site capacity needs to be traded-off against the ability to ensure competitive production in the longer term and a likelihood of excess production in 2023-2024. It all depends on prices. For this there needs to be a good deal of careful project design and farm planning geared towards increased efficiency. This is complicated by the general situation of climate change and rising average temperatures which are causing large areas to no longer possess adequate yields for grain and oilseed crop production."
Addressing the potential grain crisis
13/03/2022: The current Ukrainian crisis and the increasing demands from China are likely to result in global grain supply shortages in the current seasons 2022/2023. One of the Global Constraints Analysis (GCA) tools in the SDGToolkit is a Commodity Balance Sheet calculator which can determine the current level of dependency for any country on grain imports, including, Barley, Corn, Fenio, Millet, Oats, Rice, Rye, Sorghum, Spelt and Wheat. The SDGToolkit Commodity Balance Sheet menu covering 11 commodity classes each with many specific types, totalling several hundred, is shown below.
Other GCA analytical tools enable users to calculate the areas of land required to fill in any gaps. GM calculators provide an estimate of the required resources and costs depending upon the technologies applied as well as target prices weighted according to the disposable incomes of the lower segments of the income profile.
The SDGToolkit 3DP system (Due Diligence Design Procedures) help project teams and farmers review all of the options available to comply with SDG requirments on an economic, social and environmental sustainability basis.
SDGToolkit incorporates Mutec.Cloud solutions
13/03/2022: During the last year Mutec.Cloud has significantly advanced the techniques used in database technologies based on advances developed by Plasma.Systems. The main emphasis has been on reducing the operational costs of central server systems handling multiple clients and large databases. A specific detail added by Plasma.Systems was a very effective monitoring and evaluation system based on the OQSI standards which is particularly easy to access, understand and use. SDGToolkit.com has now applied these advances in the next version of SDGToolkit to be launched next month.
At a general systems meeting (12/03/2022) the George Boole Foundation decided, in order to accelerate the rate of innovation, Mutec.Cloud/Plasma.Systems activities will be maintained as innovation development units. SEEL will continue to provide concept/proof of concept/prototype testing and prepare consolidated validated and tested outputs for upgrades to SDGToolkit to enable it to provide a very low cost of entry and operations combined with market leading analytical tools.
In April, 2022, the Sustainable Development Facility will provide grants that radically reduce the cost entry and operation for SDGToolkit and use of the SDGToolkit Network for the 143 lowest income countries.
AIO Supplement published on the significance of portfolio management in the SDG environment
Donor and investor portfolio managers are the gate keepers controlling the quality of entry of projects into donor and investor portfolios. They also, through effective operational oversight and evaluation, have a vital role in determining the main factors that contribute to project success. This enables them to refine donor and investor threshold performance criteria as conditions for funding support. However, failure rates of agricultural projects remain high.
Portfolio managers require major improvements in information management support to complete their tasks successfully in the SDG environment.
In a review of AIO articles and communications as well as APEurope Correspondent's Pool workshops, this topic emerged as one of vital significance addressing the failures in the current Agenda 2030 project portfolio. For this reason our first Supplement for 2021, "Donor Portfolio Management for Sustainable Agricultural Projects." addresses this topic.
To access this document click on the image on the left.
Results of SDF's International Evaluation Meeting
17/11/2021: The Sustainable Development Facility conducted three stakeholder meetings concerning the proposed SDGToolkit evaluation project. These occurred in parallel with the COP 26 meetings in Glasgow.
Participants recorded disappointment with the evolving deliberations in COP 26 and in the final statement because of a lack of reference to sustainable agricultural project and policy design procedures, evaluation and oversight methods to be adopted. There was also very little reference to food production and agriculture.
These matters were considered to be crucial to making any sense of the COP 26 final declaration in the context of Sustainable Development Goals and, in particular, to the agricultural sector.
As a result the SDF meetings reviewed the relative urgency of this state of affairs to review the potential contributions of SDGToolkit and other existing products from SEEL-Systems Engineering Economics Lab. A report on the outcome of the SDF meetings will be posted on this medium in a day or so. This will include a description of a major new SDF initiative to launch the dissemination of useful analytical tools and information covering sustainable agricultural development project and policy design, oversight and evaluation combined with major grant subsidies for low income country practitioners and institutions.
SDGToolkit includes solutions to outstanding agricultural project evaluation (M&E) requirements
A recent FAO review of current monitoring and evaluation practice included 23 countries (see right) The four main challenges emerging for M&E units in ministries of agriculture included: 1. insufficient staff capacities in 17 out of 23 countries (70%); 2. lack of institutionalization/operationalization of M&E systems/tools in 14 out of 23 countries (60%); 3. budget constraints in 10 out of 23 countries (44%); 4. problems in the availability and quality of data in 4 out of 23 countries (17%). These main challenges remain largely unchanged in the last one and a half decades (World Bank, 2005).
These results complement the findings of the Open Quality Standards Initiative (OQSI 2010-2020) which included a review of project performance issues over the period 1965 though to 2020. This confirmed agricultural project failure rates to be around 40% also confirmed by World Bank reviews in 1992 and 2010. Only 20% of projects were subject to Cost-benefit analysis in 2010.
Angus Raeburn of SEEL stated that,
"The SDGs do not have a specific agricultural model but rather have a series of thematic cross cutting goals which sometimes involve agriculture. This has created issues for agricultural project teams who do not have access to a integrated tool set. As the largest source of income in low income countries a specific agricultural design management and evaluation system is essential. We hope mutec.cloud Agricultural Project can fill this gap."
Unlike competing project management systems, SDGToolkit is specifically designed to address agricultural projects and provides effective design support. In addition the system contains a complete evaluation system. The basic package provides initial resources for up to 10 projects of any size and with no limitation on number of users per client; additional projects can be added when required. Following OQSI recommendations, mutec.cloud has embedded:
Currently the proposed launch price comes in well below the competing services because of an associated grant available for 143 low income countries. The launch of this system occurred on 1st April 2022.
Maximizing project impacts through effective alignment with national SDG priorities
John Penrose is completing a review of the current capabilities of the Global Constraints Analysis procedures in SDGToolkit's Integrated Development Environment. The system can accomplish a detailed review of national gaps and needs with wide ranging risk analyses. This provides a platform for project teams, donor portfolio managers and governments to measure the positive and negative impacts of policies so as to identify needed changes to achieve national SDG objectives by pro-sustainable agricultural project policy initiatives.
Stopping the tax on vital knowledge
At the AIO stakeholder review of issues arising in managing planning and sustainable agricultural projects held 1st September 2021, a group of stakeholders from low income countries raised the issue of international organizations charging for their publications. Many consider this to be a tax on knowledge because prices are too high for many individual practitioners. It would appeart to be reasonable to expect organizations established to assist low income countries and those who support this work and whose funding comes from international funding and governments should be distributing their publications free of charge. Another comment was that many documents are just far too big with content that lacks applicability in the face of practical climate change challenges facing project teams and planners. This situation has been exacerbated by the decline in funding linked to the impact of the global pandemic. Well-funded organizations referred to in the context of charging for documents they publish, or promote, include FAO and OECD.
Some particcipants asked AIO representatives if they could run a campaign in support of this issue and as a result a suggestion has been made to the APEurope Group Board for consideration.
As a result of the 1st September AIO Stakeholder Workshop, the Sustainable Development Facility is exploring the possibility of providing support for the production of concise, to-the-point, free briefs providing practical guidance on critical issues for food production within a sustainable agricultural development framework and in the context of climate change. This "Applied Techniques Initiative" (AT) will include consideration of analytical tools (ATs) to be distributed free of charge. ATs place the necessary means directly into the hands of users, together with guidance, to undertake complex decision analysis with minimised risk.
A spokeperson for the SDF stated, following the AIO Stakeholder Workshop,
"We have been working on this puzzle since the formation of the SDF. The main issue is funding and in spite of many declarations in this direction, organizations are revealing their real preferences by funding other initiatives. However, we hope to identify some donors willing to collaborate on what we consider to be a potentially useful initiative."
We provide an update on the current status of the Applied Technique Initative:
Read more ....
Misleading climatic objectives and agroecological zoning?
In recent workshops held by the APEurope Correspondent's Pool and in articles in APEurope media two important topics have been brought into focus.
One is that longer term climatic trends are not a guide to prejudice to agriculture which is affected more directly by meteorological seasonal conditions. The same is true of agroecological zoning procedures that deal with average climatic conditions which need to include seasonal variance data in order to assess the production risks to different crops.
With climate change there is an impact of increasing temperature and water stress leading to some areas experiencing declines in crop yields. Declines in crop yields are the result of rising temperatures combined with loss of available water causing shorter growing periods. Although some years are recorded as being "wetter", on balance, water deficits are increasing. With agriculture consuming something like 80% of the available fresh water there isn't not much room for any adjustment as human consumption needs come up against agricultural consumption. It seems that "net-zero" under COP26 is not much more than a buzzword. Net-zero is a single point in time where there is no longer any addition of emissions to atmospheric greenhouse gases (GHGs) but the concentration will remain at levels driving temperature increases beyond net-zero. There is a need to go beyond net-zero to net-negative in order to reduce GHGs to levels that can arrest temperature rises and even reverse this process. Until this occurs crop yields will continue to fall. Managing crop yield declines requires a complex of initiatives concerning crop production systems including locational-state genotypic sequencing (LSGS) within project designs and water conservation techniques. However, if temperatures continue to rise the declining carrying capacity of agricultural land and ability to produce food will raise the issue of the need for more effective national population management policies.
mutec.cloud to launch project design and management system for SDG oriented agricultural projects
16th July 2021. mutec.cloud will launch its cloud-based software as a service for individuals and smaller institutions to broaden the appeal of the OQSI approach to project design and management. This is basically a stripped down license version of SDGToolkit without the very large portfolio resources that come with SDGToolkit. Angus Raeburn of SEEL explained mutec.cloud's purpose,
"SDGToolkit is designed for donor and investor portfolio managers to gain effective oversight of the quality control of projects for any number of projects in their portfolio. mutec.cloud caters for individuals and smaller organizations who wish to secure a more effective design sequence and documentation."
"The ATs are the same collection which is being extended on a continunual basis. The result is a broader market coverage to help secure better quality agricultural projects designed to accommodate SDG objectives."
mutec.cloud is expected to be launched during Q4 2021.
GPC-Global Pulse Confederation
The Global Pulse Confederation (GPC) represents all segments of the pulse industry value chain from growers, researchers, logistics suppliers, traders, exporters and importers to government bodies, multilateral organizations, processors, canners and consumers. Members include 24 national associations and over 600 from the private sector. GPC is based in Dubai.
The first SDF presentations on the OQSI recommendations announced
The SDF has proposed to hold a lecture series in September, 2021 on the full set of OQSI's recommendations for project design and overall cycle management including new procedures for evaluation. Although established as an "Open" quality standards initiative this work has involved an intensive systems group work taking some time to identify and consolidate identified procedures and analytical methods into an integrated strategy including all relevant strands of work required, involving stakeholders, in project design and management.
This process has now been completed as a coherent set of recommendations.
The SDF's approach to Artificial Intelligence in agricultural innovation
At a briefing for the APEurope Correspondent's Pool, The George Boole Foundation has provided some details on how Artificial Intelligence will become an increasing component of the capabilities of the SDGToolkit and how training will raise the competence of trainees to contribute to advancing the state-of-the-art of due diligence and analytical tools.
Attendees welcomed the demystification of the topic of AI and the very practical approach to be adopted by SDF training projects.
The SDF's practical approach to training
At a briefing for the APEurope Correspondent's Pool, The George Boole Foundation has provided some details on the approach to training to be adopted by the Sustainable Development Facility.
Although there is a good amount of theory and logic the fundamental approach is on-the-job-training on real projects in order for attentees to apply due diligence design procedures and to select and use analytical models in the appropriate way. The overall operational framework of project implementation will be based on the process model adopted by such standards agencies as ISO, BSI and OQSI; the quickest way to develop competence is on-the-job training.
Second International Workshop on Analytical Tools
This workshop, as announced, was relatively small and limited to a review of operational analytical tools with deliverable impacts on agricultural project design and decision analysis. This was limited to the output of SEEL who have been in this business since 1983. Some of this work is what provided the baseline logic and technology for the new SDGToolkit.
One interesting item was a review of a why the SDGToolkit was developed, presented by Angus Raeburn of SEEL. This was a justification for analytical tools in general. A document released on this topic is accessible by clicking on the image on the right. What became very clear is that analytical tools (ATs) in the case of SDGToolkit, are not to be confused with mobile "Apps". ATs work with Project and Portfolio Memories, Apps don't.
A welcomed and very informative item was work by Plasma.Systems on the economics of remote project technical services delivery based on ATs, in comparison with visits-based costs. This was very much in line with the basic theme of the workshop as "moving away from interesting concepts and to delivering practical beneficial and measurable impact"
Advance notice on The Sustainable Development Facility
At the end of the 2nd IWSAT, the George Boole Foundation Limited announced the lauch of a new fund, The Sustainable Development Facility. Its objective is to provide five year extension support for practitioners in low income countries, free of charge, to establish SDGToolkit integrated development environments, user training and support in the design of projects supporting Sustainable Development Goals.
Advance notice on the SDGToolkit
The George Boole Foundation Limited has released an advance notice for their new SDGToolkit scheduled for release in April, 2021. This represents an investment of more than a decade of in-depth analysis and stakeholder involvement in identifying and providing solutions to the many shortcomings of coverntional project design and cycle management which to date has recorded high rates of project failure.
In this article John Penrose provides a review of this new breed of technical support.
The implications of the SDGToolkit approach for economic development
SDGToolkit is introducing some important changes related to the economic and financial appraisal of projects designed to address Sustainable Development Goals.
Nevit Turk, the economic correspondent of APEurope provides his take on these changes.
June, 2021 AMIS Market Monitor update AMIS latest report can be accessed by clicking on the image on the left.
FAO Food Price Index continues to rise Global food commodity prices continue to rise.
The George Boole Foundation Limited consider the OQSI "package" to be ready for publication and distribution. This will be the first cross-subsidised attendance event where the purchase of each ticket generates three "free tickets" for practitioners from low income countries.
CFS Members endorse new Voluntary Guidelines on Food Systems and Nutrition
Members of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) endorsed the first-ever Voluntary Guidelines on Food Systems and Nutrition aiming to support countries and others in their efforts to eradicate all forms of hunger and malnutrition by utilizing a comprehensive food systems approach.
OQSI TAP-Technological Adaptation Procedures - Optimizing Agenda 2030 project tasks
 OQSI Press release: The experience gained in the development of the 3CBA project design procedures that address SDG 10, SDG 12 and SDG 13 has resulted in the development of a procedure that helps maximize the coherence of the contributions of combinations of technologies.
Although the 3CBA procedures relate to different objectives, income disparity, sustainable production and consumption and climate impact, the ways and means to maximize impacts vary. TAP-Technological Adaptation Procedures is a set of guidelines to help identify the types of state-of-the-art technologies and techniques that can contribute in each case to optimize at the individual SDG level and then to trade-off these aspects of these optimizations through small adjustments to maximize the combined impact.
DIO-Development Intelligence Organization
Training in the management of SDG 10 to reduce inequalities
 DIO Press release: DIO has announced their intent to provide training in the appropriate analyses to address SDG 10 (reduction of inequalities). This will include an introduction into the new front in development economics known as the Real Incomes Approach. The Real Incomes Approach, sometimes referred to as Real Incomes Objective, or RIO, provides a specific clarity on the impacts of policies and, indeed, individual project design, on producer and consumer real incomes. It is therefore the most effective basis for analyzing the dynamics of SDG 10. RIO has a set of practical policy instruments to move towards a reduction in disparity while maintaining or increasing real incomes. Conventional development economics has remained a poor sister to conventional macroeconomics and is wholly reliant on the macroeconomic frameworks based on demand management. RIO was developed from the ground up, based on microeconomic principles which do not feature in conventional macroeconomic theory or practice.
The objective of DIO is to provide the macroeconomic context and background to RIO for policy makers to understand how the specific policy instruments can be used to ensure that projects addressing SDG 10 can have more impact while enhancing growth in national incomes with reduced disparity of real incomes.
Open Quality Standards Initiative introduces 3CBA
A solution SDG 10, SDG 12 and SDG 13 non-performance
The Open Quality Standards Initiative (OQSI) have added three analytical procedures to their due diligence design procedures. These are designed to address the analytical tool gap needed to address the reported failures in the Agenda 2030 SDG project portfolio.
These were identified in the 2019 United Nations Sustainable Development Report. Reducing inequalities (SDG 10), sustainable consumption and production (SDG 12) and climate action (SDG 13) have all turned out to be negatively correlated to economic growth. In addition over 65% of the indicators for SDG 12 and SDG 13 have not yet been specified. The current macroeconomic frameworks are exacerbating the problem of income disparity and growth in real incomes.
We report on a recent press conference outlining these new procedures.
 Editorial: With the imminent launch of the SDGToolkit cloud-based services, Toolkit.com has informed us that many articles related to this system contain inaccuracies as a result of changes and advances made subsequent to their posting. Accordingly all such articles have been removed from this site and will be replaced in due course by updated versions to accompany the launch expected at the end of April 2021.
Post-Covid-19, low income countries need to terminate their participation in the globe's irrational debt spiral
A virtual workshop to identify critical institutions to help accelerate recovery in the agricultural sectors of low income countries placed the exposure of many low income countries to irrational debt as a major complicating factor. The reports of this two day workshop are divided into day 1 covering important institutional support and day 2 exploring the evolving significant of the major contributions that can be made through remote technical services support delivery.
 APEurope wire: SciDevNet has posted an article by Gareth Willmer and Fiona Broom, entitled: "SDG setback 'tremendous' as COVID-19 accelerates slide". Its speed read summary states:
The economics of adapting to needs to secure the world we want
 APEurope wire: (based on DIO-Press release) The conventional macroeconomic planning and economic management frameworks have proven to be ineffective in preparing for and managing Covid-19 and the evolving food crisis. Too many countries have slept-walked into this policy paradigm under the guidance of some economists and aid organizations. This system, based on the aggregate demand model (ADM) has significantly eroded savings and, today, openly equates economic growth with debt, which most cannot afford. Income disparity has become the hallmark of such policies both in high and low income countries. In the context of development economics, the critical measure of economic growth is real incomes or the ability of consumers to purchase food at prices that provide sustainable incomes to producers. Accessibility has become the critical issue. The most recent declarations by FAO economists confirm this fact.
The only economic development model that integrates this as a critical factor is the production, accessibility and consumption model (PACM). This model was rejected by Keynes in the 1920s and those who have supported financialization in its various forms, since the 1970s as part of Keynesian, monetarist and supply side economics policies and which have bestowed upon the world four major financial crises. PACM is becoming more generally recognized as a more practical and rational basis upon with to base planning and policies to address the world's development needs.
PACM is the cornerstone of the Real Incomes Approach to Economics which, unlike conventional macroeconomic policies has microeconomic foundations with an emphasis of innovation to address gaps and needs as a basis for economic growth. In agricultural sectors, extension systems are a key service in the support this type of growth.
 The website Our World in Data has a series that tracks the progress of Agenda 2030 concerning all SDGs providing maps and data of the status of different indicators. To access this site click on the image on the left.
APEurope wire: Concerning World Food Programm, Rome, Press release: The COVID-19 pandemic could almost double the number of people suffering acute hunger, possibly rising to quarter of a billion by the end of 2020. The World Food program has released a new report on food crises around the world. Some 265 million face acute food shortage now in 2020 130 million more than in 2019 as a result of COVID-19 impacts.
WFP’s Chief Economist, Arif Husain said:"COVID-19 is potentially catastrophic for millions who are already hanging by a thread. It is a hammer blow for millions more who can only eat if they earn a wage. Lockdowns and global economic recession have already decimated their nest eggs. It only takes one more shock – like COVID-19 – to push them over the edge. We must collectively act now to mitigate the impact of this global catastrophe."
OQSI updates RRE metrics to improve
: The Open Quality Standards Initiative has recently announced that their metric Rate of Return to the Environment as been altered to Rate of Return to the Ecosystem to augment the ability to quantify actual and potential impacts. Apparently, this new focus is not cosmetic since project and survey data throws doubt onto the efficacy of global carbon trading which, in the deficit zones, is resulting in more degradation that is recorded. We have been informed that a press release is in preparation.
What is a cooperative?
Cooperatives play a crucial role in reducing poverty, improving food security and generating employment opportunities. The United Nations declared 2012 the International Year of Cooperatives (IYC) to raise awareness of cooperatives’ important contribution to global socio-economic development and to promote the growth and strengthening of cooperatives all over the world.
SDG Cross-reference resource
The Development Intelligence Organization and the Boolean Library are creating an SDG cross-reference resource of online resources for teams concerned with project and programme design in the context of Agenda 2030. This will provide a complete list of updated resources linked to the OQSI project design and implementation and potfolio management factors.
Some aspects of the OQSI strategy to help close the main gaps in Agenda 2030 performance
The George Boole Foundation provided a question and answer session for Agricultural Innovation which included analysts from SEEL and OQSI. The purpose was to provide additional details on the soon-to-be-released due diligence evaluation criteria and procedures designed to improve project and implementation performance with respect to climate action.
Read more ...
Sustainable Development Report Dashboard shows Africa to be the least SDG compliant continent
Africa faces significant challenges in achieving SDGs according to the latest Sustainable Development Report. Amongst the challenges is incomplete data series as well as capability development in the design and implementations of complex projects, progammes and policies.
New data series publication, Sustainable Development Prospects - Africa Series 2020
PUBLICATION: Achieving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals within 9 planetary boundaries
In this study published in the journal Global Sustainability, the results of a new model that measures the effects of going about things in a conventional, business-as-usual scenario assess the likelihood of achieving Sustainable Development Goals. With business-as-usual, the 17 SDGs will not be achieved by 2030 or even 2050. Trying to reach the goals under current business-as-usual will come at a heavy price on the planetary boundaries. In a business-as-usual scenario, 10.5 of the SDGs will be reached by 2030 and only 11.5 by 2050. In order to reach the 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), most sustainability researchers are consistent in their calls for urgent, transformative action.
The world agreed to achieve 17 Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. Nine planetary boundaries set an upper limit to Earth system impacts of human activity in the long run. Conventional efforts to achieve the 14 socio-economic goals will raise pressure on planetary boundaries, moving the world away from the three environmental SDGs. We have created a simple model, Earth3, to measure how much environmental damage follows from achievement of the 14 socio-economic goals, and we propose an index to track effects on people’s wellbeing. Extraordinary efforts will be needed to achieve all SDGs within planetary boundaries.
Access this publication online...
Better production forecasting
Practical solutions to Food Security Strategic reserves policy
SEEL-Systems Engineering Economics Lab is developing a cloud-based analytical tool to emulate crop production response to state-of-the-art farm production regimes taking into account the environmental factors that can cause significant variations in yields. The interesting aspect of this work is it integrates economic factors such as gross margin analysis across agro-ecological conditions thereby providing a considerable amount of additional information of value to those concerend with food security.
Read more ...
Practical solutions to Agenda 2030 performance deficits - OQSI release performance, sustainbility & climate impact criteria
This article has been updated and extended: Read more ...
The utility of SDG indicators
The 2019 Global Sustainable Development Report points to significant gaps in the organization of statistical sources through collection, analysis and determination of indicator status. This has resulted in a lack of accessibility to specific indicators, especially in low income countries.
It is stated that the Global Monitoring Network are working to correct this issue. However, after many decades of the collection of statistics by countries that support the United Nations statistical data reporting mechanisms, this points to a significant gap in the preparation for Agenda 2030, especially in the case of lower income countries where some of the factors of most importance to their future sustainability are inadequately monitored.
Read more ...
IRD 75 years of operations
In 2019, IRD celebrated its 75th anniversary. Unique both in terms of its missions and its response model, the Institute highlighted its variety of scientific partnerships with countries of the Global South and its latest work to support development through a range of events organised in mainland and internationally.
IRD – the only multidisciplinary public research body dedicated exclusively to scientific cooperation with developing countries in the tropics and the Mediterranean. The Institute traces its roots back to 1944, when the Office for Colonial Scientific Research (ORSC) was founded, which became the Office for Overseas Scientific and Technical Research (ORSTOM) in 1953 before finally becoming the Research Institute for Sustainable Development (IRD) in 1998. As such, 2019 also marks IRD’s 20th anniversary in its current form.
Modes of scientific engagement with the Sustainable Development Goals
The Report on Sustainable Development contains a section describing the modes of scientific engagement with SDGs.
We provide a view of this section.
Read more ...
The prospects for smallholders
We look at some of the issues surrounding smallholder survival in the Agenda 2030 period under increasing climatic and economic uncertainty.
FAO brochure on the significance of smallholders
To access this brochure click on the image to the right.
IWSAT 2019 conclusions
The first International Workshop on Analytical Tools (IWSAT) was held in Alexandria, Virgina in the USA over the weekend of 9-11 August, 2019. IWSAT is an initiative of the OQSI (Open Quality Standards Initiative) a programme launched in 2010 by the George Boole Foundation.
Six emerging issues were discussed with the principal one being a focus on sustainability of small production units. We report on the preliminary conclusions of this workshop.
Read more ...
Why Agenda 2030's Sustainable Development Goals are not being met
In 2015 the United Nations launched Agenda 2030 consisting of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) associated with over 230 indicators. Unlike the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which addressed specific goals related to low income countries, Agenda 2030 addressed countries of all levels of development.
As reported in Part 1 of this series there are signs that goals are not being met.
In the case of low income countries, there are logical reasons why there are difficulties in meeting objectives. One reason, of relevance to this online publication, is that project and initiative designs need to result in actions that can overcome the principal constraints of population dynamics and inflation. This is principally a supply side issue involving the factors that influence input and output of agricultural production.
This is the topic of this part of this series.
Read more ...
The Production, Accessibility & Consumption Model
Step by step
During the last 25 years and, in particular, since the 2008 financial crisis, the combination of population growth rates and inflation have resulted in inequalities in income levels rising. Today the USA and UK have levels of inequality that exceed many low income countries. This extreme is caused by the contrast with the highest incomes that exist in these countries. However, this masks the general fact that those in the lower income segments, in both high and low income countries, have faced an erosion in their purchasing power leading, eventually to destitution. Destitution is the inability to survive on nominal incomes because of insufficient purchasing power to secure essential food requirements. In low income countries the lack of social support mechanisms result in this leading to starvation, poor physical and intellectual development of children, stunting and a radical reduction in life expectancy. In higher income countries the social provisions and food banks that provide free food are common stop gaps. Many using food banks in "developed economies" are in work, but their real incomes are insufficient.
The PAC Model, a the supply side Production, Accessibility & Consumption Model of the economy provides a transparent explanation of why this happens. This calls attention to the need for macroeconomic policies that have a more effective control over inflation and population policies to encourage reductions in the rate of growth.
Read more ...
Why Agenda 2030's Sustainable Development Goals are not being met
Why is this series being extended?
Lead editorial Read more ...
Why Agenda 2030's Sustainable Development Goals are not being met?
In 2015 the United Nations launched Agenda 2030 consisting of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) associated with over 230 indicators. Unlike the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which addressed specific goals related to low income countries, Agenda 2030 addressed countries of all levels of development.
After only four years, the United Nations has asked an expert group to assess progress. For such an ambitious task for goals to be met by 2030 - 11 years to go - four years is a bit early. However, there are signs that goals are not being met.
Reviewing the SDGs it is evident that there are some gaps and, indeed, some confusions.
In the case of low income countries, there are logical reasons why there are difficulties in meeting objectives. One reason, of relevance to this online publication, is that project and initiative designs need to result in actions that can overcome the principal constraints of population dynamics and inflation. This is principally a supply side and real incomes issue.
Read more ...
DAC Evaluation Criteria and stakeholders
Recently a summary of a stakeholder consultation completed on the OECD DAC evaluation criteria for development assistance, was posted on the OECD website. This provides a list of factors considered to merit additional consideration in the DAC environment. These include taking Sustainable Development Goal requirements more into account, acknowledging the complexity of decision analysis and the need for systems models which represent the interconnection of relevant factors. Another area requiring change was cited to be the application of evaluation criteria to policy, programmes, institutional and strategic evaluations and systems. Cross-cutting themes on gender, equity and human rights were also mentioned. The last item referred to the need for support to provide stronger guidance for project implementation. Although not receiving strong feed back for change, rather the reverse, this list of items indicates an urgent need for specific changes.
Read more ...
DAC Evaluation Criteria in the face of divergence
There has been a significant change in the types of projects funded under international aid. Although many consider the DAC evaluation criteria to be a good shortlist of esstential tests, the ability to apply them can be frustrated by a project's' objectives and design. This gives rise to doubts as to the efficacy of these criteria. This has created confusion and muddled thinking. The reason DAC evaluation criteria can become difficult to apply is that an increasing number of projects are divergent. Projects with more predictable outcomes are convergent and can be tested directly by DAC criteria. This raises the question as to why funding agencies are investing in, sometimes large, divergent projects which are difficult to evaluate and unlikely to achieve stated objectives?
Read more ...
Report: International Symposium on Agricultural Innovation (ISAI) , FAO, November 2018
We are pleased to report on the completion of the FAO ISAI as an important event for agricultural innovation. We will be reporting on the main points raised and providing our own critiques from our technical panels in the coming weeks. We are currently in the process of preparing posts as well as releases from the Symposium.
The symposium concept note (June 2018)
Symposium Chair's summary (November 2018)
Issues concerning SDGs and the emergence of practical solutions
According to OQSI, project managers, assessors and evaluators have reported problems with the handling of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in relating project activities to a large range of factors that need to be taken into account to meet these Goals.
We report on the OQSI's response and approach to extending their Due Diligence Design Procedure (3DP).
A surprising proportion of agricultural project cycle management "systems" are extremely inefficient in terms of maintaining information quality, timeliness of decisions, control of costs and overall oversight throughout the project cycle.There is a significant gap in performance between existing W3 technological capabilities and the the disproportionate use of old legacy programs and applications that impede the attainment of satisfactory levels of performance. We report on some recent findings.
The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) provides research-based policy solutions to sustainably reduce poverty and end hunger and malnutrition in developing countries. Established in 1975, IFPRI currently has more than 600 employees working in over 50 countries. It is a research center of CGIAR, a worldwide partnership engaged in agricultural research for development.
Decision-Focused Agricultural Research
The article presents some examples of applications of Decision Analysis in agricultural development, demonstrating its ability to secure understanding of likely decision impacts, in the face of risk and imperfect information.
How much development data is enough?
In this article, Keith D. Shepherd sets out his reasoning that the data revolution offers enormous potential for improving decision-making at every level of development policy.
He also elaborates why gathering data is not enough; the information must also be managed and evaluated – and doing this properly can be far more complicated than the effort to collect it.
Innovation in Food and Agriculture
Effective agricultural knowledge and innovation systems ensure that the global food system provides adequate supplies of high quality food and non-food agricultural products, in a sustainable way. OECD work on innovation systems in food and agriculture explores the relationships between innovation, productivity and sustainability, and examines the respective roles for the government and the private sector in strengthening agricultural innovation systems and facilitating adoption at the farm and agri-food firm level.
As part of this work, a framework has been developed to review the impacts of a wide range of policies on the creation and adoption of innovations needed to improve productivity growth and sustainable use of natural resources, leading to concrete recommendations for each policy area. This framework is being applied to an increasing number of pilot countries and will be regularly revised to reflect new evidence and experience with implementation of these country reviews of “Innovation for agricultural productivity and sustainability”.
In parallel, quantitative analysis is being conducted to improve the evidence base for policy recommendations within the framework. Work with farm-level data aims to analyse the economic, policy and structural determinants of sustainable productivity growth, starting with the dairy sector.
Access to OECD publications on Innovation in Food & Agriculture
Two foundations team up to improve the quality of agricultural innovation through new service
Addressing the agricultural research-to-innovation challenge in low income countries
Two foundations have announced their agreement to provide a new service to improve the quality of agricultural innovation. The STRIDES Foundation and Navatec - a division of The George Boole Foundation - will collaborate on a new extension service that supports low income country researchers improve their knowledge acquisition on research and secure a better management of agricultural innovation projects. This collaboration is a culmination of over 45 years experience in the field of agricultural development and in particular agricultural research, project proposal assessment, project design, implementation management and evaluation. This experience has been gained in South America, Africa, Asia and transition economies in Central and Southern Europe.
This initiative addresses the important issue of poor project performance affecting around 50% of economic development projects. In 2016 the total aid budget from government and international agencies totalled some $135 billion and private donors contributed an additional $85 billion. Additional analyses undertaken more recently have come up with similar rates of project failure. Based on a weighted calculation of existing rates of project failure it is estimated that out of this total of $220 billion in international investment, somewhere between $35 billion and $70 billion will be wasted.
Read more ....
Partnering to effectively strengthen whole value chains:
The focus of the Global Program for Grain Legumes & Dryland Cereals
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (17 February, 2018)
As part of the CGIAR Research Program on Grain Legumes and Dryland Cereals (GLDC) initiative over 150 participants from 25 countries met to identify better supportive partnering models. Dr Peter Carberry, Director of GLDC, explained that the Program’s approach is how it can add value to what is already being undertaken. Ethiopia’s Minister of Agriculture and Natural Resources, H.E. Dr. Eyasu Abraha Alle, who inaugurated GLDC, noted that, “grain legumes and dryland cereals are what have been termed as ‘Smart Food’ because they are: Good for you, Good for the planet, and Good for the farmer. However, they have received less attention and their value chains have not been as well developed. Through GLDC, we will build this whole industry from the consumer end and also develop the food processing industry and connect this right back to the farmers.” He added that, “Grain legumes and dryland cereals are well adapted to the drylands and naturally nutritious. I challenge the CRP to come up with a strategy for the drylands of Ethiopia. GLDC’s vision is to deliver improved rural livelihoods and nutrition by prioritizing demand-driven innovations to increase production and market opportunities along value chains. The program supports research for development purposes on six legumes (chickpea, cowpea, pigeonpea, groundnut, lentil and soybean) and three cereals (sorghum, pearl millet and finger millet). It will focus on the semi-arid and sub-humid dryland agro-ecologies of sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. The Program is a partnership of CGIAR centers, public and private organizations, governments and farmers worldwide.
What is an innovation system and what does it do?
An innovation system is about people, the knowledge, technology, infrastructure and cultures they have created or learned, who they work with, and what new ideas they are experimenting with.
The approach represents a major change in the way that the production of knowledge is viewed, and thus supported. It shifts attention away from research and the supply of science and technology, towards the whole process of innovation, in which research is only one element. Innovation is essentially the result of an interactive process between many actors. For our work, those are farmers, extension workers, researchers, seed companies, government officials, and many others. Individual organizations rarely possess all the knowledge necessary for the whole process of innovation.
It does not follow a linear path that begins with research, moves through the processes of development, design and engineering, and production, and ends with the successful introduction of new products and processes. Rather, it tends to involve continuous feedback loops between the different stages.
The actors we are engaged with focus on bringing new products, new processes, new policies, and new forms of organization into economic use. In their attempts to bring about change in agriculture, these multiple stakeholders are all part of what may be seen as agricultural innovation systems (AIS).
Innovation for Agriculture
Innnovation for Agriculture (IFA) is an English organization helping farmers make best use of existing and emerging knowledge… to help them meet the challenge of feeding the world and to improve the environment and animal welfare; creating fulfilling opportunities for current and future generations.
IFA is a consortium of English Agricultural Societies bringing you the latest developments in New Science & Technology. The members include: Devon County Agricultural Association, Royal Cheshire Agricultural Society, Driffield Agricultural Society, East of England Agricultural Society, Lincolnshire Agricultural Society, Newark and Nottinghamshire Agricultural Society, Newbury and District Agricultural Society, Staffordshire and Birmingham Agricultural Society, Suffolk Agricultural Association, Surrey County Agricultural Society, The Royal Agricultural Society of England, The Royal Bath and West of England Society, The Royal Cornwall Agricultural Association, The South of England Agricultural Society, The Three Counties Agricultural Society and Westmorland County Agricultural Society
To visit their site click on the image above.
Cranfield University & Agricultural Innovation
As a postgraduate only, research-intensive university, Cranfield is a British university that is post-graduate only and research-intensive. Their work is designe to deliver advanced solutions applying scientific expertise to the current and future challenges faced by agribusiness and our farming landscape. In 2013, the UK Government launched its Agricultural technologies strategy and invested some £10m in two new Centres for Agricultural Innovation at Cranfield. These are Agri-EPI, the Agricultural Engineering Precision Innovation Centre and CHAP, Crop Health and Protection. These combine Cransifeld's research and development capabilities in agriculture, in various configurations, to address the importance of soil resources, sensing and analysis of big-data. To visit their site click on the Cranfield logo.
The International Initiative for Impact Evaluation (3ie) is an international grant-making NGO promoting evidence-informed development policies and programmes. We are the global leader in funding, producing and synthesising high-quality evidence of what works, for whom, how, why and at what cost. We believe that using better and policy-relevant evidence helps to make development more effective and improve people’s lives.
3ie evidence gap maps
Evidence gap maps (EGMs) aim to inform funding and research decision-making by compiling existing research accessibly in one place in a way that also shows limitations and gaps.
These maps are based on systematic methods to identify and describe completed and ongoing impact evaluations and systematic reviews. EGMs are structured around a framework of interventions and outcomes and include an interactive map that highlights areas with extensive, limited or non-existent evidence. They provide an overview of evidence on the effects of policies and programmes in a particular sector or thematic area. EGMs are available through an online interactive platform on the 3ie website that allows users to explore the full studies and reviews that are included.
About this evidence gap map report
This report provides the supporting documentation for the online EGM map on agricultural innovation developed to inform current 3ie grant-making in this area. The 3ie Agricultural Innovation grant programme is funded by UK aid through the Department for International Development, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the International Fund for Agricultural Development and the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa.
Click on the report image to access
Excerpt from introduction....
Agriculture is the main source of income and employment for 70 per cent of the world’s rural population (ILO 2016). Despite this, in 2014 there were only 0.19 hectares of arable land per person, thereby failing to provide farmers with sufficient opportunities to increase their productivity and income (Alexandratos and Bruinsma 2012). The depletion and degradation of agricultural land and global water supplies are serious challenges that affect the sustainability of many farmers’ livelihoods. In regions such as South Asia, East Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa, the effects of low agricultural production can be seen strongly affecting both food security and household well-being.
The World Bank’s World development report 2008: agriculture for development highlighted the importance of the agriculture sector in international development, encouraging opportunities for economic growth, food security, poverty reduction, sustainable land management, climate change mitigation, and overall improvement in the livelihoods of smallholder farmers in low- and middle-income countries (L&MICs). The report stated that a developing country’s gross domestic product (GDP) growth, if originating from agriculture, is four times more likely to be effective in reducing poverty than other forms of domestic income (Byerlee et al. 2008). Policies that foster higher productivity and encourage climate-smart agriculture can have substantial sustainable impacts on poverty alleviation, food security and improved well-being, particularly for smallholder farmers (Asfaw et al. 2014).
Innovations in the field of agricultural production are key in helping determine best practices and technologies to help improve farmers’ livelihoods. Although many agricultural technologies are being created continuously, the effective dissemination of knowledge remains a challenge that inherently affects the productivity of many rural farmers. Farmers’ lack of access to resources and infrastructure, as well as a lack of capacity to support local agricultural production, can lead to unstable rural economies and declines in farmers’ well-being.
Improving agricultural innovations and technologies in developing countries is of paramount importance, as it offers new opportunities for increased agricultural production and income sustainability (Feder et al. 1985). In an analysis of the intersection between agriculture and development (Dethier and Effenberger 2012), the authors identify two challenges that hamper the sustainable growth of the agriculture sector in developing countries: the need for increased food productivity and the volatility of food prices. Thus, many agricultural innovations aim at targeting factors that contribute to improving production and quelling volatile markets. This includes improving access to credit and market information and land tenure security, encouraging diverse employment, and increasing supplies of complementary inputs (fertilisers and seeds) and infrastructures (irrigation and roads) (Feder et al. 1985).
The UK Government's Strategy for Agricultural Technologies has an objective of accelerating growth in the agricultural technology sector by funding four Centres for Agricultural Innovation that aim to advance the development, adoption and exploitation of new technologies in the agri-food sector.
Agrimetrics, is the first of four Agri-Tech Centres and is set up as:
The Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB)
The Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) is a statutory levy board, funded by UK farmers, growers and others in the supply chain and managed as an independent organization (independent of both commercial industry and of Government). The stated purpose of AHDB is to inspire UK farmers, growers and industry to succeed in a rapidly changing world. Their vision is for a world-class food and farming industry inspired by, and competing with the best.
AHDB believe that they can achieve their vision by focusing their efforts on four key priorities:
CAPACITY FOR CHANGE
Common Framework on Capacity Development for Agricultural Innovation Systems
The Tropical Agricultual Plan (TAP) is an action plan to develop capacity for agricultural innovation systems. This is supported by the Common Framework on Capacity Development for Agricultural Innovation Systems (CDAIS) an EU-funded action supported by the Food and Agriculture Organization of UN and AgriNatura.This programme has a TAPipedia or knowledge base which is worth visiting. To visit this section click on the TAPipedia image.
The TAP document describing the CDAIS, explains why this group consider agricultural innovation to be important as follows:
"In the context of a growing world population and climate change, agricultural innovation has a high potential to increase farmers’ income, improve food security and allow for a sustainable management of natural resources. As agriculture increasingly involves complex interactions of environmental and socio-economic factors with stakeholders at multiple levels, innovation needs an Agricultural Innovation Systems (AIS) perspective. The AIS comprises four main components: research and education, business and enterprise, bridging institutions, and the enabling environment"".
The pilot countries included in the Common Framework include:
Agricultural Innovation Systems : An Investment Sourcebook
This World Bank sourcebook draws on the emerging principles of Agricultural Innovation System (AIS) analysis and action to help to identify, design, and implement the investments, approaches, and complementary interventions that appear most likely to strengthen innovation systems and promote agricultural innovation and equitable growth. Although the sourcebook discusses why investments in AISs are becoming so important, it gives most of its attention to how specific approaches and practices can foster innovation in a range of contexts.
The sourcebook is targeted to the key operational staff in international and regional development agencies and national governments who design and implement lending projects and to the practitioners who design thematic programs and technical assistance packages. The sourcebook is also an important resource for the research community and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and may be a useful reference for the private sector, farmer organizations, and individuals with an interest in agricultural innovation. It concludes with details on the sourcebook's structure, a summary of the themes covered in each module, and a discussion of the cross-cutting themes treated throughout the sourcebook.
To secure a copy of this publication click on the image on the right.
10 Innovations for Climate Action in Agriculture
The Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) is a global research partnership for a food-secure future. CGIAR science is dedicated to reducing poverty, enhancing food and nutrition security, and improving natural resources and ecosystem services. Its research is carried out by 15 CGIAR Research Centers in close collaboration with hundreds of partners, including national and regional research institutes, civil society organizations, academia, development organizations and the private sector.
Agriculture needs to produce 60 percent more food by 2050 to feed a growing population, and these production increases need to occur even as the impacts of climate change are becoming evident in crop, livestock and fisheries systems globally. However, agriculture also contributes 19-29 percent of global man-made greenhouse gas emissions and will need to reduce emissions by 2030 in order to achieve the global goal of limiting warming to 2o Celsius. The CGIAR site lists the following to be the 10 Best Bet Innovations for Adaptation in Agriculture developed by their scientists (click to access):