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Reader's Corner: The soil debate, addressing aflatoxin contamination, measuring institutional capacity

Veronica LetelierWelcome to the fourth installment of the Agrilinks Reader’s Corner, a new blog series on the latest agriculture issues from agribusiness and food security specialist Veronica Letelier. Join us for the latest entry to see what Veronica is reading this week. 

This week I'm highlighting three pieces I've come across over the past two weeks. 

Is that really the “big debate”?

Nature magazine (Vol. 483) published an article titled “African agriculture: Dirt poor" with the tagline: "The key to tackling hunger in Africa is enriching its soil. The big debate is about how to do it.” It generated some discussion among development professionals who still debate about the use of inorganic fertilizer versus sustainable practices. Nowadays, most of us understand that the debate is focused on how to increase the capacity of all stakeholders to implement Integrated Soil Fertility Management (ISFM) practices. ISFM is the application of soil fertility management practices, and the knowledge to adapt these to local conditions, which maximize fertilizer and organic resource use efficiency and crop productivity. These practices necessarily include appropriate fertilizer and organic input management in combination with the utilization of improved germplasm. A great resource from the Tropical Soil Biology and Fertility Institute of the International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (TSBF-CIAT) can be found here

A step forward at addressing aflatoxin contamination

The Partnership for Aflatoxin Control in Africa (PACA) launched a comprehensive program to formulate polices, identify solutions, and support the implementation of programs to address health, agriculture, and trade issues related to aflatoxin contamination in the staple food supply. PACA is in the process of establishing a PACA network and information sharing platform to provide tools for communication and coordination between the many organizations and individuals working on aflatoxin control throughout Africa. Read the literature review, "Aflatoxin: A Synthesis of the Research in Health, Agriculture and Trade," from researchers at Danya international and the USAID East Africa Regional Mission.

TIPS are back!

These TIPS provide practical advice and suggestions to USAID managers on issues related to performance monitoring and evaluation. (These publications are supplemental references to the Automated Directive Service Chapter 203.) This one is particularly relevant these days: Measuring Institutional Capacity. Visit usaid.gov to access the complete TIPS series.