Paul SmithIntroduced by Paul Smith

As many of you may already know I’m an Associate Academic Director at the Centre for Development, Environment and Policy at the School of Oriental and African Studies, part of the University of London, and a specialist in distance learning. I have been involved with the CSC for several years as the co-ordinator of the CSC’s Agriculture & Rural Development Network. My network was one of the first to move to LinkedIn, and I’ve recently posted my 175th item for the group!

My aim is to foster interest and discussion on contemporary issues and ‘hot topics’ in agriculture and development, and also to inform the members of the group about up-coming international events – for example, like the recent World Food Day on 16 October, where the theme this year is “Sustainable Food Systems for Food Security and Nutrition”.  A common recurring theme in my postings has been that of sustainability, food security and tackling food shortages and poverty, and there have been many others including the importance of smallholder agriculture, the role of women in agriculture and development and the impact of climate change.

I’d like to thank members for posting or commenting on my posts,  but I am conscious that this can be a one-way process, and members may have time to take a quick read but not to always actively participate, which is entirely understandable.

We here at the CSC are keen to stimulate a greater degree of interaction with the network members. I hope that this e-newsletter focus on the tremendous work members are carrying out – in research that will combat diseases in staple crops, improving food security and working with international agencies – will inspire our other network members to share their activities.

I am delighted to be able to give a brief overview of the activities of our network members here, and that you will enjoy reading each of the articles. I hope that this will encourage alumni to post up examples from their own area of work, to share experiences and to ask for ideas and opinions. This would then make the network more effective as a two-way means of sharing information and communicating with one another.

Kolawole Adebayo (2001 Commonwealth Split-site Scholar, PhD in Agricultural Extension and Rural Development, Federabl University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, Nigeria and University of Reading) updates us on his Cassava: Adding Value for Africa project. So far this has helped 90,000 smallholder farmers in Africa improve food production and processing.

Josey Kamanda (2007 Commonwealth Shared Scholar, MSc Technology Management, University of Surrey) is studying for a PhD through the Food Security Centre’s PhD Programme ‘Global Food Security’ at the University of Hohenheim in Stuttgart, Germany.

Leonard Mizzi (1992 Commonwealth Scholar from Malta, PhD in Agricultural Economics, University of Reading) is currently the Head of Unit in DG Agriculture and Rural Development  at the European Commission, Brussels. He is specifically in charge of the unit dealing with relations with ACP countries, the UN, including FAO, and the G8/G20 groups.  Leonard’s article discusses improving food security through international institutions.

Ida Paul (2003 Commonwealth Split-site Scholar from South Africa, PhD Environmental Management, University of Pretoria and Durham University)  is currently Head of Crop Protection and Field Crop Research and Development at ExperiCo Agri-Research Solutions in South Africa. Ida’s research looks at protecting staple crops from disease whilst protecting the environment.