Nkomo Fishing Camp
Nkomo Fishing Camp The life at Nkomo Fishing Camp in Kaputa district. Some few metres from Lake Mweru Wantipa. This village entirely depends on the Lake for their (Read more ...)

Is there a future for chocolate?
7848678414_9a96ed043c_z With growing demand for chocolate in emerging markets like India, China, Brazil and increasing interest in fine flavor organic chocolate in developed countries the cacao industry is facing huge challenges. Production needs to become more sustainable and the trade fair for small producers. In addition to this cacao producing countries are already feeling the impact of climate change. Rainfall is scarce in some areas and leave cacao plants under stress and vulnerable to pests and diseases. Small scale farmers have to face income and food insecurity for their families. In many cacao producing regions efforts are now made to help those farmers and the chocolate industries by developing different technologies that are climate smart and sustainable. As the cacao tree is an understorey forest tree it is more than natural to grow it in a forestry like system. Trees that provide shade can be chosen to provide timber, food or medicine and help to diversify the farmers income and diet. The benefits of growing cacao in an Agroforestry system are not only of economic value but also increase biodiversity, protect forests, wildlife and soils. The economic downside is that the trees grow slower and produce less than in a mono-culture system without shade. This is of course a short sighted view of it, because the ecological long term damage of mono-cultures is enormous. Agroforestry systems can be productive for up to 50years which reduces the need to deforest for new plantations and (Read more ...)

Health Co-Benefits of eating a sustainable diet

As discussed in other blog entries, eating a sustainable diet is vital if we are to reach the 2c target set down by the Paris Agreement [1]. Evidence for the environmental benefits of reducing consumption of meat and dairy products is continuing to build [2-6]. If we don’t begin to tackle the demand-side of agriculture, particularly meat and dairy consumption and current diets are left unchecked, agriculture will use up to 20 of the 23 GtCO2e yearly limit to 2050 [7].

blog4[Pic 1.] http://www.alexandermuench.com/Eat-Less-Meat-Editorial-Illustration Furthermore, it’s important to acknowledge the ‘health co-benefits’ of eating an environmentally friendly sustainable diet. Focusing on meat and dairy consumption, a new study in the US has highlighted the benefits of substituting animal based protein with plant based proteins https://archinte.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=2540540. It found that for every 3% calorie increase in plant protein the risk of death from all causes is reduced by 10%. It also emphasises a 12% reduced risk of death from heart disease [9]. In light of the fact that health concerns are more often than not, valued higher than environmental and climate change concerns, it is important to highlight the associated heath co-benefits of eating a sustainable diet [8]

The message is the same, eat less meat/dairy for a healthly you and a healthly planet 🙂

blog1[Pic 2.] https://www.babble.com/best-recipes/8-easy-ways-to-eat-less-meat/

References [numbered] link: (Read more ...)

Final Reflections on MScCCAFS Project
14791994156_982e8d190e_zSo...my thesis has been submitted. This has led me to the decision to upload a post reflecting on the process. It was a difficult yet thoroughly rewarding journey! I believe that I have conducted a unique piece of research. While it may not grace the heady pages of Science or Nature I do believe that such a study has never been undertaken before! I am also very hopeful that that data that I have generated will be of some use to Emilie and the team at Save Food here at FAO! While the study was restricted to analysing the INDCs I believe that they data and results do provide some indication on the importance of food loss and waste in the overall climate change strategies of countries in Sub Saharan Africa. My data indicate that while some countries in the region (for more details see the research/provisional results section of this website) include food loss reduction measures in their INDCs overall most do not. This is somewhat surprising when one considers that most food loss occurs at the production and post-harvest stages of the supply chain. This may indicate a couple of things. Firstly, perhaps the consultative phase of drafting the documents was not inclusive enough. Further research could ascertain the extent to which governmental departments dealing with food security were involved in the process. Also further research could ascertain the extent that food loss reduction measures have been included in other (Read more ...)

Lunch Time for Field Researchers and Enumerators
iMeal Time for Field Researchers and Enumerators (Read more ...)

Carbon Navigator

Carbon Navigator

The carbon navigator was established to assist in the task of reducing carbon emissions in the dairy and beef sectors of agriculture in Ireland.  The carbon navigator is a knowledge transfer (KT) tool, intended to be of help at farm level, in determining possible mitigation options and communicating well with the farmer (Murphy, Crosson et al. 2013).  It is designed to inform farmers of practices in which they can adopt and ways in which to improve performance, in order to both reduce emissions, and also increase profitability.  It is important to note that, the Carbon Navigator does not account for all GHG emissions associated with a farm (Murphy, Crosson et al. 2013).  The Carbon Navigator is a learning tool for farmers, and therefore intended to keep the interest of farmers, and to inform them on how to reduce their emissions outputs. So why do we need a carbon navigator?  Food Harvest 2020, the sectoral development plan for Irish agriculture, recommends growth in output over the coming years (Murphy, Crosson et al. 2013)and  (Department of Agriculture Fisheries and Food, 2010).  Of this, there is to be a 50% increase in dairy output (the milk quotas were abolished in 2015), and a 20% increase in the value of beef (Murphy, Crosson et al. 2013).  However, at the same time in which we are to be increasing our beef and dairy outputs, we are also meant to be reducing our greenhouse gas emissions, as outlined by (Read more ...)

A Common Food Policy for the EU
IPES logo The International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems (IPES-Food) are working to reform the food systems in the EU. They contend that a transformation of the current Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) towards a Common Food Policy is necessary. Widening the focus from agriculture to food policy has the potential to benefit the environment, public health, and rural development. In April, IPES-Food members joined forces with top European scientists to call for joined-up food policies to be put in place, and the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) to be fundamentally re-examined, in an open letter to European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker. IPES-Food is currently in the process of developing a vision of a Common Food Policy for Europe. Keep updated via the IPES-Food newsletter. (Read more ...)

Conversation with Emmanuel Mjemapemba, UNDP advisor to Malawi Department of Energy
Emmanuel Mjemapemba is an advisor from the United Nations Development Program (UDP) working as an advisor to the Malawi Department of Energy (DOE). Within the DOE, he works on the development of decentralized and sustainable energy initiatives for Malawi. I was able to sit down with Emmanuel for a brief conversation about the prospects for a decentralized energy sector in Malawi, and what he views as some of the biggest challenges to scaling up decentralized and renewable energy within the country.   What is your role at the Department of Energy? I am the program manager for UNDP energy programs in Malawi. UNDP has two programs in Malawi right now. The first is Increasing Access to Clean and Affordable Decentralized Energy, and the second is the Sustainable Energy Management Program. What are some of the projects being implemented that are a part of the increased access to decentralized energy services program, and what is the role of UNDP in developing and implementing these projects? Right now there is currently only one project in Malawi that we are supporting, which is the Mulanje Electricity Generation Agency, a micro-hydro scheme that supplies a mini-grid with electricity. We are assisting with expansion of the transmission and distribution capacity of the mini-grid, as well as trying to replicate the model in other parts of the country by seeking out social enterprises that could become mini-grid operators, then helping them to develop mini-grids of various type and design that make technical as well as economic (Read more ...)

Video on iron beans

Thesis hand-in
A week ago I handed in my thesis - my ~140 page, colourful baby filled with graphs and maps. I ve just about recovered from my diet of tea, pizza and chocolate biscuits. Next Monday the MSc CCAFS class of 2016/2017 will present their theses to an audience of last year s class, next year s class, interested academics and organizations, and our peers. Should be a good day - updates to (Read more ...)

“Nobody lives in the global average”
Last week it was Donegal, this week it s Houston (see also the Mann article linked below), in the weeks prior it was Vietnam, India, and numerous other places. Heavy rainfall and flooding were also identified by the photovoice participants in My Loi as their primary worry in relation to climate-related risks: [caption id="attachment_436" align="alignnone" width="640"] Watermarks on the wall in this house are a reminder of the previous year s floods.[/caption]   Is the seemingly endless news of catastrophic flooding events the result of a hyper-vigilant and ubiquitous media presence or is there a real climate-related trend? Studies have shown that as the planet warms, rates of evaporation will increase, and the air will hold more moisture, leading to what sound like manageable increases in precipitation. No more than with temperature however, averages can be deceptive (for example, the Arctic is warming at a much faster rate than the global average). As remarked in a 2016 article in Nature Climate Change Global average precipitation is expected to increase moderately with global warming, but nobody lives in the global average. Future trends? While there is considerable uncertainty, particularly in relation to spatial variability, it looks like the future holds further increases in extreme rainfall events in both wet and dry regions, even while the overall trend may be towards a wet gets wetter, dry gets drier scenario (Read more ...)

The festival of Augustus has been  celebrated for 2035 years ferragosto celebrates the battle of Actium with Octavian being victorious. That Octavian happened to change his name to Augustus and began celebrating the ferroagusto is no coincidence I m sure.... The ancient nature of the holiday from a time when agricultural production was the primary source of wealth, of course has an agricultural nature. Its a time for resting all beasts of burden, they traditionally were pampered in flowers and given the entire day to graze to their hearts content, it was to prepare the animals for the harvests. It served also for farm labourers ( slaves...) to have a day off to prepare for the harvests. It also happens to be the feast of the assumption of Mary but I prefer the pagan festival with horse racing across the Roman Empire.  Plus it is an excuse for everyone in Rome to take a holiday. Well not I as my thesis is due next week. Coupled with the temperature sticking around 40 degrees, I am not a very happy guy.   But at least it looks like they are having fun and in Sardinia it hit 50 degrees which I think would kill (Read more ...)

Feed priorities in the Ethiopia livestock master plan
Investment in livestock agriculture in Ethiopia has the potential to halve poverty, improve the food security of rural people and make livestock an increasing contributor to GDP growth. Yet the high cost and low availability of good quality animal feed is perhaps the most critical constraint to increasing livestock productivity. Poor feeding limits the ability of an animal to reach its genetic potential, so livestock grow slowly, produce little milk, are susceptible to diseases and produce few calves. If managed and fed properly, the average milk yield of a Horro cow at peak lactation on a traditional farm could more than double (Tolera 2012). Moreover, poor feed reduces the impact of other interventions, such as artificial insemination and oestrus synchronization, to boost livestock productivity. To meet its targets, the Ethiopia livestock master plan (LMP) gives feed availability a high priority. Moving targets The LMP sets out ambitious year 2020 targets for several livestock value chains—crossbred dairy cows, red meat milk and feedlot, and poultry. These are designed to meet rapidly-growing demands for agricultural commodities, especially meat, milk and eggs. The 2020 targets aim to increase meat, milk and egg production by 58%, 83% and 828% respectively above 2012/2013 totals. These can only be met through secure year-round feed supplies. These increases, as well as the expected rise of the crossbred cattle population to more than four million, will require enhanced forage and feed production and feeding services, including improved pasture productivity practices, and training for farmers on livestock feeding and (Read more ...)

Research Project Presentation: Irish Embassy, Ethiopia
On the 19th of July, I went to the Irish Embassy in Ethiopia to give a short presentation on the work I have been doing together with the International Livestock Research Institute and MSc CCAFS at NUIG. The seminar started with a CCAFS representative in Ethiopia, Solomon Dawit, who gave in detail an explanation on some of the projects done in Ethiopia by CCAFS and explained its role in bringing developmental changes to the country regarding climate change, its impact on the society and other related issues.I then followed by presenting some of the important discoveries from the research project I have been working on. The main interest lied on policy measures for forage production as questions and comments I received showed interests in knowing if there are policies available in place to facilitate the adoption and enhancement of the use and cultivation of forage species utilized in Ethiopian Livestock systems. The seminar showed to be of great advantage to me as it pointed important factors I needed to consider with regard to my research project. (Read more ...)

Agri-biodiversity and Forage Genetic Resources
About a week ago I went on a trip to one of the International Livestock Research Institute field station, Debre zeit. The purpose of the trip was to have a better understanding of trials run on different forage species and Forage  trees, owing to their genetic, and phenotypic diversity;and the need for significant research in identifying varieties more adapted to climate change and able to economically support farmers utilizing them by provision of good nutrition to livestock. The use of agri-biodiversity as an adaptation to climate change has been reported to have great benefits for farmers, which  also include improving their resilience towards climate change, Villanueva et al., 2017. In order to intensify the benefits of using agri-biodiversity as an adaptation to climate change, genetic diversity is of paramount importance as breeders need more diversity to explore all possibilities of identifying varieties with desirable traits, Villanueva et al., 2017. Field trials at the Debre zeit field station signify the use and intensification of genetic biodiversity of forage grass species and forage trees. Forages are the most affordable feed resources for farmers who can not afford industrial feeds for their livestock.With climate change taking place, the quality and quantity of forage grasses is threatened, leaving farmers with the challenge of providing good nutritious feed to their livestock. The use of agri-biodiversity; genetic diversity may also be of great importance to farmers relying on forage grasses for their livestock. The following pictures are on trials run on  forage grasses and trees for (Read more ...)

Hello Addis

It s been a week and a couple of days since my arrival in Addis Ababa for my research project. I am loving the atmosphere! Really looking forward to making my stay here worthwhile and rewarding.

(Read more ...)

End of the road
The time has come for the submission of the research paper. This marks the end of the masters program. From here on, I hope to work in the field of gender, policy and climate change preferably in the public sector. (Read more ...)

Karonga Diocese rescues hunger stricken households in hard to reach areas in Northern Malawi
Caritas Commission launches a Relief Programme to some of most hard to reach areas in Northern Malawi [caption id="attachment_112" align="alignleft" width="300"] Bishop Martin Mtumbuka (left) and District Commissioner, Mr Richard Hara(third from right), conducting a symbolic distribution during the launch[/caption] Karonga Diocese through Caritas Commission, a development arm of the church, is implementing a relief programme in Chitipa, Karonga and some parts of Rumphi District in Northern Malawi. This is in response to food shortage due to low yields in the 2015/2017 production season which was affected by drought and floods. Malawi has seen an increase to severe weather conditions in the past 20 years. The Malawi Vulnerability Assessment Committee(MVAC) estimated that 6.5 million people would be food insecure. Karonga Diocese with assistance from Pope Francis has rolled out the programme to cover .......... vulnerable households in the three districts. It reaches out to some of the most hard to reach areas in the country like Tchalo in Rumphi District which can only be accessed by a boat. This is in line with the moto of the Diocese which is " we shall go to them". The project will run for three months from February to April which considered to be the lean months of the year. The launch of the project was done on Monday, 20th March, 2017 and was graced by Right Reverend Martin Mtumuka who is the head of Karonga (Read more ...)

Concluding remarks
The aim of this study was to develop a cheap, real-time, farm-scale GHG sensor system and to validate it against standard field GHG measurements (GC and static chambers). GHG measurements showed no differences in CO2 levels recorded between glucose treatments and no difference was found between GC and senor CO2 recordings. Conversely the sensor did show differences in CO2 levels across glucose treatments and could detect CO2 concentrations as low as 1g but strongly over estimated CO2 concentrations. Results reflect issues in the chamber design but also highlight the importance of using these measurements as a method of validating that static chambers are working effectively. While time was insufficient to develop a sensor system, future studies should consider the costs and data storage space required to achieve such as system on a (Read more ...)

MSc Thesis Submitted…What’s Next?
Last week I handed in my MSc Thesis. In the weeks leading up to submission, completing my thesis in time was not my only worry. I was also thinking about what to do with my life after the submission date. Luckily, after some discussions with the head of my research unit here at CIFOR, I was offered the opportunity to extend my internship contract and begin work on a new project. The project, which I have now been working on for over a week, is the USAID funded Forest Incomes for Environmental Sustainability (FIFES) Initiative. The project is implemented by the US-based development NGO, ADCI/VOCA. FIFES’s overall goal is to develop key rural forest-based enterprises that provide inclusive, sustainable economic opportunities for rural farmers and forest-dependent communities in a way that also combats deforestation and biodiversity loss. Working with thousands of community-based entrepreneurs and leaders from 14 Community Forests (CFs) in Nimba and Grand Bassa counties in Liberia, West Africa, the FIFES initiative protects biodiversity through supporting forestry, agroforestry, and related natural resources management. FIFES aims to strengthen selected forest and agricultural value chains, enhances knowledge and skills for forest enterprises and landscape management, and establishes legal and management frameworks for forestry and agroforestry enterprises. Entrepreneurs, FIFES researchers and facilitators, the 14 Community Forest Management Bodies, the Executive Committees, and the Community Assemblies are forming stronger working relationships with one another to improve access to products and markets, improve the regulation of timber and other forest products, and increase financial (Read more ...)

Summary of the project
Overall, the aim of the project was achieved, the barriers to a more sustainable Robusta coffee industry in the Central Highlands of Vietnam were identified. The literature study and stakeholder interviews provided information on the priority issues and how they were ranked in order of priority by the stakeholders of the area. According to available literature pests and diseases is high priority threats to the sector, which varied from the interviews, which ranked pests and diseases as the threat of the lowest priority. Variances were viewed in the rankings provided between the varying stakeholder groups and the companies which already had ongoing projects which were already overcoming the particular threat. The solutions provided by the questionnaire participants highlighted that solutions could be of benefit to multiple threats, with only four of the solutions provided being specific to one threat. The solutions of ‘intercropping’ and ‘training’ were the solution which would most benefit all five threats. Other solutions mentioned included the use of new varieties, new/improved drying methods, and better water management. There were barriers to most solutions, including financial barriers and lack of incentive for farmers to make the necessary changes to increase the sector’s sustainability. Throughout the study, a number of information gaps were identified, for both coffee farmers and organisations working in the coffee sector. Such gaps included lack of soil analysis of the coffee growing area, and lack of weather and climate information. Gaps were also identified between the perspectives of different stakeholder groups, e.g. differences were (Read more ...)

3D printing training program
In order to make the training efficient as possible, Gerald Hitzler, Makara Mean, Lytour Lor, Dyna Theng and I met to discuss how the training would be conducted. I designed the schedule and training materials while we all collectively chose dates, venue and a made up a mailing list. We had 36 students to teach, from 2nd to 4th year. Most second year students had no CAD skills so we had to mix the groups up. Four training days were chosen with nine students in each group. We also contacted the department of agriculture where we organised a training session for staff at the mechanisation unit, on the 12th of November. In total 5 training sessions were conducted and 44 people were educated on 3D printing and it s potential for spare part development.   Figure 1. First group of students ready for 3D printing training program. On the 26th of October we started the training program at the Royal University of Agriculture, Phnom Pehn where we gave an insightful introduction into 3D printing technologies and how 3D printing could be used to manufacture spare parts for agri machinery. Each training began with a presentation on 3D printing which gave a background on how the technology came about and what it s currently being used for. We also looked at some potential uses, which included agriculture. Figure 2. First group of students (Read more ...)

MSc Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security Conference, NUIG

Monday 4th September 2017 from 0900-1800 ILAS Lecture Theatre, National University of Ireland Galway
All are welcome - free admission! To register your attendance send email with name, address and your affiliation to: mary.gannon@nuigalway.ie
For the full programme of the event click (Read more ...)

Hello world!
Welcome to MSC CCAFS Students. This is your first post. Edit or delete it, then start (Read more ...)

Challenge- Environmental Impact of Your Clothing – Update
Just over two months completed now of my six month challenge! I set out to not purchase any NEW clothing for six months in an attempt to reduce my own personal environmental impact, and to discover and support clothing recycling programmes in the meanwhile. While I ve been fortunate enough to not need to purchase new clothing for work yet (read: I m still unemployed!) I have been exploring options to purchase second-hand or refurbished (yes, it s a thing) clothing in the meanwhile. While most of my used clothes shopping previously has been done on eBay, everyone is likely familiar with their town or city s "vintage" shops or second-hand stores. While I would always encourage people to support their local economies with their shopping preferences, for those of us who wear rare sizes or are looking for particular types of items, the market seems to be slowly shifting to meet the demand. Patagonia seems to have the best programme if you re searching for outerwear. It s called "Worn Wear" and is a continuation of their Common Threads Initiative. The worn wear scheme allows you to trade-in used Patagonia clothing for company credit that is then cleaned, repaired, and sold again at a discounted price. Pre-Loved is a U.K. based website much like eBay that allows listing of used items for purchase or trade. American Used Clothing is a wholesale purchaser of used clothing that re-lists and sells very affordable used clothing (Read more ...)

A summary of my Research
Over the past few months we in the CCAFS master s program in NUIG have been conducting research on our selected projects and now we are coming towards the end of that journey with a little under 2 weeks to go until the final submission is due. [caption id="attachment_261" align="alignright" width="323"] A map showing the frost days and precipitation for the period 1997-2017[/caption] My project changed quite a lot from the being where I was first going to look at land-use changes in Ireland over 100 s of years with a particular interest in forestry,  but after meetings with my supervisors we decided that we should look at forestry and creating forest climatic zones for Ireland. This came from an interest to look at how frost risk is affecting the most important commercial tree species in Ireland: Sitka spruce. I wanted to see how Ireland s changing frost risk would influence site selection for Sitka spruce establishment in Ireland. The first step was to gather all the information about the subject such as the history of forestry in Ireland, history and physiology of Sitka spruce, Climate Change, afforestation efforts in Ireland, precipitation change, Ireland s climate and of course how frost affects trees, particularly how it affects Sitka spruce, how frost forms, spring frost and autumn frost. All this information was gathered and formed my literature review. The second step saw me focus on frost risk for Ireland where I gathered my data (Read more ...)

A second post

Second post paragraph

media page

Example twitter
Precision Agriculture, Europe

I am so excited already about my PhD research project, do not worry as more about the project will be revealed soon.

This week I began my results. This project is primarily based on interviews and surveys. Because of this, the results of my project will mostly contain answers from interviews and surveys. The answers given by James Moran will be used as results. As well as his answers to direct questions, quotes will also be used as part of the Results. In order to get all relevant information, the interview had to be listened to multiple times to extract the correct information.

Next week, I am scheduled to meet with Brendan Dunford so I will keep revising his interview questions. As well as meeting with Brendan, I will also meet Cathal O Donoghue in NUIG. Cathal is working directly with the Farm ECOS project. This will give further information on how these schemes are designed and what he thinks is the most efficient design in an environmental scheme.

I am now just over midway in my research project timeline. We recently had our GRC Presentations and meetings to assess our current progress. At the minute, the animal feed trial is complete and ADG of all groups have been recorded. I have completed Fibre Analysis of all faecal samples. The last couple of weeks I have been creating Lowry Assays for protein determination of faecal samples. My next step in the project is to carry out C&N analysis of faecal samples and then start extracting RNA from blood samples. A busy few months are ahead!

Lowry Assay Protein Determination

The aim of this trial was to see if RFID chips affected sperm quality. Three bulls, FR4021, FR2298 and AA2123 were used in the trial starting the 25th of March. Technicians in the barn received 50ml universal tubes containing the dilution INRA. Ejaculates were placed into the pre-warmed INRA and then stored in the transport box to the lab. On arrival in the lab the sample underwent initial subjective assessment and the concentration was determined. All data was put into the database and the sample was split into three treatments, A= a small FDX-B chip, B= a large FDX-B chip and C= control. The sample was fully diluted in INRA and then placed in a transport box to regulate the temperature over the three days. Samples were scanned every hour in order to activate the chip to assess the effect on the sample.

Big chip and a small chip. Same frequency just visually different sizes.
Same bull, sample split and the blue device is used to read the chip

We are trying to resolve the issue of the dye staining the glass, once I get these specs removed I will re do this PCR with a higher concentration of DNA

The forestry sector in Ireland is growing rapidly each year. This is for many reasons, one of which is because of the continued demand for timber and wood products worldwide. The demand for pulpwood is growing rapidly as the use of bio-fuels is increasing in Ireland and abroad. People are becoming more economical and less reliant on fossil fuels as they are seeing how harming they are to the environment. Wood chipping/pellets/pulp are being used worldwide to produce energy instead of fossil fuels which is encouraging to see.

Had my first proper working week at Algentech last week. It was an intensive learning experience without any doubt. The large majority of my work involved completing the different stages of molecular cloning of different DNA constructs. I have a small knowledge of cloning from my undergrad but not on this level! The first few days Anna would show me how to carry out a specific experiment and then supervise when I would carry it out. Towards the end of the week I was working independently with guidance from Anna when needed. This week is more of the same with me working on DNA constructs at different stages of cloning.

Should be all for now,


Helpful video by Nature, explaining RNA interference

Plant and Agribioscience Website:

Soil temperatures and grass growth were continued to be monitored. Soil temperatures were up to 13/14°C on all three farms between the 10th – 20th June.  However, between the 24th and 28th of June temperatures on all 3 farms were up to 15-16°C, which is consistent with the increase in air temperatures. Received results back from FBA which will be statistically analysed along with all other results. Soil and herbage samples were taken and sent to FBA for SR3 and Mineral trace scan and feed analysis. Prof Charles Spillane and Dr Galina Brychkova visited all three farm plots on Monday 17th June. On advisement a weed assessment was carried out on Farm A and Farm C as well as a red clover : ryegrass % was calculated and both results will be analysed. On Thursday all 3 farm plots were mown and the grass was gathered and weighed to compare digestate v’s chemical fertilizer plots. There was exponential differences with digestate fertilized showing much higher yields. Another round of digestate and chemical fertilizer will be applied next week.

These are the samples which were ran in the PCR using the ITS2 primers. these should detect whether roundworm DNA is present in the sample. it used the ITS2 region of DNA which is common too all roundworm species.

I will follow up with results under UV light in next post!!!!

Today I am learning to blog. The system was a bit slow.

I am a student of the MScCCAFS course


A photo depicting climate change.
Climate Change in the Italian Alps
Screengrab of Innov 4 Ag Pacific website
Screenshot of Innov 4agpacific website

The thesis has officially been submitted, the presentation will given on Monday so that s my masters completed. I have a few weeks to breath before the I start the next stage of my life. But those weeks will quickly get filled with preparations for this next stage. It s been a really hard year, sprinkled with amazing moments and memories. So I m excited to be done and to move on. The future is bright, so I need to pick myself up and brush off the dust and continuing taking the bull by the horns .

So I hope you enjoyed accompanying me on this adventure and best of luck with your lives.

Go n-éirghidh an bóthar libh - may the road rise up to meet you.

With the thesis handed in, it is now time to focus on creating a poster and presentation for the symposium on Monday. It is hard to believe that this time last year I was starting the course, the time absolutely flew! The course has opened my eyes to aspects of climate change, agriculture and food security that I never thought about and has significantly increased my desire to work with organisations that are for positive change, especially for the resilience of vulnerable populations which my thesis was so focused on. The results of my thesis has also brought environmental policies to the forefront of my mind. Through effective governance and cooperation and collaboration amongst institutions and agencies, greater change can happen when working as one team. Resilience is measured at different aspects along a continuum of incremental changes. By analysing the project documents for WFP and IFAD it is evident that there are many important themes which recur in building adaptive capacity. A focus on social inclusion by incorporating marginalised groups into project activities and identifying common challenges faced during climate change will enable a more productive, sustainable environment and agricultural sector.

I am looking forward to seeing all my classmates and catching up with them to see how they got on over the summer!

Atami by the sea・熱海城からの眺め

Can t believe that three months have already come and gone already! I finished up a final draft of the thesis last week and as a treat to myself, I headed down to a ryokan (旅館, traditional Japanese hotel)in Atami. Since the rainy season ended in Tokyo, the summer heat is really kicking into high gear and being next to the ocean and feeling the breeze was quite a welcomed relief. As usual, we tool the local JR line down and took the Shinkansen on the way back. The food was top notch and very fresh!


Getting back to thesis progress, I presented my current research yesterday at JIRCAs and got some great feedback. I m going to try my best and finish up everything by the end of this week so that when I go back to the states I can proof it (Read more ...)

Cảm ơn

Nothing more Irish than learning how to say thank you in the native language of any country you visit!

So to from me to you at the end of this journey with all the highs and lows, in all the ways I know how, I must say...

Cảm ơn


Takk fyrir






Thank you

(and of course)

Go raibh míle maith agaibh

For joining me on this adventure of a lifetime to Asia to carry out this thesis research!

I do hope you all enjoyed my research and antics!

CCAFS class of 2019, I will miss ye!

Today I genuinely have heavy heart as I leave TBL. It marks the end of fieldwork. Every time I come here, I feel motivated, inspired and downright happy. The people here are so welcoming I can’t even begin to describe how comfortable they have made me feel. 

Let me share with you about what we did today!  in the morning, we headed to Nong Truong village where we carried out Key informant interviews with a female farmer, the head of Nong Truong village and the head of Muong village. Here we gathering some basic socioeconomic data which is necessary to know before beginning a project. Data such as population in in the village, average wage, education and main/other livelihoods of people in the village. Understanding the situation in each village is key to ensuring any CSA interventions are successful and can help researchers identify openings/barriers to uptake of CSA technologies and practices. 

After the interviews, I jumped on the back of the village chief’s bike, and made my way to the house of one of the Commune Party leaders- lovely gentleman by the name of Thui! He prepared a massive lunch for all of us including chicken, pork, beef, dog, veggies and rice 🍛; and of course he was so thoughtful and made loads of vegetarian food for me too. I then sang a few tunes in one of many (Read more ...)

Selling copies and signing autographs all week!!!!

Sunday the 25th of August I could finally say I had completed my thesis and there was no going back. What a year it has been, returning to college, meeting great people and getting the chance to travel. There is too many people to mention in my acknowledgements but off the top of my head I would like to thank Professor Charles Spillane, Dr Peter McKeown, Dr Gina Pighetti and Collin McCorkel both from University of Tennessee.

Now I must find a job !!!

I am back to my usual seat in the library, where I sat majority of last year when completing my thesis for my undergrad. I am swapping between here and the lab in Arus de Brun where I am working with three Vietnamese students who came to Ireland as part of the VIBE program. We are working together to see if any of our results are significant enough to produce a publishable paper. My blood is 80% coffee and the weather at home hasn t been great so its perfect thesis writing settings. I m missing the university life in Vietnam which often consisted of breaks with my colleagues Cian and Chris to drink smoothies and sugar cane juice in the sun but I feel like I m finally settling back into life in Galway.

When I submitted my thesis last year I promised myself that I d never do that again but here I am drafting another thesis, this time for a masters degree. One thing I learned last year was don t leave everything to the last minute so I ve been consistently working away at all the different parts of my thesis. Working with the Vietnamese students to draft a paper has helped greatly and there are lots of great ideas floating around, it s just a matter of getting all these ideas down on into a word doc to see what angle we will take. With (Read more ...)


So it seems that the lattice filter was the best choice for filtering the slurry, it acted to concentrate the most nutrients out of all the filters tested.

International Business Machines Corporation (IBM Research Africa) Initiative : Turning lives around with water ://www.ibm.com/thought-leadership/water/?cm_mmc=PSocial_Facebook-_-Corporate+Advertising_Branded+Content-_-IME_NG-_-1074954136_Tracking+Pixel&cm_mmca1=000038OF&cm_mmca2=10008441&cm_mmca4=1074954136&cm_mmca5=1079157274&cm_mmca6=0a22335b-05d6-48f5-adb6-e311424caa6d

Hello again!

So I am back again to provide a clearer view of GAIN, the programs this organisation has been running over the years and just how my project fits in to what they have been doing;

In the year 2002, Global alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) was officially established with a goal of working together with public and private sectors to end malnutrition (Moench-Pfanner and Van Ameringen, 2012) . GAIN has adhered to this commitment by striving to making healthier food choices more affordable, more available and more desirable. In these efforts GAIN, has leveraged to improve nutrition outcomes by enhancing the consumption of nutritious and safe food, especially to the vulnerable, in recognition that the food system can only be fixed by a collective global effort. Their work has been organized into different following programme areas, operating in an interlinked way along the food value chain, concurrently cooperating with various partnerships and alliances as described in fig 1.

 To enhance nutrition outcomes by improving the consumption of nutritious and safe food for all people, especially the most vulnerable. - GAIN s Vision and Purpose

Fig 1: GAIN Products and Services Along the Food Value Chain

One of GAIN s (Read more ...)

Back to the lab!

Be a butcher!

I don t want to say but... I did kill 58 fishes by myself! Pray for them!✝✝✝ Cut off the head, peel off the skin, remove the bones and organs and clean the blood.

Smash them to paste!

The pretreatment of samples

The pretreatment is a series of operations to extract the fatty acids from fish flesh. It usually includes three key steps: hydrolyzation, saponification and methyl esterification as well as extraction. The pretreatment of each fish usually takes at least 5 hours if everything goes well and the operator is skillful. To ensure the efficiency and the accuracy of the experiment, it would be better to deal with 4 samples at a time.

The pretreatment requires much patience and time for each step. The fish flesh must be clean and with as few impurities as possible; The usage of reagent must be in the right sequence; The (Read more ...)

Brachiaria: a versatile forage for sustainable agriculture

Brachiaria grass species are found in natural grassland and originated primarily from Africa (Boonman, 1993), their capacity to grow on acidic soil with low fertility has made them an important forage grass, especially in South America where Brazil alone count 99 million hectares of land sown with Brachiaria species (Jank, Barrios, Valle, Simeão, & Alves, 2014). Despite being originally from Africa, the improvement of pasture through selection that took place in eastern Africa in the 1960s and 1970s did not include Brachiaria specie. Thus, the grass did not benefit from the scale-up promoted by commercial agriculture which resulted in only a small number of African countries cultivating the specie including Congo, Uganda and Kenya (Boonman, 1993).

Despite being originally excluded for pasture improvement, several recent projects pushed the come back of Brachiaria in Africa. This come back is due to its high forage quality, drought stress resistance, and several other characteristics of the grass making it a useful addition to agriculture and forage systems (Maass et al., 2015).

Brachiaria species aptitude to grow in a wide range of habitats allow its presence in agriculture for a wide range of utilisation: in coffee plantations in Kenya to restrain soil erosion and as a supplement income through its use as green manure, in maize fields to curb the spreading of armyworms, in brazil integrated with grain crops to reduce pasture degradation and many (Read more ...)

Hello world!
Welcome to MSC CCAFS Students. This is your first post. Edit or delete it, then start (Read more ...)

The Humanitarian-Development Nexus

Analysis of past research reveals that until the 1980s, relief and development were perceived as strictly distinct scopes of aid provision carried out in sequence and separate from each other. Over the past decade, the intensity, cost, and duration of humanitarian assistance provision have grown dramatically, mainly resulting from the protracted nature of recent crises (OCHA, 2017). Within this period, the duration of United Nations inter-agency humanitarian programs increased to an average of seven years, while average budget size increased by about four hundred percent, thus prompting the need for the long-overdue discussion around better connectivity between humanitarian and development efforts within the UN system (OCHA, 2017).

Albeit the idea of ‘linking relief, rehabilitation and development’ has been around in the development sector since the 1980s, for decades there did not seem to be a shared understanding of what the concept means or its practical relevance. However, from reviewing several pieces of literature on this concept, it can be deduced that the generally associated idea is structuring humanitarian and development interventions in a way that gradually reduces reliance on humanitarian aid and promotes developmental ideals pre, during and post emergencies. The potential of this concept is captured in a quote by Buchanan-Smith and Maxwell (1994), where they wrote “The basic idea is simple and sensible, emergencies are costly in terms of human life and resources. They are disruptive to development. They demand a long period of rehabilitation. And they have spawned (Read more ...)

And that’s a wrap

Now the thesis is handed in, the poster is ready to go, and the presentation..well I must do that next, I really cannot believe the year is over. It flew by. Last year when I decided to apply for the MSc CCAFS. It seemed like such a big commitment, a lot of money and a whole year of my life and I m no spring chicken either. But actually overall, it wasn t too bad. The last three months were definitely the longest and the hardest but for the most part, it flew, and I m coming out of with a lot more knowledge than when I went in. Most importantly I m coming out of it more employable (I hope!!). The job hunt will be in full swing after the presentations next week. Although being a student is great I m more than ready to work again, and I d rather not see another academic journal for a while!

In recent decades, the occurrence and intensity of climate related hazards such as drought and desertification have increased. It is arguably that the industrial revolution of the 21st century have contributed to increase the quantity of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, which inevitably is warming the earth faster than before. At the same time, rising temperature and lower rainfalls have resulted in drought and desertification in some latitude, while in other latitudes lower temperature and heavy rainfall have cause cold spell and flooding. The Lake Chad region is no exception. In the past, the lake chad region was a major source of livelihoods for millions of people in sub Saharan Africa, but currently, it is unlikely that the lake can continue as a viable source of livelihoods for millions of people. The lake chad is increasingly shrinking due to desertification, drought, lower rainfall and the rising temperature, which is attributed to climate change. This easy will examine how climate change has affected food security and fuel insecurity in the region and argued that while population has increased in the region, the quality of livelihoods supporting system has decreased.

Climate change has contributed to increase the food insecurity and fuel insecurity around the world in several ways. First, the unreliable rainfall and rising temperature is increasingly affecting the intensity and occurrence of drought than before, which obviously had contributed to the shrinking of the lake chad basin. According to UNDP, from 1960 (Read more ...)


On Monday, we present our results.

This is good news for me, as I m one of those people that prefers public speaking to death - by a large margin. I like it.

It s also good news because I feel like my work has advanced progress on an issue that matters, in a country I care deeply about.

The only bad news is that I have to make the decision about whether I want to maintain this blog - this could well be my last post, at least on here. I m planning on picking up my other blog again (in which I think critically about often vacuous books) once I ve graduated and am back at home.

So if this my last post, looking back at the arc of what posted here is interesting. At first, the blogs were all about content: who does what, how it works. This past month, though, I ve spent more and more of my time thinking not about how things work but what constitutes a good choice and and what our moral obligations and rights are.

These thoughts have led me directly back to Ishmael.

No, not Call me Ishmael. And not the Biblical Ishmael.

This (Read more ...)

Linking local and global food systems for more healthy and sustainable communities

A blog within a blog:

In this post I will walk you through how I put together an inventory for LCA. I use margarine as an example here.
I wanted to find out the carbon footprints associated with producing margarine globally. After doing some researching of margarine products online, I realized there is no *one * standardized way to produce margarine, the ingredients vary from country to country and also among margarine producers…so I decided to do my LCAs based on all the formulations I could find, and then I would calculate an average value based on the global warming potential I calculated for each formulation.
Firstly, I searched for LCA studies on margarine- and I found one that one included detailed information on the composition of 4 different margarines products (from 4 different European countries):

Comparative life cycle assessment of margarine and butter consumed in the UK, Germany and France. Nilsson et al. (2010).

Next, I looked for more formulations online…

It was hard to find more detailed margarine formulations, as margarine products often consisted of multiple edible oil varieties (such as soya oil, palm oil/palm kernel oil, sunflower oil,etc.) and while the percentage of total edible oils used was given in the ingredients list, I had no idea how much of each was used to produce the margarine.
Eventually, I found one product that had only one edible oil ingredient- margarine (Read more ...)

Home – but not finished

Ive arrived home in galway. 2 and a half short months in vietnam has come to an end. However, its not time to rest now as in the next 6 weeks ill need to finish and submit my thesis.

I m Brian and I m currently undertaking a MSc in Agribiosciences at NUIG.

The 2019 Galway Climathon took place last Friday (25/10). A great group of innovative mids came together and got involved to try and find solutions to dome of the current climate issues facing Galway city. All the ideas from the day are solid and have a real chance in helping drive solutions in Galway city and beyond! I am proud to say that the team i was involved in, Team ELF s", were the winners on the day, creating a task orientated climate education programme.

Eoin Dunne was selected on a very competitive basis to work as a Research Assistant in Teagasc, Athenry. Well done Eoin!

Gillian Cummins is working now in NCBC, in the department, where she was doing her Reseach Placement. Well done Gillian!

Before discussing the contribution of women to society and their position and importance as I described in the previous post, I would like to provide an update on the analysis of the literature I have been working on in relation to the project I have done with CIAT, Rome, Italy.

As a quick reminder, my project with CIAT was on Climate-Security and Peacebuilding and I wrote Should I stay, or should I go? Climate, Rural Youth Migration, and Social Protection formerly called Climate Change, Rural Youth Migration, and Social Protection. In this review, I discuss climate and future climate change impact on migration patterns, looking at the rural youth context. I reviewed about 165 literature/articles from various topic-related sources; the effects on migration, climate and climate change impact on youth (global & rural), and the response steps, in particular programs and policies for social protection. 

This paper finds that different countries/regions have different response systems depending on their geographic area and vulnerability level. This is largely influenced by a country s situation whether it is developed or developing, the availability of resources and infrastructure, and a person, household, or community s power. Developing countries generally have weak infrastructure, so their ability and capabilities are usually limited, often forcing them to move to other, safer, nearby areas. Africa, for example, has the highest number of youth (15-24 age) indicating a poor climate change adaptation mechanism has highly affected youth, pushing them to (Read more ...)

Nature and Extinction

The word extinction has always been associated with world life (animals and plants). But today, this word is closer to the human race more than ever before. The more humans interact with wold animals the closer they bring their race to extinction. In their efforts to be the most fashionable and have the most exhotic dish in their diets, humans have brought diseases that were present only in the animal world into human s habitats. As much as most of it is through fashion and avoidable dishes, some of this interaction has been accelerated by the impacts of climate change. Livestock and crops fail to produce under the impacts of climate change and people are forced to go into the wild to either hunt world animals or gather wild fruits. As they do this, they come into contact with disease causing pathogens which cause pandemics in humans. Not only are animals hunted down and killed in their habitats but they are brought alive into the human world! A wild animal under stress is more likely to spread it s viruses to humans as they interact with it than any other. Whether climate change, fashion or diets, humans have to leave wild animals where they belong... In the wild.

Some of the best practices implemented by organic and FairTrade certified farmers that increase resilience against climate change impacts. They are applying mulching or/and cover crops like beans; they also dig terraces, and diversifying their crops. Mulching, terraces, and trees conserve soil water, reduce erosion, and, at the same time, add soil fertility. Mulch and cover crops surpass weeds @MScCCAFS_NUIG

Robusta Coffee intercropped with banana and beans, mulching applied
Terraces in pineapple farm
Thick later of mulch applied in coffee farm
Application of mulch, and beans as cover crop intercropped in coffee trees

I submitted my thesis a few days ago and I am now back in the U.S. after a lengthy day of travel. It is definitely a bittersweet feeling to be done with the MScCCAFS program and to have left Galway. There is a lot I will miss but I’m mostly feeling grateful for this experience and optimistic for what the future holds.

Keep on (Read more ...)