Malawi in the future: will people be able to keep cooking?

The impressive presentation tackles the topic of biomass demand in the future and the problem of a possible supply-gap of biomass for cooking.

The main driving force of an increasing demand was identified to be the strong population growth in Malawi. Through modeling the demand and supply for the future, a big gap between the two was found, threatening the biomass availability. Even though other (not yet used) sources like crop residues may be used in the future, the demand will still exceed the supply up to a very high extent.

Biomass supply gap in Malawi

What is the government doing? Is it enough to ensure enough fuel for the Malawian people in the future?

The answer, given by the research, is that the planned methods will not be sufficient. The main strategy is the provision of efficient cooking stows to decrease the amount of fuel needed for cooking. The different models, with an optimistic and pessimistic scenarios, showed that, even with a high acceptance of the cooking stows, the supply gap remains.

Despite this finding, the research went further and provided a solution: different, individualizable agroforestry systems to include woody biomass in the farms to increase the fuelwood supply.

Sustainable development sounds great! On the diverging notions of the path leading to a sustainable, just future

Do you also get this uneasy feeling when participants from all institutions are always sharing one common opinion, one not really pronounced vision? It´s not that I would mind if we were all working together to achieve all sustainable development goals, a common vision. But this is obviously not the case!

There were some first signs of the diverging notions of sustainable development on Monday's keynote. Someone asked: „So why are there still poor people getting poorer?“ (See Elsby´s blog entry on it here: Sustainability is a very broad term, comprising also many contradictory opinions on how to reach the goal. Are primed seeds or rather commonly owned landraces the answer to food security? Is it really food security or rather food sovereignty that counts? What is our vision really about? Don’t we need to ask more fundamentally critical questions: which economic system will allow a world of equality, sustainability, and solidarity? And are systems going to be the solution anyway?

Keynote Speech Videos

Once again, if anyone happened to have missed Monday's Keynote speeches from David Molden (Sharing Hindu Kush Himalayan Resources in a Changing World), Poonpipope Kasemsap (Solidarity in a Competing World and Food Security Challenge), and Ann Tutwiler (The Growing Importance of Equity and Fairness using Agrobiodiversity to meet SDGs), please take a look at the professional coverage of the presentations on youtube!

David Molden's presentation:

Poonpipope Kasemsap's presentation:

Ann Tutwiler's presentation:

Tropentag Work Package 4 (WP4): Implementation

Tropentag is a scientific conference - surely. Yet each serious research project has a work package dealing with implementation (because funders know it´s good for publicity) - so has Tropentag.

Solidarity in a competing world - a theme directly put into practice at the conference dinner on Tuesday night.

Solidarity in a competing world?

In a role game, participants could emotionally experience competition for limited resources. Solidarity developed - at least amongst the most marginalized at the very end of queues sharing the last bits of food. Meanwhile, waiters were emptying half empty plates into the darkness of Vienna´s sewage system.

But - let´s not forget: this conference is not only about solidarity. It´s also about fair use of resources. But what´s fair, anyway? Yet again: food proved to be the most hands-on- area of implementation. The following images of the Tropentag lunch will not need any further comment.

From the eyes of a small-scale milk trader: how to improve the milk value chain?

Imagine you are a small-scale milk trader in Kenya. You have some cows and you additionally collect milk from farmers to transport and sell it to milk stations. But many people and milk shops do not like to buy from you. They think you are selling unsafe, low-quality milk and they prefer to buy from formal, larger-scale sources. Government regulations are complicated and difficult to understand and researchers are analyzing and seeing you as a part of a "value chain" and this does not really help your situation.

You are facing quite lots of difficulties, and if the quality of the milk is bad, you cannot sell it anymore. You bear the risks, you lose money if the milk gets bad. Controlling the product by smell, taste, texture and density without technical support needs much expertise.

Traveling to the producers, controlling and keeping the quality to resell to milk stations is certainly a hard job. So, how to improve the situation?

Milk trader in Kenya The presented research takes a closer look at those limitations and possibilities for improving the situation of small-scale milk trading from the perspective of a local milk trader. What are the results?

BMBF promote Research for development-innovative partnership

Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung (BMBF), organized a presentation session to give us an overview of who they are and what their mandate is. Due to the many global challenges the world has been facing (from climate change to urbanization, to environment pollution, to resource degradation etc.), BMBF started improving the international research and innovative partnerships. Three of the main goals is the establishment of a long-term cooperation with other countries and the promotion of specifically selected research areas of the high-tech strategy, as well as the enhancement of the visibility of Germany as an outstanding research location. Currently, they are cooperating with many African and Asia countries countries. BMBF representative As some BMBF representative reported, the Ministry has a fund of 350 millions euros to be allocated by 2019. In 2016, they have funded about 300 projects together with African partners with a total budget of about 60 million euros, promoting the research in the area of health and medicine and climate change, energy and food production.

A Very Warm Welcome at the Conference Dinner


The second day of this year's conference just ended. It has been closed by the conference dinner at Vienna's historic City Hall: the perfect venue to feel the warm welcome from Tropentag. A traditional Viennese music ensemble, some delicious food, and an amazing location seem the be just a perfect combination to wrap up the intense day.


Indeed, I personally enjoyed when some participants took over the stage and performed their traditional dance. The others banqueters apparently had my same feeling as they clapped and joined the dance. Five people also got to receive the Ecoland Poster Award and a prize of 300 € each as the best Tropentag's posters. I hope you had a wonderful night too. But still, remember to spare some energy for the closing day tomorrow!

You can find more pictures of the dinner on our Flickr.

Climate Change and Our Beloved Fruit Trees

"The Environmental Impact on Soil and Crop Health" oral session had varied presentations, from coliforms on African lettuce to peat emission measurements and political debates.

Environment session

A concerning fact that stood out during the presentation on lettuce contamination in Burkina Faso along the value chain was that 70% of the water being assessed in the study was above the safety or “health based target” threshold as set out by the World Health Organization. This water is being used to irrigate crops in urban and peri-urban locations, and is often derived from sewage contaminated sources.

Lettuce is an important crop in this area as it is considered “exotic” and has high value, especially during wedding season and other important occasions. Conserving its hygiene along the value chain is critical in preventing the food-borne illnesses that are all too frequent when using coliform-polluted water as an irrigation source.

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