Academy of Finland Panel (Mikko Ylikangas)


Academy Programme on development research (DEVELOP) – Academy of Finland

Working group chair: Mikko Ylikangas, Senior Science Adviser, Academy of Finland,

The working group will tackle the theme of the event from three perspectives:

The IRIS project (Jyrki Luukkanen & Matti Vilkko), concentrates on aspects related to the integration of intermittent renewable energy sources, mainly wind and solar, in the Cuban electricity system and the problems and advantages related to it. The target is to develop renewable energy scenarios, which take into account the global development context and the political, economic, social, technological, environmental and cultural dimensions of development.

The SMARTLAND project consortium (Petri Pellikka, Laura Alakukku and Timo Vesala), studies environmental sensing of ecosystem services for developing climate-smart landscape framework to improve food security in East Africa. Changes in land use and land cover in sub-Saharan Africa have impact on ecosystem services, radiation balance of the land surface, gas exchange, water cycle, habitats and biodiversity. Consequently, negative changes in livelihoods and climate at different scales have been experienced. In Africa almost all agricultural systems are rain-fed and vulnerable to climatic variability. Innovative and transformative measures are urgently needed to assist farming communities to cope with the changes in order to increase food security and reduce poverty. The project aims to develop climate-smart landscape framework, which would consider both the needs of climate stability, and sustainable agriculture fed by ecosystem services such as water provision, pollination and fertile soil.

POWERGRAIN project (Ndegwa Henry Maina) focuses on superior grain safety with designed mycotoxin binding properties. Mycotoxins contamination is a serious problem, resulting in human and livestock poisoning in Sub-Saharan African countries. They are found in foods such as grains and nuts that are important dietary staples in Africa. Current climate changes are enhancing the occurrence of mycotoxin contamination in both food and feed thus posing a threat to future global food security. Mycotoxin management methods used in developed countries are not feasible for developing countries owing to lack of funds and food insecurity. This is a challenge especially among subsistence farming communities where implementation of mycotoxin control and monitoring systems are non-existent or difficult to implement. Unfortunately, due to poor governmental control, corruptions and political instability, grains with high levels of mycotoxins, usually end up in the local markets. Consequently, families vulnerable to poverty and food insecurity consume grains with high levels of mycotoxins due to lack of choice, leading to long-term chronic exposure to mycotoxins. Research effort is therefore is needed to find suitable means to salvage mycotoxin contaminated grains before they end up on the consumer’s table. The Powergrain project is designed to create two pathways aimed at sequestering bioaccessibility of mycotoxins.

The presentations will be followed by a commentator’s notions, and a moderated discussion with the audience.