The Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) confirms closure by end of 2020.
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Reporting on impact and innovation

Analysis

Spore magazine

© Edouard Sango/MediaProd

For over 34 years, CTA’s flagship magazine, Spore, offered unrivalled guidance to smallholder farmers across ACP countries enabling greater productivity and income generation. As a tool that contributed to sustainable agricultural transformation, the publication’s influence has been widely felt and is well recognised.

Spore has been instrumental in knowledge exchange, in the sharing of different opinions and insights, and in providing readers with the latest developments in agriculture. At CTA, we are pleased that we have been part of – and even led – critical conversations on key topics on agricultural transformation through this long-lasting publication,” states CTA’s Director, Michael Hailu. Spore helped shape curricula and training materials, set up new business ventures, and allowed many to keep up-to-date with information that was not readily available elsewhere. An article from the June/July 2010 issue on quail farming in Cameroon, for instance, caught the attention of retired Kenyan policeman, Thomas Munyoro. After further research, Munyoro identified a quail producer for sourcing chicks locally in order to establish a business selling quail eggs. Before long, Munyoro had over 100 laying quail and his business was thriving. “Spore impacted so many people in different ways for the simple reason that it is unmatched,” stated Robert Delleré, the magazine’s first Editor-in-chief. “It has no equivalent for the exchange of information in its field.” 

Smart partnerships

Evolving from a technical agricultural bulletin in 1986, Spore was later scaled up to a print and digital publication, delivering in-depth coverage of the topics and issues of broader relevance to agribusiness and sustainable agriculture, including entrepreneurship, smart-tech innovations and climate-smart agriculture. Strategic partnerships were essential for extending the reach of the print edition, and Spore prided itself on reaching places where other magazines found it difficult to gain a readership. In South Kivu in the Democratic Republic of Congo, for example, CTA struck a Spore distribution deal with local company, Proximédias Libres, which increased subscribers from 100 to 1,500 between 2010 and 2014. Hard copies were distributed by bus, motorbike and pirogue (canoe) to non-governmental organisations, churches, radio clubs, schools, government departments and individuals. In Cameroon, a partnership with the monthly newspaper La Voix du Paysan led to the number of subscribers more than doubling – from 3,000 to over 7,500 – between 2010 and 2013.

At its peak, Spore was distributed to over 60,000 subscribers in ACP countries. In recent years, with the digitalisation of Spore, the articles were provided in a variety of formats, so that it was more readily available and accessible for a younger and more digitally-minded audience, while not neglecting Spore’s long-standing print readership. As a result of these developments, in 2019, the print version of the magazine reached 22,654 readers, whilst the electronic PDF version reached 87,175 readers, and webpage views exceeded 137,000.

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Renowned and authoritative knowledge broker

Providing information to 79 ACP countries is no mean feat for a relatively small organisation. Nevertheless, CTA has been on the frontline of the communications revolution in creating, sharing and disseminating information, knowledge and learning products to enrich ACP agriculture.

Trading up: making the most of markets

Web portals and publications by CTA and partners have provided detailed analyses and information regarding issues affecting ACP agricultural trade. Access to this material has informed and empowered ACP countries in their trade negotiations and strengthened domestic and regional value chains.

Brussels Development Policy Briefings: a platform for promoting policy

Organised by CTA, the European Commission (EC), the ACP Group of States and Concord, the Brussels Development Policy Briefings have been a flagship initiative providing an inclusive policy dialogue forum on discussing critical issues for ACP agriculture and rural development for more than a decade.

Agricultural expertise: a vital link

With CTA’s knowledge products reaching around 2 million people each year, dissemination of information through books and technical manuals has made a vital difference for people working in the fields of extension, education and at policy level.

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