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of Agricultural

Key Trends Since 2000
• Overall, agricultural research and development (R&D) spending rose rapidly in Botswana until 2007, after which it fell in response to spiraling inlation levels, which prompted Agriculture’s contribution to Botswana’s gross domestic
product (GDP) fell dramatically from 44 percent at independence in 1966 to less than 2 percent in 2008, the government to cut funding to many public-sector mainly due the increased economic importance of mining, tourism, manufacturing, and the services industry (World Bank 2010). Despite Botswana’s arid climate and the sector’s declining • Agricultural R&D capacity levels followed a similar trend. contribution to formal employment, agriculture remains The Department of Agricultural Research (DAR) has serious important as a source of food, income, and employment for a diiculties attracting and retaining well-qualiied staf large proportion of the population, particularly in rural areas. because of its low salary levels compared with parastatals Given that productivity gains are critical to maintaining and such as the Botswana College of Agriculture (BCA) and the enhancing competitiveness of Botswana’s commodities and National Food Technology Research Centre (NFTRC).
advancing the status of the rural poor, agricultural research and development (R&D) should remain a top priority in national • Compared with R&D staf in many other countries in the development planning. For most of the 1990s, agricultural R&D region, Botswana’s pool of agricultural researchers is investments in Botswana increased steadily (Beintema, younger and less qualiied in terms of postgraduate degrees. Modiakgotla, and Mazhani 2004). This trend continued until 2007, • The country’s agricultural R&D is almost entirely funded by albeit more erratically, but in 2008 investments plunged suddenly. the government. Donor funding plays a negligible role.
That year, the country as a whole spent 46 million Botswanan pulas or 19 million purchasing power parity (PPP) dollars on agricultural research, both in 2005 constant prices (Figure 1, Table 1). Note that, unless otherwise stated, all dollar values quoted Figure 1—Public agricultural R&D spending adjusted for
Figure 2—Public agricultural research staf in full-time
inlation, 1981–2008
equivalents, 1981–2008
1981 1984 1987 1990 1993 1996 1999 2002 2005 2008 1981 1984 1987 1990 1993 1996 1999 2002 2005 2008 Sources: ASTI–DAR 2009–10; Beintema, Modiakgotla, and Mazhani 2004.
Sources: ASTI–DAR 2009–10 and Beintema, Modiakgotla, and Mazhani 2004.
Notes: The igure in parentheses indicates the number of other government Notes: The igure in parentheses indicates the number of other government agencies. For more information on coverage and estimation procedures, see the agencies. Given the large share of time DAR spends on seed multiplication and Botswana country page on ASTI’s website at .
range management, its share of FTE scientists has been revised downward to 60 percent. Hence, overall R&D staf numbers in this note difer from those previously published by Beintema, Modiakgotla, and Mazhani (2004).
Table 1—Overview of public agricultural R&D spending and
research staf levels, 2008
ASTI Website Interaction
Total spending
Total staing
 More details on institutional developments in Type of agency
Number Shares
agricultural research on Botswana are available  Underlying datasets can be downloaded using  A list of the 3 government, 1 nonproit, and Total (5)
1 higher education agencies included in this brief is available a Note: Figures in parentheses indicate the number of agencies in each category. herein are based on PPP exchange rates, which relect the purchasing power of currencies more efectively than standard exchange rates because they compare the prices of a broader range of local—as opposed to internationally traded—goods and services.1 Agricultural R&D capacity levels in Botswana also rose inlation levels in 2008, the Government of Botswana reduced its considerably during 2000–07, falling somewhat in 2008. The yearly budget allocations to many public-sector agencies, country employed 97 full-time equivalent (FTE) researchers in 2008, up from 68 FTEs in 2000 (Figure 2). Two other government agencies are involved in agricultural The Department of Agricultural Research (DAR), under the R&D in Botswana: The National Veterinary Laboratory (NVL) and Ministry of Agriculture, is Botswana’s principal agricultural the National Food Technology Research Centre (NFTRC). NVL falls research agency, accounting for close to 40 percent of the under the Ministry of Agriculture’s Department of Animal Health country’s agricultural R&D staf and two-thirds of its agricultural and Production. In 2008, the laboratory employed 29 FTEs in R&D expenditures in 2008. DAR is headquartered in Gaborone and agricultural R&D to focus on livestock disease diagnosis and comprises three divisions: the Arable Research Division, the control; applied research designed to maintain the health, welfare, Animal Production and Range Research Division, and the Support and production of farm animals; and the preservation of high Services Division. Research activities encompass crops (including meat hygiene standards. All of NVL’s R&D activities are conducted cereal crop improvement, horticulture, oil seeds, grain legumes, at a laboratory in Gaborone. NFTRC, a parastatal, has the most crop pest and disease management, and water and soil modern R&D facilities in the country. Based in Kanye, its mission is management) and livestock management (including work on to generate food technologies that enhance economic animal breeding, dairy, small livestock, feed, and sustainable diversiication, food security, and quality through sustained R&D deployment of range resources). In addition, DAR provides focused on end users. In 2008, 2 FTE researchers were involved in research support services in seed production and certiication; agricultural research; the majority of NFTRC’s remaining soil, plant, and feed analysis; and genetic resources conservation researchers conducted related—but not strictly agricultural— (DAR 2009). DAR is also endowed with experiment stations in a research (including biochemistry, microbiology, and nutrition and number of locations dispersed across the country. In addition, dietetics research), and are therefore not included in further DAR is the country’s National Biosafety Authority, fulilling the mandate of ensuring the safe use, handling, and transboundary One nonproit agency was identiied as conducting distribution of living modiied organisms for sustainable agricultural R&D in Botswana: Veld Products Research and Development (VPRD), which specializes in nontimber forest Although research is DAR’s primary mandate, a large part of products and is located in Gabane west of Gaborone.3 In 2008, the the department’s overall spending is allocated to seed production agency accounted for just 2 percent of the country’s agricultural and the management of rangelands. It was estimated that DAR’s R&D expenditures and capacity. VPRD carries out nursery-based scientists spend 60 percent of their time on research and the research and ield activities, develops a wide range of veld balance on other activities. DAR has had diiculties attracting and products, and investigates suitable management systems for keeping qualiied research staf and has lost a large number of natural resources in order to ensure sustainable utilization. staf to parastatals that are able to ofer higher salaries.2 In order to The Botswana College of Agriculture (BCA), established in redress these staf resignations, large-scale recruiting, mostly of 1966, is a parastatal under the Ministry of Agriculture and junior scientists who are recent university graduates, has occurred associated with the University of Botswana. Although BCA has since the turn of the millennium. DAR’s total agricultural always maintained close links with DAR (and is located adjacent to researcher capacity doubled from 23 FTEs in 2002 to 46 FTEs in DAR’s headquarters in Gaborone), the college’s agricultural R&D 2006, but by 2008 numbers had once again fallen to 38 FTEs. activities only began in 1992. Activities have been expanded Similarly, DAR’s overall spending decreased by more than signiicantly since then, and in 2008, BCA accounted for more than 20 percent during 2007–08. As a result of the country’s spiraling a quarter of Botswana’s total agricultural R&D capacity. BCA’s Figure 3—Intensity of agricultural research spending and
capacity, 1981–2008
ASTI Website Interaction
 Detailed deinitions of PPPs, FTEs, and other methodologies employed by ASTI are available  The data in this note are predominantly derived from surveys. Some data are from 1981 1984 1987 1990 1993 1996 1999 2002 2005 2008 secondary sources or were estimated. More information on data coverage is available at Sources: Calculated by authors from Beintema, Modiakgotla, and Mazhani 2004; FAO 2009; ASTI–DAR 2009–10; and World Bank 2010.
 More relevant resources on agricultural R&D 27 FTE agricultural researchers focused on a variety of areas including crops, livestock, forestry, environmental sciences, and socio-economics. In 2007, research at BCA was consolidated under three streams relating to crops, livestock, and socioeconomics. Drought is the main research theme under crop research, and crop marketing strategies is an important focus of socioeconomic research. FTE agricultural researchers for every million farmers, which again Private companies play a limited role in agricultural R&D in is well above corresponding ratios in most other African countries.
Botswana, but the Centre for Applied Research (CAR) is an important exception. CAR was established in 2000 in response to INSTITuTIONAL STRuCTuRE AND
the growing demand for high-quality contract-based research. POLICY ENVIRONMENT
Unfortunately, lack of available data precludes CAR’s inclusion in the analysis in this note.
The institutional structure of agricultural R&D in Botswana has In 2008, 32 percent of Botswana’s agricultural researchers changed little since the turn of the millennium. Some important were female (ASTI–AWARD 2009), which was well above the changes have occurred at the ministerial level, however. The African average (Beintema and Stads 2011). NVL employed Department of Research, Science, and Technology (DRST) was comparatively more female researchers (50 percent) than DAR established in 2004 under the Ministry of Infrastructure, Science, (27 percent) or BCA (28 percent). Botswana’s 2008 support-staf- and Technology (MIST). DRTST’s mandate is to coordinate and per-researcher ratio averaged 1.3, consisting of 0.6 technicians, provide an enabling environment for science and technology 0.1 administrative support staf, and 0.6 other support staf per (S&T) in Botswana. A key responsibility has been to deine and justify the research products and services being funded by the Total public agricultural R&D spending as a percentage of ministry. Another has been to create a planning and reporting agricultural output (AgGDP)—a commonly used indicator of system for the research institutions to assure the government comparative agricultural R&D spending across countries— that institutions will be scientiically and inancially viable increased rapidly during 1996–2001 but followed a highly volatile long term (SADC 2008). Nevertheless, despite some high-level trend thereafter. In 2008, the country invested $4.32 on consultative meetings and the establishment of MIST, Botswana agricultural research for every $100 of agricultural output (Figure still lacks a national S&T policy. Most agricultural R&D agencies 3), which is among the highest shares in Africa and the developing are organized under separate administrative units with little or world. In comparison, the 2008 average for Sub-Saharan Africa as no interagency coordination, and this has led to a duplication of a whole was 0.61 (Beintema and Stads 2011). The cause for research eforts and wastage of scarce resources (SADC 2008). Botswana’s exceptionally high agricultural research intensity has DAR’s efectiveness is constrained by ineicient and little to do with high investment levels, but rather relects the bureaucratic government procedures and systems. Some believe small size of the country’s agricultural sector and hence its AgGDP. that DAR would be better able to prioritize and focus its activities Research intensity ratios are often higher in countries with small as a parastatal body, with less government intervention, including populations and high per capita income levels. This is logical when the ability to set higher salary levels. A recent proposal to remove you consider that human and capital investments have a ixed DAR from the Ministry of Agriculture was rejected by the Ministry, base component, regardless of population size, especially when and another submission proposing a merger with BCA to eliminate facilities and services are spread across the country (Pardey, duplication of activities has yet to move beyond the discussion Roseboom, and Anderson 1991). The number of agricultural FTE phase. The recent absorption of NFTRC into the Ministry of researchers per million farmers increased steadily until 2007, after Agriculture has also fueled talk of a potential merger between DAR which the ratio fell somewhat. In 2008, Botswana employed 323 and NFTRC, but no change is foreseeable for the time being. DEGREE LEVELS AND TRAINING OF
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) also fund training for RESEARCH STAFF
NFTRC has taken important steps to build its capacity in In 2008, 59 percent of agricultural researchers employed in recent years. Since 2000, a large number of NFTRC scientists have Botswana were trained to the postgraduate level, with 24 percent undertaken PhD training (mostly in South Africa). As a result, the holding PhD degrees and 35 percent holding MSc degrees number of PhD-qualiied researchers at NFTRC rose from 1 to 10 (Figure 4). Consistent with developing countries around the world, (individuals, not FTEs) during 2001–09, although the extended the higher education sector reported a much higher share of leave of absence required for the training had a negative impact researchers with PhD degrees (47 percent) compared with DAR on research in the early 2000s. Most of the researchers that (17 percent) and the two other government agencies combined completed foreign training are relatively young and (12 percent). Despite an overall drop in the share of postgraduate inexperienced. Attracting experienced staf able to conduct scientists in Botswana’s agricultural R&D agencies, the absolute high-level research, monitor younger scientists, and secure future number of MSc- and PhD-qualiied researchers increased during R&D funding has proved to be a challenge. NFTRC and BCA often 2001–08. In 2008, 24 FTE researchers held PhD degrees and compete for qualiied staf. In addition, even though salary levels 34 held MSc degrees compared with 13 and 27 FTE researchers, are higher at parastatals like NFTRC and BCA compared with DAR, respectively, in 2001. In addition, the total number of BSc- they are still too low to attract experienced foreign scientists from qualiied researchers almost doubled during this period, from countries like South Africa. In recent years, however, NFTRC has 21 to 40 FTEs. As already established, since the turn of the successfully recruited nutritionists from Jamaica to address some millennium, DAR has recruited a large number of young college graduates, holding only BSc degrees, who receive on-the-job BCA’s yearly training budget, provided by the Government training from their more senior and experienced colleagues.
of Botswana, is roughly 5 million pula (in current prices). In 2009, Until 2007, BCA only ofered BSc-level training, so scientists about 40 research and technical staf from BCA were undertaking who wanted to pursue training beyond this level had to go (mostly PhD) training at foreign universities. The W.K. Kellogg abroad (mostly to South Africa, but also to Kenya, Zambia, Foundation has also provided funding toward training for BCA staf. Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States). This ceased BCA is currently having diiculty recruiting professors, so many to be the case, at least for MSc training, with the introduction of positions remain vacant. The situation is expected to improve 6 new MSc programs in agricultural sciences at BCA in 2007. somewhat as scientists begin to return from training abroad.
Being an upper middle-income country, Botswana is not a As previously indicated, unlike many other countries in priority when it comes to donor funding. Unlike many of its Sub-Saharan Africa, Botswana is not alicted with the challenge of African counterparts, the Government of Botswana funds the vast an aging pool of agricultural scientists approaching retirement majority of postgraduate training for agricultural scientists, and age. The average age of scientists at DAR and NFTRC is currently the number of PhD-qualiied scientists at DAR grew from 4 to 11 around 35 and 40 years, respectively. All DAR researchers are paid during 2001–04 as a result. Nevertheless, with the general decline according to a civil servant pay scale, which explains the in government funding to DAR, support for training has also discrepancy in salaries between DAR and the parastatal agencies decreased somewhat in recent years. As of 2010, ive of DAR’s (including BCA), and the diiculty DAR faces in attracting and researchers were pursuing PhD degrees in plant breeding at keeping well-qualiied senior staf. To redress this situation, the foreign universities, and one researcher had recently returned to government introduced the scarce skill allowance for senior civil DAR. In addition, since September 2008, the United Kingdom’s servants in May 2008, ofering specialized scientists with unique Department for International Development (DFID) has provided skills salaries of up to 40 percent above their scale. As of September funding for 8 DAR researchers to pursue MSc training through the 2010, however, this allowance was suspended until further notice Southern African Development Community (SADC). SADC and the due to implementation issues. Only MSc-qualiied scientists were eligible for the allowance at DAR, and it acted as a disincentive for many staf members given the seemingly arbitrary deinition of Figure 4—Degree level of researchers by institutional
“scarce skills,” which many scientists could not claim to possess. category, 2001 and 2008
Capacity will continue to remain a challenge at DAR in the coming years without appropriate restructuring to enable the Department to compete for staf alongside the country’s parastatal agencies.
Cost Categories
The allocation of research budgets across salaries, operating costs, and capital investments afects the eiciency of agricultural R&D, so detailed cost category data were collected from the government agencies as part of this study. During 2001–08, salaries at DAR accounted for 49 percent of total expenditures, operating costs for 45 percent, and capital investments for 6 percent (Figure 5). The overall decline in spending during 2007–08 explains the increase in the share of salaries. Around the turn Note: The igure in parentheses indicates the total number of agencies.
of the millennium, DAR invested considerably in its infrastructure, including oices, housing, farmhouses, and equipment, largely Figure 5— DAR’s cost category shares, 2001–08
Figure 6—Research focus by major commodity area, 2008
Notes: The igure in parentheses indicates the total number of agencies. BCA was excluded from the sample because of data unavailability.
because of the construction of three regional stations. The overall and operating costs. BCA’s overall research budget has increased share of capital investments also increased during 2007–08. in recent years now that more PhD-qualiied scientists are returning to Botswana.
Funding Sources
Agricultural R&D funding in Botswana is primarily inanced by the national government. During 2005–08, the government The allocation of resources across various lines of research is a accounted for 97 percent of DAR’s total funding, with the private signiicant policy decision, so detailed survey information was sector (including producers) and foreign donors contributing the collected on the number of FTE researchers working in speciic remaining 3 percent. This situation sharply contrasts with other commodity and thematic areas. Livestock dominates Botswana’s African countries that are highly dependent on donor funding for agricultural sector, accounting for 80 percent of agricultural agricultural R&D, as well as and DAR’s situation in the 1980s, when output (SADC 2008). It is therefore not surprising that livestock donor contributions represented one-third of the Department’s research also dominates, forming the focus of 56 percent of the total funding (Beintema, Modiakgotla, and Mazhani 2004). As country’s agricultural researchers in 2008 (Figure 6). That year crop previously mentioned, as an upper middle-income country, research accounted for 41 percent of all FTE researchers, while the Botswana is not a priority country many foreign donors. A small remaining researchers focused on natural resources, forestry, component of DAR’s program costs, however, is funded by donors postharvest, and socioeconomic research.
such as the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). Sorghum is the most researched crop in Botswana, accounting SADC has inanced some training in recent years. DAR also raises a for 36 percent of the country’s crop research (Table 2). Fruits and small amount of funding internally through the sale of products vegetables each accounted for 14 percent of all crop research, and like vegetables, fruit, milk, and cattle. groundnuts accounted for 13 percent. Other important crops More than 90 percent of NFTRC’s budget is also funded by the include maize, millet, and wheat. The country’s livestock government. An increasing share of the Centre’s funding, however, researchers concentrated primarily on beef, dairy, and swine.
is generated internally through commercialization trials for the private sector. Donor funding plays a limited role. Some donors, Table 2—Research focus by major crop, 2008
including Secure the Future, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), and IAEA, have provided Total (3)
funding for speciic projects in recent years. During 2003–09, VPRD received the bulk of its funding through England’s Kew Gardens as part of a Kalahari plants, livelihoods, and community conservation project. The completion of the project in 2009 led to a severe drop in overall funding, resulting in the loss of staf jobs. In addition, Unilever South Africa inanced a small two-year R&D program on the indigenous hoodia plant.
Research at BCA is funded by the national government and donor organizations. In 2008, the college received a total of 37.8 million (current) pula, 26.7 million of which was funded by the government and the remainder of which was funded through collaborative projects with the European Union and foreign (mainly British and Danish) universities. Just 1 million pula of the government budget was speciically allocated to research Source: ASTI–DAR 2009–10.
Notes: The igure in parentheses indicates the total number of agencies. BCA was programs; the bulk of the funding supported salaries, training, excluded from the sample because of data unavailability.
Botswana’s agricultural R&D capacity and investments rose rapidly Financial data are also available in current local currencies or constant 2005 U.S. dollars via ASTI’s Data Tool, available at
during 1995–2007. However, inlationary pressures and a considerable exodus of R&D staf from DAR, the country’s A parastatal is an institution or organization in which the state holds a share; it is an independent company limited by guarantee.
principal public agricultural R&D agency, caused overall R&D 3 The term “veld” refers to large tracts of open rural land in southern Africa and, in investments and capacity levels to fall in 2008. That year, the particular, to certain latter areas or districts covered in grass or low scrub.
country as a whole employed 97 FTE research staf and spent 46 million pula or 19 million dollars on agricultural R&D (both in 2005 REFERENCES
PPP prices). Botswana has one of the highest agricultural R&D ASTI–AWARD (Agricultural Science and Technology Indicators and African intensity ratios in Africa and the developing world, but this is not Women in Agricultural Research and Development). 2009. Gender- uncommon for a country with a small population and a relatively disaggregated capacity indicators in Sub-Saharan Africa, 2007/08. Unpublished surveys. Washington, D.C. and Nairobi: International Food Notwithstanding important government-funded training Policy Research Institute and Consultative Group on International initiatives for DAR scientists leading to an overall increase in Agricultural Research Gender and Diversity Program. the number of PhD-qualiied scientists since the turn of the ASTI–DAR (Agricultural Science and Technology Indicators and Department of millennium, the Department has serious diiculties attracting Agricultural Research). 2009–10. Agricultural science and technology indicators survey. Unpublished surveys. Washington, D.C. and Gaborone.
and retaining well-qualiied staf because of its comparatively low government salaries. Many scientists have left DAR in favor of Beintema, N. M., E. Modiakgotla, and L. M. Mazhani. 2004. Botswana. ASTI Country Brief No. 19. Washington, DC, and Gaborone: International better-paying positions at parastatals, and DAR has been forced Food Policy Research Institute and Department of Agricultural Research. to ill most of these vacancies with recent university graduates. Beintema, N. M. and G. J. Stads. 2011. African agricultural R&D: Progress for Advanced training for this relatively inexperienced pool of some, challenges for many. Food Policy Report. Washington, D.C.: scientists should be a high priority in the coming years, as a critical International Food Policy Research Institute.
mass of highly qualiied research staf is crucial to producing DAR (Department of Agricultural Research). 2009. DAR mandate and mission. high-level research and to securing future R&D funding, whether <> (accessed November 2010). through regional competitive funds or other channels.
FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations). 2009. Parastatals, including BCA and NFTRC, are able to ofer FAOSTAT database. <> much higher salaries compared with DAR and therefore more easily attract well-qualiied staf. The government will have to Pardey, P. G., J. Roseboom, and J. R. Anderson, eds. 1991. Agricultural reconsider measures to increase DAR’s competitiveness and research policy: International quantitative perspectives. Cambridge to clearly identify its long-term R&D priorities and translate them into relevant, focused, and coherent R&D programs. SADC (Southern Africa Development Community). 2008. Implementation Though talks of merging DAR with BCA or NFTRC have been and coordination of agricultural research and training (ICART) in the ongoing, no irm plans have been made. For the time being, the SADC region: Botswana. Gaborone: Food, Agriculture, and Natural Department will continue to face these fundamental challenges.
World Bank. 2010. World development indicators (WDI) and Global development inance (GDF). <> (accessed November 10, 2010).
Agricultural Science and Technology Indicators (ASTI) initiative INTERNATIONAL FOOD POLICY RESEARCH INSTITuTE
c/o ESA, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) 2033 K Street, NW • Washington, DC 20006-1002 USA Viale delle Terme di Caracalla • 00153 Rome, Italy Tel: +1-202-862-5600 • Skype: ifprihomeoffice Telephone: +39-06-570-53192 / 56334 • Skype: ifpriromeoffice Fax: +1-202-467-4439 • Email: Fax: +39-06-570-55522 • Email:
IFPRI is one of 15 agricultural research centers that receive their principal funding from governments, private foundations, and international and regional organizations, most of which are members of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (
DAR is Botswana’s principal agricultural R&D agency. It was established in the late 1960s and falls under the administrative coordination of the country’s Ministry of Agriculture. The institute holds a broad mandate covering crop and livestock management research. In addition, it provides research support services in seed production and certiication; soil, plant, and feed analysis; and genetic resources conservation. To learn more about DAR visit
The Agricultural Science and Technology Indicators (ASTI) initiative compiles, analyzes, and publishes data on institutional developments, investments, and human resources in agricultural R&D in low- and middle-income countries. The ASTI initiative is managed by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and involves collaborative alliances with many national and regional R&D agencies, as well as international institutions. The initiative, which is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation with additional support from IFPRI, is widely recognized as the most authoritative source of information on the support for and structure of agricultural R&D worldwide. To learn more about the ASTI initiative visit
The authors thank the agricultural research agencies that participated in the ASTI–DAR survey; without their commitment this country note would not have been possible. The authors also thank Michael Rahija for his research assistance, and Nienke Beintema, Elenimo Khonga, Seja Maphanyane, and Pharoah Mosupi who provided inputs and comments on an early draft of this note. ASTI gratefully acknowledges the generous support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Copyright 2011 International Food Policy Research Institute and Department of Agricultural Research. Sections of this report may be reproduced without the express permission of, but acknowledgement to, IFPRI and DAR. For permission to republish, contact This country note has been prepared as an output for the ASTI initiative and has not been peer reviewed. Any opinions stated herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily relect the policies or opinions of IFPRI and DAR.



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