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When working across eight countries in West, East and southern Africa we always have plenty to report! Whilst the cropping season is heading for harvest in West Africa a new crop has emerged in East Africa and sowing preparations are fully underway in southern Africa. And of course the strong seasonality in Africa means that there are always issues of getting ready for the next season or crop marketing throughout the year. In this issue of the Podcaster we requested inputs from the different countries, and many of the contributions focus on market linkages, value chain analysis and agricultural fairs. Several of the articles provide insights from a broader value chain analysis that Joseph Rusike of IITA is currently conducting for N2Africa. We also provide links to a consultancy report on gender in N2Africa by WOCAN, together with how this will be incorporated with our activities. Putting markets and gender alongside each other highlights some of the challenges that remain, and that differ across countries, in empowering smallholder farmers to consolidate their production so that it can reach the market, and in assisting women in doing this.

The final articles discusses bioprospecting for rhizobia in East and Central Africa and some links to other projects are indicated at the end. As always we encourage you to send in your own items of news so that we can share them with our global community.