The Executive Director, Dr. Jones participated in the World Food Law Institute Symposium with a lecture entitled “From Research to Knowledge of Farmers”. He addressed issues such as the efforts being made by Africa to turn around its fortunes in the agriculture sector and, the benefits of empowering farmers with knowledge that will enable them to contribute to agricultural innovation. He also detailed the steps being taken to reform African ARD.
The various speakers shared experiences on the role of the smallholder farmer on agricultural productivity for development. Speeches were also delivered by Dr. Namanga Ngongi the President of AGRA, Ambassador Hawa Ndilowe the Malawian Ambassador to the United States and Dr. Sakeel Bhatti – Secretary of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food & Agriculture.
A panel discussion on the challenges and opportunities for smallholder farmers in Africa was also organised. The panel was made up of representatives from the FAO, WFP and techno serve. WFP has developed an initiative called “Purchases for Progress” which is aimed at helping smallholder farmers and is supported by the Gates and Buffet Foundations. Under this initiative WFP will revise its tendering processes and contracts to enable small holder farmers participate more. It will also engage in forward purchasing which can be used as collateral at banks, and will also promote more direct local purchasing. To make the desired impact it will tap into existing structures e.g. cooperatives. Currently the initiative is being implemented in 21 pilot countries and is expected to purchase produce worth US$50m from 17 African countries.
Discussions with Dr. Connie Veillette. On the work of FARA Dr. Jones gave an overview into the rational for the establishment of FARA, its mandate under CAADP Pillar IV, FAAP and the five Networking Support Functions. He mentioned that capacity strengthening is a cross cutting theme across the four CAADP Pillars and at FARA NSF4 takes care of issues related to capacity strengthening. Two projects have been developed under this NSF5 i.e. SCARDA and BASIC. FARA is working with existing structures such as ANAFE, RUFORUM, NASULGC etc.