Tuesday, 8 April 2014

President of IFAD receives FARA Executive Director

The President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) Dr Kanayo Nwanze hosted the Executive Director of the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) Dr Yemi Akinbamijo in his Rome Office on Monday 7th April 2014 during a courtesy call of the latter.

Both heads of institution discussed amongst others the modalities of increasing the collaboration between FARA and IFAD. FARA Executive Director expressed appreciation for the support provided by IFAD in support of the elaboration of the Science Agenda for African Agriculture (S3A) and acceptance by President Nwanze to serve as a member of the FARA High Level Advocacy Panel (HiLAP) – a group of eminent Africans (under the chairmanship of H.E Dr Jean Ping) tasked with the responsibility of strengthening advocacy, visibility and resource mobilization for FARA and the SROs.

FARA recognizes the very strong impact of IFAD’s contribution to the Africa’s agricultural development strategy and in particular the support it has received from IFAD within the context of the CAADPs Agricultural Science Agenda Workstream. It will also be recalled that President Nwanze was instrumental to the establishment and evolution of FARA as the Chairman of the group that helped transform SPAAR (FARA’s predecessor) into FARA. Most recently, President Nwanze serves as FARA patron and Chair of the Expert Panel Commissioned to develop the Science Agenda.

The visit was the first official visit of the FARA Executive Director since assuming office in July 2013.

PAEPARDII: Two Consortium agreements signed for PAEPARDII 4 Years Extension (4YE) granted by the European Commission (EC)

On 3rd and 4th April, 2014 the Platform for African European Partnership on Agricultural Research for Development (PAEPARD) Steering Committee (CA) met at FARA Secretariat in Accra, Ghana for its ordinary year meeting. The main objective of the meeting was to sign consortium agreement for the additional 4 years extension granted by the EC; validate the technical and financial reports for year 4 of PAEPARD implementation; approve the work plan and budget for year 5; and approve the nomination of the Independent Peer Review Committee (IPRC) needed for the assessment and selection of proposals from consortia and platforms responding to the Competitive Research Fund and Incentive Fund ( CRF/IF) also granted by the EC for 4 years.

All these objectives were achieved during the meeting. Two Consortium Agreements were signed by all partners present with the EC representative as an observer.
These are the Addendum to the existing Consortium agreement to cover the 4 years extension and a new Consortium agreement to set into operation the CRF/IF fund, granted to PAEPARD by the EC under Grant Contract DCI- FOOD/2013/308-657

The Steering Committee is the highest organ of the project. It provides overall oversight of the project and makes sure the project responds to the development goals of the two continents. It provides technical advice to the consortium as well. It is held once a year and composed of the heads of institutions that signed the Consortium Agreement:
African members of the SC: FARA, RUFORUM, PAFO, FANRPAN

AEPARD II is an eight-year (2009-2017) project registered to the EC under DCI-FOOD2009/200-228 with 80.29% from the European Commission and 19.71% from partners as own contribution. FARA is the lead partner that signed the Contract Agreement with the EC on the 16 December 2009 and amended in an Addendum on 15/12/2013.

PAEPARD II aims at building joint African-European multi-stakeholder partnerships in agricultural research for development (ARD) contributing to achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). On the European side, the partners are AGRINATURA, COLEACP (representing the private sector), CSA (representing the NGOs) and ICRA, specialised in capacity building in ARD. The overall action of European partners in the project is coordinated by AGRINATURA through its secretariat.

The African partners include the Eastern Africa Farmers Federation (EAFF), Le RĂ©seau des Organisations Paysannes et des Producteurs de l’Afrique de l’Ouest (ROPPA), the Plateforme RĂ©gionale des Organisations des Producteurs de l’Afrique Centrale (PROPAC). All these organizations are members of PAFO for which they are currently standing in for. PAFO is leading the work package Innovation Partnerships. The African partners also include Food Agriculture Natural Resources and Policy Analysis (FANRPAN) that co-leads the work package Communication and Advocacy and The Regional Universities Forum for capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM) which leads the WP capacities in PAEPARDII.

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Stimulating Collective Action to Scale-up Climate Smart Agriculture (SCA) Practices in Africa

A well-attended back-to-back CSA and FS CSA workshop kicked off at the World Agroforestry Center in Nairobi, Kenya today 31st March 2014. The workshop is co-organized by the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA), the NEPADPlanning and Coordinating Agency (NPCA), the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD) and the International Center for Research in Agroforestry (ICRAF). The workshop will run from the 31st March to 4th April 2014.
The purpose of the workshop is to stimulate collective action to leverage political (policy), technical and financing support to grass-root, national and regional-level programmes and initiatives to scale-up the adoption of climate smart agriculture (CSA) practices in defined farming systems in Africa. The workshop brings together over 60 experts from 15 countries, sub-regional, regional and international organizations working on climate change issues as they affect agriculture.

A statement delivered at the opening ceremony on behalf of the Executive Director of FARA, Dr. Yemi Akinbamijo noted that Climate Change is an important global externality that calls for a global collective action and that Africa is already experiencing the impacts of climate change that are expected to become more severe. In the coming years, many African countries are likely to experience more severe droughts and declines in water supply, which would further aggravate food shortages on the continent. The statement pointed out that from a research perspective, Climate Smart Agriculture as a solution, should be an integral part of Africa’s economic transformation process. It noted further that there is need to generate data and research outputs to support evidence-based policies that promote adoption of CSA practices; and that the increase in production expected from adoption of CSA should be driven by sound strategic analysis and foresight, enhanced CSA capacity building and an enabling policy environment for implementation of CSA initiatives.

Participants at the workshop are expected to discuss the relationship between evolving Climate Smart Agriculture and Africa’s economic transformation; discuss local political economy factors and drivers that promote or hinder the adoption of CSA practices; deliberate on the effectiveness of CSA policies and how they could be improved through evidence-based policy design; examine successful CSA initiatives, reasons for success, lessons learned and options on how they can be up- and out-scaled. Participants are also expected to develop a framework for a common African-aligned application of CSA as well as agree on a set of guidelines to identify and measure the implementation of CSA in Africa.

Before closing his statement, the Executive Director expressed FARA’s appreciation to the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation for funding the project on Research to Support Accelerated Scaling of Climate Smart Agriculturethat FARA and its partners are currently implementing.

Monday, 31 March 2014

The Sorghum Value Chain Development Consortium (SVCDC) UniBRAIN Incubator launched in Kenya.

The Sorghum Value Chain Development Consortium was launched on 14th March 2014 at the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) in Nairobi, Kenya. The SVCDC is aimed at expanding the band in use of sorghum as food, feed, fuel and fibre. It is among the six incubators under the UniBRAIN programme targeting agribusiness minded farmer groups, disadvantaged groups such as women and youth and graduates with potential entrepreneurship skills to start up agribusinesses.

In attendance was Mrs. Sicily Kariuki (Principal Secretary Ministry of Agriculture Kenya), Dr. Yemi Akinbamijo (the Executive Director FARA), Dr. William Dar (Director General ICRISAT) and Mr. Alex Ariho (FARA-UniBRAIN Facility Coordinator) among others.

During the event 18 trainers of trainees in gender mainstreaming in agribusiness received certificates.

During the launching ceremony, Sicily Kariuki indicated the commitment of the Kenyan government in agribusiness promotion for transformation of agriculture. She indicated the central role that government plays in value chain development targeted at specific crops such as sorghum as avenues for food security promotion and improving farmers’ livelihoods.In addressing the launch attendees, Dr. Yemi Akinbamijo stressed on the need for agricultural commercialization for Africa; “we need not produce more prototypes, but need to market what we have already made,” he said. He also emphasized that agricultural transformation is a strategy for writing the future for Africa; “our history as Africans is well behind us, our future is unwritten.” He concluded.

As for the UniBRAIN facility coordinator, Dr Alex Ariho, he underlined the importance of tertiary education and research more relevant to business development in Africa for economic transformation. He insisted that the best way to predict the future is to invest today; “agriculture in Africa should no longer be looked at as a development issue but as business.” He pointed out.

He was particularly grateful to the support of partners such as ICRISAT, ASARECA, CORAF, CCARDESA, PanAAC, ANAFE and national governments, financial institutions, African farmers, NGOS in promoting agribusiness development in Africa.

As a way for fast tracking agricultural transformation in Africa, the SVCDC launch concluded noting the importance of:
Agribusiness promotion through agribusiness incubation
Tertiary agribusiness education and research
Linkages and strategic engagement of private sector
Mobile phone technology usage

UniBRAIN pioneers a new approach to promoting agricultural innovation and improving tertiary agribusiness education in Africa.

The UniBRAIN initiative promotes innovation by improving the flow of technology and knowledge by removing barriers between actors in the value chains. It is the synergy and linkage between the diverse actors that catalyzes and drives innovations. UniBRAIN links university education, research and business in sustainable agriculture.

Friday, 28 March 2014

10th CAADP Partnership Platform brief: Goals, Actions and Targets Proposed for the Science Agenda

The Pre-CAADP PP and main sessions on the Science Agenda for Agriculture in Africa organized by FARA in Durban on 18th March, 2014 gathered about 100 participants from the continent and beyond. 
Participants emphasized that Africa needs to take advantage of advances in science and technology to increase the pace of achieving the required agricultural productivity and competitiveness that will ensure food and nutrition security, gender equality, increased incomes, reduced poverty and increased resilience to shocks. that the meeting exhibited the formidable AR4D coalition of actors; (ASARECA, CORAF/WECARD, CCARDESA, NASRO, RUFORUM, ANAFE, AFAAS, PANGOC, PanAAC, PAFO, AFAPP, NARS, CGIAR) committed to the implementation of the Science Agenda towards ensuring achievement of the CAADP goals at the country and regional levels within the current results framework of the “Sustaining the CAADP Momentum”. 
The sessions on the Science Agenda for Agriculture in Africa were organized in plenary and working groups. 
After discussions and deliberations, participants came up with the following short, medium and long term goals as well as the related actions and targets for the Science Agenda.
Short term goalIncrease domestic public and private sector spending and create the enabling environment for sustainable application of science for agriculture.
Medium term goal: Build basic science capacity at national and regional levels with special attention to the youth and women.  
Long term goal: Double the current level of Agricultural Total Factor Productivity (ATFP) by 2025 through application of science for agriculture. 
Actions and targets for short term goal: 
  1. Adopt the Science Agenda for Agriculture in Africa as the principal vehicle and framework for operationalizing the AR4D component of the Sustaining the CAADP Momentum
  2. Develop and implement country specific strategies and operational plans for implementing the Science Agenda for Agriculture in Africa; 
  3. Establish an African Science for Agriculture Transformation Fund (ASATF), in consultation with key African financial institutions (e.g. the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)), a funding mechanism for science, technology and innovation to mobilize additional resources for purposes of up-scaling successful agricultural innovations in Africa.
  4. Increase national budgetary allocations for science and innovation for agriculture
  5. Set up Chairs in universities as vehicles for attracting investment from the private sector
  6. Promote the adoption of IAR4D through the development of functional innovation platforms at country level;
  1. Country specific strategies and operational plans for implementing the Science Agenda for Agriculture developed and implemented in 10 countries by 2016
  2. Establish an African Science for Agriculture Transformation Fund (ASATF), by 2016
  3. Double national budgetary allocations for science and innovation for agriculture by 2018
  4. Set up Chairs in universities as vehicles for attracting investment from the private sector by 2016
  5. Innovation platforms set up in 15 country level by 2016; 
Actions and targets for medium term goal: 
  1. Mobilize collective action to take advantage of science and technology in resolving common problems across member states and building the basic science capacities;
  2. Develop and mainstream a framework for human capital formation in science, technology and agri-prenuership in schools, colleges, vocational institutions and universities
  3. Support regional mobility programmes 
  1. Regional mobility programmes for research, extension and education established and functional by 2024.
  2. Identifying and prioritizing common regional and continental interventions for collective action by 2024. 
  3. Develop and mainstream a framework for science, technology and agri-prenuership in schools, colleges, vocational institutions and universities by 2018
  4. Identifying and prioritizing common regional and continental interventions for collective action by 2024. 
Actions and targets for long term goal: 
  1. Develop appropriate technologies, policies and institutional innovations for increasing total factor productivity
  2. Promote access to and use of factors of production including new varieties and breeds, inputs  by end users
  3. Promote access to more efficient local, national, regional and international markets for increasing total factor productivity
  1. Appropriate technologies, policies and institutional innovations for all commodities available for use by 2024
  2. Factors of production including new varieties and breeds, inputs  accessible to at least 50% of end users by 2024
  3. More efficient local, national, regional and international markets available to at least 50% of end users by 2024
The Science Agenda outcomes from the 10th CAADP PP provide the critical step towards preparations for the Ministerial meeting and the Heads of State Summit in June. 

Friday, 21 March 2014

Breakthrough in Agricultural Research and Development: Integrated Agricultural Research for Development

On 18th March, 2014, a big crowd witnessed the launch of the book titledMaximizing Impact from Agricultural Research: Potential of the IAR4D Concept, at the International Convention Centre in Durban, South Africa. This was at the opening of the meeting marking the 10th anniversary of CAADP.

The book contains the report of the proof that IAR4D using Innovation Platforms works better than conventional approaches in the generation, dissemination and adoption of technologies for increased food security, poverty reduction and the protection of the integrity of the environment.

The launching ceremony was chaired by Dr Jean ping, Chairperson of the FARA High Level Advocacy Panel (HiLAP), assisted by Dr Mark Holderness, the Executive Director of GFAR, Dr. Benard Rey, representative of the European Commission, and Dr Yemi Akinbamijo, Executive Director of FARA.

‘As you take this book, you should not just keep it on your shelf, but you should read it and spread it’’ said Dr. Ping in his address.

‘We are happy to associate ourselves with FARA in the work’, said Dr Holdernes in his address at the launch, adding ‘we should work together to get the IAR4D approach disseminated to other parts of the world by working with other regional organizations’.

After the book was officially launched the crowd rushed to the table each onegrabbing his copy. Dr Ping autographed the book for tens of participants.

About the book

The acknowledged poor performance of traditional ARD approaches led the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) to suggest the Integrated Agricultural Research for Development (IAR4D) as an approach to enable agricultural research play more effective roles in catalysing development, by embracing a broader system of agricultural innovation that will facilitate interaction and enhance the flow of knowledge among all key actors in agricultural systems and value chains. FARA developed a programme around the concept of IAR4D and this was accepted by the CGIAR as the Sub-Saharan Africa Challenge Programme (SSA CP).

The focus of SSA CP is to facilitate substantially greater impact from agricultural research for development (ARD), leading to improved rural livelihoods, increasedfood security, and sustainable natural resource management throughout sub-Saharan Africa.

Through the SSA CP, IAR4D is being implemented in three Pilot Learning Sites (PLS) across the continent with the central aim of reversing the underperformance of agricultural research in Africa. Specifically, this is being done by developing, testing (proving whether it works) and scaling out/up an approach for conducting agricultural research for development in Africa, which overcomes the shortcomings of conventional approaches. Each PLS defines the domain within which the project’s research sites are sampled. This study is focused on the three PLSs that made up the SSA CP.

With clearly defined outputs in mind, the SSA CP was mandated by the Science Council (SC) of the CGIAR to commence a proof of the concept research phase, with the aim of answering three vital questions as to the relevance and effectiveness of IAR4D in delivering developmental benefits and its relative performance when compared with conventional approaches in promoting impact.

These questions were as follows:

• Does the IAR4D work?

• Does the IAR4D deliver more benefits than the conventional R&D if given the same environment and resources? And

• Can the IAR4D be scaled up and out?

These questions were the motivation for this book which documents a study on the concept of integrated Agricultural Research for Development (IAR4D).

Reports from the study show that with IAR4D using Innovation Platforms the time has come for a real transformation of the agricultural sector.