ASTI/IFPRI-FARA Conference in Accra
Agricultural research and development (R&D) is critical to increasing smallholder productivity and generating agricultural growth in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). National agricultural research systems (NARS), however, must organize around very complex research agendas, operate under very limited budgets, develop scientific talent, and in general face all of the constraints of small, agrarian countries. A range of regional approaches to organizing agricultural research have been initiated, in particular under the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program (CAADP) process. Programs of the CGIAR, the World Bank, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and USAID’s Feed the Future initiative, among others, have contributed to a significant increase in international funding for agricultural development in the region. However, these programs will all require effective adaptive research capacity in individual NARS in order to have an impact on smallholder productivity.
Last week, ASTI/IFPRI and FARA jointly sponsored a conference on Agricultural R&D: Investing in Africa's Future at La Palm Royal Beach Hotel in Accra. The conference complemented an analysis of three decades of data on agricultural research systems in SSA collected by ASTI with a series of commissioned papers that will suggest a policy road map for strengthening African NARS. The conference provided a focused set of policy alternatives around the themes of sustainable financing, efficient organization of NARS supported by regional and international capacities, options in training the next generation of agricultural scientists, and processes for effective performance evaluation of research institutes and R&D systems. An overview of the conference can be found here along with a program from the event.