The Executive Director of FARA, Dr. Yemi Akinbamijo at the European Forum for Agricultural Research Development (EFARD) 2016 Annual Technical and Business Meeting held in Prague, Czech Republic discussed: “The Importance of Africa and Europe Collaboration on Agricultural Research for Development: Lessons for Eastern Europe”.
He stated that Europe and Africa have a long history of collaboration in Agricultural Research for Development (ARD) and the collaboration between the two continents in ARD was strong for decades until it started declining in the last decade.
Dr. Akinbamijo observed that the agriculture sector drove the development of Europe while Africa is still struggling to advance its agriculture to a take-off point for industrialization. Here, he explained that the role of the knowledge (technologies and innovations) which the European agricultural sector capitalized on is also needed in African agricultural development.
“Today, Africa and Europe are facing global challenges including climate change, food safety (aflatoxin) and zoonotic diseases (swine & bird flu). In addition, migration and immigration are adversely impacting on the agricultural sector in Africa, and while it is also raising some social concerns in Europe, there is need to collaboratively resolve such problems by creating jobs and opportunities for African youths…” -he observed.
“The agricultural sector today is the best bet option to invest for a quick fix”.– ’Yemi Akinbamijo.
Dr. Akinbamijo cited the Platform for African European Partnership on Agricultural Research for Development (PAEPARD) as an example of a collaboration between Africa and Europe in ARD. He mentioned that PAEPARD has been a catalytic initiative which has helped to build the capacity of different actors and specifically non-research stakeholders through the Users’ Led Process (ULP).
Further, he pointed out that PAEPARD has nurtured multi-stakeholder partnerships that bring together farmers, universities, research institutes, NGOs and the like noting that it is a real demand driven approach that FARA and partners have been advocating over the last decade.
Most important, he added that all African sub-regions have benefitted from the PAEPARD initiative which is hosted by FARA to ensure effective coordination and sharing of lessons across the continent.
He cited examples of smallholder farmers in Benin, Burkina Faso, Uganda, Malawi, Zambia, Burundi and many other countries that have benefitted from the PAEPARD PROJECT in terms of capacity building leading to commercialization of research outputs and ultimately, income generation.
The approach of empowering people to unleash their own potential is in line with the principles and values of CAADP.