A technical meeting was held between the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) at the BMGF headquarters in Seattle, Washington, USA.
The delegation from FARA comprised Dr. Charity Kruger, Chair, FARA Board of Directors, Dr. Yemi Akinbamijo, the Executive Director of FARA and Dr. Irene Annor-Frempong; Ag. Director Research, Innovation and SP Leader, ICD while the BMGF team was led by Dr. Pamela Anderson (Director, Agricultural Development-Global Development Program of the BMGF). The mission was to share FARA’s activities, her achievements over a decade of operations and identify areas of potential partnerships.
Dr Yemi Akinbamijo, presented for FARA on “Africa’s mechanism for deploying science for agriculture to improve livelihoods”. The key elements discussed were on FARA’s mandate, strategy, focus, products and services.
Meanwhile, a general overview of the BMGF strategy and more in depth on the Agriculture development strategy was presented by the Senior Program Officer and Regional Advisor-Agricultural Development, Jacob Mignouna. The strategic key areas included the delivering of health and development solutions that help reduce poverty thereby, supporting different aspects of agricultural development and agricultural development strategy through sustainable productivity gains for small holders. Other strategies include country plan themes for Ethiopia, Tanzania and Nigeria (with elements such as Data, Policy, & Advocacy, Inputs Systems & Knowledge Exchange, Input / output market efficiency, Institution Strengthening and Food Systems) and priority commodities for each focus areas (Ethiopia, Tanzania and Nigeria).
On Research and Development (R&D) strategy, Gary Atlin explained a new initiative centered on improving genetic gains for crops and livestock in Africa through R&D management. Discussion points included the need to have a consistent message and identify ways of linking the BMGF R&D program with FARA’s program as well as with the other regional institutions.
For the Global, Policy and Advocacy team work in Africa, Brantley Browning and Rinn Self shared that BMGF work in Africa has focused on support for the African Union and the Year of African Agriculture by helping to strengthen the commitments at Malabo and advocate for a greater accountability mechanism. The challenge now is to ensure that implementation and work in BMGF focus countries centres on making sure domestic resources are in line with CAADP commitments and that policy supports smallholder productivity.
Two areas of partnership were mainly discussed and the potential area of collaboration is likely to manifest. This is with the CAADP in terms of a partnership between BMGF and FARA to advance implementation and monitoring progress with particular regard to R&D; and the African Academy for Agricultural Science (AAST) as it gets set up.
In addition, it was proposed that FARA incubators innovation (for example), the Seed incubators facilities could be used by BMGF. Also, FARA capacity building platform (The eCapacities platform) can be an area of collaboration with the BMGF.
Other people met at the Foundation are: James Nyoro (Deputy Director, Country and Policy-Agricultural Development); Jacob Mignouna, Senior Program Officer/ Regional Advisor-Agricultural Development); Dr. Anthony J. Cavalieri, Senior Program Officer- Agricultural Development); Mercy Karanja, Senior Program Officer, Regional Advisor- Agricultural Development; Brantley Browning; Corinne (Rinn) Self, Program Officer, Agriculture Advocacy- Global Policy and Advocacy, Gary Atlin.