National Agricultural Innovation Systems are the Base on which the Implementation of Science Agenda for Agriculture in Africa shall be Anchored

The Regional Consultative Workshop for mainstreaming the Science Agenda for Agriculture in Africa (S3A) in Southern African countries was held at the Crossroads Hotel in Lilongwe Malawi, from 10 -12 April 2017. It featured a panel discussion on mainstreaming the implementation of the Science Agenda in National Agricultural Innovation Systems.

Speaking at the event, Dr. Yemi Akinbamijo, the Executive Director of FARA explained the importance of using the Agricultural Innovation Systems approach as the framework for organizing stakeholders to engage in the implementation of the S3A. He pointed out the key advantages of the Integrated Agricultural Research for Development (IAR4D) concept and highlighted its proven ability to generate high productivity and income for stakeholders on Innovation platforms across the continent.

“The superiority of IAR4D concept was proven through the sub-Saharan Africa Challenge Programme (SSA CP) project and published in 2013. The Innovation Platform concept is now projected as the country operational implementation platform for the Science Agenda in African countries”.

The acting Executive Director of the Centre for Coordination of Agricultural Research and Development for Southern Africa (CCARDESA), Dr. Simon Mwale, outlined the complement of stakeholders that should constitute a national platform for operationalizing the Science Agenda. Principal among these stakeholders are: farmers, researchers, extension service providers, education and training professionals, policy makers, agro-industry stakeholders, financial institutions, input dealers and other private sector partners involved in agriculture.

A group photograph of the Southern African Regional Consultation Participants at the Mainstreaming of S3A.

The interaction of these stakeholders, principally on a Strategic Innovation platform is expected to drive the strategic action viz: policies, change in institutional arrangements and infrastructural development. The operational innovation platform will then drive the work on the ground of establishing technology demand, technology generation, technology utilization and commercialization pathways. This model is fundamental to achievement of the Science Agenda’s objective of mobilizing science to accelerate agricultural transformation in Africa by increasing productivity.

Elaborating on the vital role served by extension and advisory services in increasing technology adoption, Mr. Max Olupot of African Forum for Agricultural Advisory Services (AFAAS), emphasized the new extensionist approach which draws on knowledge management and promoting the utilization of knowledge and information resources at the country level. He pointed out that AFAAS country hubs are useful vehicles to foster the scaling up and scaling out technologies and innovations.

Dr. Wilkson Makumba, the Director of the Department of Agricultural Research Services in Malawi emphasized the need to secure the commitment of innovation platform actors to formulate a shared vision and agenda for the country’s agriculture and to jointly implement it towards realization of their vision.

Defining what the role of FARA shall be in fostering effective country platform for the implementation of science agenda, Dr. Yemi Akinbamijo, described FARA as the facilitator that will oil the wheel which will drive the platform.

“The FARA forum will leverage the knowledge it has generated over the years on the agricultural innovation system to support the establishment of country platforms and trigger their operation…” he said.

The Sub Regional Organizations (SROs) in turn will backstop the activities of the country platform and collate knowledge across countries in the sub-region and foster the exchange of knowledge and the sharing of resources including human capacity and research infrastructure. In addition, SROs will support capacity strengthening based on demand from stakeholders.

Further consultations to cover countries in East and Central Africa will hold in Kigali from April 19 – 21 and in and Central, West and North Africa in Ghana 9 – 12 May, 2017.

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