The Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) has held its first Virtual Board Meeting which has been hugely successful as it has been a strong learning curve and a pointer to how future businesses of the organization may be conducted. The virtual Board meeting became unavoidable in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic and the impending need to meet our statutory governance obligations. Attendance was nearly 100% which we consider a huge success given the circumstance.
Opening the proceedings of the meeting, the acting Chairperson and DG of ISRA- Dr Alioune Fall expressed his profound commendations to the Executive Director and Management of FARA for defying the challenges posed by the global pandemic and its attendant constraints, and leveraging new media tools and technologies to make sure that board meeting took place, ensuring that the core business of the organization is not compromised in any way. He also indicated that this new way of conducting the primary tasks of the organization is worth emulating and encouraged the representatives of the sub-regional research organizations on the FARA Board to consider adopting and adapting the FARA approach to their own situations as well in these challenging times, while it is hoped that normal conditions of work will return in due course.
Following evolving smart online conferencing ethics, the format of the meeting was four-day virtual meetings structured after the normal physical space pattern, but not exceeding three hours of meeting per day and ensuring that absolutely nothing has been lost in the process. The committees on Programme, Finance and Administration, Nominations and Governance, as well as Audit and Risk Management, have all had their meetings normally with in-depth deliberations and engagements as it would have been conducted in the usual spirit.
The 26th Board also welcomed its newest member, Dr. Cliff Sibusiso Dlamini, the newly appointed Executive Director for the Centre for Coordination of Agriculture Research and Development for Southern Africa (CCARDESA). The appointment of Dr. Dlamini as head of the CCARDESA Secretariat took effect on 1st May 2020. Dr. Dlamini has an elaborate career path and holds a PhD in Forestry from the University of Stellenbosch. Besides his PhD, Dr. Dlamini holds five other degrees in various disciplines and is currently pursuing his 7th degree (M.Sc. in Sustainable Development) with the University of London.
Dr. Dlamini brings to the FARA Board a wealth of knowledge and many years of expansive research experience from the national, sub-regional and continental levels. Until his new appointment, Dr. Dlamini was the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Eswatini National Trust Commission where he guided the Trust in all areas and led the development of departmental strategic plans, the corporate strategic plan and its resource mobilization strategy.