The President of the African Development Bank made a clarion call for the strengthening of research for development institutions on the continent. He affirmed with empirical data that the ‘Technology Delivery Platforms are working and that it is time to revamp FARA and to support the development of the agriculture value chains. These sentiments were passionately expressed in his keynote presentation to the 8th FARA General Assembly that was held on the 25th of November 2020.
According to the African Development Bank President, hunger is the greatest risk confronting Africa and in order to mitigate this risk, it is imperative to urgently combine our efforts on food security and recovery from the Covid pandemic. According to Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, the days of pilot work are over in Africa and it is time to work at scale and faster, to reach tens of millions of farmers with agricultural technologies and accelerated market access and financing to stimulate wealth generation.
The President of the African Development Bank Group (AfDB), Dr. Akinwumi Adesina delivered the keynote address on the theme, Institutions, Innovation, Impact. He commended FARA for braving the odds of the global pandemic to hold its General Assembly and highlighted the impact of COVID-19 on food and nutrition security on the continent and the efforts required to mitigate its effects.
“Africa today has some 250 million people who are malnourished…while collectively we must tackle the impact of COVID-19, hunger is the greatest risk facing Africa. Without good nutrition, medicines and vaccines just don’t work. Therefore, we must now urgently combine food security and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic”
Dr. Adesina recapped the impressive results from the deployment of technologies to show that science, technology delivery platforms, and institutional partnerships for delivery can be leveraged to push Africa’s agriculture forward and called on all stakeholders to do more to significantly strengthen the institutions for research and development on the continent.
Re-emphasizing the AfDB’s commitment to supporting the agricultural research ecosystem on the continent, the AfDB President stated…
“It is time to revamp FARA and the ecosystems of research and development at the regional levels…African agricultural systems must become modern, integrated and well supported to achieve production and processing of food and agricultural products and farming inputs at scale… The African Development Bank will strongly support FARA, farmers’ organizations and the private sector to expand and sustain the success stories of Africa’s agriculture”.
Dr. Adesina concluded his keynote address by indicating that success at scale will depend on a stream of appropriate agricultural technologies, supported by institutional ecosystems that are innovative, as well as financing, that will drive greater competitiveness of Africa’s agricultural value chains.
“The mountain may be steep, the journey may be long, yet we will not be discouraged, for the distance we have covered, gives us hope. Let this hope drive enthusiasm and let the enthusiasm power us into the achievement of our vision. For only when Africa is fed, and we fully unlock the wealth of Africa’s agriculture; is our mission complete”, he said.
In her submission, The African Union Commission’s Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture, Her Excellency Ambassador Josefa Sacko, said “Africa cannot put agricultural research development aside and still aim to transform agriculture and report good performance. It is a paradox!”.
Emphasizing the need to prioritize investment into agriculture science research for development in Africa, Ambassador Sacko cited examples from other continents which are reaping the benefits of investing in agricultural science research, to provide the latest cost-effective technologies to their farming populations.
“We can no longer wait for bailouts that are not forthcoming, to run African Agricultural Science, Technology and Innovation”.
Her Excellency Ambassador Josefa Sacko affirmed the commitment of the AU Commission to work with FARA, within its continental mandate, to strengthen the deployment of Research, Science and Technology towards the achievement of the 2025 CAADP Malabo targets of doubling productivity, halving post-harvest losses and strengthening resilience to climate and associated risks, such as locusts and COVID-19. She also reiterated the call to mobilize emergency domestic funding to support agricultural science research on the continent.
“As I previously did, I would like to call again for the allocation of at least 10% of the emergency financial resources being mobilized for COVID-19, to support Africa’s research for science, technology, and innovation”.
The 8th General Assembly of the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa is a statutory triennial event that ended on Thursday, November 25, 2020, with a renewed call by the Forum and its collaborators to the leadership of the continent to urgently refocus investment in the area of agricultural research, technology and innovation to ensure food and nutrition security on the continent.
The Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) is the continental apex organisation for agricultural research and innovation in Africa. It is also the body mandated by the African Union Commission (AUC) and the African Union Development Agency (AUDA)-NEPAD to serve as their technical arm on agricultural research and innovation. FARA also facilitates the deployment of science, technology and innovation to accelerate the achievement of the continent’s agriculture and food security targets as set out in the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) and the 2014 Malabo declaration on accelerated African agricultural growth and transformation. FARA works in close cooperation with the sub-regional agriculture research organisations (ASARECA, CCARDESA and CORAF) as well as the African Forum for Agricultural Advisory Services (AFAAS). Together, these organisations implement the CAADP XP4 programme which is co-funded by the European Commission and IFAD. This programme sets out to strengthen the collaborative capacities of these organisations in supporting countries to implement a science-led and climate-relevant transformation of their agricultural systems.