“Agricultural innovation is fast becoming the order of the day in the crave to foster the development of African continent. This situation stems from the position of agriculture as the source of livelihood for the largest proportion of Africa inhabitants and its potentials to provide solution to a handful of some societal debilitating ills such as unemployment, poverty and underdevelopment. The potentials of agriculture will not be realized without adequate science to foster increased productivity, reduced drudgery and enhanced presentation of commodities in a trendy version. More importantly is the need to engender innovations from the much available technological outputs to ensure the delivery of socio-economic benefits.”
The above remark was much acclaimed in a side event organized by FARA at the Regional Strategic Analysis and Knowledge Support System (ReSAKSS) 2015 Annual conference in Addis Ababa on the 1st of September 2015. The event was part of the activities of the Program for Accompanying Research with Innovation (PARI), a partnership program of ZEF (University of Bonn, Germany), FARA, IFPRI, eight German Universities and 12 National Agricultural Research Institutes (NARI) in Africa. It was attended by over 60 agricultural research and development practitioners and discussed the ongoing program activities within PARI to foster the scaling of existing agricultural innovation in Africa.
In an opening presentation, the executive director of FARA Dr. Yemi Akinbamijo painted a positive picture of the current state of Africa agriculture compared to what it was a decade ago. He explained that Africa is truly rising, but the momentum needs to be increased by taking maximum advantage of the power of science to foster true agricultural innovation. He further explained the role Science Agenda for Africa Agriculture championed by FARA, is bringing into fruition for the benefit of all stakeholders. Professor Joachim Von Braun, the Director of the Center for Development Research (ZEF), University of Bonn, Germany, while explaining the role of the PARI projects, emphasized the need to draw maximum benefit from the much available innovation within the continent; he further stressed the need to pay more attention to the bottom-up innovations that were generated by the rural stakeholders to foster more prosperity. In his opinion, the bottom level innovations need to be identified, refined and scaled-up and out to benefit more individuals. Dr. Wole Fatunbi, the Acting Divisional Manager for Visioning and Knowledge Management in FARA gave an overview of the current activities of the PARI projects in 2015, in 12 Africa countries. The project is currently conducting scoping studies on the state of agricultural innovations in the different countries and it aims to generate data and information on the existing initiatives and the current focal commodities and systems. The studies will take 20 years retroactive perspective of interventions, document all the existing innovation platforms and conduct a comprehensive assessment of investments in agricultural innovation on country basis. Dr. Fatunbi projected that the outputs of the 2015 activities will help to prevent the duplication of efforts on agricultural innovations in the different countries by providing accessible data on what has been done, the lesson learnt and the pathway for progress. Furthermore, the outputs will support the development of policy with comprehensive information on the returns to investment in agricultural innovation and what should be done to foster continued prosperity of the sector.
The PARI project is a partnership action under the German government supported “One World – No Hunger” initiative. It is led by the ZEF in partnership with FARA and IFPRI in Africa.