You are invited to participate in the online consultation for Africa, which is organized under three sub-themes, to ensure that agriculture research is aimed at addressing these priorities, with defined roles and partnerships at national, regional and global levels. Sub-Theme 2 focuses specifically on Africa taking advantage of science to address its agriculture development challenges. The online consultation on Sub-Theme 2 will take place on April 28-29, and will be moderated by Kwesi Atta-Krah, Director, Humidtropics.
Three sources defining these agriculture development challenges are given below:
Vision 2025: Shared prosperity and improved livelihoods.
CAADP was established in 2003 by the African Union (AU) Assembly of Heads of State and Government, as part of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD). This program was developed to improve food security and nutrition, and increase incomes in Africa’s largely agriculture-based economies. CAADP champions reform in the agricultural sector by providing an evidence-based planning process, with knowledge as a key primary input, and human resource development and partnership as a central factor. Ultimately, it aims to align diverse stakeholder interests around the design of integrated programs adapted at the local level.
The Malabo Declaration, signed in June 2014, renewed the commitment of Africa’s member states to the CAADP vision, and highlighted the following areas of concern and challenges:
- The results of the Cost of Hunger Study in Africa (COHA) conducted by the AUC revealed the degree to which child under-nutrition influences health and educational outcomes; the additional barrier it has on children’s ability to achieve their full potential; and the impact it has on national productivity;
- A significant proportion of the African population still remains vulnerable to the challenges of economic marginalization, hunger and malnutrition, despite the positive achievements registered recently in agriculture and economic growth;
- There is limited progress made in agro-industries and agribusiness development, which hampers value addition and competitiveness of African products in trade both local, regional, and international; and undermines the potential of the sector in transformation and generation of gainful employment opportunities for the growing African youth and women;
- The heavy and growing dependence of Africa’s production systems and consumption patterns on external factors (weather, global markets, amongst others) and their associated vulnerabilities to such external factors as climate variability and change as well as to global economic and political shocks.
However, CAADP cannot achieve its aims unless a strong pipeline of contextually relevant new knowledge and technologies is made available and applied to accelerate agricultural growth, and is accompanied by the education and training needed to produce the requisite human and institutional capacity. CAADP calls for strengthened partnerships at national and regional levels in the execution of its vision. In that regard, CAADP, FARA and CGIAR Centers work together to support countries and regional institutions in the development of programs for implementation of the commitments and priorities that have been presented in the CAADP Country Investment Plans.
Vision: By 2030 Africa ensures its food and nutrition security; becomes a recognized global scientific player in agriculture and food systems and the world’s breadbasket.
The Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) and its constituent partners are leading the development and operationalization of the S3A. The strategic thrusts of the S3A in the short- to medium-term are the implementation of CAADP; increasing domestic public and private sector investment; creating the enabling environment for sustainable application of science for agriculture; and to double the current level of Agricultural Total Factor Productivity (ATFP) by 2025 through application of science for agriculture.
The S3A identifies the overarching challenge of low productivity across all farming systems in the continent, and the following challenges as contributing:
- Lack of coherent and conducive policies;
- Poor incentives;
- Poor access to input and output markets;
- Predominant rain fed agriculture;
- Inadequate agricultural R&D spending;
- Heavily degraded and depleted soils;
- Problematic land tenure systems;
- Inadequate levels of mechanization;
- Many pests, diseases and weeds;
- Climate change.
Within this framework, FARA and CGIAR work together to strengthen African agricultural information, knowledge and innovation systems at national and regional levels, with special attention to women and youth. CGIAR is a longstanding partner of FARA and major agricultural research for development actors in Africa. As such, it is actively engaged in the delivery of the S3A.
Vision: A world free of poverty, hunger and environmental degradation.
According to CGIAR’s SRF, the challenges of the 21st century are bounded by finite natural resources and continued population and income growth, which drive global food demand and put increased pressure on the natural resources: land, water, and biodiversity – all used to produce food and forest products. Agriculture is acknowledged as an important driver pressing against these bio-physical planetary boundaries. Research is needed to ensure that the agri-food system both produces sufficient and nutritious food to meet the growing global demand while at the same time reduces these pressures, which include:
- Competition for land from multiple sources: food and feed crops, livestock, bio-fuels and biomaterials, forest products, conservation, urban expansion, and a host of other ecosystem services;
- Soil degradation on land already farmed in circumstances where new lands brought into production are often poorly suited for intensive agriculture;
- Overdrawn and polluted water supplies threatening social breakdown and rising levels of conflict;
- Climate change threatening agriculture, while at the same time agriculture is a substantial producer of greenhouse gases;
- Nutritious and diverse agri-food systems and diets are becoming more important. Increased consumption of animal products, fruits and vegetables alongside traditional cereal staples offers scope to improve nutritional and health outcomes among the under-nourished;
- Post-harvest losses of crop, livestock, fish, and tree-products to pests, spoilage and spillage are estimated at 30% to 50% globally;
New entrepreneurial and job opportunities are emerging from changing patterns of agri-food demand. These opportunities augment agriculture’s traditional role as a vehicle for reducing poverty.
To translate its vision of a world free of poverty, hunger and environmental degradation into reality, CGIAR has designed its scientific research priorities to produce the following system level outcomes: (1) reduce poverty, (2) improve food and nutrition security for health, and (3) improve natural resource systems and ecosystems services. These research goals contribute directly to the achievement of the following United Nations Sustainable Development Goals:
The present consultation is focusing on Africa taking advantage of science to address its agriculture development challenges , and on actions and partnerships required to address these challenges. You are invited to submit your opinions, comments and suggestions on the following questions:
- What are the main agriculture development challenges for Africa; what are the main opportunities?
- How effectively is Africa making use of Science to address these challenges and take advantage of the opportunities?
- What should Africa do to increase the application of science in addressing its agriculture development challenges and opportunities?
- How can global organisations like the CGIAR contribute to this effort?
Participate in the online consultation on Theme 2: Africa taking advantage of science to address its agriculture development challenges on April 28 and 29.
This regional consultation is organised by FARA in collaboration with GFAR and CGIAR as part of the broader GCARD3 process.
Blog by Kwesi Atta-Krah and Valérie Poiré, respectively Director and Communication Officer, Humidtropics, a CGIAR Research Program led by IITA. Photo montage by GCARD3.