Science for Agriculture Consortium (S4AC) articulates new direction for Africa
The much anticipated meeting of the founding partners of the Science for Agriculture Consortium (S4AC) was successfully held at the World Bank Group Main Complex in Washington DC from September 19 to 30th. The write-shop was facilitated by the World Bank, which has since initiation keenly supported the initiative.
The Science for Agriculture Consortium (S4AC) is a recently established coordinating platform for collective actions by supra-national agriculture research and development organizations in Africa to advance the implementation of the Science Agenda for Agriculture in Africa (S3A) (S3A).
The Consortium’s founding partners are the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA), Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in Eastern and Central Africa (ASARECA), Centre for Coordination of Agricultural Research and Development for Southern Africa (CCARDESA), West and Central African Council for Agricultural Research for Development (CORAF/WECARD), African Forum for Agricultural Advisory Services (AFAAS) and North African Sub-regional Organization (NASRO). All these are institutions previously responsible for advancing the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) (CAADP) agenda on research and extension (Pillar IV). IFPRI and the World Bank, represented by senior Bank staff and all task team leaders (TTLs) responsible for the above institutions participated in the writeshop.
The S4AC was unveiled to agricultural research and development stakeholders in April 2016 at the 3rd Global Conference on Agricultural Research for Development (GCARD3) in Johannesburg, South Africa.
The Consortium arrangement enables these organizations to harness synergies among themselves; to capture economies of scale; and to strengthen the coherence of supra-national interventions regarding implementation of the S3A.
The founding partners of this Consortium embraced this mechanism as a means of increasing their individual and collective efficiency and effectiveness in implementation of the S3A. The Consortium members mandated FARA to coordinate the Consortium’s activities, and in effect to serve as the Consortium’s secretariat. They also endorsed a position paper that laid out the Consortium’s principles. These are:
(i) Subsidiarity where the partners recognize that implementation of the S3A will primarily take place at country level and their roles are distinct but complementary
(ii) Ensuring clarity of mandates, roles and responsibilities
(iii) Joint planning, implementation and reporting
(iv) Sharing of good practices as well as the unsuccessful ones
(v) Enhancing African/local ownership that is inclusive and accountable
(vi) Focusing on high priority interventions.
The members have joined forces in resource mobilization (for example, in formulating the Capacity Development and Technology Outreach (CTDO) component of the Technologies for African Agricultural transformation (TAAT) programme and the emerging African Agricultural Research Programme (AARP).
The write Shop which ended on September 30, 2016 elaborated on the operationalization modalities of the Consortium. The participating institutions developed a draft proposal for the S4AC. The draft proposal was presented to a convening of the Development Partners on 30th September 2016. The proposal included concept notes on two research projects on; (i) Climate smart technologies and (ii) Post harvest loses. An action plan and way forward was also discussed and agreed upon. The World Bank will immediately provide funds to conduct institutional analysis to inform the proposal on the current capacities of the consortium institutions.
Besides the consortium agenda, the SROs and AFAAS held a meeting on 30th September with IFPRI to discuss the on-going joint research and capacity development initiatives. IFPRI confirmed that it would engage the SROs in implementation of the new project on Big Data which has been approved for funding.