Strengthening Agricultural Research in French-Speaking West & Central Africa

How can French-speaking West and Central Africa fight hunger, ensure food security, and prosperity for all through high quality research? Three leading institutions in this area recently engaged on ways to tackle these challenges through agricultural research.

At an international event designed to boost investment and growth in the agriculture sector in Africa held recently in Abidjan, representatives of three research institutions recognized the criticality of research in achieving food security and agricultural transformation.

These include the Dakar-based West and Central Africa Council for Agricultural Research and Development (CORAF), the International Development Research Center (IDRC), and the Center for International Cooperation in Agricultural Research for Development (CIRAD).

African economies are highly dependent on agriculture. In West and Central Africa, farming is the main source of income and food for a total population of about 400 million people. The agricultural sector also represents about 60 percent of all jobs on the continent.

Policy makers and scientists agree that considerable increase in food production is needed in the next decade to feed the growing population. Agricultural research and development are central to the expected increase in the sector.

In collaboration with the Nangui Abrogoua University and Côte d’Ivoire’s Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research, the three institutions acknowledged the importance of working in partnership to meet the food needs of Francophone countries in both regions.

“Post-harvest losses are increasing for most farmers in West and Central due in part to the absence of adequate technologies to transform products. This is why agricultural research is so critical for agriculture transformation. In the past 30 years, this has been at the core of the wok of CORAF and its partners,” said Dr. Abdou Tenkouano, Executive Director of CORAF.

“Under the World Bank sponsored West African Agriculture Productivity Program, CORAF has disseminated about 160 technologies in the past eight years and they are today supporting farmers including women and youths to gain more income and enjoy improved living conditions.”

Cote d’Ivoire’s Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research has been at the forefront in investing in agricultural research and development in West Africa.

Ms. Ly Ramata Bakayoko, Cote d’Ivoire Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, highlighted the centrality of agricultural research and innovation to development policies designed to reduce poverty and ensure food security.

At the regional level, agricultural research is also considered key to agricultural transformation. This explains why CORAF has been mandated to serve as the technical arm of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU), the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) and the Central African Economic and Monetary Community (CEMAC).

The African Green Revolution Forum brought together leading thinkers from governments, development organizations, the private sector, civil society organizations, academe, research institutions, and farming groups to reflect on ways forward to ensure Africans achieve food security while boosting economic growth.

Several senior officials of CORAF accompanied the Executive Director to the forum.