Innovative Strategies to Address Capacity Deficits in Agric Research in West and Central Africa

At the initiative of CORAF, a webinar held on December 10, 2020 by the leaders of the National Agricultural Research Systems (NARS), enabled experts to lay the foundations for the strategies to meet the common challenges of West and Central Africa (WCA), in terms of capacity building of the agricultural research and technology system.

Human, institutional and systemic capacity deficits have been identified as the main challenges suffocating the agricultural research and technology system in West and Central Africa.

“The situation calls for actions from us as leaders in this domain to reflect and identify potential solutions and opportunities towards strengthening the capacity of our agricultural research and development system,” said Dr. Angela Moreno, Chairperson of the CORAF Governing Board during the opening ceremony of an online webinar bringing leaders of NARS to discuss the issue.

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To meet these challenges and have stronger and more efficient agricultural research and technology systems, the participants agreed on a number of innovative strategies to be implemented.

These strategies are broken down into the following action points:

  • Set up a real system of mobility of scientific staff in WCA;
  • Encourage and/or stimulate institutions and NARS to have a training and career plan for scientific and technical staff;
  • Encourage the pooling of resources between the NARS;
  • Modernize agricultural equipment and materials for efficient productivity of the NARS;
  • Establish sustainable financing mechanisms for NARS through agricultural sectors in the countries but also through the RECs for the establishment of funds dedicated to AR4D;
  • Further develop agricultural products marketing mechanism both nationally and sub-regionally;
  • Develop research fund system based on competitiveness;
  • Set up a system for encouraging researchers;
  • Take gender into account in capacity building in all disciplines as well as in agricultural value chains.

The deficits of the capacity of the agricultural research and technology system are of particular concern to the research leaders, who called for the ownership of research by paying a particular attention to the implementation of the points mentioned above.

“We cannot outsource our research. We must therefore be able to invest. And all countries have become aware since the COVID-19 pandemic, of the need to strengthen the means to respond to the challenges and research is one of these means”, declared the Executive Director of CORAF, Dr. Abdou Tenkouano.

This webinar was the third and final in a series of online engagement activities organized by CORAF on Agricultural Research for Development (AR4D). It follows a first, held last August on the impact of COVID-19 on agricultural research and the opportunities that the pandemic has created, and a second, which took place last October, during which NARS leaders discussed a better approach to better manage biological risks.