- With funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Partnership for Agricultural Research, Education and Development in West Africa (PAIRED) started in 2017 with the aim of strengthening CORAF and boosting agriculture in West Africa;
- At almost the end of the program, the impact, both on the organization and on farmers in West Africa and even beyond, is tangible;
- PAIRED has invigorated CORAF and positioned us for other strategic partnerships, which benefit millions of people in West and Central Africa.
Like many sub-regional organizations, the future of CORAF wasn’t looking very bright a few years back, but things begun to turn around when a game-changing Cooperative Agreement was signed with the West Africa Regional Mission of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
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Known as the Partnership for Agricultural Research, Education and Development in West Africa (PAIRED), the five-year program was designed to strengthen the organization on the one hand, and on the other hand, to foster the scaling up of proven technologies and to increase the production and availability of quality agricultural inputs for farmers, in West Africa.
“PAIRED has been a game-changing program for CORAF and the beneficiaries we serve, which has come at the right time”, acknowledged Dr. Abdou Tenkouano, Executive Director of CORAF, at the end of a recent meeting with Mr. Daniel Moore and Mr. Matthew Anderson, respectively Mission Director and Director of the Regional Economic Growth Office, at the USAID West Africa Regional Mission.
PAIRED is broken down into three components: an institutional reform component, the most important one, and two technical components. One, to ensure the scaling up of technologies in order to make them visible and show their impact, and the other, to guarantee the access and availability of quality agricultural inputs to farmers.
After more than four (04) years of implementation, the program, which is nearing its end, has obtained results that sufficiently illustrate its impact on the organization.
The first component of PAIRED enabled CORAF to carry out a complete reform from the point of view of governance, financial viability and structural organization.
“All this was done, based on the adoption of new instruments such as a new Strategic Plan, a new Operational Plan, which were complemented by a resource mobilization plan, a communication plan and a knowledge management plan. These are instruments that have been developed as part of the reform,” said Dr. Tenkouano.
CORAF emerged as a stronger and more equipped institution to carry out its mission of coordinating agricultural research in West and Central Africa, as evidenced by several audit reports that were produced in the following years.
“We have had three successive external audit reports that have come with opinions that basically say there is nothing to worry about concerning CORAF and we have a clean health check.”
As for component 2 of PAIRED, it has established in West Africa, an innovative framework that has facilitated the scaling up of hundreds of technologies and innovations.
Component 3, for its part, has contributed to considerably increasing the adoption and use of quality agricultural inputs in West Africa, in particular through the implementation of harmonized regional seeds and seedlings regulation and the strengthening of the private seed sector.
Road to Sustainability
In addition, the reforms successfully carried out, have paved the way for several other technical and financial partners who have placed or renewed their trust in CORAF, as evidenced by their financial contributions to the implementation of the Strategic Plan of CORAF.
Since June 2017, CORAF has signed more than 30 strategic partnerships. This has been possible thanks to the momentum given to us by USAID through PAIRED,”Dr. Abdou Tenkouano, Executive Director of CORAF.
These include the West Africa Breeding networks and Extension Empowerment project (ABEE), the ‘Anticipate and manage biological risks to strengthen farmers’ resilience to climate change in West and Central Africa’ project (BioRisks) and the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme ex-Pillar 4 (CAADP-XP4) —funded by the European Union through the DeSIRA initiative, the Agricultural Technologies and Innovations Scaling Up Project for Increasing the Resilience of Production Systems and Family Farms in West and Central Africa (TARSPro) —funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), the Food Systems Resilience Program (FSRP) —funded by the World Bank, etc.
Cumulatively, all these projects subsequent to PAIRED target millions of beneficiaries across West and Central Africa.
“CORAF is certainly strengthened thanks to all these interventions, but it is above all millions of beneficiaries who are directly and indirectly impacted, and who experience an improvement in their living conditions,” underlines Dr. Tenkouano.
PAIRED has been implemented in six West African countries (Benin, Ghana, Mali, Niger, Nigeria and Senegal) but the effects are expected to be felt in all 23 countries that CORAF covers in West and Central Africa.
In short, the Cooperative Agreement with USAID has propelled CORAF on the path to sustainability, making it a stronger instrument for the regional coordination of agricultural research and development.
“I express CORAF’s gratitude to USAID, for entrusting us with such an important program, especially at a time when we were somehow given a sentence of being in jeopardy or disappearing,” said Dr. Tenkouano.