Key Agri R&D Players and OneCGIAR Meet on Reforms to Accelerate African Agricultural Transformation

“It is time that we recalibrate the OneCGIAR reforms in Africa, to better take on board the full range of priorities and concerns of Africa,” said the President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, speaking at a high-level event held in Abidjan on May 18 and 19, 2022, which brought together key players in the agricultural sector in Africa.

The objective of the event was to reflect on the OneCGIAR reforms and ensure that the reforms align with the continent’s realities and priorities.

OneCGIAR is the culmination of a transformation process initiated by the Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) since June 2018.

The purpose of this transformation is to better readjust the CGIAR interventions to fit agriculture’s current and future challenges in poor countries, in particular the food, land, water and climate crises, which are all interconnected.

However, it is imperative that these reforms help the African continent achieve its food security and poverty eradication goals, the continent’s stakeholders warn.

“As the CGIAR does it reforms, it needs to bear in mind that the focus in Africa is not more technologies, but getting technologies out to farmers, at the scale of millions of farmers. […] We must feed Africa and there is no time to waste. There must therefore be accountability of the CGIAR to help achieve Zero Hunger,” said Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, recalling that there are only eight (08) years left to achieve the second Sustainable Development Goal —Zero Hunger.

To do this, the reforms must not weaken the CGIAR Centers in Africa, he pleaded.

They must, on the contrary, favor a more inclusive and institutional approach, instead of the programmatic approach adopted in the past, which has proved to be counterproductive, in his opinion.

OneCGIAR High-Level Meeting: Speech of the Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, President of AfDB Group

Doing more together, less alone

In the same vein, CORAF Executive Director, Dr. Abdou Tenkouano, called for a shift to new business models, during the meeting.

In a presentation focusing on ‘Strengthening linkages, coordination and accountability in Africa’s agricultural research and innovation system’, he said that in view of the complexity and entanglement of agriculture’s challenges, these new business models centered on partnerships and always considering farmers as the ultimate targets, will foster synergies and the pooling of resources, for a more massive impact.

“All of the current agriculture disruptors are interconnected and converging, with an impact on agricultural and food systems and a domino effect on several other sectors across a wide geographic reach,” said Dr. Tenkouano.

“Borderless problems call for borderless solutions. No country alone has the full capacity to address all agriculture current issues. But when we work together, harnessing and contextualizing the contribution of the OneCGIAR to strengthen the African Agenda as crystalized by the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program (CAADP), we are able to do it,” he emphasized.

Dr. Tenkouano made his presentation on behalf of the CAADP ex-Pillar 4 (CAADP-XP4) implementing organizations.

These are, in addition to CORAF, the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA), the African Forum for Agricultural Advisory Services (AFAAS), the Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in Eastern and Central Africa (ASARECA), and the Centre for Coordination of Agricultural Research and Development for Southern Africa (CCARDESA).

OneCGIAR High-Level Meeting: Presentation of Dr. Abdou Tenkouano, CORAF Executive Director

Capitalizing on the existing

Furthermore, emphasizing the importance of the local context, CORAF Executive Director called for OneCGIAR reforms to be inclusive, responsive to the demands and needs of farmers and communities.

He especially insisted on the need to build on the strength of existing institutions.

To illustrate his remarks, he mentioned the network of National Centers of Specialization and Regional Centers of Excellence (NCoS/RCoEs), established by CORAF within the framework of the West Africa Agricultural Productivity Program (WAAPP), which  generated hundreds of agricultural technologies and innovations that benefited the countries of the sub-region, based on mutualization and sharing of technologies and knowledge.

Funded by the World Bank, the WAAPP has indeed made it possible to establish the NCoS/RCoEs in nine (09) West African countries, based on the comparative advantages of each host country in the area of ​​specialization.

“It is evident that there are potential synergies between the NCoS/RCoEs and the CGIAR centers, according to their respective areas of specialization. These are therefore avenues of collaboration that should be favored by OneCGIAR, for more impact on populations,” explains Dr. Tenkouano.

For his part, AfDB President called for the reforms to be articulated around one of the most successful programs on the continent: the ‘Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation’ program (TAAT).

Funded by the AfDB and forming an integral part of its ten-year Feed Africa strategy (2016-2025), the TAAT program has had convincing and unprecedented results in Africa, according to Dr. Adesina.

“The OneCGIAR reforms in Africa should explicitly build around TAAT, to take results to even greater scales and put in place a system for accountability for delivering technologies to millions of farmers, using results-based financing,” he said.

The high-level event was co-organized by the AfDB, the African Union Commission (AUC), FARA and OneCGIAR.

The meeting was attended by several African government authorities and other regional organizations such as the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), the Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM) and the African Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD).