FARA within the new alliance to boost Africa's food and nutrition security

By Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA)

ABIDJAN, Côte d'Ivoire, May 31, 2012/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- The Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) (http://www.fara-africa.org) welcomes the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition launched by the G8.

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Particularly welcome is the G8's commitment to launch a technology platform together with FARA, the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), and other partners.

FARA also recognises partnership with the private sector as a step in the right direction because it connects almost seamlessly with the agricultural investment plans being developed by African countries under the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP). Over 20 African countries have developed investment plans, and more are in the offing. It is therefore laudable to see that the funding mechanism of this New Alliance chooses to align itself with already identified national priorities and partners with existing African agencies and frameworks. 'This is a positive show of commitment to an African-driven agenda that will be more relevant, sustainable and have greater impact', said Dr. Tiemoko Yo, Chairman of FARA.

Climate change has proved to be a major risk to smallholder farmers, with drought, floods and pests increasingly hazardous. While we welcome support for agricultural risk management, we call for greater attention to the risks associated with climate change in order to enhance food and nutrition security and agricultural development.

We applaud the recognition of the critical role played by smallholder farmers, especially women. We also recognise the potential role of the youth. As producers, workers and marketers, women are the bedrock of agriculture – yet they still face marginalisation. The involvement of youth in agriculture will harness their dynamism and innovation needed in agriculture.

We commend the commitment to fulfil the pledges of the L'Aquila Food Security Initiative and the additional USD3 billion now pledged by private sector companies. 'These pledges, however, should only mark the beginning of support to address food security challenges. We call for increased and sustained support not only from the G8, but also from African governments and smaller private sector actors on the continent if true transformation is to be achieved', emphasised, Professor. Monty Jones, Executive Director of FARA.

FARA is keen to work together with the platform partners to build on African ownership to achieve significant outcomes that can be replicated across the continent. In this regard, we developed the concept of integrated agricultural research for development (IAR4D) in the Sub-Saharan Africa Challenge Program (SSA CP) to drive the change in approach to agricultural innovation. Regarding the need to strengthen Africa's ability to build its own capacity, we initiated two projects: Strengthening Capacity for Agricultural Research for Development (SCARDA) to strengthen human and institutional capacity, and Universities, Business and Research in Agricultural Innovation (UniBRAIN) to incubate agribusiness innovations.

FARA confirms its own commitment to playing its role towards the achievement of the Alliance's goals. It has already been engaged in some of the areas where the G8 has pledged support. An example is our support for the accelerated release, adoption and consumption of bio-fortified crop varieties to improve the nutritional quality of food through promoting various fortified crop varieties. These include protein-enriched maize (quality protein maize or QPM) and sweet potatoes fortified with vitamin A (orange-fleshed sweet potatoes or OFSP) in pilot countries across Africa, specifically through its platform on Dissemination of New Agricultural Technologies in Africa (DONATA). FARA is active in promoting access to food and nutritional technologies and establishing open access platforms to provide agricultural information through its Regional Agricultural Information and Learning Systems (RAILS). Additionally, FARA spearheaded the promotion of safe use of biotechnology in agriculture under the project on Strengthening Capacity for Safe Biotechnology Management in sub-Saharan Africa (SABIMA) already launched in six pilot countries.

The launch of this initiative coincides with a period when FARA is reviewing its strategic direction and will thus be used to charter its onward course. FARA will work with its partners to move forward the establishment of the New Alliance, which will be launched at the Africa Agriculture Science Week in July 2013.

Distributed by the African Press Organization on behalf of the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA).

Editor's Notes:

The Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) (http://www.fara-africa.org) is an umbrella organisation that brings together and forms coalitions of major stakeholders in agricultural research and development in Africa. FARA complements the innovative activities of national, international and sub-regional research institutions to deliver responsive and effective services to its stakeholders. It plays advocacy and coordination roles for agricultural research for development, while the national agricultural research systems (NARS), advanced research institutions (ARIs) and international agricultural research centres (IARCs) develop improved technologies along the research-to-development continuum in their respective countries and coverage areas.

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