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Echoes of African agriculture

Agriculture remains one of the trendiest topics of discussion on social media. And quite recently you may have taken notice of the hashtag #faraedspeaks on social media: on Twitter in particular.

This tag labels contributions to a discussion which with the Dr. Yemi Akinbamijo, the Executive Director (ED) of the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) held with some professionals in agriculture on Thursday 7th September 2017. Some members of YPARD Ghana, other Ghanaian youth, and a number of professionals in agriculture within the global Twitter community participated in this live chat.

The live chat was organized as a channel for stakeholders of the agricultural sector to hold discussions with the Executive Director of FARA on issues relevant to agriculture in Africa. It was to increase the visibility of African agricultural research and innovation on social media and to highlight FARA’s role as the apex continental organization responsible for coordinating and advocating agricultural research for development (AR4D).

The professionals in African agriculture posed questions of agricultural interest to Dr. Akinbamijo. Some of the participants were together with Dr. Akinbamijo at the conference room of the FARA Secretariat to keep the interaction going. Many others followed the discussion on Twitter via FARA’s Twitter handle.

The ED of FARA seized the opportunity to give a brief background about FARA and to respond to some questions participants had in relation to the role of FARA in Africa’s agriculture and also the way forward for agriculture in Africa. Some issues that came up for discussion were the Science Agenda for Agriculture in Africa (S3A), some initiatives designed to improve agricultural productivity in Africa and youth involvement in agriculture.

Meet FARA

FARA as mandated by the African Union Commission and the NEPAD Planning and Coordinating Agency (NPCA) is the technical arm of agricultural research for development. FARA is the lead agency for implementation of agricultural research which is Pillar IV of the Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development Programme (CAADP).

With a vision to reduce poverty in Africa through sustainable broad-based agricultural growth and improved livelihoods, FARA supports Africa’s sub-regional research organizations (SROs) in the strengthening of agricultural capacity for innovation. The SROs are

  • ASARECA (Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in Eastern and Central Africa)
  • CORAF/WECARD (Conseil Ouest et Centre Africain pour la Research et le Development Agricole/ West and African Council for Agricultural Research)
  • CCARDESA (Centre for Coordination of Agricultural Research and Development for Southern Africa) and
  • NASRO (North Africa Sub-Regional Organisation)

FARA’s ED speaks on #YouthInAg

Dr. Yemi acknowledged the developed interest and contribution of African youth in agriculture. He also lauded the efforts made by the various institutions in Africa to modernize African agriculture.

He passionately advised the youth not to see agriculture as a profession for school dropouts. He said this to emphasize the need for application of technology in today’s agriculture. He pointed out that the use of appropriate technology to improve the output of today’s agriculture is highly necessary. He advised that if we- the youth practice agriculture the way our forefathers did, we should only expect to achieve the same results they did and we will not develop agriculture in Africa with such a cycle.

With regards to agricultural training in institutions on the continent, FARA’s ED mentioned the disconnect between the job market in the agricultural sector and our training institutions. He believes a revision in the institutions’ curriculum for agricultural science can help resolve this challenge.

One of the comments made by Dr. Akinbamijo that will forever remain in the hearts of the members of YPARD Africa who were present and to those connected via Twitter is this: Africa has the youthful and useful energy for agricultural development in the continent. FARA believes in the youth of Africa and that is why we host YPARD Africa at FARA.

 

Photo credit: Kofi Acquaye