Low agricultural yield is one of the many factors that have hampered Africa from reaching its potential with regards to agriculture.
In spite of its vast array of arable land thus about 60% of the world’s uncultivated arable land, staple crop yields in Africa, for example, have barely grown in the last twenty-five years, and remain the lowest of any region in the world at just 56% of the global average. Additionally, the current average oil palm yield in Africa is 3.98 ton per hectare but the commodity has a potential of yield over 20ton per hectare. Increasing agricultural production and productivity is the foundation for any transformation of agriculture on the African continent
The Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) played host to about eighty stakeholders at her secretariat (headquarters) located in Accra Ghana from 10th to 13th of July 2018 for the African Agricultural Transformation (TAAT) program- Capacity Development and Technology Outreach Stakeholders Inception workshop. Participants were drawn from the sub-regional organizations(SROs) (ASARECA, CCARDESA, CORAF/ WECARD), AFAAS, CGIAR Centers, national partners, technology custodians and value chain organization (AfricaRice Center, IITA, ICRISAT, ILRI, AATF, ICARDA, WorldFish, CIAT, CIP, ICIPE, CIMMYT and AWARD), AGRA, Private sector, YPARD, Agribusiness Incubators and Service providers (national partners, consultants).
The Technologies for African Transformation (TAAT) program is a key priority of the African Development Bank for the agricultural transformation agenda also known as the Feed Africa Strategy. TAAT is essentially a knowledge and innovation-based response to the recognized need for scaling up proven technologies across Africa aiming to boost productivity and to make Africa self-sufficient in 9 key commodities across 10 pilot countries.
Why the Inception workshop?
The TAAT Capacity Development and Technology Outreach (CDTO) inception workshop was to galvanize stakeholder commitment and craft a common vision for a smooth, successful and timely implementation of the proposed activities within the TAAT CDTO compact. The workshop provided a forum to develop a functional Regional Technology Delivery Infrastructure (RTDI) and disaggregation of each commodity and country-specific compacts and refinement of approaches and modalities for effective implementation of TAAT at country level to facilitate technology outreach and scaling.
Purpose and objectives of the Inception Workshop
The Innovation Platform constitutes the main operational instrument for the implementation of the outreach related activities of the value chain commodity compacts. All African countries are eligible to benefit from TAAT CDTO services. However, in the first year, the CDTO Enabler compact focuses on ten countries including; Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal, Mali, Rwanda, Kenya, DR Congo, Malawi, Tanzania, Zambia.
The workshop commenced with the opening remarks by Dr Irene Annor-Frempong- FARA’s Director of Research and innovation on behalf of Dr Yemi Akinbamijo - the Executive Director of FARA. She welcomed participants and reminded them of their important role in the African agricultural transformation journey. The TAAT coordinator, Dr Chrys Akem gave an overview of TAAT saying “The TAAT program is in response to these action points framing Africa’s agricultural transformation and addresses the need “to execute a bold plan to achieve rapid agricultural transformation across Africa".
It seeks to contribute to the acceleration of this transformation through raising agricultural productivity along eight priority intervention areas”. Thereafter, all the compact leaders of nine value chain compacts made presentations on the various commodities: wheat, rice, fish, cassava, maize, orange flesh sweet potato(OFSP), beans, sorghum/millet. The compact leaders addressed the plenary on achievements made, challenges faced and opportunities for capacity building and improving productivity and profitability for the actors all the agro sub-sectors. There were breakout sessions according to the three sub-regional organizations (SRO) viz., CORAF, ASARECA and CARDESA who will be engaged to facilitate country-level actions within their respective sub-region.
Mainstreaming youth in the TAAT/ CDTO agenda
Youth representatives of the ten pilot countries were invited to attend as advocates for youth inclusion at strategic policy debates, planning and implementation of agricultural projects that impact massively on the African economy and society with reference to TAAT project. YPARD Africa represented the interests of youth as an enabler for the TAAT-CDTO component on strengthening technology delivery with a major focus on national agricultural extension/technology outreach systems strengthening; agribusiness incubator support; Innovation Platforms for technology outreach creation; and strengthening the technical capacity of farmers and built on TAAT Technologies.
YPARD national chapters will work as members of the Regional Member Country (RMC) coordinating work groups in strengthening the capacities of country and commodity specific compacts and communities of practice across the various value chains and their actors. YPARD has been included as a critical private sector actor that will be vital on the different innovation platforms or other multi-stakeholders systems.
YPARD will work alongside IITA Youth Agri-preneurs, AGRA, Agribusiness Incubator Network (AAIN) and other stakeholders that will be engaged in business development alongside a handful of private sector organizations with technical capacity in ICT knowledge and information and policy advocacy to support country implementation of the project goals. Agribusiness incubators supported/provided with technical and financial support particularly to young agriprenuers and women farmers will help boost the productivity, profitability and sustainability of agricultural development initiatives in Africa.
At the end of the inception meeting, participants were able to establish the CTDO Regional Technology Delivery Infrastructure (RTDI); mapped the partnerships that will support the strengthening of RTDI; initiated the development of a detailed program of work for strengthening the capacities of country and commodity specific compacts; and developed as well as formalized implementation agreements among all partners within the CDTO compact.
Photo credit: FARA