European Union/IFAD investments in agricultural research: Towards sustainable agriculture, climate-smart rural transformation and social development
Innovation in development
The world we live in today calls for joint efforts to create a more inclusive and sustainable development. We have a global commitment to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030. Agriculture is at the centre of the SDGs as it is directly linked to SDG1, SDG2, SDG3, SDG5, SDG8, SDG12, SDG13 and SDG15. Farming as business is only possible if smallholder farmers have the opportunity to integrate the latest technology, innovation and outcomes of crosscutting scientific developments in agricultural research: Smart innovative systems which create jobs and income, and contribute to adaptation and mitigation of climate change impacts need to bring more science into development to bridge these two gaps. As required by SDG 17: Partnerships for the Goals and as the catalyst of agricultural research for development, IFAD organized a workshop in Kenya from 21 to 22 February 2018 and brought together 80 participants from 23 institutions and 16 IFAD-EU jointly funded research projects to provide a platform to demonstrate the achievements of the projects, and to identify, discuss and pave the way forward to respond to issues facing smallholder farming communities and also for the evaluation of the 2013 EU Contribution programme. (The first workshop of these series was held in India, June 2017.)
The workshop was structured around two themes: (i) Putting research into use; application of proven agricultural technologies and innovations developed under the EU 2013 programme to impact positively on the livelihoods, nutrition and, build resilience of famers to climate change and other shocks, and (ii) Collaborative partnerships between CGIAR Centres, IFAD, the EU Delegation and Government of Kenya to catalyse utilization of research outputs for development outcomes and impact.
Putting research into practice
IFAD grants are expected to enhance the effectiveness of development investments. To achieve this, grant recipients and agencies implementing IFAD-funded projects need to continuously work together so that the grants can address concrete problems faced by smallholders targeted in the investment projects.
The European Union (EU) is committed to financing agricultural research which contributes directly to development outcomes and impact per se, and enhances development investments. The goal of the EU-funded grants is to put research into use at scale in sustainable agricultural systems with large potential impacts on nutrition and resilience.
At the COP22 meeting in 2016, there was a fundamental paradigm shift in the relationship between agriculture and climate change. As a consequence, The European Union will provide EUR 270 million, over the next three years (2018-2020) to foster a strong climate change focus in agriculture and food systems research for development. Also, the commitment from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to match this funding with a US$ 300 million pledge over the same period (2018-2020) will boost climate change related innovations through research in agriculture in most of the developing countries.
Given the size of the challenge and the need for urgent action, the EU and IFAD have started identifying joint priority investments towards putting research into use, fostering innovation in farming and food systems, and ensuring their climate relevance under the Agricultural Research for Development (AR4D) programme. The AR4D programme is currently under implementation and targets 14 countries, including Kenya, with a total budget of US$12.2 million (IFAD funded) and EUR 30.3 million (EU funded).
The generation of scientific knowledge and applied innovations encompasses agronomy for primary production, technology for all steps of agro-processing, general organisation along the value chains, and focus on major activities to increase job creation and food security and nutrition. This effort also increases knowledge and evidence needed for policies and investment decisions.
Dr Malu Ndavi, IFAD; Mr Bernard Rey, EU
The EU and IFAD recognise the significant milestones achieved in Kenya through agricultural research, including improved infrastructure for research and development, innovations in the crop, livestock and fisheries sector, natural resources management, human capacity development and institutional strengthening; policy formulation and improved crop management practices.
Learning from other countries
One of the challenges facing all projects is avoiding costly investments in research which have been successfully conducted elsewhere. EU and IFAD research investments balance upstream discovery research to generate international public goods for adaptation and replication globally. At the same time, context-specific adaptive research should tailor solutions to local farming systems, consumer preferences, and socioeconomic circumstances. Policy-related research can generate evidence to create an enabling environment for agriculture and rural development so that research complements development investments in order to maximise development outcomes and impact.
In this context, the Principal Secretary for Agriculture - Indian State of Uttar Pradesh noted that India and Africa have common agenda and share similarities in a number of fields. To this end, he pledged that in the framework of South-South cooperation, for instance India and IRRI will make it possible to share a number of success stories. While noting that the contexts could be different, he urged that SSA can adapt or adopt what works for it in their own specific circumstances and discard what is not relevant and learn from each other. He reiterated that as much as he is perceived to have brought with him a number of technologies, innovations and experiences to share, he has equally learned a lot regarding Africa's circumstances. For instance, he explicitly mentioned that he intends to adopt the sorghum technology that was evidenced by both ICRISAT and KCEP-CRAL video documentary.
Partnerships are key
What are the main lessons from the workshop? The workshop participants raised a number of critical issues during the workshop and the IFAD's World Café. The World Café session was a dedicated platform for participants especially CGIAR centres to have in-depth interactions with IFAD investments portfolio in Kenya thereby creating opportunity to strengthen partnership. The workshop offered an opportunity to foster and expand South-South collaboration and initiatives between India's research institutions, namely the Indian Council of Agricultural Research and NARES as well as IFAD supported projects in Kenya, for example. Similar partnerships are being explored for instance between IRRI Asia and IRRI-AfricaRice, the emerging partnership model has important implications for IRRI-Africa Rice.
• The workshop recommended a follow up of specific initiatives to design workable partnership models; Providing a clear focus on the role of research (science and innovation) on various sectors (food, nutrition, and income security, NRM and environmental resilience, Policy and Institutional innovations, capacity development, among others);
• The workshop discussed and made proposals on workable collaborative and strategic partnerships to enhance synergies, complementarities while minimizing duplication of efforts and fostering working relationships between research, extension and private sector (Triangular relationships);
• Of significance, the workshop underscored the need to underpin the AR4D with Innovative Institutional, financial and technical strategies and approaches which are critical for the success of the African agricultural sector to come out of its present non-performing status and realize real transformation. For instance, adopting extension system with built incentives for farmers and agricultural sector investors can jump-start agricultural sector GDP growth.
• Coupled with the above is the application of ICT-driven infrastructure development that would be critical for accelerated transformation;
• Capacity development of smallholder farmers, youth and women in agriculture was identified as imperative for investment to enhance capacities and competences of agricultural stakeholders as custodians in the transformation vision;
• The workshop noted that any meaningful transformation in the African agricultural sector must be matched by an equal amount of commitment. For instance, the Maputo Declaration by African Governments to allocate 10 per cent of the National Budget for Agricultural spending still remains a pipe dream except for seven countries that have attained this commitment.
• The workshop recommended strategies to stimulate and strengthen Private sector investment by initiating incentive schemes such as direct benefit transfer (as applicable in India), the e-voucher input subsidy schemes in KCEP-CRAL as well as strengthening Private sector investment in agricultural value chain as a promising way forward.