Africa Agriculture Science Week Highlights Progress Towards Food Security

aasw20 July 2013: The 6th Africa Agriculture Science Week (AASW) brought together over 1000 researchers, policy makers and development professionals from across the continent to discuss scientific advances and progress toward African food security goals.

During the Week, which was held from 15-20 July 2013, in Accra, Ghana, participants addressed: education and human resources; innovation to improve productivity; moving from competition to collaboration; and innovative financing. The event brought together representatives from African and non-African institutions involved in agricultural research and development.

The AASW is convened every three years by the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) and aims to: establish a regional agenda; mark progress toward achieving the vision of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP); and address the governance and leadership needs of FARA.

Member organizations from the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) participated in the AASW. Frank Rijsberman, Chief Executive of the CGIAR Consortium, outlined CGIAR's contribution to tackling cross-cutting agricultural development challenges and stressed the importance of leveraging its global research.

The Africa Rice Center provided an overview of its work on developing a genebank for African rice varieties and members of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) underscored the need for governments to support national research institutions. The Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security Research Program (CCAFS) presented on its experience in climate-smart agriculture in Africa. CCAFS also presented on climate-resilient livestock farming in Africa using rangeland enclosure and index insurance, among other techniques.

The International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA) hosted a special session on dryland agriculture with presentations on: the CGIAR Research Program on Dryland Agricultural Production Systems; strengthening seed systems; value chains for large-scale impacts; bringing conservation agriculture to low-income farmers; and crop and livestock management. The International Water Management Institute (IWMI) presented on its research to improve agricultural water storage, and efforts to help farmers consider the range of water storage options based on reliability, resilience and vulnerability. The IWMI tool has been applied in the Volta Basin and the Ethiopian Nile. The International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) underscored the work of the CGIAR Research Programme on Maize to reduce aflatoxin in maize crops through collaboration with the US Department of Agriculture, the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF).

In a statement on the role of agricultural research in Africa, Kanayo Nwanze, President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), outlined the development and food security impacts of research by the CGIAR centers in Africa over recent decades. He traced the stagnation of African agriculture to years of under-investment in agricultural research and structural adjustment. Nwanze noted recent advances to reverse this trend, such as the FARA Science Agenda for Agriculture in Africa, coordination emerging from CAADP, and national investments in agricultural research. Nwanze stressed the need to focus on small farmers and the use of low-cost, existing technologies.

The Week featured side events on specific themes, exhibitions for informal discussions, a special day event to showcase Ghanaian research, a CAADP day with Ministerial Roundtables, two days of plenary discussions and a FARA business meeting. [FARA-Africa Website] [CGIAR Press Release] [CGIAR Science Week Overview] [IFAD President's Statement] [ICARDA Participation at AASW] [Publication: Agricultural Water Storage in an Era of Climate Change: Assessing Need and Effectiveness in Africa] [CGIAR Maize Research] [CCAFS Index Insurance Work]