The Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) has welcomed the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition launched by the G8.
A statement from FARA said the new alliance takes cognizance of the 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).
‘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.
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.
FARA said in the statement that it recognises the critical role played by smallholder farmers, especially women and youth. “As producers, workers and marketers, women are the bedrock of agriculture – yet they still face marginalization”.
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.
FARA has 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, FARA 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 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.