Johannesburg, South Africa, 1-5 March 2004


Table of contents

I. Introduction

1. This paper deals with the potential contribution that Agricultural Extension (AE) and Agricultural Research (AR), can make to food security, poverty alleviation, in order to secure sustainable livelihoods for all. Reference to agricultural research and extension systems (ARES) encompasses a wide range of public and private institutions and entities, with a given mandate and agenda, potentially involved in the generation, adaptation, validation, dissemination and adoption of agriculture-related technologies. The term National Agricultural Research and Extension System (NARES) will be used.

II. Agriculture, Food Security and Poverty in Africa: Current Situation and Prospects

2. Agriculture dominates the economy of most African countries. It accounts for 24% of Africa’s GDP, 70% of its employment, and 40% of its foreign exchange earnings. In 2000, about 56% of Africans (431 million people) depended on it for their livelihoods. Despite its importance, the sector remains undercapitalised, under-performing, and continues to rely heavily on the weather, inefficient traditional technologies, and a poor and illiterate workforce. The situation has been exacerbated by problems of poor governance, civil strife and HIV/AIDS.

3. Persistent low agricultural production have not only adversely affected Africa’s agricultural exports, but also increased food supply gaps, food imports and food aid, and poverty. In the year 2000, the food import bill was about US$ 18.7 billion while agricultural export earnings were about US$ 14.3 billion, giving a negative trade balance of US$ 4.4 billion. Also in year 2000, Africa received 2.8 million tons of food aid, a quarter of the world’s total.

4. In Africa, the average regional food consumption level is expected to increase only by 7% in the next 15 years to 2,360 kcal/person/day compared with 2,700 for South Asia, 2,980 for Latin America and 3,060 for East Asia. Though the prevalence of undernourishment in SSA has declined only slightly over the past two decades from 36% to 33% and a further decline is expected to 22% by 2015, the absolute number is expected to increase from 168 millions in 1990/92 to 205 millions in 2015.

5. The general agreement today is that agriculture must be the focus of attempts to reduce poverty and food insecurity in Africa without damaging the natural resources base on which it depends for long-term sustainability. As past experience indicates, improved macroeconomic frameworks are essential to revert current trends. This should go along with adequate investments to address the enormous deficiencies of the region. Participation of women in all initiatives should also be considered as a priority. ARES should receive top priority, as they will be the key institutions to contribute to needed improvements in production, productivity and competitiveness.

III. Current Trends in Agricultural Research and Extension in Sub-Saharan Africa

6. Priorities, development approaches and institutional arrangements of ARES have been constantly evolving throughout the past four decades in SSA, very much under the influence of financing trends of international donors and changes in ideologies on agricultural and rural development. Globalization and other forces have joined their influences more recently, in the 1980s and the 1990s. Four of the major outcomes of these influences are: a new AR institutional scene; new scientific and technological priorities; mutating AE systems; and an emerging financing scheme for AR.

a. The emerging AR institutional scene

7. From 1960s to 1980s, no AR structured regional organization existed, except a few regional programmes such as the Semi-Arid Food Grain Research and Development (SAFGRAD). Beginning in the 1970s, the rate of increase of financial resources started stagnating despite a timid backup by international donors. Financial difficulties that started then have been the major drive behind a revived interest for regionalization of AR by the international community.

8. The Southern African Centre for Cooperation in Agricultural Research and Training (SACCAR)1created in 1984, the West African Council for Agricultural Research for Development (CORAF/WECARD)2 in 1987 and, the Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in Eastern and Central Africa (ASARECA)3 in 1994, endorsed the establishment of the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) in April 2001 in Addis Ababa.4 Agricultural Research in SSA has therefore enlarged itself since the 1980s from the national to the sub-regional and regional levels with a three-layered structure. The first layer consists of NARS, which are and will continue to be the cornerstone for AR impact on agricultural growth and development at the national level. The SRO, of which the main role is to coordinate and promote sub-regional cooperation, constitutes the second layer. FARA, the apex body, represents the third layer. It is responsible for research programs of regional interest on top of its mandate as an arbiter of discussion and harmonization of views for common presentation at the global level.

9. Two other factors to reckon with in dealing with the current institutional context of AR in SSA are: the diversification of actors and complex research agendas. NARS are moving from a situation where they were mostly single-organization systems dealing with very few specialized players (Universities, Advanced Research Institutions and International Agricultural Research Centres) towards one characterized by a widening array of actors. The research agendas are becoming more complex owing to the emergence of new scientific and technological priorities.

b. Recent scientific and technological priorities

10. Four areas of recent interest have led to the emergence of new scientific and technological priorities that are pressingly imposing themselves on Africa. These are: natural resources management (NRM); food security; poverty alleviation, biotechnology, and; new information and communication technologies (ICT).

11. NRM as an AR priority has come a long way. Chapter 8 of the work plan endorsed by the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) in Johannesburg (2002) has confirmed that it is a major objective for Africa. Lessons learned from the last three decades show that the continent has experienced a noticeable degradation of its natural resources base, and that promoting large scale adoption of technologies combining productivity improvement and environment sustainability was far from being a success. Therefore and in spite of the fact that NRM and environment remain a real challenge that most African countries consider as not affordable, it is imperative that these issues be integrated into agricultural research agenda.

12. The World Food Summit held in Rome unveiled the interest of integrating sustainable Food Security dimensions into NARS’ research agendas. Addressing food security issues from a sustainable development perspective necessitates understanding relationships between technical, environmental, economic and social dimensions related to food production. That endeavour requires reflecting on three major axes: the substance of research, the research process, and gender dimensions of food security.

13. If judiciously combined with other technologies to produce food and agricultural products and services, Biotechnology represents an undisputable potential to increase production and productivity in agriculture, forestry and fisheries, and holds serious promises for a sustainable intensification of agriculture. In order to fully benefit from its applications, NARS should however have a clear vision of what they expect from the new technology and on ways of integrating it harmoniously within their options in developing conventional technologies. From another standpoint, developing countries should handle three major issues if they wish to safely absorb imported biotechnologies and conduct some significant research: appropriate intellectual property rights, biosafety and national capacities.

14. ICT is an important tool in the collection, sharing and use of information and technology. The ICT can be utilized to improve internal efficiency of NARS and their capacity to effectively transfer appropriate knowledge and technologies to end-users, and better link them up to global AR systems. They should therefore be considered as a top priority to AR in the African region. With specific regard to technology dissemination, their capacity to circulate information is a unique asset that enables them to exploit the agricultural knowledge and information systems to the impact on technological mutation of production systems. However, it is necessary to stress that their effective use requires: an initial awareness of the information value; qualified human resources; good planning of needs; and a good understanding of the social, political and cultural environments where they will be used.

c. The changing Agriculture Extension (AE) environment

15. FAO has not aggressively promoted any single extension methodology with the rationale that no single extension methodology can be suitable for all situations no matter how impressive it looked in certain situations. Therefore, the emphasis has been on developing situation-based extension methodologies, using the principles of participation, gender-sensitivity, and client-orientation. The Farmer Field School (FFS) approach was initially applied to promote integrated pest management (IPM). Since the approach had a significant element of participation, the tendency in many countries has been to label any conventional group extension approach as FFS. The Gambia and Egypt are examples of this trend. FAO still advocates that FFS should be used only where it makes most sense such as in IPM and should not be considered as the only extension methodology being recommended by FAO. Some other approaches include Farmers’ Forest Management Schools (FFMS), Farming Systems Development (FSD), Participatory Farmers’ Groups for Food Security (Tanzania), Farmers’ Groups for Private Enterprise (Uganda), Livestock FFS (Swaziland, Kenya, Gambia) and integration of HIV/AIDS education into agricultural extension programmes (Zambia, Namibia, Ghana, and Uganda). Starting in the late 1990s, FAO has embarked upon the National Agricultural Extension Systems Reform Initiative (NAESRI), under which activities such as strengthening decentralized extension services, establishment of pluralistic extension modality, organization of men and women farmer groups for grassroots extension programme development, privatisation of extension where it makes sense, etc. have been carried out. The ICT tools have also been developed in support of extension, such as FarmNet and the Virtual Extension and Research Communication Network (VERCON).

16. The environment of AE in SSA has been changing, with more focus on food security, entry of new actors such as the private sector, NGOs in the delivery of extension services, and bottom-up approaches for clientele involvement in decision making. However, while public spending on extension has been shrinking, the role of government in extension services delivery is also being examined, sometimes separating the financing of extension programmes from the delivery of extension services. Alongside a new approach has been emerging, considering extension as facilitation and producers as clients, sponsors and stakeholders, rather than beneficiaries. The key trends and developments of these moves in this new millennium reflect global socio-economic change and are driven by key concepts such as participation, client-orientation and decentralization, and some developments such as those related to modern information technology.

17. FAO and the World Bank have also formulated a strategic vision and guiding principles for the Agricultural Knowledge and Information Systems for Rural Development (AKIS/RD), to integrate the activities of agricultural educators, researchers and agriculture extension agents for the benefit of farmers. The best application of AKIS/RD principles calls for reforms based on: pluralism of extension providers, involving coordinated partnerships with NGOs; partnerships involving farmers and farmers’ organizations, and other private sector extension-providers; cost recovery options, including those negotiated directly between farmers and extension technicians; decentralization to lower tiers of government; and subsidiary at the grassroots level.

18. One main factor that is posing a great challenge to the traditional extension systems, approaches and methodologies in Sub-Saharan Africa is the HIV/AIDS epidemic. The epidemic is, beyond doubt, now being seen as a social, cultural, economic, and developmental issue, not just as a health problem. FAO has recently conducted studies on the impact of HIV/AIDS on public and private agricultural extension organizations and farmers in Malawi, Zambia, Namibia and Uganda. The main challenge for extension services is due to the nature of extension work, effects on extension workers as individuals, reductions and disruptions in staff, increased organizational costs, established practices going obsolete, emergence of unexpected extension clientele including widows, children, and elderly persons, distraction of farmers from their farms, and worsening supply of farm labour, food security and poverty. The extension organizations and field agents are not prepared to face this challenge successfully.

d. An emerging financing scheme

19. Over the past 30 years AR and AE public institutions in SSA have largely relied on international donors and national governments to operate. Under pressure from structural adjustment policies to decrease public funding, many national governments starting in the late 1980s began to cut funding for these institutions and this has led the international donor community to somehow fill the gap by raising their contribution. The emerging financing scheme, as it appears today presents three main financing levels interrelated and relying on new financing mechanisms.

20. At the national level, endogenous funds for AR are expected to come mostly from national budgets, income from contract research and user fees, whereas international funds will be provided through grants and loans via a sub-regional facility. For AE, funding will mostly come from government budgetary allocations, private firms and user fees. In fact, direct financing to agriculture extension agents to provide services to producers, farmers and other beneficiaries, will make the way to “outsourcing extension”, “cost-recovery for extension services” and “contracting out extension” where funds, whatever the source, would be provided to agriculture extension agents through contracts with beneficiaries who would therefore become service buyers.

21. At the sub-regional level, two distinct mechanisms will be used. One of them will concern core activities of SRO and function with earmarked grants of donors matched by country contributions. It will also concern regional collaborative networks and programmes funded from a mix of grants and loans provided by member countries, and those will be allocated through a competitive bidding process using regional competitive funds placed under the responsibility of SRO. Another one will concern funds allowing SRO to buy services tailored to their specific needs from the CGIAR, in addition to resources earmarked for the CGIAR. At the regional level, funding for core activities of FARA will come from grant donors. This last category of funds will also be used for core activities of the CGIAR in the continent, including system-wide initiatives and challenging programmes.

22. Moving actually from the prevailing situation towards the new scheme requires two concurrent shifts at the national level: one from public- to private-originated funding, and; another one from lump sum to project funding mode. With regard to the first shift, it seems obvious at first sight that national governments will have to carry almost entirely the burden of funding NARES.

23. The second shift is attached with stiff accountability requirements for NARES on two dimensions: political and managerial. Institutions under the new financing scheme will be more accountable as they have strict monitoring and evaluation systems. Good management will also become a critical tool to build financial credibility, through an increase of contributions from traditional funding sources and by attracting and developing new ones.

24. From another perspective, this scheme carries an inherent risk of financing divide between the “old” national level relying on domestic funds, mostly recurrent costs, infrastructure and long-term training, and the emergent supra-national level functioning with competitive funds from international sources to finance operational costs of SRO- and FARA-supervised programmes and projects. Sustainability of the scheme will require a good balance of participation of individual countries at both levels, to avoid losing ownership of the supra-national level. It is therefore advisable that African countries participate individually at the financing of the supra-national level.

IV. Current Constraints, Opportunities and Challenges of Agricultural Research Extension Systems in SSA

25. The current context of ARES with regard to food security and poverty alleviation in Africa is a complex mix of inter-related constraints, challenges and opportunities. The major drive behind these is the evolving environment in which they are currently occurring.

a. Constraints

26. Constraints facing ARES in Africa are many. The most salient include: policy and planning; structure, organization, and management; funding; supra-national collaboration; and Research-Extension-Farmer linkages.

i. Sustainability of Current financing of ARES

27. The resources of most ARES, most of which are publicly funded, have significantly declined since the 1980s under structural adjustment policies. Foreign donors who have since then been filling the gap have started cutting down their contribution. This calls for an accentuated effort from African governments: 1) to assume responsibility for funding research at national, sub-regional and regional levels; and 2) to diversify national funding sources for ARES. Moves such as blanket privatization of extension services will not be a proper course of action in view of millions of subsistence farmers who cannot afford to pay for extension advice. The long overdue concern about the imbalance in allocation of funds to research vis-à-vis extension should also receive consideration.

ii. Ineffective Regional and sub-regional collaboration in integrating AR and AE

28. To date most efforts in linking AR and AE have been limited to the national level. At the supra-national level, new opportunities for technology development are unveiling, with the possibility of sharing resources and technologies at the sub-regional and regional levels. This could be done efficiently by adopting a dual approach combining the development of technologies in a multi-layered strategy and their dissemination using an approach involving all stakeholders.

iii. Weak linkages between research, extension and farmers

29. The linkages between research, extension and farmers remain weak and the situation may have worsened lately under the influence of changes taking place in AE approaches, the phasing in of new categories of actors and the more passive role of the state. Part of the solution lies in the empowerment of an enlarged array of end-user-partners (including farmers, processors, traders and consumers), and careful application of ITC within an efficient and effective AKIS/RD approach.

iv. Obsolete policies

30. The environment under which ARES are operating is affecting their organizational structure, management style and field operations. Basic trends of these environmental changes are based on multiple partnerships, multi-level participation, and an enlargement of the scene from national to supra-national levels. As current AR and AE policies are going obsolete with regard to the new options, AR and E policies should be re-examined, re-formulated and updated to help improve the effectiveness and efficiency of ARES.

v. Political instability and lack of political will

31. Political instability and civil strife contribute to destroying the potential of ARES. To update policies, safeguard political stability, and circumvent the many constraints reported above requires strong political will and long-term commitment of political leaders, which have been reportedly missing.

b. Opportunities

32. The most significant opportunities of ARES are related to the human capital and the technical capability currently available in the continent, the ongoing scientific and information revolution spearheaded by the NEPAD initiative and a renewed interest of the international community for African ARES.

i. Important capital of human resources and technical expertise

33. Though a majority of African NARES dramatically lack operational resources, they are better endowed with human resources and technical capability now than in the past. This could be an important asset, mostly within a sound strategy of regional cooperation. Moreover, throughout the years, significant numbers of technology packages have been developed by NARS either on their own or in collaboration with the International Agricultural Research Centers (IARCs) and Advanced Agricultural Research Institutions (ARIs). Many such technology packages have not been delivered to farmers partly due to weak linkages between research and extension institutions.

ii. Promising scientific and communication revolution

34. Advances in molecular biology and genetic engineering and in ICT have brought about tremendous opportunities for agricultural development in Africa, though as is often the case, coupled with counteracting effects. Biotechnology carries high expectations for increasing productivity in agriculture and subsequently, more efficiently combating food insecurity. However, it presents new risks of further marginalizing local research systems and making the continent more of a dumping ground for inappropriate technologies. The use of new ICT could contribute not only to improving the internal efficiency of NARES, but also enhance the flow of information, knowledge and technologies to the benefit of agricultural producers, processors, traders and consumers.

iii. The New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD)

35. The NEPAD represents a unique opportunity to enhance political support, and harness all the initiatives and resources under a common vision and a broadened partnership. Indeed, it opens new avenues for political support in favour of ARES from African leaders at the highest level. One of its strategies to achieve its objective is to strengthen and focus the capacity of Africa’s agricultural research and extension systems, in partnership with FAO, FARA, the World Bank, The African Development Bank and the CGIAR.

iv. A renewed interest from international donors

36. One of the major problems donors have been confronted with has been the ownership of their initiatives, such as the Frameworks For Action and the Sustainable Financing Initiative, at the regional level and subsequently their sustainability. The emerging AR scene (with FARA and more empowered SRO) and financing scheme are seemingly appealing to them. Commitments for financial support made recently by the European Union, the World Bank and the African Development Bank in favour of sub-regional and regional competitive funds, are an indication of renewed interest in AR and should be taken into account along with other opportunities. With a few exceptions, such as in Uganda, extension has not been so lucky in terms of receiving donor funding, after the World Bank’s generous funding stopped due to emerging weaknesses in the Training and Visit model of extension.

c. Challenges

37. Meeting the challenge of increasing food availability now and in the future demands equal focus on production systems and on the larger issues of access to food. This requires: 1) the blending of traditional and frontier technologies in socially equitable, economically viable and environmentally sustainable “ecotechnologies” with increased productivity per unit of land, water, energy, labour and investment; and 2) the development of a holistic approach combining efforts of physical, social and agricultural scientists within a larger scientific framework integrating agricultural production, post-harvest, distribution systems, rural development and economic empowerment of the poor especially women. This requires a broader role that extension must play beyond its very limited traditional role of transfer of agricultural technology. In fact, the title of extension, in view of its broader role, should be agricultural and rural extension.

38. Large-scale impact of technologies may be achieved in two measures: 1) strengthening efficient linkages among a widening array of actors of technology development, and 2) moving empowerment from only technologies to information and knowledge as well.

39. Resource shortage is a reality that ARES in Africa will continue to experience. The challenge is for AR and AE managers to be innovative in finding ways to encourage willing international donors to increase their contributions, rally political support, and convince new categories of donors on the continent and at the national level, notably the private sector, to join in the effort to provide a significant support for food security and poverty alleviation. This endeavour should necessarily go further than just raising funds to ensure that resources and institutions are sufficiently sustainable, to improve chances of significant impacts. Until such donor assistance is ensured, measures are needed for developing demand-driven, cost-effective research and extension approaches.

iii. Institutional challenges

40. Ensuring wide-scale adoption of technologies by end users to achieve a durable impact on food security and poverty reduction is a long-tem ordeal, which should rely mostly, among others, on sustainable AR and AE institutions. This requires not only long-term commitment of political leaders and decision-makers, but also a wide consensus from all stakeholders, and donors in particular, on the organizational and functioning forms that could guarantee the best stability of these institutions. This is particularly true in case of countries where extension services have become very weak due to decentralization, in terms of policy direction, funding, technical backstopping and client-centred technical approaches. Extension institutions also need assistance in coping with the new environment created as a result of HIV/AIDS. Some of the actions include formulation of national policies on AIDS and extension, preparation of extension staff, training of extension staff in the subject of HIV/AIDS, revision of extension strategies and technical messages, institutional partnerships, and inter-country extension networks on HIV/AIDS.

41. The main challenge here is that all countries tackle harmoniously the crucial issues at stake: the role of the state with regard to its responsibility beyond funding, the “what and how” of the empowerment of technology end users, the strengthening of linkages within ARES at and among all levels, sustainable financing of ARES, involvement of the private sector, etc.

iv. An overall key challenge: a strong and sustained political will

42. African countries will have to show a strong political will to tackle all the challenges mentioned above. Their governments should particularly have in mind the fact that improving food security for the majority and combating poverty are long-term battles, and also that these battles will never be won however well-articulated programmes implemented may be, unless endogenous forces spearhead the efforts. It should also be clear that commitments they have persistently been making throughout the years, through the endorsement of the Rome Declaration on World Food security, the Millennium Declaration, the NEPAD and many others will never materialize if such political will does not exist.

V. The Forefront Initiative Aimed at Improving ARES in Africa

a. The General Framework

43. The NEPAD provides a general framework for the improvement of ARES in support of food security and poverty reduction. One of its goals is for Africa to become a strategic player in agricultural science and technology development. In order to achieve this, one of its key objectives is to strengthen and focus the capacity of Africa’s Agricultural Research and Extension systems. This explains why the Ministers of Agriculture of Africa decided, during their meeting of June 9, 2002 under the auspices of the FAO Regional Conference for Africa, that “Agricultural Research, Technology Dissemination and Adoption” be the long-term pillar of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP), besides the three other pillars of: 1) Extending the area under sustainable land management and reliable water control systems; 2) Improving rural infrastructure and trade-related capacities for market access; and 3) Increasing food supply and reducing hunger.

44. The CAADP prepared by the NEPAD Steering Committee in co-operation with FAO is centred on an Agricultural-led development being fundamental to reducing hunger and poverty, generating income growth, reducing the burden of food imports and opening the way to an expansion of exports. Financing for agriculture under CAADP will be based on the dual assumption that Africa itself will increase its level of investment and that its external partners will come forward and support it. The broad assumption given in its chapter 1 is that the Continent should progressively increase its domestic contribution to agricultural investment from a current base estimated at somewhere over 35% to some 55% by 2015.

b. The Sub-Saharan Africa Challenge Program (SSA CP)

45. The SSA CP was formulated during a workshop of stakeholders organised by FARA in Ghana in 2003. It presents a new paradigm under its rubric “Integrated Agricultural Research for Development” (IAR4D), that encompasses institutional capacity building, market approaches, knowledge management and policy research and explicitly includes attention to reversing inherent male-oriented gender biases in agricultural research. There is however, no such initiative for extension. No matter how much technology is produced by research organizations, it will be of little use if it stays in research stations and laboratories. Serious attention is needed for revising the role and operations of extension services, and for this, new extension policies and methods will have to be prepared on the bias of local socio-economic conditions, rather than importing extension models.

c. The NEPAD Agricultural Research and Extension Systems Support Programme (NEPAD ARES SP)

46. At the national level, building and strengthening the capacity of ARES will be done by: 1) updating their policy and planning environments and approaches with regard to context changes and strengthening their capacities for sustainable funding from national budgets; 2) better linking them to regional and global systems using ICT, and 3) improving research-extension-farmers links and technology assessment and transfer.

47. At the regional level, the major goal will be to contribute to strengthening regional collaboration among national agricultural research and extension systems in support of sustainable agriculture in general and the Special Programme for Food Security (SPFS) and Regional Programmes for Food Security (RPFS) in particular.

48. The framework of the Programme will rely on many institutional actors: NARES, REOs, SRO and FARA, International donors, and International technical partners, operating in connection with SPFS and RPFS. They will be linked within a collaboration network in scientific, technological, technical and financial partnerships.

49. NARES would be responsible for the dissemination and adoption of technologies at the national level. REOs would have the responsibility, in concert with NARS, to manage regional pools of technologies to disseminate at the regional level. SRO and FARA would have the responsibility, to organize and coordinate research prioritisation at the regional level, and synergy among these latter so as to minimize duplicative research programmes.

50. The timeframe of the Programme is a long-term one over a period of 15 years, fragmented over three segments of 5 years each. Each segment would have two rounds of 30 months each for sustainable financing.

i. Financial implications

51. The financing of NEPAD/ARES SP could be made at two levels: national and regional. For a start, national budgets would be the first and main source that will mainly be used to finance public research and extension services and institutions, mostly to cover recurrent expenses. The second source will be the self-income of these institutions and services through all kinds of contracts and ventures with their clients and the private sector. The third source will be constituted by a NARES Fund in support of food security and poverty reduction.

52. At the regional level, a Regional Agricultural Research and Extension Systems (RARES) Fund in support of food security and poverty reduction could be the main financing tool. The RARES Fund could be supplied by financial resources coming mainly from NARES Funds, grants and loans from International Donors, and REOs.5

53. The total outlay of investment during the period 2002-2015 for the four pillars of CAADP has been estimated at US$ 251 billion of which US$ 5 billion for Agricultural research, technology dissemination and adoption.6 This latter amount subdivides into US$ 1 billion for the immediate period 2002-2005, another US$ 1 billion for the period 2006-2010, and US$ 3 for the period 2010-2015. Out of the US$ 5 billion devoted to technology development, contributions expected from African countries have been estimated at US$ 2 billion for the period 2002-2015

ii. Governance and policy implications

54. In order to have the NARES and RARES funds established, appropriate policies need to be designed and institutional reforms undertaken at the national level, within a coordinated effort at the regional level. The leading REOs could be the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) for the Central Region, the Inter Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) for the Eastern Region, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) for the Southern Region and, and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) for the Western Region.

VI. The Way Forward for NEPAD ARES SP

55. The holding of Regional Conference on the NEPAD ARES SP in each region is proposed. This conference could have one main objective of elaborating the first Regional Platform of Action in Partnership for the development of ARES for food security and poverty reduction. Participants could include: Representatives of NARES, main associations and organizations of agricultural producers, processors and traders, the private sector, and SRO concerned. International Donors and international stakeholders should attend as observers.

56. The agenda of the Regional Conference could have four main items for discussion:

  1. Main issues pertinent to an updated policy environment at national levels that could be conducive to the improvement of ARES for food security and poverty reduction;
  2. Issues relating to the sustainable financing of ARES for food security and poverty reduction at national and regional levels, and in particular the setting-up of NARES and RARES Funds;
  3. Guidelines for national and regional bankable projects; and
  4. Regional Platform of Action in Partnership, with a time-table of actions to be undertaken during the first Five-Year Term.

57. Each Regional Conference could be organized by the leading REO in close collaboration with the NEPAD Secretariat and in cooperation with the AfDB and FAO. The budget necessary for the drafting of the national and regional plans amount to: US$ 230,000 for the Central African Region, US$ 190,000 for the Eastern Region, US$ 260,000 for the Southern Region, and US$ 270 for the Western Region. The respective leading REOs, ECCAS, IGAD, SADC and ECOWAS would have the responsibility to raise funds to organize their Conference.

VII. Conclusions and Recommendations

58. Persistent low agricultural production and stagnating productivity have contributed to disappointing trends in food security and poverty aggravation over the past 40 years in SSA. The general agreement today is that agriculture must be the focus of attempts to curb these trends without damaging the natural resource base on which it depends for long-tem sustainability. Meanwhile, the environment in which ARES evolve has been experiencing tremendous changes at the scientific, institutional and financing levels, very much under external influences and internal ones including institutional and financing instability, lack of long-term commitment and of strong will from political leadership.

59. Despite the numerous constraints currently plaguing them down, ARES in SSA do have significant opportunities to overturn this situation. The most significant of these are: the important capital of human resources and technical capability that was developed throughout decades, the on-going scientific and communication revolution, and a renewed interest from International Donors. To take advantage of these opportunities, Africa must overcome the challenges of shifting its AR priority from research for productivity to developing “ecotechnologies”, promoting a large-scale impact of these technologies, achieving institutional and financing stability through a conducive policy environment, and guaranteeing a strong and sustained commitment from its political leadership. For extension, the steps to be taken should include promotion of pluralistic mechanism of extension services delivery, which should involve both public and private institutions including NGOs, definition of a broader role of extension covering rural development, preparation of participatory, client-oriented and gender-sensitive extension approaches, development of original and specific extension methodologies based on local agricultural, and socio-economic realities, and creative joint financing modes which will alleviate financial burden from public sector, application of ICT for supplementing but not replacing human extension by information technology tools, adjustment of extension strategies in light of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, and rural community-based initiatives with facilitation by extension workers.

60. Among the ongoing initiatives, the NEPAD ARES SP is the one that provides a framework of action specifically in support of ARES for food security and poverty reduction. A broadened partnership around a common platform of action is the motto of its strategy, which aims at increasing the know-how of producers, processors and traders, and accelerating the adoption of appropriate technologies to enhance their production and trade capacities. Its foundation is a consensus that needs to be reached and endorsed by African countries at the level of each REO, for a long-term commitment to support the development of sustainable ARES for food security and poverty alleviation. Its timeframe is a period of 15 years, fragmented over three segments of 5 years each. It is tentatively composed of three sub-programmes comprising each two or three themes to overhead specific projects that will be developed in each Region.

61. Following the Joint Meeting of NEPAD Steering Committee, the African Development Bank and FAO that took place in Nigeria, in 2002, during which the working document containing the first draft of this Programme was globally discussed, it is necessary to have the 23rd ARC create appropriate conditions to have it move to the next step. This step basically is relying on the organization of a Regional Conference on the NEPAD ARES SP in each region.

62. To effectively set the NEPAD Agricultural Research and Extension Systems Support Programme (NEPAD ARES SP) in motion, it is therefore recommended that the 23rd ARC pass a resolution supporting the NEPAD ARES SP and giving a leadership mandate to ECCAS, IGAD, SADC and ECOWAS for the organization of a Regional Conference on the NEPAD ARES SP, respectively in the Central African Region, Eastern Region, the Southern Region and the Western Region. This Regional Conference, which could take place within the six months following the 23rd ARC, could have one main objective: To discuss the first Platform of Action in Partnership for the improvement of ARES for food security and poverty reduction. The leading REOs identified above, in concert with the NEPAD Secretariat, should rally all the forces, including the other REOs and international partners, notably the African Development Bank and FAO, to gather necessary resources to that endeavour.

1 SACCAR was lately transformed into the Southern African Development Community/Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Department (SADC/FANR). Its memberships includes: Angola, Botswana, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
2 The membership of CORAF/WECARD includes: Benin, Bissau Guinea, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Côte-d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, the Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Togo.
3 The membership of ASARECA includes: Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Rwanda, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda.
4 Actually the FARA is a transformation of the erstwhile Special Program for African Agricultural Research (SPAAR) and the old FARA that was endorsed in 1997 by the SRO, farmers’ organizations, the private sector, donors and other stakeholders at the 17th SPAAR Plenary Session held in Bamako, Mali. The SPAAR was initially formed by a group of donors in 1985 and was hosted by the World Bank. It was enlarged in 1994 to include all NARS of Africa, SRO and other research development partners.
5 The main REOs are:

6 The rough figure is US$ 4,6 billion rounded up to US$ 5 billion.