La Plataforma de la Agricultura Tropical (TAP)

Strengthening innovation capacities at the core of the 10th TAP Partner Assembly

The 10th annual TAP Partner Assembly was held from 21 to 23 November 2023 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Partners and key stakeholders joined together for three days of knowledge exchange and learning about the role of the Tropical Agriculture Platform (TAP) in addressing agrifood systems challenges in low and middle-income countries. This year’s theme focused on “Strengthening Capacities to Innovate toward Agrifood System Transformation”. New ways of promoting innovation to meet the needs of small farmers were also introduced to help boost the resilience of communities in the face of climate change.  

During the three days of Assembly, over 80 representatives of TAP partners, including from GFAR, YPARD, IICA, FARA, APAARI, RELASER, and from the country level as well, shared lessons and approaches that will aid in scaling innovations, practices and technologies at a national, regional, and global level. Concrete experiences were shared from DeSIRA projects and especially from the nine countries and regional organizations of the EU-funded TAP-AIS project, that is being implemented by FAO with the objective to strengthen capacities to innovate in agricultural innovation systems (AIS).TAP Secretariat representative, Selvaraju Ramasamyof the Office of Innovation at FAO, highlighted in the opening remarks that we must “innovate better and co-create knowledge that can address the main global challenges that we are facing now”.To achieve this, Hildegard Lingnau, Executive Secretary of GFAR, pointed out that we need to strengthen the capacity to innovate at country level and see “small-scale producers as the key actors and key innovators”.  

Each day of the Assembly welcomed technical sessions and group works that deep dived into issues including gender equality, women-led innovations, policy advocacy, increased investments, and youth inclusion, in relation to agricultural innovation. The event also involved a session dedicated to the TAPipedia knowledge hub and the upcoming release of its agro-innovation dashboard, that will allow users to navigate through key information on indicators related to agricultural innovation. The session also presented the TAP E-learning course on capacity development for AIS, developed in collaboration with the FAO e-learning academy and that will be launched in the next weeks. 

One observation underlined by Rida Shibli, Executive Secretary at AARINENA, is that we need to “work with people around us that can facilitate the use of information technology and smart agriculture to solve problems and reduce losses in our regions”. Insights from group work showed that an increase in action-oriented approaches and multi-stakeholder dialogue are key to improving the efficiency & effectiveness of capacity development programs in the agricultural innovation space. TAP Chair, Max Olupot from AFAAS, stressed that “innovation systems have to capitalize experiences so that we can learn from each other”.Linking research and innovation is a crucial way to identify and tackle these challenges at the core of the action of TAP. 

In accordance with the TAP Action Plan 2022-2025, that was endorsed in January 2023, TAP and its coalition of more than 50 Partners will continue the work focused on the tropics with the overall goal of strengthening the capacity of AIS for more sustainable and resilient agrifood systems. In the event’s closing remarks, Vincent Martin, Director of the Office of Innovation at FAO, reiterated the effectiveness of TAP as “a unique mechanism to convey experiences across the world on approaches and tools to make agricultural innovation more systemic, faster, and more responsive to the priority needs of each country within the broader framework of the SDGs”. The outcomes and achievements from the Assembly are expected to “fertilize” and strengthen mechanisms and policies that can transform and innovate in the agriculture sector for inclusive and sustainable growth.