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The Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in Eastern and Central Africa (ASARECA) is a sub-regional not-for-profit association. It was established in 1994 by ten member countries represented by their national agricultural research for development institutes. The 10 member countries are: Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Rwanda, Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda. During the 1st ASARECA General Assembly in December 2011, South Sudan joined the ASARECA family, making the number of members 11
Before South Sudan joined ASARECA, the 10 ASARECA countries covered an area of 8.5 million km2 with a total population of more than 280 million people, most of whom are rural dwellers pursuing agricultural livelihoods. Roughly one-third, 300 million hectares, of East and Central Africa's (ECA) total land area is devoted to agricultural use. Agriculture is therefore the most common occupation in ECA, and agriculture looms large in national economies throughout the region. Overall, agriculture accounts for 43% of the regional GDP.
Given that the bulk of the region's population resides in rural areas and depends on agriculture for income and sustenance, and given the low levels of productivity growth in the sector, hunger and malnutrition have deepened in ECA in recent years. The picture that emerges for ECA is, therefore, one of a region comprising countries progressively less able to meet the needs of their burgeoning populations. With agriculture looming so large in most national economies, sluggish growth in agricultural productivity has translated into sluggish overall growth and generally low per capita income levels.
High levels of agricultural importation-particularly of staples-appear to be only partially filling the consumption needs of a population lacking purchasing power, resulting in high levels of adult and child malnutrition and towering child mortality rates.
In such a situation, where the challenges faced by agriculture and agricultural research to change the situation and peoples livelihoods are immense, it is critical for national level efforts to also be complemented by sub- regional level collective action of countries in the sub-region.
The 10 member countries were motivated to establish ASARECA because they recognised
- The challenges and opportunities that must be addressed in order to improve agriculture in the sub-region
- The overriding need to promote their common welfare through collective action. That regional collaboration is indispensable for cost effective utilization of the available resources to produce technologies, knowledge and innovation systems that are sub-regional public goods that could be shared freely by all member countries
- That an intergovernmental association for agricultural research, extension and agricultural training and education in the sub-region, would complement the activities of the national, pan-African and international research institutions in delivering more responsive services to stakeholders in the sub-region.
Regional leader in agricultural research and development for improved livelihoods in Eastern and Central Africa
Enhanced sustainable productivity, value added and competitiveness of the sub- regional agricultural system
Enhanced utilization of agricultural research and development innovations in eastern and central Africa
Enhance regional collective action in agricultural research for development, extension and agricultural training and education to promote economic growth, fight poverty, eradicate hunger and enhance sustainable use of resources in Eastern and Central Africa
Central to ASARECA's vision and mission is the recognition of the value of regional collaboration among member countries to overcome poverty and hunger and foster the development aims of broad-based economic growth, poverty eradication and improved livelihood.
ASARECA sees improved delivery and impact of scientific knowledge, policy options and technologies as a powerful instrument to drive the sub-region towards meeting the Comprehensive African Agricultural Development Program (CAADP) which is the agricultural agenda of the African Union's, New Economic Partnership for African Development (AU/NEPAD).
Functions of ASARECA
A major objective of ASARECA is to develop policies and programs aimed at deepening co-operation in agricultural research and policy among its member countries for the mutual benefit of all the stakeholders in the agricultural sector. Stakeholders include farmer's associations; national and sub-regional associations that coordinate agricultural research, extension, training and education; associations of processors of agricultural products; associations of agricultural service providers; associations of agricultural businesses and related marketing agents; consumer associations; organised women groups and youth groups working in agriculture; non-governmental associations working in agricultural research and development; international agricultural research centres; universities and advanced research institutes ; investors and donors /development partners.
ASARECA’s core functions are, at the sub-regional level, to:
- Develop a shared vision and goals
- Coordinate and mobilise resources for collective action on agricultural research, training, extension and education
- Empower end-users to meaningful participate in developing priorities, agricultural research, training, extension and education
- Contribute to the development and transfer of appropriate knowledge, methodologies, information and technologies
- Strengthen capacity for agricultural research extension and agricultural training and education for development
- Facilitate sharing of research outputs and benefits among the NARS
- Facilitate the efficient operation of the NARS at the national level
- Enhance the reputation of the sub-regional in regional and international fora
- Work towards the conservation of natural resources and the adoption of improved methods of agricultural production
- Work towards the adoption of sub-regional policies with respect to agricultural commodity arrangements
ASARECA has seven programmes. These are: (1) Staple Crops, (2) High Value Non-Staple Crops, (3) Livestock and Fisheries, (4) Agro-Biodiversity and Biotechnology, (5) Natural Resource Management and Biodiversity (6) Policy Analysis and Advocacy, and (7) Knowledge Management and Upscaling.
These programmes are implemented through partnership and collaboration of the NARS in member countries, the CGIAR, universities and other and advanced research centres. While ASARECA mobilises operational finances for sub-regionally planned programme, the partner NARS contribute their infrastructure, personnel and some funding towards the sustainable implementation of the programmes.
ASARECA AND CAADP
The Comprehensive African Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) of the African Union, provides a vision and a policy framework for addressing the enormous challenges facing African agriculture.
The African Vision by AU/NEPAD is
“Regional agricultural production to grow at an annual rate of 6% by 2015
- Dynamic agricultural markets among nations and between regions
- Being a net exporter of agricultural products
- Having food available, affordable, and equitable distribution of wealth
- Being a strategic player in agricultural science and technology development
- Having a culture of sustainable use of natural resource base. ”
To achieve this vision, CAADP directs investment to four mutually reinforcing Pillars:
I. Extending the area under sustainable land management and reliable water control systems
II. Improving rural infrastructure and trade-related capacities for improved market access
III. Increasing food supply and reducing hunger
IV. Agricultural research, technology dissemination and adoption.
The Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA), in response to NEPAD’s request, developed the Framework for African Agricultural Productivity (FAAP). The purpose of FAAP is to guide stakeholders in African agricultural research and development to meet the objectives of CAADP pillar IV with regard to: (i) strengthening Africa’s capacity to build human and institutional capacity; (ii) empowering farmers, and (iii) strengthening agricultural support services.
FAAP is intended as a tool to provide sound guidance as to the overall direction in which agricultural productivity interventions might best be steered to increase agricultural growth and to complement the other three pillars of CAADP. The FAAP will be used in the context of the many interventions, which are expected to fall under the FAAP at national level, sub-regional level, and continental level.
In order to be “FAAP-compliant” at the
- National level, national programs should aspire to the following features:
- Identify specific technical, sociological and economic limitations to agricultural productivity at national level.
- Emphasise responsiveness to market conditions and economic justification as key factors for determining technology generation, dissemination and adoption investments – ensuring that productivity is not pursued as an end in itself, but as a tool for improving profits and incomes.
- Promote knowledge sharing and development of synergies and feedback mechanisms to ensure there is sufficient linkage between extension, research and education, and the private sector, and greater collaboration in the overall technology generation, dissemination and adoption systems.
- Participation by all stakeholders in priority setting, programme planning and implementation.
- Sub-Regional Level, sub-regional programs, ASARECA in this case, need to aspire to the following features (in addition to the features already listed for the national level:
- Identify specific technical, sociological and economic limitations to agricultural productivity at sub-regional level.
- Emphasise responsiveness to market conditions and economic justification as key factors for determining technology generation, dissemination and adoption investments-ensuring that productivity is not pursued as an end in itself, but as a tool for improving profits and incomes.
- Focus on activity areas for which the sub-region has a comparative advantage over national actions. Accordingly, and as dictated by subsidiarity, sub-regional programmes would not include activities more effectively supported at the national level or below.
- Employ a pluralistic model in regional programme implementation modalities to take advantage of the skills found within public and private institutions in the region, to retain flexibility, and to benefit from the accountability which comes from competition.
- Activities should be undertaken, to the extent possible, on a cost-sharing basis with national programs and/or end users so that countries and stakeholders might exercise ownership and over sub-regional programmes.
- Play an advocacy and support role to member countries to increase resource allocation for agricultural productivity operations, and for improving the performance of concerned institutions (including reforms where appropriate).
- Aiming for sustainability, the costs of sub-regional programs should be increasingly shared by the countries of the sub-region, and in some cases by agri-business or other stakeholders and partners.
- Continental level, FARA’s activities should display the following characteristics:
- Subsidiarity in locating decision making to encourage participation and ownership
- FARA’s intervention will add value to SRO programs.
- There are economies of scale that can be derived at the continental level.
- The programmes will be planned and implemented in innovation systems contexts that involve actors across the whole value chain through multi-disciplinary, multi-institutional and multi-stakeholder approaches, ensuring that research and support services are appropriately contextualised and will have outcomes with high levels of ownership.
- Equitable access and contribution to information generation, sharing and dissemination.
ASARECA is positioned to contribute towards achieving the AU/NEPAD vision by using strong partnerships at all levels. It serves as a forum for promoting regional agricultural research and strengthening relations between national agricultural research systems (NARS), in the sub-region, the Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), and advanced agricultural research centers. It has expanded its initiatives and leadership in linking agricultural research to the political dialogue possible in the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) and AU/NEPAD.
ASARECA working to deliver on the CAADP agenda
- The ASARECA strategic plan is aligned to the CAADP and its implementation framework the FAAP and its principles. The ASARECA operational plan has set forth good corporate governance and management structures, systems and directions for the implementation of the CAADP following the FAAP guidelines in the Eastern and Central Africa sub-region.
- ASARECA is working with the CAADP country teams set up by COMESA, to identify key areas of intervention to accelerate the country round table processes in the member countries
- Using the rich network of NARIs, ASARECA is working with COMESA and FARA to identify priority investment areas especially in research and to facilitate implementation
- ASARECA is also working with COMESA and FARA to ensure the development of sound compacts and investment documents for the country CAADP processes in the member countries
- ASARECA is mainly contributing directly to CAADP Pillar IV and supporting the other 3 Pillars through its seven programmes which enhance regional collective action in agricultural research for development in the member countries.
ASARECA five results areas
- Gender-Responsive Governance and Management strengthened
- Enhanced generation of demand driven agricultural technologies and innovations
- Enhanced adoption of policy options by decision makers to improve performance of the agricultural sector in the ECA sub-region
- Strengthened Capacity for Implementing Agricultural Research for Development in ECA sub-region
- Enhanced availability of information on agricultural technologies and innovations in ECA sub-region
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