Our Work

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Context and background to ASARECA work

Smallholder farmers in Eastern and Central Africa face similar challenges. Many use poor quality inputs such as seeds and farm implements. Their farms are often under the threat of attack by menacing pests, diseases and weeds. This situation is aggravated by variable weather and declining natural resource base. As a result, farmers get poor yields from their crops and animals. In addition, lack of access to input and output markets, coupled with an environment of limiting trade policies, make farming a challenging business. These factors contribute to high levels of poverty among the farming communities in the sub-region. Owing to low returns from agricultural enterprises, the youth have abandoned farming in search of money-making ventures in urban areas leaving farming to the elderly, women and children. Although all these can be tackled at national level, the national systems have inadequate capacities to manage these challenges comprehensively. ASARECA is addressing these challenges in a regionally coordinated manner by working with critical partners that include farmers; national, regional and international research institutions, extension and training organizations; public and private sector actors, NGOs, Regional Economic Communities and development agencies.

Our key achievements over the last five years

Annual Corporate Reports 2013 - Celebrating Impacts.
Annual Corporate report 2014 - Going Climate Smart.

Over the last five years alone, projects supported by ASARECA have developed and promoted innovations and management practices such as improved varieties and seeds, water management, integrated soil fertility, agronomic packages, storage, value addition and marketing; and improved animal husbandry practices and fisheries management. Besides, ASARECA facilitated the development and harmonization of regional policies and standards that impact on agriculture and trade. The following section summarizes key achievements from ASARECA-facilitated interventions.

An independent evaluation report sanctioned to assess the impact of our work shows that:

  • Over 250 different agricultural technologies, innovations and management practices (TIMPs) were either generated or improved to suit smallholder farmers’ demands. These TIMPs encompassed disease management; plant and livestock genetics and breeding; seed and germplasm multiplication; post-harvest handling and processing; integrated soil fertility and water management; natural resources management; and range and pasture management methods.
  • Besides development, ASARECA promoted the uptake and adoption of over 300 TIMPs by targeted stakeholders, leading to significant tangible benefits. For example, through the adoption of labour-saving equipment such as oxplanters, ox-weeders, ox-rippers and threshers, farmers reported reductions in drudgery by up to 75% per acre.
  • The projects directly benefited a total of 422,176 rural households, thus enhancing food and nutrition security as well as enhanced revenue generation. Out of these households, over 2.5 million individuals were directly reached through assorted initiatives.
  • The scale of adoption led to an increase in net crop production value of US$ 73.4 million in the period 2008 to 2013. This translates to annual net returns of at least US$ 100 per household.
  • Almost 80% of the beneficiaries are satisfied with the services, products, and benefits accruing from TIMPs promoted by ASARECA projects. Benefits to farmers include: increased food production and security, enhanced income, and pests and disease management.
  • Food security has improved for beneficiary households over the programme period from 74% to 81% compared to an increase from 78% to 79% for non-beneficiaries – an indication of the net impact of ASARECA interventions.
  • Over 4,600 ha of land were dedicated to improved TIMPs, especially for the production and multiplication of quality pre-basic, basic and certified seeds of selected crops. As a result of this, over 800 metric tons of quality seed were produced and either sold or distributed to farmers for further multiplication.
  • As part of environmental and natural resources management, over 5,000 ha of highly degraded lands and watersheds have been reclaimed, thereby providing targeted households with steady water supply for domestic and farm use.
  • Given the roles played by policies in creating enabling environment for engagement in agricultural related interventions, ASARECA facilitated the analysis of 100 policies, laws, regulations and procedures, leading to presentation of 46 of these for legislation and dialogue. Out of these dialogues, various legislative bodies, including the East African Community and COMESA parliaments, approved 17 policies.
  • As part of ensuring effective implementation of projects, ASARECA provided over 470 assorted infrastructure to targeted partner institutions. These included: green houses, refurbishment of laboratories, procurement of laboratory equipment, computers, reagents, and vehicles, among others.
  • Capacity building of targeted stakeholders was supported, leading to up to 81,751 persons (45,620 male, 36,131 female) directly benefiting from both short- and long-term training in various strategic intervention areas ranked highly as priority capacity gaps.

Celebrating impacts - Annual Report 2013
Going Climate smart - Annual Report 2014​
ASARECA at a glance
ASARECA in Pictures
ASARECA Success Stories
The Independent Evaluation Report

From programmes to climate smart themes

The achievements highlighted above were a result of fruitful partnerships and hard word from 2008 to 2013. The initiatives were implemented in projects clustered under programmes. However, starting 2014, ASARECA adopted the thematic approach to integrate crosscutting disciplines to resolve challenges facing agriculture. The thematic approach is a mechanism for harnessing opportunities that could contribute to stimulating agricultural transformation.  All ASARECA themes and projects are tailored to promote the three pillars of Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) namely: ensuring sustainable increase in agricultural productivity for better incomes and food security, adapting and building resilience to climate change, and reducing and removing green house gas emissions. The themes are:

Theme 1: Natural Resource Management and Ecosystem Services

This theme addresses the following key aspects:

  • Improving agricultural water productivity.
  • Soil health improvement.
  • Adoption of climate-smart forestry, agro-forestry and biodiversity.
  • Enhancing resilience of dry land agricultural systems.
  • Gender-responsive climate-smart policies and governance for sustainable natural resource management.
  • Managing ecosystems for quality, equitable and sustainable services. 

Theme 2: Markets, Market Linkages and Trade

This theme addresses issues around:

  • Policies for enabling domestic and regional trade.
  • Developing and promoting institutions for enhanced market access.
  • Upgrading value chains
  • Facilitating business incubation of generated innovations.

Theme 3: Sustainable Agriculture, Food Security and Nutrition

This theme is concerned with:

  • Development and promotion of breeds, varieties and management practices for adoption to climate change and variability.
  • Management of diseases and pests of strategic crops, livestock and fisheries and intensification of crop, livestock and fisheries systems.
  • Promotion of enabling gender-responsive policies for sustainable agriculture, food and nutrition.
  • Post-harvest handling and processing of crop and livestock resources.
  • Conservation and utilization of plant, animal and fish genetic resources for food and nutrition security. 

Theme 4: Knowledge and Information Hub

As a sub-regional organisation, ASARECA recognises the need to leverage her capacity to serve as a repository for knowledge and information and a think tank on agriculture. To enhance her capacity in this regard, ASARECA established a Knowledge and Information Hub (KI-Hub) in the ECA sub-region. The KI-Hub is a focal point for generating and exchanging knowledge, developing new ideas and networking. Among others, the hub mainstreams new scientific concepts in TIMPs and policies in the region. It is a sub-regional focal point for data and information generated by ASARECA and other Agricultural Research for Development organisations both in ECA and beyond. This is meant to facilitate learning and increase the capabilities of ASARECA stakeholders.

Cross cutting units:

Monitoring and evaluation and Learning Unit

ASARECA has institutionalised a functional M&E system. A focus of M&E is identifying and building on the lessons learned from the process. To ensure efficient M&E systems and reliable results, ASARECA has standardised M&E processes through closer collaboration the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) an the sub-regional organisations such as Centre for Coordination of Agricultural Research and Development for Southern Africa (CCARDESA) and Conseil Ouest et Centre Africain pour la Recherche et le Développement Agricoles / West and Central African Council for Agricultural Research and Development (CORAF/WECARD) to ensure consistency with the CAADP and FAAP principles and indicators.

Gender mainstreaming

ASARECA recognises that gender mainstreaming enhances the understanding of socio-economic issues, putting a human face on activities. Gender is no longer viewed as a women’s issue or an issue for development partners, but as something vital to understanding the needs of women and men as the people for whom ASARECA exists. This includes the needs of youth and disadvantaged groups. 

Partnerships and coordination

The Partnerships and Capacity Development unit (PCD) was created to manage the strategic partnerships that enhance the potential of ASARECA and partners to conduct agricultural research. The unit also supports the National Agricultural Research Systems (NARS) to pursue agricultural research in line with the Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development Programme (CAADP).  Besides, the unit is tasked to develop the capacity of the ASARECA secretariat and partners to carry out agricultural research efficiently to make impact in the livelihoods of the people in Eastern and Central Africa (ECA). ASARECA is sub-regionally owned by the NARES of member states. This provides the opportunity to create enabling sub-regional platforms addressing issues of a sub-regional nature. 

Environmental and Social Safeguards (ESS)

In order to ensure sustainability of its projects, ASARECA established Environmental and Social Safeguards (ESS) function. This is to ensure that ASARECA work benefits current generations while taking into consideration the needs of the future generations. This unit provides operational support to ASARECA projects to enable them fulfill the compliance requirements of ASARECA's environmental guidelines and effectively integrate environmental and social concerns into project activities.  The ESS has been institutionalized, not only within the ASARECA Secretariat, but also among the Partners (e.g. NARIs). For effective performance of its mandate, the ESS Unit operates under five distinct areas: 

Policy Development: Establishment of appropriate systems and structures for implementation of ESS. This area includes policy development, ESS best practices, criteria for monitoring and evaluation.

  • Capacity Building: Building the capacity of ASARECA and partners, especially through targeted training in environmental and social safeguards to augment the ability of ASARECA and partners to establish safeguards and monitor compliance. 
  • Assessments: Environmental and Social Assessments are carried out to ensure that approved sub-projects are implemented in a sustainable manner. Projects that fall under Category B are required to develop Environment Management Plans (EMPs). Those that deal with pesticides are required to develop and implement an Integrated Pest Management Plans (IPMPs).
  • Networking: In order to effectively implement the ESMF, ASARECA is in the process of developing partnerships / linkages with key environmental agencies and organisations in partner states. Environment Focal Points for each of the ASARECA countries have been identified to assist in technical backstopping, monitoring and auditing all activities implemented by ASARECA. These roles are contained within the EFP Terms of Reference.
  • Monitoring and Compliance: ASARECA carries out monitoring of implementation of the mitigation measures identified in its environmental management plans. Our primary focus here is to ensure that the regulatory and compliance risks in relation to meeting the requirements of the ESMF are managed effectively across the organisation. This function is targeted at providing assurance that ASARECA, together with partners, is complying with safeguards requirements, including following the overarching principles for environmental management. With mitigation measures implemented competently and efficiently, identified issues are clearly reported and taken up with the Environmental and Safeguards Unit to ensure appropriate corrective action is taken. Compliance scoring is done using a set of predetermined criteria.

    Key Documents (click on the links below to download the documents):

    Environmental and Social Screening Form
    The ESS Compliance Scoring Criteria
    ToR for ASARECA Environment Focal Points
    Environmental and Social Screening Form-2014

NEW projects

Under the four themes, ASARECA is currently implementing four projects. They are:

  • Sustainable management of agricultural water productivity for improved food and nutrition security in ECA. This is underway in Kenya, Madagascar, Ethiopia,Uganda, Burundi and Sudan.
  • Integrated management of maize lethal necrosis disease in Eastern Africa. This is being implemented in Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda in conjunction with and the East Africa Seed Company. (Information on this on old site is up to date. Upload and link all document, articles etc on old website associated with this project)
  • Enhancing wheat productivity and value chains in Rwanda and Burundi.
  • Capacity development for sustainable plant genetic resources (PGRS) utilization and conservation in Eastern Africa. This is in Burundi, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Rwanda, Sudan and Uganda. It is expected to be extended to cover South Sudan, Somalia, and Djibouti.

The East African Agricultural Productivity Programme (EAAPP)

The East African Agricultural Productivity Programme (EAAPP) was conceived as a Regional Agricultural Research for Development initiative. The EAAPP Programme Development Objective is to: enhance regional specialisation in agricultural research; enhance collaboration in agriculture training, and technology dissemination; and facilitate increased transfer of agricultural technology, information and knowledge across national boundaries. EAAPP is a ten-year programme with two phases. Phase I, approved in 2009, focused on capacity building with the establishment of the Regional Centres of Excellence (RCoEs) through construction/improvement of infrastructure and human resource development; technology generation and dissemination; and improving seeds and breeds availability.

EAAPP is a regional partnership of the governments Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda with ASARECA and the World Bank.

Under EAAPP, the four countries undertook to establish Regional Centres of Excellence (RCoEs) for agricultural research by investing in commodities identified by ASARECA as being of sub-regional importance to mitigate food insecurity. A Regional Center of Excellence is a leading agricultural technology programme with established research, dissemination and training capacity that distinguishes it as a leader in the region and beyond.

Kenya is the centre of excellence for dairy, Uganda for cassava, Ethiopia wheat and Tanzania for rice. The countries have pledged to manage investment in these commodities to benefit the sub-region.

By playing a convening role for EAAPP, ASARECA seeks to enhance collaboration of the National Agricultural Research Systems (NARS) to contribute to the AU/NEPAD’s CAADP Pillar I, which focuses on revitalizing, reforming and expanding Africa’s agricultural research, technology dissemination and adoption.

ASARECA uses its expertise in coordinating regional research for development, extension, training and education to facilitate spillovers of technologies and innovations that will be generated through EAAPP. Specifically, ASARECA plays the following roles in EAAPP:

Convening role

ASARECA is facilitates strategic meetings for the four countries to develop operational frameworks for RCoEs; define the responsibilities of each RCoE to the sub-regional stakeholders; define the mode of operation of the RCoEs individually and in relation to others; define outputs and the manner in which they will be shared amongst participating countries and other countries in the sub-region, and facilitates the development of regional strategies for the four commodities.

Networking and information sharing

ASARECA facilitates information sharing platforms to enable sharing of benefits and spillover of technologies and innovations developed by individual RCoEs to other participating countries.

Technical backstopping

ASARECA has over the years developed in-house expertise for out-scaling agricultural technologies, innovations and best practices; and puts this expertise at the disposal of the RCoEs.

Monitoring and evaluation

Regional M&E activities focus on tracking the extent to which EAAPP is making spillovers happen across the sub-region.

Policy harmonisation

ASARECA facilitates rationalization and harmonization of policies, procedures and regulations aimed at creating common standards in the participating countries. This is attained by establishing the status of policies and procedures affecting the four commodities; analysing and developing policy options and advocating for and supporting implementation of the options.

Capacity building

ASARECA organizes and facilitates regional training workshops for RCoE managers to equip them with the tools and skills to transform the RCoEs into more effective research institutions

Training role

ASARECA collaborates with institutions and organizations that have expertise for training agricultural extension workers in undertaking the training.

Management and coordination

ASARECA has pledged to ensure the highest level of professionalism in managing EAAPP affairs and resources. EAAPP is like a new baby in the house. ASARECA is paying deserving attention to this new-born. We will do all it takes in collaboration with the RCoEs to see the baby grow and live a complete lifespan.

Achievements of EAAPP Phase 1:

An external evaluation of EAAPP in early 2015 Titled: End Of Phase 1 Evaluation of the East African Agricultural Productivity Programme – EAAPP. Final Report,  noted the following achievements:

  • Seventy-five Masters students and 36 PhD candidates have been fully funded under the project. Similar numbers of men and women registered for Masters programmes in Tanzania and Uganda but only 2 in Ethiopia. There were only 7 female PhD students out of 36 across the four countries. A further 50 students have received partial funding from the project.
  • 138 new technologies have been developed by the regional centres of excellence.  Many are new varieties of cassava, rice, wheat and forage crops. Twenty-three new technologies have been disseminated across national boundaries including: two Tanzanian rice varieties released in Kenya and Uganda, and undergoing National Performance Trials (NPT) in Ethiopia; four clones of Napier grass from Kenya recommended for dissemination in Uganda; botanical seed of cassava with enhanced carotene sent to Ethiopia, Tanzania and Kenya; assisted reproductive technologies from Kenya sent to the other countries.
  • EAAPP M&E surveys show an increase in adoption of new varieties, breeds, and other selected management practices by farmers from 35 percent to 53 percent (2010-2014) in project areas.
  • EAAPP M&E estimates of land planted with improved cultivars are 2,755 ha in 2010, increasing to 12,807 ha in 2014. This is attributed to the substantial increase in production of planting material and farmer awareness in EAAPP project areas. Large increases are reported in Ethiopia, Kenya (cassava, rice, wheat) and Uganda (cassava).
  • ASARECA has facilitated harmonized NPT protocols for cassava, rice, wheat and pasture seeds under the project. It has coordinated a draft EAAPP intellectual property (IP) rights policy. On livestock, progress has been made in: drafting animal breeding policy and breeding rules in Kenya, now being used as a guide for other EAAPP countries; developing regional guidelines on procedures for movement and trade in heifers and germplasm; drafting a National Animal Breeding Policy in Ethiopia; development of a protocol for import and export of compounded dairy feeds and forages in Tanzania; developing regional guidelines for import and export documentation and procedures for dairy.
  • The harmonised Results Framework developed by ASARECA/EAAPP is a very useful tool which focuses on process and output indicators, and tracks progress at national and regional levels. Overall the M&E systems are very well designed and managed, providing timely results for project management