Eritrea Agriculture Minister, ASARECA Executive Director Discuss Regional PrioritiesGIANT
BY BEN MOSES ILAKUT
ASARECA Executive Director, Dr. Enock Warinda on September 21, 2023 held discussions with the Minister of Agriculture, the State of Eritrea Hon. Arefaine Berhe at Ministry of Agriculture offices in the Capital, Asmara.
The minister was flanked by Mr. Amanuel Negassi, the Special Advisor to the Minister, who is also the President of ASARECA General Assembly; and Dr. Tsegay Berhe, the Director General of the National Agricultural Research Institute (NARI), Eritrea.
The talks centred around mechanisms for ensuring financial sustainability of ASARECA. Specifically, they discussed mechanisms of enhancing the role of the 15-member ASARECA Council of Patron Ministers by creating an environment for enhanced partnerships with potential Development Partners in a bid to mobilise financial resources for the Association. Relatedly, they also discussed progress in ongoing efforts to recover arrears in membership contributions to the Association. This was a follow up of Resolutions of the Council of Patron Ministers during the ASARECA Agriculture Ministerial Conference in May 2023 in which all Member States were urged to clear their arrears between September 2023 and March 2024.
Hon. Berhe recommitted his pledge to support ASARECA by clearing all annual fees and reaching out to key Development Partners engaged in Agricultural Research for Development in the Continent.
They also discussed mooted inward-and outward looking regional projects based on the concept of Centres of Excellence and specialisation. Eritrea plans to invest resources and attract partnerships towards establishing a Centre of Excellence for Date Palm in Eastern and Central Africa. The costal country has requested ASARECA to coordinate partnerships that will lead to the realisation of this dream with scalable impacts. Similarly, the Eritrean Agriculture Ministry in collaboration with its Marine Resources Ministry have mooted a joint initiative aimed at large scale manufacture of organic fertiliser from seed weed. This is seen as an activity of interest to the costal ASARECA countries such as Somalia, Kenya, Madagascar, Cameroon, Republic of the Congo, and Democratic Republic of Congo.
The one-day meeting also deliberated on the role of the Agriculture Ministers and the National Agricultural Research Institutes in streamlining the initiatives by multiple bilateral partners, including the CGIAR in Member countries. Specifically, they reiterated the position earlier taken by the ASARECA Agriculture Ministers during their May 2023 conference in Entebbe, Uganda, to strengthen ASAREC’s role of coordinating all initiatives with multiple bilateral actors in the countries. This is meant to avoid publication, wastage of resources while maximising economies of scale.
During the talks, it was also agreed that besides the Ministers, the President and Vice-President of the ASARECA General Assembly should henceforth take active roles in promoting the interests of the Association. Some of the roles that will be undertaken by the President and his Vice include scheduled meetings with Development Partners; resource mobilisation; recruitment of new members; hosting and launching national events; accompanying the Ministers and the Executive Director on official duties as well as participate in negotiating agreements.
They also discussed establishing annual awards for exemplary scientists and value chain actors on the continent.