The Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in Eastern and Central Africa (ASARECA) is a not-for-profit Inter-Governmental Organization created in 1994 and owned by the National Agricultural Research Institutes (NARIs) of 15 member States in Eastern and Central Africa (ECA). Its overarching mandate is to Transform Agriculture for Improved Livelihoods, Sustained Economic Growth, and Inclusive Development in ECA in alignment with SDGs (especially No. 1, 2, 5, 12, 13 & 17), Agenda 2063, and Malabo Targets.
ASARECA is mandated by Member States to strengthen, catalyze, facilitate and coordinate regional agricultural research for development (AR4D) through (i) supporting value addition of priority commodities; (ii) enabling smallholder farmers deal with climate change issues via climate smart agriculture; (iii) enhancing livelihoods among regional pastoral communities; (iv) supporting Member States in development of Agricultural Development Plan; (vi) coordinating ASARECA Regional Agricultural Market Information System (A-RAMIS).
ASARECA coordinates knowledge management, information sharing, operationalization of innovation platforms, use of disruptive technologies, management of big data, strategic foresight, trend analyses, policy analyses and formulation, engagement with RECs, and convening of Biennial Review sessions, thus enabling Member States to improve their relevance, effectiveness and efficiency. ASARECA enhances value for money of priority interventions through attainment of economies of scale and significant reduction on duplication and misalignment of efforts and resources. This is because it has one of the largest Think Tank of experts. It enables Member States to reduce on the cost incurred to develop technologies and to test varieties by sharing existing proven ones.
Major Benefits of Being an ASARECA Member State
Politically, ASARECA creates a platform for Ministers and Directors General from Member States to: (i) collectively formulate, execute, evaluate, and approve policies that apply to and benefit more than one Member State; (ii) lobby Development Partners to support Regional Priority Projects for generation of regional public goods; (iii) approve establishment and funding of Regional Centres of Excellence, Regional Centres of Leadership, or National Centres of Specialization; and (iv) become part of decision-making organ on issues of Agricultural Research for Development in Eastern and Central Africa.
Technically, ASARECA provides: (i) platform for technical research exchanges; (ii) medium of consolidating technical experts to engage in national, regional, and continental decision-making forums on AR4D in Africa; (iii) podium for sharing national priorities and lessons learned that enable Member States identify quick solutions to their similar challenges; and (iv) opportunity for scientists to lead or co-lead a team of experts from other Member States, including being Chair of ASARECA Community of Practice.
Socioeconomically, ASARECA facilitates Member States to: (i) transfer and disseminate research technologies, innovations, products, services, and goods, thus saving on cost, time, and other resources; (ii) implement regional projects that tackle joint regional challenges and cross-border issues; and (iii) have a platform for peer learning, exchange, mentorship, and exhibitions.
ASARECA recognizes diverse issues and challenges affecting AR4D in the region, among them being: (i) imbalance in Member States with respect to AR4D capacities; (ii) complexities in adopting smart agriculture and smart farms; (iii) limited supply of new, superior home-grown technologies and innovations; (iv) incoherence in technology and innovation transfer and after-transfer management; (v) limited commercialization of proven agricultural food technologies and innovations; (vi) limited agro-healing businesses and technology generation and scaling; (vii) uncoordinated regional development and generation of public goods; (viii) uncoordinated drive to meet continental and global agenda; (ix) limited economies of scale in AR4D and technology generation; and (x) limited engagement with RECs for coordinated and enhanced policy environment.
ASARECA pledges to: (i) complement ongoing efforts that generate impact at scale; (ii) remain committed to CAADP goals, Malabo Declaration, AU Agenda 2063, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, Paris Agreement on Climate Change, and specific climate resilience and low-carbon development plans and biodiversity strategies of AU Member States; (iii) add value and not duplicate or displace beneficial existing initiatives; (iv) promote smart agriculture on smart farms using proven technologies and innovations; (v) replicate catalytic and upstream initiatives that attract more funds; (vi) enhance knowledge building by operating data collection, dissemination of best practices, and brain gain; (vii) heighten regional integration via trade promotion, joint implementation, and private sector development; (viii) focus on regional initiatives that enhance food security and nutrition in ECA; (ix) facilitate private sector network for enhanced trade and commercialization of technologies; (x) coordinate efforts to eradicate hunger through sustainable Regional AR4D; (xi) ensure gender equity; (xii) enhance ICT-based regional AR4D environment; (xiii) coordinate actions that combat threats of climate change; (xiv) catalyze natural resources management for future generations; and (xv) facilitate policy dialogues with high-level policy makers for enhanced trade and exchange of germplasm.
ASARECA’s Operational Platforms
ASARECA is uniquely placed to coordinate regional AR4D by operating on critical platforms: (i) ASARECA Agriculture Ministerial Conference (AAMC); (ii) Committee of Permanent Secretaries of the Ministry of Agriculture; (iii) ASARECA Committee of the Directors General of NARIs; (iv) ASARECA Policy Makers Network (PMN); (v) ASARECA Private Sector Network (A-PSN); (vi) ASARECA Climate Smart Agriculture Alliance (A-CSAA); (vii) ASARECA Knowledge and Information Hub (KI-Hub); (viii) Agricultural Digital Transformation for Development (AgDT4D) Hub to bridge the digital divide for Society 5.0; and (ix) Regional Priority Projects (RPPs) that enhances productivity, resilience, empowerment, competitiveness, and sustainable incubation for industrialization.
ASARECA’s Targets by 2030
By 2030, ASARECA’s targets at least: (i) 3 million farmers to be out of severe climate risks, including 1.5 million from pastoral communities; (ii) 10 million farmers adopting anti-food loss and waste technologies and innovations; (iii) 10,000 hectares of degraded lands reclaimed; (iv) 5 million farmers diversifying production of priority commodities; (v) 5% increase in management of land, soil, water, and biodiversity; (vi) 25% of farmers accessing healthy seeds and planting materials; (vii) 3% increase in youth employment in agribusinesses; (viii) 10 million children and mothers accessing sufficient, safe, and nutritious foods; (ix) 5,000 smallholder farmers trained in food and agriculture nutrition; (x) 300 priority technologies generated; (xi) 500 priority and demand-driven technologies disseminated; (xii) 30 policies analyzed; (xiii) 10 high-level policy dialogues held; (xiv) 10 policies approved; (xv) 10 policies implemented; (xvi) 5% increase in trade volumes of priority commodities; and (xvii) 10,000 smallholder farmers (50% women and youth) accessing markets.