After three intense days of discussion that covered four complex themes, participants in the ASTI and FARA-led conference, Agricultural R&D—Investing in Africa’s Future: Analyzing Trends, Challenges, and Opportunities, did not solve the myriad challenges laid out on the conference table. But the important event that took place in Accra, Ghana December 5-7 did succeed in its goal of devising a much-needed vision for agricultural research in sub-Saharan Africa in the next decade.
Since the 1980s, the international community—researchers, donors, and policymakers—have put the issue of agricultural research and development (R&D) in Africa on the backburner due to modest successes in the continent’s agricultural productivity. But in the wake of recent food price crises, unpredictable “rollercoaster” funding, and burgeoning population rates, the topic is once again emerging as an urgent concern.
ASTI and FARA teamed up to take advantage of this increased interest in agricultural R&D in Africa to relaunch a serious discussion about how to overcome the challenges facing the continent—from poor regional integration to a lack of PhD-trained researchers. (For an overview of and links to the conference presentation, see the conference website.) The ASTI-FARA Conference brought over 70 leading figures from more than a dozen countries to tackle this major challenge. (For a complete list of participants, see the conference program.)
The “timely” event, as Hans Binswanger-Mkhize called it, marked ASTI’s new role as an analytical think tank—rather than just an ad hoc data collection service, as it has been in the past. ASTI will select some of the 21 papers and 11 case studies presented at the conference to create a major analytical book.
You can read more about the conference on the conference website. You can also view photos from the event on ASTI’s flickr stream and video testimonals from some participants on ASTI’s YouTube channel.