Apply Science, Impact Livelihoods

“Apply Science, Impact Livelihoods” was the theme of this year’s 7th Africa Agriculture Science Week (AASW) which was held in Kigali, Rwanda from the 13-16 June. The event, hosted by the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) brought together over 600 people to discuss issues concerning agricultural science, technology and innovation in Africa and globally.

The AASW and the FARA General Assembly which was held at the same time are the principal forums for stakeholders to come together to discuss issues relating to agricultural science, technology and innovation in Africa. Members of the Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), including the International Potato Center (CIP), joined forces with researchers, policy makers and farmer representatives among others to find and share solutions to some of the most pressing challenges the continent faces. The event was an opportunity to share achievements, opportunities and challenges in agriculture and to harness the power of science to tackle common goals.

The AASW event program was organized around 5 key sub-themes: Institutional systems and policies for making science work for African agriculture; Sustainable productivity growth, value chains and profitable agribusinesses; Human capital development and the Youth; Sustainable financing of Science, Technology and Innovation for African agriculture and Megatrends in African Agriculture

FARA is the apex continental organization responsible for coordinating and advocating for agricultural research for development (AR4D) as well as serving as the technical arm of the Africa Union Commission on agricultural issues. FARA also serves as the entry point for agricultural research initiatives which are designed to have a continental reach or a sub-continental reach spanning more than one sub-region. Headquartered in Accra, Ghana, FARA has been in existence for 12 years. Over this period, FARA has provided a continental forum for stakeholders in AR4D to shape the vision and agenda for this sub-sector, and to mobilize themselves to respond to key continent-wide development frameworks, notably the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program (CAADP). FARA also plays a key role in galvanizing the agricultural research for development sector, and brings a strong African voice to global forums such as the G-8 and the Global Forum on Agricultural Research (GFAR). FARA’s Director General, Yemi Akinbamijo, is the co-Leader of the Sweetpotato for Profit and Health Initiative and FARA scientist Nelson Ojijo has a regional responsibility for promoting biofortified crops.

CGIAR participation at the event was widespread and a summary CGIAR coverage and outputs from the event are compiled here:

At a regional level, CIP was represented by Dr Adiel Mbabu, Regional Director for sub Saharan Africa who contributed to the global conversation on food security and research for development. He was joined by a number of CIP researchers who presented on the groundbreaking work that CIP is undertaking with orange fleshed sweetpotato, potato and other root and tuber crops.

Dr Jan Low, the co-leader of the Sweetpotato for Profit and Health Initiative and the recent recipient of the World Food Prize along with her CIP colleagues Dr Robert Mwanga and Dr Maria Andrade, presented exciting findings from the research project she led. Titled: “MAMA SASHA Model”: Strengthening Agriculture-Nutrition Interventions through Explicit Linkages to the Health System, Dr Lows presentation demonstrated the success of a unique agriculture-nutrition initiative and was presented as part of the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) led nutrition focused side event.

Dr Tawanda Muzhingi also participated in this nutrition side event and presented on his groundbreaking work in the arena of food processing and nutritional analysis and the development of orange fleshed sweetpotato puree. His presentation titled: Orange-fleshed Sweet Potato Puree: A Potential Breakthrough Product for the Baking Industry in sub-Saharan Africa explored the capacity for private sector investment in agriculture – nutrition interventions in sub Saharan Africa.

Dr Marc Ghislain participated in the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF) side event on the topic of taking genetically modified (GM) products to market in sub Saharan Africa. This side event led the way in highlighting the potential role that GM crops can play in improving food security and development of resilient crops in Africa.

CIP was also one of the lead centers for the ‘one CGIAR’ presence at the regional event which included participation in the CGIAR booth at the AASW exhibition and conducting joint media and social media outreach.

Christine Bukania, Communications and Knowledge Management Officer with the Sweetpotato for Profit & Health Initiative (SPHI) hosted a booth to celebrate the achievements of sweetpotato in sub Saharan Africa. Joyce Maru, Capacity Development & Communications Specialist from the newly launched, CIP-led Building Nutritious Food Baskets (BNFB) project partnered with FARA to host a joint exhibition booth. The BNFB project demonstrated their collaborative efforts with FARA on advocacy and promotion of biofortification as an impact pathway to address micronutrient malnutrition in the region. Dr Kirimi Sindi and Aime Ndayisenga from CIP Rwanda participated in the on site social media training led by GFAR and took the lead on CIP exhibition participation and media coverage throughout the week.

Dr Adiel Mbabu, Regional Director for the International Potato Center in sub-Saharan Africa discussed the future of agriculture: technologies, policies and institutions in Africa with the regional media.

Watch the full interview here

Dr Jan Low was interviewed by CNBC and discussed how orange fleshed sweetpotato can help feed Africa now and in the future. Watch the full interview via this link:

GFAR trained and led a team of social media reporters who wrote blogs, produced vlogs and covered AASW across social media for the week. One social reporter wrote a blog about CIPs work with orange fleshed sweetpotato puree to highlight how CGIAR centers are using science and technology to improve agricultural processes and deliver impact to end users.  Read the blog

CGIAR representatives attending the event were interviewed at the CGIAR booth during the course of the week to highlight how the CGIAR centers are working to ‘Apply Science, Impact Livelihoods’ – the theme of this years event.

For more photos of the event / Interviews can be watched

The theme of this years 7th African Agriculture Science Week was “Apply Science, Impact Livelihoods”