With the objective of integrating the work of various CGIAR institutions across a country, national-level site integration meets were held in Mali and Malawi. The discussions centered around how the CGIAR centers and the CGIAR Research Programs (CRPs) can better support country level agricultural research for development agendas and priorities; need for integration and mechanisms for resource mobilization.
Participants at the 2-day consultations at Mali and Malawi represented the government, NGOs, donors, private sector, farmer groups and CGIAR centers.
National Consultation in Mali
The objectives of the two-day consultation were:
- To understand priority needs of the national clients
- To understand how efforts of CGIAR can complement those of other partners and national programs
- To develop a national integration plan for Mali
- To develop a plan for tracking progress and assessing impact of integrated implementation
- To develop resourcing modalities for implementing the integrated plan
- To develop governance structure, communications plans and coordination mechanisms.
The gaps and opportunities for integrated implementation of agricultural research for development in Mali were identified and discussed. The need to define common monitoring and evaluation systems were highlighted.
Working groups were formed to reflect on: (i) key features of integration, (ii) principles for site selection and integrating actions, and (iii) effective collaboration and cooperation. The discussions emphasized the operational aspects of integration. Resource mobilization emerged as a major issue and participants agreed that innovative strategies are required both at the CGIAR and national systems to achieve this.
“In any case, resource mobilization should be considered at two levels: one that supports strategic research and the other to target applied research with the aim to achieve immediate solutions and impacts. The private sector is likely to support this for immediate impact and change in the livelihoods of farmers. Still there is a need to sustain strategic research with funding from traditional funding sources,” said Dr Joseph Sedgo, Country Head, Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), Mali.
As the CGIAR centers and partners work toward integration, it is necessary that monitoring and impact evaluation takes place smoothly and in a collaborative manner without creating additional workload. To enable participants appreciate the challenges of blending different monitoring and evaluation approaches and methodologies by different centers and partners a presentation was made by Dr Hippolyte Affognon, Senior Project Manager, ICRISAT.
“Major challenges in integration as we’ve experienced with some projects will be to harmonize protocols; organize joint visits and learning events as each partner has its own agenda. We can learn from previous projects that attempted this approach,” shared Dr Jean Baptiste Tignegre, Vegetable Breeder, World Vegetable Center (AVRDC).
The communications opportunities in integration of CGIAR sites to create mutual understanding, strengthen relationships among site stakeholders and thus avoid duplication were shared by Ms Agathe Diama, Regional Information Officer, ICRISAT-Mali. Strategies would include joint visits, events, studies, survey, supporting ‘peer exchange and learning’ visits, as well as Innovation Platforms.
During the closing event Dr Ramadjita Tabo, Regional Director for West and Central Africa, ICRISAT, shared with the participants the next steps and said a summary report of this meet will be submitted to the CGIAR Consortium Office.
The consultation was held on 1-2 March at ICRISAT-Mali and was attended by about 70 participants from various sectors.
National Consultation in Malawi
In Malawi, the idea of site integration received the backing of the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development (MoAIWD) and Mr Bright Kumwembe, Chief Director, MoAIWD, appreciated CGIAR for the idea, as it would help reduce duplication and wastage of resources particularly where several organizations were conducting similar activities in isolation. He expressed optimism that concrete interventions would see the CGIAR Centers and their partners focus in a collective manner and contribute to the national priorities.
The Ministry of Economic Planning and Development, outlined the Malawi Growth and Development Strategy (MGDS), which are the country’s eight key priorities and of which agriculture and food security is the top priority.
Although there were some examples of CGIAR centers working together, major challenges arose due to different project timelines and divergent interests or targets of donors.
Presentations by the various CGIAR centers brought forth the overlapping areas and the need for greater collaboration and alignment.
The problems affecting Malawi’s agricultural priorities were also discussed, which included climate change, seed systems, land holdings, appropriate technologies to achieve sustainable production and productivity, women and youth in agriculture, excessive reliance on rainfed agriculture and low levels of agricultural mechanization.
The consultation held on 18-19 February, had about 80 participants from diverse sectors, including smallholder farmers. The Farmers Union of Malawi outlined their expectations of stronger collaboration with CGIAR Centers and other partners for the benefit of smallholder farmers.
More on Mali http://exploreit.icrisat.org/page/mali/700
More on Malawi http://exploreit.icrisat.org/page/malawi/699