Towards a sustained mechanism for integrating research efforts in Niger

Niger Site integration pics

Participants at the CGIAR site integration workshop. Photo: ICRISAT

Aiming to improve the efficiency of agricultural research, stakeholders came together recently to put in place a sustained mechanism for collaboration and cohesion among partners in Niger.

Participants at the recently held CGIAR site integration National Consultation Workshop, analyzed their past experiences and looked at future opportunities for integration of research programs in Niger.

The objectives of the national consultation were to:

  • Map the current and past interventions of CGIAR centers in Niger;
  • Understand the national priorities of Niger and how the integrated efforts from CGIAR centers may complement ongoing efforts of other partners;
  • Set the basis for development of a site integration plan to enable transparent interaction with local stakeholders;
  • Devise plans for monitoring progress and assessing impacts; and
  • Define the governance structure, plans for coordination and communication activities.
  • In his opening remarks, Dr Malick Ba, Country Representative, ICRISAT-Niger and Coordinator of Niger site integration, stressed, “It is most important to capitalize on the main elements needed to make site integration functional and efficient, which include understanding national priorities and what is planned, and mechanisms and partnerships with national structures and other stakeholders.”

Gaps and opportunities for integrated implementation of CGIAR Research Programs (CRPs) were discussed along with operational aspects. While recognizing that CGIAR centers and partners already collaborate on projects, participants looked at how site integration can be more effective and have greater impact.

In order to align with national agricultural priorities, both CGIAR centers and CRPs agreed on the importance and need to understand national strategies as elaborated in the 3N Initiative (Nigeriens Nourish Nigeriens), which is the national strategy for agricultural development and overall food and nutrition security strategy in Niger.

At a regional level, Niger is a lead country for livestock research and development for the 15 Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) countries.

Dr Dan Jimo, Representative, West Africa Agricultural Productivity Program (WAAPP) and of the National Council for Agricultural Research (CNRA), provided a detailed explanation of WAAPP implemented in 13 ECOWAS countries (including Niger) in two phases over a 10-year period.

Participants identified 3N and ECOWAS as opportunities for synergy among CGIAR centers and CRPs, and to align and contribute to key priorities identified by the government of Niger.

The joint positioning of scientists especially on crosscutting themes (gender, nutrition and climate) and integration of crop-trees-livestock was seen as paramount to strengthening site integration. It was agreed that the development of joint proposals will reinforce site integration. Participants also agreed on using the draft ICRISAT country strategy document, for development of the site integration plan.

Participants felt that donors should fully participate in the consultation, monitoring and evaluation of outcomes of the site integration, in addition to their substantial financial contribution. Their involvement and suggestions in communication, advocacy and proposals will be crucial.

Key features of integration identified for a better impact on intervention sites included:

  • Ensure clarity in roles and responsibilities of each partner,
  • Transparency and good governance,
  • Efficient management of time and resources by avoiding duplication, and
  • Joint intervention at scale.

Concrete ways to monitor progress and assess impacts would be to establish a synopsis record of each intervention, establish a uniform mechanism for monitoring and evaluation of interventions at all integration sites. Communication efforts will include joint visits, events, community of practice, innovation platforms inclusive and open to all stakeholders and to harness ICTs effectively to disseminate information to farmers.

Other opportunities discussed included, facilities on ICRISAT campus, and at the Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique du Niger (INRAN); and funding from donors such as the World Bank, International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and European Union (EU).

It was proposed that CNRA, INRAN, Faculty of Agronomy and other academic structures at agricultural universities, regional structures such as Agro-meteorology, Hydrology, Meteorology regional center (AGRYMET) and international organizations such as the Research for Development Institute (IRD) be considered as key players in the integration efforts, and that farmers’ organizations, NGOs and rural development projects also be fully involved.

The CGIAR site integration workshop was held on 15 March at the ICRISAT-Niamey training center. About 20 participants representing national agricultural research and extension services, advanced research institutes, farmers and farmer groups, international and regional research organizations,  policy makers, NGOs, private sector, donors, CGIAR centers [World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), AfricaRice, Bioversity, IITA, International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Area (ICARDA) and ICRISAT] and CGIAR research programs [Water, Land and Ecosystems (WLE), Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS)] attended the national consultation.

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