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The Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa: joint external evaluation
15 February 2007
M Demment, C Lessard, W Masters, J Sutherland, E Terry, N Thomas, A Youdeowei

Acknowledgements: FANRPAN acknowledges the Programme of Advisory Support Services for Rural livelihoods website as the source of this report: www.passlivelihoods.org.uk


Introduction

The Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa [FARA] was established as a result of the transformation of the Special Programme for African Agricultural Research [SPAAR]. The first plenary session of SPAAR/FARA in 2000 called for the establishment of the Forum as a structure bringing together all the institutions concerned with agricultural research in Africa. An MOU was concluded in 2001 on behalf of three sub-regional organizations: the Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in Eastern and Central Africa [ASARECA], the West and Central Council for Agricultural Research and Development [CORAF/WECARD] and the Southern African Centre for Cooperation in Agricultural Research and Training [SACCAR].

The FARA Strategic Plan 2002-2012 elaborated FARA’s vision: to enable Africa to achieve at least 6% annual growth rate in agriculture by the year 2020 through enhanced research and value-adding to its products, consequently increasing food security, poverty alleviation and economic growth in a sustainable way.

The Strategic Plan notes: FARA is not a research implementing body. It is an umbrella organization bringing together and forming a coalition of major stakeholders in agricultural research and development in Africa. It will play advocacy and coordination roles for agricultural research for development [AR4D], while the NARS and the ARIs [working on priorities defined jointly with the SRO] will develop improved technologies along the research-to-development continuum in their respective countries and coverage areas.

Three thrusts were confirmed as FARA’s core focus at the 2003 General Assembly:

  1. Advocacy of the role of agricultural research;
  2. Promotion of functional partnerships and strategic alliances
  3. Accelerating sharing and exchange of knowledge;
Two principal events mark FARA’s emergence as a significant facilitator of African AR4D: the appointment of FARA as the technical arm of the African Union’s [AU] New Partnership for Africa’s Development [NEPAD] for the implementation of Pillar IV [Agricultural Research, Technology Dissemination and Adoption] of its Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme [CAADP], and FARA’s development of a framework through which the challenges prioritised by the CAADP Pillar IV might be achieved, the Framework for African Agricultural Productivity [FAAP].

In conformity with the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness, donors felt that a more integrated approach was required to support FARA, based on aid harmonization and alignment [H&A], as well as effective donor coordination. Specifically, they agreed that FARAs capacity should be further strengthened and its roles and responsibilities be better articulated and supported so that the apex body would be able to provide adequate support to African stakeholders in implementing Pillar IV of CAADP, along the lines of the FAAP and broader CAADP principles. A joint external evaluation [JEE] was expected to provide the basis for joint donors’ support to FARA on a long-term basis that could lead to its sustainability.

A seven-person team [hereafter JEE] visited nine countries during the course of the mission, and met and interviewed a wide range of individuals associated with the FARA Secretariat, its member SRO, various NARS, non-governmental organizations [NGOs], civil society organizations [CSOs] and farmers’ organizations [FOs], many of whom were associated with FARA’s flagship programme, the Sub-Saharan Africa Challenge Programme [SSA CP]. Prior to the mission, JEE designed and undertook an electronic survey intended to elicit an understanding of broader stakeholders’ knowledge of FARA.

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