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Working to connect farmers, researchers, and policy makers in Africa
28 April 2010
Danielle Nierenberg

Acknowledgements: FANRPAN acknowledges Worldwatch Institute as the source of this article


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This is the first in a three-part series about the Food, Agriculture, and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network.

The Food, Agriculture, and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN) lives up to its name by linking farmers, businesses, academia, researchers, donors, and national and regional governments. “One thing that we {Africa} fail to do is form coalitions for a common cause,” says Dr Lindiwe Sibanda, the CEO of FANRPAN. But by connecting rural farmers directly to the private sector, to policy-makers, and to the agricultural research community, they’re trying to build a food secure Africa.

FANRPAN’s has national nodes in thirteen countries that help bring its members together, with a national secretariat hosted by an existing national institution in each country that has a mandate for increasing agricultural research and advocacy.

Another problem that plagues Africa, according to Dr Sibanda, is that “we don’t know how to learn from the local.” But she says “farmers know what to do” when it comes to dealing with climate change and other issues that impact agriculture in sub-Saharan Africa. As a result, FANRPAN works to create dialogue and allow exchange of ideas directly between farmers in the field, researchers in laboratories, and policy makers in conference rooms and parliaments throughout Africa.

FANRPAN’s projects include everything from helping improve access to markets for women farmers through its Women Accessing Realigned Markets (WARM) project to helping develop and strengthen the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) Regional Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) Compact (See In Eastern and Southern Africa, Improving Trade and Identifying Investment Opportunities and Creating Game Plans for Investment and Policy to Improve Food Security.) They also recently completed the Africa-Wide Civil Society Climate Change Initiative for Policy Dialogues that brought together African NGOs and farmers groups at the United Nations Conference on Climate Change last December. And the Strategies for Adapting to Climate Change in Rural sub-Saharan Africa, to help the most vulnerable populations deal with climate change.

And while Dr Sibanda says investment in research is important, “it’s not the panacea. For me, it’s about people driving investments.”

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