By Nicholas Maina, Rootooba, 18 August 2020
The Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in Eastern and Central Africa (ASARECA) and CABI have partnered to promote their shared objectives and areas of strategic focus in the region.
The two organizations signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to facilitate, support transformative and sustainable agricultural practices to improve people’s livelihoods and knowledge sharing in Eastern and Central Africa.
The signed MoU formalizes and strengthens a long-standing partnership that has existed for over a decade, with each of the organisations individually or collectively contributing to numerous agricultural research for development initiatives in the region.
Prof. Jean Muhinda, Executive Director for ASARECA, said, “Our 2019-2028 Strategy and results framework outlines how agricultural transformation requires an integrated delivery approach across an ecosystem of partnerships. This MoU and its operationalisation add to ongoing efforts aimed at improving integration, coordination and investments by governments, private sector, implementing and development partners in agricultural research for development across the region.”
CABI and ASARECA collaborated under the Good Seed Initiative Project in four Eastern African countries that improved access to quality seed for indigenous vegetables.
The initiative empowered over 20,000 seed and vegetable farmers who were linked to markets resulting in increased income and nutritional security in Arusha and Dodoma, Tanzania.
“Achievements of the African Indigenous Vegetables project may be repackaged and up scaled to support COVID-19 nutrition interventions that recommend healthier foods full of nutrients such as vitamins and minerals that strengthen the human immune system,” adds Jacques.
For instance, in 2014, ASARECA working with CABI and other partners successfully implemented an initiative that empowered farmers with actionable plant health knowledge on Maize Lethal Necrosis Disease (MLND).
The initiative enabled the growers to minimize the disease spread and reduce crop loses across seven Eastern and Central African countries, resulting in increased productivity and efficiency of the maize value chain.
From 2016 to date, both organisations have catalyzed research and knowledge exchange programmes in over 10 National Agricultural Research Institutes (NARIs).
Dr. Morris Akiri, CABI Regional Director, said, “Out of the 14-member States in ASARECA sub-region, Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda are also CABI member countries in Africa. In addition, CABI also undertakes work in other ASARECA member countries such as Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan. So, this partnership builds on and strengthens existing regional agricultural research for development and expands it by linking to CABI’s international network of partners and global agricultural and environmental expertise.”
Leveraging on this foundation, CABI and ASARECA recognise that present challenges for agricultural transformation in Africa require concerted, inclusive, climate-sensitive and gender-responsive efforts to harness opportunities for sustainable agricultural research and development on the continent.
The two inter-governmental organisations undertake to draw directly upon their institutional mandates, competences, and areas of technical expertise to support effective implementation of strategies and medium-term operational plans.
Muhinda confirmed that in the immediate future, both organisations will jointly assess the effects of COVID-19 and emerging food security issues with a purpose to leverage successes from past initiatives.