Correct identification and implementation of comprehensive agricultural policies is an important step in the fight against poverty and food and nutrition insecurity, in line with Sustainable Development Goals One and Two on ending poverty, and hunger, respectively.
In Africa, the African Union Summit of 2003 declared the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program (CAADP) an integral part of the New Economic Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) which is aiming to address hunger and poverty. CAADP is a pan-African, continental policy framework that provides a set of principles and broadly defined strategies to guide countries in reviewing their own situations and identifying investment opportunities within the agriculture sector that have optimal returns and impact. CAADP emphasizes the use of evidence in policy formulation and implementation as a key principle.
In order to influence policies, researchers and other stakeholders need to have a good understanding of policymaking processes and the effective ways of communicating research evidence to influence policy formulation. But a changing policy environment has complicated agricultural policymaking and many stakeholders in the sector have a limited understanding of policy processes.
To fill this knowledge gap, the Agriculture for Food Security (AgriFoSe) Program led by Lund University and partner Swedish institutions working in collaboration with the Regional Strategic Analysis and Knowledge Support System in East and Central Africa (ReSAKSS-ECA), University of Nairobi and Chuka University is training African researchers to increase their ability to not only carry out research, but also to use their findings to influence agricultural policy processes in their respective countries.
Recently, a one-day policy workshop trained 18 postdoc researchers (including eight women) from Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe on how research evidence can be used to influence agricultural policies in relation to the social and economic dimensions of smallholder farming.
This initiative complimented ongoing work by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) in providing compelling scientific evidence in ways that persuade decision-makers that smarter policies and bigger livestock investments can contribute to socio-economic transformation and generate health and environmental dividends to poor nations and households.
Held on 26 January 2017 in Nairobi, the workshop was conducted by three trainers from ILRI/ReSAKSS, one each from University of Nairobi and Chuka University and two facilitators from Lund University. Its specific objectives were;
- to increase the participants’ understanding of the key policy issues in African smallholder agriculture;
- to expose the participants to the CAADP policy initiative at the continental, regional and national levels and how they might engage it the policy processes;
- to increase the participants’ understanding of the role of research evidence (including gender-based research) in agricultural policy formation, analysis and evaluation and how it relates to empowering smallholders and advancing gender equality in agriculture.
Participants discussed critical policy issues in African agriculture, policy initiatives in Africa, the CAADP framework, the role of evidence in policy formulation, and influencing agricultural policy with gender informed approaches among others.
Future training sessions will focus on bridging research-policy gaps, policy analysis and effective engagement in policy processes.
The AgriFose 2030 program is a consortium of scientists from the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU), Lund University, University of Gothenburg and Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) and is hosted by the platform Agricultural Sciences for Global Development, SLU Global. The program targets the UN Sustainability Development Goal 2 – “End hunger, achieve food security and improve nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture” in low-income countries by synthesizing and translating existing science into policy and practice, and developing capacity to achieve this.
Established in 2006, ReSAKSS supports evidence and outcome-based planning and implementation of agriculture-sector policies and strategies in Africa. In particular, ReSAKSS offers high-quality analyses and knowledge products to improve policy making, track progress, and facilitate policy dialogue, benchmarking, review and mutual learning processes of the CAADP implementation agenda. The ReSAKSS node for East and Central Africa (ReSAKSS-ECA) is led by ILRI in Nairobi, Kenya.