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FARA and AWARD: Working Towards Gender Responsive Agricultural Research for Inclusive, Agriculture Driven Prosperity for Africa

Opening Remarks from Dr. Yemi Akinbamijo, Executive Director of the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) at the Launch of AWARD’s GRARD initiative, 11th July, 2017.

Protocols

I would like to extend my warm greetings to African Women in Agricultural Research and Development (AWARD) and its partners in the launch of AWARD’s initiative, Gender Responsive Agricultural Research and Development (GRARD).

As the apex organization charged with the strategic role of coordinating agricultural research in Africa, we at FARA are excited to partner with AWARD to strengthen the commitment and capacity of African research institutions to conduct more gender responsive agricultural research. It is not a light thing to be an institutional partner with AWARD as you commence this noble journey into the world of gender responsiveness. It will be a long, tardy and demanding ordeal, but definitely a worthwhile journey. FARA is pleased to partner with you from Day 1. Although I am not a football fan, for the discerning, let me leave you the phrase ‘You’ll never walk alone’ reminiscent of Liverpool FC.

Walk on, walk on
With hope in your heart
And you’ll never walk alone
You’ll never walk alone

The S3A and Gender responsiveness

The S3A is now in its Roll-Out phase with preliminary activities now happening in 42 African countries. This is scaling at work. Scaling must be a collective action happening at the same time with all aces on the desk at the same time. At a time when the human resources for AR4D is waning, it is therefore timeous that AWARD is launching the GRARD at this time. There could not have been a better synergistic moment. On our part, we are also mapping the capacity dynamics through the e-Capacity initiative of FARA. This aligns very well with the mapping work of AWARD.  FARA believes that without the catalytic role of the science agenda in a gender-responsive manner, the African transformation dream will only be a mirage. This is because the role of science in enhancing agricultural productivity, competitiveness and market access in Africa is too important for it to be outsourced.  AWARD is wired to respond to emerging opportunities and challenges facing the continent and its quest to become food and nutrition secure and improve the welfare of its people. It is also weaving together key networks and stakeholders on the continent and globally reinforcing the capacity of Africa to improve its agricultural science and innovation for food and nutrition security and reduce poverty in compliance with the relevant SDGs.

As a network of networks, supporting African agricultural research institutions is at the core of our work with scientific research playing a critical role in enhancing agricultural productivity, competitiveness, and market access.  We at FARA agree with the foregoing AWARD core values, and we fully support its notion that gender responsiveness has the potential to enhance agricultural research for Africa’s sustained and inclusive economic growth.  This is because gender responsiveness offers a powerful tool through which agricultural researchers can be intentional in addressing the constraints of African farmers at the margins, especially women and youth.

As one of the four core programmatic thrusts of AWARD, GRARD is geared to respond to the needs and priorities of a diversity of women and men across Africa’s agricultural value chains. I am convinced that gender responsive research is more efficient; it results in more inclusive, better targeted, more relevant innovations with higher rates of adoption. This is a significant point of convergence with FARA values and mission that are heavily laced with gender responsiveness.

Like AWARD, FARA envisions a robust, resilient, and gender responsive agricultural innovation system working to drive prosperity and food and nutrition security for Africa.  Contributing towards this vision, AWARD is investing in African scientists, research institutions and agribusinesses to deliver innovative, sustainable, gender-responsive agricultural research and innovation – the reason why many of you are in this room today.

I am personally convinced that AWARD’s new initiative focused on Gender Responsive Agricultural research and Development (GRARD) will actively catalyse transformative change in African agricultural research by supporting African research institutions and scientists to conduct agricultural research that responds to the needs and priorities of a diversity of men and women across agricultural value chains.

AWARD is the continent’s leading knowledge hub on gender and agricultural research so partnership with AWARD offers FARA access to the leading innovation and thoughtful leadership on the subject.  As such, FARA is proud to partner with AWARD as we work together to ensure inclusive agriculture-driven prosperity for the African continent.

As a tail piece, let me encourage you that the close of this workshop is the beginning of a new zest of life in Africa’s AR4D spectrum – in this world of hashtags, let me encourage you to do three things - Go out there and Be Calm: spread the #Genderword, Be Calm: be #Gendersmart, and Be Calm: be #genderresponsive

Let me therefore close with my very cordial wishes to you all as you work assiduously to lace up African AR4D in a gender-responsive manner, find time to soak up the lovely atmosphere that Nairobi has to offer as you become ‘genderized’!

Thank you for this opportunity to be a part of your workshop. 

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Dr. Yemi Akinbamijo is an agricultural research for development expert.  A Nigerian national, he has spent the past three decades of his career in Africa and Europe working in the domains of international agriculture, food and nutrition security, natural resource management including crop-livestock integrated systems, market-oriented production systems, regional value chains, urban agriculture and land use management, sustainable agriculture and climate change adaptation.

Dr. Akinbamijo is a strong analytical and strategic thinker. He is an active contributor to the global discourse on strategies for attaining a sustainable and inclusive agricultural transformation. He is also a consummate networker who is solidly plugged into an extensive community of stakeholders in the African agricultural and rural development landscape, including donors.