|Farmer on flood plain, Mongu, Western Zambia |
by WorldFish on Flickr
Earlier this year, Future Agricultures launched a new, Africa-centred structure at the Political Economy of Agricultural Policy in Africa conference, in March 2013. Its new decentralized structure roots the consortium firmly within African research institutions, with three regional hubs created in West Africa (Accra), East Africa (Nairobi) and Southern Africa (Cape Town).
|Future Agricultures CAADP coordinator Sam Asuming-Brempong (left), |
Regional hub coordinator for Southern Africa, Ruth Hall (centre),
and Regional hub coordinator for West Africa, George Kwadzo (right)
Collaboration across the hubs is essential because, in addition to local, national and regional policy audiences, a priority for the consortium is to provide information and research support to the Comprehensive African Agricultural Development Programme (CAADP), an initiative of the New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD). Future Agricultures has committed to supporting CAADP, and has appointed Sam Asuming-Brempong (also at the University of Ghana) to be our CAADP coordinator. His job is to ensure that our consortium responds to CAADP’s needs, and that our research findings are fed into CAADP processes.
CAADP and its three pillars constitutes an overarching framework for agricultural development among African Union member states, and Future Agricultures is contributing towards the CAADP agenda in several ways.
At the joint hub meeting, we agreed that Future Agricultures will:
- Continue the CAADP policy brief series, providing accessible summaries of key policy issues, evidence from research, and policy recommendations;
- Design a five-day short course or ‘expert orientation seminar’ for CAADP focal points in different countries, as requested by NEPAD, drawing on research findings across various Future Agricultures themes;
- Develop a programme of cross-hub exchanges and collaborative initiatives to link our research network to policy audiences.
Working together on Land and CommercialisationHoused in the magnificent new conference facility building of the Institute for Social, Statistical and Economic Research (ISSER) at the University of Ghana’s extensive and lush main campus at Legon, the West Africa hub is coordinated by George Kwadzo, ably assisted by Sylvia Kpabitey and Edith Adinku.
|Future Agricultures researchers in the West Africa hub office, |
Sylvia Kpabitey (left) and Edith Adinku (right)
Research teams from Ghana, Kenya and Zambia will spend the next few days reporting on their qualitative field research over the past year, and developing a quantitative research instrument for household survey work across nine study sites in the three countries, to be administered in the coming year.
Coordinating a continent-wide research network like Future Agricultures demands determination, regular updates (for instance through a monthly teleconference among the hubs), but also building personal links. While technology can link researchers in virtual networks, through email, skype and other media, old-fashioned sit-down conversations proved rather more rewarding!