In consonance with the theme of this year’s FARA event, Apply Science, Impact livelihoods, which focuses on the operationalization of science agenda in Africa’s agricultural research and how to enhance its contribution to the continental agenda for accelerated economic and social transformations, the SARD-SC project, funded by the AfDB held a side event on the topic, SARD-SC contributing to food and nutrition security in Africa.
The purpose of the side event was to highlight the achievements of the project in its four mandate crops – maize rice ,cassava, wheat and how the development of their value chains is contributing to food and nutrition security in Africa and improving livelihoods. The Project Commodity Specialists presented and discussed the achievements of each of the commodity value chains during the past three years of the project implementation. This was followed by a panel discussion during which the presenters answered questions and clarified issues to highlight how the project is contributing to food and nutrition security in Africa.
The event held in Room MBbo 203 of the Kigali Convention Center, attracted interested members of the FARA event community,stakeholders such as Dr.Nteranya Sanginga, Director General IITA, Dr.Chiji Ojukwu, Director of Agriculture, AFDB, and other eminent personalities. Dr. Ken Dashiell, Deputy Director General ,Partnerships and Capacity Building gave his introductory remarks at the event , saying the amazing performance of the SARD-SC project in précised implementation and recording laudable achievements within three years of its existence was not expected at the inception of the project. Dr. Roy Harold –Macaulay, Director-General of AfricaRice commended the SARD-SC project for its achievements and said it was one of the few projects funded by donor money that has recorded some laudable deliverables, made impact and achieved impressive outcomes. SARD-SC project is an excellent project concerned with achieving deliverables and outcome and has done very well. The project has given birth to something much bigger than itself, TAAT, a new initiative by the AfDB to enable Africa to feed itself and foster economic development and social transformation. The project won an award and it is a good example of how four CG centers can work together and achieve deliverables, outcomes and impact.”
Dr. Chrys Akem, the Project Coordinator, gave a brief over view of achievements and outcomes of the project in areas of new varieties of crops developed, establishment of processing centers, capacity development of people, engagement of women in all aspects of value chain of crops, commercial banks getting involved in the maize commodity value chain activities. More importantly, he said the achievements of the project, have engendered policy shifts in some countries’ agricultural policies in Africa.
Each of the commodity specialists made presentations on achievements of the commodities. Dr. Marie Yomeni, Cassava commodity Specialist, among other things talked about the benefits of Innovation Platforms as fostering strategic alliances within the IPs, provision of improved quality of planting materials to farmers, reduction in post harvest losses and mushroom production using cassava wastes. All the three Commodity Specialists, Drs Sam Ajala, Sidi Sanyang, Solomon Assefa presented the achievements of their respective crops. Thereafter, there was a panel discussion to respond to all the questions raised by members of the audience. Questions posed to the panelists ranged from the sustainability of the project achievements in many areas of project operations, involvement of private sector in project activities, pest managements in cassava cultivation(invasion of grasshoppers in cassava farms in Sierra Leone) and conservation of newly developed wheat and rice varieties.
In his own contributions, Dr.Chiji Ojukwu, said project activities should be demand driven and not the other way round. “We should be concerned about moving agriculture from on-farm to off- farm production, this is one of the issues we need to tackle to meet food security in Africa. We need to re-engineer our research technology to achieve food and nutrition security in Africa.”
The project showcased technological innovations, products and achievements of the four commodity value chains crops during the two -day exhibition at the FARA event.