The SARD-SC Project Management unit held the 2016 annual retreat recently in Abuja , with staff of all the implementing centres-ICARDA, AfricaRice and IFPRI – in attendance. The retreat assessed what was done in the previous year and planned ahead for the new year. Dr.Chrys Akem,Project Coordinator said the meeting was a critical one because the project was at its winding down phase with the hope to earn a second phase of the project from the African Development Bank, the project’s sponsor. So discussions at the meeting were open and forthright on project issues while solutions were sought to seemingly knotty issues.
In his preamble before the meeting started in earnest, the project coordinator urged the Commodity Specialists to ensure the Project Completion Report was completed by the end of the year. He commented on the Bank’s commendation of the project as “ one of the best managed projects with over 80% disbursement rate . AFDB is happy the project is on track.”
The tone of the meeting was set with the review and adoption of the Minutes of the last retreat held October, in Abidjan, Cote D’Ivoire in 2015. Thereafter, the review on status of action points from the Abidjan retreat was conducted one by one by Dr. Akem and was deliberated upon and checked for implementation by the house. The status of the implementation of the Mid –Term Review recommendations were critically examined point by point especially relating to out –scaling /disseminating technologies and youth engagement by all the commodities; cassava, maize, wheat and rice.
Several presentations were made by all representatives of the participating centers . Reports from the Monitoring and Evaluation and Socio –economic meeting were presented by Drs Issaka Amadou and Paul Dontsop on cassava and maize value chain impact plans. Messrs Somado Attiogbevi –Kafu and Yameogo Ouambi ,both M & E Specialists for Rice and wheat commodities , respectively presented Impact plans for the two commodities, while Tanguy Bernard presented IFPRI plans on farmers groups and impact. Mr. Steve Kiingi, Project Agric Business Specialist gave an update on market linkages. Mrs. Zulfawu Yahaya, Procurement Specialist presented status of commodity procurement plans for cassava and maize commodities while those of rice and wheat were presented by Abdou Mohammed and Anis Boukadida, respectively. Mr. Seyi Fashokun, Project Accountant gave financial updates on commodity budgets for cassava and maize value chains while Cheikh Abdella and Wahid Zakhama gave presentations on rice and wheat respectively.
Dr. Akem advised the PMU and the Commodity Specialists on the need to prepare for the upcoming Project Steering Committee(PSC) meeting taking place at the end of March, 2016,taking into consideration uniformity and content of presentations and addressing the recommendations from the last meeting in Dakar. Another important area of focus at the retreat was how the project could earn a second phase ( the SARD-SC project phase 2), hence working groups sessions discussions were held on commodity focus areas by the Commodity Specialists and other members of the team. To foster intra – institutional collaboration, networking and team building, group discussions were held on various topics across implementing centres of the project.
Among the attendees were the four Commodity Specialists; Dr. Sam Ajala, Maize commodity Specialist, Dr. Marie Yomeni, Cassava Commodity Specialist, Dr. Solomon Assefa, wheat Commodity Specialist and Dr.Sidi Sanyang, Rice Commodity Specialist.