Translate research into action for inclusive development, say GCARD3 conference speakers
The third Global Conference on Agricultural Research for Development (GCARD3) opened on with a clarion call to translate research results into usable innovations. This way, research will better serve both African countries’ sustainable development aspirations and the global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Among the most pressing issues is conquering hunger and malnutrition while sustaining environmental health. The conference’s theme: ‘No One Left Behind; Agri–food Innovation and Research for a Sustainable World,’ also points to the need for inclusive development.
The three speakers at the opening ceremony on 5 April in Johannesburg, South Africa, said nurturing young people’s interest and know-how in agriculture, supporting rural farmers, and strong partnerships, were critical to this meeting the challenge of food and nutritional security in Africa.
The ceremony’s host, Shadrack Moephuli, President and CEO of South Africa’s Agricultural Research Centre (ARC), said this organization has the mandate to see that research results are translated into usable technologies in the country.
“Research and innovation are cornerstones for reviving agriculture,” he stated.
He added that the impact of ARC’s work extends well beyond South Africa’s borders, thanks to partnerships with institutions in Africa and across the globe.
Juan Lucas Resperto of GFAR, the conference’s convener, said GCARD3 and its predecessor conferences, are more than meetings: “GCARD is a process.” One that helps refine regional and global agricultural research priorities, as identified by different stakeholder groups and representatives.
On behalf of CGIAR, also the conference’s co-organizer, the director general of CIMMYT, Martin Kropff, said food system shocks will influence stock markets in the future and cause civil unrest. As such, agricultural innovations that produce more food with less environmental damage are ever more critical. These include drought-tolerant crop varieties and the use of agroecological practices such as agroforestry.
South Africa’s Minister of Agriculture, Senzeni Zokwana, was represented by Mortimer Mannya, Acting Director-General, Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. He told the opening session that South Africa has a target of creating one million agricultural jobs and increasing the number of smallholder producers to 300,000 by 2030. “Research and innovation will provide South Africa with better options, and hope,” he said.
Speaking on behalf of CEO Ibrahihim Mayaki, the Head of African Union (AU)-NEPAD’s Fisheries and Aquaculture project, Hamady Diop, said science and innovation are at the centre of Africa’s development agenda. He underlined the need to focus collaborative research efforts on priority issues in the continent, in particular on crops and livestock for changing temperature and rainfall regimes, water productivity, and biofuels.
“We need to answer questions, and not do research for the sake of it. Applied research and its application is a low hanging fruit for the continent,” he said.
Diop called on agricultural researchers to build partnerships with other sectors to meet current global challenges, adding the CGIAR centres have an important role of supporting the research capacity of national agricultural research centres (NARS), the private sector, independent think tanks, and universities, through “systematic arrangements” with clarity in the roles of all partners.
“Researchers must collaborate across fields such as energy-efficiency innovations; migration, and industrialization.”
“And the exponential spread of information and communication technology (ICTs) in Africa is one of the big disruptions that present huge opportunities for agriculture,” added Diop.
In her keynote speech, Lindiwe Majele Sibanda, CEO and Head of Mission of the Food, Agriculture, Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN), said innovative means are needed to resolve the “wicked challenge” of nutrition in Africa, which, unaddressed, could have far-reaching and long-term effects on the continent’s future. The right partnerships and financing are needed for the continent to transition towards nutrition-dense diets for all, she added.
Sibanda called on the meeting to support the African Union’s Malabo Declaration on Accelerated Agriculture Growth and Transformation for Shared Prosperity and Improved Livelihoods.
The GCARD3 Global Event, 5-8 April 2016, is hosted by the South African Agricultural Research Council, CGIAR and GFAR. Nearly 500 delegates are sharing research findings and discussing topics ranging from translating research to impact, ensuring that research stays future-focused, agribusiness, and related issues that will support better agricultural futures.
World Agroforestry Centre was represented at GCARD3 by Director General Tony Simons, Senior Decision Analyst Eike Luedeling and several other staff members.
Watch Interview with Eike Luedeling at GCARD3: ‘Making good decisions for development impact’
Download related presentation by Eike Luedeling:
For more information, please see: http://www.gfar.net/gcard/gcard3/gcard-global-consultation
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Related story by IISD: http://www.iisd.ca/agriculture/gcard3/5apr.html