The Senegalese Minister of Agriculture and Rural Infrastructure, Dr. Papa Abdoulaye Seck has challenged agricultural researchers of West and Central Africa to step up their game to anticipate challenges facing their communities and to generate relevant innovations that meet the needs of users.
Dr. Seck, also a career researcher was speaking at the opening ceremony of the 12th General Assembly of CORAF in Dakar, Senegal.
“It is through sustainable and uninterrupted funding that we shall be able to cover the complex research stakes facing us,” said Dr. Seck.
With no guarantees to the sustainable funding of research activities, the Senegalese Minister said that researchers in the region have to remain competitive to be able to attract scarce resources to conveniently carry out the critical research activities needed to accompany the region’s growth.
“Research institutes are fighting every day to have funding. I don’t think there exist a system of sustainable funding anywhere because we are in a competitive world. And researchers do not only need to be excellent but also to attract funding to carry out their activities while the state provides the enabling environment.”
Over 150 delegates are now gathered in the Dakar, Senegal for the 12th General Assembly of CORAF. During the next 72 hours, they will examine and adopt a new strategic and operational plan which opens new opportunities to generate further technological innovations to address climate change, youth employment, gender disparities, and food and nutrition challenges facing the region.
The new strategic direction is intended to make CORAF organizationally efficient and financially sustainable.
Speaking on behalf of donors, Mr. Abdrahamane Dicko, Program and Policy Advisor at the Regional Economic Growth Office at the West Africa Mission of the United States Agency for International Development reaffirmed the support of donors to CORAF.
“We wish to reaffirm the commitment of partners to continue supporting CORAF to fulfill its regional mandate,” said the USAID West Africa Mission Senior official.
USAID on behalf of CORAF partners recommended lasting funding arrangements that rely less on donor funding.
“There is a need to define and put in place mechanisms to ensure that CORAF funding is generated from its constituents.”
CORAF has consulted broadly with partners such as Ministries of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries, and Rural Development, farmer organizations, agri-inputs producers and suppliers, the private sector, non-governmental organizations, women groups, regional and international partners, etc. in the past year in view of designing a responsive plan. The 12th General Assembly is expected to examine and adopt this strategy.
The 12th General Assembly is also expected to elect new members of the Governing Board and discuss the contribution of R&D to agriculture in the past 30 years.