Actors of nine West Africa agriculture research hubs are meeting in Saly, Senegal to assess progress towards the coveted status of Regional Centers of Excellence (RCoE).
The nine National Centers of Specialization were established with an understanding that they will progressively graduate to RCoE based on a set of pre-defined criteria.
Some of these conditions include having an agriculture research framework, infrastructure, and logistics to conduct quality research, a work program that addresses national and regional demands, qualified expertise to do research, contribution to strengthening national research systems, a governance system, etc.
In the three-day workshop organized by the West Africa Agricultural Productivity Program (WAAPP), a program coordinated by CORAF, experts are expected to discuss potential challenges these centers face towards becoming RCoE.
Two out of the nine centers have already been given the critical nod of approval to become RCoE. They include the dry cereal research hub based in Senegal and the Roots and Tuber center in Ghana. Some of the results of their work on drought-tolerant and high-yielding crop varieties are among the most outstanding in the region.
At the Saly Workshop, actors will further discuss the form of support to give to NCoS to move towards RCoE and agree on a roadmap for the accreditation process of the West Africa Economic Community (ECOWAS). Only ECOWAS is entitled to deliver accreditations to these centers.
Becoming an RCoE comes with considerable opportunities. For examples, it allows the centers more room for mobilization of resources to research a priority commodity in West Africa and allows for greater collaboration with national and international researchers and broad dissemination of results.
“Regional centers of excellence are designed to conduct commissioned research on issues of regional interest,” says Dr. Lamien Niéyidouba Lamien, Program Coordinator WAAPP
“They can participate in calls for competitive funds and can mobilize from across the region required talents and skills to implement their research agenda,”
The other CORAF research hubs include Rice (Mali), fruit and legumes (Burkina Faso), plantain (Côte d’Ivoire), aquaculture (Nigeria), maize (Benin), livestock (Niger), and mangrove Rice (Sierra Leone).
The results of an evaluation of all the centers conducted by experts IN 2017 shall inform the workshop. Expected participants include representatives of governments, national agricultural research systems, National coordinators of WAAPPI and ECOWAS representatives.