Monday, October 29, 2012

The GCARD2 social media team receives certificate from Uruguay's Minister of Agriculture

After 2 days of intensive training on social media and social reporting, the GCARD2 Social Media Team received their Certificate from H.E. Minister of Livestock, Agriculture and Fisheries, TabarĂ© Aguerre

The opening ceremony of the second Global Conference on Agricultural Research for Development (GCARD2) took place on 28th October 2012 at the Conrad Hotel in Punta del Este, Uruguay.

Over 700 participants from around the world were present and came to discuss and share experiences on the 3 themes of the conference: Foresight, Partnerships and capacity building. The main issue to be addressed here is how to innovate and have high quality research so that the results help improve the livelihoods of smallholder farmers?
Present at the opening ceremony of the conference were the GFAR Chair, Monty Jones, CGIAR Consortium Board Chair, Mr. Carlos Perez del Castillo, the President of IFAD, Kanayo Nwanze, and H.E Minister of Livestock, Agriculture and Fisheries, Mr. TabarĂ© Aguerre.

In his speech, Mr. Monty Jones introduced the 3 themes of the conference and highlighted that Uruguay is a good location for the GCARD2, since they have many best practice case studies to learn from when it comes to agriculture and involving smallholder farmers for agricultural development.

The CGIAR Consortium Board Chair, Mr. C.P.del Castillo shared with the audience the importance of research for agricultural development and gave examples from the work being done by CGIAR. According to him, climate change will have a significant impact on Agriculture and the CGIAR has undergone reform to adapt to the situation. The research being carried out by the CGIAR centres is being done collectively on a wide range of topics.

The speech of the chair of IFAD, Mr. Kanayo Nwanze, was very focused on the conference themes. He highlighted that 2 years ago, Agricultural development was not acknowledged at national, regional and international level, but today it is not the case anymore. Agriculture is the concern of every one of us. The President of IFAD said that today we have the interest, commitment and funding, but how do we seize the opportunity?
Climate change is is here and going to affect us, and the President of IFAD said that future research to be carried out should be focused on climate smart agriculture. To do so, there should be partnerships among different stakeholders. Mr. Nwanze believes that f we want a change, we need to work with the farmers in the field and it is there that the impact of research will be seen. And he ended his speech with a very interesting statement: "The day when no child dies from hunger and malnutrition, we will know our work has been done"!

The Minister of Livestock, Agriculture and Fisheries, Mr. TabarĂ© Aguerre gave an overview of Agriculture in Uruguay. He said that Uruguay is a net exporting country, while many countries in the world are net importers. But we have the same environment, challenges and opportunities. How has Uruguay been able to achieve success in its Agricultural sector?

In fact, the Uruguayan Agricultural strategy is based on competitiveness, social integration and natural resources policies, and we have a lot to learn from the country.

For the youth of the Social Media Team, it was a great privilege to receive their certificate for social media and social reporting from the hands of the Minister. As some said, it was a magical moment that will be engraved in our memories!

And talking about rewards and recognition to attract youth to agriculture, this is a concrete example of how young agriculture professionals from all over the world got the opportunity to cover the conference events and interact with the agriculture professionals present in Uruguay!
Blogpost by Nawsheen Hosenally, one of the GCARD2 Social Reporters.

Photo: Bernardo Thompson

Friday, October 26, 2012

Women and Youth as Catalyst for Agribusiness Development and Growth in West & Central Africa - Songhai Centre, Port Novo, Republic of Benin, 6-9th October 2012

UNIDO, IFAD, UN Women, FAO, UNDP and Oxfam in collaboration with the Songhai Centre, organized a 4 day workshop fair (6th – 9th October 2012) on the theme “Women and Youth as Catalyst for Agribusiness Development and Growth in Western Africa”. The event started with a trade fair showcasing agribusiness produces and processing machineries and culminated in a consultative forum which explored strategies for attracting more women and youth in agribusiness - as a credible job and wealth creation option for the sub region.
Stalls at Trade Fair with agro entrepreneurs displaying their products
Dr Patrick Kormawa UNIDO Country Rep Nigeria and First Lady Cross River State

The key objective of the youth workshop fair was to articulate a strategy for attracting and engaging young women and men in agribusiness. Focusing largely on creating decent employment opportunities for young men and women by making agriculture more productive, efficient, remunerative and competitive, the consultative forum made salient inputs towards the development of evidence based set of policy guidelines that promote women and youth entrepreneurs in agribusiness development

A cross section of young entrepreneurs
The workshop was attended by over 200 participants from 14 African countries. Participants included young entrepreneurs, Songhai Centre graduates, government representatives, agribusiness companies, women entrepreneurs and organisations, farmer organisations, business associations, civil society as well as representatives from national, regional and international development agencies.

Agro entrepreneurs sharing their success stories
During the workshop, stakeholders shared experiences and ideas on strategies for implementation of agribusiness programmes. They identified key factors and successful business models like the Songhai Centre - that can attract young people to become engaged in agribusiness and collaborated to produce a plan of action for a strategic approach to making agriculture an attractive option for more women and youth to engage in. Participants acknowledged the enormous potential young women and men possess to effectively contribute to this critical sector - agreeing that agribusiness offers a realistic opportunity for job and wealth creation for young people who are key drivers of economic growth in emerging markets like the West and Central African sub region. Despite these potentials nonetheless, there was a general consensus that more needs to be done; the sector was still not attractive enough to new entrants, as it continues to be characterised by low investment in technology and research, drudgery, policy lapses and unequal access to information, agribusiness inputs and markets. The need to develop policies to address these challenges was underscored by several participants.

A cross section of agribusiness enthusiasts listening to experience sharing sessions
The consultative forum concluded with participants agreeing on specific issues for organisers to follow up on and action:

1.    Establish a platform where women and young people as well as development partners and other key stakeholders can network and share salient information on available opportunities including - best practices, technology and research, innovations, commodity prices and access to market.

Facilitate the formation of communities of practice amongst women and youth agro entrepreneurs utilising participants in the workshop as the pioneer cohort

2.    Utilising inputs from interactive sessions and experiences shared by entrepreneurs, the forum urged organisers to develop a comprehensive policy guidelines for promoting the profitable engagement of women and young people in agribusiness in the West and Central African Region. The policy guideline will serve as a useful tool for programme development, advocacy and fund mobilisation by governments and development partners.

3.    Finalise and disseminate a Strategic Action Plan based on interactive sessions and experiences shared by agro entrepreneurs during workshop. The plan will aim at promoting agriculture as a lucrative business for young men and women in West and Central Africa.

It was agreed that the plan should articulate critical elements discussed in meeting such as effective coordination, capacity building for young agro entrepreneurs to meet required quality standards for markets, resource mobilisation strategy to fund plan, a media and advocacy strategy to rebrand and provide visibility to the opportunities in agribusiness and a Monitoring and Evaluation regime to guide implementation of action plan.

4.    Organise an Annual Award Event aimed at recognising successful agro entrepreneurs as role models in the West and Central African region.

The Minister of Youth Development(Nigeria) Hon Inuwa Abdul-Kadir, listening to young agroentreprenuers
5.    The developmental Institutions present resolved to work with the agro entrepreneurs and Government agencies in addressing the specific challenges affecting women and youth, particularly those relating to unequal access to finance and other agribusiness inputs.

As the phrase ‘business unusual’ was adopted as the guiding ethos for the workshop fair, the organisers were urged by the participants to ensure that resolutions reached by the forum be followed through dutifully. On their part, participants, especially the women and young entrepreneurs resolved to increase the momentum generated from the workshop by spreading the information on the several opportunities they have identified in the sector to their peers in their respective communities and expressed willingness to form themselves into a community of practice where they can continue to share information and have a strong platform for influencing policies that affect them.

For more details please contact:
Maada Gombu   +2347068886330