historical perspective of agricultural research coordination in southern africa


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Dr Lucas P Gakale

Paper Presented at the CCARDESA General Assembly, Gaborone, 6-7 May 2014

PREAMBLESACCAR was established in 1984 by the Southern African Development Community (SADC), then known as the Southern African Development Coordinating Conference (SADCC) to coordinate agricultural research and training in the region.

A Memorandum of Understanding signed by the then Member States of SADC, namely Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Other countries joined as and when they got their independence

PREAMBLE cont.The initiative to establish the regional agricultural research centre was started by Professor Kristian Oland, the then Director of Agricultural Research in Botswana around 1983. He assembled a team comprised of among others; Dr Martin Kyomo, then Dean of the Faculty of Agriculture at Sokoine University, Tanzania, Dr Sam Muchena, then Director of the Department of Research and Specialist Services, Zimbabwe

to assist in the development of the SACCAR program

OBJECTIVESTo promote regional agricultural research among the National Agricultural Research Systems (NARS) of Member StatesFacilitate the exchange of information among the NARSPromote the development of human resources necessary to man the members states national research institutions; and Promote coordination of agricultural research and training within the region

Institutional Arrangements and GovernanceBotswana was allocated the responsibility to coordinate agricultural research in the region. A regional center, namely SACCAR was established with donor funding to assist Botswana carry out that mandate. The Center had four regional staff, namely the Director, the Senior Programs Officer (Training), the Senior Programs Officer (information and Documentation) and Finance and Administrative Officer.These were assisted by a number of locally recruited staff.

Institutional Arrangements cont.SACCAR had a Board of Directors composed of Directors of Agricultural Research or equivalent from all Member States, one rep each from Agricultural Extension, Deans Committee and the SADC Secretariat. The Director of Agricultural Research Botswana served as the Chair of the Board. The Board had Steering Committees for each project comprised of staff from all member States to steer the projects to ensure that they meet the technical and developmental objectives of the programs as they were composed of people with the relevant technical skills.

Institutional Arrangements cont.For the degree training programs, there was a Committee of Deans of the Faculties of Agriculture from the member State Universities to serve the same purpose The Board of SACCAR reported to the Ministers of Food Agriculture and Natural Resources through the Senior Officials (Permanent Secretaries and equivalent) which was chaired by Zimbabwe as the overall coordinator of the cluster of Food Security and FANR sectors

Research Priorities and ProjectsThe initial focus of the SACCAR research agenda was to address the problems of the looming food insecurity and nutrition in the region. Emphasis therefore was on food crops, especially those grown in the semi-arid and marginal areas of the region.A number of regional projects were developed and implemented during the life of SACCAR and these were:The SADC/ICRISAT Sorghum and Millet Improvement Program headquartered in Matopos, ZimbabweThe SADC/CIMMYT Maize Research Network with headquarters near HarareThe SADC/ICRISAT Groundnut Improvement Program based in Malawi

Research Priorities cont.The SADC Bean Research Program based in TanzaniaThe SADC /AVRDC Vegetable Research Network based in Arusha ,TanzaniaThe SADC Plant Genetic Resources Centre based in ZambiaThe SADC/ISNAR In-Service Agricultural Research Management Training ProjectThe SADC/ILRI Animal Research NetworkThe Southern African Root Crops Research NetworkThe SACCAR/GTZ Project on Strengthening Faculties of Agriculture in SADCThe SADC Land and Water Management Research Project SACCAR/ICRAF Agroforestry project - Malawi

Research Priorities cont SACCAR had an Impact Assessment unit to evaluate the impact of its programs and project with the region manned by a Technical Assistant funded by USAID and to institutionalize impact assessment within the NARS.Established an information and documentation center which was a regional resource center.Recognized that for it to succeed, it has to forge partnerships with national and international agricultural research institutions including those of the IARCs of the CIGAR system.

Research Priorities contProjects implemented by NARS with the leadership of scientists from the IARCs and advanced research organizations.Invited cooperating and development partners once a year to its meetings to receive progress reports and assess the impact of their development assistance

Highlights of some projects

Sorghum and Millet Improvement ProjectHeadquartered in Matopos in Zimbabwe with projects in all members states where sorghum and millets are important cash and food crops.Carried out in collaboration with ICRISAT provided the international research staff. Bulk of funding came from USIAD.

Sorghum and Millet Improvement cont.

Research on genetic improvement, through breeding, disease resistance, drought tolerance and food technology Improved sorghum and millet varieties and hybrids released in participating member states. Botswana the first ever locally released hybrid, BSH1 developed in collaboration with the regional project. Officers from Member States received training at BSc, MSc and PhD sponsored by the project. Hundreds of staff received short term training through the project.

Plant Genetic Resources Project

The SADC Plant Genetic Resources Center headquartered in Zambia was funded by Sida. The project main object was to collect and preserve the regional genetic resources. It also funded Member States to establish National Genetic Resources Centers.

SACCAR/ISNAR Agricultural Research Management Training

Two main objectives: strengthen the capacity of agricultural research managers to organize and manage research, and to institutionalize agricultural research management training within region. ESAMI (Tanzania) served as the regional center for the project. ISNAR the technical partner Between 1993 and 1995trained 397 officers in various aspect of research management including strategic planning, database and information management, gender analysis in ANR, research program formulation, etc.

The SACCAR/GTZ Project on Strengthening Faculties of Agriculture in SADC

Project started in 1988 and provided support to 4 regional MSc programs and SACCAR Secretariat. MSc Animal Science at Bunda College, Malawi, MSc Crop Science at University of Zambia, MSc Agricultural Economics at University of Zimbabwe MSc Land and Water Management at the Sokoine University, Tanzania. By 1998 the programs had produced more than 75 graduates in those disciplines.

Transformation of SACCAR from Commission to SCU

After South Africa joined SADC, decision made by the Council of Ministers to merge the Southern African Regional Commission on the Utilization of the Soils (SARCCUS) with the SADC FANR Sectors. Understood the merger to mean the transfer of the activities of SARCCUS various Standing Committees to the relevant FANR Sectors.The SADC Secretariat and the overall Sector Coordinator for FANR were directed to implement that Council decision.

Transformation cont.Consultants engaged by the SADC Secretariat to carry out the study. However to our dismay the consultants, rationalization of SARCCUS and SACCAR. SACCAR stakeholders were never consulted or interviewed by the consultants. Consultant report only seen at the meeting of the Board in Maputo in May 1995. Main recommendation that affected SACCAR was that it (SACCAR) should be phased out and replaced it with what they called the Crops Sector. Concerns were raised by the Board regarding this recommendation at a meeting of the FANR Sector in Harare a few weeks later but were not addressed.

Transformation cont.At meeting of Senior Official in Harare in May 1996, the consultants recommendations were discussed. We at SACCAR tried unsuccessfully to advise that the recommendations of the consultant to phase out SACCAR were retrogressive. A compromise was to retain SACCAR as a Sector Coordinating Unit and Council approved that recommendation at its meeting in August 1996. To us in the agricultural research community at the time we considered the move very unfortunate. Our donor partners were also not happy with the transformation from a Commission to a Sector Coordinating Unit. Had a very difficult time trying to explain this to our cooperating partners.

LESSONS LEARNTFor small NARs like we have in SADC, regional cooperation is the best way to address issues of research resource constraints -finance and human capitalNetworking and collaboration with IARs offers unique opportunities for human resources development and transfer of technologyResearch cooperation brings regional researchers together thus fostering integration.Public research institutions produce public goods and therefore the issue of non-state actors, especially the private sector, should be engaged with caution lest member state lose their intellectual property rights


I have not been following the work of regional agricultural cooper


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