TAAT poised to lead agricultural revolution in Africa

17 August 2017

Scientists, representatives of development agencies, agricultural experts, representatives from national agricultural research and extension systems (NARES), Youth Agripreneurs, and entrepreneurs from the private sector and beyond the African continent, assembled in IITA, Ibadan, Nigeria, 7–11 August, to review and hammer out the implementation details of the proposed African Development Bank (AfDB)-funded Technologies for Agricultural Transformation (TAAT) program.

The TAAT appraisal workshop, organized by IITA and AfDB was led by Dr. Jonas Chianu, Principal Agricultural Economist and a team of AfDB other bank officials. The purpose of the meeting was to appraise and finalize work on the TAAT program framework document for the AfDB Board’s consideration.

In his opening remarks, Dr. Chianu expressed his satisfaction at the number of stakeholders who responded to the invitation to this important meeting. He said that although the meeting was convened at very short notice, it was to help gather ideas on various modalities of the program implementation. Hence, he urged participants to be diligent and hardworking in initiating ideas and suggestions for all areas of the TAAT program which would be coalesced into two documents for the Bank’s consideration and approval. These are the Project Appraisal document and the Implementation document, which he said would “contain information that enables the implementers to know what they have promised to do and how they have promised to do it.”

In his address to the audience, the IITA Director General, Dr. Nteranya Sanginga said he was delighted to see an array of eminent scholars and scientists from development agencies assemble together in one place for the TAAT appraisal workshop. He spoke on three parameters which informed the philosophy behind the program: reducing the high import food bill, creating jobs for the teeming unemployed youth, and raising agricultural productivity in the continent. Dr. Sanginga said he looked forward to partners, such as the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), working on policies that would attract and enable African governments to embrace and adopt local content in agriculture. He also emphasized the critical role of the private sector partnering with other institutions, when he said:

“For example, Dangote is planning to invest US$6 billion in rice production in Nigeria, but he gets seeds from China. This is the time when the seed system in the continent should play an important role in providing a source of seed supply to such big ventures in Africa.”

Dr. Kehinde Makinde, head of the Agricultural Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) delegation, remarked that TAAT is a great opportunity for AGRA to work with several others to deliver on the program’s overall goals. “AGRA has prioritized partnerships as a way of delivering impact in the rural areas and will be working with governments as well.”

The execution of the TAAT program will be done through partnerships with many developmental partners such as IFPRI, the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA), and AGRA. In an interview, Dr. Chianu said the partnership is key because the amount of work in TAAT is enormous. Without the partnership, we cannot go far; as we all know two heads are better than one.”

He also asserted the Bank’s confidence in achieving its goal for TAAT. “It is not really about AfDB, it is about AfDB and its partners like the World Bank and AGRA, and working with the national systems and the private sector”.

As a partner, FARA has an enormous role to play as the capacity development enabler. Dr. Irene Annor-Frempong, Director for Research and Innovation at FARA, spoke on FARA‘s role in a brief interview. She said her organization would adopt an innovative approach of holistic capacity development “where we are not just concerned about training an individual but training individuals and linking them to an enabling environment. Those individuals are supposed to operate to ensure that training is sustainable. The other approach is the innovation platform approach. The essence is to ensure that the development of a commodity is linked to the market for the benefit of the end-user so that socioeconomic impact is achieved.”

Giving a clear picture of the role of the youth in TAAT, Dr. Haly Louise Djoussou-Lorng, AfDB Country Manager, Mali, said they will play a key promotional role by going into the value chain and implementing activities. So the youth program is an enabler under TAAT.”

TAAT is set to execute a bold plan to achieve rapid agricultural transformation across Africa through raising agricultural productivity along eight priority intervention areas (PIAs) and over 18 agricultural commodity value chains. The first phase of the program will begin with ten Tier 1 countries chosen based on readiness and opportunity indicators, among others, with nine commodities also chosen based on the potential for an early impact.

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