Farming on a slope in Colombia illustrates the risks when farmers are forced to grow crops on unsuitable land | Photo: T Chancellor
Farming on a slope in Colombia illustrates the risks when farmers are forced to grow crops on unsuitable land | Photo: T Chancellor

Climate change and the prospect of more frequent droughts in Africa are leaving farmers across the region facing an uncertain future and increasing risks of food insecurity. NRI is participating in a new project being implemented by the European Alliance on Agricultural Knowledge for Development (Agrinatura) which is designed to support an EC-funded Initiative – the Development of Smart Innovation through Research in Agriculture (DeSIRA).

Together they will contribute to climate-relevant, productive and sustainable transformation of agriculture and food systems in low and middle-incomes countries.

The objective of the Agrinatura-led project ‘Leveraging the DeSIRA Initiative for Agri-Food Systems Transformation’, abbreviated to ‘DeSIRA-LIFT’, is to support the DeSIRA initiative and its current and future activities in order to optimize its impact. ‘DeSIRA-LIFT’ is funded by the European Commission’s Directorate-General for International Partnerships (DG-INTPA) and led by Wageningen University & Research, the Netherlands. The project will support DG-INTPA to deliver impact in this flagship initiative, including enhancing capacities of country-based implementers of climate-oriented innovation systems, supporting key research organisations to work effectively together in promoting agricultural innovation systems, sharing information and experience and contributing to the policy dialogue on agri-food system transformation.

NRI’s Dr Laxmi Pant, an agricultural innovation systems specialist, together with COLEACP (an association of companies and experts committed to sustainable agriculture) is co-leading one of the project’s three support service areas, which provides support to the regional and sub-regional research and extension organisations in Africa. NRI’s contribution to this project builds on its experience in agricultural innovation systems thinking and practice. This incorporates the recognition that the innovation and development performance of a region depends not only on scientific research excellence, but also on how different actors engage in co-creating and using knowledge and technologies. The innovation systems approach has been widely adopted in building capacity for scientific research and technology development, as well as facilitating effective collaboration of the public, private, and non-profit private actors, such as through the formation of multi-stakeholder innovation platforms.

This is highly relevant to the DeSIRA initiative, which launched in 2018 from a growing recognition that many different people and organisations help bring about agricultural innovation, each playing a crucial role to ensure success, but not necessarily working together efficiently. Knowledge generation is a key part of the innovation process and scientific research is central to this. However, experience has shown that a combination of traditional academic research and participatory research with farmers and other ‘innovation actors’ is most likely to deliver impact. In other words, fully involving the people on the ground with the results and actions that come from scientific expertise will ensure the best outcome

Links: DeSIRA-LIFT project