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GFAR

The Global Forum on Agricultural Research (GFAR) brings together all those working to strengthen and transform agricultural research for development around the world. As part of this role, GFAR is working with New Agriculturist to showcase and raise awareness of important initiatives and their outcomes, to update and inspire others.

Building capacity to innovate

Initiatives to develop agricultural innovation capacities of tropical countries are generally small-scale (© FAO/Riccardo Gangale)
Initiatives to develop agricultural innovation capacities of tropical countries are generally small-scale
© FAO/Riccardo Gangale

In developing countries, so many of the challenges facing agriculture and natural resources management can be addressed through innovation. But many developing countries don't have the resources or capacities to develop their innovation systems effectively. The 'capacity gap' is worse in the tropics, where poverty is pervasive and initiatives to develop agricultural innovation capacities of tropical countries are generally small-scale with high transaction costs, have limited impact and are not well coordinated or in synergy with each other. Additionally, they often do not match the needs of the country, inadequately consider needs of other sectors and may overlook the specific demands of national agricultural markets.

Meeting a demand

To respond to this capacity gap, the G20 Agriculture Ministers meeting in June 2011 requested FAO to take the lead in developing a Tropical Agriculture Platform (TAP) to facilitate more effective and streamlined capacity development interventions in innovation systems in tropical agriculture. In September 2011, a concept note was discussed at the G20 Conference on Agricultural Research for Development, in Montpellier, and further developed to a project proposal through an informal stakeholder consultation in Rome in December 2011. The proposal was endorsed by the G20 Agriculture and Development Working Groups in early 2012 and by the G20 Leaders' Summit in Mexico, in June 2012. The G8 members also endorsed the development of TAP at their Summit held in the US in May 2012.

TAP will provide a mechanism for actors to communicate and learn from each other about capacity development policies and practices (© FAO/Riccardo Gangale)
TAP will provide a mechanism for actors to communicate and learn from each other about capacity development policies and practices
© FAO/Riccardo Gangale

Launched at the first G20-led Meeting of Agriculture Chief Scientists in September 2012 in Mexico, TAP will contribute to greater coherence of capacity development interventions through support of less developed countries by actors in more advanced agricultural innovation systems. The Platform will provide a mechanism for actors to communicate, exchange ideas, knowledge, experiences and practices, and work in a more coordinated way, learning from each other about capacity development policies and practices that work. These partnerships must acknowledge national leadership and ownership and be aligned with national plans and demands. By fostering partnerships and developing shared visions, the aim is to steer capacity development for agricultural innovation along a more coherent path and to arrive at development solutions at scale that have lower transaction costs and greater impact, contributing to food security and environmental sustainability.

The role of GCARD

In 2012, more than 30 organisations - including national, regional and international agricultural research, education and extension institutions, the private sector, civil society and farmers' organisations - have joined TAP as partners. The Second Global Conference on Agricultural Research for Development (GCARD2) has focused particular attention on this new international initiative working to bring about large scale action in capacity development responding to the critical needs identified in the GCARD Roadmap. The first TAP meeting took place in Punta del Este during a pre-conference event at GCARD2 where partners met and discussed progress achieved so far, the operational framework for TAP, and memberships of the TAP General Assembly and Steering Committee. A dialogue with a wide range of GFAR stakeholders was also initiated in the GCARD2 session on institutional knowledge and learning. The principal recommendation emerging from the session was that emerging and established global and regional platforms for capacity development, notably TAP, together with TEAM-Africa and INNOVAGRO, must foster partnerships between all actors to enable more coherent approaches to improve institutional capacity development and knowledge sharing and continue to support institutional learning and change at all levels.

TAP stakeholder consultation (© TAP)
TAP stakeholder consultation
© TAP

Both events helped to establish the TAP partnership and to begin its programme of work. In the first half of 2013 TAP partners will focus on assessing current priorities, capacities and needs in agricultural innovation systems, leading to the formulation of a strategic action plan for the Platform. A conference in June 2013 will be hosted by China where partners will establish a framework for coordinated actions and develop three services to help boost innovation: the 'Policy-dialogue Space' allowing for greater dialogue and interaction, and in turn, better formulated and more transparent national policies in support of capacity development for agricultural innovation; the 'Marketplace', brokering existing demands and offers of capacity development for agricultural innovation; and 'TAPipedia' offering a global information system for the outputs of innovation, success stories, lessons learned and analyses of impacts.

The future success of TAP depends on the active participation of partners that represent agricultural research, including education and extension institutions in the G20 and less developed countries, the private sector, civil society and farmers' organisations, key international agencies and national fora, development banks and funding agencies. The TAP Secretariat hosted by FAO welcomes active contributions by these organisations and other interested stakeholders.

Written by: Karin Nichterlein, FAO

Date published: January 2013

 

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