Across the globe, donors play a very crucial role in the social development process particularly in situations where state funds are limited. However, many of the projects funded by most donors have ended up collapsing due to sustainability and duration of the project.
For sustainability of agriculture funded project, the President, Biovision Foundation, Dr. Hans Herren, says, donors should deviate from influencing the decision making in agricultural research and consider the duration of funding.
“Some funding do not reflect the needs of the agricultural and food system of particular regions. It is time for funders to listen, fund areas elaborated by researchers and fund for the long term,” said Dr. Herren.
He was speaking during the second virtual roundtable meeting organized by JKUAT and Biovision Foundation, June 23, 2021.
The virtual meeting dubbed Transforming agricultural research funding towards sustainability, aimed at providing a platform to discuss pathways for transforming agricultural research funding towards more sustainability in line with agro-ecological principles.
Dr. Herren said with increasing population and challenges of climate change that have put pressure to agriculture and the food ecosystem, agroecology need to be embraced to nourish the agricultural ecosystem of the globe.
He further noted that decision-making informed by qualitative research should be an inclusive process that involves all the stakeholders in the agricultural ecosystem.
“We need coherent policy and coordinated models based on local inputs from all stakeholders for the agricultural and food system to be implemented, and need to understand that research is key in ensuring that we achieve the Sustainable Development Goals,” said Dr. Herren.
On her part, JKUAT Deputy Vice Chancellor in charge of Research, Production and Extension, Prof. Mary Abukutsa said, policy implementation and inadequate funding towards agricultural research is a hindrance to sustainable agricultural practice in the country and the region.
“We have good policies that need to be implemented for the success of agricultural research hence improving the livelihood of farmers and citizens at large,” posited Prof. Abukutsa.
According to Prof. Abukutsa, there is need for concerted efforts, partnership and collaboration throughout the value chain to tackle the issue of highly specialized research, which produces isolated solutions in Sub-Saharan Africa.
She further advocated for the involvement of the youth in agricultural research saying “with a youth population of 60% in the continent, it is paramount to involve the youth if we want to transform agriculture in the region.”
The Director of Research, Ministry of Agriculture, Dr. Oscar Magenya echoed Prof. Abukutsa noting that agricultural research has been underfunded and heavily depends on donor funding.
To curb this, Dr. Magenya said the players in the industry including development partners, academia, government agencies, farmers and the private sector need to come together and lobby the government through legislation for increased agricultural research funding.
With this, the Director is confident that researchers will delve into qualitative research that will produce bespoke and relevant research outputs thus enhancing the food ecosystem of the country.
The second virtual roundtable was moderated by the Dean, School of Food and Nutrition Sciences, Prof. Daniel Sila, and it provided a platform to develop ideas and specific actions to overcome existing deadlocks in order to transform agricultural research funding towards more sustainability.
The first virtual roundtable meeting was held in April 14, 2020 and provided substantial inputs on the status of funding flows to agricultural research in sub-Saharan Africa and how they shape food and farming pathways.