Nigeria’s ag Research Council lines up for progress
Our Foundation works hard to get research results “off the shelf” and into the hands of those who can benefit. Typically, that means smallholder farmers. But our Policy research needs to reach politicians and other decision-makers. A recent meeting in Nigeria further anchored our recommendations for the country’s agricultural R&D.
Reprioritizing R&D spending has been a major focus of our Policy team’s work over the last couple of years. In 2021, our partners Sahel Consulting and we studied the situation in Nigeria. “The findings* highlighted important reform opportunities”, comments our Policy Head Yuan Zhou. “Nigeria’s population continues to grow rapidly. To ensure food and nutrition security, we believe the national research agenda needs to shift to addressing climate change, nutrition, and sustainability.”
Studies are valuable, but it’s essential that the findings also get noticed by people who can enable such a shift. Sahel Consulting and we took the first such advocacy step in October 2021. “We presented the study results and recommendations at a high-level stakeholder meeting in Abuja”, says our local Country Manager Isaiah Gabriel. “Distinguished representatives from the public and private sectors, academia, and development all engaged in a very active discussion.”
At the end of 2022, our Nigerian team followed this up with a workshop at the Agricultural Research Council of Nigeria (ARCN), again in the capital Abuja. Isaiah is pleased with the results: “We exchanged ideas on how to advance Nigeria’s R&D agenda. ARCN then pledged to help the government take the necessary steps. Those include developing a national agricultural research policy, building capacity, and strengthening intellectual property rights. Another crucial step is to increase funding for agriculture and food R&D.”
ACRN’s Dr. Kidda Danjuma expressed his optimism that the workshop would “mark a breakthrough in the agricultural sector”. The event, he noted, fitted very well with current reform processes in the National Agricultural Research System, including ARCN itself. “Gone are the days”, declared Danjuma, “when researchers mainly just worked for promotions and recognition, with little thought of the end-users.”
The workshop participants came to an agreement on the priorities for change. “It’s clear to everyone that Nigeria needs a National Agricultural Research Policy aligned with the National Development Plans for 2021 to 2030”, Isaiah Gabriel summarizes. “Now it's high time to walk the talk."
Yuan Zhou and our Policy Program Manager Alva Kretschmer participated online. “We always aim to address the most important policy problems that limit smallholders’ productivity and access to markets”, comments Alva. “It was very encouraging to see at both Abuja meetings that our study clearly resonates with Nigerian stakeholders.”