Platform for African – European Partnership in Agricultural Research for Development

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

ARCH: European Agricultural Research towards greater impact on global CHallenges

26 May 2015. Brussels. DG RTD. 8th Meeting of the Joint EIARD-SCAR Strategic Working Group.

High Level Policy Dialogue Roadmap for a EU-AU partnership in Agricultural Research and Innovation : current development and next steps.

As a follow-up in the HLPD process two working-groups were set up, which are mandated to further develop:
  1. The landscape and instruments for the short-to medium-term, with a specific focus on Member States bilateral activities, as the main ideas in the current paper build on existing EC funded instruments (UK/South Africa in the lead) and 
  2. Monitoring and Evaluation (Portugal /Burkina Faso in the lead). 
A third working-group is likely to be set addressing the long-term model for cooperation, but this depends on internal consultations and discussions that are taking place in the EC, the AUC and Member States.

To support the HLPD process an ERA-Net Cofund action is envisaged with a Commission contribution of 10 m. euro, and 20 m. euro from EU and AU member states. Some discussion is on-going regarding the best timing. If the call for an ERA-Net Cofund is launched in work programme 2016 a proposal should be submitted by EU/AU funding agencies by mid-February 2016. A successful ERA-Net Cofund would launch its call most likely at the end of 2016, with projects being selected and funded in 2017. Further potential topics are on the Role of innovation, Earth observation and Infrastructure.

Local innovation needs and an EU-African Research and Innovation agenda - The role of COLEACP in Food Safety and Sustainability in the African Fruit and Vegetable Sector.
  • COLEACP is a private sector not for profit association of ACP/EU producers and exporters of Fruit and Vegetables in between ACP countries and Europe. It was established in 1973. Basically they do not do research themselves, but scale up and adapt and facilitate uptake. They are also good at creating links with companies and capturing research needs. . 
  • Examples were given where companies acted as a key factor for market demands such as food safety and sustainability. COLEACP is a knowledge provider to ACP farmers, by technical assistance and training, using existing knowledge to scale up. They face a lack of public support to extension services, which is partly taken over by the private sector. 
  • Since COLEACP has a long-term record, they are enabled to impact. Local innovation is addressed, but the inclusion of the private sector needs to be much improved. At the same time, the European research expertise for 'the tropics' is being eroded, due to fund restrictions, but even more so to a lack of researchers and students.

National developments in bridging AR and ARD: MoU between Teagasc and Irish Aid.
  • Irish Aid works through national agriculture systems in 9 partner countries. The policy emphasises the need for a whole-of-government approach with other Irish institutions focus areas, hence bringing in national coherence.
  • Hunger Committee brings together a number of government departments meeting four times a year, at director's level. This is really whole of government approach in practice.
  • Ireland takes research seriously and is very much knowledge and research driven. They also engage with research organisations including CGIAR, Universities and Teagasc, and the private sector. Teagasc is very committed to supporting Irish aid activities. More recently, there has been renewed emphasis on role of Agriculture in tackling food and nutrition security and overall economic development.
  • There is a growing expectation at national policy level that Teagasc and other State agencies should use their expertise in support of the national overseas development programme
  • Teagasc is aligned with Irish Aid’s development programme 
  • Teagasc ran a large foresight study from 2006-2008 identifying Food Security as a central theme.
  • TEAGASC benefits from this MoU as a basis to be leader in certain sectors (like livestock). The MoU also promotes new linkages with significant international partners. The partnership will be reviewed in 2016.

The EU DG Research strategy on food and nutrition security
The development of the EU DG Research strategy on food and nutrition security (started Milan 8 May) See for online consultation. The consultation will remain open for contributions until the 1st September 2015.
  • This is an expert paper, not a Commission paper and as such will not end up as a Communication from the Commission. 
  • The HLPD dialogue is another element that addresses the European vision on Food and Nutrition Security. These could come together on 15th October when two Commissioners will attend the final presentation of the expert paper. 
  • The Commission is thinking of working closer to food industry as food lacks a big flagship even though it is the biggest employer in the EU. There has been a problem that innovation has often been very secretive due to economic interests. Could there be something relevant for the public domain? Complicating factor is that SMEs are not well represented in Brussels. 
  • The European Commission is organising a workshop on 19th June in Milan to launch the discussion on how we see the future of European agricultural research and innovation until 2020 and, beyond, for the following decade. A agricultural research and innovation conference to be held in Brussels on 26th – 28th January 2016 in Brussels will close the process. 
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