Platform for African – European Partnership in Agricultural Research for Development

Monday, April 23, 2018

Policy PaperStrengthening Capacity for Agricultural Research for Development

11 April 2018. Release of the PAEPARD policy brief at the PAEPARD Steering Committee (Malawi, on Strengthening Capacity for Agricultural Research for Development (Richard Hawkins, Julia Ekong, Paul Nampala and Francois Stepman, March 2018, 24 pages) and a Note on Strengthening Capacity for Agricultural Research for Development : Collaboration for Results (8 pages)

PAEPARD experience clearly demonstrates that capacity strengthening needs change over time as partnerships face emerging challenges or acquire new insights. Early capacity strengthening efforts may be concentrated around identifying and accessing funding opportunities. Whilst consortia that have accessed funding, need to focus on strengthening their capacity in the chosen research area and scientific discovery. When a partnership moves to addressing market linkages for research outputs and widening the scope of the stakeholders involved, new challenges related to project management, value chain analysis and trust building begin to become more central to its effective functioning.

The policy paper paper takes a critical look at two key interventions identified to deliver the PAEPARD capacity strengthening strategy. 
  1. Firstly, the training of a pool  of agricultural innovation facilitators (AIF) to broker relations between relevant stakeholders for the consolidation of effective consortia. PAEPARD envisaged the role of AIF  as to support both the face-to-face and
    1. virtual (via skype, email or social media) engagement of partners in capacity strengthening processes.  
  2. The second key capacity strengthening intervention examined in this paper,  is the instrument of “writeshop”  to support consortia to produce “bankable” proposals in response  to identified funding opportunities.
In assessing the merits and limitations  of these interventions, among other capacity strengthening activities promoted by PAEPARD, the paper highlights that capacity strengthening should be understood as an iterative process, which must be able to adapt  to the changing needs of partnerships  as they develop. To conclude, the paper presents the primary lessons learned from the challenges and successes of PAEPARD capacity strengthening interventions, which will inform future ARD initiatives and funding mechanisms.
 
Recommendations on Multi-stakeholder collaboration to achieve impact (see Note page 1)
  1. The establishment of effective multi-stakeholder partnerships for agricultural research for development (ARD) requires a coherent and flexible capacity strengthening strategy to support the co-creation of knowledge, learning and innovation. In this way, partnerships can achieve positive impacts for the intended beneficiaries of research outputs, as long as: 
  2. An iterative and responsive capacity strengthening strategy is developed to support multistakeholder partnerships for ARD. It is important to recognize that the capacity strengthening needs of partnerships change as the partnership progresses and new challenges emerge. Capacity strengthening should therefore be understood as a continual process that needs to be regularly reviewed and adapted. 
  3. Time is invested in consolidating multi-stakeholder partnerships and establishing the different roles and capacities of the partners involved. It is necessary to bring stakeholders together in facilitated workshops to 
  4. establish a solid understanding of ARD, mobilize interaction between partners and allocate defined roles depending on the capacities of different partners.
  5. The multi-stakeholder partnership is supported to develop a strategic but flexible action plan for ARD to achieve maximum impact. Stakeholders need support to think strategically about the different pathways to innovation to ensure that the capacities of each partner are effectively utilised and the partnership is able to adapt to new challenges as they arise.
  6. The proposal writing capacities of stakeholders are strengthened to help ARD partnerships source funding. Workshops, or ‘writeshops’, to facilitate multi-stakeholder partnerships to develop strong proposals are important to help consortia compete for relevant funding opportunities.
  7. More funding opportunities for multi-stakeholder ARD partnerships are created. There are very few funding opportunities for AfricanEuropean ARD partnerships involving both research and ‘non-research’ organizations.
  8. Partners are facilitated to acquire new skills and capacities in areas that they are less familiar with to improve the functioning of the partnership. This includes analytical, project planning and management, and collaborative skills.
  9. External facilitation is acknowledged as necessary for effective reflection and learning as partnerships implement ARD projects. A feasible mechanism to fund external facilitators needs to be established so that partnerships can be supported to document the change process and capture the lessons learnt.
  10. The capacity of external or internal facilitators is built so that they can effectively respond to partnership needs. It is also important that the role of facilitators is clearly defined and understood by all partners.
  11. African partners are facilitated to recruit European organizations and incentivize them to participate in partnership activities. One solution is to develop and manage a database of potential European partners. 

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