By James Laraki (December 7, 2012)
MOST of the challenges we face in agriculture and natural resource management can be addressed through innovation. But like in many developing nations, we do not have sufficient resources and capacities to develop appropriate innovation systems more effectively. This capacity gap is becoming a serious concern, especially in the tropics where poverty is persistent and government support is lacking. In fact, world leaders have expressed concerns that investment in agriculture innovation in low-income countries in the tropics are less than 10% of the total global investment in agriculture research, innovations and development.
In an effort to address this problem, the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations has developed a platform aimed at strengthening agricultural systems in targeted countries in the tropics.
The platform known as the Tropical Agricultural Platform (TAP) was officially launched at the first G20 meeting of Agriculture Chief Scientists on 26 September in Guadalajara, Mexico. TAP was developed at the request of the G20 Agriculture Ministers, with the endorsement by the G8 leadership.
The platform aimed at improving effectiveness and efficiency in knowledge sharing and capacity development through new and existing systems will be functioning under a special operational framework. This framework defining the general conditions and obligations of TAP was adopted by partners during the second Global Conference on Agricultural Research for Development, pre-conference meeting held in Punta del Este, Uruguay on 28 October 2012. In adopting the operational framework, participating partners also discussed on how TAP will operate including; guidelines and functions, provisions, responsibilities and general commitments of partners, and its organizational structure.
TAP is designed to facilitate more effective and streamlined capacity development interventions in innovation systems in tropical agriculture. It is created to focus specifically on capacity development in the least developed countries. Through TAP, the partners seek to develop the capacity of agricultural innovation systems in the following ways:
TAP will provide a mechanism for all actors to communicate, exchange ideas, knowledge, experiences, and practices, and work in a coordinated manner, learning from each other about capacity development policies and practices that work.
TAP will identify appropriate capacity development practices and support ownership by national stakeholders in developing countries. This platform has the potential to boost activities such as on-the-job learning, placements, actions of research and more flexible and tailored approaches such as coaching and mentoring, together with e-learning, organizational development and support to learning networks, linking to on-going post secondary and tertiary education support initiatives in agriculture.
PNG is likely to benefit from this new initiative as the National Agricultural Research Institute is a partner to this through its affiliation to the Asia-Pacific Association of Agricultural Research Institutions (APAARI) and through NARI Director General Dr Raghunath Ghodake who will be the focal point representing APAARI on TAP. He will also be serving on the TAP Interim Steering Committee, which will be responsible for the implementation of the TAP plan of work.
This is an opportunity for us as TAP aims to bring together institutions from G20 countries and least developed countries to foster global, regional, and national high level policy dialogues leading to international cooperation. TAP will comprise a coalition of willing and committed partners including the global and regional fora and networks, national agricultural research, education and extension institutions as well as the private sector, civil society and farmers’ organizations TAP will also link centres of excellence and strengthen interaction, coordination and collective action, while avoiding duplication, fragmentation and working in silos, thus increasing synergies.
As a potential partner, we will have to determine the nature and extent of our participation in this initiative. To do so, we must demonstrate that we are willing and committed to such efforts. We have to demonstrate that through our own efforts towards promoting innovative agricultural development. This can only be achieved through consistent investment in agriculture, particularly in research to develop technologies and innovations which are crucial agents in innovative agriculture and rural development. Regional and international initiatives such as TAP should only be seen to be contributing to our initiatives, efforts and willingness to benefit.
Photo: Participating partners in attendance to adopt the operational framework of TAP in Punta Este, Uruguay