The prospective Africa-Britain-China (ABC) trilateral agricultural technology (agri-tech) research programme has the potential to contribute to Africa’s agricultural transformation. Research, development, adaptation, and adoption of sustainable agri-tech solutions will help Africa meet the future demands and challenges of the agricultural sector. A strong and growing agricultural sector will in turn help feed Africa’s growing population and contribute to an expected $1 trillion agri-food industry by 2030. However, significant gaps still exist in agricultural research and development (R&D), which this should be addressed by mobilising public, private, and academic research expertise to develop and scale up new agricultural technologies that support critical value chains in Africa.
In this Scoping Study, a consortium formed by Elsevier BV, Development Finance International and CABI recommends an approach for the design of a future programme. This Study employed a programmatic and iterative approach, using skilled experts with global networks, and a deep knowledge of current and past global agricultural programmes. The consortium conducted a comprehensive assessment including: (i) bibliometric analysis of peer-reviewed and non-peer reviewed scientific publications, (ii) a desk-based review of key strategy, policy, investment, and programme documents, (iii) consultations with 157 stakeholders across Africa, Britain, and China, and (iv) four consultative workshops (in London, Beijing, Accra, and Nairobi). Through the consultation processes, stakeholders were receptive to a trilateral ABC agri-tech research programme, agreeing that there is a clear need to increase agricultural R&D for Africa and that a trilateral Africa-Britain-China approach could bring value by tapping into complementary expertise.
The key findings in this Scoping Study will serve as a foundation for the Steering Committee and future institutional partners to take the trilateral agri-tech research programme forward. Though many trade-offs will need to be considered, stakeholders broadly agreed on the following principal areas for consideration:
- Emphasise integration of implementation science
- Increase agricultural R&D investments and capacity in Africa
- Take a value chain approach
- Promote African ownership and align with Africa’s priorities
- Engage at higher political levels to seek co-funding
- Partner with the private sector
- Allow sufficient time.
This Scoping Study presents four programme design options, integrating these points of agreement while highlighting differentiating aspects. Each design option has a Strengths-Weaknesses-Opportunities-Threats (SWOT) analysis, which draws out some of the key trade-offs. Two of the programme design options follow a more traditional R&D fund model, the third option presents a “centres of excellence” model, and the fourth option proposes scaling up an existing programme. These four programme designs offer a menu of options from which the trilateral agri-tech research programme could be designed.
Anon. Scoping Study: Africa-Britain-China (ABC) Agricultural Technology Research Collaborations for International Development. Elsevier BV, Amsterdam, Netherlands (2016) 86 pp.