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AfricaRice and TAFS-WCA make their mark at the AASW8 2023 in Durban

The 8th African Agro-Industry and Science Week (AASW8) and the 9th General Assembly of the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) were held in Durban from June 5 to 8, 2023, bringing together thousands of stakeholders involved in agricultural research, innovation, and entrepreneurship in Africa. The objectives of this year's edition were to assess progress in research and innovation, exchange information, establish a network, build contacts, create business alliances and develop a list of priorities for concerted action with a view to improving the productivity and competitiveness of Africa's agricultural sector. Hence the theme: Linking Science, Innovation, and Agri-Business for Resilient Food Systems. The overall theme explored five sub-themes: i) Linking science and economics to boost intra-African trade; ii) Nutrition- and gender-sensitive food systems; iii) Climate resilience, natural resource management and transition of agricultural systems; iv) Knowledge management, digitization and youth entrepreneurship; v) Policies, institutions, capacities. This scientific week combined plenary sessions and several parallel events.

It was organized by FARA in collaboration with its CAADP XP4 partners, the Government of the Republic of South -Africa and many other partners, including the Global Research Partnership for Food Secure (CGIAR). June 6 was marked by the plenary session organized by the CGIAR under the theme: Strengthening the partnership between the CGIAR and African research and innovation players.

The Africa Rice Center (AfricaRice) and the Transformation of Agri-Food Systems in West and Central Africa (TAFS-WCA), led by a delegation headed by AfricaRice Director General Dr Baboucarr Manneh and TAFS-WCA Lead Dr Arouna Aminou, were present at this major gathering. During discussions at the CGIAR plenary session, Dr Aminou, Lead of the TAFS-WCA initiative, explained the approach used in the initiative and the importance of partnerships: "In our demand-driven approach, which aims to reach not thousands but millions of people, we don't bring innovation directly to farmers. We start from a market opportunity, bringing players, especially producers, to market, and connecting them to demand. Then, to satisfy this demand, we offer our co-designed and proven innovations. In West and Central Africa, we are currently working in six countries with National Agricultural Research Systems( NARS) (CSIR in Ghana, CNRA in Côte d'Ivoire, NCRI in Nigeria, RAB in Rwanda, ISABU in Burundi, INERA in DRC) and the private sector (e.g. Green Sahel in Nigeria) to promote the adoption and scaling-up of innovation products".

As a contribution and involvement to the improvement of Science and Agriculture in Africa and to the success of the event, AfricaRice and TAFS-WCA also organized a hybrid side event on June 7 under the theme: "Inclusive digital agribusiness model for jobs and scaling innovations in West and Central Africa".

The session was rich in experience sharing, learning and included presentations and a panel discussion. Participants included IITA, IWMI, ABC, CIP, CORAF, ICIPE, WorldFish, WorldVeg and NARS partners. Over sixty participants exchanged information on recent achievements in digital projects and programs, digital agro-industry programs, youth and women entrepreneurship and readiness for scale-up. It also provided an opportunity to facilitate exchanges between the various stakeholders involved in agriculture, research and innovation, and to discuss partnership prospects. Some of TAFS-WCA's achievements for the year 2022 were presented. These include training in the RiceAdvice business model design tool (offered to two private players and 50 young people and women), training stakeholders in climate-smart agriculture to improve their resilience in the face of climate change, the introduction of innovations such as post-harvest loss reduction technologies (PICS bags), benefiting over 960 beneficiaries), a training manual has also been developed as a tool to support women's entrepreneurship in the agri-food sector, etc.

Suggestions on key strategies to enhance inclusive entrepreneurship in the agribusiness sector in West and Central Africa were also part of the exchanges.


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