Key African institutions and CGIAR have drafted a new agriculture-for-development knowledge management (KM) framework for Africa to enhance research (and extension) collaboration that transforms and sustains food, land and water systems.

The framework was co-designed by staff from staff of the CAADP-X4P partnership including African Forum for Agricultural Advisory Services (AFAAS)Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in Eastern and Central Africa (ASARECA)Centre for Coordination of Agricultural Research and Development for Southern Africa (CCARDESA)West and Central African Council for Agricultural Research and Development (CORAF), Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) and Africa Union Commission’s Agriculture and Food Security Division. They worked alongside CGIAR communications and outreach staff from the Africa Rice Centre, Alliance of Bioversity International & CIAT, International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI).

This framework was part of from the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) Knowledge Management for Agricultural Development (KM4AgD) challenge, which brings together communication and knowledge management staff from across Africa to reflect and co-design KM strategies and good practices. The aim is to enable agricultural research and innovation, including extension services, to contribute effectively to food and nutrition security, economic development and climate mitigation in Africa. The program’s three-month course, in collaboration with the Knowledge for Development Partnership (K4DP), builds the individual and collective capacities of the critical supra-national agricultural research and innovation institutions.

The new framework was shared and endorsed at the FARA-led Science and Partnerships for Agriculture Conference held in Accra, Ghana, on 14–16 September, 2022. In his opening remarks, Simplice Noula Fonkou, head of the Agriculture and Food Security Division at the African Union Commission, commented: “We realize that our lack of appreciation of knowledge management over time has kept us back. FARA’s knowledge management initiative, under the CAADP-XP4 action, is helping to up the game of African institutions to ensure that knowledge is packaged, archived, disseminated, and utilized properly.”

Given the recent consultations between FARA, the Africa Union, African Development Bank (AfDB) and CGIAR regarding how best to work together to strengthen African agricultural development, the challenge for the group was to co-design a joint framework for collective action around knowledge management.

As Aggrey Agumya, FARA’s director of research and innovation mentioned, “FARA and CAADP-XP4 institutions have had a strong collaboration with individual CGIAR Research Centers. This group has made an important step forward to establish a framework on how we work together in a more seamless way.”

Tsehay Gashaw, ILRI and Patricia Oynango (Alliance) discussing. Source: FARA Flickr

After a SWOT analysis of the situation and an initial knowledge café within the context of the KM4AgD Challenge, the group used a KM framework within the Akosombo Integration Agenda to develop priority work areas. These priorities are around knowledge partnership, leadership, and governance; knowledge processes; knowledge products and services; and monitoring and evaluation.

The framework is underpinned by the guiding principles of the joint Communique on “The High-Level Consultative Forum on Strengthening Africa’s Agricultural Research and Innovation in the Context of the One CGIAR Reforms.” Some of the key challenges it expects to tackle include:

Establishing more systematic linkages between CGIAR and CAADP-XP4 partners: The partnership will look to establish formal and informal working ties between CGIAR centers and CAADP-XP4 partners. It will also emphasize learning as well as mechanisms such as use of the FARA Africa Dgroups Community in advancing knowledge sharing and learning.

Getting technologies to the field: The joint communique explicitly mentions the need to improve delivery of technologies to farmers “at the scale of millions of farmers and in particular, working through AfDB’s Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation (TAAT) to get to farmers at scale”. The joint framework builds upon this by including actions to support countries’ design strategies and policies. It also advocates for investment in digital extension and decentralizing information at extension level, thus bringing it closer to the farmers. Much of this work will be done through the African Forum for Agricultural Advisory Services (AFAAS) and its partners in the context of the Research to Extension Agenda (R2E Agenda). 

Developing open and interoperable systems: Ensuring that data is shared and used openly between CGIAR centers and national and supra-national organizations is critical. The framework lays out critical actions to ensure greater openness between institutions, and development of standardized data and information-sharing protocols. One immediate action will be the development of a network of DSpace users for sharing research outputs. In the short to medium term, the development of a continental knowledge graph for AR4D has been proposed. 

Making research processes more inclusive: A key priority for CGIAR and CAADP-XP4 partners is to improve priority setting in addition to instituting and ensuring a mechanism for effectively representing Africa’s priorities and research delivery. Knowledge sharing and management can support this effort through improved sharing and exchange, and a joint culture of working together on specific activities. This collaboration will particularly focus around KM products, events and resource mobilization as well as joint awards to recognize contributions on specific topics. The partners will also work to acknowledge the need to “decolonize” the research effort to make sure a diversity of knowledge systems and perspectives are recognized.

What remains to be done before full implementation is to have the key institutions sign off on the framework. 

The team that developed this framework included:

  • Peace Lydia Mutuwa, Africa Union Commission
  • Andrianjafy Rasoanindrainy (Andri Raso), AFAAS
  • Ben M. Ilakut, ASARECA
  • Bridget Kakuwa, CCARDESA
  • Benjamin Abugri , FARA
  • Murielle Anougbre, AfricaRice/CGIAR
  • Edith Mutui and Patricia Onyango, CIAT/CGIAR
  • Tsehay Gashaw, ILRI/CGIAR
  • Soji Oloyede and Olumide Adeniran, IITA/CGIAR

Michael Victor (ILRI) and Katherine Lopez (IITA) provided support throughout the process. This work has also contributed to ongoing efforts to develop a CGIAR knowledge management strategy.

If you are interested in learning more about the framework, please contact Tsehay Gashaw ([email protected]) and Bridget Kakuwa ([email protected]).