Existing agricultural knowledge and statistics are spotty and unreliable in Africa – this despite the existence of official statistics agencies in most, if not all, African countries (housed either by national bureaus of statistics, National development planning commission, the national chamber of commerce, or within ministries of agriculture) with the responsibility to collect, manage, and make available reliable agricultural knowledge. This situation has substantially hampered efforts to ground agricultural planning and policymaking in evidence.  The case poses a substantial challenge to CAADP-Malabo Indicators and the monitoring of progress towards the biennial targets of these indicators which is tracked through Biennial Reviews (BR)[1]at country level.  This situation also poses challenges in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Several significant institutional developments in recent years by FARA and partners provide a valuable foundation for an attempt to improve Africa’s agricultural knowledge, information and data capture and dissemination in Africa:

As the bodies that coordinates agricultural research for development in Africa, the CAADP-XP4 Partners are a one stop-shop for technology, knowledge generation, networking, and information. In recent years, FARA, AFAAS & SROs has received several requests to mobilize and strengthen the collaboration of international and regional partners to enhance linkages of science (extension & Research) with business.  We consider this an opportunity to effectively engage with the private sector, strengthen technology adoption through commercialization of research products, and track the cross-border trade prospects that may arise from the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (ACFTA) agreement.

Operationalizing the Continental Data Capture Strategy (CDCS): FARA led the CAADP-XP4 institutions to develop and validate a CDCS for Africa Agriculture. The development of the CDCS was based on analysis of current strategies, documents, and systems, as well as interviews and workshops. The CDCS identified seven key recommendations to help ensure a sustainable knowledge capture programme. These are; (1) Continental Knowledge Development Goals, (2) Continental Knowledge Governance, Monitoring and Learning, (3) Continental Knowledge Products and Services, (4) Continental Knowledge Skills Programme, (5) Continental Knowledge Systems and Data Integration, (6) Continental Knowledge Communities (CoPs), and (7) Eight operational Knowledge Capturing processes.   While developing a CDCS in 2020, the CAADP-XP4 partners established a collective agenda christened the “Akosombo Integration Agenda”. The agenda (included in the CDCS document) also outlined seven key areas of integration, including the integration of (1) Knowledge Management Approaches, (2) KM Tools, (3) Knowledge Resource, (4) KM Processes, (5) Communities, (6) KM Capacity Development and (7) Knowledge Ecosystems for AR4D.

Therefore, this activity seeks to operationalize the recommendations of the CDCS by generating content for the CAADP-XP4 Institutions Knowledge Hubs, creating/consolidating Communities of Practice and strengthening the Knowledge ecosystem by building the capacities of about 25 KM country focal persons from about 15 African Countries and generating key knowledge products such as the country KM policies, organizational/national KM strategies, thematic knowledge briefs addressing key challenges and profiling of KM capacities at the country level, through a set of sub-activities collectively referred to as the Knowledge Management for Agricultural Development (KM4AgD) Challenge.  

The KM4AgD Challenge is an integrated, strategic, educational and transformational long-term initiative to advance sustainable agricultural knowledge societies, linked with research to create scientific substance, evidence and outreach for Africa AR4D . The KM4AgD Challenge shall be a lighthouse project for knowledge-based development in AR4D in Africa. It will take place annually in a growing number of countries.

It also seeks to operationalize the 2021 Accra Declaration on Knowledge Management for Agricultural Development (KM4AgD) Agenda for Africa by developing an impact pathway for the 10 recommended thematic areas.

Finally, the KM4AgD Challenge will contribute to accelerating the achievements of existing CAADP-XP4 initiatives on innovation, futures, extension and Capacities development including the Agricultural Research and Innovation Fellowship for Africa (ARIFA), the Africa Foresight Academy (AFA), the Research to Extension (R2E) Initiative, amongst others.

[1] The Comprehensive African Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) has created a process to increase countries’ ownership of data, inclusivity of data structures, and learning about agricultural progress amongst key stakeholders on the African continent. This process is called the CAADP Biennial Review (BR).