Senior Research Staff, IFPRI West and Central Africa
Discussing next steps in the harmonisation process, the role or ReSAKSS as well as the rise in agricultural productivity in Africa.
Harmonising CAADP reporting
IFPRI research officer on the role of ReSAKSS and the development of African agricultural productivity
Online/Kampala, 14 Nov 2012. IFPRI researcher Godfrey Bahiigwa presents the Regional Strategic Analysis and Knowledge Support System (ReSAKSS) and how it helps with the implementation of CAAPD. One example for this is the support for the development of national investment plans. The policy research provided by ReSAKSS, he says, is crucial for informing policy-makers at various levels. Bahiigwa also acknowledges the difficulties and intricacies of harmonising CAADP reporting and explains the rise of agricultural productivity in Africa.
Read the transcript with minor edits below.
// Role and responsibilities of ReSAKSS
Platform secretariat: Godfrey, recently you have been appointed to the position of the Africa-wide coordinator of ReSAKSS, CAADP's Regional Strategic Analysis and Knowledge Support System. With regard to CAADP implementation, where does the research of ReSAKSS come in? Could you illustrate ReSAKSS' supporting role with a practical example?
Godfrey Bahiigwa: The role of ReSAKSS is supporting CAADP implementation, to bring to the table knowledge and information, to guide regional communities and countries in formulating national or regional investment plans, implementing them as well as reporting. So that is the general role. With regard to specific examples, as recent as this week, I received a request by the African Union Commission in partnership with the pan-African parliament in South Africa. They are organising a meeting for the chairperson of the agriculture committee of parliament and they wanted to be able to report on the performance of African countries in the two key indicators of CAADP. That is the six per cent growth and ten per cent allocation of budget. So, the African Union wanted to ensure that they have this information to present to the parliamentarians. They requested ReSAKSS to provide this type of information. It's very simple and it's an easy way to communicate with the members of parliament. Fortunately, we were ready for them because this day, we just produced the Annual Trends and Outlook Report and it had that information. So, all we had to do was extract that information and they were quite happy with what we provided.
The role of ReSAKSS is supporting CAADP implementation, to bring to the table knowledge and information and to guide regional communities and countries in formulating national or regional investment plans.
Secretariat: From the perspective of your new role as Africa-wide coordinator, where do you see the key areas of ReSAKSS' work in the coming years? Do you see newly evolving focus areas? Watch.
G.B.: I think we need to recognise the area where we have the greatest strength: This has been monitoring and evaluation, better tracking of implementation of CAADP on the continent, reporting to the Annual Trends and Outlook Report - I think that has been our biggest achievement. Looking forward, we would like to continue with that. In the coming years, in addition to continuing with the Annual Trends and Outlook Report at the regional and continent level, we are taking that to the country level. Member countries are also beginning to produce their Annual Trends Report and that is a good tool to be used at the country level. So we'd like that to move foward.
With regard to new areas of work, ReSAKSS is involved in helping countries to establish national SAKSS nodes. The objective of that is to strengthen capacity at the national level for monitoring, for reporting at country level, for improving peer review and national dialogue in the interest of improving the quality of policy-making and also accountability at that level. We're looking at strengthening country SAKSS nodes as another big piece of work for ReSAKSS in the coming year.
Secretariat: Maybe you could explain briefly what a national SAKSS node is? Watch.
G.B.: What we envision is a network of individuals and institutions at country level that are involved in agricultural policy research - this can be composed of a policy and planning unit in a Ministry of Agriculture which can be the core and center of a national SAKSS node. But then the network is composed of national back-up providers, for example National Bureaus of Statistics. It can involve national policy research institutions, it can involve investors and also private sector organisations - all coming together in a network to improve the quality of policy-making, planning, monitoring of agricultural policy in a particular country.
// Quality policy research for improvements in policy-making
Secretariat: So where do you see the particular relevance of evidence-based policy and programming processes? That's where ReSAKSS is supposed to work in and that's the link to CAADP, isn't it? Watch.
G.B.: If I could draw the attention to the formulation of national agricultural investment plans in the modern African countries that have developed their CAADP latest investment plans: Almost all of them have used evidence to be able to inform the design of those investment plans and to make the best choice of investment that would bring about improved productivity and food security. One of the organisations that have been at the forefront of helping countries with evidence has been IFPRI. Certainly almost all the member states of ECOWAS did benefit from IFPRI policy research to inform their national investment plan. In the COMESA region, over half of the states that have signed the national investment plans, have used IFPRI-related research. In addition to IFPRI, there's also other research organisations at country level and regional level. Almost all countries have had to draw on the research and evidence that has been cut to inform their choice of investment. Clearly, having research that brings evidence to the table is quite important, especially during the process of national investment plans. But we're also seeing that for countries that already have investment plans, doing monitoring and also national dialogue and review, evidence is called for in those respects.
// Increases in agricultural productivity in Africa__ Temporary or sustainable?
Secretariat: You mentioned the Annual Trends and Outlook Report. One of the major findings was that productivity levels of African agriculture recovered and are catching up with the levels of the early 1960s. Is this a temporary phenomenon or can we expect productivity levels to rise further? Watch.
G.B.: Overall, productivity has increased from the mid-1980s to the mid-2000s. But as you correctly said, it is more or less recovering or catching up to the levels of the 1960s. I don't think it's a temporary phenomenon for several reasons: One, in the last ten to 15 years, we've seen increased interest and investments by African governments in agriculture. That is a strong piece of evidence to think about. Following the 2008 World Bank report that highlighted the importance of agriculture for economic transformations, we've seen global interest in agriculture at the policy level but also the private sector level. The private sector is getting interested in African agriculture.
The private sector is getting interested in African agriculture.
The combination of global interest and national and continental commitment, we think, will turn into more sustainable investments than we have seen before. Thirdly, even national level private sector are increasingly getting interested in financing agriculture. So, in addition to public sector investment, we see rising trends of private sector investment. We believe that this around, the benefits are likely to last longer than before when predominantly the public sector financed it. Even if we see public sector spending stagnating and declining in some cases, the fact that private sector spending is rising gives me confidence to think that this time, the rising productivity may be more sustainable than before.
// Harmonising CAADP reporting__ High-level meetings planned
Secretariat: At the recent CAADP business meeting, ReSAKSS was tasked with making suggestions to harmonise the five different Progress Reporting mechanisms that inform the CAADP Results Framework (note from Secretariat: CAADMP M&E, The MDTF Results Framework, The Results Matrix for 2012-13 CAADP Implementation Support Priorities, Grow Africa Results Framework, The Action Matrices in the New Alliance Country Cooperation Framework). Where are you at with this? Where are the difficulties and what needs to be done here? Watch.
G.B.: The meeting called for the harmonising of the various reporting mechanisms to fit the overall CAADP framework. Looking at the indicators and industrial marks, I am aligning specific programme indicators. Now, the mandate was actually given to three organisations: The African Union Commission, the NEPAD Planning and Coordination Agency (NPA) as well as ReSAKSS. As a coordinator, I have been in touch with NPA and AUC and we have planned for an initial meeting the first half of December to work out a mechanism on how to achieve that harmonisation. Following that initial meeting, what is going to happen later is to get in touch with the various leaders of the different initiatives to work with them to ensure that their own reporting mechanisms talks to the overall CAADP command PP. That most likely will happen maybe in the first quarter of 2013. Maybe in January or February, we'll be in the position to call the leaders of the various initiatives to a first meeting. The idea is to report on progress and have met before the next PP which is planned for the end of March 2013. By then, we should have progress in that area.
Secretariat: It seems to be difficult in practice to form some incentives for change. How do you make people change their way of reporting? Watch.
G.B.: That is not something simple to do. But I'm hoping that the incentive is going to be the fact that they all report to the same forum, which is the CAADP PP. I think it would be good if every initiative is seen to be aligning to the overall CAADP. I'm not assuming that it's going to be easy but I'm assuming that the indicators being related in such a high-level forum would be an incentive for them to comply.
// Continued support needed to keep up research
Secretariat: The Global Donor Platform is a network of 34 donor organisations and agricultural research is currently one of its focus areas. Why should donors invest in agricultural research? Watch.
G.B.: The progress in raising agricultural productivity in Africa has come out of improving efficiency of the current resources that farmers are using - and not from technological change. What that tells us is that in the future, productivity rise will have come from technological change. That requires that we prepare ourselves to generate the technologies that can be made available to farmers. And that, in turn, requires continuing investment in agricultural research. If you look at the trends for agricultural financing on the continent, at best we are stable but in many countries, there are actually declining shares of agricultural research in the national budget. Hence the need to have continued external support of agricultural research in Africa. In the short run, as we talk to African governments to increase agricultural research funding, I think we need to request continued agricultural funding on the continent. Because short of that, we will not be able to generate the technology that will sustain or increase agricultural productivity on the continent. Now, that is from an agricultural and scientific standpoint
To be able to improve the quality of policy planning, we need quality research done.
When it comes to ReSAKSS, which does policy research, I make the same argument: To be able to improve the quality of policy planning, investment planning, analysis, monitoring and review, we need quality research done and bring it to the table to inform policy discussions and choices - with the African Union, regional economic committees or even countries. And that is where the continued support for ReSAKSS is called for. But also, like I mentioned, we want to take this to the country level. So, support for ReSAKSS to be able to expand the work to include countries is going to be very critical. The initial funding that has come from IFAD and The Netherlands for the next three years will help to support the establishment of national country SAGs in about 15 countries. But you know that there are 54 countries on the continent, so again more support will be needed for us to be able to expand our efforts to cover all the countries on the contitent and especially the countries that have already signed the CAADP compact and investment plan.
// Future work with the Platform
Secretariat: Are there specific ways the Platform's network character can support the work of ReSAKSS? Watch.
G.B.: I'm not yet familiar with the operations of the Global Donor Platform so as I get more into the job, that is an avenue I am going to explore. Certainly, it is a good platform for us to present ReSAKKS as a concept but also its outputs. We'll be exploring ways to optiise and maximise the opportunities that the Global Donor Platform offers. I'll be looking forward to your advice on how we could do that.
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The interview was conducted by Pascal Corbé of the Platform secretariat.