AICCRA contributes to debate on Africa-led innovations in agriculture

AICCRA thematic leader Caroline Mwongera joined a seminar on Africa-led innovations in agriculture, hosted jointly by the European Centre for Development Policy Management (ECDPM) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation on 24 January.

Speakers discussed Africa-led innovations in agriculture, the current challenges and financial gaps for further progress, and how partners can help bridge these gaps via research and financing. 

Caroline's speaking notes are reported here. 

Context | Climate-smart agriculture and climate services in Africa

Several best-best innovations have been identified to transform food system in Africa.

  • Accelerating Impacts of CGIAR Climate Research for Africa (AICCRA) works to validate climate-smart agriculture (CSA) and climate information services (CIS) innovations which include: i) evaluating gender and social inclusion smartness ii) development of a framework for bundling gender-responsive packages iii) collaborating with national agencies to support the validation iv) linking to technology transfer systems, and v) inform policies and investments at continental level.
  • AICCRA is developing interventions that will enable women and youth to establish market opportunities through awareness programs in connection with existing innovation platforms and farmer group.
  • The AICCRA approach works to integrate CSA/CIS using a food system lens. For example, incorporating CSA bundles with 'One Health' principles in Ghana.
  • Together with national partners and other CGIAR centers, AICCRA is harnessing the potential of digital tools, such as RiceAdvice to foster the transformation of rice-based systems in Mali.

Why is CSA/CIS is not happening at scale

  • CIS and CSA technologies are not reaching women because of the limited customization of programs targeting their interests.
  • There is insufficient focus on climate risks; with development activities ‘retrofitting’ action on climate adaptation.
  • The long-term viability and effectiveness of solutions remain untested.
  • There are narrow definitions of “success” in climate adaptation.
  • Insufficient attention is given to who benefits and how.

What is needed for adaptation in Africa

Innovations are a necessary but insufficient factor in transforming food systems under climate change.

We must look beyond innovation alone, focusing on how innovations that we know work can be packaged and scaled to take root and thrive in Africa.

Adaptation metrics must be fit-for-purpose and validated.

In terms of the efforts to tailored capacity strengthening efforts, there are examples where AICCRA connects with issues where there is currently momentum toward progress. These include:

High momentum: Revisions in NDC revisions; support to climate-smart innovation pathways.

AICCRA success stories: Technical capacity, partnership models, co-design a roadmap for scaling support.

High momentum: The Global Stocktake; Continental processes like the African Union African Union Climate Change and Resilient Development Strategy and Action Plan (2022-2032) and the Transformative Adaptation Acceleration Program (AAAP).

AICCRA success stories:

  • Convening power and engagement in existing global discussions with a large network of partners on the ground. These include IPAM, ABM, BMGF, TNC and CARE.
  • Generate evidence on adaptation and resilience.

High momentum: High demand for data.

AICCRA success stories:

  • Robust testbed (diverse contexts, partners, CSA practices), assessment tools, national and local partners.
  • The enabling environment for supporting CSA technology supply requires continued investment especially at the public-private-partnership interface.