EIAR in Collaboration with AKLDP Organizes Agricultural Research Forum

 

Ethiopian Institute Agricultural Research (EIAR) in collaboration with Agricultural Knowledge, Learning, Documentation and Policy (AKLDP/Tuft’s University) organized a Forum for Transforming Products and Services of Agricultural Research on 27 July 2018 at Melkassa Research Center of EIAR. The main objective of the forum was to discuss on the current and desired capacities, institutional setups and linkages among actors in Crop, Livestock, and Natural Resources Management (NRM) research and document important discussion points for improving the role of agricultural research as a driver for economic transformation in Ethiopia.

 

Officially open the forum, H.E. Dr. Eyasu Abraha, state minister MoALR, noted that the collaborative efforts that have been recently initiated by leaders of agricultural research system to develop and implement joint technology promotion at scale has triggered additional scope of work in the areas of import substitution to produce wheat and other crops in Awash, Wabi Shebele and Omo basins. At this juncture, he said that organizing all-encompassing forum is vital to strengthen institutional collaboration in addressing weak linkages among agricultural education, research, and extension institutions that hinder agricultural transformation in Ethiopia. On top of this, to effectively use agricultural research to realize the country’s agricultural transformation, such like forum should give emphasis to discuss and come with important issues related to transforming the Ethiopian agricultural education, research, extension system to live up to the expectations and to improve the quality and quantity of the professionals we have in relation to technical, theoretical and practical capacities, he added. On his behalf, Dr. Mandefro Nigussie, DG for EIAR, told the participants the main objective the forum is that to bring all actors on panel and to discuss on the ways to leverage their contribution for the transformation of the sector in general and that of the research system in particular through creating sense of ownership and establishing strong linkage among education, research and extension partners.

 

It is also said in the forum that politicians, policy makers, leaders, and professionals in the agriculture has to have a mind-set and attitude change in the use of agricultural research as a key driver of agricultural development in Ethiopia. Dr. Demese Chanyalew, one of the panelists of the forum, told further the need of working to induce auspicious mind-set and attitudinal change, and to review the mechanism of linkage and coordination of institutes and actors within NARS (EIAR, RARI, HLIs, Private R&D Organizations). Moreover, he emphasized the need of an inclusive and workable NARS that enable to tap human and non-human resources available nationally and internationally in a coordinated manner.

 

Dr. Yilma Kebed, panelist of the forum, presented the current and desired capacities, research orientation and partnership/ linkages in crop research. In his presentation and discussion, he elaborated the success of a research organization like EIAR depends on how effectively it delivers performance gain, while improving internal efficiency. Hence, for the success to be achieved, it very important, among others, to work on i) inventing research staff through training, mentorship, international exposures, improving communication and leadership skill, ii) aligning the research tasks and activities with the mission of the institute, which is mostly missed, iii) improving some aspects of operational issues like prioritization and proper resources allocation, and iv) establishing strong linkage/partnership along the value chain from technology development, evaluation, multiplication to that of technology delivery. Equally important, he also mentioned the importance of introducing product concept in agricultural research, in which the crop research system set up the destination/end goal, and align its intervention with beneficiary requirements, country priorities and policies.

 

Dr. Tesfaye Kumsa, panelist on the livestock sector, put forward key issues on human, physical, and financial resources, technology generation, and set-up and coordination mechanism of livestock research based on the existing capacities, institutional setups and linkages among actors in livestock research. As per his presentation, he emphasized that as the sub-sector is currently under-staffed, it is substantial to develop and implement short, medium and long-term human resource development strategy along with formulating an effective mechanism for retaining prolific senior research staff through developing an annual competitive awarding system for the best researchers of the year, given others factors in to consideration. Moreover, He told the participants the need of establishing of Advanced Molecular Biotechnology Breeding Techniques (Invitro- and Invivo- Embryo Multiplication and Transfer) for shortening multiplication intervals for large- and small-ruminant breeding is necessary by building new capacities at coordination centers.

 

Dr. Habtemariam Kassa presented a synthesis on Natural Resources Management (NRM) research for agricultural and rural transformation and sustainable development in Ethiopia as few points for discussion. In his presentation, he also discussed the current capacities, institutional setups and linkages among actors in NRM research and brought issues related to undertake systematic study on inventory of actors in NRMR and their activities, identify researchable gaps along the research-extension-development continuum in NRM, revisit the boundaries and scope of NRMR, increase value for money invested in NRMR, build and sustain capacity for NRMR – institutional and human resources, improve coordination of NRMR amongst actors at national level, and develop (jointly) a national partnership strategy to strengthen links with CG centers and other IRRIs. Finally, Dr. Habtemariam emphasized working together and creating integrated and coordinated research in NRM helps to tackle complex challenges in NRM, and coordinate fragmented efforts and scattered resources in NRMR.

 

Dr. Amsalu Ayana from ISSD Ethiopia shared an overview on the experiences, challenges, opportunities for the improvement of the role of universities in agricultural innovation in Ethiopia. He thoroughly discussed main points on how to strengthen the role of universities in agricultural innovation in Ethiopia as the need to create enabling institutional arrangement, develop and ensure proper staffing strategy in staff time, promotion, rewarding, training, and benefits, improve the financing of research and community services through not only increasing public fund but also taping other means of financing such as solicit competitive grant, commercialize research and outreach goods and services, operate on full cost recovery basis, avoiding bureaucratic and misaligned financial management, and so on. On top this, Dr. Amsalu forwarded the need of focusing on priority areas, shifting from technology recommendation to facilitating innovation and change process, strengthening networking and partnership and the need of ensuring effective communication by the use of diverse channels to improve the role of universities in Ethiopian agricultural innovation system.

 

Based on the presentations and discussion, a group exercise was being done on the main thematic areas of crop, livestock, NRM and social science research focusing on the kind of restructuring needed to make the agricultural research system transform itself and contribute to the transformation of the sector and the economy at large, improving linkage and coordination among research institutes (EIAR, RARIs, HLIs, Biodiversity Institute, CGIARs) and these with the extension system, ensuring a kind workable accountability mechanism to make best use of available researchers and any other pertinent issues that should be considered to enhance the sub-sector (crop, livestock and fisheries, NRM) contribution to agricultural research transformation.

 

Finally, consensus was reached to take an action based on the outcome of the group exercise. In the forum, policy makers, state minsters of MoALRs, research leaders, delegates of international research centers, senior researchers, consultants, presidents of universities, practitioners were participated.