The review and planning meeting of the Africa RISING West Africa project ended on 25 March 2015 in Accra, Ghana with partners committing to take integration of research activities a notch higher in 2015. The focus of the two-day meeting was on taking stock of achievements in 2014 and planning research activities for the approaching field season in Ghana and Mali while addressing the major project implementation challenges cited in the report of the mid-term external review of the project which took place in November 2014.
One of the main strategies for better integration agreed upon by the partners during the meeting was sharing of experimental designs and protocols in advance of the 2015 cropping season. This decision signifies a big step towards ensuring agreement among all project partners in-terms of research site locations and linking project activities at the landscape and farm levels.
Discussions at the meeting also centered around how gender considerations fit into the partners’ proposed work plans for 2015/2016. Participants resolved that, with the help of the new gender specialist joining the project, all partners will incorporate into their work plans for the year specific activities that will address the gender contexts of the ongoing research in the two countries. Project partners will focus on women’s and men’s roles and their needs and interests in the adoption and use of the technologies being adapted and tested by the project.
Project partners were also briefed on decisions taken by the steering committee which held a parallel half-day meeting chaired by Robert Asiedu, research for development director at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA). Issues addressed by the project steering committee included use of the baseline data generated by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) for project locations in Ghana and Mali, use of data from the farming systems analysis conducted by Wageningen University, inclusion of new activities to the work plans that was presented to, and approved by, the project management team and the requirement for all research activities and outputs to be communicated to the project stakeholders.
‘This has been a good planning meeting. In my opinion the resolution by project partners to share their experimental designs and protocols is a brilliant way forward for better integration within the project,’ said Asamoah Larbi, the projects, lead scientist, ‘it will ensure that our project activities are better linked and we are in good shape for the upcoming United States Agency for International Development (USAID)-commissioned review of the project later in the year.’
Irmgard Zeledon, the Africa RISING program coordinator thanked the over 50 scientists from various partnering institutions who took part in the meeting. She also thanked the project donor USAID, represented at the meeting by Jerry Glover, for maintaining a keen interest in ensuring the achievement of the Africa RISING vision of lifting smallholder farm families out of hunger and poverty.