FARA is the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa, an umbrella organization bringing together and forming coalitions of major stakeholders in agricultural research and development in Africa. FARA complements the innovative activities of national, international and sub-regional research institutions to deliver more responsive and effective services to its stakeholders. It plays advocacy and coordination roles for agricultural research for development, while the national agricultural research systems (NARS), advanced research institutions (ARIs) and international agricultural research centres (IARCs) develop improved technologies along the research-to-development continuum in their respective countries and coverage areas.
FARA in its Vision and Mission statements emphasizes its commitments to the Millennium Development Goal of eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, and CAADP’s goal of agriculture-led development. It confirms in its Value Proposition that it will do this by bringing continental and global perspectives to the networking support of the SROs and NARS. FARA’s Super Objective is to sustainably reduce African food insecurity and poverty and enhance environmental conditions. This is to be done by sustainably establishing high broad-based agricultural growth in Africa (General Objective). FARA will make this contribution by achieving its Specific Objective of sustainable improvements to broad-based agricultural productivity, competitiveness and markets.
These objectives are congruent with the strategic objectives of ASARECA, CORAF/WECARD, CCARDESA, and the North African members of AARINENA. The broad-based nature of the plan indicates inclusiveness of issues relating to smallholders, pastoralists and fisheries, as well as female-headed and HIV/AIDS affected households; it also includes large scale and commercial enterprises. The fact that the rate of growth is to be sustainably established, indicates the intention to safeguard environmental issues, and not produce the increased growth through resource mining or other environmentally damaging approaches.
The Specific Objective FARA is to achieve through the delivery of its Results is: Broad-based agricultural productivity, competitiveness and markets sustainably improved in Africa. FARA acknowledges that this Specific Objective is ambitious, but firmly believes that it is achievable given the high levels of commitment and enthusiasm for the Strategic Plan by stakeholders, and the support of national governments and development partners. FARA is determined to meet this challenge. Although several important assumptions need to hold, these are largely under FARA’s control. The monitoring of these assumptions is integrated into operational planning.
Key to this is the delivery of five Results, which respond to the priorities expressed by FARA’s clients, and which reflect FARA’s comparative advantage; the results will be delivered through networking support to the SROs. The Results are:
The five Results are to be delivered through the activities of five corresponding Networking Support Functions. These functions inter-relate in the same way as the Results, to satisfy FARA’s Mission to support the SROs in strengthening Africa’s capacity for agricultural innovation. Each of the Networking Support Functions has appropriate outcome-based indicators in their plans.
Each function will have its own operational plan that reflects its role within FARA’s overall Strategic Plan. These promote the achievement of CAADP’s goals and objectives in a ways that are consistent with FAAP. The activities undertaken within these functions will comply with the principles of subsidiarity with decisions and actions being taken at the lowest appropriate level. Each function’s results complement and add value to the results of the other functions to promote agricultural innovation systems that are efficient and effective.
The five networking support functions deemed necessary and sufficient for FARA to be able to deliver the Results of this Strategic Plan, are:
FARA is committed to excellence in everything that it does, and promoting excellence will feature prominently in its advocacy, partnership and capacity strengthening functions. Other FARA principles involve commitments to the principle of subsidiarity, delivery and accountability and participatory approaches. These principles are reflected in all FARA’s functions and the related activities.
Adherence to the principle of subsidiarity enables FARA to devolve appropriate authority to those best placed to exercise it and allows FARA, with its comparative advantage, to focus on functions that spill-over sub-regional decision domains so that SROs and NARS benefit from decisions and actions at the continental level. Checks and balances ensure that the actions are implemented at the most appropriate levels.
This Strategic Plan concerns FARA – the Forum, which is a coalition of the constituent member SROs, the NARS and other stakeholders in African agricultural research and development. The Forum is governed by the FARA General Assembly which approves its main governance and management instruments including the FARA Constitution, FARA’s ten year Strategic Plan, five-year Medium Term and Operational Plan (MTOP).
The functioning of the Forum between General Assemblies is entrusted to an elected Executive Committee, which oversees the programme and the work of FARA’s Secretariat, which manages FARA’s Strategic Plan.
FARA’s Networking Support will include planning and implementation of initiatives and projects in accordance with the principles of subsidiarity and in compliance with FAAP principles and guidelines. The Secretariat’s functions are to ensure that FARA’s Strategic Objective is achieved with maximum efficiency and effectiveness.