FARA’s 2007-2016 Strategic Plan development process

Awareness of the changes in Africa’s agricultural research and development scenarios has been building in FARA; many of the issues were also flagged by external reviews of FARA’s activities.  In February 2007, FARA’s Executive Committee determined that the context had changed to such a degree that a new Strategic Plan was called for. 

A Strategic Matrix (Annex 1 in the Strategic Plan) has been developed using a logical framework approach.  This forms the basis for the Strategic Plan.  Development was based on: 

  • The targets and aims of the CAADP;
  • An analysis of the current and predictable constraints faced by the SROs which could be best addressed from a continental perspective and the position of FARA’s comparative advantage (Annex 2);
  • The strategic plans of the SROs1

The Strategic Plan development process drew on consultations with FARA’s constituent SROs and stakeholders on all topics of regional interest for agricultural research and development.  Many of these have been hosted or convened by the FARA Secretariat for the specific purpose of hearing its stakeholders’ views and demands.  The Strategic Plan document directly benefited from input from a stakeholder consultation workshop held at FARA in May 2007.

The SROs have had similar series of meetings and workshops, and have devoted considerable resources to prioritising their activities and updating their strategies.  FARA has assured cross-fertilization between the development of the ASARECA and CORAF strategies and the present document.  FARA Secretariat staff have participated in a number of the SRO strategic planning workshops, and development of this document was based on a logical framework approach, which ensured FARA’s Strategic Plan is coherent with those of ASARECA and CORAF/WECARD.  FARA has also been involved with early planning discussions between the NARS of North Africa who are members of AARINENA, and with SADC-FANR in its ongoing planning and development activities.

The present Strategic Plan is built upon a problem and objective tree analysis (Annex 2) of those functions for which FARA has comparative advantage and which capture the spillovers that occur at the sub-regional level.  Having assessed the requirements for Africa to have efficient and effective agricultural innovation capacity and FARA’s continental comparative advantages, FARA’s constituents and stakeholders expect and require FARA to support them in five areas which are critical to their ability to fulfil their mandates:

  1. Appropriate institutional and organisational arrangements for regional agricultural research and development;
  2. Broad-based access to knowledge and technology necessary for innovation;
  3. Strategic decision-making options for policy, institutions, and markets;
  4. Human and institutional capacity for innovation;
  5. Platforms for agricultural innovation. 

Failures in any one of these interlinked requirements would impede the ability of the SROs and NARS to have the impact expected of them and in each case there are some critical constraints that can be best addressed from a single continental perspective for which FARA has a unique comparative advantage. These are the focus of FARA’s 2007 – 2016 Strategic Plan.

This is a Strategic Plan for FARA constituents and stakeholders, comprised of all actors – African and non-African – in agricultural research for Africa’s development; the FARA Secretariat, which exists to serve FARA’s membership, is guided in its priorities and functions by it.

FARA's Strategic Plan 2007-2016

                                                                                                (Download)

FARA in its Vision and Mission statements confirms its commitments to the Millennium Development Goal of eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, and CAADP’s goal of agriculture-led development.

A Value Proposition emphasises the unique and special contribution that an organisation can offer to clients; it is the primary benefit that an organisation brings to its stakeholders.  FARA states through its Value Proposition that it can provide a strategic platform for stakeholders and partners so that a continental and global perspective is provided for the networking support demanded by the SROs and NARS (Box 3).

Box 3. FARA’s Key Strategic Statements

FARA’s Vision: Reduced poverty in Africa as a result of sustainable broad-based agricultural growth and improved livelihoods, particularly of smallholder and pastoral enterprises.

FARA’s Mission: Creating broad-based improvements in agricultural productivity, competitiveness and markets by supporting Africa’s sub-regional organisations in the strengthening of capacity for agricultural innovation.

FARA’s Value Proposition: Providing a strategic platform to foster continental and global networking that reinforces the capacities of Africa’s national agricultural research systems and sub-regional organisations.

FARA’s Strategic Plan links a series of logical steps and processes, summarised as a Strategic Matrix (see Annex 1 in the Strategic Plan). This has been developed using the cause and effect linkages of the logical framework approach.  The Plan leads to FARA’s Super Objective, which is to contribute to the sustainable reduction of food insecurity and poverty in Africa while enhancing the environment.  The General Objective to which it will contribute (provided certain assumptions hold true) is to establish sustainable high broad-based agricultural growth in Africa.

It will do this by achieving its Specific Objective of sustainable improvements to broad-based agricultural productivity, competitiveness and markets.  The Specific Objective depends on the delivery of five Results, which provide the necessary and sufficient conditions for it to happen.  These results take full cognisance of the priorities expressed by FARA’s clients.  They reflect FARA’s comparative advantages and are designed to complement and add value to the strategies and programmes of partners.  The five results are:Strategic plan

  1. Appropriate institutional and organisational arrangements for regional agricultural research and development established
  2. Broad-based stakeholders have access to the knowledge and technology necessary for innovation
  3. Strategic decision making options for policy, institutions and markets developed
  4. Human and institutional capacity for innovation developed
  5. Platforms for agricultural innovation supported

 

 Figure 2.  The organisation of FARA’s Networking Support Functions


These Results will be delivered through the provision of networking support to the SROs by FARA.  The achievement of these inter-related and inter-dependent outcomes requires functions that are responsible for overseeing, facilitating and co-ordinating five portfolios of initiatives that have been endorsed by FARA’s General Assembly.  These functions are:

  1. Advocacy and resource mobilisation
  2. Access to knowledge and technologies
  3. Regional policies and markets
  4. Capacity strengthening
  5. Partnership and strategic alliances

The organisation of these networking support functions within FARA’s Strategic Plan is depicted in Figure 2 and their interaction in Figure 3, which emphasises the hierarchy of stakeholders with the agricultural producers at the centre.

Each function is led by a co-ordinator who reports to FARA’s Executive Secretary.  The Co-ordinator is responsible for developing a Strategic Plan, as well as Five-Year Medium-Term and Operational Plan that integrates into FARA’s overall planning process.  These documents articulate networking support functions, including inter alia, general and specific objectives, budgets, staffing, monitoring and evaluation.  They also describe the processes for periodic redesign to take advantage of the lessons learnt and to adjust for changing circumstances in African agricultural research and development. 

Concluding statement

FARA’s 2007 – 2016 Strategic Plan reflects what FARA has learnt from consultations, workshops, meetings and day-to-day interactions with the SROs, NARS and other stakeholders in African agricultural research and development. It is a Strategic Plan for the Forum which guides FARA’s General Assembly, Executive Committee and Secretariat in the development of FARA’s Medium Term and Operational Plan.

Confidence in this Strategic Plan is based on FARA’s Value Proposition, which is to provide a strategic platform to foster continental and global networking that reinforces the capacities of Africa’s national agricultural research systems and sub-regional organisations.  This articulates what FARA is uniquely positioned to deliver in order to achieve Broad-based agricultural productivity, competitiveness and markets sustainably improved in Africa

FARA has deliberately committed itself to an ambitious Specific Objective and 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 and although several important assumptions need to be made and to hold, these are largely internalised and under FARA’s control.  The monitoring of these is integrated into operational planning.

(Download the Strategic Plan 2007 - 2016) 

 

Footnote:

1. The Strategic and Operational Plans of ASARECA and CORAF/WECARD were influential in focussing the underlying principles and approaches of FARA’s own Plan.