ICARDA recently brought together the Heads of National Agricultural Research Systems (NARS) in West Asia and North Africa (WANA) to develop the framework of a new regional partnership initiative to support agricultural research for development. Representatives from Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Morocco, Sudan and Turkey were present, and were joined by officials from FAO, CGIAR and ICARDA.
A response to significant constraints facing agricultural development in the WANA region, the initiative is a collaborative funding mechanism that will kick-start new research, address key challenges and strengthen agricultural sectors so they become critical drivers of the regio n’s economy.
It is envisaged that this south-south partnership will be supported by major legume and cereal-producing countries in WANA, Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, with a specific focus on the productivity of strategic crops such as lentil, chickpea, faba bean, barley and vetch.
Research activities will include trait discovery and deployment, genetic enhancement, and seed systems analysis. In addition, there will be components dedicated to capacity strengthening and the dissemination of new technologies at local, national, and regional levels. The ultimate aim is to help smallholder farmers adapt to climate change, strengthen the resilience of farming communities, and enhance food and nutrition security.
Discussions at the meeting, held in Beirut on September 13-14, included several key recommendations from NARES and development partners: the need to focus on science-based evidence and solutions to improve crop productivity; country- and region-specific research activities; a focus on remunerative crops; strategic efforts to deal with biotic and abiotic stresses; and value-chain approaches to agricultural development.
Moving forward, representatives from Turkey, Iran and Morocco will work with ICARDA to include these recommendations, and others, in a refined proposal document.