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Program of Accompanying Research for Agricultural Innovation
(PARI 2.0) 2018-2019

As the first phase of the Program of Accompanying Research for Agricultural Innovation (PARI) is drawing to a close, it is a good time to reflect on the strategic direction of PARI. This reflection needs to be guided by the future direction of the ‘One World, No Hunger’ Initiative (SEWOH) as the overarching umbrella of PARI. First and foremost, the SEWOH’s long-term objectives remain at the heart of PARI, i.e. a world without hunger and malnutrition, and that relates to attractive (productive) and sustainable agriculture, to improved rural services (incl. health, energy, etc.), to jobs especially for youth, and to policies that include the poor and improve countries economic perspectives, in line with countries’ and regions strategies (e.g. Africa’s Malabo Declaration). In the coming years, the strategic focus of PARI will be oriented towards:

Beyond country-specific value chains: The focus will increasingly shift towards value chains that are of importance across Africa (or its subregions), rather than for specific countries. This approach will ensure that innovations applied in one country or location (e.g. a Green Innovation Centre, GIC) can be scaled more easily across the continent. In the identification of these value chains, PARI will be guided by African priorities as set out e.g. in the Declaration of the Abuja Food Security Summit 2006 and the AU Malabo Declaration.

Production, productivity and wellbeing: While much of the work of PARI has focused on smallholder production and the very early stages of the value chain, activities will increasingly target the later stages of the value chain, creation of good jobs, and people’s wellbeing, including nutrition. Engagement with the private sector will play an important role here.

Beyond value chains: There is a growing recognition that the context in which value chains function also needs to be strengthened. Thus, more emphasis will be placed on promoting rural development and rural-urban linkages, with a particular focus on youth employment combined with skill development. Improved access to agricultural finance may also be one of the priority measures in this context.

Policy reform: As part of the effort to improve the framework conditions for agricultural and rural development through innovation, additional efforts will be made to support the formulation and implementation of conducive policies at national, African and international levels.

Strategic focus of PARI 2.0
PARI research will identify investment opportunities in the agriculture sectors and rural areas of Africa with the aim of improving food security and creating employment and income opportunities.

Research themes
PARI will move forward from a predominantly country-based approach towards the formation of thematic research clusters that focus on Africa as a whole, partly with case studies in selected PARI countries and value chains. Each cluster will seek to contribute to the overarching four goals of PARI, i.e.

1. Food and nutrition security (food availability, access; nutrition improvement)
2. Job creation (esp. for women and youth)
3. Income improvements (in agriculture and other rural opportunities)
4. Raise the attractiveness of rural areas through amongst others job and income generation in agriculture or agriculture-related activities to reduce outmigration

Drawing on research findings by the PARI partners to date, decisions at the PARI Annual Meetings and priorities identified in the PARI national policy dialogues, the following research clusters were identified:

RC 1      Targeting investments in innovations and framework conditions
RC 2      Mechanization and skill development for productivity growth, employment and value addition
RC 3      Digitalization in agriculture, food and nutrition
RC 4      Enhancing opportunities for the youth in the rural economy
RC 5      Improving the policy context & contributing to evidence-based policy

The cluster themes are interlinked and research will be undertaken in close cooperation between the cluster coordinators and partners. RC 2 (mechanization and skill development) and 3 (digitalization) can be understood as focus areas within RC 1 (investment targeting) while RC 4 (youth) is related to all three clusters, and policy (RC 5) touches on all other 4 (see Figure 1).

Stocktaking: PARI 1.0 (2015-2017)

PARI can capitalize on a number of strengths:

  • PARI engages a diverse and large team of partners in Africa, India and Germany who individually are well-connected in their respective countries and/or the countries where research is being conducted.
  • PARI partners have significant leeway to shape their research agenda so that it responds to national and organizational priorities.
  • In the first phase, several thematically comparable research outputs were produced by all African partners in different countries that focus on the same topic and follow the same outline (e.g. country dossiers, country innovation studies, innovation opportunities in the value chain), thereby allowing lessons to be drawn that transcend national borders.
  • First steps were taken towards enabling a productive exchange between Africa, India and Germany in order to facilitate mutual learning and open opportunities for innovation and knowledge exchanges.
  • PARI has actively engaged in several policy processes, in particular the BMZ Conference on food security (April 2017) and the Africa Green Revolution Fora in Nairobi and Abidjan (2016 and 2017), and has started to disseminate its research findings to key national stakeholders with policy workshop in Ghana and Ethiopia.

Outlook: PARI 2.0 (2018-2019)

To address challenges and capitalize on PARI’s strengths, PARI 2.0 will endeavour to:

  • Integrate PARI research under key themes of particular relevance to PARI’s overarching goal in order to scale research findings across Africa,
  • Strengthen linkages and cooperation between existing partners and broaden partnerships, esp. with the private sector, and
  • More effectively engage policy stakeholders in the research process and communicate research findings (with the involvement of all partners).