In 2005, the Forum for Agricultural Research for Africa (FARA) commissioned an assessmentof the human and institutional capacity for research management in the National Agricultural Research Systems (NARS) in sub-Saharan Africa. The assessment identified significant weaknesses limiting relevance and responsiveness of NARS in agricultural development of Africa and recommended the need for new approaches and innovative initiatives to address these critical capacity deficiencies. The FARA review was consistent with other contemporaneous studies that identified the need for NARS to move away from a predominantly supply driven approach with minimal regard for the needs of end-users (e.g. farmers, agro-processors, traders) and to embrace approaches that fosteredwider partnerships (e.g. Mbabu and Ochieng, 2006). In order to respond to the need to strengthen agriculture research, FARA conceived the project1 on Strengthening Agricultural Research and Development in Africa (SCARDA) with the purpose of strengthening ‘the human and institutional capacity to ensure that the NARS are better able to identify, generate and deliver research outputs’. A scoping study undertaken in a number of sub-Saharan countries at the beginning of the project confirmed that serious weaknesses in agricultural research managementwere prevalent in many national agricultural research institutes (NARIs), agricultural training colleges and faculties of agriculture(FARA, 2007). Deficiencies were identified at the organizational level in relation to shortcomings in management systems and specific management competencies, and at the individual level with lack of capacity of researchers to meet the requirements of new ways of working with a wide range of stakeholders. In developing the SCARDA project proposal, significant emphasis was placed on resolving shortcomings in research management through a programme of capacity strengthening activities. This article reviews the approaches proposed by SCARDA to address capacity strengthening for research management, how implementation took place and the lessons learned from the implementation activities. It begins with an overview of the intended project outputs and approach to capacity strengthening, followed by the implementation processes as undertaken in each sub-regional organisation and finishes with the lessons learned.
Date of publication:
RUFORUM Briefing Papers/Policy Briefs
RUFORUM SCARDA and SCAIN Resources