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Dr. Namukolo Covic discussing the post-Malabo roadmap

News: Climate, Food Security & Nutrition

Post-Malabo Agricultural Transformation Agenda: A Conversation with Dr Namukolo Covic

Namukolo Covic Namukolo Covic

Following the African Union Heads of States Summit’s endorsement of the post-Malabo roadmap that outlines a framework for Africa to achieve sustainable food systems transformation, Dr Namukolo Covic discusses how CGIAR can support countries in the face of the accelerating climate crisis.

How can CGIAR support the African Union in Transforming African agriculture and food systems?

Dr Namukolo Covic: CGIAR’s Research and Innovation Strategy is very comprehensive and addresses the most burning questions around the development of food systems. It encompasses different food system components, from production to consumption.

This holistic approach aligns with the AU Agenda 2063 and key frameworks like the Comprehensive African Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP), the AU Climate Change and Resilient Development Strategy and Action Plan (2022 – 2032) and the Science, Technology & Innovation Strategy for Africa (STISA-2024) to name a few.

Secondly, capitalising on existing partnerships with the African Union Commission’s Department of Agriculture, Rural Development, Blue Economy and Sustainable Environments (AUC-DARBE) as well as continental research organisations like the FARA, regional research organisations like CORAFASARECACCARDESA and National Agricultural Research and Extension Systems, CGIAR is well positioned to drive context-rich research and innovation that respond to continental, regional and national priorities.

Thirdly, recognising the multifaceted nature of Africa’s challenges, CGIAR’s extensive structure and presence across the continent positions us to tailor responses to local realities, constraints and opportunities.

What role do you see for an institution like CGIAR in contributing to the transformation agenda?

DNC: First, the new architectural design of CGIAR, focusing on regions and partnerships under the leadership of regional directors and country convenors, is pivotal in advancing the continental agenda. This positions CGIAR for greater impacts at the country level that could then aggregate to sub-regional and continental levels. Second, our research collaborations with national research organisations in many countries are instrumental in driving research and technology innovation that responds to national priorities. Additionally, our established partnerships with different AUC directorates can be used to leverage the continental convening power of the AU to drive continent-wide transformation.

Climate change remains the greatest threat to our food systems – what solutions and partnerships is CGIAR exploring to address this pressing challenge?

DNC: Climate change is indeed a significant challenge for our food systems. To address this, CGIAR focuses on developing climate-resilient crop varieties and livestock breeds and promoting sustainable agricultural and land management practices. This involves leveraging advanced breeding techniques and agronomic practices to enhance the resilience of livestock and crops to drought, heat stress and other climate-related challenges. These efforts are crucial for informing the post-Malabo agenda, ensuring that African agricultural development is resilient and sustainable in the face of climate change.

2025 marks the target year of the Malabo Declaration. To what extent is the continent on track to achieve the ambitious goals of the Declaration?

DNC: The AU’s 4th CAADP Biennial Review (BR) report (2023) soberly noted that the continent is not on track to fulfil the Malabo commitment to end hunger and undernutrition in the form of stunting and underweight by 2025. While meeting CAADP targets remains essential, the report highlighted that several countries are making significant strides. We must learn lessons where we have done better to speed up the pace of progress in the next phase.

We must also work to identify the factors impeding progress, such as the low productivity of smallholder agriculture and how to address the vulnerability to climate change. Stakeholders must delve into the relevant details for specific countries’ BR reports, moving beyond continental averages to discern where their contributions could have the most significant impact. Drawing lessons from the initial two phases of CAADP can inform strategies for the post-Malabo agenda and pave the way for more effective interventions moving forward.

How is CGIAR positioning itself to support the AUC drive in the post-Malabo decade?

DNC: We have recently received a strong ask from the Commissioner for AUC-DARBE on specific potential areas of engagement. This includes assisting Member States in implementing the AU Climate Strategy and the Nairobi Declaration on Climate Change and delivering on the outcomes from COP28, operationalising the AU Multi-Hazard Early Warning System and Situation Room, focusing on knowledge management and capacity building, implementing the Sustainable Forest Management Framework for Africa, supporting the design of a new post-Malabo CAADP framework and rolling out the African Agro-Parks program.

Further, we’ve been asked to support the implementation of the UN Conference of Water recommendations to support efforts to strengthen collaboration on food systems resilience and support the implementation of the Africa Blue Economy Strategy. These areas present entry points for engagement in the post-Malabo agenda. By doing so at a time when we are also revisiting our research portfolio to strengthen its delivery, there are opportunities to find entry points for research to support the post-Malabo process.

This piece was initially published on CGIAR and has been revised to suit Farming First’s editorial guidelines.

Header Image from CGIAR.

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